Saturday, February 28, 2009

Bucketload of Daddy Issues


One of my favorite things about BSG (or, really, any show I truly love) is its ability to mix together deep human drama with external badassery. But after episodes like last night's, I just wish they were better at doing ti within the same episode. I wish that we didn't have to go from episode to episode in order to see both sides of Starbuck, the daddy/mommy-issued semi-psychotic girl to the competent, talented pilot who would prefer shooting to frakking, but will settle for the second.

Not to say that last night's (fourth to last) BSG wasn't all sorts of geeky, scifi goodness. It was. I like the way the Boomer arch (once so central to the show) is coming to a climax, and the way Chief maintains his intensely flawed attempt at finding love, and I even like the fact that the ending of this universe isn't about cylon technology or raptor battles but love stories and daddy issues. But I wish that the writers were better at balancing their humongous cast of characters and desire to see them all fully fleshed out. For one, I didn't need to watch Kara babble with head-Daddy all episode just to get the tiny piece of information that Kara/(recently stolen) Hera/and Daddy (can we all just agree he's Daniel?) all know the chord progression for All Along the Watchtower (for the less geeky out there, the song that "activated" the final five). It was tiny piece of information, and with only three more episodes to go, I'm treasuring every second I spend in this universe, and it annoys me when the time feels squandered.

That all being said, next week's information-a-palooza looks fantastic.

Exciting Casting News



In case you weren't excited about the Gossip Girl spinoff already (a distinct possibility, I grant you), the latest casting news should have you not only jumping on the bandwagon but also jumping for joy. 

Brittany Snow and Krysten Ritter are set to star as the central sisters in the series. Snow, who is best known as a modern day 60s icon from her portrayal of Hairspray mean girl Amber Von Tussle and her starring role in the beloved period show American Dreams, will be taking on a new decade (the 80s) as a young Lily Van Der Woodsen (Serena's mom). Ritter will play her sister Carol, the other central figure in the spinoff. Ritter, a much-admired character actress, has lent her quirky charm to many a recurring role in such demographically perfect TV gems as Gilmore girls and Veronica Mars

With Snow's established leading lady charisma and Ritter's delightful quirkiness working in tandem, the only question I need answered about this impending spinoff is Who's Gonna Play Rufus? 

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Typical

With only 2 wins in the entire season, Hosea Rosenberg took the top title in last night's Top Chef finale. All I have to say is... typical. More often than not, the person who wins whatever reality show you happen to be watching is one of the most mediocre of the lot. Much credit for his win has to be given to his sou chef Richard Blais (runner up and my favourite chef from last season). Does anyone else remember a couple weeks ago when Hosea couldn't cook fish? Good Grief!

Dear Dawn Ostroff,

I believe in you. 

True, you've made some hideous programming mistakes in the past and cancelled more than one beloved show, but I choose to believe in you anyway. 

I'm choosing to believe that, despite all appearances, you are more of a Gilmore girl than a Gossip girl at heart and that you can't possibly prefer 90210 to Privileged. I believe that you really do want The CW to do well by its honourable WB lineage and that you don't actually watch America's Next Top Model

So what I need from you now is for you to believe in Privileged; because if last night's wonderful installment was the last episode of the critical darling then I'm afraid I'll be giving up hope for the future of your network. Josh Schwartz and co. (Gossip Girl) can't save you forever and the 5 other shows you just renewed (Supernatural, Smallville, ANTM, 90210 and One Tree Hill) aren't exactly the stuff dreams are made of. It's time to take a leap of faith or give someone else the chance to fly. 

Everything I Need to Know about Friendship I Learned from Chuck

Your friend's life is worth risking your own for. 

Family isn't necessarily biological. 

Your best friend's dream is your dream. 

Everyone deserves someone who cares about them "that much" (read: as much as Chuck cares about Morgan, Ellie and Sarah). 

... and, most importantly...

"Partnership is Trust"- Captain Awesome and Jeffster

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Stealing My Heart on TV This Week

A Chuck hero and a villain, Tara's sweetly understanding husband, a softspoken Dillon Panther, a lovesick West Beverly student and a Tree Hill hottie... time for another picture list!





