Thursday, September 29, 2011

Penny, my hero

by Kelly Bedard

She's crazy, she's emotional, she's exuberant to the point of obnoxious, she's open, she's loving, she's a walking mess with a new condo and terrible taste in men. And as Happy Endings' Penny (Casey Wilson) embarks on "the year of Penny", I can't help but love how she lives her crazy crazy life.

I also love her friends (particularly Jane, Brad and Max- pretty much everyone but silly former couple Alex and Dave). Max's insecurity about growing apart from Brad was just genius.

Also, the square root of love IS love, running socks ARE stupid and mediocre shows can have great sophomore seasons so long as they're in The Year of Penny.

Pilot Watch: Suburgatory

by Rachael Nisenkier

Suburgatory has a lot to overcome, to be honest. The whole “oh my god, aren’t the suburbs weird?” vibe the show has going for it- whether its the hardly trenchant observations about suburban living or the incredibly snobby ways of looking at the transition of Manhattanite teen Tessa- was old when it was premiered by films like Heathers and perfected by the soundtrack to Weeds.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Season Wrap Up: The Big C

by Kelly Bedard

Today I was asked a question that I'm asked quite often: what's your favourite TV show on the air? I barely paused before giving my answer: there's nothing currently airing that's as touching or achingly real as the genius of The Big C. For half an hour a week I completely lose track of everything but Cathy Jamison and and her fight for happiness, fulfillment, love and survival. It's a show unlike any other and in season two it reached new heights.

Season Wrap Up: Weeds

by Kelly Bedard

Weeds is a rocky ride of a show. From the superb first 3 seasons to the terrible 4th and 5th to the more-than-redeeming riot that was season 6, being committed to Weeds puts you through turmoil rivaled only by Andy's misguided loyalty to Nancy (aka the world's worst person). So, in accordance with its own tradition, season 7 was all sorts of up and down, great and terrible and left on a cliffhanger that will serve as either a dangerous jumping off point for an eigth season or as an excellently ambiguous Sopranos-esque series ending.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Season Wrap Up: Drop Dead Diva

by Kelly Bedard

Season three seemed to fly by in the always dramatic world of Jane/Deb and her quirky coworkers, sweet best friend, various lovers and adorable guardian angel (aka worst guardian angel ever). Skirting past season two's silly cliffhanger amusingly quickly, Josh Berman and co.'s third outing had some wonderful highlights and the occasional let's say misdirected plot point.

Pilot Watch: Pan Am

by Rachael Nisenkier

The two tv shows debuting this fall season that deal with the sixties are implied to be something of Mad Men clones. But the truth is, as far as period pieces go, the fifties and sixties are pretty much the best of places to hang out. Change was in the air, and the constant motifs of oppression (be it in the form of racism, sexism, or communism) contrasted with the growing bubbling of liberation provides a perfect back drop for personal stories of self realization and pressing against societal expectations. It’s part (though not all) of what makes Mad Men, and specifically Don Draper’s identity crisis in Mad Men, so damn compelling. It’s also a large portion of what works so well about the Pan Am pilot.

My Week in (non-premiere) TV

by Kelly Bedard

We've been pretty busy here at My TV trying to keep up with all the season premieres (and a couple finales). In all the hubub I haven't had the chance to mention a few of the other things I've been watching this week. Here, to rectify this, are a few thoughts on my DVD, online and mid-season viewing.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

The Vampire Diaries, Season Premiere

by Rachael Nisenkier

Man, Vampire Diaries is a good show. I’ve already rambled on and on about how good this show is and the reasons why you should be watching, so let’s just dive into the Season Premier, shall we?

Pilot Watch: A Gifted Man

by Kelly Bedard

A Gifted Man is not a new show. I mean, it is a new show- a CBS Friday night experiment in unconventional procedural drama- but it adheres to a formula that's been produced three notable times before. Wonderfalls, Joan of Arcadia and (most similarly) Eli Stone are all what I call "prophet shows": client/case/patient-of-the-week agnostic faith-based stories of redemption and connection with strong ties to the ether. A Gifted Man is a more dramatic (and less George Michael-full) take on the same thing, though vaguer with the mythology (and God vs. ghost clarification) behind its ethereal messages. Each time I've seen a new prophet show I've liked it a lot and it's been canceled quickly. Here's hoping, as predictable and slightly Ghost Whisperer-y as it might be, A Gifted Man doesn't suffer the fate of the three great prophet shows.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Scene Stealers: Big Bang and Modern Family

by Kelly Bedard

This week featured the brilliant premieres of Modern Family and Big Bang Theory. Amidst full hours of comedy on both fronts (some of their best episodes to date), two supporting characters showed the incredible bench depth of both series.

