Hi My TV Readers,
This is my final message to you on this version of the site.
Over the last few months we at My TV have been working on the development of the central My Entertainment World site where we'll be joining with our current sister sites My Theatre, My Cinema, My Sports Stadium, My Bookshelf and My Music. The new central hub will feature highlighted articles from across My Entertainment World and a feature showcasing our biggest exclusive interviews as well as the most recent posts from all 6 existing branches (and our brand new venture My Games).
But never fear, My TV will live on with it's own page as a branch under the My Entertainment World umbrella. At www.myentertainmentworld.ca/mytv you'll be able to find all the same content from this site brought to you by your dedicated authors: myself, Rachael, Tim, Lauren, Tessa and guest author Alyx.
Our annual My TV Awards and Nominee Interview Series are coming up soon so be sure to come with us over to the new site, you won't want to miss it.
Thank you all for your dedicated readership on My TV since 2006, we love hearing from each and every one of you (especially Dorv, our first ever engaged reader; we miss you, dude). I can't wait to show you our new and improved selves.
We launch www.myentertainmentworld.ca this week- get excited and I'll see you there!
All My Love,
Managing Editor, My TV
Monday, December 19, 2011
And while the results were less than perfect (I liked Sophie okay, but I really did want Coach to win), the most interesting thing about the finale is always the jury speeches and the live reunion.
This year's jury speeches were the usual bull crap of bitter self-righteousness. I was expecting better from Jim, whom I'm convinced is a better player than he seems to be; he's held on to his anger at Cochran far too long and, though his was one of only 3 votes that rightly went to Coach, he's smart enough and a big enough fan of the game to know that resenting the top 3 for beating you is the mark of someone who doesn't have the head for Survivor. Rick, Keith and Whitney? They performed as expected, but I was hoping for a little more game perspective from Jim. Dawn was as expected, in a good way, because she's who everyone should strive to be like (thanks Sophie, for that line). Edna, on the other hand, was kind of great at final tribal council. She wasn't interested in lecturing the final 3 or trapping them with accusing questions, instead she laid down the law with the rest of the jury, pointing out what all real Survivor fans know: you signed up to be deceived, don't be bitter and just reward the best gameplayer. The fact that she then voted for Sophie over her long-time ally Coach was a bit surprising but she had the right spirit.
Which brings me to Brandon, the last man on earth who should ever be playing Survivor. Just FYI, for the purposes of this paragraph I intend on ignoring is creepy and sexist behaviour towards Mikayla, his terrifying emotional immaturity and his upsetting fundamentalism, because I've already covered those, I think they're a product of his environmental upbringing more than anything and they're somehow actually not relevant to the point I'm about to make about who I think Brandon is. Steel yourselves... I think Brandon's a good guy. No, I really do. I don't like him much, I certainly never want to actually meet him, but I think goodness comes down to intention and all Brandon wants is to be a good guy, and so, as often as he may fail, I think he somehow is. But here's the trick, I actually don't think Russell's a bad guy, and somehow we've gotten locked into a Hantz mythology in which Russell is the embodiment of all the evil that threatens to grip Brandon if he doesn't fight his darkest urges. Really? The re-writing of Russell's Survivor history actually drove me more crazy than anything else this season. He was a good strategist, that was all (not an evil mastermind, or a mastermind of any kind really, just a good strategist). Russell didn't spend his time yelling and screaming and hurling insults, he spent it convincing people of things that aren't true- that's very different. I may not be remembering correctly, but I don't recall Russell making anyone cry, I don't remember him telling anyone that everyone hates them or him lying about anything beyond minuscule Survivor loyalties, really (he pretended to be poor and that his dog died in Katrina, he did do that, but freaking Johnny Fairplay pretended his grandmother died and we didn't care this much!). I don't think Russell has a Survivor legacy, memory of his gameplay seems to have largely faded (for the record, he was a strong player who fooled people well and was always loyal to at least one person, though both times I think his partner in crime deserved to win over him- Natalie and Parvati), what Russell has is a mythology- a reputation that gets whispered about and tossed off like a curse word, based in very little fact, compiled upon itself. He himself seems to have lost sight