Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Fat Shows, the biggest problem since Skinny Shows

This week was the premiere of a new ABC family show called Huge. It's basically an hour each week in which rebellious Will (you know she's a rebel because she's got blue hair) obnoxiously fights against losing weight at fat camp. Oh boy. I cannot wait. The premiere alone was chock a block full of nasty stereotypes, whether it wanted to be or not. At some point someone in Hollywood's gonna realize that being fat doesn't mean you worship food, right? Somebody's got to realize that eventually because if I see one more sequence in which someone describes a chocolate milkshake in such detail that they begins to moan I'm gonna lose it. If I see one more character willing to get kicked out of camp for a chocolate bar I'm gonna scream. And the next time someone says "it's hard being without my favourite foods" I'm going to declare war on this show full of unrealistic fat people invented in the minds of skinny ones.  

Huge is pulling from 2 sides: it wants Will to just give in and try to "change her life" as Gina Torres' fatcamp director character (with secrets!) urges, but it also needs Will there to spout the standard after school special "why should I have to change to meet your standards?... there's more to the world than looks" lines. Neither side is very endearing. Someone thinking fat camp is stupid is not the same thing as, what did Torres' character call it? Oh yeah, "risking your life rather than changing it". But Will doesn't stand for anything. She has no reason to fight against the camp. She's just being rebellious for rebellion's sake. Well that's pretty stupid. Every character in Huge is defined by their body. There are the skinny ones who are obsessed with being skinny. There are the fat ones who are obsessed with being skinny. And then there's Will, who needs her fat because it gives her some sort of outsider edge. She's rebelling against the mainstream by refusing to look like their ideal. Aren't there better ways to rebel against the mainstream? Why would you actively try to gain weight? I understand not actively trying to lose it, that takes a lot of time and energy that could just as easily be spent on more interesting things. But to actively fight against it, that makes you as boring as the people who spend all their time counting calories- you're counting too, just in the other direction.

It seems to me that TV right now is obsessed with weight. Top Chef just did a challenge designed around childhood obesity. The newest in the string of dance shows is called Dance Your Ass Off. Last year they made The Bachelor for Fat People (it's unofficial title). There's a sitcom slated for the fall about people who meet at Overeaters Anonymous. For crying out loud, The Biggest Loser got it's own spinoff!

For awhile there I thought Glee might have the right idea; Mercedes, an overweight teen, was the reigning diva of the school and pretty darn self assured. Then came the episode when a cheerleading uniform managed to unseat every shred of self worth Ms. Divarific had and she had to be set straight by little pregnant angel Quinn. And then they sang Christina Aguilera, because why wouldn't they? After finding that episode personally offensive I pretty much gave up on Glee ever having the right idea.

Drop Dead Diva's on the right track when dealing with the issue of fatness. There's a whole episode about not being afraid of the word fat. About accepting that the average woman in America does not look like a TV character. About treating people equally. That's definitely the right idea, that's how it should go. Don't be afraid of the word fat but don't worship it either. "Fat" to me is about as interesting as "tall" or "blue-eyed" or "brunette", but for some reason it matters more to everyone else. Even the Fat Shows (yes, that's what I'm calling them), Diva aside, which are, in theory, helping to move the nation in the right direction in terms of standards of beauty and treatment of others, are doing nothing more or less than making it a big deal. Again. Even more. How is that helpful?

Gilmore Girls married off Sookie (Melissa McCarthy's overweight character) to a charming, average guy named Jackson. I say average and I don't mean average in the sense of everyone else is a TV hunk and he's an average Joe, I mean average, like standard in the world of Stars Hollow, like what average actually means. Sookie's weight wasn't a big deal, it was about as interesting as her height or her eye colour or (and here's another thing I think should be handled similarly) her race. Why shouldn't Jackson fall in love with Sookie? Sookie's awesome. Last season on 90210 Navid started dating a girl who was a bit larger than average (aka severly chubby by 90210 standards) but very pretty. Absolutely nothing was made of it. She was a real threat to Adriana, a real love interest to Navid and a character with many more interesting things about her than her weight. I know, 90210, who'da thunk, but it showed real progress.

Huge is a step backwards. A big step backwards. Maybe that's what the title means, "we're taking a HUGE step backwards". Otherwise it's pretty much just a tasteless title.  Star Nikki Blonsky (Will) had her big Hollywood breakthrough in Hairspray, a role so anti-huge I can't even believe it. Tracy Turnblad has nothing in common with Will. Will wants to stand on the outside and shout at those on the in, take anything she can get to make her different (read: superior for being different) whether it's her weight or her hair and fly it as a flag that stands for nothing. All Tracy wanted was to get to join the party; she thought everyone should be invited. She wasn't going to lose weight to get in, she wouldn't even change her hairdo when it got her put in detention. She was fine just the way she was, but Tracy also thought everyone else was fine, no matter how skinny, fat, tall, short, black or white they were. She assumed Link would fall in love with her because her weight's not nearly as important as her other qualities, and he did, because those other qualities were pretty great "no matter what [she] weighs". TV needs to get over the fact that the issue of fat is anything huge (forgive the terrible pun). Fat needs to be an adjective that carries about as much weight as all the other ones. I'd like to see TV characters who get to be nouns, not adjectives.