My Current (and shameful) Obsession

I have no reasonable explanation for this but I've recently taken to watching incredibly bad TV shows on a regular basis. It started with Big Brother and One Tree Hill. I've always watched them (the residual effects of being 14 at exactly the wrong time) and have comforted myself with the reassurance that I'm allowed a couple hours of mindless drivel to break up the intelligent scripted fare I've always been loyal to. 

But, in recent months, it started to get worse. All of a sudden I was back on the Amazing Race bandwagon (not too shameful as far as reality TV goes, but it's a gateway drug!). Then came a renewed interest in 90210, and before I knew it I was hooked on ABC's heinous hidden camera show True Beauty

But that's not the worst of it. 

The worst came this week (the week True Beauty ended... Julia, the former Miss Teen Texas, won, by the way, in case you were wondering). First it was High School Reunion, which had me both horrified and transfixed for its entire premiere episode. But I only watched 1, just the one episode, I thought I was still in control of my problem. 

I wasn't.


Yesterday I started The Bachelor. I don't know what made me do it but I watched the entire season in 2 days and now I'm hanging on a thread until Monday when I hope the slightly skeezy single dad from Seattle will choose the sunny former cheerleader from Dallas over the boring girl who I don't care about. It's sexist and materialistic and noticeably scripted and hinged on an out of date value system, but I'm horribly and traumatically hooked on The Bachelor. And just for the record, I am also and have been since week 1, on team Melissa!

Also for the record, I am ashamed of myself and am currently seeking help for my apparent lack of taste in TV. 

Monday, February 23, 2009

Hillbilly Wisdom

Alright, I'm just going to come right out and say it: the hillbillies are not the dumbest Amazing Racers of the season. 

Sure they could barely walk straight and she spent more time blubbering than a four year old, but Steve and Linda exited The Amazing Race this week with words of impressive perspective.

Meanwhile, the almost-eliminated flight attendant team spent what seemed like hours searching for something that wasn't hidden while Amanda walked around embarrassing her boyfriend Kris with linguistic gems like "that's the greatest thing I've ever gotten to done". 

In any case, it's not the dumb folk who make The Amazing Race worth the watch year in and year out, it's the impressive ones; and this season's got a nice slew of them. 

With the first of what promises to be many victories, Tammy and Victor have stepped up as the new sibling team to watch. With Nick and Starr-like resilience and trust paired with Harvard educations and sure-fire street smarts, Tammy and Victor are my current picks to win. 

Other teams who deserve your attention are the impressive mother/son combo of Margie and her deaf son Luke as well as married couple Brad and Victoria who haven't stepped it up yet but I really think are going to be major players in the coming weeks. As for redheaded cheerleaders Cara and Jaime, they run the serious risk of getting on my nerves but they also seem like they could turn out to be a pleasant surprise. Screenwriter father/son team Mel and Mike as well as tiny stuntmen/brothers Mark and Michael are amusing and endearing but most likely won't go the distance (though Mark and Michael have definite dark horse potential). The final sibling team, sisters Lakisha and Jennifer, are the perfect racers on paper (siblings and serious athletes- a winning combination) but won't go the distance unless they learn to work as a team. 

So basically, there are only 2 more dumb teams to go before The Amazing Race 14 takes off as a show full of fantastic people doing fantastic things in fantastic places- get excited!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

That's Better: Dollhouse, Week 2

In its second week on the air Dollhouse may have missed the mark (but met expectations) in ratings (failing to break 5 million viewers again) but, in my opinion, it found its ground creatively. 

Truth is, I'm not sold on the premise yet; the mythology is interesting but doesn't offer up a central character I can root for. 

But what made this week's episode an improvement on the last is that, unlike last week, you could feel Joss Whedon's fingerprints in this episode. Pilots have never been his strong suit but the pilot of Dollhouse didn't even seem like it'd been written by the beloved Buffy mastermind. But this episode had a Whedon-sized dose of female empowerment; it had big, fun weapons; the characters and relationships began really showing signs of complexity; and it had plenty of his trademark quippy dialogue. 

