Friday, December 22, 2006

My top songs of the year

1. TV on the Radio - "Wolf Like Me." This song and the album it's on, Return to Cookie Mountain is making best of the year lists everywhere, and for good reason. The album is pretty eclectic, there's some great rocking tracks like this one, some acappella, some jazzy stuff...these guys are real musicians and it shows. I could listen to this song all day long.

2. The Killers - "When You Were Young." I've listened to the rest of Sam's Town, and honestly I wasn't all that enthralled, but I really love this song. I really have no idea what it means but it's catchy.

3. The Yeah Yeah Yeahs - "Cheated Hearts." I recently learned that Karen O is half Korean and the band played a show in Korea this past summer. This article is a pretty interesting read. It's nice to know that Koreans (or at least half-Koreans) are making their mark in the indie music world too.

4. The Flaming Lips - "The Yeah Yeah Yeah Song." There are already too many "yeahs" in this post. But this song is so peppy and quirky and I love it.

5. Band of Horses - "The Funeral." I only recently discovered this band, and given that they've drawn comparisons to the Shins and Built to Spill (both of whom I really like), it was only natural for me to like them too. They've got that sort of dreamy, layered quality to their music and I'm really digging it.

Honorable mentions to Thom Yorke - "Harrowdown Hill", Built to Spill - "Going Against Your Mind", Silversun Pickups - "Lazy Eye", Beck - "Cellphone's Dead", Grizzly Bear - "Knife", The Hold Steady - "Chips Ahoy!", We Are Scientists - "This Scene is Dead", and yes, Gnarls Barkley - "Crazy".

The year in review: 2006

Some of my favorite entertainment-pop culture-media things from 2006:

1. The TVGuide Talk weekly podcast. I've mentioned this before, but it's just awesome. I listen to it on Monday mornings and it definitely helps get my week going. The crew is just hilariously funny and sometimes I'd rather listen to them talk about TV than actually watch TV!

2. Degrassi the Next Generation, Instant Star, South of Nowhere, Beyond the Break, i.e. everything on the N. Apparently I will never be growing out of the teen TV shows because the N just keeps churning out more and more of them, all pretty much equally addictive and likeable. The network is pretty under the radar because it's night-time only, and I know a lot of people don't get it in their cable packages, but it's really seriously awesome. They re-run great campy teen classics like Sabrina the Teenage Witch, Fresh Prince, and Dawson's Creek, and have late night reruns of My So-Called Life and some other gems.

3. Project Runway and Top Chef. Bravo really knows how to do their competitive reality shows. Plus they always have a lot of great content on their websites to supplement the show, like blogs and video interviews and deleted scenes. Also, gotta plug Blogging Project Runway, one of the best fan blogs of anything out there.

4. The Devil Wears Prada and Ugly Betty. The fashion world is really being deconstructed lately, what with PR and Top Model and now these. The Devil Wears Prada took a perfectly horrible book and turned it into a perfectly amazing movie. And Ugly Betty is definitely the feel-good hit of the season.

5. Lonelygirl15. I know I sort of dismissed this back in September when it was revealed that it really was a hoax after all, but now it's December and I'm still watching it. The story's gotten a little ridiculous and some videos are still stupid but what's great about it is that the videos are short and sweet and come out nearly every day.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Golden Globe nominations

Considering I've only seen maybe 5 movies in theaters this year, I'm not really qualified to say anything about the movie categories. I was pretty flummoxed to see that Leonardo DiCaprio and Clint Eastwood each got double nominations against themselves though (Best Actor and Best Director respectively). They really couldn't find someone else to nominate? Glad to see that Little Miss Sunshine and The Devil Wears Prada were recognized though, especially Emily Blunt, who was fantastic.

Onto the TV categories. I have to say that I'm really surprised that Heroes and Big Love were nominated for Best Drama Series. I enjoy Heroes quite a bit, and I just recently watched the first season of Big Love, which really is pretty entertaining, but where is Battlestar Galactica? Glad to see Entourage, the Office, and Ugly Betty in the Best Comedy category, but Scrubs got snubbed yet again. And is it totally off base for me to say that I think How I Met Your Mother should be there? It's definitely better than Desperate Housewives.

Not much to say about the Best Actor or Best Actress in a Drama categories, though I would have liked to see some BSG actors and Kyle Chandler from Friday Night Lights there. And um, Evangeline Lilly for Lost? Really? She's not a bad actress or anything, but I don't think she's a standout AT ALL. (I also really hate Ellen Pompeo, she's the main reason I cannot watch Grey's Anatomy but then again because I don't watch the show so maybe I shouldn't be one to talk.) The Best Actor in a Comedy got it pretty much all right, and I don't have much to say about the best actress category, the only show I watch there is Ugly Betty.

Does anyone know why the supporting actor categories lump all series and miniseries together? It really limits the number of people recognized. I still think the Logans from 24 need to be given SOMETHING stat!

Lastly I'm really pulling for Gillian Anderson to win for Bleak House. Helen Mirren has two nods in that category also but Bleak House was really just phenomenal.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Top Chef caters a party

Wow. So the reaction to this episode is the most mixed I've ever seen. The boards at TWOP, comments on the blogs at TVGuide and on Bravo, everyone's all over the place. People who hate Mia, people who felt sorry for her, people who thought Cliff was an ass, people who thought he was justified, people who thought Elia should go home, people who thought Mia should go home, people who thought Michael should have gone home, people who thought it was lame of Mia to quit, people who thought it was gracious...are we really all watching the same show?

So what did I think? The Black team's decision to only do four dishes and to do most of the cooking on the spot was just bizarre. I remember Elia saying something like "200 people, 2 hours, 800 hors d'oeuvres, that's perfect" and I was thinking, are you kidding? That's one of each per person. Not everyone's going to like all of them, and some people will want seconds or even thirds. I understood that Elia wanted to go for quality over quantity, but for a cocktail party that's just all wrong.

So obviously the Orange team was going to win, even if their dishes weren't as high-quality. What I didn't like was Marcel's little proclamation that he didn't need leadership. Obviously a stupid attempt to try to get the win instead of Sam, which really just made him seem petty. I love that Ilan was all like, "that's just how Marcel talks." Some people seem to dislike Ilan because of some nasty comments he's made about Marcel, but I don't know, Marcel's annoying. I mean, I really don't think he's as much a villain as the show is editing him to be, but he's definitely got an arrogance and attitude about him.

Now, onto the Orange Team. I thought Cliff was being an ass. Obviously it's all about the edit, but I didn't see Mia bitching and moaning all that much, and I fail to see how that was the biggest factor in the team's loss. She was justifiably angry that food wasn't coming out of the kitchen fast enough because she was out there with the party guests who were asking for food. Cliff, I thought you were cool, but I'm not so sure.

As for Mia's decision to go home? I'm not really bothered by it. Usually I'm not a fan of reality show contestants who quit, but she wasn't doing it because she couldn't handle the competition or whatnot, she was doing it because she didn't want Elia to leave. Elia's young and talented and definitely has a chance to win this entire thing. That said, all of Mia's rambling about being homeless and selling drugs as a kid and all did sort of scream "martyr" but I'm not about to knock her for it. And Tom Colicchio did say in his blog for this week that they were ready to send Elia home, so it's not like she did it for nothing.

So there are 7 chefs left. Betty and Michael aren't going to make it much further (although I have to admit that I have this irrational love of Michael and was super glad that he did well in the Quickfire this week). That leaves Sam, Cliff, Ilan, Elia, and Marcel to fight it out for the title. It's weird, this season I'd been complaining about the fact that we weren't seeing as much good food, but there really are five strong, viable candidates for the win. I definitely didn't see that last season, nor on many other competitive reality shows. I can't really say at this point who I'm rooting for but I think the rest of the season's going to be really good and we're going to start seeing some great food.

Oh, and I have to mention that I LOVE Ted Allen!

Monday, December 11, 2006

relieved with the finales of Top Model and the Amazing Race

It's no secret that I love reality TV, and especially competitive
reality. But when it comes down to the final two or three competitors, I
like to have someone to root for, or even a few people that I wouldn't
mind winning. But when there's just one contestant that I DON'T want to
win and the rest I could care less's kind of not as fun.

That was the case with the latest seasons of America's Next Top Model
and the Amazing Race, both which had their finales this past week.
Thankfully, the people I didn't want to win didn't, but the finales left
me with a feeling of relief rather than one of happiness or

On Top Model, I just didn't want Melrose to win. In a lot of ways she
was a much better model than Caridee, but her personality was just
unbearable. Whether that has to do with how she was edited doesn't
really matter. I don't think that personality is as really a big a
factor in the real world of modeling, but the Top Model winner gets a
CoverGirl contract, and CoverGirl is very much a fresh-face-nice-girl
thing, and knowing Melrose's behavior on the show, I definitely would
not have have bought her doing ads for them. Caridee's a bit more
inconsistent and a little crazy, but at least she's not fake. This
show's getting a bit tiring in general, I'm thinking that I probably
won't watch next season.

As for the Amazing Race, I just didn't want Rob and Kimberly to win. I
know that the race is really stressful and may bring out the worst in
people, but they've just appeared so dysfunctional that I really did not
want to see them be rewarded. I kind of felt like if they won, they'd
take that as proof that they really should get married. I mean,
it seems like they're going to do it anyway, but I really don't think
they needed to be encouraged. So that left Alabama and the models.
Alabama caught some good luck with their first flight but then messed up
their last, which pretty much doomed them, especially since the last leg
in NYC involved a two mile walk in the rain. So I'm glad it was the
boys. They've been the most consistently good performers and they've
remained pretty likeable. I totally cracked up when they finished the
fashion challenge first. I still don't know which one is James and which
one is Tyler though...

Words I've learned from Top Chef Season 2

Who knew that watching this show would expand my vocabulary?

