Thursday, December 24, 2009

Happy Holidays... and FYI

I should be posting fast nationals next week for Marc at Happy Holidays to him, and to all of you!

As I live on the West Coast and will, potentially, be using my Xmas-NYE hiatus to (a) sleep, and (b) write, I can't guarantee especially timely posting... but they will get posted! Ideally on/around/by 10am PT (ideally, for me, I suppose?)

I do not believe I will be getting final ratings for Thursday until Monday, which means that all of next week leading up to NYE will likely be delayed versus the normal schedule.

I have been meaning to make some actual blog posts here... but I've been deeply involved in a new script which I hope to finish a first draft of by December 31st (scratch that... I insist on myself that I finish by 12/31). Some degree of actual blogging (as opposed to just tweeting) will resume in the New Year.

One hopes.

Again... happy holidays!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

ABC's Scheduling Nightmare

In the last two days, ABC picked up more episodes of The Forgotten, canceled Eastwick, and announced the Ugly Betty would replace Eastwick at 10pm on "ABC Comedy Wednesday." I happen to disagree with all three of these decisions (though the Ugly Betty decision sits better than any of the others... I just don't feel it's a 10pm show, but better Wednesday at 10pm with a semi-decent lead-in than Fridays).

My preference would be to:
- cancel The Forgotten
- move Brothers & Sisters to Tuesdays at 10pm
- move Eastwick post-Housewives (at least for a tryout)
- move Betty to Tuesdays at 8pm (or moved the Wednesday 8pm comedies to Tuesdays at 8pm and Betty to Wednesdays at 8pm)
- reality / repeats / whatever on Friday at 9pm

But, hey, I'm not in charge.

I know, I know, I'm always the one saying "you can't move everything at once!" But in ABC's case... they kind of need to figure something out. They've got a lot of middling success and modest returns, but, at this point, three big hits by today's broadcast standards:
- Grey's Anatomy
- Desperate Housewives
- Dancing with the Stars' performance show (for viewership)

ABC also has a few mid-level hits
- Modern Family
- Extreme Makeover Home Edition
- Private Practice (thanks to its lead-in)
- Brothers & Sisters (thanks to its lead-in)
- DWTS Results (for viewers)

Beyond that... ABC has a few modest shows that, for the most part, are lead-in (or lack of competition) reliant but don't deliver the same returns that PP and B&S do.
- Castle
- Cougar Town (if the last two weeks are more indicative of a future trend than the first few weeks of near-perfect retention out of MF were)
- Flashforward (wish is in serious need of rescue via a strong lead-in if it's going to survive to a season season given it's high profile and cost)

We'll see what V does tonight and in the coming weeks to see if it can be the lead-in Flashforward needs... in March when it returns.

But let's say that happens and someone at ABC decides "let's make a block of V and Flashforward" (let alone V, Lost, and Flashforward as I've seen suggested). Where can you put V and Flashforward together on ABC's schedule?

- Monday has two hours blocked out for DWTS / The Bachelor
- Tuesday is interrupted by DWTS Results at 9pm (and I don't see ABC sliding it forward to 8pm to face Idol... though I'd welcome it, if it meant making room to utilize audience flow)
- Wednesday from 8:30-10pm is, shockingly, kind of working for ABC... and 9-10pm certainly is, so I don't see them moving it (and, remember, that Idol will be airing from 8-9pm this season on Wednesdays)
- Thursdays from 9-11pm aren't changing
- The shows are too expensive to risk a Friday slot (and, I mean, really, this wouldn't never happen)
- Sundays aren't changing with AFHV, EM:HE, DH, and B&S all doing fine

In short... there is nowhere to create audience flow to save Flashforward, and this isn't even considering the rest of ABC's midseason shows:
- Lost (back in January or February, depending on ABC's counter-Olympics decision)
- V (back in March... will it stay on Tuesdays at 8pm? Will it continue to be as successful as its premiere was?)
- Happy Town (though I have my doubts that this will see the air)
- The Deep End
- Romantically Challenged (which will be replacing Hank and paired with The Middle on "ABC Comedy Wednesday" should 8-9pm stay intact / on Wednesdays).

Since Scrubs / Better Off Ted are replacing DWTS: Results in December and airing, probably, through the March return of DWTS, you can disregard Scrubs/Better Off Ted and think about the dramas, and where you're putting The Middle/Romantically Challenged. Including Flashforward and a few more hours of The Forgotten, that's 7 hours of programming.

So, I ask... where do you put ANY of these shows to try and build hits (and build on hits), given that ABC isn't going to be moving what is working. You have these timeslots available, as I see it:
- Tuesdays at 8pm (versus Idol...)
- Tuesdays at 10pm
- Wednesdays at 8pm (versus Idol...)
- Wednesdays at 10pm (but, oh wait, Ugly Betty is there now)
- Thursdays at 8pm

Stumped? Me, too. Hence my wholesale schedule renovation suggestions way above.

To put it bluntly: it's a problem. I'm kind of glad I'm not the one who has to execute an attempted solution.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Finale, Finally

Oh, Mad Men's third season. I wish you hadn't ended as well as you had. Because if you hadn't... I would feel utterly, entirely justified in my general distaste for and boredom with your tedious third season. Does the destination of the finale make up for a lackluster, directionless, uneven (if still, of course, sharply written, well-acted, sumptuous to look at) season that seemed to lack a cohesive narrative?

Obviously, I don't think it does.

But what a setup for the fourth season! I can't not watch it when it returns next summer. The finale set up a fourth season that, at least on the surface, promises the Mad Men that I was yearning for this whole third season. A Mad Men with focus (getting a new business off the ground), and tension (will we succeed? because if we don't, we are all SCREWED), and drama and ambition and... Joan.

Seriously, how happy was I when our core conspirators were clueless as to where any of the files they needed to gather were stored in the office and knew that Roger was going to call our wayward Mrs. Harris? And despite the too-few moments with Peggy after the first couple of episodes this season... how great was her standing up to Don? And refusing to get coffee for the guys?

I do think that, given the big deal made about not bringing anyone into the ploy that Don et al were pulling, I felt that when Peggy refused Don there was a major missed opportunity to play up "will we get found out?" tension. It just wasn't there, and it made the victory of the success of them all setting up their own agency slightly less "holy crap, I can't believe they actually pulled it off!" than it could have been.

Regardless... how great was the realization from those who weren't brought along?

Let's get to the things I didn't love. Um... Betty...? I have been cold to Betty this whole season (but just as cold as I've been to Don...) I just haven't cared about the Draper Family Drama the way the major seasonal focus on the final disintegration of this family unit required me to be. Was it hard to watch? Yes, and for all the right reasons. But, ultimately... I just don't care. I mean, I feel for the kids and all. But a big part of me is hoping that Betty flying off to Reno, and the final "goodbye" between Don and Betty over the phone, is the last we see or hear of the non-Don Drapers (though I'm sure it won't be... otherwise Sally and Bobby would've been with Betty and not at home with Carla). It's a fine line this show must tread as it presents things that we, as modern viewers, have a very solid opinion of (and are used to seeing) but asking us to treat it as new and different and shocking... because, in the 60s, it wasn't as commonplace (or obsolete) as it is now. Here, it's divorce, but also out of the closet gay men in the workplace, equality for the genders at work, interracial couples... the list goes on.

Speaking of gays in the workplace... where was Sal in the formation of the new company? I guess it would've been too easy, once they mentioned that they didn't have access to the art department / art room. And it was great to see Don kick in that door.

Bottom line: something happened in this finale. A lot of things happened.

My hope is that things continue to happen. Next season has been set up in a way that reignites me giving a damn about this show.

And, really, just having Joan back in the mix is a huge step up.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Does "The Gift" Come With a Return Receipt?

I seem to be tweeting a lot these days. But there are some things that just can't by tweeted, because, really, opinions from time to time are better said in more than a succinctly edited, cut down 140 characters. Ah, yes, the joys of slow-blogging.

Flashforward aired an episode last night that, I think, was supposed to be landmark, world-shattering, expect-the-unexpected.

In short, I think the "The Gift" was supposed to be to Flashforward what "Walkabout" was to Lost. Remember "Walkabout"? We're in Locke's backstory for the first time, there's some sad stuff, meanwhile (um, kinda) on the Island things are happening... BAM, LOCKE WAS A PARAPLEGIC BEFORE COMING TO THE ISLAND. And then you HAD to rewatch to see how the wool had been pulled over your eyes and it CHANGED EVERYTHING because nothing was impossible anymore.

But "The Gift" wasn't "Walkabout". It so very wasn't.

The concept behind the "big event" at the end of "The Gift" makes sense. And should have occurred to someone in some form or another earlier than episode 7 of the series. In fact... it should have occurred in episode 3 (see previous post: Episode 3, AKA The Corrections Department). If you count Lost's two-hour pilot as one episode (even though it was split into two weeks, it was shot as a two-hour!) then "Walkabout" is episode 3. Huh, I can't believe I didn't mention that in my other post!

The concept: defy fate by changing it.

As executed... you knew what was coming before it happened. Well before. And yet... the characters still spent a lot of time talking about it and contemplating and trying to talk Agent Gough off the ledge when, really, all that we needed were some concise (tweetable?) lines in a letter to tell us why he jumped and the SHOCK of the splat that made us go back and see exactly what led up to it. Instead... Flashforward told us how and why what was happening was happening instead of making us DISCOVER it. It's not necessarily "bad" writing... but it isn't "genius" writing like "Walkabout" was.

Even so... Agent Gough falling to his death (and thereby telling all of the other characters that the future is not set in stone) even though he had a flash forward isn't the way I wished this had happened.

Again. To change fate, defy it.

At the end of episode two, Agent Noh (John Cho) got a phone call saying that he was going to be murdered on March 15th. And he continued to spend the next several episodes weighed down by his fate. Yes, he briefly tried to find his would-be murderer, but that hasn't been made much of. Agent Noh was the one who needed fate to be changed the most, and so he should have done it himself. I'm always for adding darkness to a character... why, in episode 3, just to prove fate wrong, didn't he kill someone who had a flash forward? There. Bam. The future isn't set in stone. And that's not the only thing that could've happened to make this point...

... anyway, my problem with "The Gift" is that the event was telegraphed instead of a shock, and that this INCREDIBLY IMPORTANT EVENT happened far too late in the game.