So while I'm not there yet, after this week's episode, I'm confident that with time I'll become a Dollhouse fan. After all, Whedon's back to sounding like himself, and that's a voice that's never yet let me down. 

My TV Question of the Day

Should Shonda Rhimes be Fired?

Consistently, Grey's Anatomy and Private Practice are among the most disappointing shows on the air. The only characters with interesting development belong to actors who are clearly pulling more than their fair weight, the stories are repetitive and uninteresting, the dialogue contrived and the sets rife with discontent. 

I love TV. I love writers. And there are thousands of writers out there who dream of even the smallest bit of Shonda's success. So why does so much power and and creative freedom belong to a writer without much to offer? 

I've devoted more hours than I can count to the TV shows of Shonda Rhimes, and keep coming up underwhelmed. So isn't it about time for a change of regime?

Friday, February 20, 2009

OBSESSIONS

What I love this week....

Maria Schneider. Big Band is back people!

Slings & Arrows Season 2. Particularly the Romeo & Juliet stuff. 

Yvonne Strahovski on Chuck. Proving week after week that Buffy was really kind of a lame character afterall on the grand scale of hot blond super crime fighters. 

The fact that it's Oscar week. I love the Oscars. 

"Why I Love Chick Flicks *and why I hate them" by Lisa Schwarzbaum in last week's Entertainment Weekly

The Deathly Hallows Lectures by John Granger (the Hogwarts professor) 

The Amazing Race 14. It's back! and already people are being chased down hills by killer runaway cheese wheels. Also, the guy who wrote "School of Rock" is running with his dad, there's a mother/son team (the son happens to be deaf), THREE sibling teams and a very promising married couple (the ones who don't refer to themselves as "hillbillies")

Tristan Wilds. Not only is he adorable on 90210, but there was a woman across the aisle from me on a plane the other day who was watching The Secret Life of Bees and I couldn't take my eyes off her screen whenever he was in the scene. There's something to be said for being that captivating when sharing the screen with poohbahs like Dakota Fanning, Queen Latifa and Paul Bettany. 

Highschool Reunion Confuses Me

I vaguely remember loving Highschool Reunion the first time it aired, back in 2003; what isn't fun about watching the former nerd finally get a shot with the head cheerleader he's harboured feelings for for 20 years? Well, I have no idea what I was thinking in 2003 because it turns out that while that storyline may be a lot of fun on Gossip Girl, it's not as much fun to watch unattractive and unimpressive 38 year olds from Arizona play it out. 

But let's assume I come to terms with the generally dismal content. I still find TV Land's new season of the show (it premiered last night) troubling. The reason for this is simple: I like the wrong people. 

In the fictional worlds I usually choose to inhabit, Joey Potter (the tall girl from the wrong side of the tracks), Rory Gilmore (the quiet bookworm) and Winifred Burkle (the quirky idealist) all get the guy in the end; Chuck Bartowski and Seth Cohen are ladies men, Xander Harris rarely gets his heart broken and Harrison John has the whole highschool fighting for him. I'm used to cheering for the underdog, the nerd, the person who, for all intensive purposes, is an outcast. 

Here, in the world of Highschool Reunion, the "ugly duckling" who's finally getting her big crush to notice her is actually a playboy bunny who looks like the product of a Mattel Halloween experiment gone wrong and seriously seemed like she may have invented her own tragic backstory to match that of her date. Meanwhile, the girl who confronts a former classmate with a cry-me-a-river "I developed early" story turns out to have made someone else's life hell in high school. But you can't feel bad for that tortured girl either, because a) all she's done so far is complain and gossip about people and b) she sort of deserved it (you can't just tag along with other people, get your own friends or amuse yourself you crazy wannabe!). 

And now for the biggest twist of all... after 1 episode, not only are the "ugly duckling" and the "wannabe" my least favourites (along with the "cheerleader" who claims to have been teased about having boobs... by the way, as if!), my absolute favourite so far is the homecoming queen! You're not supposed to like the homecoming queen! Isn't she the main villain of like half of Freddy Prinze Jr.'s movies? But no, in Highschool Reunion-land people actually voted for someone because she was nice and had a pretty smile, not because she bribed them with snickerdoodles and handjobs. (Also, I'd like to point out that Kara, "the homecoming queen", seems to be the only woman there who has aged exactly appropriately: no over-processed hair, no sun damage, no obvious plastic surgery, clothes that actually fit, etc...)