Etymology: Swedish gravlax or Norwegian gravlaks, from grav pit, hole, grave + Swedish lax, Norwegian laks salmon
: salmon usually cured with salt, pepper, dill, and aquavit

Etymology: Middle English, from Anglo-French lardun piece of fat pork, from lard
: a strip (as of salt pork) with which meat is larded

Etymology: Middle English, from of off + fall
1 : the waste or by-product of a process: as a : trimmings of a hide b : the by-products of milling used especially for stock feeds c : the viscera and trimmings of a butchered animal removed in dressing : VARIETY MEAT

molecular gastronomy
: the application or study of scientific principles and practices in cooking and food preparation

: a thick sauce produced by a reduction of vinegar or wine, sugar and, usually, fruit

Etymology: American French & French; American French, from French, from Middle French bignet, from buyne bump, bruise
2 : a light square doughnut usually sprinkled with powdered sugar

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Top Chef at the Beach

Who would have guessed that cooking breakfast at the beach would thrown so many of these chefs for a loop? Everything got shook up this episode: Marcel winning immunity; Frank in the top three for the Quickfire then eliminated; Sam and Cliff in the bottom three; an all-female top three in the elimination; Elia with her second consecutive elimination win. Mike skates by again with help from Betty, of all people, and Ilan stays safely in the middle. And it's all because of eggs!

First, the Quickfire. I thought that Frank, Elia, and Betty had the right idea by going for the fish. The challenge was to make an entree and most of the dishes just ended up looking like salads, and not entree salads. I was a bit perplexed by Marcel's dish. Maybe it tasted great and I know that presentation does count for something, but I just can't stand the trios. And I agree with Ilan that watermelon "steak" is pushing it. It's watermelon.

The elimination challenge was one of the best in awhile. For the first time in awhile, it really made me hungry and wanting to eat the food! I love hot breakfast food, even though I rarely have time for it. The fire pit thing was kind scary, and I can totally understand how some of the chefs messed up their eggs. Eggs are hard enough to cook perfectly on a stove, never mind a huge ass fire pit. But you know, these are professional chefs. They should know enough to adjust, or at least I think they should have. Anyway, I have no disagreement with the judges this week. I kind of cringed at Elia's initial description of her dish too but then I realized that it was a basically an open-faced McGriddle with waffle instead of pancake, which I had the same reaction to at first too. But they're good. Mia's dish looked yummy as well, although I think what I was most impressed about was how calm she remained throughout the whole challenge. Marcel's attempted surfer-speak cracked me up, and I thought it was hilarious that the chefs dove into the ocean afterward.

I really was a little afraid for a minute there that Cliff or Sam were going to be eliminated. I do think that they'd both gotten a little cocky though, so hopefully this week's performance will push them to really step it up even more. I think Frank was the right choice to go. He definitely got the most flustered over the challenge, and well, he might have put out some good stuff in the past but honestly he's just always going to be the Mushroom Fantasy man to me...

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Gilmore Girls out, Friday Night Lights in!

So last night I got home from work late and by the time I had dinner and showered it was already 9, so I figured I would have time to watch one show before going to bed. Usually on Tuesdays it's Gilmore Girls and Veronica Mars, but as there was no new VM last night, you figure I would have watched GG, right?

But no, a funny thing happened. I decided to watch Friday Night Lights instead! I think it's the end of an era. No matter how I complained and complained about the show, Gilmore Girls was still always one of the first shows on my list to watch every week, because for me it was kind of like an old friend. But that's over now, Gilmore Girls, you're being pushed out of your spot. Friday Night Lights, you're in!

Last night's episode was one of the best yet. Somehow Buddy Garrity almost redeemed himself in his scenes with Lyla, who I actually felt a bit sorry for. I found it interesting that she said that she had been "unfaithful," it's so unlike a teenager to use that terminology, but maybe it's a Southern thing, or maybe it's just an indication that she really did feel a marriage-scale commitment to Jason. Tyra and Jason getting drunk while the rest of Dillon is at the football game seemed kind of like a contrivance, but it worked. I loved Jason imitating Riggins and Tyra imitating Lyla. I'm not sure if they really were friends before, but I like their dynamic. Hopefully they won't hook up though, that might be a little too typical. I liked finding out a bit more about Smash and his family, and I really like his sister and find myself hoping she continues to get screentime even though she's pretty peripheral right now.

And then of course, there's Matt Saracen, bringing the funny and the heartbreak all rolled into one. And how funny was Landry this episode? The Member's Only jacket, feigning offense at the mention of his fifth-grade girlfriend, "don't blame the couture," this guy is the perfect sidekick. I'm glad that Landry gave him that advice after the date about forgetting the macho jock thing. I really hope Matt keeps hanging out with him and doesn't get too influenced by the other football players. The scene with Matt picking up Julie for their date was almost too awesome for words. Coach Taylor and his "Is that a Member's Only jacket? Why don't you hang up your Member's Only jacket and come sit down," then Julie walking out with the hair and the dress and the heels (which even I wanted to tell her was overkill and I'm nowhere near being a parent), then Coach asking if Matt wanted a beer, to which Matt says "No, thanks, I'm driving" and Coach goes "I'm joking" with absolutely no hint of a smile. And then at the movie theater with Matt saying that "his people" said the movie was good and then Julie getting a call from Landry and telling Matt "your people's calling" and then Matt singing to his grandma at home, and then the kiss at the end with Julie getting all flustered and running away? How amazing can this get???

Man I hope this show doesn't get cancelled.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Shows I've been neglecting to write about...

I think that I generally find it easier to criticize rather than praise, so there have been a bunch of shows that I've really been enjoying this season but haven't been writing about. Here are a couple of them:

Friday Night Lights - Who would have guessed that my favorite new show of the season would be about football? I haven't even been tuning out during the game sequences like I predicted. Maybe it's because I care about the players? In any case, I've really been loving nearly everything about this show. It somehow has the ability to get me choked up pretty much every week because it's just so dang heartfelt! The cast is made up of mostly newcomers but they're doing an awesome job. Kyle Chandler is doing his best work as Coach Taylor and I love his intensity on the field versus his dynamic with his family. I love how they're handling Jason Street's rehab storyline, although Lyla pretty much annoys the heck out of me. I seem to like Tyra, even though I'm usually not a fan of the bad girl. Tim and Smash are alternately endearing and aggravating but always true to life. And um, I totally have a crush on Matt Saracen. I realize this is pretty pathetic since I'm so far done with high school but at least the actor who plays him is older than me. And because no high school show can ever survive without some good ships to root for, consider me officially on the Matt/Julie ship. Tami should be grateful that at least it's the nicest guy on the team (and probably the whole school, he's so damn adorable) who's going after her daughter. Let's hope he keeps hanging out with Landry (who's hilarious) instead of taking too much advice from his teammates.

How I Met Your Mother - This show has really stepped it up a notch this season. Every episode has so many moments of brilliance, it's incredible. I think the change has been that they've stopped focusing on Ted and his search for love. I like Ted, but his dreamy romantic pinings were getting super boring. Now that he and Robin are together and somewhat stable (for now) the writers seem to be able to stretch their creativity a lot more. Barney's been in top form, and Marshall's been allowed to shine a lot more also. And Robin's teen pop star past was just awesome. That song was stuck in my head for days.

Bones - I watched this only casually up until this season but lately I've been really loving it. It balances the seriousness of the crimes with the quirkiness of its characters extremely well, and I guess it's just the nerd in me that likes seeing extremely smart people doing what they're good at. I love the dynamic between Brennan and Booth, and Hodgins and Angela are super cute.

Ugly Betty - Definitely the feel-good show of the year. It's shamelessly campy and sappy and clever all the same time and I love it. The stab at TomKat (baby Chutney??) in last week's episode had me cracking up like no other. Every character is super funny but they've taken time to make them all sympathetic too (except maybe Walter, can we get rid of him?). I still don't really care too much about the whole Fay Summers thing but everything with Betty's family is wonderful, Amanda and Mark and Justin are hilarious, Daniel's really endearing, and even Wilhemina has her moments. And Christopher Gorham's Henry has been upgraded to recurring!

The Nine - I'd actually been enjoying this show quite a bit, but ABC has shelved it and it probably won't be returning to the schedule. It's kind of bummer because things had just started getting interesting. The last aired episode gave a lot more background info on the characters and I really want to see where things go. Oddly enough I'm not really as interested in what happened at the bank. But I can see why the show didn't gain a terribly big audience. Kind of a shame.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

The Veronica Mars mystery: stick a unicorn in it

This week's episode was the finale for the rape mystery and also for the year, and it definitely didn't disappoint. I'm pretty pleased with the outcome of the mystery, and I love that the prisoner experiment had something to do with it. There were a bunch of red herrings in the beginning of the episode, including Tim the TA, but then the reveal with Mercer was entirely too early for that to be it. (That was a bit of a bummer too though, I'd kind of started to like him.) So when Veronica was in Moe's room and he said that she'd be safe, I totally yelled at my TV, "it's the tea!!!" (Yes, I was watching it by myself in my apartment). Also love that Parker was brought back into the mix and saved the day. I was a little afraid that it was going to have to be Logan yet again, or worse, Piz.

I have to say, though, Veronica, will you never learn to take backup into obviously dangerous situations??

The ending was a bit of a shocker. I was just starting to kind of warm up to the guy, even though he really didn't seem to have a handle on the college or his personal life. Nice setup for the next mystery, as there are definitely tons of suspects and motives arounds.

Finally, we get to the Logan and Veronica breakup. It was inevitable, and really well done. Definitely fitting that Logan was the one to do it, and I liked that it was different from last time in that neither of them was angry at the other for it and their feelings are obviously still there. The later scene at the party confirmed to me that Logan/Veronica angst is just so much more compelling than them actually being together. I really do want them to be together in the long run but maybe they need to both grow up a little. Was really happy to see kickass Logan back at the end of the episode, though. We haven't seen that side of him recently and it's definitely a welcome return. Mercer, you've so got it coming to you.

