Friday, December 31, 2010

The Twist in Bones


For years now Bones has been high on my "eventually I really must watch that show" list. So finally I did. I've been working on it for a couple weeks. It's unfailingly repetitive and I've quickly gotten to a point where I can spot the murder by the end of Act 1. That said, though Brennan annoys me at times, the characters are generally fun and the dialogue quick-witted.

Tonight I pursued an epic marathon in order to get to the ending of season 3, the conclusion of the Gorgomon arc. Now, I will grant you that much like season 5 of Buffy if you know the deal with Dawn, season 3 of Bones suffered from my basic working knowledge of the series. What I knew going into the series was which actors appear in which seasons, that Angela and Hodgins eventually get married and that one of the team members was in some way entangled with a serial killer. From there I quickly figured out that Zack would be going down. But come on, you know Anakin will eventually be Darth Vader, isn't the interesting bit finding out how he gets there? (This is a hypothetical based on the non-factual principal that the prequel films are awesome). So anyway, I know I wasn't necessarily watching the way the show was meant to be watched, but I still think they could have done SO much better.

I've read a lot about this arc on various review sites. It seems, thankfully, that most viewers weren't buying one bit of what the writers were feeding them about Gormogon being Hodgins. As the season developed, hint after hint about Hodgins was thrown out and I (and, I'm assuming, everyone else who has any understanding of character at all) simply laughed and said "oh please, he's lovely, he wouldn't hurt a fly". Which is not to say that terrible writers might not have him be the killer anyway. But by the time I got to the finale and saw Cam was jumping in her seat at his sight and TJ Thyne's gigantic blue eyes being lit as creepily as possible, I knew we were in parody territory (unfortunately, it seems, not on purpose). Whether they knew basic actor contract information going in or not, anyone who thought a FOX show would sacrifice such a high-polling character and a major love interest in one fell swoop was simply off their rocker (not to mention the fact that every single thing we'd ever learned about Hodgins suggested empathy- he's not killer material).

The much more popular suggestion that the killer was Dr. Sweets was similarly ill-conceived, though a tad more understandable. For starters, the hints at him were at least a tiny bit more subtle (tiny being the operative word), he was a new and therefore slightly more ambiguous character (his newness also kept issues of audience loyalty and character interconnectivity off the table) and his timing seemed suspicious. But basic character simply wouldn't allow it. Sweets is, well, sweet. He brought with him exactly the kind of heart and humour the show was lacking and his presence gave Booth and Brennan interesting places to go. But most importantly, Sweets' entire existence is based on human connection, trust, understanding, kindness- he reads people for a living. You don't read people the way he does unless you fundamentally care about people; not the blood and bones conception of a person but what's important to Sweets- the subconscious, the soul, the beating figurative heart. One more for the "last person I would ever EVER put on the serial-killer-possibility list".

So then there's Zack, the absolute first person I would have picked. Objectively (which is how Zack would want it), he's the perfect fit. He's un-emotional, logical, systematic, almost robotic most of the time- makes total sense. Except that it doesn't. Because they didn't do it right. I watched the season knowing where Zack would end up and I'm here to tell you that that did not make sense. The Gorgomon was presented as heavily ritualistic, something Zack never showed any signs of. He lacked opportunity and motive. I'm sorry, but someone as loyal to Dr. Brennan as Zack would never actively work against her. Someone who challenges Hodgins the way Zack did in his contests to be "King of the Lab" would never blindly follow a master. Someone who worked with murder every day, the way Zack did, couldn't see logic in it. Oh, and the guy leaping out of the closet in the shot showing the murder that Zack supposedly perpetrated, sooo not Eric Millegan. None of it was set up, not a single thing. I watched Zack carefully all season. I stared intently at his face as he worked on the Gorgomon case... nothing. I looked for a change in him around the time that the killer was choosing a new apprentice... nothing. I paused the frame on that shot of the apprentice's face... simply not him. It wasn't him. I'm mean, I know it was him, at least that's the reality that the writers have given us. But in my fictional version of the fictional world of Bones, it's not true. The weak-ass "logical reasoning" for his actions is, well, weak-ass (he's weak-willed, impressionable, in need of guidance? Um, I'm fairly certain Zack was never persuaded into ANYTHING, that doesn't stand). And his thought process of "greater good" wasn't logical enough to suit the character (though I appreciate the poetry of the moment when Brennan points out Zack's own illogically humane action in saving Hodgins).

