Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Welcome Back Boys (and PJ and Stephanie)

With gem lines like "this ice makes my scotch taste like freezer" and "I hope it's not Piven", PJ and her boys returned this week after a hiatus that was inhumanely long. But even after such a prolonged absence from my life, My Boys showed up this week swinging for the fences with 2 episodes that screamed "season 4 is gonna be the best one yet".

Even as stars Jordana Spiro and Kyle Howard saw pilot deals fall through with major networks for the fall due to contract conflicts with My Boys, chatter's been growing about an impending cancellation for the uniquely charming show. But as season 4 kicks off, it's painfully obvious that canceling now would be a terrible decision for TBS. The superstation doesn't have a lot of original programming to begin with so you take out the 4 year old sitcom and all that's left is dismal Tyler Perry fare. My Boys also sports a unique fan base that's largely untapped by most female-targeted programming: the guy's girl. It's got a solid cast, a unique point of view, sharp joke writing and fresh story ideas with the changing dynamics of the group. And with 2 of the funniest episodes I've seen starting off the new season, capping the series at 4 would just be plain wrong.

The season premiere dealt largely with the elimination of Jim Gaffigan from the series. The biggest name in the cast, Gaffigan opted out of the 4th season to focus on his standup career. So let's pretend for a second that that doesn't scream "I'm a selfish diva" and just celebrate the fact that my least favourite character is kaput, leaving 5 cast members I really love. Gaffigan's character Andy (written out lamely by moving him to China) was good in the premiere for a couple jokes at his expense and to spur the action of the episode, which saw the others trying to find a suitable replacement for his spot at poker night. It was fun, it was funny and the episode as a whole (which also included the contrived but always fun "how did we meet" flashback stories) was a great re-introduction to the series, without Andy. In the end, they predictably added Stephanie to poker night, making her truly a part of their group for the first time and leading right into the dynamic that would become crucial to episode 2.

The couples were the focus of the second of the double header episodes. Central cuties PJ and Bobby made plans to have a grown-up fancy dinner with new couple Stephanie and Kenny, leaving single guys Mike and Brendan on their own (because "only grownups watch Top Chef"). I was expecting predictable antics (as sometimes My Boys falls victim of) when the episode was turned on its head and saw Mike ("Michael" for the episode) and Brendan play the grownups and carrying on intelligent conversations that weren't about sports while having drinks with a pair of women. The couples had a terrible night, that was saved (in a way) by an accidental/on purpose ingestion of pot brownies. The role reversals proved hilarious as Michael and Brendan marveled at their own classiness "go ties!" and the others played out their night high as kites and had me laughing literally out loud through conversations in which they tried to name the 10 best human inventions or discuss the weight of water. As funny as it all was, it's that cheesy heart that's always beaten steadily beneath My Boys' wit that makes me love it so. That heart was back in full force in this episode as PJ capped it with her signature voiceover (which was then promptly undercut with a joke to send us to credits).

I think I'd managed to forget how much I love My Boys. It truly is one of my favourite shows ever, a female voice I actually understand and something TV needs on the air for years to come.  If I could choose any group to be a part of, the FRIENDS, the HIMYM gang or even Buffy's Scoobies, I'd choose PJ and her boys any day of the week and twice on Sunday.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Actor Obsession of the Week

As I continue on my epic journey of marathoning Dawson's Creek, I'm realizing that this time around I'm much more fond of Jack McPhee than ever before. Why? I'm not really sure. But as I make my way through season 4, his best season, I realize that Kerr Smith's charming football player is a much more endearing character than I've ever given him credit for being. He's cute, he's sweet, he's a loyal friend, a caring brother, a part-time jokester and the best darn little league soccer coach ever.

Add on the fact that Smith is the perfect guy to round out the cast of the CW's schmultzy darling Life Unexpected (which I'm catching up on now), and he quickly becomes an all-star of my TV week.

Further investigation reveals that the 6-foot-tall actor has a BS in business administration, taught himself to play the piano and the bass and was the face of the first gay kiss on primetime network TV.

Colour me impressed.

In related news, I'm also catching up on The Good Wife. And among that brilliant cast (Josh Charles I adore you!) is Mary Beth Peil, the Creek's erstwhile Grams. Which got me thinking: Jack is on Life Unexpected, Grams on The Good Wife, Pacey on Fringe, Audrey on Cougar Town and Dawson on Mercy. Add in 2 certified movie stars in Michelle Williams and Katie Holmes and the Dawson's Creek cast, it turns out, completely transcended any trace of a teen show curse: almost all of them going on to successful careers. I knew there was something special about that show.

