Wednesday, December 24, 2008

My favorites from 2008

Was aiming for 5 in each category but it didn't exactly work out...

TV (scripted):
1. Gossip Girl
2. 30 Rock
3. Battlestar Galactica
4. Mad Men
5. Gavin & Stacey
6. Greek
7. Skins
8. The Big Bang Theory
9. Cranford
10. Kyle XY

TV (reality):
1. So You Think You Can Dance
2. Top Chef
3. The Amazing Race
4. Project Runway
5. Olympic gymnastics and swimming!

Songs (released in 2008)
1. Frightened Rabbit - The Modern Leper
2. TV on the Radio - DLZ
3. MGMT - Time to Pretend
4. The Veronicas - Untouched
5. M83 - Graveyard Girl

Bands I started liking this year (somewhat late):
1. Sigur Ros
2. Mogwai
3. Kings of Leon

Books I read:
1. I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith
2. Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri
3. The Complete Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi
4. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

1. Slumdog Millionaire
2. The Dark Knight
3. Wall-E

Thursday, December 04, 2008

There are way too many conveniently rich guys on TV

Something I've been noticing for years: there are way too many convenient wealthy nice guys on TV that the supposedly "average" girls get to date and get ridiculous perks and such from. But of course, the money isn't why they fall in love with them, it's just, like...convenient! Hmph, as if I were only so lucky. Some examples:

1. Will on Privileged. He gets pastrami and a chestnut guy flown into Florida from New York City and installs a massive Christmas tree on the lawn.
2. Bobby on My Boys. He upgrades PJ to first class on the flight to Italy, and his family has a villa there. A villa!
3. Junior on Wildfire. Kris from juvie ends up marrying the richest guy in the horse world. Of course.
4. Logan on Gilmore Girls. Don't even get me started on the whole Life and Death Brigade and how he gets the perfect gown for Rory because "he has an eye for sizes."
5. Ty on 90210. Not that he was really a nice guy, but our little Kansas Annie gets flown up to San Francisco practically the first week she's in California. I mean, come on!

Oh, and this isn't TV, but Edward from Twilight? Sure, the story's epic true love or whatever, but let's not forget this one detail: the Cullens are LOADED.

Monday, November 24, 2008

The Amazing Race: who knew marching was "musically and art-based"?

Even if you don't watch the Amazing Race, you must watch this video clip. This team, Dan and Andrew, are frat boys from Arizona who have been the most incredibly dumb and blundering and joyless team ever but yet they've managed to squeak out not last week after week. This week they once against survived thanks to it being a non-elimination leg but they had the hardest time with a seemingly easy task with HILARIOUS results. I could not stop laughing. And apparently, neither could the normally stoic Russian soldiers!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Oh, what's occuring?

A rundown of my TV and pop-culture consuming as of late.

!. The title of this post is a reference to the really great British romantic comedy sitcom, Gavin and Stacey, now airing on BBC America. I feel kind of bad that I haven't gotten around to blogging about it until now, but it's not my blogs have some great influence over the TV viewers of the world anyway. I really do love this show though! It's the story of a young couple (yes, named Gavin and Stacey) as they meet, fall in love, get engaged and get married. The best part of the show is really the supporting players, though, including Nessa, Stacey's best friend, whose catchphrase is "what's occurring?" There's also Smithy, Gavin's best friend, Gavin's parents, and Stacey's mom and uncle, all of whom are hilarious in their own way. There have been two seasons and the second is airing right now. Not sure if there'll be a third, though I believe a Christmas special will be airing in the UK soon!

2. The word is that ABC has canceled Pushing Daisies, Eli Stone, and Dirty Sexy Money. It's not entirely surprising...Pushing Daisies was a little too quirky for me so it was definitely too much for network TV, and Eli Stone and Dirty Sexy Money never really caught steam. I am glad that the writers' strike enabled all of them to get another half-season, but I'm definitely disappointed that they probably won't get to wrap up much storyline. It's pretty terrible that three generally critically acclaimed shows like these get axed while things like Knight Rider, Kath & Kim, and 90210 are going to keep going...

