Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Season Wrap-ups Part 1

I haven't been able to watch any TV except on weekends for the past couple of months so I also haven't really been able to post timely reviews of too much. Season finales totally crept up on me, I can't believe it's almost the end of May already! Anyway, here are some of my season thoughts on the series that have ended so far. Much much more to come!

How I Met Your Mother: I really loved the premise of this show but quickly found out that it wasn't really going to factor in very much and it was really just another comedy about twenty-somethings in New York. It's definitely not the next Friends, but for me, that's kind of a good thing because I was never a big fan of Friends. The biggest thing How I Met Your Mother has going for it is definitely Barney. Neil Patrick Harris has somehow made Barney this incredibly big tool who still manages to be loveable and hilarious. The episode where we found out about his past and how he became who he is now was totally awesome. I'm also a big fan of Lily and Marshall. After watching Alyson Hannigan be Willow for 7 seasons on Buffy, I'm surprised by how fast I shook that off, which is really a huge credit to her acting ability. That said, the season ended on a pretty depressing note, especially for a half-hour comedy. I thought the lead up to the breakup was pretty realistic though (Lily's high school/college flashback was so awesome, I love how they met!) unlike the contrived nonsense that is Ted and Robin and basically anything involving Ted. I'm glad it picked up for another season, but seriously, when can we stop pretending to care about Ted and Robin and find out who "the Mother" is?

Gilmore Girls: An aggravating end to an aggravating season. The only good things about this season have been...uh, Jess, and Lane and Zack's wedding. I've always been a Jess fan, despite his moments of being a huge jerk, and somehow I still really feel like Jess was the only boyfriend that really made sense for Rory. Maybe it's just because of their great chemistry because they're a couple in real life, I don't know. But his appearances were both really well-placed and exactly what Rory needed. As for Lane and Zack, I thought their getting married was pretty dumb in general but the wedding episode was hilarious. I loved the way that Mrs. Kim hides from her mother the same way that Lane hides from Mrs. Kim. As for the rest, i.e. Luke/Lorelai and almost everything with Rory, it sucked. Not sure how next season is going to go, but I really wish I could stop caring so much.

America's Next Top Model: I'm still a little bewildered by the craziness that was Jade. She was just so ridiculously arrogant and her claiming that she really wasn't just made it worse. Ugh. It was a bit irritating that she made it so close to the end, but honestly she was better than some of the other girls and there was no way that she was going to win, so it's alright. Glad that Danielle and Joanie were the final two and I really would have been happy with either of them winning. Man, how did I get hooked on this show?

Top Chef: Go Harold! From the beginning he was one of my picks to win (my other was Lee Anne, who really got kicked off too early) and I'm glad he did. It was a strange finale though, because he was obviously the overwhelming favorite. Tiffani, though a really great cook and risk-taker and innovator, just wasn't likeable. Had her opponent not been as capable as Harold, she might have had a chance, but in the end, it went down the right way. I really enjoyed this show, though it wasn't quite as good as Project Runway because we, the audience, couldn't really judge the food firsthand, because obviously we couldn't taste it. Plus the host, Katie Lee Joel, was pretty horrendous, and I wish the chefs also had a mentor figure akin to Tim Gunn on PR. Regardless, I will be tuning in to the second season, and Harold, I'll be coming to your restaurant in NY!

Scrubs: Started out the season a little TOO wacky but then things evened out and just became wonderful. The entire cast has been in top form this season, especially Donald Faison and Sarah Chalke, who have really grown into their characters. I love how this show mixes the light and absurd with real heartfelt honesty. Not sure where the JD pregnancy thing is going to go, but we'll have to wait quite awhile to find out since it won't be back until midseason.

Friday, May 19, 2006

the OC has balls

Man, I have to say that I'm kind of impressed by the season finale of the OC. This season has been pretty crappy in general, bogged down by all the dumb and boring Sandy and the Newport Group stuff and Johnny and then Volchok, but geez, the writers made a gutsy move. I mean, I've always kind of hated Marissa and I wasn't alone in that feeling. People were always joking about killing her off but nobody really seriously thought it would actually happen. Man, I'm still kind of shocked. I mean, sending her off on a boat for a year is one thing, but killing her? Wow.