Friday, July 23, 2010

The Best Lately

This routine from amazing jazz choreographer Mandy Moore is my favourite on So You Think You Can Dance since the tragic loss of Alex. It features the ever-improving Lauren and the first time Billy (my new favourite) has ever really seemed like he was having fun. And a song that brings back very fond Sports Night memories. This routine is just plain groovy.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

In Defense of Frank

This week on The Bachelorette, top 3 finalist Frank left bachelorette Ali because he finally realized that he belonged with his ex instead. Predictably, the beautiful but volatile blond glossed over the situation when explaining to the other guys, got incredibly defensive about the whole situation and started calling him names like "selfish" and "the biggest jerk I've ever met". Now I get that it hurt, Frank really should have figured this all out way earlier and not gone so far into the competition. But come on, what Justin did, that was selfish and cruel. What Frank did, that was just unfortunate. Frank showed a little immaturity and a serious lack of self awareness but it could not have been clearer that there was no malicious intent behind what he did. Frank cared about Ali and didn't want to hurt her, but he realized he'd made a mistake staying. Would she rather he hang on until the end and dump her after the show? He got out as soon as he realized he had to, what more could she ask? Besides, it is his prerogative to break up with her at any point just as it is hers. Love is a two-way street and Frank turned around the second he realized for sure that he should be walking in another direction.

Next week is "The Men Tell All", always one of my favourites of the season. I cannot wait.

In 2 weeks she will choose Roberto and all will be well. Well, at least I think she'll choose Roberto, she should really choose Roberto. I would also like to point out that my Bachelor Scale, posted on June 8th, correctly pinpointed the final 4 and the order they would disappear in- I am a matchmaking genius!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Good and Bad This Week

The Good

- SYTYCD's earnest (annoying?) farmboy Kent is engagingly mature, almost (dare I say it) sexy, this week in a smooth Dave Scott hip hop with Comfort and a beautiful Travis Wall contemporary with Lauren. 

- Deserving Emmy nominees abound, especially Connie Britton and Kyle Chandler.

- Big Brother returns with a cool new twist that's nowhere near as stupid as last year's high school theme. The rock star/mensa member takes off as a My TV early favourite.

- Brian Voltaggio (among others) reminds Top Chef viewers of the high standards contestants can meet.

- My favourite female dancer in SYTYCD history, Katee,  returned this week to dance a wonderful Broadway routine with Billy. 

- Hot in Cleveland is funny, nostalgic and a hit on TV Land's first attempt at scripted series. 

- All the right people keep getting eliminated one by one on True Beauty until only the tolerable remain (go Taylor!)

- Faith Prince reprises her role as Jane's mom on Drop Dead Diva in a lovely and moving episode that had Jane singing again.

The Bad

- The reason Katee came back to dance was because the amazing All-Star Allison hurt her ribs.

- Grayson's Drop Dead Diva story was a little strained this week.

- The Last Comic Standing audition rounds are over: one of the few reality shows where the audition rounds are actually entertaining.

- The Bachelorette wasted half its episode on a pointlessly juvenile breakup interview with Jake and Vienna (artfully mediated by the excellent Chris Harrison) instead of giving us more time with Ali's wonderful remaining men like Roberto, Kirk and Frank (for whom previews show the days are numbered before he becomes the season's third major villain).

- There aren't very many episodes left of the superb fourth season of Friday Night Lights.

and (the most traumatic by far)

- Alex Wong, by far the most interesting, most sympathetic, most engaging, hardest working dancer on So You Think You Can Dance this year (oh, and the single greatest dancer the show's ever seen), was injured this week and taken out of the competition. If he does not return next year my heart will surely break.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

SURPRISE! The 2010 Emmy Nominees aren't Horrible

The announcement is done and while the whole shooting match is a little more pro-Glee than maybe it should be, Modern Family is over-represented, Community under-represented, the Academy Awards once again inexplicably nominated for some of the worst directing I've ever seen, Mad Men and 30 Rock each got more than 1 writing nomination (which I never consider fair), who cares, THESE ARE AMAZING NOMINATIONS!!!!

My TV favourite Stacey Tookey's up for choreo opposite super-deserving Mia Michaels (the addiction dance-which should win), Dancing with the Stars' best Derek Hough (not nominated for the right routine but still up for multiple dances) and Chelsie Hightower, and Adam Shankman's awesome Academy Awards dance routines. (click here for videos)

No love for Family Guy but superb performer H Jon Benjamin (Archer) is up alongside 3 Simpsons nominees (including Anne Hathaway?!).

The now iconic "Man Your Man Could Smell Like" Old Spice commercial is a shoe-in for the top honours in ads.