3. Speaking of 90210, I'm still watching it despite how really terrible it is. The writing is just so...BAD. The storylines have all been predictable, dialogue is horrendous, and the acting isn't much better. Annie is not interesting or likable enough to be the lead, and the original flavor characters like Kelly and Brenda aren't being given anything good to do either. And yet I keep watching...

4. There is a good show on the CW on Tuesday nights though: Privileged. I'm not sure how it's doing in the ratings, but I think additional scripts were ordered so hopefully it'll stick around for a little while. The show centers around Megan, a recent Yale graduate who returns home to South Florida to become the live-in tutor to twins Rose and Sage, who are the granddaughters of Laurel, a wealthy cosmetic mogul. Megan is played wonderfully by Joanna Garcia...she's smart and optimistic and a little dorky, but she's not perfect. She has strained relationships with her father and sister, and is sometimes too wrapped up in her own life to realize what's going on with her friends. I do love the twins too -- Rose is played by Lucy Hale, who I found annoying in Bionic Woman and the second Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants but I find really sweet here, and Sage, who's the taller, bitchier twin has really been growing on me. Michael Cassidy finally gets to play the good guy as Megan's best friend from childhood, Charlie, and there's Marco, the house chef, who's hilarious as the gay BFF type.

5. I've fallen behind with Terminator, Heroes, and Fringe, for different reasons. I do like Terminator, but it's sometimes just a little too like angsty and serious and I'm not that interested in whatever Ellison and Catherine Weaver are doing. Heroes just sucks and I doubt I'll ever get back into it, but I haven't quite cut the cord yet. And Fringe...the gore every week has turned me off a bit and the "Pattern" thing worries me because it seems to have the potential to spiral off into some Rambaldi type thing. (Yes, I will always begrudge J.J. Abrams for screwing up Alias.)

6. My favorite shows this season so far: Gossip Girl, Top Chef, 30 Rock, and the Amazing Race.

7. Shows I'm looking forward to in 2009: Battlestar Galactica (final season), Scrubs, Kyle XY, and Joss Whedon's Dollhouse (though it's been doomed to a Friday night timeslot). Oh, and 24, too, I guess, though I didn't finish watching the last season and I'm a little miffed over the idea of Tony returning from the dead to be a bad guy. Can't they leave well enough alone?

8. I feel like I should comment on all the hoopla surrounding the Twilight movie. I originally wanted to see it but after reading some reviews and some audience reactions I think I'm going to pass and wait to see it on DVD. It's weird, I totally admit to have been sucked in by the books, but I really have a lot of problems with the series and I find it kind of bizarre that so many people are so ga-ga over it. (See my original reviews of Twilight/New Moon and Breaking Dawn. Also this article on Salon says a lot of what I was trying to.) But I'm sure it's going to make a killing at the box office anyway.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Top Chef in the big city

So wow, Stylista went down the tubes incredibly fast. There's really no one tolerable left in the competition, and honestly, I can't believe how catty everyone is. I've watched a ton of reality shows but I can't remember one where all the contestants were constantly sitting around openly attacking each other and saying why everyone else basically sucks. Perhaps this is what happens when all the contestants are in their twenties and think they're smarter than everyone else?

Anyway, thankfully the creme de la creme of reality competition shows, Top Chef, is back. And this time they're finally in New York, my hometown!

Eliminating someone right off the bat in the Quickfire was a surprise but they did get to actually cook something and the bottom two made SALADS. Yes, it's 20 minutes, but have they not watched the show? Salads do not win challenges! It's funny how the weakest emerge right away though. Lauren's salad was especially lame--what, greens with bacon and balsamic? What skill or creativity did that require? And no surprise, Patrick gets himself eliminated later in the episode. It's interesting to note that these two were the youngest cheftestants, 21 and 24. I wonder why Patrick especially was cast...they keep saying that the caliber of the chefs has only been increasing but then they pick a culinary student? Oh, well, they're gone.