of his own failings as a player and that arrogance doesn't help the cause, but it isn't enough to merit the abusive way the show treats him. Nothing made my thoughts on Russell clearer than the moment in this season's reunion when Jeff asked Russell to critique his nephew Brandon's gameplay. His response was to Brandon: "I'm uncle Russell, that's how you know me. But I'm also Russell from Survivor. So I can not say anything if that's what you want, or I can criticize your strategy". Does it not occur to these people who see Russell as the embodiment of evil that evil would never offer to be quietly supportive instead of stake its claim as the superior player? All season, Russell has watched as his nephew attempts to play the game he loves the way it is absolutely not meant to be played. I appreciate Brandon's desperation to stay honest and "good", but he shouldn't be doing it on Survivor, it's a game that requires moving people like chess pieces, a game that his uncle worships, and a game Brandon himself has very little respect for; it requires more than he was willing to give it, so he shouldn't have been playing. But it's still absurd and, frankly, heartbreaking that Brandon's family would turn on him for choosing the path of straightforward survival over playing a smart strategic game (the ultimate Survivor virtue), but that's not because his game was anything but obnoxious to true Survivor fans, it's because no one should be persecuted for the way they choose to play Survivor. It's a reality show for crying out loud, it's not a greater metaphor, no matter how hard Jeff tries to pretend it is. Brandon's disastrous strategies were laughable, not criminal, and Russell's were impressive (and temporarily, not ultimately successful), not villainous. What Brandon did wrong was assume that Russell did something wrong. He went on that show proclaiming that he was going to "clear the Hantz family name", right some wrong that simply didn't exist. I get that the kid is fighting against a family that pushes him to succeed at any cost (did you see his father?!), but the incredible judgement just needs to end. Russell loves the spotlight and he really loves the game of Survivor and what he believes to be his untouchable strategic approach to the game, and I'm sure that had a lot to do with him showing up to that reunion, but the proudest, most defensive, most in need of defending player in Survivor history was asked to offer his expert strategic analysis after a season that literally compared him to Hitler and instead of attacking, he looked right at the well-intentioned but misguided young boy who is nothing if not ashamed of his uncle and offered, as "uncle Russell" to not say a word. People, you may not like him, but that does not a villain make. Russell's not the nicest guy in the world, and Brandon's not the smartest, but neither deserves to be treated completely without compassion, and for inexplicable and opposite reasons, they both are, which is just not okay by any standard of "goodness".
*just a side note, this show is more than a decade old now, it's about time they upped the prize. This isn't Big Brother where a little public embarrassment and a lot of boredom earns you a fun social experiment and a shot at $500,000; Survivor is freaking hard- these people starve and work their fingers to the bone and put themselves in harm's way for challenges- and to actually win the game takes unbelievable social abilities, insight into the human psyche and the sort of moral compromise that can really eat at a person. And all they get is one lousy million MINUS TAXES?! Come on CBS, cough it up, would ya?
Thursday, December 15, 2011
Here's the deal: this year's 2 tribes were each assigned a past player. Savaii got Ozzy, famous for his survival and competition skills and for particularly bad social and strategic game. The issue over there was that new players don't know how to not follow the lead of the veteran and Ozzy should not be left in charge of tribal tone. The group quickly divided along cool-kid lines and alliances of perceived strength were formed. With the exception of a single move (Jim ousting Ozzy's right hand woman), it was a paint-by-numbers tribe following a leader uninterested in leading. The tribe's best asset, Dawn, fell quickly by the wayside because the numbers lined up against her age early; and the tribe's best strategist, Jim, was sidelined because he was a bit too much of a jerk to convince the others that they should follow him instead of trying to force Ozzy to step up. The leadership failure brought Savaii down when the merge happened and the weak were still looking for somewhere to turn. Low man on the totem pole, Cochran, flipped and the rest of Savaii was history. Save Ozzy, the man for whom Redemption Island was invented as a twist; it's a haven for a self-sufficient competition-winner with no head for the game. There was no way for Ozzy to win Survivor, so the game changed for him, and now he might just take it.