Let's have people who look like people and treat them as such. Let's have tall people AND short people, people with straight hair AND with curls; let's have white people, black people, asian people, hispanic people, people with freckles, people with moles, redheads, brunettes, blonds, skinny people, fat people and all the people in between. Let's have them all, and let that be okay.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Diva's Back On Top

This week more than made up for last week's frustrating entry into the Drop Dead Diva canon. Tonight, fans were treated to a Deb who was finally happy being Jane- a major event that was not dwelled upon or undermined in any way.

We also got 2 clever, self-contained legal stories.

Fred had a lovely storyline that played on and aptly defied comedy conventions when introducing a gay character as a friend to a straight one. The story also marked the first time Fred has added something to his life as a human being that wasn't directly connected to Jane. Now he has a friend, something that will at the very least bring him some grounding if not make him even more interesting.

Stacey played her part in a short but sweet story involving a scrapbook and a little breaking and entering.

The Parker-Kim romance that the show has cleverly but not subtly been hinting at for weeks finally kicked off at the end of this episode- it seems like a morally questionable issue for the partner/aspiring-partner duo but they are complimentary characters so I'm in favour of it.

Grayson stepped back into the picture this week after having been largely absent of late. He was charming, he was sweet, he gave Jane his signature look of "you're the smartest woman I've ever met", what more can you ask of the guy?

And, most heartbreakingly, my beloved Tony bid farewell after a short but excruciatingly sweet reconciliation with Jane. David Denman is on a new show this fall and TV rules do dictate that happy couples aren't dramatically interesting (boo!), so I suppose he had to go. But it still hurts. Tony was perfect for Jane. And he was the sort of unexpected TV crush that doesn't come around too often. He wasn't Jim Halpert (oh! irony!), McSteamy or even Seth Cohen, he was a niche market, perfect for that one character, made me giggle kind of TV crush. And oh how I love those.

There was also karaoke, this show is really good at karaoke. So, after a wonderfully solid episode, I must conclude that Tony will be missed but Diva is back in fine form.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Dear NBC (and TBS), Work It Out!

Coming off the tragic news that My TV favourite Jordana Spiro is off of the upcoming NBC series Love Bites, I find myself once again disappointed in NBC. First of all, the reason for letting Spiro (incomparably charming, incredibly relatable) go is that she is contractually bound to TBS' My Boys. First of all, My Boys films like 3 months out of the year, I'm sure Spiro can find a way to do both. Second of all, and I'll elaborate on this in a minute, it's not likely that My Boys will even be returning for a 5th season, so you might not even have to show the tiny bit of flexibility I earlier suggested. Worst reason for firing someone ever. The news does not bode well for Kyle Howard fans either as he is in exactly the same boat as Spiro;  His NBC sitcom Perfect Couples contract conflicts with My Boys. Yeah, okay, but seriously, this can be worked out. Spiro and Howard were literally the only reasons I was planning on watching these series (well, that's a lie, Becky Newton is in Love Bites, so there's that. But really I was in it for PJ!). NBC, you cannot afford to be alienating fans right now.

As for TBS, how dare you give TV reporters any reason at all to suggest that My Boys won't see a fifth season! Let's take Tyler Perry out of the equation for a second... oh, you can't do that? BECAUSE YOU DON'T HAVE ANY OTHER SHOWS!!!! My Boys is the only reason, other than Friends reruns, to ever watch TBS. And I have all the Friends DVDs, so does everyone else; reruns are dead. My Boys is unlike anything else on TV, providing for an audience generally ignored, the guy's girl. It films quickly, gives TBS a good name, keeps the superstation in the original series equation and is inexpensive to make. So why are you threatening to take it away!?! My Boys is a crucial part of my TV season, I'll be all off balance without it. If anything (especially on the heals of Spiro losing her NBC contract), you should up the measly episode order per season, give us more than a few episodes at a time with our boys!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Bachelorette Thoughts:

- So long Kasey, you will not be missed, even if this was one of your sanest-seeming weeks left (not saying much at all).

- See ya Chris N, you will be missed even less. Mostly because I barely knew who you were, except for the occasional off-putting shot of you half-heartedly hugging Ali or unintentionally being a bad Keanu Reeves impersonator.