I'm glad that they brought back the head-to-head format from last year for the elimination challenge. Sixteen people is a lot to introduce in an hour and I still don't remember a lot of names but the format helps. I was looking at the results from last season and the winners of the matchups were pretty telling -- Stephanie, Richard, Lisa, Antonia, and Dale were all winners. This time, the winners were Stefan, Eugene, Leah, Hosea, Jamie, Jeff, and Daniel. Stefan's obviously distinguished himself as a frontrunner, winning both challenges. He's irritatingly overconfident but at least seems to have the talent the back it up. Eugene's my early favorite, he's scrappy and worked his way up from being a dishwasher, and I thought it was really smart how he tasted some prepared food at the market to try and recreate since he wasn't familiar with the cuisine. Leah rebounded nicely from the Quickfire, though she did get lucky and was assigned her own cuisine. Hosea seemed to impress Tom and he had some nice plating, and Jamie successfully pulled off the ever-popular deconstruction trick.

I love that the show has enough credibility to attract people like Jean Georges to be guest judges (his sniffing the dishes kind of cracked me up). I'm expecting a lot of big names this season since so many live in New York. And exploring all the different ethnic neighborhoods was fun, though I was unaware that Jamaica is actually a hub of Jamaican food, and where's Little India? I thought Italian, Latin, and Chinese were a little obvious but amazingly a lot of the chefs had trouble with those...

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Stylista: predictably addicting

We all know that I'm pretty much powerless when it comes to reality TV shows, so it's no surprise that I was kind of looking forward to Stylista. It's from the producers of America's Next Top Model and seems to be an attempt to cash in on the popularity of The Devil Wears Prada...though I guess it's been kind of a long time since then. The show is a competition to become an associate editor for Elle magazine and features Anne Slowey, as the Miranda Priestley-type personality of the magazine. She was previously the guest judge on the Sasha Cohen figure skating costume episode of Project Runway season 2, in which she kept saying things were "vulgar" but I didn't really get the impression she was all that icy or bitchy. And in the premiere episode it definitely felt like she was trying pretty hard to act that way. I'm not even sure what her title is at she that important?

Anyway, the contestants are expectedly an interesting bunch. Of note were Megan, the entitled and stuck up mean girl; Kate, Megan's victim who earns the nickname "Boobs" and cries; William, skinny boy with a British accent that might be a little fake; Danielle, who's not model-thin like the rest of the girls; and Ashlie, who won the first challenge and actually seems smart.

The first challenge was kind of ridiculous involved putting together a breakfast for Anne Slowey. But it was really just whether or not they knew what Anne Slowey likes to eat, which, according to this food diary she did for New York magazine once, is basically vitamins, lattes, green tea, water, and the occasional bite of actual food. None of them appeared to have read that article.

The second challenge was shopping for work-appropriate outfits and putting together a contributors page. This was a bit more interesting, especially the part where Joe Zee, Elle's creative director, critiques their personal style. I was kind of appalled at what a terrible job most of the teams did with their pages did not follow directions at all and another had a seriously terrible layout. I'm not entirely sure what the responsibilities of an editor are though, so hopefully they'll get more into that in the coming weeks.

Oh, and the winner gets a year-long fashion allowance from H&M. Does that strike anyone else as being a

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

How I Met Your Mother...eventually

So I guess it's official: Stella's not the mother.

I can't say I'm that surprised...I thought this season was definitely being written to point towards her not being the one. I mean, I'm not sure if it was intentional, or more just a result of Sarah Chalke's availability, but her absence in a lot of the episodes felt significant. Yeah, she had a child and lived in New Jersey, but I imagine Ted's eventual wife to be more someone who fits in with his gang and hangs out with them at MacLaren's. While I really liked Sarah Chalke and thought Ted and Stella were good together in a way, it just didn't feel completely right.

What I was surprised at though, was how it ended. I mean, I figured they wouldn't actually end up getting married randomly in the middle of the season, but I never expected that Stella would be the one to realize she was still in love with her ex and all but leave Ted at the altar. I did kind of love Robin's speech to Ted was what should have gone in her intervention letter. And while not all of it was true (I don't see why Ted gaining a stepdaughter and moving to New Jersey would be "not him"), he was definitely rushing into it all. I don't think it necessarily meant that Robin was still in love with him though. I don't want to go down that road again, especially not with the Barney-Robin situation still developing.