Don't get me wrong. I'm very happy that the writers saw fit to do this in one way or another. But also don't get me wrong... I'm pretty damn bored with this show and the adrenaline that we can only HOPE has been injected into the storyline by this future-altering event had better show up next week.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

So I Think I Can Dance, Dance, Dance, Dance

Long time no blog! Curse you, Twitter. Also, curse you, having a plethora of projects I'm working on (finishing a polish on a pilot script this week, starting a new pilot as soon as that's done, getting notes on a feature outline... phew, that's a lot just to out!)


So You Think You Can Dance's competition began last night! My American-Idol-as-cocaine replacement is back. Woo!

The Billy Bell thing completely reshapes this season's competition. I wish him well, and I'm curious if he'll be back for Season 7 over the summer... given that he was so amazing, surely he'll be snapped up by someone, no?

His last-minute replacement, Brandon, was the pre-ordained male ejectee tonight, as it was completely judge's choice (and when Russell was announced as his competition in the Bottom 2 Men... there was no way Brandon wasn't going home). My roommate was very annoyed by this, as Brandon simply had no chance. So I was very happy to hear Nigel say that they would try to bend the "if you're in the Top 20, you can't come back" rules so he could improve in the interim and come back for Season 7... and y'know, prepare for the competition and rehearse with a partner appropriately.

Anyway. The other stuff... the episode was not as "OMFGWTFBBQ" crazy hot sauce as Season 5's Top 20 show, which featured (IIRC) 7 outstanding routines. And, so, it was really a good thing that we had Monday's "Meet the Top 20" in their own styles show as only a couple dancers were in their element last night.

- Mollee & Nathan. How can you not love these two? Disco is a divisive dance genre, but it's always high energy and they did it well, with some fun tricks. Mollee was definitely not dancing like a 13-year old girl.
- Legacy & Kathryn. As the judges mentioned, Legacy was technically in his genre, but B-Boying is tricks and not necessarily choreo... so he did a very good job. And his partner made me forget (until doing this recap) her craziness in the Top 20 Dancers Revealed show last Wednesdays. Though I have to say, 75% of the routine, I was looking at Legacy... I know it's not ballroom, and there wasn't a ton of hip-hop, but Kathryn is going to need to develop a presence.
- Ryan & Ellenore. They got a crazy Sonya routine. And pulled it off. And I'm wondering just how often Ryan is going to be shirtless in routines this season...
- Bianca & Viktor. Travis Wall number = lurve. So, again, choreographer helps the couple's case, and Viktor was in his comfort zone.
- Jakob (by not Ashleigh). Goddamn this guy can dance. Really sad, as Nigel stated, that he won't have Billy around to force him to amp his game up.
- Russell. We'll see what's up with Noelle next week, but I was so surprised when Nigel put him in the Bottom 2 because he did a really good job with that Foxtrot, given the circumstances! Maybe it was just an excuse to let Russell do some krumping?

Friday, October 16, 2009

Leave You in Antici

Readers, you know I watch a ton of TV. In many cases, I watch out of habit. I may like something enough to not give it up, have an allegiance to a writer or actor or maybe a friend works on a show... and so I watch. But how many shows so I love? What am I looking forward to watching the next installment of the minute an episode ends?

To be honest, before this season started... I couldn't come up with any returning fall broadcast series that I felt that way about anymore. Sure, Grey's Anatomy had a helluva cliffhanger and had found it's creative footing (don't get me started on last night's Mercy West resident invasion... eh...) Gossip Girl was a show I was massively addicted to... but around February 2009 it just slipped away. It's not that I don't watch. I just don't care as much. I'll find out what happens next, but I don't really, viscerally, need to know.

Enter the freshman class, specifically Glee and The Vampire Diaries (if you missed last night's Vampire Diaries... find it and watch it). All of a sudden... I'm looking forward to scripted broadcast TV shows again.

I want to feel this way about FlashForward. And perhaps after next week I will. The series has felt very "treading water" thus far, but now that Dominic Monaghan's character has kinda-sorta showed up... perhaps we can move the heck along. Perhaps. Thus far, FlashForward has been far more Heroes than Lost, building around disparate characters and cliffhangers. But unlike Heroes' brilliant first season, thus far, FlashForward has not delivered on those cliffhangers. We'll see.

It's funny how the reality shows (SYTYCD which finally is kicking into high gear with competition in two weeks, Top Chef, The Amazing Race) and summer cable series (True Blood, Burn Notice) I watch have managed to remain addictive.

Except Mad Men. I've fallen deeply out of love with this season of Mad Men. It's been well executed, shot, acted, written... but I don't feel the need to know what's going on anymore. This season had such promise, but the British Invasion hasn't proved as compelling as it could have. I don't even root for Don much anymore (I couldn't care less than Connie Hilton gave him that verbal thrashing last week). Joan seems to be gone (BRING HER BACK), Peggy is marginalized. I know I have reactions to the "period" elements (i.e. Don's attitude toward Sal last week) but... well, this season hasn't sat right with me. So many characters are being their worst. And why would I want to watch that especially when, unlike the first two seasons, there has been very little season-long narrative / mystery to piece the episodes together, bringing them from character and theme pieces into a cohesive whole story?

You'll note the lack of sitcoms listed above. I only watch a few comedies and, for the most part, I watch to laugh, not out of any need for the compulsion that so addicts me to a good drama.

What shows are you absolutely addicted to?

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Episode 3, AKA The Corrections Department

We're a few weeks into the new TV season, and I feel the need to set the record straight about a few shows, now that I've watched (whether under coercion or not) beyond the pilot of several new shows, and, with an exception-that-proves-the-rule, I've come to a conclusion.

Judge a pilot on its own merits, but don't judge a series until episode three (should you have any interest in the premise of the series... if not, then there's really no reason to stick around... i.e. me and Melrose Place, no matter what anyone could ever say, I won't be sampling it again).

Why episode three? Because pilots are, theoretically, the singular vision of the pilot's writer/writing team. Episode two is the product of the writers room... and you really have to figure out where you're taking the show beyond the set up of a pilot episode. New writers added to the mix need to figure out the voices of the characters and that takes time. In episode two, there is also the pressure / temptation of doing a second pilot... either totally revamping the show because you're going somewhere else with the series, or "restating" the pilot while not advancing the story or characters.

Cases from this season:

Modern Family: Uproarious pilot. Second episode, IMHO, far weaker. It wasn't funny, though it did bring the heart in spades. It suffered from "restatement" syndrome in that the characters were pretty much all in the same groupings as in the pilot... it just wasn't as funny and the situation not as fresh. Episode two had me worried. Episode three allayed my concerns. Third episode... hilarious (and also full of heart). Characters interacted in combinations that were different than the pilot... though Cam and Mitchell still are separate and, thus, I've found their scenes the least involving / compelling / amusing.

Cougar Town: Similar to Modern Family, in that the pilot was funny, last week not-so-much, this week things were a ton better. Particularly the supporting cast felt off and misused last week, while this week they were handled better (Busy Phillips gets more screentime, Josh Hopkins gets less... I'm happy). Also, yeah, the comedy was far superior last night to the post-pilot episode.

Community: Again... hilarious pilot, weak episode two that was a little too much of the same, strong episode three (that brought something new and different to the show).

The Vampire Diaries: Pilot episode, though the best of CW's fall offerings, was boilerplate at best. The post-pilot episode, though featuring Ian Somerhalder more after establishing him too late in the pilot, was more of the same. Episode three? Leaps and bounds better (and episode four was actually good guilty pleasure silly teen drama TV). The problem, which I think the writers figured out, was the level of danger. Both the pilot and post-pilot episodes really only had danger to characters we didn't know in the teaser section, in miniature, B-horror film vignettes. Then... our characters are in danger. There was just much more tension. I'm surprised to say this... but I think you should check this series out.

I've yet to watch Eastwick or Mercy's third episodes, but both of them had better second episodes than their cliched pilots, for various reasons (and, I will repeat, that Mercy's pilot was supposed to be reshot but didn't have the chance to be since it was suddenly airing in September instead of midseason). Mercy, I watched the 2nd episode with a friend at her place when I otherwise wouldn't have come back to the series. Eastwick I got an e-mail recommendation and was glad to see improvements in episode two.

Now... the exception. Glee. Glee's third episode was, by far, the worst of the entire series to date. Fortunately when you have a show that started with two incredibly fun hours... having an off third episode - AND KNOWING WHAT WAS OFF ABOUT IT AND FIXING THAT - can help immensely. But if the first two hours hadn't been as magical as they were, a third hour like "Acafellas" would have been the nail in the coffin for me as a viewer. If episode three of Vampire Diaries hadn't been better, I wouldn't have been back for episode four. And if I'm not pleased with Mercy or Eastwick when I get the chance to see their third offerings, considering that I'm not in love with either... then I won't be coming back.

So... episode three. Will update on Eastwick and Mercy once I've watched. And I'm very much looking forward to tonight's third episode of Flashforward (the second episode addressed some of my concerns, so I'm not thinking I'm giving the series up if episode three isn't up to snuff... but it's time to see this plot advance now that the larger "are we really dealing with this" questions seem to be out of the way).

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Dexter Season Four

Dexter will never be as solid as its first season and will never be as intense as its second season.

I thoroughly disliked last season. I didn't like the Jimmy Smits character one bit.

I'm intrigued by this season, after Sunday's premiere, though it seems like there is almost too much happening at once. I'm concerned that, like Veronica Mars' season season, there are too many mysteries and plot elements and that the show's ambition will be too much and it will collapse in its execution.

As far as long-arc drama / mystery, we've got...
- a new serial killer
- a serial killer in town who has gotten away with it for 30+ years
- an ex-FBI serial killer hunter in town, the man who almost nabbed Dexter last time (season two)
- Dexter off his game thanks to having a newborn

Add to that lots of romantic sideplots (Deb/Anton/ex-FBI guy love triangle... and the way too sudden La Guerta / Bastista romance)...

There's a lot going on. Again, almost too much.

But I'd rather watch a series try to juggle all these balls and have a few (or, let's face it, all) drop to the ground than watch a series deftly "juggle" a single element and nothing more.

But that's just me.

Some thoughts on Wednesday Ratings from September 30, 2009

Posted finals at PIFeedback ( and quarter hour breakdowns for the series premieres of Hank and of The Middle (

I'm thrilled that Glee picked up a little bit (and SYTYCD was up versus what it's been doing this fall season). Last night was great. So much music.

