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.