I know, I know, it was the 2007 TV season- strike season; the fraught writers were charged with telling 22 episodes of story in only 15. I still say it's no excuse. When you set up the serial killer in episode 1, you had freaking better know who your serial killer is, especially if it's going to be a series regular! This felt like they didn't decide it was Zack until they were writing the finale. And if it really was a matter of story-telling time, explain to me why the penultimate episode was about an ex-American Idol contestant. The whole thing sort of felt like what shows do when they realize an actress is pregnant and they need to get rid of her in a hurry (see ya Cordelia!) or the makeshift plotting that happens when a castmember dies suddenly (I actually believe that if John Spencer hadn't died in The West Wing's final season ,Vinnick would have won the election, not Santos). It was panic plotting; and if it wasn't, it was just bad writing. Those are the options.

That said, let's hear it for that moment in the hospital when Hodgins ups Zack's meds. I think it was supposed to look creepy, like he was trying to hurt him. But if you as the audience had it figured out, you knew that Hodgins was the only person at the time who could 100% have it figured out too (because of the explosion it had to be him or his best friend, it broke his heart that he knew it wasn't him). TJ Thyne absolutely nailed the possibly-ambiguous, wholly brilliant scene in which the truth quietly crashed down on him. It was a truly exceptional moment- in what was otherwise not a lot more than bollocks.

I was really hoping to like this show. And I do, sometimes. But not right now. Here's hoping (somewhat unrealistically I think, since I'm not a Booth/Brennan fan) for a better season 4.

PS: Hoping I'd missed something, I read quite a bit about the first 3 seasons tonight. It seems nobody likes Cam. Why wouldn't you like Cam? I love Cam! I would just like to put it out there, I think she's fun. And Angela's overrated, we hear more about her being a free spirit than we see of her being one. That said, my beloved Hodge Podge loves her so so do I. But seriously, Cam and Sweets, they're awesome- love them. That's an order.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Dollhouse: "It's Getting Closer"

I was going to wait until the end of the series to post again. Mainly, I wanted to do that to save some of my street cred. Undoubtedly, most people reading this have already watched the whole series. Therefore, my half-baked theories formed on half-evidence are going to seem laughable to those of you who already know the whole truth and nothing but the truth about Rossum, Echo, Caroline, and the rest. But holy god in heaven do I need to talk about the most recent episode of Dollhouse.

~SPOILERS (if you can really call it spoilers when it's been out on DVD for a year)~

So where are we now? Well, since I last left you, Viktor/Anthony and Sierra/ Prya have been re-imprinted with their original personalities, and set loose to bump uglies (sorry) until the apocalypse begins. It was a touching and sweet antidote to what happened to...

Ballard. After Alpha let himself loose to torture, shoot, and kill any and all of Echo's "romantic engagements" and ultimately decided that it was far more interesting to torture and kill the man she chose to love (Ballard, for those of you having a hard time keeping up), Ballard ended up strapped to a ventilator with most of his brain a mass of useless scar tissue. After a season and a half (which, yes, was the length of one regular season) of these two working towards each other, Ballard ultimately ended up having to sacrifice (Thanks to Topher) a major chunk of the part of his brain that contained his feelings in order to be brought back from the dead. Thus leaving him and Caroline a muddled mass of memories without feelings that would probably be a lot more tragic if the show wasn't trying desperately to push us towards the plot's conclusion, if not necessarily the emotional conclusion of every arc.

Meanwhile, in other brought-back-from-the-dead news, the gang has to work to resurrect Caroline's imprint, because, as it turns out, she's the only one who knows who the nefarious Clyde 2 and Rossum 1 are. See, back when Caroline was an annoying college-student-turned-terrorist, she broke into Rossum headquarters and was allowed up to see the man in charge (which we find out from Clyde 1.0 in the attic, in what was a fantastic head trip action movie of an episode that I wish I had more space to write about). "It's Getting Closer", the episode I just finished, centered around the crumbling of the Dollhouse as we know it as the gang attempts to put together the Caroline imprint, thus filling in the major blanks in the Rossum puzzle.