- I accidentally picked up a tabloid that said Frank was going to dump Ali for his ex girlfriend. I cannot tell you how much I hope this is not the case. I adore Frank. He's seriously sexy, really funny and a little bit jealous but generally sane. Here's hoping next week's big emotional breakdown is a Justin thing, I'm wrong about Roberto being too good to be true (which I think I am after this week) and it's smooth sailing to an ideal final 4 of Roberto, Frank, Kirk and Chris L.

- Craig R was not repulsive tonight, a first for him.

- Justin was repulsive tonight. The guys have finally stopped bullying him long enough to let the audience make up their own minds. When given this luxury, I finally tuned in to what's always been there: the kid sees this as a pure and simple competition with Ali as a prize not the purpose. He's more intent on beating the other guys than winning her heart. So when it's him (fingers crossed) that "breaks her heart" next week, there will be no love lost here.

- Poor Canada. Particularly Toronto was seriously misrepresented this year. The 2 villains of the season were from my home town and the only other Canuck on the series was eliminated without any coverage at all. Did they scour the city for the worst we had to offer? Because I can give them a list the size of my arm of fantastic Torontonians who'd kill on this show (not that any of them would ever agree to do it).

- Which brings me to, did she not consider just not giving out a rose on the 2 on 1 date? Neither of those guys is her future husband, that's been obvious since day 1. From the premiere episode this thing was down to Roberto, Frank and Chris L. Kirk was a nice surprise dark horse in episode 3 but this is a 4 man race and has been for awhile now.

-Ty is doing way too well. He's this season's Tenley (just divorced, so not ready), and generally not appealing. She's keeping around some pretty random dudes.

- In contrast, there are 4 really choice guys still in the running and a seriously high sexy contingent this season. Frank, Roberto and Kirk all make me blush. It's so sad that they won't be in the running for next season's starring spot (see final bullet). 

- First episode sans singing! SCORE! Next person who sings to Ali is landing on My TV's all-time most hated list.

In related news: American Idol's Casey James is the next Bachelor, according to Chris Harrison's twitter. NOOOOOOOOOO says this hater of all guitar-wielding romantic suitors.

A Weaker Diva

After a consistently strong season so far, Drop Dead Diva felt a little tired this week in the fourth episode of its second season. While I applaud the return to humanizing Kim, appreciate a well-placed Michael Buble reference and giggled at Jane and Tony's faux cross-examination, I thought the entire episode was a little heavy handed. In general, Drop Dead Diva is a sweet show with enough wit to mask its lack of subtlety. But this week, the blatant plot mirroring finally started to get on my nerves.

As much as I appreciated the writers' efforts to move Kim along as a character, I could have done without the "this is the episode where she comes off as human and vulnerable" subtitles. Imagine the coincidence: a case about a newborn when the character thinks she's pregnant! What are the chances?! Pretty slim, actually, so why not play with something a little more likely and a little less obvious as a metaphor? And to expect an audience to buy, even for the tiniest second, that Kim was pregnant with Grayson's baby was asking too much. I've haven't been so sure that something wasn't true since Grey's Anatomy tried to convince me McDreamy was dead. Sure, Kim's pregnancy scare had some interesting ramifications for Jane (kudos, by the way, for moving her in exactly the right direction- away from Grayson and towards a realistic but happy Jane ending as opposed to a fantasy Deb one) but the ramifications for Kim stood to be a lot more interesting.

Speaking of Jane's positive momentum, however, she happily moved right back into the arms of My TV crush Tony in this episode. Her recent ex had been pretty jerky in the past 2 episodes but managed to pull right out of it and remind me why I love him as he revealed the hurt behind the jerk. That cross-examination sequence and subsequent "settlement conference" were cheesy, but clever and sweet, trademark Diva. That court case as lame relationship mirror, however, was pretty frustrating. First of all, JANE NEEDS TO LOSE ONE, how convenient was that act three twist that won her the case?! Also, there was some serious conduct unbecoming of an attorney in this week's courtroom, not to mention the fact that the case itself was little more than a vehicle for Jane and Tony to work out their issues. It makes them both seem like lesser lawyers the more they make the cases about themselves. Actually, that's true of every character on the series (the best exception being when Grayson used his disdain for his client to win a case in season 1- that was cool). While I like that the cases on Drop Dead Diva reflect or influence what's going on in the personal stories, a lighter touch is a definite requirement. Otherwise it's just all too convenient, too obvious, and the audience will always be a step ahead of the show.

Here's hoping for a step back up to Diva standards in the weeks to come, which feature the promising returns of recurring actors Jeff Rose, Rosie O'Donnell, Sharon Lawrence and Faith Prince as well as upcoming guest appearances (or character arcs) by Natasha Henstridge, Jake Pavelka and (My TV Favourite) Matt Letscher!- should be good.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Observations from the Tonys

I participated in a conference call with host Sean Hayes earlier this week and was not impressed. The man had never been to the Tonys before and had only seen one of the nominated productions (Red). Top that off with the occasional rude comment, his repetition of the fact that he has no hosting ambitions and his absolute refusal to answer any questions at all in response to the controversial Newsweek article that had everything to do with him and I held little hope for his hosting job. But all things considered, he did okay.

