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.