In other news, the show got picked up for a 20-episode season, which is 2 short of the standard order. This is a bit weird, it's good news in that it hasn't been cancelled, but it doesn't exactly show confidence on the part of the CW. I kind of feel bad for Rob Thomas...he has to keep writing each season as if it could possibly be the last.

A Top Chef Thanksgiving

I've been looking forward to Anthony Bourdain for weeks now and I have to say that he didn't disappoint. He has this hilariously funny but biting way of describing bad food and the chefs this week gave him a reason to be out in full force.

This episode was pretty enjoyable, but it didn't really have much to do with the food. One of my complaints about Project Runway this season had been that they didn't show the designers having enough fun. But Top Chef has quite a lot of fun, maybe because cooking tends to be fast and furious, leaving a lot of time for other stuff. I wasn't too big a fan of letting the top contenders have a day off in an effort to whittle down the people that have no chance of winning, but I liked that they had to cook in their own apartments, because that's kind of the spirit of Thanksgiving. Elia's "chocolate meltdown" cracked me up, Mike brought the funny as usual, and of course, poor Tom Colicchio reacting to Anthony Bourdain's criticism of "what kind of crackhouse are you running here?" Gotta love it.

As for the challenges, the canned food quickfire was better than some of the other recent ones, but the fact that they only had 15 minutes just meant that people had to make salads, and I'm not a big fan of salads. The elimination challenge could have been great, but the chefs didn't exercise their creativity enough. Mike didn't bother with the cutting edge part but produced way more than everyone else and managed to save himself. Carlos took the easy way out and paid for it. Marcel was just being Marcel but I gotta give him props for doing something interesting at least. The roulade didn't look too appetizing to me but that cranberry gelee looked tasty. Then again I like cranberry sauce from a can, so yeah. Betty has started to annoy the heck out of me and her dessert was just silly. Why does she keep doing dessert? And Elia won merely because her soup actually tasted good. I think that's kind of saying something.

I don't know, the food this season hasn't been too mouth-watering in general. Are the challenges too restrictive? Are the chefs just not on the same level as last year's? Or is it still too early in the competition? I think even Gail Simmons said that she felt like there was better food earlier last season. Also, it's hard for me to say what everyone's strengths and styles really are. Come on, Top Chef, show us something yummy!

Friday, November 17, 2006

Top Chef goes low and high

Episode 4:
This episode was overshadowed by a supposed cheating incident (yes, just like on Project Runway!). This time though, no one was eliminated because there was no "hard proof." Kind of anti-climactic if you ask me.

The quickfire was stupid. Although who knew that you could get hard-boiled eggs from a vending machine? A bit sketchy if you ask me. I'm surprised carlos won. Maybe it tasted great but the presentation wasn't attractive and I thought it looked kind of gross.

The elimination challenge was actually pretty interesting and once again put the chefs out of their comfort zone. (I kind of laughed when Ilan said that he's never counted calories while he was cooking because the man puts bacon in everything. And his amuse bouche had a deep-fried piece of salami!) I did like the low-calorie idea but I kind of wish that they were serving adults instead of kids, because it would have opened up the options a bit more. I mean, Betty and Frank were really smart for choosing to make pizza, but in all honesty, it's still a pizza. With the grilled cheese sandwich winning last week and the pizza from this week, you'd never guess that this is a competition for professional chefs. I mean, I know that the Top Chef challenges are about testing the chefs' versatility and creativity and all that, but really, can we let the chefs get back to what they're good at?

Anyway, onto the cheating thing. While I find it suspicious that Betty was the only one who didn't know that they weren't allowed to modify their recipes, I thought that whole rule was stupid to begin with. Could they not have had like one nutritionist there on the second day available for consultations? It's sort of ridiculous to tell a chef that if they see their dish not working out that they can't made adjustments.

Oh, and was the camp really called Camp Glucose? That's both hilarious and horrible at the same time.

Episode 5:
I remember Michelle Bernstein from her outing on Iron Chef against Bobby Flay (which she won, if I remember correctly) and I loved her because she spoke really intelligently about her food and what she was trying to do with her dishes. So when she showed up at the beginning of the episode, I knew that it was going to be a great challenge.

I like watching Top Chef while eating dinner because the show makes me hungry (event though in a lot of cases my food probably doesn't taste nearly as good as the stuff on the show). That kind of backfired on me this week though, because the shots of all those "leftover" animal parts just made me feel queasy. I'm a very non-adventurous meat-eater, and like a lot of people the only weird things I eat are ones that are familiar from my childhood, like Korean oxtail oxtail. Oxtail soup is a tradtional Korean soup and I love it, even though if you think about it, it's not really any less weird than other kind of offal. But I guess back then I didn't really realize what it was made of because we called it by its Korean name and I didn't associate it with its English translation, which is literally "tail soup." Anyway, because of the nature of the challenge I was all that excited about any of the dishes because I probably wouldn't have eaten anything on that table.

The elimination challenge was much more interesting but I was a little disappointed. Despite billing the challenge as working with "leftovers," it was leftovers at a well-stocked high end restaurant which pretty much meant that they had free reign to do almost anything. This is what I've been waiting for, a chance for the chefs to really show what they could do and impress the judges. What happened instead? Nobody collaborated on the menu so nothing really made sense. Most of the courses were these duos and trios of tiny pieces of STUFF. If I was eating at that table I would have kept waiting for like a hunk of meat that never would have come. After 6 courses I probably still would have been hungry!

I'm glad Marisa's gone. Sorry to say but a pastry chef just doesn't really belong on the show, and she annoyed the heck out of me, especially because she seems to think that she's hot and I don't know what guys think but she's really not. I'm more sad about Josie because I thought she was going to stick around longer, but I was a bit turned off by her post-elimination proclamations of her immense talent. Their course was just a disaster though. I laughed when Gail pointed out that they hadn't really cooked anything.

So funny to see that Mike was on the winning team. Ilan and Mike might have seemed like an odd pairing, but I could see it. Ilan's the youngest chef there and he's pretty easygoing, which was perfect for Mike, who needed someone who would force him to focus without being nagging. Cliff and Sam were the dream team, and I wasn't surprised to see them do well. Betty and Mia went too high-concept, and Carlos and Elia? I have no idea what they were going for in general.

Still a lot of chefs left, but I think that Cliff, Sam, and Ilan are now at the top of the pack. Carlos, Elia, and Betty have potential. Frank, Marcel, and Mia haven't impressed me yet, and Mike, despite being on the winning team this week, really has to step it up if he wants to stay in it.

Next week is Anthony Bourdain!!!

The Office does the impossible

Am I crazy or am I not really a Jim/Pam shipper anymore? Last I was just constantly itching for something to happen and I still think their scenes from last season's finale were some of the best ever, but this season, somehow I just don't feel the urgency anymore. I was sort of indifferent to Karen at first, but now I think she's great. She's really normal and isn't being painted as the "other woman" because she has no idea of Jim and Pam's history. I mean, I'm really glad that Jim is dating someone who actually admits to liking him. Maybe Jim and Pam are meant to be together, and maybe they're not. If they are, then it'll happen eventually. But for now, I think it's kind of fitting that their situation is reversed and now Pam is the one who's going to have to be secretly pining for Jim.

Geez, the Office is so brilliant that they've gotten me to stop shipping! And not out of bitterness!

As for the rest of this "super-sized" episode, I have to say that I'm starting to agree with Michael Ausiello and Dwight is just getting to be too much. I don't know, for some reason I can buy Michael as genuinely just being crazy, but Dwight is just way over the top. And you know, I think Angela's getting to be in that same category. I used to think her uptight-ness was amusing but now she's just plain mean.

I thought Andy was great though. He's Dwight-ish, but we know his reasons behind it: he's a huge suck-up. Oh, and I loved that thing with the other black guy trying to buddy up with Stanley and Stanley rolling his eyes. And Kelly saying that celebrity news was her news. And Kevin getting too excited over the paper shredder and shredding a credit card. And Pam tricking Dwight into running around the building.

Welcome (back) to the OC, bitch!

Everyone needs to start watching this show again now because it is AWESOME!

Things that were awesome last night:
- Summer going through the five stages of grief (anger twice because she has rage issues)
- Ryan's seriously intense beach workout
- Sandy trying to ask his co-worker on a guy date
- Kaitlin and Julie making a vow to stay away from trouble and men, respectively, failing miserably and seeing eachother at a club as a result (man, was Julie really going all out on that dance floor)
- Summer trying to reconcile her two selves and Seth actually being supportive
- Che being wacky and not introducing any annoying triangle-ness

And finally, RYAN AND TAYLOR!

This is possibly the most random couple since like, LC and Jason, but it is just AWESOME. It is pretty soon after Marissa for Ryan to get another girl, but I think that's kind of what's so great about it: it's completely unexpected. Man do I love Ryan for deciding to help Taylor and deciding the easiest way would be to just go up to her and kiss her in front of the lawyer. And that nose tap after? Hilarious! We all know how persistent Taylor can be so I'm totally looking forward to her being all obsessed with Ryan and him not really knowing what to make of it.

Man it's such a shame that no one's watching anymore and the ratings suck. It is mostly the show's fault for being so crappy the past two seasons but I'm glad they've decided to pick it up and go out on a high. Seriously, this season has been so awesome that if it stays like this I am definitely going to buy it on DVD.

Gilmore Girls - the stupid proprosal episode

I wasn't even going to waste space on this horrible episode, but at least there was some Lane and Zack in it. Luke was so adorable being protective of Lane, and Mrs. Kim was awesome as usual. Mrs. Kim moving in with them might seem a bit horrifying to a lot of people, but my grandmother lived with my family all throughout my childhood so it doesn't really seem weird to me at all. Personally I think Lane and Zack are going to need all the help they can get. Again, I hate this storyline, but they continue to handle it well. Oh and how funny was the scene with Brian and the Koreans?