You know, some people have been saying that at this point they don't necessarily care about when or even if we'll actually meet the mother. And while I kind of see their point that the show has become so much more than that, I do still want to meet the mother. And I don't want it to just be like a glimpse in the last episode. Admittedly Ted is often the least interesting character on the show, but I want to see the process in which he figures out that she's the one, whoever she is. I know that it's hard to plan these things in the American TV world of not knowing when the series is going to end but honestly, I don't know how much longer I want to wait! And it's not like once they introduce the mother the show will be over. Lily and Marshall were together from the very beginning and they still had story to tell.

I do wonder where things are going to go from here now though...I imagine Ted will be out of the dating game for a little while at least, so perhaps we'll get some more progress on the Barney-Robin front!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Greek still rocks

I really should post on Greek more because it's definitely been one of my favorite shows this season so far. It's just really come into its own, with well-developed characters and really sharp, funny writing, and plenty of current pop culture references that make these kids actually seem normal. Casey and Ashleigh using code names from the Hills kind of cracked me up this week, especially since LC herself will apparently be appearing as herself in the finale.

One thing that I'm kind of not so happy about though, is how Evan and Frannie have turned into the terrible twosome of evil. They really do bring out the worst in eachother and it's not exactly unbelievable but given what we know they've been like in the past, it's maybe a little sad. I think Evan's behavior lately is somewhat organic...he's realizing that because of who he is, he can basically do what he wants and get other people to do what he wants too. I kind of wish we'd see Evan go back to the genuinely good guy we saw in the freshman year flashback episode though. I'm not entirely sure what part, if any, Casey has to do with this though. I think Casey would be good for Evan, but I don't think the reverse is necessarily true.

As for Frannie...I guess we needed a villain in the house now that Rebecca is somewhat reformed/disgraced, but I'm not always clear on her motives. Obviously we've seen her be a bitch before, but I mean, was she only nice to Casey to get back into the house? Or was she that angry that Casey didn't want to be friends with her after she started dating Evan? I think I'd like to Evan dump her ass and she how she gets along with Evan encouraging her.

I do have to say that I'm glad Ashleigh won the presidency though. Not that Casey didn't deserve it, but what Rebecca said was right--she didn't run a very good campaign--and this is much more interesting and will save us from another year of Casey or Frannie undermining whoever did win. We all know what's going to happen first Casey's going to be trying too hard to "help" Ashleigh but I think in the end they'll work it out. Hopefully they won't have Ashleigh totally suck and have to step down or something because I think her character deserves to have something go right for her too. I am interested to see how Rebecca's going to fit into all this, though.

On the fraternity side, I kind of feel like the boys have been more comic relief from all the girl drama going on. I do still wonder about Cappie and Casey, though. They just seem to have such a natural chemistry together. Although I did like Cappie and Rebecca when they were together. And I do like Casey and Max's nice to see Casey date outside the Greek circle and Max's awkwardness is pretty hilarious. I was glad to see Jen K. return this week to bring some closure to Rusty, and I'm also liking Calvin's arc too. I'm not sure if he's going to regret breaking up with Michael though.

I just realized one of the things I like so much about this show is that the relationships are not cut and dry and all. A lot of shows kind of make it obvious which couples we're supposed to be rooting for but not on Greek...I'm as undecided as the characters!

Gossip Girl: Blair vs. Serena

I was glad that Blair and Serena made up at the end of this week's episode, if only to see the end of Queen S. Their rivalry is totally believable and it's never really going to be over but I found bitchy Serena to just be pretty unbearable, and it seems that no matter what happens, I'm always going to be Team Blair.

I'm not saying that her actions were at all condonable--and she generally ends up making things worse for herself along the way--but I get her. She says and does all those mean things to Serena because of her insecurities, and the reality of the situation that Serena does breeze through life getting things handed to her that she didn't even know she wanted. But Serena? She showed up at Yale purely to spite Blair, knowing full well that she wouldn't even have to try that hard to throw Blair off her game, at the school that's been her lifelong dream. I mean, while Blair bringing up Pete was pretty low, it's not like Serena even cared about Yale in the first place! And in the end, it was still Blair that ended up looking bad and Serena getting offered early admission. I'm glad that the show hasn't shied away from the fact that this is just how it is, and it's not just in Blair's head. I think they'll pretty much always have this between them, but it shouldn't stop them from being friends. The people you know the best are the ones you can hurt the most I guess?