So apparently if I decide to waste my time again next week I'll be cheering for "the homecoming queen" and her ex husband "the jock" to work it all out (something that the show seems to want to tease me with but is absolutely never going to happen) and that maybe something heavy will fall on "the ugly duckling"

...I'm a disgrace to outsiders everywhere! Excuse me while I go watch season 1 of Veronica Mars

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Recipe for Success

Set Veronica Mars creator Rob Thomas free on a low-pressure network like Starz. 
Add a winning comedy concept (a catering company full of wannabes). 
Then give him a plethora of Mars alum to work with (Vinnie Van Lowe, Dick Casablancas, Logan, Meg and Veronica herself... just for starters).
And add a sprinkling of other winning cast members (the incomparable Jane Lynch, the always likable Lizzie Caplan, and Ryan Devlin, whom some may remember as the guy who appeared on my TV for 1 hour of Valentine this fall and made me giddy for months).

The result is Party Down, a new comedy premiering Friday, March 20 on Starz; sure to be a treat for any Thomas fan. 

For the full story, visit "Watch with Kristin" at Eonline by clicking here

Charles Carmichael Always Comes Quickly

This week's Valentine's Themed CHUCK offering was everything I could hope for as a diehard. The Chuck and Sarah tension was perfect. This week's mystery (involving a cul-de-sac full of Fulcrum) was satisfying, intense and funny. Even the Buy More stuff (so often the downfall of other wise fantastic episodes) was spot on and heralded new awesomeness to come (although speaking of Awesome, where was he all episode?). But even more than the awesomeness that was this week, I can not wait for next week and the week after. When did Chuck become the most exciting show on television (save possibly for BSG, which has the unfair advantage of being a precious commodity)? This season, it hardly ever disappoints, and more than likely is elevating its game each and every week.

The best part of this episode was also one of the most downplayed, and it actually fixed something that I've long thought needed fixing on Chuck. You see, up until this episode, the only truly special thing about Chuck is the intersect Bryce put in his head. Sure, we've seen flashes (haha) of brilliance, and there were indications that the CIA would have picked him up if it hadn't been for the sabotage of Bryce, but still, it was basically the computer in his skull that made Chuck a commodity and therefore it seemed like his usefulness to the CIA would run out. But this episode it was made abundantly clear that not only is Chuck the only person on Earth with a computer in his head, he's the only person on Earth who COULD. That's right, Chuck Bartowski, every man, has his very own, very geeky superpower. And I love it.

Plus John Casey (Adam Baldwin) consistently bringing the Bad Ass goodness and Sarah
s heartfelt goodbye to the closest she'll ever get to domestic bliss made this episode one for the record books. I can't think of another show on (Network) Television that has been this hot in a while.

Random awesome quote from the erst-while Buster Bluth:
  • "Where do you meet people where you don't have to pay for sex?"

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

I Know They Can Dance... because

If you're a regular reader of this blog, you already know about my love of all things So You Think You Can Dance. This past Friday that love doubled in size when I got to see the So You Think You Can Dance Canada concert from the very first row. 
video
The show was amazing- oodles better than it's cornier American counterpart, which I'd seen in October from far inferior seats. We got to see all of the best dances of the season as well as a new one or two (most notably a breathtaking group number choreographed by Mia Michaels). The heavily-scripted chatty bits between dances were kept short and to-the-point (unlike the American tour, which felt like a sad Gev comedy show). Even the solos (which are usually pretty underwhelming) were very well danced and entertaining. And, because I saw the show in Toronto, host Leah Miller even made an impromptu appearance to announce that show had just been picked up for a second season. 

And yes, these photos (in the previous post) and videos were all taken with my camera- that's how close I was!

video

I Know They Can Dance


























Saturday, February 14, 2009

Can We Put Don Draper in Every Show?

Seriously?