The rest of the episode was just dreck. Lorelai, who are you and what are you doing? She had that same look at the end of the episode that she did at the end of the finale last season when she woke up in bed with Christopher. If you know that this isn't right, then why are you contining to go along with it? I have to say, I think I feel a little bad for Christopher. I think a breakup is inevitable (or maybe that's just the Luke/Lorelai shipper in me in denial), and poor Chris, who's really into this relationship and making it work finally, is going to get shafted yet again.

And geez, can someone fire the CW's promo people? Do you not understand that most people really don't care about Lorelai and Christopher and billing this as a very special "The Proposal" episode makes people just want to hurl? Even Lorelai/Christopher fans have to admit that they aren't exactly the fairy-tale couple that you'd expect this kind of promotion for. UGH.

Veronica Mars - what happened to you?

I was trying to multi-task and do some homework while watching this episode, which is never a good idea during Veronica Mars, so I will probably re-watch it again this weekend, but what I do want to say is that Veronica kind of sucks. I know there have been people saying it for a long time, how she's basically a smart-ass, judgmental bitch, but for almost as long I kept defending her as just being regular smart and snarky. I'll admit that she'd been getting on my nerves a bit more this season, but this week was the first time I was really like, man, she's just MEAN. And the problem is that I don't feel like it's all that warranted. At Neptune High she was an outcast and her attitude was kind of a defense mechanism. This season, she's definitely making enemies at Hearst, but I feel like there isn't really as much reason for her to have that chip on her shoulder. I'm not saying she should go back to being the vanilla Veronica we saw in the Lily-era flashbacks, but does she have to be so unpleasant?

This makes me pretty sad because I was a huge fan of her during first
season. I mean, check out this post I wrote back then. I'm not going to say her recent behavior is out of character, but it's just gotten way too extreme and the writers need to lighten her up. I'm far from Rory levels of hatred, so hopefully something will change soon.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

The critics take on Gilmore Girls

A couple of recent articles blasting this season of Gilmore Girls:

While I'm kind of glad that some critics out there are finally picking up on how horrible the show is lately, what I don't get is why they're blaming it all on the new executive producer, David Rosenthal, and not acknowledging that the show had a problem long before the Palladinos left. Rosenthal had a lot of crap on his plate to deal with. Who was the one who introduced Luke's long-lost daughter? Who was the one who made Luke and Lorelai pretty much sabotage their own relationship? Who was the one that had Lorelai sleep with Christopher the second after she broke up with Luke? Not Rosenthal. And yeah, I agree that having Lorelai and Christopher embark on a full-blown relationship doesn't really help matters, but let's get it straight here. The Palladinos are as much to blame as Rosenthal, especially since they caused this whole problem by leaving the show in the first place.

Don't get me wrong, I agree that Amy Sherman Palladino created a great show with two really great lead characters. Obviously I loved the show in the earlier seasons for a reason. But anyone's who's saying that the show was great last season and now suddenly it's not is really just looking for someone to blame and Dave Rosenthal is the easiest choice. What he's really guilty of is taking a crappy show and making it crappier.

Finally, I'd just like to say, I don't really like Virginia Heffernan's writing (second article I listed). I mean, I know that she's very successful and that she must have got where she is based on talent, but I feel like she takes the big vocabulary words and symbolism a little too far. I find her articles to be almost unreadable. Her language is kind of pretentious and convoluted, and it's difficult to figure out what she's really trying to say. I don't know, maybe she's just too smart for me or something. But while I appreciate that there are people out there treating TV in an intellectual manner and not just as trash, I don't know, when you're writing about pop culture, don't you think you should be well, a little more accessible?

Friday, November 03, 2006

A book update

Two books I've read recently:

Gilead by Marilynne Robinson - This won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction last year, and it was really different from other books I've read. It's in the form of very long letter written by a Kansas pastor, Reverend John Ames, to his young son. Ames is aging and knows that he and his son will not really have a chance to get to know eachother, and this letter is a sort of autobiography and history for the boy. He is writing the letter in the 1950s and he recaps stories of his grandfather and father, both ministers before him, as well as his godson and namesake John Ames Boughton. It's a sort of rambly novel, without a whole lot of plot, but it's written beautifully and powerfully. It's incredible how well the voice that Robinson gives Ames evokes his generation, his occupation, and his life. There are lot of musings about religion and Christianity, and as a Christian, parts of it really spoke to me. I highly recommend this book. It's not a page-turner, it's much more of a book to linger over, and it left me feeling really warm and satisfied.

Veronica by Mary Gaitskill - I had an almost exactly opposite reaction to this book. It left me feeling somewhat unsettled. It follows the life of Allison, who runs away from home as a teenager and finds herself in Paris as a model, then in New York, where she meets the title character, Veronica, who dies of AIDS. It's hard to describe this book. Allison looks back on her life very frankly, even though it's filled with quite a lot of dark experiences. Somewhere in there I think the book was trying to say something about beauty and love and stuff like that, but I had trouble grasping it, and I found the book to just be depressing in general and I just couldn't relate to it. Perhaps I'm just not at the right stage of my life to really appreciate it or something.

What's hot in alt rock

One of the radio stations on my rotation is Y Rock on XPN. It's the more alternative of the stations I listen to (the rest of are more indie-obscure). Anyway, every week they do a list of the Top 11 songs of the week and it's a pretty good indicator of what's popular in the alt rock world. Here is this week's list and my thoughts.

1. Snow Patrol - Chasing Cars. Soooo overplayed. Bah. It's not a bad song but it kind of annoys the heck out of me.
2. Death Cab For Cutie - I Will Follow You Into The Dark. Not my favorite song on the album, but it's definitely a good one.
3. Silversun Pickups - Lazy Eye. I'd heard of this band a couple of months ago and I kept meaning to check them out but never really got around to it. I love this song though, so I'm definitely going to listen to some of their other stuff.
4. Brand New - Sowing Season (Yeah) The Devil And God Are Raging Inside Me. Hm, I don't remember this song. I kind of like Brand New though.
5. Incubus - Anna-Molly. I find the title of this song to be really annoying because it's really anamoly in the song. Oh, well. I think I'm kind of over Incubus in general.
6. The Hold Steady - Chips Ahoy! I like this band. They're a little weird, but I guess I like my bands a little weird I guess.
7. My Chemical Romance - Welcome To The Black Parade. Meh. I liked My Chemical Romance's I'm Not Okay and Helena, but after that I've been underwhelmed.
8. The Decemberists - O' Valencia. It took me awhile to get into the Decemberists but they're really good. I like this one.
9. Muse - Starlight. Ummm no clue what this song is.
10. Beck - Nausea. I like Beck's new album. It's probably the closest thing to hip-hop that's I'll ever like.
11. The Dears - Ticket To Immortality. They sound a lot like Interpol, but that's not a bad thing. I listened to their whole album recently and I like it a lot.

Top Chef goes to TGI Friday's

This week's episode put a lot of the chefs out of their element: cooking for the general public. I applaud this effort, because it's true, a large percentage of Americans don't eat at fine dining restuarants, and sometimes it's just because it's not really an option. I live in the suburbs, where it seems like nearly every restaurant is a chain, even the higher end steakhouses. If you look at where the Top Chef contestants are from, nearly all of them are from New York, Las Vegas, or Los Angeles, because that's where fine dining is concentrated. And then there's the monetary side. I grew up in New York and go back to visit often, but I just don't have the money to eat at the more expensive places. Luckily there are tons of great cheap eats in New York too. But to be honest, I like eating at generic chains too. TGI Friday's, Applebees, Olive Garden, Red Lobster...there's something comforting about how you pretty much get what you expect at those places.

I didn't like the ice cream Quickfire very much. It wasn't very much about creating something new and different, because they were going to be feeding it to kids! Of course Cliff won, his ice cream was the most normal and kid-friendly, with cookies and marshmallows. Just because they put avocados on the table doesn't mean you have to use them.

The elimination challenge was interesting. Of course I can't speak to taste, but if all the chefs' dishes were on a menu, I think the only ones I would even consider would be Cliff's fish sticks, Elia's fish tacos, Josie's BBQ Skewers, and Carlos' chicken fried shrimp. I'm sure Betty's tasted great, but I would never order grilled cheese at a restaurant. I can make that at home. Overall, I think I was kind of dsappointed. A lot of the chefs were obviously out of their element and even though they had been instructed to recreate a childhood favorite, I feel like they kind of went a little too simple.

One last thing: what is up with the recipes on the Top Chef website? The recipe for Ilan's corn and bacon dish indicates that you basically fry up some bacon and cook some frozen corn in the fat drippings and mix it up. That definitely can't be right. I'm pretty sure he started with fresh corn on the cob, and one of the bonus videos also shows Ilan making some compound butter that he told Tom Colicchio that he was going to freeze and shave over the dish, which I imagine enhanced the dish quite a bit. I don't know how Bravo gets the recipes or if they do any editing, but it's a little disappointing that they're not all that complete.

Veronica Mars - A note to Wallace

Can I just say how excited I am that Wallace is studying engineering? Okay, it maybe doesn't make a lot of sense since he didn't seem too interested in his physics class in high school, but it's kind of refreshing to see college kids on TV taking classes other than English and psychology and chemistry. And it was nice to see that Wallace is actually studying, unlike Veronica who seems to have massive amounts of time to do all her sleuthing and working for her dad. Anyway, that said, I'm really disappointed that he resorted to cheating. I did know a lot of kids that breezed through high school and then faced a bit of a wake-up call in college, especially if they were taking engineering classes, so that part was realistic, but dude, walking out of the test that early? I guess we don't know if he actually cheated or just gave up or something else, but the indication is that something not so good is going to result. Wallace, if you really want to be an engineer, go make some friends in your classes and work together! Go to office hours! You don't have to cheat!