More Observations:
  • Boy that piano solo that opened the show was impressive. Great idea actually, way to show off his talents specifically instead of the typical song and dance number that would elicit comparisons to his predecessors.
  • Sherie Renee Scott! I wish I could see her show, she's my favourite Broadway performer.
  • Daniel Radcliffe is VERY short. And Katie Holmes has become a zombie since her charming Joey Potter days.
  • ScarJo (Featured Actress in a Play: View From the Bridge) got to talk for an hour but was wearing a pretty dress and thanked "her Canadian" (my love/her husband Ryan Reynolds) so it was okay.
  • Featured Actor in a Play Eddie Redmayne (Red) is an unbelievably eloquent dude and now I really want to see Red.
  • Actually, after watching the introductions to the nominated original plays I want to see all of them.
  • This thing is terribly directed. So many technical problems and embarrassing incidents.
  • Frasier and Niles together! That's amazing, they were adorable. And they both belong on the Tony stage (unlike many of the screen stars there).
  • Katie Finneran (Featured Actress in a Musical: Promises, Promises) is adorable.
  • Why is a NY Jet presenting? WEIRD.
  • Okay, none of the musicals really look that good (and I love musicals), except maybe Memphis, that was kinda fun. No, scratch that, Ragtime, now that's musical theatre people!
  • This whole ordeal is obnoxiously Hollywood. Why are there more movie stars than stage stars? I mean theatre people, not screen people who dabble in theatre.
  • I'm just going to put this out there: I find Kristen Chenoweth annoying of late. I used to love her but she's just too much sometimes.
  • Michael from Camp is nominated for a Tony! Awesome.
  • After seeing the performances on this show so far I agree wholeheartedly with Levi Kreis' win for Million Dollar Quartet (Featured Actor in a Musical).
  • Holy Mumbler Batman! I couldn't hear a word Catherine Zeta Jones was singing: would you people please learn to enunciate! She was altogether unimpressive I thought.
  • Idina Menzel- way to remind me of the true greatness that Broadway can achieve... (interrupted thought) holy crap that Ragtime lady can sing!
  • Viola Davis (Lead Actress in a Play: Fences) may be crying but she looks like she could pack a serious punch, I'm distracted by her biceps.
  • Where is Jude Law (Hamlet)? He obviously wasn't going to win but it's a jerk move not to show up.
  • Denzel? I was sure Alfred Molina had it. I never seem to agree when Denzel wins anything.
  • Hey Will Smith, I love you. I have for years and always will.
  • Michael Douglas reminds me that Avenue Q beat out Wicked for Best Musical in 2004, as much as I love Avenue Q, that will always remains a complete travesty.
  • Great dress Paula!
  • Oh, the choreography performances were great. Excellent sitting Sean, really impressive! That first comment was sincere, the second not so much.
  • Not so sure I agree with Bill T Jones for Best Choreography for Fela! I also didn't think he should have won for the stomping and jumping in Spring Awakening but alas he did.
  • The fact that the crowd seemed to recognize few people more than I did made me sad. Someone there should have known those casting directors and writers. I was also ashamed that I was only now finding out about the death of Dixie Carter (stage actress and one of my favourite stars of Designing Women), that was very sad.
  • Red wins best play, I have a feeling that's exactly appropriate. Writer John Logan gives a lovely speech, producer lady reads a prepared one- boo.
  • Was the Glee cast really necessary? They're both such talented theatre people but the overexposure is making it progressively harder to separate Lea Michele and Matthew Morrison from the annoying Rachel Berry and Mr. Schue. Michele can really wail and I do love her "Don't Rain on My Parade" but the girl is getting too big for her britches, that was way over the top. But way to chum it up with bff Jonathan Groff and innocently flirt with Jay Z, that was charming.
  • Julie Taymor's directing Spider Man the musical? That sounds horrible. Not the Taymor part, the Spider Man part.
  • Wow, I hate Raquel Welch. Must she wiggle "seductively" as she attempts to read a piece of paper?
  • I haven't made it to Broadway this season (sadly) but I'm going to guess that Ragtime should have had Best Revival instead of La Cage Aux Folles.
  • I'm thinking they should have picked an American Idiot song that didn't need as much censorship for network TV but that show looks pretty darn cool. Weird but cool. Maybe even awesome.
  • In what world does Catherine Zeta Jones beat out Sherie Renee Scott? I mean she is a bigger star, in a bigger show with a bigger cast and more money and blah blah blah but it's musical theatre and when it comes to acting and singing there's one correct answer, and it's not Zeta Jones. Also, what a strange acceptance speech, clearly her head was not totally on.
  • Memphis wins best musical, which I totally didn't see coming. But I'm glad a jukebox musical didn't win (at least I don't think it's a jukebox musical, even if it was written by the guy from Bon Jovi). It means good things for the industry to acknowledge original works, no matter how cool American Idiot may be.
Overall a pretty enjoyable evening on the grand scale of awards shows. I want to go to Broadway so badly, I have to see Red, Next Fall, American Idiot, Memphis and (sadly already closed) Ragtime, among others.