First, we have the twist that Saunders is living with Boyd. Then, just when we've bought into their tragically doomed love story, Saunders shoots and kills the increasingly-adorable-if-occasionally-psychotic-super-genius-turned-Topher-love-interest Bennet (Summer Glau). And then, and you had to know this was coming, we get the revelation of our series-wide Big Bad. And it's...

Boyd?! I have to admit, I did not see that coming. But, god, does it work for me. Turning the protector into the architect, twisting every moment of the first and second season and wrenching the barely palpitating moral heart of the show from its center just at the moment that the ambiguously evil characters of DeWitt and Topher start to resurrect the fallen pieces of their own morality? That's a genius move, thematically. Where this will either fail or fly in the long run, however, is in whether or not the show makes me believe it as more than just a thematic move. I hope the show convinces me that Boyd truly was this character all along, and that his actions and motivations along the way still make sense.

God I love this show. It's a damn good thing I chose to watch it a season late and a dollar short, because if I'd had to lose this it would have been physically painful. Over the past five episodes, pretty much since "Echo" started becoming a true person (and not just a collection of ticks and glitches) and the show found its stylistic groove, I've just enjoyed the show more than anything on the planet. Before that, it was always heady and trippy, but what I've found it lately is fun. Dark, depressing, and still heady and trippy, but with lines like Topher's ("You showed me yours. I'll show you mine..." awkward face) and battles like Echo's perpetual and Buffy-esque one against her captors in the Attic, the show has finally become the fully realized piece I'd like to think they always meant it to be.

Please, please, please. Don't let me down as I go into these final three episodes. ("The Hollow Men", "Epitaph 1" and "Epitaph 2"). I probably won't post again until I can reflect on the series as a whole.

2010 in Reality TV: SYTYCDance x 2

So You Think You Can Dance took a big format risk for their 7th season, limiting the show to a top 10 instead of top 20 and introducing a roster of All-Star former contestants to dance their signature styles with the competitors. In many ways, the new format really paid off. There were a lot more memorable routines this year because the talent pool was more selective and the possibility of a strong dancer being pulled down by a sub-par partner was eliminated. It was also great to see the All-Stars back, for the most part they were really great choices (helpful, supportive, engaging and incredibly strong in their fields as well as some of the most memorable contestants that I was just happy to see dance again- Twitch! Neil! Mark! Comfort! Allison!)
The contestants this season though were a mixed bag. With only 10 spots to fill it became instantly annoying that the show had to have at least one dancer from each major genre. The uber-charming Jose was far from one of the best breakers the show's seen, salsa dancer Cristina seemed a little token and tap dancer Melinda just wasn't up to par. The format also allowed for the strangely awkward reality that most of the women were eliminated first, leaving a top 6 of 5 guys and 1 girl. But the strength and charisma of top 3 Lauren, Kent and Robert and the absolute amazingness that was Alex Wong made up for the lesser contestants. It was a season with some great dancing and some great personalities but it was also the season with hands down the most injuries. One of the only serious female contenders, Ashley, left on account of injury, as did my favourite competitor- Alex. One of my other favourites, Billy, was down for a week on a leg injury and amazing All-Star Allison had to take a week off for her ribs. It was a tough season but having Mia Michaels on the panel made it great no matter what.