I Just Really Love Leslie Knope

by Rachael Nisenkier

The return of Parks and Rec was probably my favorite premiere of the season. Not because it was so ground breaking; I don’t even think it was that astounding of an episode (I mean, it was good, and character pitch perfect, and the triumphant arrival of Tammy I was definitely worth all the hype, and... oh screw it- It was a Fantastic Episode). But honestly, I just love Amy Poehler’s Leslie Knope more than I think I’ve loved any blonde protagonist not named Veronica.

Watching Leslie agonize all episode over ending things with Ben was heartbreaking, but I love the show’s insistence that Leslie is making the right call not giving up her career for a fledgling relationship. When Ben so warmly slid the box over to Leslie, signaling that he was okay, if slightly heartbroken, with the way things turned out, it proved to me every great thing I’ve ever thought about this show. Leslie is an unprecedented female protagonist, a force for good and kind wackiness in a world full of snobs from Eagleton.

I really hope Leslie and Ben work this crap out some day, but, honestly, I just can’t wait until the series finale flash forward to Leslie running for president.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

In "Reality" on CBS (and some other places)

by Kelly Bedard

The summer reality season has been winding down (thanks for an incredibly awkward summer, Bachelor Pad!) and the fall season is starting up (go Chaz Bono, go!), never more interestingly than on the network that undoubtedly rules the reality universe- CBS. We've still got a couple days to go before the new Amazing Race (Ethan and Jenna for the win!) but we've got more than a few thoughts on the end of Big Brother and the start of Survivor.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Pilot Watch: Whitney and 2 Broke Girls (aka Whitney Cummings' shows)

by Rachael Nisenkier

Whitney Cummings was not a name most of us knew before this TV season. Now, thanks to the annoying and ubiquitous ads for her eponymous new show Whitney, she feels like a familiar and annoying relative.

Still, Cummings is the driving force behind not one, but two new shows starring women and about women, and as such, as My TV’s resident feminist theory devotee, I can’t help but wish her some measure of success. So let’s look at her efforts.

Glee Comes Back

by Kelly Bedard

The lunch jam was annoyingly over-processed, no one cares about Emma and Will, Santana's betrayal is unbelievable and the rejection of Vanessa Lengies was just sad (how many years has that girl been playing a teenager? 13 years!) But Chris Colfer is still one of the best young actors on TV, every single character got at least a little air time, we established that we get at least one more year of Artie and Tina, Blaine is now at McKinley (though it's stupid for him to leave as great a school as Dalton just for a boy, I'm glad we get to see more of him!), Kurt is running for student council, a highschool musical has been pitched (a storyline they should've done ages ago) and the show ended with a creative then classic take on one of my all-time favourite musical theatre songs, "You Can't Stop the Beat".

Glee is back and I'm glad to see it.

It was alright premiere, nothing special but nothing terrible either. But the one thing I'll say:
The Glee Project dynamo made a surprise appearance in the premiere as Rachel's university admissions competition. Armed with the best voice Glee's ever seen (Idina excluded, obviously), Lindsay sang and danced circles around Lea Michele's Rachel, appropriately sending her into a tailspin of self doubt. And while I'm incredibly disappointed (if not surprised) that Ryan Murphy is wasting her on a role that doesn't have the expansion capacity I would have liked (come on, make her a freshman, give yourself a shot at having a real leading lady after Lea leaves!), I couldn't be more thrilled to see Lindsay's debut. Now who's excited for the episode 4 arrival of Damian?!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Random Thoughts While Watching the first non-Charlie Sheen 2.5 Men

by Rachael Nisenkier

THE CONTEXT: While not exactly a fan of Two and Half Men, I have watched a good portion of the early seasons, and am able to laugh pretty unselfconsciously at the series’ particular take on sitcom conventions. And I’m intrigued to see how they deal with all the real life scandal.