My Week in TV

  • I was bored, so I made my own version of TV University (a format I blatantly stole from something I saw on please, no one sue me).
  • This week I got the opportunity to participate in a conference call with Secret Life of the American Teenager actress India Eisley. Not being very familiar with the show, I thought the most interesting thing about this would be that her mother was Zeffirelli's iconic Juliet. But when I caught up with some episodes online to prepare for the call I quickly discovered that I would be speaking to the most interesting aspect of the show. Eisley's character Ashley is the beating heart and smart mouth of an otherwise lobotomized teen condescension fest. And when I heard what Eisley had to say on the call I quickly realized that it's her that gives Ashley the awesome factor. Smart, articulate, humble, sweet and honest, Eisley was thoroughly charming. And when asked what shows she watches and movies she likes I couldn't help but think about the Teen Choice Awards (currently accepting voting online). The nominees are all fluff, the sort of belittling stuff that tells teenagers that because of their age they are expected to actually consider Tristan Wilds (90210) the best actor in a drama on TV (not that I don't really enjoymany a CW show and think that the Emmys should get off their high horse and consider Ed Westwick next season, but still- Tristan Wilds?!). But when 16-year-old Eisley watches TV she chooses Weeds, True Blood and Nurse Jackie (much to the audible surprise of the reporters on the call); and her favourite movie? It's not Twilight, it's Bridge on the River Kwai. I was so impressed with the mature teen star that I may even begin to watch her show. (I'll post more from the interview in the coming days).
  • After an uphill battle that's been raging since Christmas, I'm closing in on finishing The Sopranos as I finally embark on season 6. It's been somewhat unpleasant (least sexy show EVER, though I suppose that's the point) and I don't care much for any of the characters but I can see why it is considered so artistically meritorious. For every cartoon of a mobster that fills out the background there's a fascinatingly drawn character to counteract them. The whole affair reeks of filmmakers gone rogue on television: the blatant narcissistic rule-breaking works against the series more than one might expect but does lead to the occasionally inspired moment (like heads in bowling bags- for example!) That doesn't make it pleasant to watch, but it does make it interesting.
  • This week I watched all of CBC's newest hit 18 to Life in one sitting. It was cute, it was sweet and I'll be back next season for more.
  • When I finally watched CTV's weeks old TV movie Turn the Beat Around (starring forgettable So You Think You Can Dance Canada contestant Romina Something-or-other and awesome SYTYCDCcontestants Miles and Natalie in sadly smaller roles), it proved so unlikeable that I ended up fast forwarding to the dancing parts. Whose idea was it to make a Flashdance remake using disco?!
  • Monday night trash TV continues to make me incredibly happy. I love to hate the horrible people on True Beauty (though I kinda actually like Taylor, go Taylor!) and am loving The Bachelorette (as shameful usual). Kirk is progressively becoming my new favourite, I still love Frank even if he is going crazy with jealousy, am counting the days until Craig and Chris N finally leave, still think it might be Roberto who breaks her heart and could not care less if people think Justin is evil, she's clearly not going to pick him anyway.
  • So You Think You Can Dance kicked off the voting this week with a strong episode. The All-Stars create a mixed bag or results. Some, like Allison, Mark, Pasha and Anya, raised their competitor partner's game. Others, like Kathryn and Twitch, accidentally detracted by being so awesome themselves. One (namely Courtney) is a mediocre all-star who kinda got outdanced by her partner. Some showed off their partner nicely by supporting them and doing their intended job of just being a partner that won't leave the contestant undeservingly in the bottom 3 (Lauren, Neil, Ade and Comfort did exactly that). I'm not sure how this whole thing will play out but I do know that every new thing I learn about Alex Wong makes me love him even more.
  • Drop Dead Diva continues to be amazing this season with an excellent second episode. Chad Lowe made a spectacular guest appearance, Tony and Jane each tore my heart out, Fred proved awesomeness once more, Kim is starting to bounce back as a non-villain and Jeff Rose started his arc as a lawyer in opposition to Jane's firm.
  • My daily summer staples Jeopardy and The Daily Show continue to go strong (though I am tired of oil spill coverage- is that terrible?).
  • I almost missed the Top Chef premiere until I noticed something on the ever-helpful (and sometimes sorrowfully spoiler-full) Facebook newsfeed. It's awesome to have that show back for the summer!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Canada's Got More Hits

