Friday, March 25, 2011

An Open Letter to the Gossip Girl Writers

Dear Writers,

You've got a lot going for you. The Gossip characters a really interesting lot. Blair and Chuck, especially, are some of the best out there for complexity and comic potential in one. Kristen Bell brings a perfectly dry sensibility to those voice overs of hers and the scale of the scenarios open to you is endless.

But you're squandering what you've got going for you.

The dialogue has been dragging of late. It's clunky and cheesy, overdramatic and just plain not that clever. Sillier shows than you have been stepping up their game in recent seasons; 90210 and One Tree Hill have been pulling out one liners worthy of shows of much sturdier reputations. You've often been considered the grandest of the modern teen soaps, and yet you've succumbed to mediocre dialogue? Step up please.

Story-wise, you're doing all right right now. Damien and Vanessa are always annoying and the Bass Industries sale isn't exactly the makings of a great corporate espionage tale but I'm enjoying Ben as a character and the extra Eric screen time is always appreciated. The Thorpes are a bit of an energy suck, to be completely honest, and Nate is in desperate need of a new storyline (let's see if you can find one that's not romantic- he's already dated every girl on the show). On the other hand, there are few things I like more than when Blair's on an overachieving quest for greatness. Her and Chuck's mutual decision to go after success than go back to each other was painfully character accurate. I wish she hadn't quit W, I was really enjoying that story.

But, mostly, I think what you had going with Dan and Blair was truly truly wonderful. The When Harry Met Sally homage of watching a movie over the phone was lovely and I was really enjoying their dynamic. It took the characters to new and interesting places while staying true to their individual identities as two of the most culturally intelligent (and just plain intelligent) characters in the show. I was so hopeful for this new friendship-specific dynamic that was so interesting for both characters. Predictably, you've now ruined it. I need you know how upset that makes me. Please fix it.


Kelly Bedard
Managing Editor, My TV

NBC Thursday's Best Jokes This Week

"I'm not jealous"- Troy is jealous of Jeff's dinner with his best friend Abed. (Community)

Shirley as Samuel L Jackson in Pulp Fiction. (Community)

"I want you take this money and buy a book, it's called '7 Habits of Highly Effective People'!"- Vance tries to help out a stripper at his bachelor party. (Perfect Couples)

 Leigh and Rex call each other every half hour to gossip about their respective parties. (Perfect Couples)

"You're not smart"- Leigh to Dave after he spills his darkest secrets to the whole room trying to head off Vance's threat of revealing them on Julia's voicemail. The voicemail says "Dave, you are your own worst enemy". (Perfect Couples)

Moments of transcendence. (Perfect Couples)

"Now you've hurt me twice" -Vance after Dave calls his wife his best friend, explaining why he told her Vance's secret. (Perfect Couples)

"THAT is Dallas" - Kevin swindles Andy and Darell out of their money by faking a fit during a game of Dallas the board game where they've been inventing all the rules. (The Office)

Hundreds of candles set off the sprinklers during Michael's adorable proposal to Holly. (The Office)

"It's called the ground when it's outside"- Ron after Ben says he'll sleep on the floor while camping. (Parks and Recreation)

Tom watches season 6 of Top Chef (the Voltaggio season) in his high tech tent. (Parks and Recreation)

Leslie tries to come up with her next great idea while listening to "Steal my Sunshine" (Parks and Recreation)

"Is it TNT? Are Rizzoli and Isles friends in real life?"- Liz wonders what new channel Jack's acquired for Cabletown. (30 Rock)

"I don't know if my tone is conveying my fury about this but I am, pardon my french, bonjour. Now, that's a joke, but I am really really mad" - Hank, the head of Cabletown about Jack's new channel acquisition. "It's okay Jack, you made a bad decision and bought something you didn't understand- like when I bought tickets for Black Swan. Remember when a movie was just a fellow in a hat running away from a fellow with no hair?" (30 Rock).

AN AARON SORKIN WALK AND TALK!- see previous post. (30 Rock).

The Ultimate TV Icon Matchup

30 Rock this week.

Aaron Sorkin and Tina Fey (Liz Lemon) sit at a conference table waiting for interview with Nick Lachey to work on the NBC reality competition show The Sing Off

Sorkin: You here for the Sing Off gig?

Fey: Yeah, do I know you?

Sorkin: You know my work. Walk with me.

They stand and begin a classic Schlamme walk and talk

Sorkin: I'm Aaron Sorkin- The West Wing, A Few Good Men, The Social Network...

Fey: Studio 60?

Sorkin: Shut up. Do you know Nick Lachey? I hear he doesn't even let you sit in the meeting, he just screams at you to see how you react.

Fey: But you're not really applying for this job are you?

Sorkin: Of course I am. You've gotta take work where you can find it. Especially now, our craft is dying while people are playing Angry Birds and poking each other on Facebook. What is poking anyway? And why won't anybody do it to me? I'm cool.

Fey: So it's really that bad out there. I mean, you're Aaron Sorkin... speaking of Angry Birds, do you know how to beat 11.4? It's just a red guy and a green guy.

Sorkin: Key is do not use the green guy as a boomerang.

Sorkin sits back down at the conference table. 

Fey: Did we just go in a circle?

Sorkin: Listen lady, (a gender I write extremely well if the story calls for it) this is serious. We make horse buggies and the first model T just rolled into town.

Fey: We're dinosaurs.

Sorkin: We don't need two metaphors, that's bad writing, not that it matters.

An assistant walks in

Assistant: Mr. Sorkin, Mr. Lachey will see you now.

Sorkin gets up and enters the office, buttoning his jacket like Leon when he enters the oval office.

Sorkin: Mr. Lachey- huge fan, huge fan, I have all your albums...