Which brings us to the final 5 and tonight's massive craziness. The final 5 was Coach's day-one alliance made up of himself, 2 loony religious die-hards and 2 people who should've flipped weeks ago. Alas, no one seems to want to flip on Coach, they've all got it in their heads that they can beat him in the finale. Now, I know most juries are bitter groups totally lacking in perspective, but the only person in the final 7 (let alone 5) who, might be able to take down Coach in a realistic finale would be Sophie. Nobody else has done anything (and this from someone who honestly believes Natalie White deserved to win Samoa). I think, just to be safe, Coach should've saved Brandon this week, taken that crazy pants with him, with Rick, to the end to claim his prize. Actually, Brandon shouldn't have needed saving at all, the little weirdo won immunity then gave it away because Jesus told him to save Albert. Then Jesus told Coach to vote out his closest ally (dude, Jesus likes allies, the reason you had the name "Brandon" in your head is because that's who YOU wanted to vote out, from back before you were "pissed but at peace" with him winning immunity. YOU, not Jesus, you made that call). So, you know, one of the dumber moves there's ever been, but also hilarious, and somehow appropriate for this lot. Brandon goes to redemption island where Ozzy's been feeding, sleeping and training to bring him down; Coach, Sophie, Albert and Rick move on as the final four. As far as we know, Coach has the stupid idea that he wants to bring Ozzy with him to the finale (ensuring himself the loss), but he has the hidden idol and he has the tribe in his pocket. It would take an act of God to hurt his momentum to the finale now (pun intended).
So, moving forward towards Sunday's 3 hour finale+reunion extravaganza, here's what I want:
- I want Brandon to take Ozzy out on Redemption (not likely), sending him to the jury where Coach can't make the mistake of allying with him.
- I want Albert to succeed in convincing the others to vote out Sophie, the most likely player to win the game having done very little to earn it (2 immunity wins is not solid Survivor-playing, you can nail this game without a single immunity, but Jeff doesn't hand out strategy as a prize to the best plate stacker)
- I want the others to then vote out Albert. I don't want her to win but Sophie's right, he does think he's smarter than he is. I've always liked Albert and I was glad to see him saved this week, but a great strategist would've found a way to implement at least one of those many plans he's hatched.
- I want a finale of Coach-Rick-Brandon where the jury gives it to the guy who controlled the game. Pipe dream, I know, especially after Rob's win last year, but it's what I want. Rob taught us that the way to win is to take the crazy (Philip, Brandon) and the useless (Natalie, Rick) with you to the end. If Brandon pulls it out on redemption, Coach might be able to do just that (again, not likely, but it's nice to dream).
Meanwhile, I may not have someone I truly love still in the game this season (I'm very fond of Coach, but sometimes the God talk crosses out of admirable and into delusional territory) but I'm more than happy to amuse myself watching the jury's bemused expressions as these lunatics air their dirty laundry. Jim is a master of silent sarcastic incredulity- gee, I'd really like to see him return for another season, see what that excellent mind of his can do with a little more social self-awareness.
In "We Love Jeff Probst" news, anyone wondering who the best host on TV is needed to be watching this tribal council even more than all his other brilliant mediation efforts. Brandon gives up his immunity necklace then seems to regret it, so what does Jeff do? He corners Albert in his 400th lie of the episode, forcing him to worm his way out of giving the necklace back to Brandon as a show of Christian good faith. Ha! The necklace falling from Albert's neck just as Probst snuffs Brandon's torch was just the icing on the cake. Man, no one can meld crazy good drama out of basic crazy like Jeff Probst.
See you Sunday, Jeff (still my favourite Survivor), and congrats on your wedding!
Wednesday, December 14, 2011
*This entire article is spoilers. Be forwarned if you haven't yet seen Once Upon a Time, Buffy, Angel, Lost, The Sopranos or MASH*
It's an unpopular move to kill off a character the audience likes. Or to kill anyone, really. Fans of serialized dramas get all up in arms over the effort it will take for them to invest in someone new after years (or months, in this case) of caring about the newly-deceased character. But I think it's brave. When the Lost writers dared to kill off the popular (and very pretty) Boone after only 20 episodes and Whedon sent Doyle out only 9 episodes in, they risked losing their audience. But nothing raises the stakes like an important death, and shows like Alias (which kept reviving its characters after conveniently dramatic "deaths") lose their credibility quickly when the only people who don't make it out of the life-or-death situations are extras named Goon #4. The death of Tara brought Buffy's Scooby Gang back to earth, knowing they weren't invincible; the hit on Adriana woke the audience up to the unforgivable evils of the Soprano family; the death of Col. Henry Blake on MASH remains one of the most poignant moments in sitcom history (TV history as a whole, really). It takes guts to risk your audience leaving you, but the best writers know that if the death serves the story, they'll quickly be forgiven.