Monday, September 19, 2011

An Hour of Happiness with HIMYM

by Kelly Bedard

CBS's best comedy isn't what it once was- it's a little broader, a little less clever, a little lazier; but that's in comparison to what it once was, not in comparison to everything else. In comparison to everything else, it's still one of the happiest-making things out there. How I Met Your Mother makes me smile. Not in an "intellectually, I recognize that that was a well-formed joke" kind of way, in a "can't help but grin, butterflies in your tummy, sometimes you cry before you catch yourself and think 'dude, it's just a sitcom, calm down!', stop your game of tetris" kind of way. I'd managed to forget that over the summer. But it took mere minutes of the premiere for me to remember.

It's Katims Week; The Premiere of Parenthood

To celebrate Jason Katim's SPECTACULAR EMMY WIN for the superb writing on Friday Night Lights, I thought I'd check out the season premiere of Parenthood. I really do love the excellent ensemble drama but it gets easily lost in the shuffle of all the new things popping up on network for the start of the new season. But as I dove into the first episode of season 3 I remembered all the reasons why Parenthood is one of the great underrated shows of its generation, no matter how annoying at times.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Live Blogging the Emmys

The Emmys are the biggest night of the year in TV. Here with all the scoop as the academy awards all the wrong people based on a pretentious system of hierarchy, is managing editor Kelly as she live blogs her way through the evening.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Pilot Watch: Up All Night

by Rachael Nisenkier

I had a lot of goodwill going into the pilot episode of Up All Night. All three major stars of the show (Christina Applegate, Maya Rudolph and Will Arnett) are hard working, seriously funny actors who deserve a hit (especially after the disappointments too often suffered by them). And the premise was a fun twist on standby tropes. It looked at the phenomenon of slightly-later-in-life parenting.

But I'm still surprised how much I loved it. First and foremost, I loved Christina Applegate. Her character Reagan was a hard drinking, totally fun television producer. Her relationship with her lawyer husband (as told in the pilot by montages and flashbacks, mainly) was all about extending the good times they had together. And Arnett and Applegate have fantastic chemistry. In any show that's going to ask you to follow the life and times of a couple, you need to instantly believe in them, and Arnett and Applegate sell that.

Even better is Reagan's relationship with her offspring. Applegate brilliantly captures the mixture of fear, love, excitement and just the tiniest bit of resentment that this awesome woman feels at having to mix motherhood, working, and a personal life. It's nothing new, but it still feels fresh.

Mostly, the fresh feel of the script comes from taking quality comedic actors and pairing them with language and situations that feel authentic. From Arnett's stay-at-home daddy malaise, to the genuine pull and tug that carries Applegate to and from the office, this show has managed to craft familiar characters with top notch writing to make for a definite must-see on NBC Wednesday nights.

Friday, September 16, 2011

We Love You Neil, Congratulations

Pilot Watch: Free Agents

by Kelly Bedard

One of the worst promoted shows of the new fall TV season is Free Agents, a silly-looking, offensively marketed story about a workplace hookup. But even with a poster that "cleverly" hints a storeroom blowjobs, Free Agents snagged me with the promise of a weekly dose of the endlessly awesome Hank Azaria. The charmingly neurotic and inescapably intelligent actor has always been a favourite and any show with him at the centre deserves at least a 3 episode sampling. Kathryn Hahn, a perennially underused but excellently charming actress, was also a promising get in the female lead, as was Natasha Leggero as a difficult executive assistant (I'd grown quite fond of the comedienne during her stint as one of Last Comic Standing's best judges). Add in Giles (Anthony Head, reprising his role from the Stephen Mangan-starring original version of the series) and of course I'm watching this show, no matter what brainless things the NBC promotional department has done with it.

On Bromance

by Rachael Nisenkier

If you want to read an in-depth review of the final episode of True Blood, check out the AV Club’s insightful dismantling of the shows conventions or io9’s cheerful recounting of the climactic deaths. True Blood is not a show that I spend enough of my brain on to be able to really comment on most of it. I experience True Blood like a roller coaster ride; I’m pretty sure that I (and by extension, characters like LaFayette, Eric, the King version of Bill, Pam and Jason- all of whom I love) am safe on the ride, but I still enjoy the jolts and drops as we make our way to a simultaneously expected and yet unexpected ending. As pretty as that metaphor was, it doesn’t lead towards a very good vantage point from which to write about the show.