So You Think You Can Dance Canada, on the other hand, left the format generally alone and populated it with 22 truly remarkable dancers. Winner Denys was the first ballroom dancer to take the title in any season I've watched of the Canadian or American shows, as well as a true testament to technique and perseverance (an excellent technician and hard worker, Ukrainian immigrant Denys was tougher to connect to than many of the other contestants but won when his sweetness and sense of fun managed to shine through and combine with his brilliant technique in multiple genres). The rest of the Top 20 was jam packed full of brilliant dancers and great personalities with very few that I didn't actively like and none I really wanted gone. 19-year-old contemporary dancer Amanda Cleghorn caught my eye early in Toronto week with brilliant versatility, unparalleled lines and admirable commitment and stayed my favourite female right up to her second place finish. Ukrainian and contemporary dancer Jeff Mortensen was my favourite male (it was a big season for the Ukraine) as the beautiful technician morphed from his boyishly wonderful self into any of the dozens of demanding characters the choreographers layered onto him.
Lovely quirky dancers Danielle and Sebastian were also highlights, as were the charming and consistently excellent Mackenzie, Nathalie and Janick. Hip Hop dancer Edgar proved the season's most versatile while the early-departed Jera brought some polarized fun with his crazy combination of ballet and breaking. Head judge Jean-Marc Genereaux continued to annoy (except when accompanied by his wife France, who keeps him wonderfully in line) but awesome other panelists Tre Armstrong, Blake McGrath (extra love) and Luther Brown kept the judging generally sane (though still a little too Canadian in the softball kindness of some comments). Guests from the American show ranged from the grating (Mary Murphy) to welcome (Dan Karaty) to wonderful (Mia Michaels- who also supplied the choreography for the season's best piece: a group number to Rent's "Will I") and guesting Canadian judges lent the show a brilliant legitimacy (it's truly exceptional to see ballet icons Rex Harrington and Karen Kain up there). Excellent new choreographer Sabrina Matthews added some remarkable works to the season and returning choreographers Sean Cheesman, Gustavo Vargas, Sho-Tyme and Stacey Tookey were great as usual (Sean's royalty routine for the finale was particularly wonderful). The contemporary numbers became repetitive and forced with the issues-driven elements but sometimes hit the nail right on the head (Alzheimers and spousal abuse taking centre stage with the most memorable routines). Watching weeks after the show actually aired, I was happy to have the ability to fast-forward through Jean-Marc and sad to have missed the opportunity to vote for my favourites, but with an overwhelmingly talented top 20 dancers and a generally great pool of judges and choreographers, So You Think You Can Dance Canada easily topped its American counterpart in 2010.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Welcome Back To the Dollhouse

Last year, right as the TV season was starting up, I embarked down a new journey in my ordinary life. As it turned out, graduating college and getting a full time job required a lot more of my time than I had originally anticipated. My brain was so exhausted by the end of the day that I couldn't watch anything more complicated than a half hour comedy, and even those were taxing at times. When I watch TV, whatever it may be, I invest myself in it. For some shows, it's enough to sit back and enjoy them (I'm looking at you, Vampire Diaries), but for shows like Mad Men or Dexter or other such hour-long dramas, I need to fully immerse myself in them mentally.

That goes double for Joss Whedon's trippy, intellectual, complicated-even-when-I-was-at-full-capacity late, great effort Dollhouse. Despite (or maybe because of) my love for all things Whedon, and the fact that the first season was, although often flawed, some of the most fascinating and intriguing TV ever, I couldn't turn on the show. I didn't watch a single episode last season (which, yes, I know makes me part of the evil masses not watching Dollhouse that led to its cancellation).

So when Christmas break arrived this year, and I was faced with a full week without stress and work, I knew what I should do with all that time to de-stress: delve into a series where every episode makes my brain hurt.

I'm currently four episodes into Season Two, and what I'm feeling most is an undeniable sense of loss of possibility. Both for the series itself (thus far, it is continuing its run of being the most fascinating TV show ever, if not always the most entertaining) and for my possibilities as a reviewer. Half the reason I write for this site is an attempt to add something to the conversation, and it feels a little strange coming to the conversation a full year late. None the less, I kind of think it's impossible to watch Dollhouse without feeling the need to talk about it.

Especially with episodes like "Belonging." For those of you who either haven't yet delved into Dollhouse (all episodes of which are now available on Netflix instant watch) or who did it at the right time, "Belonging" follows the travails of Sierra. The Dollhouse is by definition a shady business endeavor, but the people involved with it (as we have seen time and again) justify their participation in their own ways. Specifically, Topher and DeWitt both live by their own very specific moral codes that help to numb the nausea induced by their jobs.

Sierra as it turns out was not brought to the Dollhouse in the ordinary way. She was drugged by a man who was in love with her, brought to a mental institution, and then sold to the Dollhouse under the guise that it was to cure her of her schizophrenia. This chance to "help" someone meant something to Topher, who may come across as an amoral twit but who actually believes in his job from time to time. When he and Dewitt find out just how wrong they were, they're both horrified. DeWitt, however, after a strong showing confronting the man responsible, ultimately cows to the powers that be (haha).

Topher, however, continues his season long transformation. Topher is quickly going from one of the shows weak links to its strongest player, and his moral transformation is way more interesting than the one-note antics of Ballard.