(In honor of Valentine's, I thought you all would like a little Jon Hamm. Enjoy, but as a warning, he gets a bit needy when his pyro daughter shows up and his mother/grandmother dies.)

Oh Jenna Fischer, How I Love You

Lots of weeks on The Office, the big funny gets carried by folks like Steve Carrell, Rainn Wilson, Ed Helms, and Angela Martin. Jenna Fischer's Pam mostly gets to be sweet and witty. But the past two episodes, Pam played comedy-routine side-kick on the Michael Scott tour and the result was, well, this-



I really do just love everything about that clip (and I also love that Hulu lets you make your own adorable subclips out of full shows. Oh this crazy Internet and all the fun things it provides for me. Avenue Q was wrong about you!)

A Diehard's Perspective

There was no way I was going to watch tonight's premier of Joss Whedon's new show Dollhouse and think anything other than "WEEEE." If just the name Joss Whedon weren't enough (which it most certainly is for me), add in Eliza Dushku (who I think was tremendous and heart wrenching as Faith), Tahmoh Penikket (and those fantastic six pack abs), and a fantastically far out science fiction conceit rife with thematic possibility, and, baby, I pre emptively put up magazine articles about it on my wall. So it's not interesting for me to list why I liked Friday night's episode of Dollhouse, although I'll list a few compliments at the end of this post. I'm more interested in talking about what I'm worrying about/ hoping will come to fruition in the next few episodes:

1) JOSS WHEDON- I can feel his hand behind the plotting, and the way that some of Echo's personalities are shaped, but I want to feel him. Lots of people criticize his distinct voice, but it's part of what draws us back to his work again and again. I'm not saying every line has to be a quip (and I think I'd throw something through the television if dorky Dollhouse worker Topher said "She's not big with the memory" or anything else that conjures up images of bad nineties clothing and my favorite redheaded, wiccan lesbian), but I'm hoping future episodes wont have the semi-strained, this-show-is-SO-serious vibe I'm getting from its pilot ("Ghost" for those of you wondering). I'm all for stretching as a writer, but the real joy of Whedon's creations is the way he balances laughter and pathos.

2) PLOT- this week's mission for Echo felt generic (she has to rescue a rich guy's kidnapped daughter) and hinges far too heavily on coincidence (the memory's with which she's been implanted happen to belong to a woman who was raped and kidnapped by one of the kidnappers of the rich guy's daughter). If this show is going to survey primarily on standalone episodes, then those standalones need to be damn good.

3) NOT SUBSITING ON STAND ALONE EPISODES- I'm fairly certain this will happen, and with an idea like Dollhouse's, that's so intensely character based, it's almost inevitable. But I hope that they find the right mixture between creating the mythology and the world of the Actives alive and interesting and creating good individual stories to tell us every week.

4) MORE TAHMOH PENIKKET SHIRTLESS- pretty self explanatory. Boxing is preferable, although not required.

With those reservations, I'm pretty pumped about Dollhouse. Joss's shows tend to only grow after the first episode. The idea is DAMN cool. The supporting cast seems excellent, and I'm looking forward to watching these characters grow. If Dollhouse can survive Fox Fridays (and FOX is certainly trying here, if those super sexy and super creepy commercial breaks featuring Dusku and Terminator's Summer Glau are any indication) then I think it will probably grow into being every bit as brilliant, fun, and exciting a piece of my must-see tv schedule as I hoped it would be.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Breaking Good News

Beloved Everwood alumnus Chris Pratt is now slated to star in Amy Poehler's new comedy Parks and Recreation

So we've now got the best of The Office (Greg Daniels, Executive Producer), the best of SNL (Amy Poehler, Star) and the best of Everwood (Chris Pratt, New Cast Member)- is there any way this show WON'T be good? 

and while we're on the subject of Chris Pratt- WHERE ARE THOSE EVERWOOD DVDs? It's been years since season 1 was released and I know multiple people still sitting on the edge of their seats to find out if Colin made it through surgery. 

WTF Obama?


Now, I'm not one of those people just looking for the Daily Show proclaimed President Gallant to fail. I'm willing to give him time on the Stimulus plan, on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, on closing down Gitmo and getting the educational system back on the right track. I don't shake my fists in anger when I hear about the muddled beaucratic chaos going on in the Congress right now.