While I didn't like the pilots of either Hank of The Middle (in fact, I disliked Hank so much that I didn't even consider watching the rewritten / reshot pilot to review it... just no interest) and they didn't exactly light up the ratings sky with fireworks... thus far, this Comedy Wednesday that ABC has scheduled is doing MUCH better than I'd anticipated in the ratings. Especially Modern Family and Cougar Town... if they can maintain these numbers in the coming weeks, they'll top Samantha Who's first few episodes' average (and that was coming out of the DWTS Monday performance show when the 9pm half-hour of DWTS was pulling a 5+ in A18-49). As a reminder, last week DWTS at 8:30pm provided a 3.6/11 lead-in, while this week The Middle was 2.6/8. Eastwick has to stop its viewer and demo bleed out of Cougar Town ASAP if it's going to get a back nine. Interesting how much trouble ABC has had, and continues to have, at 10pm. Private Practice is sure to be strong tonight after the whopper of a cliffhanger from last season, but thus it might be the only one above a 3.0 if Brothers & Sisters drops even 0.1

Also, this week, the CBS 8pm comedies took a hit against the ABC comedies. We'll see what happens next week... will viewers and demo return to Old Christine and Gary Unmarried, or will they stick with Hank and The Middle? My guess is Hank suffers (as the 15 minutes drop-off is troubling). I'm not certain about The Middle.

Onto Reality... taking DWTS out of the 8pm hour helped both Top Model and SYTYCD, which all posted highs compared to recent episodes. I guess two reality shows on at the same time on the broadcast networks is the saturation point?

Finally, there's the much maligned Mercy. As I tweeted, I was coerced into watching this episode. Highly predictable. Had some fun, silly moments. And I still like Taylor Schilling as Veronica. But I wouldn't tune back in... there's no reason to. Seen it all before. However... it's on NBC. It only fell 10% this week (from a 2.3 to a 2.1). That's... kinda... good news for NBC? Right?

Tonight... I am recording 12.5 hours of TV. Yes, I know.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Premiere Week... a Few Thoughts

Wow. There is way too much TV. Especially with the Jewish holidays... I am BEHIND in my viewing. Way behind.

A few thoughts, though... not on ratings (since I've largely twittered my impressions), but on the content itself.

House: Haven't watch last night's episode yet so I don't know the extent to which the show is "back to normal," but the premiere was a combination of awesome and troubling. The temporary and new setting was a fun change of pace, and we got to really see how far this show has come from it's highlight lead character but entirely procedural foundations. As all doctors are psychologists on House, even the psychologists, I found the character elements of the premiere fascinating, but the actual story chock full of meh. The character types found in the psych ward were just that... types. Totally seen every single one of them before. But a great piece of Hugh Laurie who, one of these days, might actually win an Emmy.

Big Bang Theory: I thought last night's was funnier than the premiere. The show just puts a smile on my face. It doesn't so much matter to me that it and HIMYM were split up, because DVR make me my own scheduler/programmer.

How I Met Your Mother: Last night's episode showcased exactly what makes this show awesome, and exactly why Ted is the sore thumb. His storyline was almost entirely separate and tangential to the other four characters... and it was the least entertaining part. The rest of the ensemble is interesting. Ted grates. The writers should really have him meet the Mother soon and show us the courtship and be done with it so that we aren't given these awkward little dating stories told from the year 2030 (though, seriously, Bob Saget-Ted, why are you telling your kids about Stripper Lily?) Though we've seen the doppelganger plot on other sitcoms... I really enjoyed the way HIMYM did it.

Grey's Anatomy: Like House, I appreciated the break from formula (though Grey's is certainly less "formula" than House on an episodic basis). The little vignettes were an amalgamation of entertaining, devastating, and uplifting. And I'm really glad the show chose to do with "40 day" thing and get it out of the way so we didn't have to spend the first 10 episodes dealing with mourning stories (though I'm sure we'll still get some). I'm intrigued by the Seattle Grace / Mercy West merger plotline and, boy howdy, Ellen Pompeo's face looked pregnant.

Dollhouse: The premiere wasn't anything special, story-wise. Decent twist with Ballard being Echo's client and now Jamie Bamber's arms dealer. The best part of the episode, as always, was away from Echo, this time with the Topher and Saunders/Whiskey goings-on. Hopefully we'll get more Victor and Sierra in the coming weeks. Though, honestly, I wish the show would just forgot its episodic foundation and hurtle along towards "Epitaph One" territory...

The Amazing Race: God I'm so happy TAR is back. I totally made the mistake of watching it while fasting. Which, if you watched the episode, you know was not a great idea as one of the challenges was a Japanese game show called "Sushi Roulette" (WANT!) which had the contestants standing in front of a giant wheel that spun and you had to eat whatever sushi roll landing in front of you and the only way to move on was, if a wasabi bomb landed in front of you, to eat the wasabi bomb in 2 minutes. I really, really, really wanted a wasabi bomb. I think the producers finally did a bang-up job in casting the contestants this season after a few cycles of non-standouts. Lance is going to make for a great Ugly American villain. Zev, the guy with Asperger's, is hilarious. There are two cute gay brothers. And that female poker player team... MAN, I was happy the first leg was non-elimination so they could stay in the game.

Desperate Housewives: The introduction of Drea de Matteo's character and family was not the smoothest that Housewives has ever done. Still, I'm glad for the "cliffhanger" (which in the "next time" apparently wasn't a murder as Julie is comatose / on life support) to spice the show up. I've ragged on the need for the seasonal mystery arcs in the past, but this episode was pure soap and had, for me, no drive. There was no excitement going into it from the end of last season, which showed in the ratings nosedive.

Thank god I'd already seen all of the pilots so I didn't have to watch them this week (although I did resample Modern Family, Cougar Town, and Flash Forward for the HD awesomeness)... but I definitely will have to find time to view this week. Cougar Town was much improved in reshoots versus the pilot. A lot of unfunny awkward taken out and some funny lines added in.

Friday, September 25, 2009

The Beautiful Cancellation

I'm not trying to gloat, but, um, THANK GAWD that CW canceled The Beautiful Life (though I'm sad for a friend of mine who worked on it and is now unemployed... hopefully they'll do post on the episode my friend wrote so I can see it at some point).

Here's to the CW, and Dawn Ostroff, for making a strong of terrible, terrible decisions as the netlet comes of age that, in the grandest of teen drama traditions, they finally learn from and grow.

Now the big question... which show gets its repeats post-ANTM?
- Melrose Place? Repeating CW's "strategy" last season with 90210, rerunning episodes that aried the day before. While the reruns seemed like they would help with exposure, when the reruns were no longer schedule, it original Tuesday airing didn't increase its viewership.
- The Vampire Diaries? The show is CW's only hit this season (we'll see how Smallville does, but it's looking to be the only show with more than 3 million viewers this week) and one could argue that adding a repeat, rather than increasing overall exposure, would dilute the original viewership... something you definitely don't want to do with your only succeeding show that is in a tough time period. However it would be airing 6 days after the original episode... not the day after. It could provide a "catch up" opportunity to viewers, while not eliminating the day-of "TV to talk about" aspect CW is aiming for.

My best and uneducated guess is CW will go with Melrose Place.

Thursday, September 24, 2009


Meant to post about last night's Glee episode earlier today... Oh, well. I'll be kurt...



Yeah. This episode was hilarious. And focused on the kids instead of the adults (but had plenty of Sue zingers!) And put "Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)" right back into constant loop in my head JUST AFTER I HAD MANAGED TO GET RID OF IT FOLLOWING THE VMAS. DAMN YOU, GLEE.

It was everything I want from Glee, and everything the show didn't deliver last week. Although I have to say that the release of Rachel Berry / Lea Michele's version of "Taking Chances" pulled one over on me... I thought it was going to be akin to her "Take a Bow," some huge emotional moment, and instead we got a snippet of the song in the episode as an audition performance. I'm fine with that. I just have to not make storyline assumptions based on pre-released music!

Next week... EMMY WINNER Kristen Chenowith! How exciting that Glee/Fox gets to promote her as such.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Pilot Screener Review - Trauma

TRAUMA (script review: Trauma)
Status: Premiering Mondays, September 28th @ 9pm on NBC

Trauma is very, very slick. A lot of money went into producing it and it shows. Which is a good thing (you hate to see pilot where a ton of money was plunked down and it DOESN'T show on screen... and there are many examples of that).

But, try as it might... the Tramua pilot did not get me to give a crap about it's characters. I mean, even after some of their team dies in a tragic (and explosive) helicopter-on-helicopter crash of fire and death (which, hilariously, prompts Damages ensemble member Anastasia Griffith to scream her head off for a full minute... seriously, it's FUNNY). The characters are just not strong enough. The action is ultra-dramatic and played so straight that one hopes the show is going for camp value... but it's not.

Which we find out in the last third of the pilot, when the disasters of the week are taken care of and the pilot completely falls apart because there is no emergency to respond to that is keeping us engaged... as the characters definitely have not at that point won me over.

So, first 30 minutes? Pretty good, at least from a "ooh, fire pretty" spectacle level.

Last 15 minutes? Tune-out-apalooza.

Advice for future episodes: carry the disasters the team responds to through the end of the episode.

Pilot Screener Review - Mercy

MERCY (script review: Mercy)
Status: Premiering Wednesday, September 23rd @ 8pm on NBC (tonight!)



I'll write up this review.

Here's the thing you need to know about Mercy's pilot. I was supposed to be reshot. I don't think it was supposed to be rewritten, which means that some of the problems in the pilot would still exist... but it was going to be reshot.

Because, from a pure filmic standpoint... there's no style to Mercy. There is absolutely nothing about it, visually, that astounds or amazes... or even, y'know... catches the eye. The lighting is drab. The actors (let alone the characters) don't really pop.

And that's a problem.

And it was going to be fixed because Mercy was supposed to be a midseason show.

Unfortunately, both for Mercy and Parenthood, Maura Tierney got sick (GET WELL SOON, MAURA) and Mercy was rushed onto the air, rushed into production, scripts pushed through quickly in order to make airing deadlines.

It's all a very unfortunate situation.

Which doesn't entirely give the Mercy pilot a pass... just an asterisk.

Plenty of reviews are out there that unfavorably compare Mercy to Showtime's Nurse Jackie, and it's a valid comparison. From the strident / bitchy (yet somehow sympathetic) lead character to the bumbling newbie nurse underling, to the not-quite-main-character ethnic gay nurse, to the opinion that doctors are idiots... it's cut very much from the same stuff.