This review is a little too long already, so I'll save my deep analysis of this transformation for a later post. Suffice it to say, Dollhouse is more than worth the effort, albeit a full year later, and I'm excited to be giving it the full analytic treatment over the next week.

2010 in Reality TV: Bachelor-related things

This was a big year for the Bachelor people.

It kicked off with Jake's controversial and super-cheesy season The Bachelor: On the Wings of Love ('nough said). A fan favourite from Gillian's Bachelorette season, I will admit that even I liked Jake going in. But the more I got to know him, the more annoying he got. Quick in his decision-making, Jake swiftly whittled his choices down to the over-processed girl no one liked (Vienna), the over-the-moon obnoxious Disney princess who insisted on "dancing the dance that's in [her] heart" (Tenley), the actually really tolerable swimsuit model (Gia) and the judgmental "it" girl who irrationally bitched at poor Vienna (Ali). So, of these "lovely" choices, our not-so-beloved Ken doll bid adieu to Ali when she left him to save her job (good move in my books), broke Gia's heart (terrible move, but good for her) then shocked the world, made me kind of happy and doomed himself forever when he picked Vienna to propose to. I liked that he picked the girl he liked best, even if no one understood why. It showed a strength of character that I found admirable. Of course they wouldn't last (they broke up in June), Tenley was much better suited to his formulaically "sweet" ways, but I liked that he had the balls to pick her. Jake then went on to Dancing with the Stars and became a national joke from there.

Next Up: Jason and Molly's Wedding. In the most unexpected turn of events in recent Bachelor history, Jason Mesnick and Molly Melaney actually stayed together. Not only did the much-reviled former Bachelor and his former runner-up stay together, they actually got married- marking the second wedding in almost 20 seasons of the Bachelor/Bachelorette franchise. The wedding aired on ABC in a special Bachelor 2 hour event, and like all the great reality show weddings-made-to-air (The Bachelorette's Trista and Ryan, Survivor's Amber and Rob) it was beautiful. An inconvenient rainstorm actually made the whole thing so much better for me. A Melissa fan through and through (Mesnick's famous winner/reject), I've always been iffy on Jason and Molly, but the way they laughed and muddled through even as the skies opened up on their outdoor wedding was pretty great.

Late spring brought the premiere of The Bachelorette. By late spring most of the legit scripted shows are off the air, summer is coming and I'm really looking forward to The Bachelorette; which I always prefer to The Bachelor. I generally like the guys on show (well, there's always at least a couple good ones) but the girls are usually pretty vile (Jake's season was the WORST); hence, though I don't usually like the Bachelorette herself (I'm talking to you Gillian), The Bachelorette usually has more people for me to like (read: more fun boys and fewer horrible girls). This season was a strange one. Coming off of Jake's season, I couldn't stand Ali Fedotowsky (the girl who quit the show then got asked to be the Bachelorette- huh?). I thought she was a bully (though I will admit that she's the prettiest girl on the show in years). But on her own season she was actually pretty darn great. Not only did she have one of the best casts of boys in a long time but she generally comported herself well and made all the right elimination decisions (except losing Chris from Vancouver so unceremoniously- he was sweet). She was a little defensive and crazy at times (her handling of the Frank thing was ridiculous) but she was also feisty (her handling of the Justin thing was awesome) and compassionate (her dismissal of Chris L was very kind, even if the producers didn't like it). So, a great Bachelorette makes for a great season (I'll admit it, I was wrong about her, she turned out to be a REALLY great Bachelorette)- add some serious drama (there's a "dangerous" guy in the house who threatens the others! the guy with the broken leg is in it for the publicity! the crazy stalker guy got a tattoo for her! one of her favourites is leaving for his ex-girlfriend! oh my!), awesome dates (The Lion King?! Really?!)  and some truly great guys (LOVE Kirk; Robert's too good to be true, but is; I stand by Frank; Chris L was truly lovely) and that was a simply awesome season. Also good to note: while Ali had to give up an entire half episode of her season to an irritating interview with Jake and Vienna after their predictable breakup, she and her fiancee Roberto are still going strong (and I think will be for awhile).