But let me just say, new President Barack Hussein Obama, you may have gone to far. Your presidential address this past Monday really got my goat. I understand the need for the Face of Hope and Change to address his adoring throngs, but couldn't you do it sometime other than Primetime Mondays? Do you realize what you've done?

Isn't our country in dire enough straits? With thousands laid off every day, the price of gas looking to sky rocket, and the war in Iraq no closer to over, what does this country truly need more than geeky Buy More employees, semi-vapid upper East Siders, and a fivesome of Friends that say "Awesome!" a lot? Good God man, how are we supposed to move forward without our favorite television shows?

Okay I'm kidding slightly, big guy, but seriously, next time you make a television appearance do it on a less awesome night of television. Try Tuesdays. I don't watch anything on Tuesdays.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Valentines

It's that time of year again. Flower prices are skyrocketing, restaurant reservations are hard to come by, jewelry stores are bustling and all around North America people are wishing that life were as romantic as their TV. 

So in honour of this most auspicious holiday, that of St. Valentine, I thought I'd revisit the issue of TV's greatest couples. In the months since my last list of this kind, circumstances have changed for some of the list toppers (I'm talking about you Mr. Grubstick, how dare you become annoying) but some remain eternally perfect for each other. So, without further ado, here are my favourite television valentines (and some of their sappiest lines) in no particular order:

Marshall Erikson and Lily Aldrin (How I Met Your Mother): "I love you because, one, you made me a sack lunch, and two, you laugh every time you say the word 'sack'"- Marshall Erikson. 

Jim and Pam (The Office): "When you're a kid, you assume your parents are soulmates. My kids are going to be right about that"- Pam Beasley.

Tammi and Erik Taylor (Friday Night Lights): "I bring this up because as usual my wife is always right"- Erik Taylor. 

Paul and Jamie Buchman (Mad About You): "Do you know how long I waited for you? My mother used to say I was too picky, or afraid of commitment, and that's why I was still unmarried by the age of almost 30. But the truth is, I was just looking for you"- Jamie Buchman. 

Monica Geller and Chandler Bing (FRIENDS): "I thought that it mattered what I said or where I said it. Then I realized the only thing that matters is that you. You make me happier than I ever thought I could be; and if you'll let me, I will spend the rest of my life trying to make you feel the same way" -Chandler Bing (proposing)

Cory Matthews and Topanga Lawrence (Boy Meets World): "Ever since I was young I never understood anything about the world, and I never understood anything that happened in my life. The only thing that ever made sense to me was you" -Cory Matthews (his wedding vows). 

Seth Cohen and Summer Roberts (The OC): "for me it's always been you Summer, it's always been you. I've tried to fight it and I've tried to deny it and I can't. You're undeniable" - Seth Cohen.

Scotty Wandell and Kevin Walker (Brothers & Sisters): "I am completely, completely in love with you. I even love the things about you that I hate. Because you make me feel like I don't have to be anyone other than who I am, and to me that feels like family"- Kevin Walker. 

Wesley Wyndam-Pryce and Winifred Burkle (Angel): "You are my sunshine, my only sunshine. You make me happy when skies are grey"- Fred Burkle. 

Chuck Bass and Blair Waldorf (Gossip Girl): "I am me. And you are you. We're Chuck and Blair. Blair and Chuck. The worst thing you've ever done—the darkest thought you've ever had—I will stand by you through anything" - Blair Waldorf. 

Meghan Rotundi and Sean Blumberg (Felicity): "I love Sean. I love guys. I wish I didn't, they're such idiots" - Meghan Rotundi. 

CJ Craig and Danny Kincannon (The West Wing): "So, if I'm gonna jump off the cliff, and you're gonna get pushed off the cliff, why don't we hold hands on the way down?"- Danny Kincannon

Geoffrey Tennant and Ellen Fanshaw (Slings & Arrows): "We're both big fat losers"- Geoffrey Tennant; "you're my only friend, isn't that pathetic?" -Ellen Fanshaw. (pictured at top of post)