And everything with next season is kind of up in the air. I can't say I'm a huge OC fan anymore, but it's just become this show that I watch and don't think is particularly great but then don't really get worked up over. So I'll be tuning in next season. It's going up against Grey's Anatomy, which'll probably kill it because they have similar audiences and I'm pretty sure that most people without Tivos or DVRs will be opting for Grey's over the OC. Actually every network has a heavy hitter in that timeslot, with CSI and Supernatural and the new drama Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip...

CW and FOX Upfronts

Not much to say about the CW schedule really, except for the fact that stupid 7th Heaven killed Everwood, sigh. Although the Everwood writers were super smart and prepared two endings to the season: one if they got picked up and one if they didn't. So hopefully all the right couples will end up together and I can be happy! But overall the schedule is pretty strong, taking only the best from both networks. Thank goodness for Veronica Mars! And I'm sure Mira's happy about One Tree Hill. Matt Roush makes a good point in his blog though, most of these shows have been around a while so they're going to have to come up with some new stuff and really forge a new identity. Still really sad that the WB is gone forever though.

I don't really have too much to say about FOX either. Nothing really stands out for me, but FOX shows are kind of like that. I'll probably get sucked in once I see some of the previews. Standoff is a possibility, since Gina Torres is awesome and I've always liked Ron Livingston. And I'm going to try and watch Bones more regularly since it's in a better timeslot this season.

CBS upfronts

So while CBS has the been the ratings giant lately, I'm kind of uninterested in its programming in general because I'm just not that into crime shows. It's strange how a decade or so ago, CBS was this kind of family-oriented-Touched-By-An-Angel network and now it's really just all about CSI...

The only things I really care about: How I Met Your Mother and Numb3rs (one of the only crime shows I enjoy) were renewed.

As for the new stuff, as opposed to ABC's 12 new shows this fall, CBS has only announced 4, none of which really caught my attention.

Smith and Shark both have great casts and seem to be pretty much in the same vein of all of CBS shows right now: solid performers but not anything to really talk about. Jericho sounds like they're trying to do something new but I bet it'll go out the same way that Threshold did. I'll probably check out The Class but it sounds a bit odd because well, who really cares about the people they knew in the third grade?

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

ABC Upfront

I'm not entirely sure how ABC's fall schedule has room for six new hour-long dramas and six new half-hour this how it always is? Don't only a handful of new shows avoid cancellation in the first season anyway?

My thoughts:

Apparently the big news is Grey's Anatomy moving to Thursday. I could really care less, since I don't watch the show (because I HATE Meredith), but yeah, that's the big news.

Six Degrees: Another J.J. Abrams show, avoid like the plague! I'm sorry, I know that's he like the hottest ticket in Hollywood right now but I swore to myself that I would never get involved in another one of his shows. His pattern has been proved: his shows start out brilliant and innovative in their first seasons but then things start to slowly sprial out of control. He gets overambitious, makes things way too complicated, throws in too many cliffhangers, messes with the audience's heads, but makes it impossible for them to stop watching. Why do you think I've stuck it out with 5 frickin' seasons of RAMBALDI??? Anyway, if all goes according to pattern, this show will receive loads of critical acclaim and everyone will be gushing over it, but just you wait, things will implode. Or you know, it could just suck like What About Brian.

Betty the Ugly: America Ferrara was great in The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants and in Real Women Have Curves, so I'll be tuning into this one. Sounds like fun, but it's a one hour comedy on Friday night, which kind of sounds like a recipe for failure. Miss Match anyone?

The Nine: Kim Raver is listed in the cast for this, so this doesn't bode well for Jack-and-Audrey-TRUE-LOVE on 24...also in the cast is Scott Wolf, so if Everwood gets renewed does this mean Andy and Nina can finally get together?

Big Day: I'm a fan of Marla Sokoloff, so I'll probably check this one out also, though it might end up being a Reunion-type dud because it has a season-long gimmick.

Eagerly looking forward to previews and reviews come fall!

Monday, May 15, 2006

DVD roundup

Some movies I've watched on DVD (not so) recently:

Brokeback Mountain: I think the reason I didn't enjoy this movie as much as I thought I might was because it was just hyped up too much. Yes, it was a very beautiful movie, with amazing mountain backdrops. Yes, the acting was superb, even though I had to rewind and re-listen to half of Heath Ledger's lines because I was having trouble understanding him. And yes, the story was pretty touching. But I don't know, in the end, for me, it was just very good but not particularly great. Oh, and I couldn't get over how horrible Anne Hathaway's hairdos/wigs were. I guess that was the era, but man.