Glee will surely snatch up costumes, hair and makeup awards though I'm not sure why it's their Madonna episode up for costumes not their Gaga one.

If Michael Giacchino loses the Emmy for Lost's final episode something is SERIOUSLY wrong with this system.

The awesome Joel McHale is passed over but Larry David is nominated for Best Comedy Actor for playing himself. I am now confused.

Neil Patrick Harris HAS to win this year for Barney's tumultuous season over annoying former winner Jon Cryer, 3 Modern Family guys (Ty Burrell- yes!, Jesse Tyler Fergusen and Eric Stonestreet are loveable but not brilliant) and (one of the biggest but understandable surprises, Chris Colfer for Glee).

I want Aaron Paul to finally win but think maybe a super deserving Terry O'Quinn should for his spectacular turn in Lost's final season. I don't think Michael Emerson should be up though, season 6 gave him nothing to do.

Matthew Fox is up this year. That's not unexpected but it is atypical. I'm all for it though. But he shouldn't win, not against the superstar regulars in this category (every one of whom is outrageously good- Michael C Hall, Bryan Cranston, Jon Hamm and Hugh Laurie).

YAY for Amy Poehler and yay for finally passing over Mary Louise Parker, who is lovely, but not on Weeds.

Can someone please explain to me why January Jones keeps getting nominated? If you transplanted her exact performance onto a less lauded show it would be getting jeers, not nominations.

Rose Byrne isn't good enough to merit her supporting actress nomination for Damages but Christina Hendricks is certainly good enough for hers for Mad Men. Though I'm rooting for The Good Wife's Archie Panjabi.

SUPER EXCITED for Mike O'Malley, the absolute BEST thing about Glee, nominated for guest star. Annoyed to see that their other guest nominees (namely Neil Patrick Harris and Kristin Chenoweth) are people who are awesome on their own and lacking on Glee instead of Idina Menzel who was actually awesome specifically in the show. Or, I don't know, someone who wasn't on Glee, like Rosie O'Donnell's spectacular Drop Dead Diva turn? But Lifetime love is not something the Emmys feel. YAY BETTY WHITE, the obvious winner for her SNL hosting gig but glad to see Mary Kay Place nominated for Big Love guest starring too.

The reality host category, which will forever be selected by people who clearly do not watch reality TV, is standard but wrong with their inclusion of annoying Tom Bergeron and (charming but largely absent) Phil Koeghan and exclusion of Padma Lakshmi and Chris Harrison. But Jeff Probst is a shoe-in for another win (deservingly so after 2 solid seasons this year) so it's alright.

The reality program category is similarly weird with random things like Antiques Roadshow, hoping Jamie Oliver will win this one. The competition category is standard and should go to Survivor for an outstanding year instead of (undefeated winner) The Amazing Race.  Or maybe Top Chef, the Votaggio brothers pushing their season in to reality TV "best of" history.

Best comedy nominees are uninspired yet happily back to a normal number this year (Curb Your Enthusiasm, 30 Rock, Nurse Jackie, Glee, Modern Family and The Office).

Best dramas are much better with 2 normally-would-be-pretentiously-excluded network shows (The Good Wife, Lost) taking on superstar cable shows (Breaking Bad, Mad Men, Dexter, True Blood). Here's looking for a Breaking Bad upset but expecting either a typical Mad Men win or a nod to Lost for its last season in recognition of its 6 year contribution.

The inclusion of Wanda Sykes' "I'ma Be Me" HBO special makes me happy.

Glee and Modern Family's existence pushed 30 Rock's writing nomination count down to a more tolerable 2 (though still somewhat unfair and not entirely deserved- I love the show but it's not the be all and end all). Glee's up for its Pilot, not a great outing in my opinion, but The Office is nominated for their best episode in years, Jim and Pam's wedding, so I'm hoping for a (completely impossible) upset. My money's on Modern Family here.

The Good Wife and Lost's finale similarly pared Mad Men down to 2 (same story as 30 Rock for me) but I think the 60s still have this category tied up. Which is sad, because the fourth nominee is from the best show on TV possibly ever...

most importantly, after 4 seasons of being overlooked, the best 2 actors on TV are getting what they deserve: CONNIE BRITTON AND KYLE CHANDLER ARE NOMINATED FOR FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS!!!!!!! The show's fan-centric campaign must have done the trick this year because the underrated/perfect show is also up for a well-deserved writing award. THANK YOU, finally, EMMY VOTERS.

Overall, a surprising and wonderful list this year. Thank you for finally not being 100% predictable and pretentious this year Emmys, I love you again.