CBC has officially put a third show on my radar (the others being Little Mosque on the Prairie and Being Erica). The charming sitcom 18 to Life is not exactly ground breaking but it is incredibly sweet. As the central 18-year-old married couple, Jessie and Tom are fun characters with excellent chemistry. Jessie is played by yet another Degrassi alum (seriously, how many of those kids are there?!), Stacey Farber, while oldschool YTV fans get a blast from the past when they realize that Tom (Michael Seater) is Spencer from The Zack Files all grown up. The cast in general is really great including 2 interesting friends, 2 fun siblings and 4 eclectic (read: scene stealing) parents (Slings & Arrows fans will recognize Jessie's hilarious dad, Peter Keleghan, as the morally questionable bottled water businessman who taunted Richard regularly).

Another great surprise in the cast is a number of familiar faces from my newest favourite Canadian movie, The Trotsky. The lively and painfully clever film (WHICH YOU SHOULD ALL GO SEE!) was set and filmed in Montreal, just like 18 to Life. Whether it's purely coincidental or not, the two share quite a few actors, including the awesome Kaniehetiio Horn, who is one of my new favourite people to watch. The pilot also starred Tommie- Amber Pirie as Jessie and Tom's friend Ava but she was mysteriously replaced by Erin Agostino for the series run, she is dearly missed. Their other friend, Carter, is played by Jesse Rath, the target of The Trotsky's best line: "are you my Stalin, Dwight?"

With yet another recent TV hit, an awesome new movie (starring Jay Baruchel and Colm Feore, home-grown Canadian boys with cross-border appeal) and one of our best writers (Rob Sheridan) inking a deal with Warner Brothers to develop a comedy script for the American market, the Canadian industry is on the rise. Support it by checking out 18 to Life and going to see The Trotsky, you won't regret it.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Calling All "Secret Life" Fans

Next week I'll be getting the chance to speak with India Eisley, who plays Ashley on The Secret Life of the American Teenager. Let me know what you think I should ask her. Comment on this post or email questions to

Thanks for your help guys!

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

The Bachelorette's Silly Silly Boys

Don't you know that the more you pick on someone the more defensive the female audience (not to mention Ali) is going to feel about him? You've managed to take someone who was beginning to rub me the wrong way and make me jump to his defense. My initial thought was that Justin seemed a little calculated this week, but after every single guy in the house attacked him I'm having my usual reaction of thinking that maybe he's just misunderstood and feeling a little desperate. It's happened before: Ali's champion bitchery turned the tables on how I felt about Vienna, David's "man code" brought out sympathy for Juan that otherwise never would have shown up. The more the guys pick on Justin the further up he'll travel in my estimation, it's sad but true and the day Bachelors and Bachelorettes realize that it'll be great for the show's tired storylines.

So Justin's sitting in the middle of the pack for me, raised by my pathos but diminished by his own desperation. Beneath him are the 5 guys I can't stand and above him are the 5 guys I really like. Coming out on top is dreamy Roberto (an easy frontrunner) who speaks 4 languages, plays major league baseball and salsa dances. The other top spots go to Chris L (who hasn't gotten his 1 on 1 yet but seems promising), sexy/goofy Frank (who I love but sometimes comes off a bit intense) and enigmatic Kirk (who stepped up this week and had me hooked with very little screen time). Sitting round the middle with Justin are Jesse (who seems like a good guy but wrong for Ali) then Jonathan (who is a wimpy little girl, but at least he's not a jerk). At the cold end of the scale are Chris N (who remains somewhat anonymous but rubs me the wrong way), Ty (the recent divorcee who's both annoying AND wasting Ali's time), Kasey (the guy who's going to start cutting himself out of obsession next week- alrighty then) and Craig R (who spends 98% of his time snitching on other guys instead of talking to Ali).

On the whole, this is a polarizing group of very silly boys. Though there certainly is a high contingency of dreamy this season (hello Roberto, Frank and Kirk), there's also a heck of a lot of ick factor (Kasey, Craig R and Ty- not to mention the not so dearly departed Craig M). There are 4 guys I like, 4 guys I don't, 2 guys I think are flat out wrong for Ali and 1 guy I can't make up my mind about because no one will stop picking on him long enough to let me drawn an independent conclusion. How's a girl to choose?

Click on the image to see a larger version of this year's Bachelor Scale.

PS: As for the guy who breaks her heart (according to the promos)? I'm putting money on Roberto, he's gotta be too good to be true, right?