I'm hoping that's the case with Once Upon a Time's recent death. I'm not loving the show (Jennifer Morrison is nowhere near likable enough to anchor her own series) and I mostly blame it for being the "success" that will mostly take the far-superior Pan Am down. But Sunday's episode raised the stakes on the unforgivably silly, unbalanced, mythological messy action. And while that act did mark the end of one of the only characters who at all had me engaged, he went out in a world-strengthening way; strengthening that was wholly overdue.
The episode explored the mythology behind Jamie Dornan's Sheriff Graham, who I'd always assumed was The Big Bad Wolf but turned out to be the wolf-raised Huntsman from Snow White's backstory. One of the only characters with any sort of complex moral struggle happening (I'm sorry Lana Parrilla, but your evil queen just isn't nearly as complicated as she should be), Graham was a small light in an otherwise muddied landscape of characters either over-idealized, under-written or just plain blegh (here's lookin' at you, detestable Emma).
His interesting backstory should easily have warranted 3 or 4 episodes of exploration, but since showrunners Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz seem intent on following the Lost model of one-character-story-per-week and this ain't no 2004, time was not a luxury Graham was allowed to enjoy. But he went out with a bang, the Evil Queen/Town Mayor squeezing his heart-in-a-box until it ceased to exist and his elsewhere body ceased to function. It was the first time the fairytale world had physiological ramifications in Storybrook, an interesting place for the story to go, even if it did signal the too-early end for Graham (coincidentally, the show's best eye candy, joining Boone in the "you're pretty, you should DIE" category).
I'm choosing to believe that Graham's kinda cool death is a good thing for the series. Maybe it means that Kitsis and Horowitz have a stronger handle on the rules of their mythology than they seem to. Maybe it's supposed to be a message, that they're not playing around with the stakes here- this is a show where beloved hobbit rockstars can drown while trying to save the people they love! No, wait, that's that other show we seem to be desperately trying to relive here. Even though I'll miss him, the death of Graham could be exactly what Once Upon a Time needs to be taken seriously, but I need to know that the writers had a reason, and not just a precedent.
Friday, December 09, 2011
The beloved star lived to be 96 years old in a life filled with decades of first-rate television and film roles like those he played on Dragnet and MASH, 2 landmark series.
Morgan's portrayal of Col. Sherman T. Potter in MASH was, to me, a backbone of the groundbreaking series' best years. Replacing the endearingly goofy Col. Blake, Potter was a highly competent and golden-heartedly serious man. He grounded the series in ways it so desperately needed and Morgan's dry humour served as a perfect counterpoint to Hawkeye and BJ's antics. Col. Potter was one TV's greatest characters and the man who gave him life, Harry Morgan, will be sorely missed.
As a final farewell, here's a last look at one of Morgan's most famous MASH moments.
Wednesday, December 07, 2011
I'm not going to complain about the cliche writing, imprecise story-telling, uneven character development, lack of Sue, blatant Damian-ignoring or history re-writing (I thought Sugar Motta wasn't allowed in New Directions, wasn't that the whole catalyst for The Troubletones?, never mind) on Glee this week. What I've decided to focus on instead is the actual Sectionals competition and the competitors.
First of all, The Unitards (worst club name ever!). Lindsay Pearce is a great talent so I'm thrilled to see that the producers have come to their senses and aged her down 2 years from where they started her (even if it doesn't actually make sense). Maybe she'll make like Blaine and migrate to an inferior school for no reason; Glee is in desperate need of a new leading lady who can step up after the current seniors graduate and one whose voice isn't an over-familiar airy mess would be more than welcome (and we already know she has AMAZING chemistry with Damian McGinty, who should also return next season). The Unitards are clearly a phenomenal club and their Evita excerpt should easily have won them first place instead of third.