Proof: Another movie with Jake Gyllenhaal. Have I mentioned that I really like Jake Gyllenhaal? The funny thing about this movie is that when I saw the previews for it, I assumed that Jake Gyllenhaal was playing kind of a younger man to Gwyneth Paltrow, maybe because he's played that role in a couple of other movies already, and well, he is younger. But in the movie, he's only supposed to be a year younger than Gwyneth Paltrow's character. Anyway, I really liked this movie. The background music was wonderful, and it really helped set the mood of the film: complex but flowing, skipping from past to present and back without warning but coming together nicely in the end (kind of like math itself, ooh). All the acting was really excellent, and it wasn't pretentious at all (like other math movies A Beautiful Mind and Good Will Hunting, in my opinion).

Hustle & Flow: Really really good. Terrence Howard's awesome in this, really awesome, and the whole movie is just very heartfelt and engaging and surprisingly easy to relate to, despite the fact that it's about a pimp trying to make it as a rapper. I also enjoyed the music, even though I'm no fan of hip hop in general. These kinds of movies always seem to surprise me. I mean, I also really liked 8 Mile, haha. Definitely worth seeing.

Wedding Crashers: I kind of hated this movie. I'm generally a fan of Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson and Will Ferrell and Ben Stiller and the kinds of movies that they make, but this one just didn't do it for me. I liked the guys and Rachel McAdams and all that, but it just wasn't kooky enough or something. I got bored about halfway through and really had to force myself to watch the whole thing, especially since it was kind of obvious how things were going to end up.

NBC upfront

Upfront week has begun! Cross your fingers for Veronica Mars! (And Everwood, though I suppose I'd be more okay with that one not coming back.)

NBC presented today. My random thoughts:

- Scrubs is coming back midseason, yay! (Really don't understand why they can't just put it on their damn schedule, but since it's always on the verge on cancellation, this is good news.)

- Heroes sounds pretty awesome. Milo Ventimiglia and Greg Grunberg!! Best of all, it's not a J.J. Abrams show, haha.

- Am I the only person that thinks it's funny that Friday Night Lights is going to be airing on Tuesdays?

- Why are there two shows about late-night TV shows with numbers in their titles?(Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip and 30 Rock.) Also, the title 30 Rock just makes me think of 3rd Rock from the Sun...

- Good move with the no-repeats run of ER though I really don't care. More shows need to do this!

- The Office!! Nothing new here, I knew it was coming back, I'm just excited anyway.

Friday, May 12, 2006

I can now die happy (resurrection of the Friday Top 5)

So earlier today I watched the season finale of Gilmore Girls, which was horribly aggravating and annoying and just plain awful. And I was feeling kind of depressed. Luckily, next up to watch on my DVR was the Office.

AND OH MY GOD WAS THAT AN AWESOME EPISODE. Pam and Jim! The confession! The tears! The phone call! THE KISS!!!!!!!

And what made it even better was that it was just a HUGE HUGE surprise. I was literally gasping by the end. All you stupid dramas out there, you seriously just got trumped by a half hour comedy.

So in the spirit of my ecstatic glee, here is my list of Top 5 Favorite TV First Kisses:

1. Pam and Jim!!!!!!! No words, man. No words.
2. Joan and Adam on Joan of Arcadia. It was just so ridiculously cute and sweet and perfect, especially with the background music. The rest of their relationship was kind of eh, but man was that pefect.
3. Veronica and Logan on Veronica Mars. Hot hot hot.
4. Xander and Cordelia on Buffy. One of the funniest scenes ever!
5. Mulder and Scully on the X-files. Took long enough but I hadn't expected them to show one at all so I loved it.

A really close 6th: Max and Liz on Roswell.

So happy right now! Man I'm almost afraid to watch anything else now for fear of ruining it!

FINALLY off the air.