Monday, June 07, 2010

Diva Begins Again

My favourite summer show returned tonight with a wonderful season 2 premiere. Kicking off with a song and dance number featuring Paula Abdul (reprising her fantasy judge role from season 1) and a handful of So You Think You Can Dance's best and brightest, the series continued what is developing into quite a tradition of fantasy musical sequences. This is where I choose to point out that Drop Dead Diva was already around and kicking (read: singing and dancing) well before Glee hit its stride in the fall. But since a little musical interlude has never done anything but make me smile, I welcome the increase in fantastical musical elements that this season is sure to bring (whether egged on by Glee's success or not). The fact that the cast has oodles of theatre professionals on staff certainly helps (seriously, Brooke Elliott's voice is out of this world).

As if this episode was designed just for me, Diva finished with the SYTYCDancer musical number and drove right into Canada jokes then topped it all off with, the piece de resistance, Shakespeare. I've said time and again that my dream writing job would be on the staff for Diva and this only made it worse. There are very few things in this life I love more than television: one of them is musical theatre and the other is Shakespeare (I'm also beginning to think that another might be Tony, could he be dreamier?!). Now, that lame/inaccurate Canada joke reeked of being written by an American (seriously people, I don't know where you're getting this plaid assumption from!), but I can forgive that transgression and award points for the effort since I'm a sucker for any mention of my home country. But the Shakespeare, that was well executed. Henry VI and Richard III, topical and famous but not overexposed texts- perfect choices. Brooke Elliott delivered the opening of "the winter of our discontent" with the ease of a classically trained thespian perfectly at home amidst iambic pentameter (could that woman be any more impressive?) and his "kill all the lawyers" speech added detail to Grayson's character while perfectly framing his role in the episode.

In fact, that was almost his entire role in the episode. The down-playing of Grayson in the premiere I thought served the series well. He played his part (reaffirming his connection with Jane, helping to keep her at the firm, proving once again that he's wonderful, well-intentioned and smart with a couple beautifully written scenes) but was out of the way just enough to keep from undermining her relationship with Tony. If Grayson had been more present in the episode, it would have been much harder to see Tony slow things down with Jane (something I'm sad to see happen either way). The more time Jane spends with Grayson, the worse I feel for (the better match for her) Tony, who will never quite measure up in Deb's eyes. Watching Jane navigate the tricky emotional waters of her surprise husband and the consequences that brought was made so much easier by having Grayson largely absent from the picture. Though he will always be there in the back of Deb's mind, unintentionally undermining Jane's relationships, the fact that Grayson wasn't an active factor in their (sort of) breakup, or even in the surrounding episode, gives me hope for Jane's romantic future.

On the topic of Jane's future, after another big win in a pro bono case I'm really beginning to think that Jane needs to lose, for her own good. Sure she's had a couple career ups and downs over the series so far, but she always comes out firmly on top both morally and legally. I think it's time for Jane to fall. She's not as insecure about her looks anymore, she's far from a romantic failure (mmm, Tony), has good friends (4 amazing ones who've always got her back: Stacy, Fred, Grayson and Teri), and most recent landmines sorted out (she's got her job back, her relationship with her mom is on track and the husband's going away). Now I want to see her lose so she can start to question what she's never had to question before: how good a lawyer she really is, if maybe a client would have been better off with just Jane, before Deb. Dr. Cox (Scrubs) was never so interesting as when he lost 3 patients and the guilt weighed on him. Jane's intelligence and legal licence has, up to this point, been what Stacy calls a "super power", but maybe a good haunting by helplessness would really move Jane forward.

It's that very human quality that helplessness would bring Jane that shines in other characters. Tonight's episode marked the (permanent!) return of fan-favourite Fred, Jane's guardian angel who once gave up heaven to be in love with Stacy. Having Fred back made the series premiere all the more wonderful, especially when the consequences of his earlier decisions really hit home. Fred quit his job as gatekeeper to become human. That opened the doors to wonderful things like the freedom to love whomever he wants. It also brought all the icky realism that comes with humanity, but the audience never really got to see that. Fred quickly left to find himself, embarking on an adventure to "see the world". But the payoff came tonight when he returned from his adventure and we learned that he'd been too scared to even start. It's that icky real thing, the flaws that held him back; Jane called it "human", I call it superb character writing.