This episode brought back some memories of when I was visiting colleges...I totally remember some kids getting out of limos at the admissions office when I visited Princeton. Were they Upper East Siders? Haha. I definitely did not have one-on-one interviews with deans though, and why the heck does Dan need all those recommendations? You don't have to declare a major on your application, and I doubt getting into the undergrad English department is that difficult.

I did think it was somewhat fitting that Dan and Nate are finally becoming friends because they're so similarly dumb and judgmental. Yet again Nate fails to recognize that Chuck was just trying to help him out. And did anyone else think that those Skull & Bones guys just tying Dan to a statue in his boxers was kind of...tame? I thought they would have something way worse planned.

In other news, Jenny is suddenly the most talented young fashion designer ever and gets to quit school. WTF? And doesn't home-schooling mean that Rufus has to spend so many hours with her every day anyway? And aren't there like limits to the number of hours she can work since she's underage? I'm glad that Rufus brought up the Professional Children's School at least, though in real life I think afterschool or weekend programs at FIT or Parsons or something should suffice...

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Not very good new shows

In a way I'm kind of glad I didn't really like these DVR is busy enough as it is.

Eleventh Hour: I actually really like Rufus Sewell (from various movies, but mostly Dark City), but unfortunately this show is kind of terrible. It's yet another procedural but with more of a scientific, though not necessarily supernatural, bent. It seems there are only 2 regulars--Sewell as Dr. Jacob Hood, a biophysicist consultant with the FBI, and Marley Shelton as Rachel Young, his partner/bodyguard. I didn't find her very convincing. And the show's odd little attempts are humor are really just groan-inducing. As are some of the Hood's random explanations of scientific things. I mean, bar codes on milk cartons? Tweezers and grapes? Yeah. The X-files or even Fringe this is not.

Interestingly I think I watched a few episodes of the British version this is based off of. Patrick Stewart was the scientist and Ashley Jensen (from the British Office and Extras and Christina on Ugly Betty) was the agent. I remember thinking it was quite good, but I mean, it was Patrick Stewart. He's good in pretty much everything.

My Own Worst Enemy: Another show with an actor I really like. This time, it's Christian Slater, who I kind of love on the basis of Heathers alone really, even though that was almost 20 years ago. But sadly, he's not that good here. He's kind of playing two characters, a Jekyll and Hyde thing, but I didn't think there was enough of a difference between Edward and Henry. Christian Slater can't really help being...Christian Slater.

And the premise of the show wasn't explained very well. Edward is an international spy working for some organization and he volunteers to have a second, more average guy personality, Henry, created in his brain that doesn't know anything about him. Henry has a wife and two kids and travels for work, during which time Edward "wakes up" and takes over to perform his missions. Um, what exactly is the advantage of all this? Then things in his brain have gotten messed up, Henry finds out about Edward, and the two personalities are now switching off unpredictably. Chaos ensues, right? I guess it could be kind of Alias-ish, but I just thought it was pretty dumb and implausible.

The Mentalist: Kind of the same thing as Psych, which I watched a few episodes of but never really got into. Except here, Simon Baker is the master of observation who used to pretend to be a psychic but now is just working with the police whereas on Psych James Roday is the master of observation pretending to be a psychic to work with the police. But both are just procedural investigation shows which I've never been a fan of. Skip.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Catching up with...

Ugly Betty: Sometime last season I started to kind of dislike Betty. I mean, her optimism and such has always been a little annoying, but with the Henry-Gio love triangle thing, I started to just not care as much about her. I realize she's the protagonist and we're supposed to be rooting for her, but honestly I find her love life to just be uninteresting and maybe a little unrealistic. Yeah, she's spunky and good-hearted and all that but I think the three episodes of this season so far has been the longest we've seen her without a boyfriend. And they've already set up her new neighbor a potential new love interest. Geez! I'd like to see Betty do a little more with her career...all her attempts to move along with becoming a writer just get trumped by all the other stuff going on, like the flip-flopping of power at Mode. I'm glad things are more or less back to status quo with Daniel as editor and Wilhemina as creative director. We do need more Marc and Amanda though. Overall, it's still entertaining but I'm not quite so much in love with it like I have been in the past.

Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles: This show gets like no buzz whatsoever which makes me fear for its survival. I thought the first two episodes this season were kind of boring, but then things started to get a lot more interesting. The episode with Charley's wife getting kidnapped was really gripping (and I kind of that Dean Winters), and then the one with Cameron recalling memories of the girl that she was modeled after was an interesting departure. Summer Glau did pretty well differentiating the machine Cameron from the actual human Allison and Cameron thinking that she was Allison. (And Leah Pipes from Life is Wild was in the episode! That girl needs to be in more stuff, I really like her.) And then this past week's episode with more of Derek's future with Kyle and John was really well done also.

I'm not sure why Sarah seems to be stuck in these more boring B-stories lately though. Spending time in the hospital with the pregnant neighbor (played by Busy Phillipps from Dawson's Creek, who actually was pregnant). Helping a little kid with a book report? I think Lena Headey is one of the more convincing female action heroes on TV of late so I guess I kind of like her kicking butt and not just sitting around. This show is like a total career-changer for Brian Austin Green though...he's GOOD. Who woulda thunk, right?

Brothers and Sisters: I'm still kind of annoyed that they de-Walkered Rebecca last season only to reveal that there's ANOTHER potential Walker out there. And I'm still having a little trouble with the Justin-Rebecca relationship. It's still a little creepy to me. And like, what do those two, um, DO? Is Justin still recovering? Does Rebecca have a job? Go to school? Does no one care? I'm glad that Kevin and Scotty are happy together and they seem to be laying off that relationship drama for awhile. And I'm also glad that Robert's no longer running for president. But the all-out family fights every week are getting a little old...

Bones: Sometime last season I started to really love this show. But then they kind of ruined it with Zack turning out to be a murderer. And then they continued to ruin it by randomly breaking up Angela and Hodgins for reasons I still don't really understand. But I guess the show is still essentially the same...Booth and Brennan are still entertaining, the different interns every week in Zack's spot are amusing, and the cases continue to be wacky and creative.

The Office: Jim and Pam are engaged!! I love that this show has managed to keep this couple really cute and natural and TOGETHER without adding unnecessary drama. I'm not so much a fan of the bizarre Andy-Angela-Dwight situation. I just...don't get it. And I kind of hate that Ryan is back as the receptionist. The direction they went with his character was funny, and we all know Michael still has a man crush on him, but giving him a reboot seems unnecessary. Michael and Holly are fun though, and it's funny seeing Michael try to take the Jim approach and become friends with her first. I thought the weight-loss episode was a bit dumb, but did like the ethics one a lot better.

Life on Mars

I watched a couple of episodes of the original British version of this show and while I thought it was actually pretty fun and trippy, when it turned into more of just a regular cop show I sort of lost interest and didn't keep up. I expect the same to happen with this new American version...I thought the pilot was actually quite good. I liked the cast and it was fun seeing 70s New York (and like the 60s of Mad Men, the fashion is really entertaining, though definitely more ridiculous than glamorous). But when it comes down to it, I'm just not a fan of cop shows.

And I'm also kind of concerned about how they're going to resolve the time-traveling aspect. Like in the original, Sam Tyler is a present-day cop who randomly gets dropped into kind of a parallel life in 1973. He's still a detective, and the first case he investigates has a connection to the case he'd been working in the future. The British version apparently only had 2 short seasons--a total of 16 episodes, and there was a definite ending. Most British and other international TV shows seem to understand that some series are meant to have a limited run, but things in the US don't really work like that. Shows with premises that kind of demand a resolution tend to generally go one of two ways: 1) it's successful but then ends up going on too long and gets bad, or 2) it gets cancelled prematurely and we don't ever find out what happens. I really, really, dislike this. So, what will the fate of Life on Mars?