OMG. I have no idea what compelled me to turn to this show and watch, but perhaps it was for the nostalgia of having watched a few episodes on and off during the last 10 years. Perhaps it was out of completely dumb curiosity of wondering how all of the Camden kids turned out. Whatever, but I watched the series finale of Seventh Heaven. O. M. G.

All I need to say is the show ends with Matt announcing him and his wife having a set of twins -- boys. Then Lucy announcing her and her hubby having a set of twins -- boys. Then Carlos (Mary's fiance?) announcing him and Mary having a set of twins -- girls.

Thank goodness for the creation of CW. Let's get shows like this to stop production of more episodes!

But... more importantly -- is Veronica Mars coming back for a third season??

Saturday, May 06, 2006

dvr's, changing the way america watches tv...

So the way in which one watches TV can actually be analyzed across cultures -- did you know that?

In Korea, the majority of TV shows are "miniseries" that last for any number of episodes between 16 through 24. These "miniseries" are aired twice a week, ie. Monday-Tuesday, Wednesday-Thursday dramas, Weekend dramas, and for 2 to 3 months. They conclude with the final episode and are very rarely revisited.

In the US, most Americans have "TV nights," being the nights of the week when their favorite shows tend to air. And these are the only nights they make a concerted effort to watch TV. Whether you are a Must-See-TV Thursday, Monday Night Football, Lost-Alias Wednesday, American Idol Tuesday-Wednesday... You have your TV show night. And guess what happens? You tend to watch everything else that is on TV that night, too. That's why pairing up loser shows with awesome shows works so well for networks. (I mean c'mon, would you REALLY still be watching Will & Grace if it weren't for My Name is Earl and The Office?) That is also why the rare 30-minute sitcom that is INCREDIBLE but left to fend for itself in a crappy timeslot fails. (ie. Arrested Development and Kitchen Confidential) People need that 1+ hour pull to make time on those nights. Sit down for a quickie 30 minute show? Pshaw. If you sit down, you're sitting down for 2 hours minimum. And since sitting in front of the TV for one show = multiple hours of shows, Americans must limit themselves by watching TV on certain key nights only.

Of course, for the "privileged" few (you know, the ones who actually have jobs and make money and can afford luxuries like the following), DVR's and TiVO's are changing the way we watch TV. We can just let our little machines do all the work for us, and whenever we feel like making time, sit down and catch up on a whole lot of episodes at once. Skip all the commercials, not be tortured by cliffhangers, it's wonderful -- no? Yes... and no. Yes, for everything already mentioned. No, because I am now NEVER caught up with all my TV shows. But I've made a dent in it... So here are some long overdue observations thanks to DVR (and some thanks to mininova as well)...
** Spoiler Alert: If YOU are not caught up on your DVR shows, continue to read with caution **

Stephen was FINALLY kicked off of Top Chef, making the last few episodes bearable to watch. Except I'm fully flabbergasted at how Lee Anne's dish was judged inferior to Tiffani's... Whatever, I'm rooting for Harold to the end!

I went into watching Bedford Diaries wanting to hate it and hoping it'd be really dumb... But I actually really like it. Not even in a Dawson's Creek / Laguna Beach / Summerland "I'm ashamed to admit to liking this, but it's a guilty pleasure" kind of way. But I really feel like the show has created many interesting characters and complex The WB-style relationships, and that the show presents themes in each episode that are very relevant to how the storylines develop.

I am 3 months behind in The OC with no desire to catch up. But ::sigh:: there are rumors of a Marissa kill-off, so that may definitely make it worth catching up on. We'll see... Also 3 months behind in Desperate Housewives but ehh, don't care so much.

8th and Ocean -- how is this a show that completely escaped my radar? I haven't yet watched an episode, but I am eager to get started on it. By the makers of Laguna Beach? 10 beautiful people living in one house? "Real life" drama? I'm there!

Alias, talked about it earlier, just as unexcited about it now. Just glad it's the countdown to the last few episodes EVER.

West Wing and 24 -- the only two shows I'm keeping up with real-time. And oddly enough, shows I never watched until this season. I'm really sad that this is the final season of West Wing but I like how they're ending the show with the end of the Bartlett Administration. I'm also super happy that Santos offered Vinick Secretary of State. SUPER happy about that. And Chloe seriously rocks. As does Audrey -- could she be Jack's OTL?

All other shows, just not worth talking about. This entry is long enough anyway...