It's stuff like that that reminds me to show a little faith when I start to think that the Diva writers are falling into any typical TV trap that I so desperately want them to stay away from. When circumstantial antagonist Kim took on the villain role in tonight's episode, I began to wonder if the previously deepening character had been reverted back to her original 2D bitch status. When Jane gets thrust into perpetually heroic roles and spouts lines like "I'm a really good person"; when fantastically sympathetic Stacy calls Canada "our neighbour to the south"; when Jane's promising romantic interest falls by the wayside with the threat of bad-idea "soulmate" Grayson ever-looming, that's when I begin to question. But showrunner Josh Berman has yet to steer his series wrong, so I pledge allegiance until the very end.
I trust that "I'm a really good person" is a self-perception line, not an absolute truth of the series; I know the writers believe that Kim is capable of being more than just a villain as much as I do; I won't let myself believe that Stacy will continue to grow dumber (ala Joey from Friends) and I know that if the writers do go down the (ugh, terrible, implausible) road towards an inevitable Grayson-Jane romance, they'll do it right. The responsibility of being my favourite summer series is great (I'm critical, I'll admit it) but Diva is the most deserving candidate I've had in a very long while and I'm in it for the long haul with this fundamentally wonderful piece of work.

With a promising season 2 under way, all I can think to hope for is many many seasons of Diva to come. Not only is it perfect summer fare and a welcome dose of the right attitude for the television landscape, but I'm fairly certain I shall never tire of Brooke Elliott's diva walk.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Goodbye to Another Golden Girl

Rue McClanahan, who played the iconic Blanche Devereaux on The Golden Girls, died this morning after a stroke at age 76.

McClanahan's death is the third tragic blow to the Golden Girls legacy over the past two years: Estelle Getty (Sophia) died in 2008 and Bea Arthur (Dorothy) in 2009. That leaves only 88 year old superstar Betty White (the oldest of the group, currently at the top of her game after a sublime SNL appearance) to carry on the torch for the girls who were once the funniest foursome on TV. But if her vibrancy and resolve are any indication, the wonderful White will be carrying that torch for a long time to come.

5 Things To Look Forward To In "Diva" Season 2

With the second season of my new favourite summer show, Drop Dead Diva, premiering Sunday on Lifetime, I thought I'd ask creator/showrunner Josh Berman what viewers have to look forward to this season. Here's what he had to say:

"1. More surprises - As Jane thinks she's got a handle on her new life, there are more surprises at every turn. I LOVE Brooke Elliott and she's better than ever.

2. More fantastic guest stars: Ricki Lake, Vivica A. Fox, Nancy Grace, Chad Lowe, Cybill Shepard are just a few of them. And the return of Rosie and Paula.

3. More singing and dancing! In fact, the official Drop Dead Diva soundtrack is being released on Amazon and I-Tunes on June 1st! There's an original song from Margaret Cho as well as a duet from Brooke Elliott and Margaret Cho, and an awesome rendition of "Baby, I Need Your Loving" by Ben Feldman. Speaking of Dancing, Thunder From Down Under does a dance number with Jane in a very special and funny episode.

4. Fred -- Jane's guardian angel is back full time -- as a series regular!

5. Family drama - Both Jane's mother and Deb's mother return! And we get to meet Jane's father for the first time."

The just-released soundtrack is available on iTunes and through It's worth checking out just to hear the actors sing; (you may remember star Brooke Elliott's superb voice from karaoke at Jane's birthday party in one of my favourite episodes of season 1) .To order the CD online click here.

For more
Drop Dead Diva coverage, here's our exclusive interview with Josh from the My TV Award Nominee Series. Be sure to follow us on twitter @mytvblog for our immediate reactions and check back after the season 2 premiere on Sunday for a full review.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Crying Foul

Ali eliminated one of my favourites on The Bachelorette last night without ever speaking to him. The Vancouver cutie, Chris H, left without a rose at the end of an episode where he wasn't featured at all. He went on the group date (one of 12, we never saw him), wasn't interviewed, we saw no one-on-one time between him and Ali and he even left without an exit interview, we never even got to see him say goodbye to Ali. He just left. We didn't see him walk out the door or say goodbye to the guys or anything. I had to watch the rose ceremony twice just to make sure he had in fact been eliminated. With most coverage focused on the idiotic Craig M (eliminated) and the immature Jonathan (still there), the weird ignoring of Chris H isn't on anyone's radar. But I thought it was really odd. Even the anonymous Tyler got to say a sentence or two on his way out.

Oh well, with the cutest (and only mostly sane) Canadian gone from the show I'll have to start expanding my search area to include the guys from blue states. That leaves me liking Frank a lot (I know, the editors want me to). Glasses always win me over (see: Reid), not to mention screenwriters. But he may get on my nerves, we will see. Also, the first date guy is always an early front runner and rarely wins- we'll see. Jesse won't be around much longer I don't think. Neither will Jonathan (the weatherman) or that annoying guy who keeps picking on Justin. Speaking of Justin, he's either adorable and misunderstood or absolutely crazy. I'm hoping for the former and worried that it might be the latter. My money's on Roberto to go the full journey though. I'm thinking this might be a Trista and Ryan situation, where she knew who she wanted on night 1 and went through the motions until she could have him. We'll see.

But still, what went wrong with Chris H? And why was he the invisible man?