Friday, October 27, 2006

Top Chef does Korean...badly

This week's episode had me pretty excited because they tackled two of my favorite cuisines which isn't featured on TV very often: Vietnamese and Korean!

Since I'm Korean, I have quite a bit to say about Team Korea's dishes. Each team was supposed to do one hot dish and one cold dish. The hot dish was fine, Korean BBQ with kimchi and rice, but deciding to do a dessert for their cold dish was just baffling to me. I know that Marisa is a pastry chef and she wanted to put her skills to use, but that dish was as far from being Korean as I could imagine. Koreans do enjoy desserts, but they've imported most of that from the Western world, and a custard is definitely not traditional. Their ingredients, jasmine tea, tapioca, and lychee, weren't Korean either. Besides which, the hallmark of Korean cuisine is banchan, those side dishes that come with every meal, most of which are cold. Make some banchan, people!

I guess I don't really blame the chefs for not having intimate knowledge of Korean cuisine, and I get that they were supposed to put their own twist on it, but they were instructed to make Korean food (and not just Asian-inspired), so I was surprised that the judges didn't call out the dessert for being completely off the mark. Although I guess it didn't matter because the dish was a disaster anyway.

I also found it funny that they were trying to make their own kimchi. Not too many people do that anymore, they buy it from the store. But there are many varieties of kimchi that people do make at home because they're "fresh" and don't need to be fermented. And what was up with the rice? Did they not have a rice cooker in their Kenmore kitchen?

Is it possible? The OC is awesome again

I know a lot of you have given up on the OC. The show has always been pretty up and down, and last season was pretty horrible with Sandy and Kirsten on the outs and all the crazy Johnny and Volchok stuff, but Marissa's death in the season finale was absolutely the right move and in a way, it's giving the show a chance to start over.

Anyway, this season's premiere is up on myspace and I'm urging you all to give it a shot. I loved it. I wasn't sure where they were going to be taking this season, with Marissa gone and college starting and Kaitlin being the queen bee at Harbor, but the writers handled the premiere beautifully. It was centered on Ryan and the Cohens, but we saw just enough of all the characters and where they are 5 months after Marissa's death, and it was all perfect. I was even choking up in a couple of scenes. As usual, the music was amazing, and I don't know why it was so apparent to me, but the camerawork was pretty awesome.

I don't give away too much, but this episode just reminded me of everything I loved about the OC in the first place and I don't know, I have a good feeling about this season. I won't necessarily be surprised if it ends up sucking like in the past, but I have high hopes. Go watch the episode!

Sunday, October 22, 2006

The problem with Lost

Warning: this is a very long post.

There are two camps of Lost viewers: those that love the twists and turns and don't mind that each episode usually brings more questions than answers, and those that are frustrated and like to complain about how the show is going nowhere and how ridiculous things are getting. Members of the former group like to tell members of the latter to lighten up and just go along for the ride or just stop watching. Members of the latter group ignore them and continue to watch and complain.

I am definitely a member of the latter group. My complaints started pretty early on, by the end of the first season. My main gripe with the show then was that the show was just too slow moving. Every week I watched and every week I found out pretty much nothing. And I was starting to get a little worried about the direction of the show. There were already too many loose ends, too many things that were shown and then never touched again. I felt like I was being manipulated by the writers, and I didn't really appreciate it. Now I know that storytelling is inherently a form of manipulation, but I think that the best storytelling should at least seem organic. Lost was not feeling organic.

Second season, I decided that I would stick with the show, but I was going to watch it in chunks, a couple of episodes at a time. That way, I'd feel like more was happening. And it kind of worked. Plus the airing schedule last year sucked and people were constantly complaining about how long they would have to wait between episodes. I was spoiled here and there but watching 4 or 5 episodes in a row made me feel like so much was happening! But then around the second half of the season, I was starting to get worried again.

Things were just getting much too complex. I felt like the writers and producers were sitting around the table congratulating themselves for being so clever and shocking the audience once again. I imagined someone going "Oh I came up with this thing that's totally cool and will totally mess with the viewers" and whoever's in charge going "Oh yeah? Throw it in there!" I listened a couple of podcasts and read interviews with Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse, and they are just way too impressed with themselves.

And after watching the first two episodes of this season, I still feel like the writers are still more interested in being clever and manipulating the audience than actually telling the story. But I've come to the realization that it's not really all the writers' fault. It's a problem with the entire concept of the show.

Those viewers that love the show believe that the writers have everything planned out. But I don't see how that's really possible. Anyone who writes movies or stories or novels will tell you that your story has to have a beginning, a middle, and an end. For a movie or a novel, you determine when the end comes. You take however much time or pages you need to tell your story, and then there's the end. But for Lost, the writers don't know when end is going to be. They say they have things planned out for 6 seasons or something but I don't believe them. Maybe they have a basic idea of what they think is going to happen but there's nothing that says they have to stick with it and they really don't know how long the show's going to last. It can depend on the network and the ratings and the producers and the actors and a million other things besides the story. So if the Lost writers really do have the story planned out like they say, they have to be very careful about timing, about when and what they reveal, because they can't run out of story. So instead of being afraid of running out of story, they HAVE to make up more. Hence all the crazy twists and turns.

So I know what you're asking. If this is true, then how can any TV series be successful? There are a lot of answers to that. Shows that mirror real life, like most sitcoms and many traditional dramas, don't have a problem. Life goes on. As long as you have interesting characters, there's plenty of material. Procedural shows (crime, law, medicine, etc) have standalone episodes: the story starts and ends in one episode. And so-called serialized shows like 24 or Buffy generally do season-long arcs, a story that comes to a resolution by the season finale.

But Lost? It's just one really big, really long mystery with no definite end point. And I guess I just can't wrap my mind around that. I can't be confident that the writers are going to tie up all their loose ends. I can't be confident that the ending they supposedly have planned is going to actually be satisfying and make sense. And if it's actually their intention to leave things open-ended and with unsolved mysteries? That just seems like lazy writing to me.

I guess the real question is whether I'm going to keep watching. I probably will, but I probably won't be that invested in it. Meaning yeah, maybe I'll take the other camp's advice and lighten up and go along for the ride. But I still won't be proclaiming the show is brilliant...

Friday, October 20, 2006

Top Chef returns!

I was a HUGE fan of this show first season, and the fact that the winner was someone I actually really liked (Harold) helped. And I was ecstatic when they announced that there would be a second season, and especially that they were replacing that robot of a host! I could tell even from the promos that the new host, Padma Lakshmi, was going to be a vast improvement. After watching the premiere, I'm not going to say I'm a fan yet, but she didn't bug me either, so that's a good sign.

The first episode was confusing, as most first episodes of competitive reality shows are, because there are just too many contestants. My premature picks to make it to the end are Betty, Ilan, and Sam, and Marcel is obviously this season's Stephen, but other than that I didn't really form too many opinions. One thing I did notice was that it seems like a ton of the chefs this year already own their own restaurants. Was it like this last season?

Tom Colicchio is as snobby as ever, but for some reason I kind of like it. His "I'm not your mentor" comment made me crack up because even if he tried to be, he would fail so horribly because no one else can be Tim Gunn. I've often wondered if they could use a mentor though. Tim Gunn has helped nudge many designers towards success whereas these chefs are often kind of just left floundering. On another note, I passed by one of Colicchio's restaurants in New York a couple of weeks ago (I think it was Craftbar?) and I really should try one of them sometime, even if it's just his lower-end sandwich shop.

I was super excited to see Harold as a guest judge, and it's kind of nice to see that he hasn't really changed at all since winning. He's still scruffy and doesn't stand up straight and is just not at all Hollywood. I hear that Anthony Bourdain is going to show up as a guest judge this year! I can't wait for that, it should be awesome.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Veronica Mars, college detective

First of all, LOVE that Weevil is back. His whole storyline was awesome. Loved that Veronica still feels kind of an obligation to help him. Loved his hilarious idea of work clothes, loved that he turned out to be a pretty good detective only to be fired because of his classic anger management issues (Ryan Atwood much?), loved that he's going to be working at Hearst College. I totally called that he was going to fix the air-conditioning. Yay Weevil!

As for the mystery of the week, it was alright. I was a bit distracted by the girl who played Trish because I spent the entire episode going back and forth on whether it was the chick from Saved by the Bell the New Class (it was, she just looked really different with dark hair). It made for some good moments though, and I like how Piz brought Veronica the case because he wanted to suck up to his radio producer to get his own show. Can I also say that it's awesome that Piz is doing a radio show about politics and things like that? I realize how bizarre it is that I'm saying that because when I was in college I was kind of annoyed by all political commentary but it's just a really accurate portrayal of college, as was the gambling and poker playing.

Now we get to Logan and Veronica. I'm a huge LoVe shipper, but I think I almost enjoyed their flirty-snarky banter from when they weren't together more. I did like that the MOW made Veronica realize something about her own life, but while I agree that Veronica was being paranoid, I don't think Logan was completely in the right either. So Veronica's apology at the end seemed off to me. I guess I just find it weird actually seeing them in a relationship I guess, since we've never really seen that before. (I always felt kind of cheated that they were always together over the summers which we don't see, but maybe that was a good thing because we didn't get a chance to not like it?)

On the Gilmore Girls rollercoaster

It's bizarre. As the Lorelai situation spirals further and further downward, I'm starting to like Rory again. She seems to be getting back to the old Chilton Rory, in a way. I like that they're trying to give her new friends, but I found the way she met them to just be unnatural. Those girls just randomly see her at the watercooler and randomly decide to go and talk to her? Why? They get points for thinking Paris is a genius, but why do all people on this show have to be so fast-talking and quirky? There are people out there who are not fast-talking and quirky and are still interesting. The chick who played Gia on Veronica Mars was really annoying, and her dress was entirely too short. I was okay with her dismissing Logan, she did have people over, although it was a bit strange because she was in his apartment and these girls she met only a few hours before were going through all of his stuff. I loved when they were all like "your boyfriend is rich!" though because damn, Rory, do you not realize how lucky you are?