If The Unitards couldn't win (and let's face it, there was no way they would, even if they should've), it really really really should have been The Troubletones. They were amazing this week. Actually, they're always amazing, delivering some of the best performances ever on the show. Naya Rivera has a dynamo voice and a presence that's entirely more interesting to watch than anyone in New Directions (on a side note: her welcome back insult list to Sam was delivered with just a hint of fondness, it was clearly brilliant). The Unitards can also dance, all of them, so Zach Woodlee's been giving them harder and harder stuff to do. They're just a better group, all around. Even if Mr. Schue did agree to let them sing one number per competition, I'll be very sad to see them all-but disbanded.
That said, I thought The New Directions were doing great by highlighting the pathetically underused Tina and actually giving Harry Shum Jr. something to sing (he can totally sing, what have we been talking about for 2 years now? It's Cory Monteith who can't sing... or dance.... or act... why is that kid on this show?!) and it's fun to start including some of those kids who've been sitting in the background playing instruments- maybe there's a star in there? But they blew it when Monteith stepped up to star in the worst rendition of "Man in the Mirror" I've ever heard, backed by literally no dancing but tons and tons of applause. You can't convince the audience that a performance was better than it was by having the fake on-screen audience cheer really loudly, we're not that stupid. It was terrible, can't you just fire the kids who can't sing? And by the way, no one actually missed Sam and he didn't contribute at all to the competition (show of hands, is that move actually considered sexy? I thought sexy was sweaty Darren Criss making Fight Club jokes in the locker room, or- less universally, but my personal preference- in his Dalton uniform remembering his crush's coffee order). Oh, and I've never seen a less convincing couple than Sam and Mercedes, give it a rest and send him back to Kentucky please!
PS: They really seemed to be having fun in that group number at the end of the episode. So while it was depressing to hear Rachel and Finn back on lead (what is this group delusion about?!), I was all for it.
Tuesday, December 06, 2011
It's been a rough couple months on the upper east side.
The boring story about unlikable actress Ivy defrauding the family into thinking she's long-lost cousin Charlie has done nothing but make the Rhodes clan look gullible and silly. Meanwhile, Nate's awkward fight against nepotism and corresponding (read: ironic) meteoric rise to the position of editor-in-chief at new tabloid The Spectator hasn't been much more interesting, though I do love Nate and it's nice to see the writers at least try to give him a story that's not just him sleeping with cougars (he did that too, with boring-as-brick shady villainess Elizabeth Hurley, but at least that wasn't ALL he was doing).
I've been semi-interested in Serena's work in the film business, mostly in how it affected Dan's story this season, bizarrely the most interesting of the lot. Dan's usually the character I find the least engaging (that's between him and the other leads, sans Jenny, Vanessa, Georgina, etc..., all of whom are horrid), but his "accidentally published" satire of his life and friends has had something interesting to say about the role of the outsider and how we frame ourselves within our life story. Some of the details of the arc were a little dumb (who complains that the book they wrote when they were 20 was on the New York Times Bestseller List for ONLY a week?!) and the dramatic hurt his friends and family felt seemed to go away pretty quickly, but the story in general proved fun and moved the characters well. The self-analysis it's sparked in Dan and Serena also seems to be helpful, and I'm loving the idea that Serena's jealousy of Blair stemmed from her feeling replaced as "the star of Dan's book"- it's so very narcissistically her.
As for the series' star characters, Blair and Chuck have been going around in circles avoiding the conclusion we've all known for years they would reach. At the moment, Blair's engaged to the prince of Monaco, Louis- a drip of a character with little aside from a title to make him interesting enough for the dynamic and intelligent Ms. Waldorf- and she's pregnant with his kid (who, until this week, I was quite convinced would turn out to be Chuck's after all, apparently not). There were some weeks of mildly entertaining filler regarding royal custom and Louis' family's completely founded concerns about Blair turning her back on their traditions, insisting on having everything her way, keeping Louis from the country he's supposed to rule and eventually leaving him heartbroken (again, COMPLETELY FOUNDED, how dare the show frame them as oppressive lunatics, princess Beatrice was maybe a little overboard but Blair was obviously going to do ALL THOSE THINGS). Once all that was sorted out, however, there were a couple weeks in which Louis was a snotball then Blair realized (Again!) that she really loves Chuck (forgetting that the last time she broke up with him it was something about forging her own career path and being her own person before being with Chuck- oh well, new season, new priorities). So this week Dan did the right thing in putting the girl he (apparently) loves ahead of his own feelings and set up a meeting between the two. Then they were chased by the paparazzi in a Diana homage that walked the line of hitting a little too close to home and got in a dramatic car crash.