On the "doctors are idiots" thing... I yearn for the days of County General, where people made mistakes but, in general, everyone - doctors, nurses, and staff - had a basic level on competency. It doesn't have to be doctors versus nurses.

I still believe that Taylor Schilling as lead character Veronica Callahan is a true find for the show (she has virtually no credits) and that there is potential in this series that many critics are missing by comparing it so wholeheartedly to Nurse Jackie (which, as a show, was waaaaaay overpraised in my opinion). But besides Taylor's fresh face... there really isn't anything new in this pilot. It is still Grey's Anatomy with nurses as the focus instead of surgeons (don't get me started on the ridiculousness of the love triangle plotting) using Nurse Jackie's characters.

However, my plate for this season is entirely full (really, too crowded if I'm being honest), so I won't be checking back into Mercy.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Broadcast Final National Ratings for Monday, September 21, 2009

Since has apparently disappeared... it's final ratings time!

Dancing With the Stars (121 minutes)
- 17.794 million viewers
- 11.3/17 HH
- 4.1/10 A18-49

Castle (59 minutes)
- 9.265 million viewers
- 6.1/10 HH
- 2.3/6 A18-49

How I Met Your Mother
- 9.085 million viewers
- 5.5/8 HH
- 3.6/10 A18-49

Accidentally on Purpose
- 8.912 million viewers
- 5.6/8 HH
- 3.3/8 A18-49
(HIMYM and AOP are not truly well matched... A18-34 scores are massively different, a 3.3/9 for HIMYM and a 2.3/6 for AOP... then again, HIMYM outrates the rest of the CBS Monday lineup in A18-34, BBT is closest with a 3.0/8)

Two and a Half Men
- 13.629 million viewers
- 8.5/12 HH
- 4.5/10 A18-49 (interestingly, the same demo share as HIMYM)

The Big Bang Theory
- 12.956 million viewers
- 7.9/11 HH
- 4.7/11 A18-49

CSI: Miami
- 14.195 million viewers
- 9.0/15 HH
- 4.3/11 A18-49

Heroes (121 minutes)
- 6.105 million viewers
- 3.7/5 HH
- 2.8/7 A18-49

The Jay Leno Show (59 minutes)
- 5.812 million viewers
- 3.9/6 HH
- 1.8/5 A18-49

House (120 minutes)
- 17.133 million viewers
- 9.8/15 HH
- 6.7/18 A18-49

One Tree Hill
- 2.293 million viewers
- 1.5/2 HH
- 1.1/3 A18-49
- 1.6/4 A18-34
- 2.3/6 W18-34

Gossip Girl
- 1.966 million viewers
- 1.4/2 HH
- 1.0/2 A18-49
- 1.6/4 A18-34
- 2.4/6 W18-34

Thursday, September 17, 2009


So, Glee episode three...

Definitely my least favorite of the three that have aired. As I've stated before, I think the kids are the heart of this show, and while there was still music-aplenty (though the story didn't build to any sort of final number... whether soaring like "Don't Stop Believing" or gut-wrenching like "Take a Bow") the focus was too much on Will and his outside project - the "Acafellas" - and that left the kids' story underserviced (and, um... less Sandy, please!)

The kids could've used more attention because the episode started filling out some of the Glee Club members besides Rachel and Finn, which I'm glad to see. The Mercedes/Kurt story could've been really great, but it felt choppy and the twists too sudden... like the "Mercedes is hanging out with Kurt" plot should've been one episode, the next is "she realizes she's falling for him, but he comes out (and, um, we're supposed to be surprised?)" and the next is "they patch things up and are able to be total BFF." Amber Riley has a fantastic voice and got to showcase it, front and center, in "Bust Your Windows." A really fun number... and the most "music video" Glee has given us thus far. Previously all of the numbers were things the characters were actually singing in the moment (even if, like "Take a Bow" it carried over from a rehearsal to singing in the mirror to singing as she watched Quinn and Finn in the hallway) and this was pure fantasy. I don't think it's a bad thing to allow the show to have characters break into fantasy music video (I certainly know that, in my own head, I've done it more than a couple times)... but I hope it's used sparingly.

On the music side... without building the a key emotional beat / performance, I don't think that we'll be seeing a new Glee song on the Billboard Top 100 next week (this week "Take a Bow" hit Number 46). I'm curious... has anyone heard Glee songs played on the radio? Can people request them and actually get them played?

Anyway, next week is "Preggers," an episode that critics screened a little while back (and I think it is now obvious why Fox chose to send out "Showmance" and "Preggers" for review, instead of "Showmance" and "Acafellas"). It's the "Single Ladies" episode. And it is HILARIOUS (and very much back to what I love about Glee... the focus on the kids) and it fills out Kurt's character a lot (something that, as above, was started in this episode).

Monday, September 14, 2009

The Jay Leno Show's Ratings

Will be big tonight. What with Seinfeld and Kanye. And little-to-no competition.

But tonight's ratings, while grabbing headlines tomorrow, mean absolutely nothing.

We'll talk Leno ratings in a couple weeks when the premiere "hype" has died down and there are shows on against it.

Until then... I care not!

The Return of the VMAs

Kanye West has done something for MTV that hasn't really happened in 6 years when Britney and Christina both kissed Madonna: gotten people talking about the VMAs.

Yes, there was a blip 2 years ago with Britney's "comeback" performance of "Gimme More"... but, honestly, compared to the furor over Kanye's microphone stealing stunt... that was nothing!

Also helping this year's case... Russell Brand's, um, brand of comedy aside, it was a GOOD SHOW. Going back to New York City and really scaling the production back up from the 2007 misstep of the Vegas sit-down dinner theater show (with several insanely lame "hotel room satellite parties") and the 2008 Paramount soundstage idiocy... the performers upped their game immensely (though I did love Pink's performance from last year). The MJ dance tribute was a celebration and Madonna's opening speech was somber in an odd-yet-appropriate way for the VMAs (next year, Madge... perform!!) Janet's lip-synching aside, all of the performances were spot-on. I guess this puts me on Team Taylor, but the feat of actually coordinating and producing that subway station, subway ride, and street closure performance was astounding given the noise of subway cars (but there were crowd noises and even clinks of metal that makes me truly believe her microphone was hot for the performance)... especially as it came mere minutes after the Kayne incident. Lady Gaga was over the top drama (and that's the best she's ever sung live), Pink was, well, crazy (and the only other one I suspected was lip-synching), Green Day rocked out, and Beyonce just killed it.

The Season Finale That Wasn't What It Should Have Been

True Blood has been AMAZINGLY ADDICTIVE this season. The ratings and buzz around it show that.

But what a let-down of a finale, only slightly intriguing at the very last moment with a seemingly out of nowhere cliffhanger.

I've been of the opinion that True Blood, since Sookie, Bill, Jason, and Eric returned from Dallas to Bon Temps in episode 10, the show lost some key elements of what made this season so awesome: the hilarious Fellowship of the Sun plot, the Vampire lore brought to us courtesy of Godric and a sense of true danger... not just "wow, that's some crazy shit happening" brought to us by Maryann.

Don't get me wrong. A considerable amount of what made True Blood so awesome this season WAS the Maryann mystery and Michelle Forbes' performance (GIVE THIS WOMAN AN EMMY). But it petered out.

Also making this season a lot of fun: the Jessica / Hoyt romance.

Anyways, two weeks ago, we got a slower-than-usual episode from a series that, this season, has burned through plot like it was a SoCal brush fire (... too soon?) Which, I was sure, was setting the stage for THE FINALE OF ALL FINALES.

Perhaps my expectations were too high.

The episode began creepily enough, and continued to work its way through the plot until Maryann died... unfortunately in a way that was rather predictable (the Sam / Bill combo) given what Sophie-Anne told Bill last week. When the Vampire Queen of Louisiana this week told Eric (who, I guess, is still playing Yahtzee with her?) that the information she gave Bill may be truth based on rumors... but it also might be horseshit. Apparently, it wasn't the latter.

I wouldn't really have a problem with this if the episode had carried the crazy times and tension out to, say, the 3/4 mark. But Maryann died what seemed like under halfway through. And we were left with 30 minutes of epilogue, checking in on EVERY SINGLE TOWNPERSON and getting their thoughts on why they couldn't remember what had happened. Buffy blew by this in 20 seconds at the end of its two-hour pilot with Giles saying that "people have a tendency to rationalize what they can and forget what they can't." Though some characters noted that they didn't think it's the end, there was no last minute reversal in the Maryann plot. It simply came and went.

Which was a massive, massive let-down.

The first season finale ticked me off because, the end of the penultimate episode showed us who the killer was. But we still got a finale that was 50 minutes tension and 10 minutes episode followed by a cliffhanger. The still worked as an hour of television, even if the mystery had been sucked out of it.

This season was so far above the first in quality that it really saddened me to see the finale play out the way it did. The only thing I can think of to try and, well, rationalize this and the penultimate episode of this season (the one from two weeks ago) is that the writers came up with 11 episodes but had to film 12. So two weeks ago we got a plodding pace and very little narrative movement within a "setting the stage" episode... and this week we got half an episode of "finale" and half an episode of "epilogue." Put the two of those episodes together but make them into a single hour... I think that'd be a damn fine episode of television instead of two subpar outings.

Oh, well.

As far as next season goes... yes, I'm still looking forward to it. The questions that were raised in this season and in the finale... what is Sookie, really; who are Sam's parents; who vampnapped Bill (actually, I don't really care about that so much); what is Sophie-Anne's plan with distributing V of her own blood (I've got a theory!); what will become of Jason now that he's shot and killed Eggs; what will become of Jessica (as well as Jessica and Hoyt)... they all intrigue me (and, let's be honest, the only major cliffhangers going into season two was "who is the dead body in Andy's car?" and "what's up with Maryann?" so it's not like the fervor of a great cliffhanger is lacking this go around, especially in comparison to season one).

As to my theory on Sophie-Anne (sigh, I so should not be putting this out there as, of course, it's bound to be flat out wrong)... I haven't read the Sookie Stackhouse books, but given what we've been told about vampire blood (the bonding between Sookie/Bill and Sookie/Eric because she drank their blood), I'm curious whether Sophie-Anne is trying to develop, like, an army of human devotees via spreading her blood around. Just a stab in the dark... also, is Sam going to have a thing for Bill now that he's had a ton of Bill's blood?