The Emily-getting-arrested thing wasn't quite as amusing as I thought it might be. When she was talking to that cop it really dawned on me how crazy she would seem to regular people. I guess I've gotten way too used to her.

Luke with April was kind of cute. She's still too much like Rory for my liking, and her trying to set up Luke on dates was just bizarre but overall I was okay with it. Kind of with Lane (speaking of which, where was she this week?), I don't like the storyline but the execution is fine.

On to Christopher and Lorelai. I always felt that they've had substantial chemistry, but now that they're dating it seems weirdly forced. Sookie was totally right about it being alright to have a rebound but that it's stranger when it's with the father of your only child. Are we supposed to be okay with Lorelai getting over Luke so quickly? Are we supposed to be enjoying the progress of their relationship? Are we supposed to be thinking that Christopher's perfect for her because he made a drive-in movie for her? Are we supposed to be happy to see them kissing for way longer than they've ever shown Lorelai with Luke? Or are we just supposed to be really uncomfortable, which I was? I just don't get it.

Project Runway Season 3 finale!

So obviously I have to write about the finale.

First of all, I have to see that seeing the designs walk the runway made a world of difference. After seeing the stills I wasn't quite sure what to think, but everyone's pieces definitely looked a lot better moving (even Michael’s).

Second, the whole Jeffrey controversy. I thought it was a good outcome. I didn't want him to be eliminated but then I didn't want the whole investigation to have come to nothing, so I'm glad that it uncovered his budget problem. Especially since he ended up winning.

Now on to the collections.

Jeffrey: It's true, his collection was definitely the most innovative. And before PR, I'd always equated high fashion with things that weren't exactly wearable. It's really just the ideas from Fashion Week that filter down into what people actually wear. And Jeffrey definitely doesn't make things that regular women would wear. I loved some of his pieces, hated others, but his talent is obvious. Like one of the judges said about his recycling challenge piece, "who thinks of that?" And he doesn't really compare to Santino, who I felt just wanted to be crazy for the sake of being crazy. Jeffrey's designs are very him, even if I don't get them.

Laura: I really appreciate her technical skills and everything did look really expensive and glamorous, but I don't know, I guess I'm just not into evening wear or sparkles or feathers. And that's basically what she presented. I kind of agreed with Nina: she makes great clothes. But is it anything new?

Michael: Oh, Michael. I had a feeling this was going to happen. On his podcast this week Tim said that Michael does best when he has feedback throughout his design process. He probably took Tim's advice most often and benefitted the most by having Tim there every week during the challenges. When left to his own devices, he's still just young and inexperienced. He still has a great future in fashion and I'm super glad he won fan favorite.

Uli: I LOVED her collection. I've stuck up for Uli all throughout this season where others have just accused her of being a one-trick pony. This collection definitely silenced those critics. Every single look was gorgeous. That swimsuit was a KNOCKOUT. But here's the thing: it was really, really wearable. Uli does what she does extraordinarily well, and she's obviously made a big impression on a lot of people, but when it comes to having a new point of view? Jeffrey beats her on that one. She was kind of the Chloe of this season, and she would have won had Jeffrey been more of a Santino...

So Jeffrey wins. I know a lot of people are going to be upset about this, because he was kind of the villain this season. I don't believe he's all evil, but with the way he's been edited and shown on the show, he's definitely hard to like. I'm not even just talking about the Angela's mom thing (I think they were both at fault for that situation), it's just his attitude in general. But I'm alright with it. Not exactly excited, but I think it was the right choice. I wish they had shown us more of the questioning and deliberation, though. It's the finale for goodness sake, give a little more!

This season as a whole? Too many twists and not enough fun. I liked the no-decoy thing but the rest of the twists I could have done without. Go back to the formula and show more of the designers actually working and having fun rather than focusing on the drama!

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Some second takes

Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip - Pilots are tricky. A good pilot can really make a good impression but I feel like it's not always a good indicator of what subsequent episodes will be like. And you know, as much as I loved the pilot of this show, it's been kind of declining since. The comedy sketches they've shown so far have not been funny, and it's messing with my perception of Matt being a briliant writer. I'm thinking they should cut those out entirely because it's just not working for me. I still love Matt and Danny and Harriet and yes, even Jordan, but the show is getting up there with its West-Wing-esque pretentiousness, and I've never really watched too much SNL but is it really that politics/religion focused? The second episode was good, but the third I felt was kind of a chore to watch, and honestly I don't have a lot to say about it, which aren't good signs. I'm keeping with it, but I don't know. The ratings aren't so hot either, so we'll have to wait and see.

Jericho - I have to say I'm surprised that this is as big a hit as it is, I was positive it was going to go the way of Threshhold and Invasion. I mean, don't get me wrong, I'm glad it's doing well, but I'm really not sure why it's doing so well. It has the most intriguing premise of the season and ultimately it's about a small American town, which has wide appeal, but I'm not really in love with the acting or writing yet. Skeet Ulrich just doesn't strike me as being this great hero. Is that the point maybe? I liked Sprague Grayden on Joan of Arcadia, but here she's kind of meh. I don't care at all about Jake's brother's affairs, and some of the acting on the show is just plain awful, like that bratty spoiled teenage girl and that IRS lady. I commented on the use of pop music in my first review, and it's still bothering me. They really need to tone it down. But Gerald McRaney is always good and Hawkins is totally channeling Morgan Freeman (even though he might be evil), and in the end, I guess the plot is what's most interesting and in this day and age a nuclear attack hits closer to home than aliens.

Project Runway - Finale Part 1

It's finally here! I love when Tim goes to visit the designers at home because it gives you a lot more insight into the designers. Surprised and glad to see that Michael owns a house, and his family was so cute! Laura has the biggest New York apartment ever and the thing with her kids and the turtle was a riot. Who knew Uli grew up in East Germany? She seems a bit lonely without any family around though I assume she has tons of fabulous Miami friends. And Jeffrey has a fittingly punk rock girlfriend and an very large, professional workspace.

There have been enough twists this season that they didn't really need another one but I secretly wish that the designers had to do an extra look like last season, only to bring back some of the old designers. Anyway, it was fun seeing them doing the model casting and going to hair and makeup (I'm just a PR junkie that I bought some Tressemme shampoo and conditioner because the whole "Go to the Tressemme hair salon" refrain is embedded in my brain). Then came the drama. I don't know what to think. The preview seems like it could be misleading but honestly I don't know. There was a Today show segment last week and Jeffrey and Laura seemed pretty okay, and when Jeffrey was asked about the controversy, he didn't seem perturbed at all, just said to watch the show. So that probably means he's alright, but then again, even if he's cut out of the running, well, he still showed at Fashion Week! That's still pretty damn good. I don't know what to make of the actual claim, I'm not going to accuse Laura of being a bitch or anything either, I mean, Michael and Uli kind of agreed with her as well.

I'm not sure who I'm rooting for, so I think any outcome would be a surprise to me. I'm looking forward to seeing the collections walk the runway because pictures aren't always enough to really "get" a look...

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Veronica Mars sorority style

So on the night we get a classic Gilmore Girls episode, we get a classic Veronica Mars also! I loved how this episode delved deeper into the rapist mystery but was still mostly fun. And while the whole "rookie reporter writes a scathing story and learns his/her lesson" thing is old hat, I liked VM's take on it because it was just hilarious to have her do the whole sorority rush thing and actually get voted in. Although is it just me or did that room seem to have way more marijuana than to just be used for medicinal purposes? I liked the Wallace and Logan subplot too. For some reason I still think it's great when they have scenes together. I'm glad Wallace figured it out, Veronica has obviously rubbed off on him.

Another fun thing about this episode were all the familiar guest stars! Of course there was Rider Strong, aka Shawn from Boy Meets World, and Samm Levine from Freaks and Geeks. But then there was also Robyn Richards, who played Maxie on General Hospital, Keri Lynn Pratt, who seems to have finally graduated to playing a college rather than high school character despite being close to 30, and I swear I've seen that actress who played Marjorie somewhere else but I can't put my finger on it. Also I'm glad that they aren't pushing Piz down our throats. I do like him, but VM has never been strict about having every character in every episode (except Veronica of course). I thought Parker's portrayal was perfect though, I could totally see how Mac felt sorry for her and wanted her to stay.

I'm really liking the new approach to the mysteries. I still loved the show last year but the bus crash thing was just entirely too complex. I'm glad they're keeping this mystery more in line with "college stuff" and not so much the mob families and the mayor and all that.

The old Gilmore Girls is back...for this week anyway

I'm sure that a lot of you guys probably think that I love to hate this show so much that I can't find anything good to say about it anymore, but I'm going to be honest: I liked this week's episode. Somehow to me it seemed like a return to the old Gilmore Girls.

Friday night dinner and Richard and Emily were finally back, and the cotillion stuff was wonderfully quirky, with Michel and Charlotte and that other little girl that was like a mini version of Lorelai. I even liked Rory this week. I'm glad that she's doing something productive with her summer, and the scene with Paris was classic (the 5 minutes of "friend time" cracked me up). Also liked her scenes with Lane, especially their hanging out in the bookstore because my friends and I always do that. And I like that they addressed Rory and Logan's long distance relationship without making it all sappy. I also continue to enjoy how they're executing Lane's storyline even though I kind of hate the storyline itself. And best of all there was no Taylor or Kirk in this episode! I wasn't even really bothered by the whole Christopher thing at the end. I'm more annoyed by the stupid previews with those stupid Lorelai "has to go with her heart" promos. If it weren't for the stupid previews I think I would be much more okay with the whole situation.

Maybe there's hope for this show after all.

Battlestar Galactica!