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Being Erica in Season Three

I've long loved CBC's most successful drama. When it first premiered 3 seasons ago I was fond of its proud Toronto setting and unabashed Canadian sweetness. It was easily one of the best things ever to come out of Canada's small TV market. But as I caught up on the most recent season (which aired in the fall) I came to realize that Being Erica isn't a highlight of my Canadian TV intake anymore, it's a highlight of the entire landscape. With season three, the quirky show expanded its mythology, deepened its characters, broadened its ensemble and stepped up to truly rival its American counterparts for the first time since it began.

First off, moving Erica deeper into the process of her therapy was an inspired move. Group therapy proved fun and full of possibility; delving further into the mythology around Erica's journey makes her story more palpable, more relatable and ultimately 10x more interesting. The 'individual therapy--group therapy-- doctor' progression opens lots of great doors heading into the show's fourth and final season: we now know characters in all levels of the system and have more insight into the hierarchy of doctors we've only been given glimpses of up to this point (Tom, Fred, Naadiah, Arthur). The forward momentum keeps the show fresh but always linked back to its original premise.

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Obsessions of Right Now

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Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The HIMYM Factor

I really want to like CBS's new comedy, Mad Love. For one thing, it's a relationship comedy about twenty-somethings. For another thing, it's got one of the most well-credentialed casts of all time, topped off by the perfect cherry that is Judy Greer. And then there's the premise, which hopes to take the "wacky sidekicks" and instead treat them as legitimate leads.

But (and you knew this was coming), the show just isn't gelling for me. There's a few reasons for this. The dialog tries way too hard to be witty (this week's heavily dropped Moby Dick reference being a particularly painful example), and over all the show feels like a How I Met Your Mother rip off. But I could get over both of these, and other late-breaking-shows have started with the stench of rip off, only to blossom into their own brand of greatness (Parks and Recreation, anyone?).

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Saturday, March 19, 2011

Getting Better All the Time

Perfect Couples started out a little shaky. It was sort of predictable, easy, a little old fashioned and trying too hard to be quirky. But as the first season has continued it’s gotten better each week. This week’s episode was laugh out loud funny for the first time. From Rex’s epic winning tour that was heartbreakingly broken by Vance in a single game of hilariously small pool, to Leigh’s supportive (read: intimidating) wifing skills helping Amy in her new job, to Dave’s annoying tendency to steal new friends away from his wife, Perfect Couples was on this week. Almost all of the characters have finally grown on me; I’m particularly fond of the overly “perfect” Rex and Leigh. The key to the show is in the juxtaposition of the friends at its centre- the normal guy-ness of Kyle Bornheimer’s Dave (who is at once a schlub and a social genius); the dry humour behind David Walton’s zany Vance; the delight of Hayes MacArthur’s masochistically positive Rex, not to mention the women who complement them and foil each other. Particularly hilarious is Olivia Munn’s Leigh, whose nightly inspirational email message to Rex and Amy was a highlight of this week’s excellent episode. Perfect Couples is the best argument since Raising Hope for sticking with a show, because sometimes they can sort themselves into something so much better than the pilot.

Saturday, March 05, 2011


It's time for the 2010 My TV Honorary Award. This distinction, announced separately from the rest of the winners, is awarded each year to celebrate standout achievement in any given category. Winners aren't nominated in the regular My TV Awards. Rather, they're honored separately as the best things that happened in TV all year (whether they be writers, directors, actors, cinematographers, etc...). This year's winner is a whole series.

This year's winner is...


Season 6 was great, it really was. But the reason that Lost is this year's honorary award winner is the overall contribution it made to the television landscape over its 121 episode run.

In 6 years, ending with the most highly anticipated episode of television in 2010, Lost changed the scope of what network television could do. Shot on location in Hawaii, Lost provided some of the highest production values on TV. Its huge ensemble of talented actors raised the bar for all the others. Its complicated mythology challenged the dumbed-down standards networks had begun to succumb to. And its beautiful and innovative sound and score opened new doors for legions of composers behind Michael Giacchino.

Networks have been scrambling ever since to mimic the success of Lost with high-concept genre shows like Fringe, FlashForward, V and The Event. But nothing will mimic the phenomenon of Lost. And make no mistake, that's what it was.

Friday, March 04, 2011

Leslie Knope: My Hero

I am a very late comer to Parks and Recreation. And I came to it for a very embarassing and unfeminist reason: a boy. Namely, Adam Scott since I needed more after Party Down.

And somehow, in watching a few episodes to get my Scott fix, I also discovered a television feminist icon who could be the most unique creation on television (ironic, since she started as barely more than a Michael Scott clone).

Parks and Recreation fairly famously suffered from a painfully slow start. The first season dribbled and fizzled and basically seemed like The Office's wackier cousin. And yet, somewhere near the end of season one, and definitely by the almost unbelievably strong season two, Parks and Recreation became one of the laugh-out-loud funniest shows on television.

The supporting cast is fantastic. Pre-Scott and the recently added Rob Lowe, I could literally have written books on the comedic stylings of Chris Pratt as the doufus Andy or Nick Olferman as Ron "f***ing" Swanson. However, the reason why the show is so damn good is because of the excellent, intricate characterization.

She's a woman driven by her career and her dedication to her town, who wants to be part of the boys' club and who knows how to shoot quail. She's also an unabashed feminist who idealizes Hilary Clinton and Madeline Albright. And, despite her personality quirks and occasionally annoyingly unrelenting energy, she's a beloved, intelligent woman who has no need to sacrifice in order to do her job. She's not a "tomboy," she's a well rounded and hilarious woman who more than makes up for everyone around her's complete incompetence.

Without making too big a point about it, Leslie Knope is my damn hero.