So now the characters are all gathered at the hospital. Charlie (Ivy), who sent out the Gossip Girl blast telling reporters where Blair and Chuck were, is finally leaving and Blair is awake. We don't know what happened to Chuck yet but there's no way in hell the show kills off a hit character (or wastes the sardonic treasure that is Ed Westwick), so he's probably in a coma for maximum 2 weeks when we return in January. Oh, and that baby is definitely gone. TV likes to live in a world where the number of miscarriages is 400x higher than in life, it makes for convenient storytelling that allows the drama (and convenient "I have to stay with Louis" instinct) of pregnancy without having to deal with controversy (abortion), a whole 9 months of fat and sober characters (adoption), or, god forbid, an actual kid to write around (motherhood). It's not fair, it's sadder than the show will surely address, but there's simply no way that baby made it through the car crash. Chuck, on the other hand, absolutely made it through- so stop fretting.
The episode ended with a highly ambiguous phone call between Chuck's recurring villain uncle Jack and the horrible why-is-she-still-here Diana (Hurley) in which we learn very little except that they know each other and are up to something. It also seems as if Nate were targeted (the car Chuck and Blair got into, which was possibly meant for Nate, was leaking, though it never caught on fire) and he might be in danger too.
Oh the Drama!
You know you love it. Til January, XOXO.
PS: Penn, your acting's better than ever, but please, dude, Cut Your Hair! Love, My TV.
Monday, December 05, 2011
by Kelly Bedard
CBS's Monday lineup featured two melancholy but wonderful offerings from 2 Broke Girls and How I Met Your Mother.
I'm not usually as taken with 2 Broke Girls as the rest of the world seems to be (it tries too hard), but this week's episode was right on the money. From Caroline's practiced "rich girl" show ("no, thank you for inviting me") to Max's emotional breakthrough saying goodbye to Chestnut ("you can't say that touching something fuzzy and warm isn't lovely, so thank you for everything, but especially for being fuzzy"), this was the first episode that made me laugh and actually care at the same time.
In related news, last episode's "bro-parenting" also really worked for me. HIMYM is in the middle of a strong run.
by Kelly Bedard
Fox's newest sitcom balances on a premise that has hilarious truthful potential. Almost all teenage daughters are monsters, but to former geeks who grow up to mother girls just like the ones who tortured them, the trauma is all the more potent. It's a tricky concept, but such a universal and generally untouched one that executed well it could have been great.
The cast tasked with bringing the concept to life is an outstanding one. Jaime Pressly has excellent timing as Annie, a claustrophobically sheltered kid who married a musician, had a beautiful daughter whom she proceeded to spoil bitchy, got divorced and is now crushing on her former brother in law. Her best friend is Nikki, the far inferior character, an insecure former fat girl who screams at her comparatively rational ex-husband about stupid things like the money to get her even-more-spoiled daughter a limo to her first school dance. So far Nikki is insufferable, but she's played by the incredible Katie Finneran, so I've just got to believe she'll get better. Kristi Lauren and Aisha Dee are fun, if simple, as the titular daughters, but the writing has simply got to step up if this show is going to go anywhere.
The pilot featured a decent story about the girls locking a handicapped boy in the girls bathroom that was made silly by their mothers' insane ineptitude. Awkward "fuck, what do I do?!" mothering can be funny, but these people are just helpless- never fun to watch. The twist wherein Sophie (Annie's daughter, Lauren) incited a heartwarming moment by telling her mom that they were cruel to the boy because he's racist and made MacKenzie (Nikki's daughter, Dee) cry, was kind of fun and I do always enjoy a good punishment via embarrassment like the ending where Nikki and Annie take to the school dance floor. But the characters of IHMTD need to smarten up and maybe pity themselves less if we're expected to actually care that their daughters are mean to them.