It took me a couple of days to process this. First of all, I didn't know that it was going to be a two-hour premiere, that took me by surprise. Second, I think I've sort of moved in to a Buffy-like thinking about this show. Meaning that when I watch the show I don't feel as if I'm watching the result of actors and writers and producers and directors working, it's ALL about the story and where it's going, not about how well it's been executed. This really only happens when the execution is so excellent that I don't have much to critique about it. This doesn't happen very often, but I think it's my indicator of what shows are really superior.

I'd watched the webisodes leading up to the premiere on, and I'm glad that I had. Last season's finale was just a huge shocker, with only 10 minutes in the fast-forward part, and the Cylons only came back in the very last seconds. The webisodes, though not really groundbreaking, helped me get used to everyone's new roles and life on New caprica under Cylon occupation. Also knowing a little more backstory on Jammer and Duck helped. Anyway, things are so different from last season that it's almost a different show altogether, but the characters are holding it together, and everything is just so strangely fitting. Adama and Sharon being friends, Apollo getting fat and lazy, Gaeta still working for Baltar but feeding info to the resistance, Roslin and Tom Zarek joking about the election after being arrested...all the details are seemingly out of nowhere, but it all just WORKED!

The Cylons are keeping me totally fascinated. I love how they have meetings in Baltar's office but basically ignore him except for when they need his signature. Also having multiple copies of each model in meetings is just trippy.

Kara's house arrest is probably one of the most fascinating developments. It's still weird seeing her with long hair and not in her military uniform, but she's still the same old Kara. I totally predicted her having to regularly kill off Leoben. She knows that he's coming to keep coming back, but it just gives her that satisfaction. The daughter thing was totally screwed up and I have to say I was surprised how sentimental she got at the end with Leoben.

On a final note, a lot of people have been drawing parallels to the current situation in Iraq, and they're getting upset over it. I don't know if this show is meant to be political commentary, and maybe I'm just not well enough informed to be able to tell, but I'm sad that people are getting turned away from the show because of it. I'm not one to tell people to lighten up considering I take TV pretty seriously myself, but this is still a science fiction show, and regardless of how good it is, I doubt it has the power to really change anyone's opinions on the war.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Cancellation news already

So NBC has cut back its order of Kidnapped to 13 episodes. It's kind of a shame because I was really enjoying the show, but the creators are going to wrap up the case, so no Reunion-frustration here. Networks should really consider doing more mini-series. All these high concept serialized dramas would do much better with a limited run. Of course Mira and I have been saying this forever and it's not happening.

And the disaster that is Gilmore Girls continues...

This week's episode was a bit better. But you know what I hate? The stupid previews/promos that make it sound like Lorelai and Christopher are meant to be together. I've accepted the fact that they're going to try out the relationship thing this season, but don't ram it down our throats. Ugh.

Anyway, finally we get som fallout from the Luke/Lorelai breakup. At first I was kind of annoyed by Luke's reaction, but it was really just him being angry and well, Luke. I liked the scenes with him and TJ and Liz though. And Liz, of all people, was the voice of reason. As much as I want Luke and Lorelai together, her explanation totally made sense. But I think what she missed was that while they're not in the same plane now, that doesn't mean a wormhole can't open up in the future (i.e. before the series ends). It was pretty heartbreaking to hear Luke tell Lorelai that they just weren't meant to be together, but I kind of understand why he came to that conclusion. As for Lorelai, for someone who talks so damn much, she hasn't been talking nearly enough. I'm glad that Rory got a bit angry at her, because whereas Lorelai's feelings were justifiable, going and immediately sleeping with christopher was just stupid.

What's up with Lane being pregnant? I'm not really liking where they're going with her character. I never liked the whole marriage thing in the first place (although it made for an awesome wedding episode), and I like that they went the unconventional route of having them have a horrible honeymoon with Lane claiming that sex is horrible but it seems almost unfair that now she has to be pregnant on top of that. I found Rory's comforting of Lane to be a little weird though. Well the whole situation is just weird.

Veronica Mars!

I'm so happy this show is back! This first episode was, as Rob Thomas has stated, kind of a re-introduction to the show. Nothing too heavy, nothing really that crucial that new viewers wouldn't understand, but enough for the old fans to appreciate.

First off, Piz. Everyone knows and hates that he's kind of a new love interest for Veronica. But he's just so damn likeable! He's actually funny, unlike Duncan who was only just trying to be funny but not succeeding (in my opinion anyway), and I think I'm really going to like him. I also liked what I saw of Mac's roommate, Parker. Did I say how excited I am that Mac is now a regular on the show? I'm still pretty bummed about Beaver because honestly I still think that they were really really cute despite the whole, you know, murderer thing. Anyway, Parker is annoyingly peppy but I can tell that she's going to grow on me.

Ahhh Veronica and Logan. So good! I know that they're headed for some trouble this season (it's inevitable) but it's good to see them happy. Logan is so hottttt.

Oh, but I HATE the new opening credits.

High school redux on the N - Degrassi and South of Nowhere

I'm so psyched these shows are back. I actually just recently got into South of Nowhere...I watched the entire first season on the N's website for free (totally cool) and I got completely hooked. I hadn't like it the first time I tried watching it because it was almost too extreme for me and absolutely nothing about it reminded me of my own high school days. If you think Degrassi goes there, then South of Nowhere goes way beyond. Degrassi, despite its tackling of heavy subject matter, still manages to give off this afterschool-special vibe. South of Nowhere isn't apologetic about anything. Kids are mean, they do stupid things, they make mistakes and keep making them. It's juicy. And Aidan's hot. Why doesn't he have better options than vile Madison and two lesbian chicks??

Degrassi this season is mixing things up a bit. Half the kids aren't even at Degrassi anymore. Marco and Ellie and Dylan are in college locally, Paige is going away to school, Alex is still hanging around despite graduating. They managed to keep Jimmy, Spinner, and Ashley back a year, and they brought Sean back, but things are definitely a little different. First off, the new opening credits suck. They're weirdly 92010-ish, and I hate what they did to the song. And poor Toby got left out of the credits. Sigh, I guess he'll never be getting a real plotline.

Sean Cameron is back!! I always really liked him, but I'm kind of not okay with him being back for Emma because I can't really stand Emma. Plus I liked Sean and Ellie together a lot more. That's not saying I want them to be together now, but having Sean be all about Emma rings a little false to me.

I also really hate how all the girls on this show are becoming well, slutty. First it was Manny, then Emma, and now Darcy? I'm going to have to hate her now too.

And even more pilot reviews

Friday Night Lights: So I've never seen the movie, I don't like sports movies in general, I don't like football in general, but somehow this one drew me in. Perhaps it's the high school aspect, gotta love the teen shows. But yeah, the Texas high school football culture is totally foreign to me, I grew up in a big city and my high school didn't have its own field. So on the one hand I find it hard to believe that an entire town can get obsessed with a high school team, that news crews follow them around, that even drunk kids would say sappy stuff like "Texas forever," but hey, it's all kind of fascinating in that respect.

But the plot isn't really what was so good about the pilot (it was actually pretty predictable), it was the execution. It seemed almost like a movie, shot documentary style. The music was perfect. The cast, mostly unknowns except for Kyle Chandler who I loved from his Early Edition days, was superb. And man does this show have heart. I mean, I'm getting all cheesy just talking about it! The first half of the show was just kind of a curiosity for me, the first part of the game I lost interest, but as soon as Street, the quarterback, went down, man did things get intense. The total silence when he didn't get up, the quiet backup QB being unexpectedly forced into the game, the eventual win, the praying, everyone anxiously waiting at the hospital, seeing Street, the coach going in and comforting the parents and reaching for Streets hand...I practically felt like I was there.

I'm bumping House off of my DVR list for this! (That'll be switching timeslots at some point anyway I think.) I've read that upcoming episodes will be more relationship driven and won't all be structured around the week leading up to the Friday night game, so hopefully I won't have to be bored by the actual football stuff too much.

Runaway: The only new drama on the CW and it's very, well, WB-ish. And by default, I liked it. It's a little high-concept, obviously a result of the success of shows like 24 and Prison Break and all that, but it's still a family drama with teenagers. The concept worries me a little, though. I mean, how long are they going to be on the run? There's a mystery involved here too, with Donnie Wahlberg's character trying to find out who set him up and who's the real murderer, and I don't want to be waiting forever for that to be solved. But once it is, they're not going to be runaways anymore. Well, unless they come up with something else, which might be a little preposterous. And it's not like this is 24, I wonder if they actually have an interesting solution to the mystery planned out. I always seem to worry about these things when I see pilots. Anyway, the flashback stuff seemed kind of poorly done and the whole guessing passwords thing seemed stupid to me, but other than that, I liked what I saw. Although Leslie Hope with long hair is pretty much unrecognizable. I seriously thought that was some other woman for a little bit there. Dustin Milligan is supposed to be like the next WB...ahem, CW hunk, I think, but eh, I don't think he's anything worth drooling over. Sarah Ramos is super cute as the younger sister, although I wonder if she's going to end up grating on my nerves. I'll probably watch for awhile to see where they're going with this. Although I don't know how many people are watching...might be the CW's first cancellation.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Pilot reviews continued

Heroes - This was the show that I had been most excited about when word of pilots starting leaking out, but it's somewhat mixed reactions from upfronts and Comic Con and TCA press week made me sort of wary. But I really liked last night's premiere. I mean, yeah, a lot of the narration is laughably cheesy, although it helps that it's a voiceover from an actual character who I buy really just talks like that (and who's kinda hot). And the whole concept of the show isn't anything new at all (i.e. X-Men, the 4400). But I'm okay with all of that, because they introduced the characters so well. Masi Oka as the nerdy Japanese guy with the most appropriate name ever (Hiro) was my favorite (as I'm sure is the case with many others). Amidst all the angst, it's nice that they have one "hero" who's just really excited about his newfound powers (which I think are the coolest so far). His babbling and geeky references are incredibly endearing. Milo Venitmiglia as Peter is next. I'm a huge Milo fan (ever since that short-lived sitcom on Fox called Opposite Sex with Allison Mack and that chick from Saved by the Bell: The New Class plus Jess is still my big for Rory's soulmate) and I'm glad he has a new show. They set up the dynamic between him and his brother extremely well, and the twist at the end was AWESOME. Hoping that Peter really does has a power of his own too though. Ali Larter has the most intriging power, which I don't really understand, and Hayden Pannetierre was perfect as the popular cheerleader who's basically indestructible. Not sure about the painter dude but we'll see where that goes. And more characters are yet to be introduced (Greg Grunberg in a non J.J. Abrams show for once, and Leonard Roberts, who was Forrest on Buffy). I'm excited.