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

The Ex List

I'm terribly behind with reviews of new shows this season. There are fewer than normal because of the writers' strike from earlier this year and honestly I haven't been that taken with too many of them...

The Ex List stars Elizabeth Reaser, who it seems a lot of people disliked when she was on Grey's Anatomy. I don't watch Grey's, so I didn't have that issue and I found both her and her character, Bella, to be likable enough. The show itself is kind of cute as well...the premise is that Bella, a single woman in her early 30s, goes to see a psychic who tells that she has to marry within a year or she never will, and the guy she'll marry is one of her exes. So she goes on this sort of My Name is Earl-High Fidelity type quest to find this guy, and they've made it clear that there's going to be a lot of them. I do kind of wonder what they're going to do about the ones who have moved far away though. And what about the ones that area already married or in relationships? Can she just rule them out automatically? And is the ex that she's sharing custody of the dog he a series regular? If so, wouldn't it be easiest for him to be "the one"?

The premiere was alright, with Eric Balfour as the first ex (I go back and forth between liking and not liking him), but Bella also has a group of friends that I don't think were introduced very well. I don't remember all of their names, and which ones actually live in the house with her? I also kind of find their life situations to be a bit odd. One of them seems to be looking for a job but what do the rest of them do? And I guess this is California, but they all seem to spend an inordinate amount of time sunbathing, and not at the beach, but in the kiddie pool in the yard? And why do Bella and the other women all still dress like they're still in high school? It's all a little weird to me...

So I liked it, but maybe not enough to follow it regularly. It is a nice light option for Friday nights though.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Pushing Daisies: A possibly unpopular opinion

In a way, I really really want to love this show. It's from Bryan Fuller who, thanks to Dead Like Me and especially Wonderfalls, I'm a huge fan of. I mean, it's quirky and different and has a ship to root for in Ned/Chuck. It's smartly written and well acted by a really great cast, and it can be really funny and sweet. And I mean, I do like it. But something is holding me back from really loving it. And I think it's the cuteness factor.

Now I'm not against cute. And I know that on this show, it's all intentional, that this candy-colored world of pies and honey and mermaids and silly alliterative names is supposed to be fanciful and over the top. And I know that it's supposed to be balanced by the fact that it's essentially a murder mystery show. But I find the full effect of it to not just be cute, but aggressively cute.

I think this manifests itself the most in the mystery-of-the-week component. I just can't seem to stand all the perky babbling people involved with the mysteries each week. They sort of remind of precocious children, which is bizarre because they're all adults. And I guess it doesn't help that I don't find the mysteries all that engaging and I think they all get solved somewhat predictably.

This is kind of unfortunate because I really do like most of the main cast. I think Emerson Cod is hilarious, I like the aunts, I like Digby (and Pigby!) and even Olive has grown on me (though the Sound of Music stuff in the season premiere was way too much for me). Oddly enough, Ned and Chuck are the ones that I'm the least sure about. Their not being able to touch strikes me as sad and almost annoying instead of romantic, and individually, while Ned is adorable and awkward he's just too fragile and damaged for me to be like swooning over him, and while Chuck is likable enough, I too often see her through Emerson's eyes: a perky busybody.

So I don't know, it's definitely worth watching and is a pleasant enough way to spend an hour, but I'm not in love with it the way I thought I might be...

Thursday, October 02, 2008

less presidential debating, more vp debating!

My favorite quotes from Palin this evening. :)

"Diplomacy is hard work by serious people."

"But I'm being as straight up with Americans as I can..."

"How long have I been at this, like five weeks? So there hasn't been a whole lot that I've promised..."

"Of course we know what a vice president does."

"But I'm so encouraged to know that we both love Israel, and I think that is a good thing to get to agree on, Senator Biden. I respect your position on that."

"McCain... he knows what evil is."

"Can I call you Joe?"

"Say it ain't so, Joe! There you go again!"