Sunday, December 04, 2011
by Kelly Bedard
As I've said before, this was a great season for new shows, but I've loved none so much as I've grown to love Pan Am. There hasn't been a new drama this well written or an ensemble this talented since the premiere of Parenthood almost 2 years ago, and the last time I saw a network show as beautifully designed or directed was Lost, back in 2004. What could have easily been frivolous 60s exploitation full of mile-high, low-stakes interpersonal drama is instead a fascinating, character-centered global adventure that defies genres as well as it does stereotypes.
Pan Am is in every way just really great. It mines wonderfully honest character stories out of a premise that could easily have limited them and uses said premise to open itself up to possibilities no other show has (in episode 8, a heart attack on board led to an emergency landing in a politically fraught Haiti- there was a brilliant and high-stakes story there for every single character but the drama was still rooted in a believable plot). That's a show worth saving, but with ABC limiting its season one order to 13 episodes, the fact that the network still claims it's in the running for a second season has become laughable (literally, people are laughing). These networks have let me down time and time again, especially ABC who once ruled the airwaves with no fewer than 10 intelligent scripted dramas and now has almost none. It's time for them to realize that ratings can't and don't measure value and that great shows need time to be known as great.
But in the meantime, I'm begging you, tune in to Pan Am tonight at 10pm on ABC, it may be one of the last times you can.
PS: ABC execs, if you're reading this, Once Upon a Time is horrible, kill that if you really need blood.
by Kelly Bedard
This fall, the networks played host to the strongest crop of new shows in a very long time. There were a couple duds, of course (the sadly still alive Man Up! being the biggest offender) and a couple early-axed favourites (what can I say, I liked The Playboy Club), but so far my favourites are still alive (though for the best new drama, Pan Am, things don't look too good. More on that later). The best comedy of the season was a surprise for me. I've got a lot of new comedy favourites: Up All Night, Suburgatory, Whitney, 2 Broke Girls- all great (yes, I like Whitney, we can talk about this later). But one unexpected show leaped to the front of the pack by its second week and has stayed there ever since: New Girl.
Usually I find super hot chicks playing the awkward card kind of annoying, and Zooey Deschanel's trademark "adorkable" style can be especially grating. But here, as written by realistic Jess prototype Elizabeth Meriwether, it really works. As Jess, Deschanel reads as nothing but genuine- genuinely odd, genuinely good-natured, genuinely enthusiastic, genuinely unattractively aggravating at times. Her relationship with her model best friend Cece is oddly believable (I especially loved the oh-so-familiar scenes between them in the best-yet episode "Cece Crashes", written by superb Daily Show/Parks and Rec scribe Rachel Axler), but so much of what I love about New Girl is that it's essentially a show about having awesome guy friends- my favourite thing (see also my incredible love of My Boys).
Jess' boys are fantastic (and notably imperfect), my favourite being Schmidt. At first I thought he was a bit much next to Jake Johnson's cleverly defensive Nick and Lamorne Morris' quietly fun Winston, but as Max Greenfield unravelled layer after layer of the sometimes-douchebag known as Schmidt, I began to love him for all his absurdity- his desperation for Cece's attention, his neurotic cleanliness and mad cooking skills, his fancy conditioner, his former-fat-kid insecurities (the most realistic I've ever seen on TV, I so know that guy), his fear of birds (I know that one too), the fact that he totally was down to watch Dirty Dancing with Jess, even if he pretended not to be at first. I love all Jess' boys, but Schmidt's just a little closer to my heart.
New Girl is really pretty great, something I'm reminded of every time the opening credits play. None of this title card silliness for New Girl, they've got a full sequence complete with singer/songwriter/leading lady singing the song her character wrote as her own theme song, backed up by her grumpy roommates whom she's roped into setting the stage for her song. The boys go along with her silliness, reluctantly, but they still do it, humouring her exactly as they do in every episode. They may be rolling their eyes, but there aren't a lot of guys who would do it at all, and these guys do, because they love Jess. It's the perfect intro to a great show.
Saturday, December 03, 2011
groom to be).
The video's slow at first but the Swift-written concept turns out mighty sweet and the home movies of the two sweethearts together are pricelessly lovely.
