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).

Thursday, August 20, 2009


I (finally) finished the draft of my script I'd been working on. And while it was after my self-imposed target date, it was before my deadline. So... yay.

I will post some screener reviews tomorrow, as well as some reactions to the goings on of cable shows (Top Chef! Top Chef Masters! THREE AND A HALF HOURS OF PROJECT RUNWAY!?!?) and will post this week's original finals at PIF (possibly getting to that late tonight).


Have some stuff to take care of now and then a birthday party tonight, so it'll have to wait.

Looking forward to being on a semi-break (am currently breaking story on a pilot... so many things going on... which is better than having nothing going on!) and picking up on this blog again.

Also I'll be posting fast nationals next week at PIF for Marc Berman. Watch for it!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Once More, With Feeling...

... I am not dead.

I am trying to meet a deadline on a script, trying to get funding on a feature film, and in the beginnings of a new actual job (and just came back from a week-long, perhaps ill-timed vacation)... so life, as you may expect, is busy.

If I can meet my writing goals this weekend, screener reviews will recommence on Monday.

Wish me monsters.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009


I'm out of town / touch most of this week, so won't be posting any reviews... hopefully will be able to (late at night) post final ratings at PIFeedback.

Mmm, vacay...