This was soon followed by something that was either a great idea or the first sign of the apocalypse: Bachelor Pad. So after all these seasons finish with "happy couples", there's a giant pile or rejected good-looking people just looking for new people to makeout with on national television. Apparently Bachelor cruises are a big hit with former contestants and post-show hookups aren't at all uncommon. So, naturally, the producers decided to let us in on the action. Within the Bachelor-society there's quite a bit of drama and Bachelor Pad was happy to hand it to us. They took a bunch of the worst people ever to be on the show and dumped in the famous Bachelor Mansion to compete for prize money and play with sexual tension. Sometime between them being dumped by various Bachelors and Bachelorettes and the premiere of Bachelor Pad, Natalie (Jason's season) had befriended everyone on the planet, Nikki (also Jason's season) had slept with Juan (Gillian's season), who never called her back, Tenley (Jake's season) had started up a flirtation with Kiptyn (Gillian's season) and Jesse Kovacs (Gillian, again) had played crazy games with the heart of crazy floozy Elizabeth (Jake, again). Throw them all in a house with a couple new additions (hot and kind but immature Jesse- Ali's season; the show's all-time villain Wes- Gillian's season) and make them play twister, win dates and play spin the bottle you've got the most disgustingly fascinating show in awhile. It was putrid, horrible, heinous. But Natalie and David rose up as brilliant strategists, Wes redeemed himself and found "true love"with the earnestly lovely Gia and the whole thing ended with a prisoner's dilemma for Natalie and David to split or keep the money. All tolled, as far as loathsome things go- I kind of really enjoyed Bachelor Pad.

So next up is Brad Womack-again. The former Bachelor who picked no one the first time around will start his second go on January 3rd. I didn't watch his season but this doesn't sound very promising. But then again, as a whole, The Bachelor (and its many relatives) had quite the 2010.

Friday, December 24, 2010

2010 My TV Award Nominations: Series

Best Comedy

Best Drama

Best Reality Show

Best Variety/Talk Show

Best New Show

Best Canceled Show

2010 My TV Award Nominees

Moment of the Year (click on the show title for video)

- Simon Leaves (American Idol)
- The End (Lost)
- "I Wanna Hold Your Hand" (Glee)
- Stop Motion Christmas (Community)
- Obama Visits Jon Stewart (The Daily Show)

2010 My TV Award Nominations

Best TV Couple

Most Ridiculously Good-Looking Male

Most Ridiculously Good-Looking Female

The Be-My-Best-Friend Award

The Marry-Me Award

2010 My TV Award Nominations: Reality Performance

Best Reality Host

Best Reality Judge/Coach

Best Male Reality Star

Best Female Reality Star

2010 My TV Award Nominees: Comedy Performance

Best Ensemble in a Comedy

Best Lead Actor in a Comedy

Best Lead Actress in Comedy

Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy

Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy

2010 My TV Award Nominees: Drama Performance

Best Ensemble in a Drama

Best Lead Actor in a Drama

Best Lead Actress in a Drama

Best Supporting Actor in a Drama

Best Supporting Actress in a Drama

Thursday, December 23, 2010

2010 My TV Award Nominees: Performance

Best Guest Actor

Best Guest Actress

Best Late Night Personality/ Talk or Variety Host

Nominees: Creative Awards

Best Music Composition (score)
- Michael Giacchino (Lost)
- W.G. Snuffy Walden & Bennett Salvay (Friday Night Lights)
- Blake Neely (Brothers & Sisters)
- Danny Lux (Grey’s Anatomy)
- Ramin Djawadi (FlashForward)

Best Choreography (click on the song titles to watch video)
- Derek Hough “A Little Less Conversation” (Dancing with the Stars)
- Zach Woodlee “Safety Dance”(Glee)
- Tabitha and Napoleon D’Umo “Outta Your Mind” (So You Think You Can Dance)
- Travis Wall “How it Ends” (So You Think You Can Dance)
- Mia Michaels “Will I” (So You Think You Can Dance Canada)

Best Writing for a Drama
- Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse “The End” (Lost)
- Coleman Herbert “Under One Roof” (Big Love)
- Jason Katims “East of Dillon” (Friday Night Lights)
- Shonda Rhimes “Sanctuary/Death and All His Friends” (Grey’s Anatomy)
- Becky Hartman Edwards “Perchance to Dream” (Parenthood)