Friday, September 11, 2009

Pilot Screener Review - Brothers

Status: Premiering Friday, September 25th @ 8pm on FOX

I couldn't get through the first 5 minutes of Brothers.

That is all.

Pilot Presentation Screener Review - The Beautiful Life: TBL

THE BEAUTIFUL LIFE: TBL (script review: The Beautiful Life)
Status: Premiering Wednesday, September 16th @ 9pm on CW

I'm told that the adding of the odd ": TBL" after the title is due to legal issues. Why CW couldn't just come up with a DIFFERENT TITLE or, perhaps, like CSI, put the acronym before the title gets spelled out... will forever remain a mystery to me.

Please note, this review is over a 25 minute presentation screener, not the full pilot that will air this coming Wednesday. As such, many scenes are missing. Usually presentations film the key scenes along the A-plot and leave much of the rest to be filmed in case of pickup, but in this case, no exterior scenes were shot because the presentation was not shot in New York City and they knew that, if picked up, the series would be shot in NYC. So there is, actually, some connective tissue missing.

However, very little had changed since the script I read. So the "problems" I had remain. It's vapid, shallow, boozy and drugy, and I feel will be hard for anyone outside of CW's 2.5 million-ish viewers who watch Gossip Girl, 90210, and sampled the Melrose Place premiere. Spelling worse news for TBL is the fact that its lead-in, America's Next Top Model, premiered extremely softly on Wednesday. ANTM is no longer the crown jewel it once was, and it has never been that effective of a lead-in, anyway (the only "success story" to lead out of ANTM has been Gossip Girl, which really only "took off" if you think it ever did, once it moved to Mondays at 8pm). ANTM's second hour of its two-hour premieres is usually significantly stronger than the first (which is the "semi-final" round before the competition actually starts), but that was not the case this cycle, as ANTM faced Glee's premiere. So... we'll see what happens next week. ANTM might rebound. Maybe. ANTM being out of Glee's way doesn't help TBL, though, as it is moving right into the musical show's timeslot (and here's hoping Glee remains the demo magnet it was in the premiere and doesn't suffer a huge 2nd week drop-off).

Anyway. Content. This is a review, after all. I won't say much about the plot, such as it is. Several key scenes were missing. This presentation was all about the clothes, the bodies, the flash and glamour. It certainly hits all those marks. Corbin Bleu, though featured in the print campaign, is barely in the pilot... but his presence MIGHT attract a few High School Musical fanatics to the show. Another big name in the cast who I felt was underused (but, again, may be bigger in the full pilot) was Elle MacPherson as the head of the modeling agency, Claudia Foster. I really wanted to feel her Wilhelmina Slater / Miranda Priestly and just didn't get enough of a read on her.

TBL, regardless of its success, will launch the career of Sara Paxton, who plays Raina, the young hot new model in the model house. She is everything you want in a young female lead on the CW (and more)... charming, pretty, innocent, and immensely likable.

I'm not sure I can say the same of Ben Hollingsworth, who plays Chris Andrews, the other "innocent" in the show and is Raina's love interest (a point in the script about Raina's age - 15 years old - though I don't believe it was stated in the presentation but should be in the pilot as it was a key twist in a plot thread... so we'll see if this actually develops into anything that won't veer too close to statutory rape... Chris's age is ambiguous but he's older than 15).

Chris is "discovered" in a restaurant while his family and he and visiting NYC by a man named Simon. Simon takes Chris to Claudia's agency and Claudia demands he take his shirt off. So Chris does. This is terrible, but we ARE talking about models in this show. While he has a great face, my reaction was that Ben Hollingsworth needed to lose 20 pounds so that he have more visibly defined abs (the holy grail of male modeling is, after all, underwear modeling). Perhaps he has lost weight between presentation and series filming, but I have a sneaking suspicion that the abs in the print campaign are painted on. Ben is also too short to be a model (the girls are taller), as in Corbin Bleu.

But whatever.

Also whatever: Mischa Barton.

I will be watching the pilot when it airs on Wednesday to see if everything comes together with the full 43 minutes instead of just 25. But I don't see this as being a show I would stick with. Especially when Glee and Modern Family are on against it.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Pilot Screener Review - Life UneXpected

Life UneXpected (script review: Light Years)
Status: Midseason on CW

A couple weeks back, someone asked me to list CW's new fall series in order of my preference. Here we go:

1) The Vampire Diaries
2) The Beautiful Life (though this was only a presentation)
3) Melrose Place

Which is not to say that I loved The Vampire Diaries (see my review here). It is merely the least problematic of the three (though, if you choose to watch tonight, I'd love to get a count of the number of times you laugh when the show isn't asking you to laugh but you do so anyway...)

My love of The Body Politic not withstanding because it, inexplicably, was not picked up and CW is feeling the low-rated wrath of premiering too many carbon copy shows instead of a true original, Life UneXpected is actually my favorite of CW's new series for the 2009-10 season (which, given my complete hatred of the script should shock you)!

I'm happy to say that the cheesiest of lines from the script were thoroughly reworked or just cut altogether, that Brittany Robertson as the (kind of?) titular Lux comes off as sympathetic and strong (and not the near-bitch from the script), that Shiri Appleby is quite magnetic (even if her character, Cate, isn't as fully-formed as I hope she becomes) and has chemistry with both Kerr Smith's Ryan and Kristoffer Polaha (who plays Nate, Lux's father, and is no longer the complete slacker character from the script though still a bit of a man-child).

In short... the core cast works. You care for Lux. You want her to be supported. You don't necessarily want Cate and Nate to get back together because Cate is kind of cute with Ryan (though she is stronger with Nate... mostly because they're allowed to be at odds in the pilot which ramps up the electricity). Gone are several of the unnecessary and cliche plot threads (though expect things to be telegraphed a mile away and for a heavy dose of schmaltz). There's a focus... Lux, and the adults who are going to be a part of her life's relationship to her.

That I didn't hate it made me like it even more... though it's still not something I, personally, would seek out (again, heavy schmaltz and it does still smack of things we've seen before). But the fact that the show isn't about overly sexed 20-somethings in a posh urban setting reminds me of "old school" WB shows (closer to a 7th Heaven / Gilmore Girls amalgamation than resembling, say Dawson's Creek) and gives me a bit of hope for, well, a potential future where the CW isn't just serving up remakes of '90s Fox soaps.

Glee, or Why the CW is Wrong Wrong Wrong

So the premiere of Glee's preliminary ratings are in. 7.315 million viewers, a 4.6/7 in HH, and 3.3/9 in A18-49, with approximately a 70% female audience. (EDIT: in finals, Glee improved to 7.502 million viewers and a 3.5/9 in A18-49, while HH remained the same)

Here's an interesting number, though... 5.3/14 (EDIT: 5.4/15 in finals, a 28.57% gain) in W18-34 (and in a very positive sign for Glee... this was 26.19% above its final 4.2/12 W18-34 rating from the post-Idol preview in May, which wa. This is supposed to be CW's target demo... the reason it exists. Here's the W18-34 from Tuesday's Melrose Place's premiere (also preliminary): 2.5/7. The MP premiere was just as hyped as Glee's. And Glee more than doubled MP's rating in CW's sweet spot.

A little more perspective: Gossip Girl's series high in W18-34 is a 4.3/12 (finals from September 15, 2008), though by the end of last season it wasn't breaking a 3.0.

Yes, it's too soon (following a much-hyped premiere, and without regular competition... though Wipeout and America's Got Talent are two of summer's biggest threats) to say Glee is a smashing success. We'll see how the ratings and demos trend.

But here's what I do know (and, well, we've all known it for a long time): The CW is WRONG.

I'm privy to development objectives of the various networks because, as a writer, you have to know where to take projects based on what people are interested in. The is vehement about not doing shows about high school. They do shows, like Gossip Girl and Vampire Diaries, that feature high school characters, but they try and focus those shows away from school and more on the town and extra-curricular lives of the characters (I don't watch 90210, but has the school setting been largely phased out?) They are also phasing teenage characters out... they prefer 20-something female leads. It is far more interested in revamps and remakes and adaptations than original creations (that's not to say they aren't developing purely original material... just that the general industry wisdom is that they are encouraging more of the "90210 and Melrose Place revamp" ilk... though perhaps that will change after Tuesday's bombing).

Glee proves the CW wrong (as does to ratings success of Secret Life of the American Teenager, as does the success of the WB a decade ago with teenage shows about high school and high schoolers... that spoke universally to an American experience that everyone always goes through... there are always more people entering and exiting high school, while Gossip Girl clings to its 2.5 million viewer niche). Glee may have a split focus between the stories of the teens and those of adults, but its biggest strength is, very plainly, the teens and the high school experience. We don't see much of the classroom, and that's fine... the high school exists as a social entity, showing a dichotomy of cool and uncool and the trials and tribulations of teenage romance. I may enjoy Jane Lynch's zingers as Sue Sylvester... but I'm coming back again and again for the kids (and the show better not forget that and focus too heavily on the adults!) Clearly, females 18-34 are interested in this (because you cannot tell me that the musical element is the real reason people are tuning in... there's way too many examples of why that's not true, though Glee is certainly doing the musical TV show thing better than it's been done before).

I sincerely hope Dawn Ostroff is paying attention (or gets fired and someone competent is put in charge... at long last) and The CW attempts to develop shows in the spirit of The WB's heyday though at this point, it may be too little too late.

I challenge the CW to create as show as purely enjoyable (if not as unique) as Glee. If it does... I predict strong ratings would be its reward.

Top Chef Las Vegas: High Stakes, But Is The Game Rigged?

I am absolutely loving this season of Top Chef. The Las Vegas setting has been fun and, though at first I was wary of the "golden chip" high stakes quickfires, they haven't been used every week and this week even brought a "punish the loser" quickfire elimination (plus the "one bite to save your life" challenge for the bottom three).

There's only one thing that has been dampening my enjoyment of this season, though... the seemingly pre-ordained Top Four: Jennifer, Kevin, and brothers Bryan and Mike V. No one else comes close to their achievements (off the show... Eric Ripert's chef de cuisine, two James Beard Award nominees, and chef de cuisine at Michelin star-awarded restaurant!) and their consistency of high quality food and/or innovation on the show.