Brothers & Sisters - I didn't really enjoy this. There are a ton of really great actors in the cast (including a couple of Alias alums, my favorite guy from Reunion, Rachel Griffiths, and of course Calista Flockhart) but I don't know, I guess there just wasn't enough concept to hook me. I mean, I've watched my share of family dramas, but I think it was more because they were also teen shows. Now that I'm out of college you would think that this might be a logical next step, a family drama with all adult children. But somehow I just couldn't get into it. Maybe it's because even though I'm definitely not a teen anymore, but I still don't really feel like an adult yet. It was interesting that they made Kitty an active right-wing conservative, and made a big deal out of it. I guess it's supposed to drum up all sorts of drama, but all the political talk doesn't interest me either. There was some good acting, I guess, and the pilot set up quite a few storylines but I don't know, I guess I'm just not in the target audience for this show.

Ugly Betty - Ever since Gilmore Girls went off the deep end, I've been lacking a "happy show." You know, that show that's fun and a little ridiculous and just makes you happy. I think Ugly Betty might be it. Everything was really predictable and over the top and campy but that's what made it so fun. America Ferrara was adorable, Eric Mabius was hot (and a Jamie Bamber look-alike), and Vanessa Williams and Gina Gershon were hilarious. Also LOVED the fake telenovela with Salma Hayek. I know that this is going to be compared to the Devil Wears Prada, but it has a very different feel, and Betty is much more convincing as a misfit in the fashion world that Anne Hathaway could ever be. Also Daniel isn't anything like Miranda, it looks like he'll be trusting and leaning on Betty quite a bit, despite the disastrous situations she'll inevitably find herself in. Really promising. The only problem is that it conflicts with both the Office and Survivor (which I've found myself hooked on again). What to do??

Project Runway Episode 11

Okay, it's official, this season of PR is just INSANE. I still love the show, but all the twists and breaking convention just isn't sitting well with me. I do understand why they decided to let all four designers compete during Fashion Week, but come on people, sometimes you just have to choose! Although I guess they don't HAVE to do anything and that's the point. Bah.

Anyway, I would like to take this opportunity to stick up for Uli. She's been getting a lot of flack from the judges and the media and even viewers because nearly all of her designs have similar elements: the patterns, the colors, the floor-length skirts, the halter tops, etc. But those are the things she does well and she knows it. So it's completely fitting that she won this challenge, because it was all about representing who they were as designers. They weren't supposed to do something completely different. Jeffrey did and the judges were confused. Despite that I did kind of like his dress. And it kind of was a preview to the collection he made for Fashion Week. What I don't understand is why he decided to whip out this "I'm a romantic" thing at the very last minute. As for Laura, she's also very sure of who she is as a designer, but I didn't see ANYTHING new in her dress, whereas Uli did mix it up, albeit just a little.

And then we come to Michael. Oh, Michael Knight. If they really did kick someone off, I'm sorry but it probably should have been Michael. The problem is that I don't think that Michael really knows who he is yet at all. He's done amazingly when given specific constraints for the challenges, but leave it open and he doesn't know what to do. Remember his audition? He brought in clothes that he had made in response to last season's challenges, and the reason the judges were hesitant was that he wasn't representing himself at all. I think he's just too young. The talent and skills are there, I just think he needs to mature a bit more.

I'm not sure who I think should win it all. It seems that the judges are looking for someone who combines a strong, fresh point of view with the right amount of versatility and I don't know who really represents that. Michael is definitely versatile, but he hasn't presented a cohesive point of view. Jeffrey has the freshest ideas, but sometimes he goes a little too far. Laura has a strong point of view but it's not really all that fresh. Uli also has a strong point of view but her versatility is in question. So who wins? Guess we just have to "watch what happens"...

The reunion next week looks juicy.

The return of the Gilmore Girls

You knew it was coming.

I've been watching this show since I was in high school. Isn't that a little scary? That means that I've known these characters for longer than most of the people I currently know in real life. Due to this fact, it seems that no matter how horrible the show gets, I can't get myself to drop it. At this point I'm just too invested in these characters. And honestly, if the writers know what's good for them they'll end the series with Luke and Lorelai together and if I have to suffer through massive amounts of dreck to get there, I'm going to do it dammit.

Last season my main gripe was Rory. I hated her like no other, which is a shame because back in the Chilton days I probably would have counted her among my favorite characters on TV. She was okay in the premiere, but she didn't do anything to really redeem herself either, which at this point I think is impossible anyway. But this season I think my hatred is probably going to transfer over to Luke or Lorelai or Christopher or maybe all of them. They're obviously going to really explore the possibility of a Lorelai/Christopher relationship, which I find to just be stupid. Honestly I've never really had that much of a problem with Christopher because I figured he was never really a serious threat. But watching them be in a relationship is just going to suck, period. And what is Luke going to do while this is going on? Not be sympathetic I'm sure. Sigh. Anyway, Lorelai really bugged in this episode, and I hated all the stupid prattle and the raquetball crap they did to avoid talking about the real issue at hand. I know it's very in line with her character but it was frustrating anyway. I don't really have a lot to say about the rest of the episode. I did love that Paris is opening up an SAT tutoring business though. That's classic.

A lot of people were worried about this season because there's a new executive producer and the creators of the show are longer working on it. Personally, I didn't really feel a difference. I think that people who did are probably just thinking about it too hard.

Pet peeve: Rory has some pretty unproductive summers. I didn't know anyone in college who didn't plan out their summers with internships to pad their resumes or just jobs to make money. Whatever happened to her internship at that Stamford paper anyway?

Friday, September 22, 2006

More new shows

Man do I watch a lot of TV or what? In my defense, most of my regular shows have not premiered yet and well, the DVR is a miracle machine...

Men in Trees - The best way to describe this show is Sex and the city in Alaska. A lot of people have also compared it to Northern Exposure and EVerwood because of it's small mountain town feel, but I've never watched Northern Exposure and it's definitely not a family show like Everwood was. What it is is a show about a relationship coach/writer, Marin Frist, learning about men (and doing voiceovers a la Carrie Bradshaw) in a town in Alaska when men outnumber women ten to one. It's kind of a cute premise but it all hinges heavily on the likeability of the main character, who's played by Anne Heche. I liked her, but I can see how others could find her annoying. I liked the supporting players though: a crazy fan who decides to move to Alaska when Marin does, Marin's super efficient editor, the owner of the local bar, the owner of the only plane in and out of town, and the fish-and-wildlife guy that Marin will obviously be hooking up with. I'm glad that there's another romantic comedy type show on the air again, but honestly I just wish that Miss Match had stuck around.

Jericho - I thought this show had the most intriguing premise of the season (yes even more intriguing that Heroes). A small town in Kansas sees a nuclear mushroom cloud appear on the horizon to the west and is suddenly cut off completely from the rest of the outside world. They soon learn (from an interrupted answering machine message) that there was a similar incident in Atlanta, to the east, and they're left wondering if they could be the only people left in America. Intriguing, right? I found the pilot to be a bit odd though. First of all, they used a lot of pop music on the show, like the Killers and Snow Patrol. I think this is okay in most circumstances, but for some reason I prefer my serious sci-fi dramas to be dramatic underscore only. Second, they introduced a ton of characters and none of them seemed too fleshed out. I mean, I know that character development takes time but I didn't "get" even one of the characters, especially not the supposed lead of the show, played by Skeet Ulrich. I think it'll take a couple of episodes before I can make a real judgment.

Kidnapped - I didn't watched Vanished but it premiered early and hasn't gotten all that much buzz so I assume I'm not really missing anything. I did check out this one though, and I liked it. I thought the pilot did a really excellent job setting everything up and I like mystery shows. From what I've read, I believe that the plan is to solve this case this season and have another kidnapping case next year if the show is renewed. I think this is smart, but that would really only work if Knapp and/or King are enough to carry the show (a la Jack Bauer). The pilot didn't really set them up to be the main characters, but we'll see. Hopefully this won't be cancelled before the mystery is solved though (like Reunion which yes, I am still a little bitter about).

Smith - I hate heist movies. I find the idea of them to just be really irritating because we're supposed to be like rooting for these people to pull off these great heists when they're really just CRIMINALS! So why did I decide to watch this show? Because the cast includes Simon Baker (who's hot), Jonny Lee Miller (who I have an inexplicable crush on), Virginia Madsen, and Amy Smart. Interestingly the only one I'm not all that familiar with is Ray Liotta, who's the lead. But I was bored. So I didn't even finish watching it.

Six Degrees - I know I said that I wasn't going to watch this show because J.J. Abrams has burned me too many times (Felicity, Alias, Lost) but I couldn't help myself. My DVR makes it waaaay too easy to watch anything and everything on TV. Anyway, I watched it and I was pretty unimpressed. Usually J.J. Abrams shows start off great and then spiral into messes of too many loose ends but this one was just kind of...uninteresting. The cast is really great, I liked Hope Davis and Bridget Moynahan, and Jay Hernandez is totally totally hot. Erika Christensen bugs though, and her "secret box" thing is so Meghan from Felicity. But the only storyline I cared at all about was the photographer dude. And once the whole six degrees thing works out, won't it just end up being a show about six people who all know each other? Wasn't ever going to put this on my schedule and watching the pilot just confirmed that. I do love an opportunity to bash JJ Abrams though.