Best Writing for a Comedy
- Mara Brock Akil “Letting You Go” (Cougar Town)
- Andrew Guest  “Messianic Myths and Ancient Peoples” (Community)
- Brad Falchuk “Never Been Kissed” (Glee)
- Paul Corrigan and Brad Walsh “Mother Tucker” (Modern Family)
- Dino Stamatopoulos and Dan Harmon “Abed’s Uncontrollable Christmas” (Community)

Nominees: Technical Awards

Best Technical Achievements (directing, lighting, sound, cinematography)
- Lost
- Damages
- V
- FlashForward
- The Event

Best Costumes
- Gossip Girl
- Mad Men
- Saturday Night Live
- Spartacus: Blood and Sand
- The Tudors

The 2010 My TV Award Nominations

It's that time of year again, the kids are off from school, Christmas is here, fall finales have long since passed and every publication under the sun is compiling their "year in review" articles. Now is when we celebrate the best in the year of TV.

It's time for the fourth annual My TV Awards.

The concept of the "television season" permanently altered by summer runs of shows from Mad Men to Big Brother, we here at My TV choose to acknowledge anything and everything that aired within the confines of 2010, from January to December. That means that for many network shows the episodes in consideration are not necessarily from the same season. But it also means that cable offerings are given equal consideration, even if they don't adhere to the network season. For example, our 2010 nominations include acknowledgement of the back half of Grey's Anatomy's 6th season and the front half of its 7th; we considered Raising Hope's first batch as well as Lost's last and Drop Dead Diva's entire Summer/Fall run made the time cutoff. In tricky cases like that of Friday Night Lights, we are taking into consideration its NBC run (because Direct TV is not available to much of our writing staff), so it's a full season 4 on trial instead of a partial season 5.

So stayed tuned in the coming days as we unveil our nominations for the best of TV in 2010. There are 35 categories of 5 nominees each. Please post in the comments your thoughts on the nominees and email us to vote for your favourites (

The winners will be announced in the New Year.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

2010 in Reality TV: The Amazing Race

The spring brought with it a truly excellent Amazing Race with a truly disappointing finish. Adorably spunky underdog Caite (the oft-mocked former Miss Teen South Carolina) and her boyfriend Brent overcame low expectations and bitchy lesbians to place 3rd; second place went to cowboys Jet and Cord McCoy, one of the best teams I've ever seen race. Unfortunately, both those cheer-worthy teams fell short when underwhelming brothers Dan and Jordan eeked out a win, but it was still a great season to watch.

The fall was pretty good too as kick-ass doctors Nat and Kat and hilarious home-shopping hosts Brook and Claire battled it out to finish as the top 2 teams (Nat and Kat becoming the first all-female team to win). The third place team, dating couple Jill and Thomas, made a strong showing all season long as well, him quickly surfacing as a uniquely savvy racer. Fun father/son and father/daughter teams as well as a pair of lovable a cappella singers added to the hilarity of the season while a startling amount of temper tantrumming was happening among many of the dating couples.

2010 in Reality TV: Dancing with the Stars

Superstar pro dancer Derek Hough (easily one of the show's most valuable assets in personality and ability) pulled out back-to-back victories in 2010 partnering 2 of the best dancers the show's ever had: Nicole Scherzinger and Jennifer Grey.

The ever-charming Evan Lysacek livened up season 10 amidst a controversial band of entertaining headline-grabbers like Kate Gosselin and Jake Pavelka, making for a really great finale between 3 likable stars (the third being amicable sportscaster Erin Andrews).

Season 11's finale was even more interesting despite the unbelievably predictable outcome. Bolstered by her effervescent partner Mark Ballas, Bristol Palin came disturbingly close to the title, going up against Grey and adorable Disney channel star Kyle Massey in the finale. Strangely engrossing personalities like The Situation, The Hoff, Rick Fox and Margaret Cho also added to the season, though the real stars were Grey (a sentimental favourite so soon after Patrick Swayze's death) and her excellent partner, who pulled off some of the best dances in show history.