I'd almost feel bad for the other contestants if the women besides Jennifer weren't so comparably poor (seriously, the first four cheftestants eliminated were women... and no defenses could be made in any of their cases of the judges choosing the wrong person to pack up their knives and go...) or if the men besides those three and loud-mouth / semi-villain Mike I. had made an impression.

For now, it's just nice to sit back and watch to see (a) if any of the "ringers" will screw up, and (b) if anyone will come out of nowhere and surprise like last season's Carla.

Are you loving this season?

Wednesday, September 9, 2009


While reading Nikki Finke today Isaw her post CBS Even More Desperate Marketer Than NBC?.

I received a similar e-mail from YouCast about pimping Three Rivers (which, as I've stated before, I will not be reviewing because the screener I saw will be massively recast and potentially rewritten... and for you Alex O'Loughlin fans out there... be thankful!)

Where's my $20 Amazon Gift Certificate offer for pimping The Good Wife, though, what with me writing a glowing review of my own volition?

Sigh. That's really pathetic and certainly despierate if this YouCast crap is coming from CBS (which I hope it isn't).

Anyone else out there with a TV blog gotten the YouCast spam?

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Pilot Screener Review - Cougar Town

Status: Premiering Wednesday, September 23rd @ 9:30pm on ABC

When I heard the premise and title of this project months and months ago, I definitely threw it aside as one for the junk heap. A one-note joke played several times too often over the span of a rubbish-filled 23 minutes. So I was surprised when I enjoyed (but did not fall head over heels for) the pilot, again, aside from those opening moments, which have the beautiful Cox staring in a mirror, dressed in nothing but a towel, and squeezing parts of her body that are showing signs of wear and tear. That the camera does a close up on the "waddle" of underarm fat and unsightly stomach ripples makes me believe that the body parts in question don't actually belong to the gorgeous Courtney Cox. Movie magic, you know? Anyway, it's a jarring start.

Aside from some startling opening visuals, Cougar Town (which is the name of the town...) goes down easy and Courtney gets to revisit the light-yet-endearing realm of sitcom star after venturing unsuccessfully into Dirt. Real estate agent Jules Cobb is prone to physical comedy, which plays well to Courtney's strengths.

The plot is what you expect. A single mom / divorcee in her mid-30s decides to seek male companionship with hot, young guys. But, blissfully, it's played as something Jules rejects, struggles with (what with having a teenage son... and getting caught...), and finally accepts. If an across the cul-de-sac neighbor played by Josh Hopkins (who I really wish would get recast as there isn't much chemistry between him and Cox... due to him... and, ultimately, you'd think that they are meant to be together) can do it, so can she!

The plot isn't what you come for, though. In fact... on paper, everything about this show is really, really wrong. There isn't really a female empowerment message, as the answer to Jules's problems, at first, really does seem to be going out and getting laid for the first time in a long while. The word "cougar" has been so overplayed in the last few years that it's practically lost all meaning. But it somehow works.

You come for Courtney Cox on top of her game. You come for her character's friendship with a married neighbor (Christa Miller) and with her work partner (Busy Phillips), both of whom get plenty of opportunity to shine (Christa Miller seems to hits similar notes to Jordan in Scrubs, but far less Alpha Bitch). You come for the incredibly sitcom antics of her ex-husband (could he be any more of a caricature?) that surprisingly work in the heightened reality of this single-camera world... and help make you sympathize with put-upon son, Travis (played by Aliens in America's Dan Byrd). And you come for the little moments (such as finding an even older woman making cat claw gestures at Jules as encouragement in a club when Jules starts talking to a young man, and Busy Phillips's delivery of the line "Sweetie, you know you're not coordinated enough to walk backwards in heels.")

Again, it shouldn't work. But I found myself invited back. I don't know how many visits I'll be making to Cougar Town... that all depends on whether the show can hit a few newer notes.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Pilot Screener Review - The Good Wife

THE GOOD WIFE (script review: The Good Wife)
Status: Premiering Tuesday, September 22nd @ 10pm on CBS

I had to rewatch The Good Wife to really get a handle on how, well, good it is. This is an intense drama, people. And the screener I have is 47 minutes long, so some things will be gone for the "for air" version.

Julianna Margulies. Remember her? Nurse Carol? She tried the whole "lawyer show" thing a couple seasons ago with Canterbury's Law. It didn't work out. Want to know what makes Alicia Follick different from Elizabeth Canterbury, and why The Good Wife will (or, really ought to) work, besides being on CBS instead of FOX?

You actually like Alicia. From the very first moment she is on screen, which is, of course, the very first moment of the pilot. You feel for her and you root for her. She is a strong, lovable broadcast TV heroine where Elizabeth Canterbury was deeply flawed, abrasive, and better suited for cable (if anything). The challenges Alicia faces in her personal life (her husband, the States Attorney of Illinois, was caught sleeping with a prostitute and, perhaps, abusing the powers of his office...) and professional life (a competition between her and a young upstart for a sole junior associate position, for starters, but there's more as her case in the pilot plays out) are significant and, of course, Alicia has her doubts and you love her all the more for them. There is a beautiful moment about 15 minutes in where Alicia is talking to Jennifer, the woman at the center of the murder trial in the pilot, about what she's going to do with herself now that she's been released from jail for the remainder of the retrial. It's a seminal moment where you learn everything you need to know about Alicia.

But Julianna isn't the only standout among this cast. There are two other cast members I'd like to point out for their performances here, and two others I'm definitely looking forward to getting to know more.

Chris Noth plays Peter Follick, Alicia's now-incarcerated husband and, somehow, you don't hate him for doing what he's done. You can't love him, either, though... and that's because Alicia hasn't decided how she feels yet (she doesn't care about the abuse of power charges he's appealing, she cares about him cheating on her and there being video on YouTube and their kids being exposed, etc). Her POV is all-encompassing in this pilot.

Archie Panjabi plays Kalinda, an in-house investigator working with Alicia on Jennifer's case. She is... hilarious. Some much needed levity (though not comic relief) in this heavy drama.

Also adding some levity: ringtones programmed into Alicia's cell by her daughter (including the Twilight Zone theme for her mother in law).

Two characters I'm interested in getting to know are played by Josh Charles and Christine Baranski (who hopefully will be allowed to return to Big Bang Theory as Leonard's mother!) They play partners at the law firm Alicia joins, Josh's character Will is a longtime friend of Alicia's, while Christine's character Diane plays mentor who develops an ax to grind when Alicia, without informing her, takes a different strategy with Jennifer's case (it is a pro bono case going to retrail and Diane has to go back to billable hours).

It's not often that a screener of a script I loved wows me. It happens far more often when I wasn't as high on the script, but changes were made and the story translated well to the screen. I'm beyond pleased that The Good Wife works even better on screen than the script I read (and loved) did.

I'm less pleased with CBS's outdoor marketing of the show, which don't even hint at the fact that it's a legal show (the tagline: "His scandal. Her story.") Here's hoping viewers find this gem against midweek Leno (he won't be getting the biggest names on Tuesdays, I'm sure!) and the, um, whatever show ABC is airing that I won't be reviewing (much like CBS's Three Rivers) due to significant cast changes. Oh, right. The Forgotten. Quite. So the competition might not be that strong and the NCIS: Los Angeles lead-in should be good. Still, it can't hurt to be pulling for good ratings!

Pilot Screener Review - Community

Status: Premiering Thursday, September 17th @ 9:30pm on NBC (and moving to 8pm after SNL: Weekend Update Thursday is done)

I should like the pilot for Community more than I did, which is not to say I didn't like it. I laughed. Quite a bit, actually. Of course, stick John Oliver in a few scenes as a saucy foil and I'm sure to be entertained.

I believe the issue I have with Community is with its lead, Joel McHale, who I love on The Soup. He plays a shark named Jeff here. A fast-and-smooth talking shark of a lawyer who, because of a slightly amusing (but generally implausible setup) mixup regarding his undergraduate education, must now attend and graduate from Greendale Community College or else be disbarred.

Jeff fits into NBC's Thursday night lineup of somewhere between Michael Scott and Jack Donaghy... only I think his character has the least likable qualities of each and, as such, I'm worried (for a funny show that I hope succeeds) that the audience will be turned off. He can be abrasive. He outright lies to try and sleep with a young woman (though the lie is certainly found out by the end). He wheels, deals, and manipulates people to semi-nefarious ends.

And yet... we're asked to like him.

It may be asking too much.

Jeff certainly has his redeeming moments and lovable qualities, but they are not hit on enough (or separately from his manipulations) to balance out. Favorite moment, for me, is when he encounters an older black woman in a cafeteria and, because of watching too much TV, expects her to impart sage wisdom.

Which, as above, will be a shame because there is a lot of funny to be had in this pilot, and a standout supporting performance by Danny Pudi as Abed.

I'll be watching... but the show has to fully win me over by the time it moves to 8pm, as there is a lot of competition on Thursday night.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Pilot Screener Review - Accidentally on Purpose

Status: Premiering Monday, September 21st @ 8:30pm on CBS

You know when you're watching a traditional sitcom and you're having a totally harmless good time with the jokes flying left and right and then something comes along and stops you in your tracks? That was my experience with Accidentally on Purpose.

The first nine minutes were a lot of fun. I actually enjoyed Jenna Elfman (which is so not an easy thing on my part to admit) and the cast of characters was entertaining, even if I was confused that all three of the lead women on the show were white blondes (I guess Ashley Jensen's Scottish background helps separate them slightly). Jon Foster was amusing.

And then the first act out came. I was dreading it because you could tell (a country mile away) what was coming even though I didn't really know what the series premise was. And I cringed when Jenna's character, Billie, announced her pregnancy.

And my enjoyment of Accidentally on Purpose stopped right there.

Part of it is my fault. I read all of the drama scripts and don't, for the most part, even look at the comedy loglines to know what any given pilot is about. But, again, you could tell this "twist" was coming.

Here's my problem (well, here are several of my problems) and why I won't be watching when this premieres in a couple weeks.

Billie has a job: she is a movie critic, and rising star in that world (so, she's an opportunity for writers to throw in pop culture references while never actually showing her work). Then the pregnancy comes and there's really never a thought given to abortion (just like Lynette towards the end of this season of Desperate Housewives). I'm not advocating that all women should get abortions always, but when you're in a situation like this... why is the question not asked? I know... too risque for broadcast TV now (hell, even Family Guy couldn't get its abortion episode aired).