The video's slow at first but the Swift-written concept turns out mighty sweet and the home movies of the two sweethearts together are pricelessly lovely.
by Kelly Bedard
The CW is an odd network. It's sort of depressing, really. Both The WB and UPN, for different reasons, were important, groundbreaking networks that provided some of the most innovative, thought-provoking and meaningful programming ever on television. They were far from perfect, but The WB especially was home to more fascinating and diverse characters and genres than anywhere else on TV. When The CW took over for those 2 networks in September 2006, it kicked off its broadcast television life with the 2 hour season premiere of America's Next Top Model. There's metaphorical value in that fact. On the new network, sweet-hearted and high-minded fan favourite The Gilmore Girls came to an end, the genre-defying bitingly witty Veronica Mars met her demise and the beautifully written and exquisitely acted family drama Everwood never even made it to air.
I'm not saying that the new and surviving CW shows are bad- they stayed true to The WB's genre content by keeping Smallville and Supernatural running long term, One Tree Hill has matured wonderfully in the last 5 years, Gossip Girl and 90210 are both surprisingly smart and inarguably fun and teen genre auteur Kevin Williamson made his long-awaited return to TV with The Vampire Diaries. But The CW's shows all look the same - they have an artificial gloss, an alienating sexiness that makes them enjoyable but does a lot to block out their heart. The CW is not a place where Willow Rosenberg would have been allowed the dorky sweaters that so defined her character in early Buffy, nor could Rory Gilmore have sported her ill-fitting Chilton uniform as often as she lazily did; there's no way Dawson makes it all the way to college as an over-thinking virgin or Carmen Ferrara is considered a principal character. Not on The CW. No characters over 25 are allowed significant storylines (except the OTH kids, who accidentally grew up) and that relatable, vulnerable heart that beat inside the best of The WB has long been lost.
Which is why I'm disproportionately fond of the somewhat mediocre new Monday night drama Hart of Dixie (least sense-making title since Cougartown). Despite the presence of The OC's shiny spitfire Rachel Bilson as a completely unbelievable Manhattan surgeon, Hart of Dixie's got the small town heart and homeyness that its Blue Bell Alabama setting requires. A displaced doctor story, Hart of Dixie's been getting a whole lot of Everwood comparisons, but despite the unabashed glossless-ness of its tone, the show still doesn't have the human drama or complex relationships that comparison needs. What it has got is yet another overwhelmingly beautiful cast (while Everwood had some pretty folks, they were more like the pretty folks you might actually know, as opposed to the Jaimie King variety), a handful of promising romances and some real potential- if it's allowed to grow up a little in a second season.
Upright good guy Scott Porter (as small town lawyer and love triangle target George Tucker) is always a charming presence, but his perfection can grow a little tiresome, which is why the Nov 21st episode that saw him showing off some comic chops was so refreshing. The series' little nod to his famous former series was also a welcome joke: "its like Friday Night Lights without all the depressing parts" says Zoe's friend from Manhattan seconds after Jason Street (Porter) leaves the screen.
Speaking of Lemon, King plays the local queen bee like a proper Blanche DuBois- affected accent, pristine old fashioned garb, vain posturing, hostess fussing and an air of unearned superiority. They've been doing a good job of humanizing the antagonistic obstacle so far, hopefully clearing the way for her to grow into a great character down the road once her and George finally give up the charade. The recent revelation that George, Lemon and Wade used to be close highschool friends seemed like a bit of a stretch, but I appreciated the idea; it's a small town, and the hints at Lemon's former awesomeness make it a whole lot easier to sympathize with her and with her overly dutiful fiancee. For that one episode, Lemon got to be fun and nice and convince us why George loves her.
Hart of Dixie isn't there yet. At the moment it's still fairly silly, the stakes don't exist and the heavy reliance on romance isn't doing anything to give the relationships any sort of complexity (outside of Lemon's conflicted loyalties and Wade's pride/cowardice- both of which have my attention) . But for the first time in a while (grownup OTH aside), there's a show on The CW that's genuinely earnest. If given a chance I think it could be something really heartfelt down the line, even if Bilson's short shorts are still the focus of the marketing team.