2010 in Reality TV: Survivor

With 2 great offerings this year, the ultimate reality show still reigns supreme 21 seasons in. The institution, still hosted by best-in-the-business Jeff Probst, kicked off 2010 with possibly their best idea in 10 years: Heroes vs. Villains. The season brought back Survivor icons like Colby and Jerri, fan favourites like Rupert and Boston Rob as well as some of the best strategists ever in Russell and Parvati. Despite the tragically early departure of Boston Rob (one of the all-time best players), some bad game by My TV's favourite would-be couple Jerri and Coach, Colby's melancholy journey, and the completely obscene ending (it should have been a landslide for Parvati, who played a near-perfect game, Sandra shouldn't have even been there), Heroes vs. Villains was still an unbelievable season. That moment when Parvati pulled 2 idols from her sock, gave them both away and completely flipped the game will not soon be forgotten.

Mark Burnett and Co. followed that up with a pretty decent offering this fall, Survivor: Nicaragua. Plagued with terrible twists early on (tribes by age, the medallion of power), the season quickly sorted itself out and gave way to some wonderfully engrossing characters. NaOnka quickly surfaced as one of the series' greatest villains (and redeemed herself as the only juror to show any grace or perspective at final tribal- an unbelievable moment), Marty as a keen strategist and Jimmy Johnson as a strange celebrity sacrificial lamb. The grotesque (though strangely popular) Brenda was happily cut early-ish and the overly-fiesty Jane taken down as well to be replaced by a band of strangely excellent game players. Other than Chase (the annoyingly successful flip-flopper/coaster who quickly became my least favourite), the final 4 were all great players and fun characters. Holly, the sleeper agent of the season, played an immaculate social and physical game until those final weeks when she lost her strategic edge, Sash made some of the most impressively subtle maneuvers I've ever seen to ultimately hold more power over the course of the season than anyone else and Fabio, my favourite by far, had everyone (including most of the audience) fooled into thinking he was a lot less than he turned out to be, pulling out one of the most impressive power runs of the series and at 21 becoming the youngest winner ever (LOVE). A rough start, but not a bad follow-up to the spring's unbelievable season.

Up next is what sounds like a truly awesome idea: Redemption Island. February marks the premiere of "the biggest twist in Survivor history" (in theory, although I would argue that the hidden immunity idols take the cake). Once a castaway is voted off the island, they'll be taken to another island where they'll live in isolation. The next castoff will join them, briefly. Then comes the fight to the death (read: physical challenge + puzzle), winner gets to stay on redemption island to fight the next castoff, loser leaves the game for good. The person left on redemption island gets back into the game somehow (though when is still unknown, if I understand correctly). It sounds interesting, great even. Here's hoping it works (though I think it should be a one-off experiment to come back every once in awhile, not an every-season thing). In the meantime, I'm going to bask in the glory of Fabio's fabulous win and count down the days until he's offered a spot on the next all-star season. 

Sunday, December 19, 2010

The Vampire Diaries Revisited

After a work-induced hiatus, I recently reacquainted myself with my favorite vampire-related, network television, teen tv show. And like a pair of fuzzy pajamas put away for the summer, the show fit just right. It continues to be one of the most satisfying, enjoyable hours on television. It's the romance of Twilight, without having to worry that you're secretely being brainwashed into believing in the Church of Ladder Day Saints. It's the action of Buffy without having to dig too deeply into the meaning of being human. It's the sexy plot twists of True Blood without having to worry your neighbors are going to think you're watching porn.

And as its second season saw us finally reunited with the deliciously scheming Katherine, reacquainted with a newly tortured Tyler and vamped out Caroline, and falling deeper and deeper into the show-defining rabbit hole that is the love triangle between Stephan, Elena, and Damon, the show is proving that despite its soap-operatic scale and ever increasing levels of violence, it can more than maintain its premise while deepening its mythology. Plus, the show proves every episode that The CW is an equal-opportunity barely-legal exploiter, given that every male to appear on the show ever (from Alaric, the teacher, to Stephan, the boyfriend, to Jeremy the little brother) must appear shirtless as often as possible.

Despite my tongue in cheek statements, Vampire Diaries really is a great example of a show that aims squarely in the middle in terms of depth, and hits it so well that it has become the single most consistent hour long tv show in my rotation. Even in 8 hour chunks, it never disappoints thanks to the snap and crackle of the dialogue, the surprisingly astute direction, and a plot that is so action-packed and fast-moving that it's hard even for my ADHD infected mind to keep up.