Billie is presented as a career woman (despite that fact that she was carrying on a longterm relationship with her boss, Grant Show, that ended and sent her into a mindset where she would seek out a one night stand with a young man like Jon's character Zack... way to be a strong, independent woman, Billie). Zack and his friends (in their 20s) are presented in a (slacking, freeloading, goofball) way that feels, honestly, as it the show is only trying to speak to 50+ year-olds. I dislike that my generation is presented as such (even if, yes, there are certainly 20somethings like this). It's cynical and it talks down to me in a way that I feel How I Met Your Mother viewers won't respond to at all. The pilot does a decent job filling out Zack's character, but the other guys are just caricatures.

And so the last 14 minutes of the pilot are, of course, about Billie and Zack's relationship (such as they have one). He even moves in with her (for a platonic relationship... sure, that'll keep). Which is just weird, if you ask me. Too soon! It's not like the baby is even remotely close to being born yet.

Speaking of... the baby. Babies ruin sitcoms. That's my opinion and I'm sticking to it.

I think I would have loved this pilot if the show had been about this late-30s woman who, after breaking up with a longterm boyfriend, started a relationship with a much younger man, expecting it to be a one night stand and having it develop into something more. But with that something more being a baby right off the bat... nope.


I've finally accepted the fact that I need to give Travis Yanan his own Twitter account, in addition to my "real life" persona having an account. This is going to confuse me endlessly.

But, anyway. Expect reviews (certainly going to post everything that is premiering before it premieres... and will definitely be busting out the busted pilots) and linkage!

Follow me!

Monday, August 31, 2009

Fall 2009 Viewing Schedule

Thank the providers that AT&T lets me record up to four shows at once (max of 2 of those at a time in HD)

Please note that new shows get a couple episodes to prove themselves (and some are very much on the fence, denoted below by an asterisk. These shows have something to prove to me (i.e. fill out their presentation, or just have an episode two that shows promise beyond premise)

- 8pm: How I Met Your Mother, Heroes (I feel like I will always give this show one or two episodes each season... just to see...), House
- 9pm: Gossip Girl (the second episode of this season IS AMAZING)
- 9:30pm: Big Bang Theory

- 8pm: The Biggest Loser, So You Think You Can Dance, V (supposedly Tuesdays at 8pm in November)
- 10pm: The Good Wife

- 8pm: So You Think You Can Dance, America's Next Top Model
- 9pm: Modern Family, Glee, The Beautiful Life: TBL*
- 9:30pm: Cougar Town*

- 8pm: FlashForward, SNL: Weekend Update Thursday, Community*, Bones, the Vampire Diaries*
- 9pm: Grey's Anatomy, The Office, Fringe
- 9:30pm: Community*, 30 Rock
- 10pm: Private Practice* (yes, yes, not a new show... I'm very curious to see how the cliffhanger plays out, and Bailey is going to be crossing over... shut up), The Mentalist (though I did utterly fail to catch up on the first season over the summer... whoops)

- 9pm: Ugly Betty, Dollhouse

- 8pm: The Amazing Race, The Simpsons
- 8:30pm: The Cleveland Show* (haven't seen it yet)
- 9pm: Desperate Housewives, Family Guy, Three Rivers* (what with the pilot being completely reshot and almost entirely recast, I have to watch the new pilot to be able to make a true judgment...)
- 9:30pm: American Dad (the Christmas episode this season was presented in three forms at Comic Con and reminded me that this show can be outrageously funny...)
- 10pm: Brothers & Sisters

Sigh. So much TV. So little sleep.

And this is just broadcast... I will still be watching Mad Men, ABDC, Top Chef, Project Runway, Psych and White Collar (when it premieres in October)... thank god for DVRs and lazy weekends.

Summer Cable Roundup

It certainly has been The Summer of Cable, has it not? Or at least A Summer of Cable, as the broadcast networks really have nothing to speak of on the air... I mean, really, the only network TV I feel that I watched this summer was So You Think You Can Dance and I'm really worried that it starts again in a week! Too soon!

An opinion summary, by night (besides my Mon-Fri addiction to Rachel Maddow, of course)!


The Closer - A decent enough summer season that got off to a rough start (no mention of Brenda's wedding or honeymoon? So weird!) and had the whole "sick/dying cat" plotline replaced with a far more tolerable "my naughty niece is in town and getting involved in my murder investigations" plotline. Mary McDonnell guest starred twice, the second time she really got to do some new character stuff instead of just doing a Laura Roslin impersonation (and the final showdown in that episode, about the continuing fallout post-Rampart in the LAPD and community relations was a very good Closer moment).

WEEDS - The season started lazily to the point that I asked (and continue to ask) "why am I still watching this show?" It is a shadow of its former self. Nancy is thoroughly unlikable, to the point that I, honestly, am constantly hoping she gets killed so I can stop seeing Mary Louise Parker phone it in every week. This show used to be so damn subversive. Elizabeth Perkins as Celia Hodes was the highlight this season, after spending last year being a put-upon depressive hag she finally got a backbone and is starting to (in a very different way) be that entertaining protagonist/antagonist she used to be. Last week, when she first donned the Nancy wig and garb and latte was, actually, a hoot. For me. Because Perkins so blithely played up all the MLPisms as well as got to ask Nancy how she could drink all those lattes and not have to constantly pee. Bottom line: this show has not been remotely the same since leaving Agrestic. Irrevocable. I'd say "I'm not going to watch next season" but, like Entourage, so long as I'm subscribing the the pay cabler it's airing on, it's gonna be recorded, and I'm gonna watch it.

Nurse Jackie - The critics loved this. I was at first very thrown by the lack of funny. Then about halfway through the season I actually laughed at a joke in the show. It was one of few times. I just wish Showtime would stop labeling NJ as a comedy... it's not. And just having the comedy label alters my weekly expectations. This is a great exercise of a show... can you like the lead character despite the fact that she's a strident bitch who is addicted to prescription drugs and is sleeping around on her husband? The answer? If played by Edie Falco... yes. However, the end of the season left me scratching my head. Instead of building to a fantastic cliffhanger leaving us on the edge of our seats for 10 months or howver long it is until the show returns... there was a rat crawling around in the lighting.


I, um, did not watch anything scripted on Tuesday this summer... and just as well because I have a weekly get-together that often runs until 11pm. Yes, yes, this means I didn't watch Warehouse 13. Somehow... I'm not feeling too out of the loop. Prove me wrong, people. I did, however, watch The Real Housewives of New Jersey. I'd never watched a Real Housewives season before and have no interest in the other casts, but friends told me about NJ and, as a previous resident of the Garden State, I felt it my duty to watch what happened. And I loved what happened. Even if I still have no idea what Teresa said while flipping that table.


Top Chef Masters - I didn't love TCM in the first six episodes. Unlike the mothership series, we didn't really get to invest in the master chefs until the championship rounds, at which point the show had me completely hooked and I'm glad I stuck with it. If there's a second edition, though, my suggestions would be to lose robotic Kelly Choi (she proved just how much Padma does for Top Chef) and feature 12 master chefs, losing one each week like the regular series does and like the series did once it got to the championship rounds and we were able to bond with the various masters. Oh, and of the three regular critics, only keep Gael Greene. I couldn't stomach Rayner and I could barely look at Oseland...

Top Chef - Only two weeks into the competition, I'm relishing it. A colorful assortment of personalities and many with astounding, Top Chef-ready abilities (two James Beard nominees, the girl who works for Eric Ripert, and the guy who has a Michelin star... way to stack the deck, Top Chef!) I, at first, feared the "high stakes quickfire challenge" thing (that I hope isn't used EVERY week) was a bit shark jumping... but, y'know, they're having fun with the Vegas backdrop. Let them.


Burn Notice - Basic cable's crown jewel. The ratings were almost as entertaining to watch as the show itself and, like the show itself, the ratings improved (certainly compared to its lead-out) as the summer season came to an end. Who'd have thunk two years ago that this show would be outrating The Closer by wide margins in the demo and hitting pretty close to it on a weekly basis (and sometimes surpassing it) in viewership?

Royal Pains - I stuck with the show and, season just having reached its end last week, still am ambivalent about it. Mark Feuerstein has to be one of the most boring actors to watch, so it's amazing that when his Hank is onscreen with love interest Jill... I'm more interested in him. Jill Flint. Blandsville! They tried to spice up the relationship (which, IMHO, progressed far too much and too quickly) by throwing Bruno Campos into the mix... but he'll always be the eunuch Carver from Nip/Tuck (together with showkiller Kat Toder) to me. Paulo Costanzo's Evan, in small doses, is fun. But the show often gives him too much quirk and too much screentime. I'd rather they focus on Reshma Shetty's Divya. Hell, just do the whole show about Divya. I'm curious about the cliffhanger the writers presented us... as the show doesn't return until Summer 2010, will we be picking back up 9 months later?

The Fashion Show - A creative disaster for Bravo that, in the end, did nothing much for "fashion" in the way Project Runway did. Isaac Mizrahi? Buh bye, darling. And where is Kelly Rowland's fashion expertise coming from? Her attendance record at fashion shows? The show had far too many group challenges to start off with, and far too few talented designers. Anna, as a non-bitch, was obviously going to win the viewer vote at the end (I was surprised that, suddenly, the show turned into a viewers vote for the winner show). Daniella was talented and I think the show introduced her to the right people she'll need to give her career a kick start.

Project Runway - Like Top Chef, we are two weeks into this new cycle. Unlike Top Chef, I'm unhappy with where its gone so far. Not that they made stellar clothing, but kicking Ari and then Malvin (who oddly reminded me of Fashion Show's Jean-Paul) off in favor of Mitchell... who apparently can't sew? What!? Project Runway has usually embraced its oddballs at the beginning of the season, waiting to see if they will wow the judges when really lectured and put to the test. At least that's how Bravo handled it. Lifetime, on the other hand, has added the mildly diverting half-hour follow-up series Models of the Runway, which actually gives the models a voice... which is, of course, shocking, shallow, catty, and a wonderful way to kill 22 minutes (and brain cells?) each week.


Psych - Love me some Sean and Gun antics, but have the antics gotten to be too much? The cases thus far this season seem to be very far in the rearview mirror to leave room for more of the quirky comedy. Not that it's a huge problem. I always get many laughs out of the antics and it's a great way to start the weekend (or, um, spend a lazy, warm Saturday afternoon... seriously, LA, turn the heat down...)