Except to say this: just as I found the fanged protagonists in season 5 of Angel (Spike and Angel) to be the best relationship on the series, I think the best, most consistently compelling couple on this show is Eric and Bill.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Spartacus' Inspiring Hero, Gone too Soon

Spartacus: Blood and Sand leading man Andy Whitfield died last night in his home in Sydney after battling non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma for the last year (he was originally diagnosed in March 2010 then declared to be in remission in May, after two months of treatment).

His role in the Starz series having been recast for season two (his replacement was Australian actor Liam McIntyre), Andy Whitfield was seen as a model for gracious behaviour in Hollywood and a hero for his resilience in the face of illness.

The Welsh-Australian former engineer, model and actor leaves behind 2 children and his loving wife Vashti who was with him Sunday night when he passed.

Starz president and CEO Chris Albrecht spoke for the cast and crew of Whitfield's former star vehicle, saying "We are deeply saddened by the loss of our dear friend and colleague, Andy Whitfield. We were fortunate to have worked with Andy in Spartacus and came to know that the man who played a champion on-screen was also a champion in his own life. Andy was an inspiration to all of us as he faced this very personal battle with courage, strength and grace. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family during this difficult time. He will live on in the hearts of his family, friends and fans."

The stunningly handsome Whitfield was in legendary shape at the time of diagnosis and a mere 39-years-old when he died, a terrifying reminder of the utter randomness of such things.

He will be remembered not only as the infamous warrior he portrayed but for the good fight he fought offscreen, for his grace and humility and for the courage he inspired in others.

Friday, September 09, 2011

Pilot Watch: New Girl

by Rachael Nisenkier

Great pilots are hard to find in any genre (the recent Alphas was an exception). Great pilots for comedies- especially fairly generic comedies about twenty-somethings learning to deal with life and love- are really hard to find. Nearly every one I’ve seen over the past 5-10 years has been trying so desperately to distinguish itself from the many, many shows that came before them, that they end up playing to the wacky and weird end of the spectrum, or just sort of sitting in the doldrums of “been there done that.”

New Girl, the new Zooey Deschanel vehicle in the genre, somehow manages to seem both mundane and way too cutesy. It tells the story of Jess, who despite her Zooey Deschanel good looks, is a total weirdo and therefore repellent to men. Convincing anyone that Deschanel is repellent is a hard enough task, so the show sticks her with too-cute dork glasses, constantly messy (but sexy) hair, and enough personality quirks to fill a thousand wacky best friend characters in a thousand romantic comedies. Unfortunately, all these quirks and weirdnesses serve to make her not resemble a human being so much as an amalgamation of every original nerd chick ever. I don’t believe when Jess is crying and screaming at her Dirty Dancing marathon any more than I believe that she can quote Lord of the Rings.

Season Wrap Up: Rookie Blue

by Kelly Bedard

The second season of Canada's best primetime soap finished off last night with back to back episodes. True to its Grey's Anatomy formula, the cop show avoided the dreaded sophomore slump by simply getting better with age.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Pilot Watch: Alphas

by Rachael Nisenkier

From the start, it’s kind of hard to peg down what kind of a show Alphas wants to be. It has whip-smart writing and glorious one liners (see Random Thoughts, at the end) that seem to lend themselves to a wisecracking action comedy. It has a complicated mythology filled with good, evil, and mind control, which seems straight out of pulp comics. And it has the snap cuts, musical cues, and overall tension-filled explorations typical of procedural cop shows.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Jumping into Doctor Who

by Rachael Nisenkier

A friend recently told me that I was a renaissance man when it came to geek culture. I know a little bit about everything, but not a ton about most things (the exceptions being Harry Potter and Buffy the Vampire Slayer). "No", I happily replied, I was not a dabbler in all things geek: I had never watched an episode of famed, cult British sci-fi epic Doctor Who.

Saturday, September 03, 2011

MTV gets Awkward

by Rachael Nisenkier

Never one to shy away from TV shows ostensibly written for people about half my age, I approached the watching of MTV’s Awkward with a mixture of excitement and shame. I should be finally watching Breaking Bad or The Wire, not indulging in the newest output of teen angst-laden ridiculousness.

However, about halfway through the first episode of Awkward, I stopped feeling guilty. If the awesome story of Jenna losing her virginity in probably the least after school special-approved way possible didn't win me over, by the time she accidentally tried to commit fake suicide I was head over heels.