True Blood - No discussion of Summer 2009 TV would be complete without a discussion of True Blood, no? Let's talk ratings, first. I was shocked last year when the marketing for the show came out and friends at HBO commented "We wish the show was as good as the marketing." Well, guess what. The show is now cementing its place as the best piece of escapist, summer frivolity in recent memory. It's silly! It's horror! It's emotional! It's creepy! It's romantic! And the ratings are showing, as they grow every week, that a thoroughly serialized show doesn'y have to start big to become a massive success. What did this show premiere to its first season? 1.44 million? How many viewers did it have on August 23rd? 5.3 million? Yeah. Great news for HBO, certainly, which desperately needed a ratings and buzz magnet. And the DVD sales of the first season have been through the roof. I was disappointed in this Sunday's penultimate episode of the season. It felt like it was setting the stage for a great finale... but little else. And I want more out of this show, which thus far this season has given us SO MUCH TO TALK ABOUT. Ugh, I can't believe we have to wait two weeks until the finale. Torture!

Hung - Oh, my. Even more than Nurse Jackie, this series is a reason for HBO and Showtime to invent a new word for some of their half-hour offerings (seriously, what's so wrong with calling it a drama? Why does it have to be labeled a "comedy"?) There is nothing fun or funny about this show. And it's a show that should be fun and funny. I mean, it's a show on a pay cabler that can get away with curse words and nudity about a male prostitute. COME ON! The writers should have looked at the first season of Weeds for inspiration. The shows seem very similar in premise... down on their luck single parents starting an illicit means of making money to support their lives and children. The Lenore character is crazy and fun, and Natalie Zea's run was good (mostly because I adore her... but the character has this weird, perverse fantasy to her and that was GOOD because it was DIFFERENT) but all of the regulars are sad to watch. And listen to. Especially the overused voiceovers.

Entourage - My opinion on this season of Entourage is, as I mentioned with WEEDS, that I would stop watching if I stopped subscribing to HBO and I wouldn't care. But as long as it's there, I'm watching. Which is stupid. The season has been atrocious. Skipping past Vince's darkest hour at the end last season (that Ari Gold, of course, managed to solve), we find him back on top of the world. And he's going to be in a new movie! Only... it gets delayed by 12 weeks SO VINCE HAS NOTHING TO DO. HE HAS NO PLOT. WTFWTFWTFWTF!? Meanwhile E is sleeping with a 13 year old girl (who is apparently just a very anorexic 24...) and pinning for Sloane (really?) while being handed a dream job at a big management company that he, for whatever reason, has to think about taking. Drama has a lot of time on his hands for someone who stars in a TV drama, and time enough to have the stupidest tiff ever with a studio executive (not even a president-level executive). Gary Cole is being amusing thank god, and Autumn Reeser showed up once or twice. Basically, if the show took place at the Miller Gold Agency, I would still be enamored of the show. But as it does not... I am not. The "Fab Four" are b-o-r-i-n-g. And every week they manage to top the previous week's level of tedium.

Mad Men - Speaking of tedium... LOL. I really do get sucked into the world of Mad Men. But the three episodes thus far this season have been meditative, slow-moving character pieces to the point that I am dying for something to actually HAPPEN. I love the characters, I love the world, I love the tension added in the office from the British Invasion, I love the depiction of the class struggle, I love pretty much everything to do with Peggy at the office (but that college boy dalliance, her Don Draper in training moment from the second episode... not so much). Seriously, Peggy has gotten some great lines this season. And, of course, Joan. Joan Joan Joan. Everything is just starting to feel far too quiet and go too slowly.

America's Best Dance Crew - Three weeks in and I haven't been consistently wowed by any crew the last in ABDC3 Beat Freakz and Quest Crew always amazed. I've thoroughly enjoyed numbers by Vogue Evolution (but leave the apparent behind the scenes drama behind the scenes!), We Are Heroes, Massive Monkees (but B-Boys always throw impressive tricks in) and Rhythm City. Was surprised Beat Ya Feet Kings didn't go home the first week because of the sloppy performance, but they had a good story to tell. Really, though, still waiting to be wowed.

So... that's my cable summer. Agree? Disagree? Think I should've been watching something that I'm not (I know, I know, I should be watching Leverage... I just don't for some reason)?

Coming soon... more screener reviews and my (depressingly daunting) Fall 2009 viewing schedule (that will certainly come first... perhaps even tonight as I get my affairs in order, and will give away some of my as-yet-unwritten reviews).

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Pilot Screener Review - Melrose Place

Status: Premiering Tuesday, September 8th @ 9pm on CW

I must admit... I did enjoy the original Melrose Place. So know that going into this review. There will always be a place in my heart for primetime soap that lets itself play on the ridiculousness and not give a damn.

I also live very close to the actual Melrose Place (the street in West Hollywood, not the location) and so, every day, am bombarded with about 10 billboards per block reminding me that Tuesday is the New Hump Day (blech), Menage a Tues (um...?) and that Tuesdays are a Bitch (YES! THAT'S A GOOD SLOGAN TOTALLY IN SPIRIT WITH MELROSE PLACE!)

The oversaturation may annoy me.

But not as much as this pilot did.

The new Melrose Place, outside of Katie Cassidy's star turn as resident bitchtress and "tri-sexual" Ella Simms, is a collection of utterly stupefying schlock. There are no characters. Oh, for sure, there is attempt at character given through ethnicity, hair color and job description (the Naive New Red Head in Town, the Dark-Haired Chef with a Secret, the Sandy Blond Guy with Daddy Issues, the Vaguely Hipster-ish Filmmaker, the Asian Medical Student). But these are not characters. These are merely cardboard cutouts moved through locations to the backing music of every Top 40 song you are already sick of from Spring/Summer 2009. Oh, sure there's the shock of "Huh, Sydney isn't dead?" and the mystery of "Oh, Sydney is dead because she shows up dead in the MP pool at the end of the first act in a Sunset Boulevard homage that The L Word also failed at doing adequately" but, given everything else... do we really expect this mystery to play out satisfyingly? Isn't it a little too soon after Lily Kane's death to be attempting a poolside homicide mystery arc?

Then there's Sandy Blond Guy with Daddy Issues who is apparently Michael's son even though he's in his mid-20s.

And let's not forget the "okay, I'll be a hooker to pay my med school tuition" girl.

And Hipster Filmmaker is given an opportunity to blackmail some producer into buying his ("award winning") student film because, as the videographer at the guy's daughter's birthday party, he caught the producer having an extramarital affair (seriously, dude... keep it in your pants). So there's an attempt at a "do I do the moral thing and not advance my career" moment of questioning... which he tells the girl who hasn't yet decided, after 5 years of dating, whether she will say yes to him asking her to marry him that he went through with the blackmail.

The plots, such as they are, don't mingle. Every character seems to be in their separate world and overwarm misguided plotlines. The characters who are supposed to have chemistry together (say, the two lovebirds finally tying the know).

Nothing makes sense. No one acts like people. No one even acts in a remotely rational way (not to say that people ever, let alone always, do). And they aren't entertaining (or that sexy) while doing it. Especially Ashlee Simpson, who desperately needs acting lessons.

Aside from Katie Cassidy. She's a keeper.

Pilot Screener Review - Washington Field

WASHINGTON FIELD (script review Washington Field)
Status: Busted

Shows what I know about procedurals.

If you recall, I dug this script (as did many other industry-ites). I kind of hyped it up, in fact, so when May upfronts rolled around and it wasn't picked up... people were scratching their heads.


You really only need about 2 minutes with this people to know why.

It's like The A-Team. Only it takes itself seriously when what's going on on-screen is, well... really, really, really campy.

Every single thing, from the character introductions that told us about the team members' specialties, to the mysteriously added opening voice over talking about the Washington Field unit, to the villains, to the investigation... it's all silly. But played in such a melodramatic way and with such a heavy score that LAUGHING IS NOT AN OPTION. And it's unintentional (believe you, me). Especially goofy is, what in the script was described as the ultimate in cool, The Big Board. Which plays like a supersized CNN magic screen. Except that the guy who operates it uses even more hilarious hand movements to move information from place to place on the screen (and that guy needs an intern to organize it... clutter!) At one point one of the team members puts their PDA near the screen in order to upload some information from the screen to the PDA and a little PDA icon pops up. Cheesy! Also utterly unnecessary in the age of, um, the internet...

The cast fails (partially because the characters fail). Eddie Cibrian and Teri Polo have zero chemistry (even less than Flashforward's Joseph Fiennes and Sonya Walger!) Gina Torres's character's main skill set seems to be that she can... drive things... to places... and more abhorrent moments aboard.

It's easy to see why this wasn't picked up. But I'm certainly keeping my copy around... if I ever need an inappropriate laugh.

Pilot Screener Review - Modern Family

Status: Premiering Wednesday, September 23rd @ 9pm on ABC

Oh, dear. A week has passed. And I got into a new script. And then I didn't post screener reviews as promised! Bad, TY.

I figured to get me back in "the mood" I would start off with a review of The Best Pilot Airing This Fall.

Well, that's the review, folks!

Seriously, though, I've watched this pilot (with various people) about 5 times and it still makes me laugh. I had thought after my first viewing that it was just the surprise of "an ABC comedy is funny" that was enhancing the comedy experience. No. This is just a genuinely funny half-hour (and it's single-cam, the combination of which, while airing on ABC, is just a shocker).

The colorful cast of characters in this pilot are in three separate stories (family of five deals with a teenage girl bringing a guy home for the first time and with disciplining a prepubescent son; May/December interracial couple deals with son's first crush; gay couple has adopted a Vietnames baby) until the final act, which, on my first viewing, left me scratching my head asking "why are we following these three separate stories in this pilot?" Then, unexpectedly, the answer came. It was so subtly done that without being told, you might not notice it. And I won't spoil the surprise (though I think it has been spoiled by the ABC marketing department... whatever, not my call) or what follows in the EXTREMELY uproarious final act.

There is also a mockumentary / confessional gimmick that is used to fun, character-informing effect.

I cannot say enough great things about this pilot. There is something for pretty much everyone. I only worry that future episodes won't capture the brilliance of the pilot (as it's taken, what, 5 years of failures upon failures for ABC to even crack the "funny single-cam pilot" code). I also worry that being a part of an all-new lineup will hurt the show. And I thank god for multi-tuner DVRs, so I can record this and Glee at the same time (seriously, programming gods... uncool).