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Heroes: still here, still mopey

Last season, Heroes had such a bad sophomore slump that its creator Tim Kring felt the need to apologize for it and I was even wondering why I liked the show in the first place. I don't remember where the show left off (which was a pretty time ago with the writers' strike and all) but I have to report that this season's premiere was definitely better than last year's. But that's kind of not really saying much. It still has a lot of the same problems but at least stuff happened. Let's break it down:

The possibly interesting:
- Mama Petrelli in charge of the Company. She's one of the few characters left that I actually find compelling. Her being Sylar's real mother is kind of lame though.
- The escaped "villains." I do also still like HRG, so seeing him deal with them could be fun.
- The new "speedster" girl. She got a much better introduction than last year's newbies and I think it'll be fun seeing her kind of compete with Hiro.

The questionable:
- I do still like Nathan too and I guess I'm glad he's not dead but the religious stuff was just strange.
- Why is Niki suddenly someone else? For some reason the writers/producers seem to want to keep Ali Larter but it seems like they don't know what exactly to do with her.
- Hiro and Ando. I'm glad they're still around to provide comic relief amid all the angst angst angst but Hiro was being stupid this episode and I don't know if I like the idea of Ando getting a power.

The totally lame:
- Peter, in general. I totally laughed when Mama Petrelli told him "You're not as smart as you think you are," because it's true. Peter is just so stupid. Everything he does is stupid. That's really all.
- Mohinder, also in general. Injecting himself with the serem and gaining a power -- all very 4400 (which I'm still kind of bitter about being canceled). And course it's more than he bargains for. What is he, becoming a bug? Can we also cut out the terrible voiceovers? And um, do we really have to endure a Maya-Mohinder romance? UGH.
- Matt randomly in Africa. Is this really necessary? At least he's not some other time period a la the failure that was Hiro in feudal Japan. Oh, and where did Molly shipped off to?
- All the different visions of the future. It's just too easy and too hard at the same time when they KNOW the world's going to end. AGAIN.

Just can't bring myself to care:
- Elle.
- Claire.
- Sylar.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Still loving Gossip Girl

You know, I just wanted to mention how much I'm enjoying Gossip Girl this year. I'm so glad that Serena and Dan appear to be done for awhile...for some reason the show was kind of treating them like the one real romance of the show but I was never really that into it. Especially because Dan has just been sucking more and more. I'm not sure what I think about this new development with Serena suddenly morphing into Queen S. I always had the impression that Serena, back before she went to boarding school, was more the "it" girl that everyone wanted to be friends with not necessarily because she was mean but because everything came easy to her. Blair's the one who's had to manipulate and intimidate to gain her position. It'll be fun to see Blair and Serena battle it out for a little bit the books Blair was always feeling like she was in Serena's shadow. Hopefully it won't last TOO long though...I'm a fan of their friendship.

I am really glad that Marcus and Catherine are off the show though. I figured that it was inevitable but I totally didn't expect the way it happened. Creepy love polygon indeed. Last week I was a little disappointed at how Blair didn't seem to have any qualms about scheming against Nate for her own benefit but this week she kind of redeemed herself in getting the Duchess to pay off Nate's family's debts. But of course Vanessa had to go screw it up! Sigh. I felt kind of bad for both of them though...Vanessa for kind of just not knowing any better in general and Blair for always having such terrible boyfriends.

Speaking of terrible boyfriends, I also totally didn't see it coming that Chuck manufactured the whole Amanda situation in order to dethrone Blair and make her come back to him. In fact it was maybe a little too clever for him to get it all working. But it definitely worked like a charm and made Dan seem like more an ass than ever. It's funny, looking back at the pilot, who would have thought that I'd despise Dan and love Chuck? I mean, Chuck is still pretty reprehensible but he's just so damn entertaining. I think like Veronica and Logan, it'll be much more fun seeing Chuck and Blair keep sparring than actually be a couple.

Other thoughts: is Jenny going to change schools like she did in the books? I doubt she'll be leaving the show and I find her much more bearable now that she's not always social-climbing. How in the world did she get picked as a "project" last year though? If they had those files they would have known she was from Brooklyn and brough no perks along with her. Also, I've been wondering for awhile now how the heck Nelly Yuki went from being sabotaged to being part of the clique but maybe she's supposed to be like the brains of the group? It seemed she was the one in charge of all the files. And what is the deal with Penelope and Is and the other girls? (And where the heck was Hazel?) It almost seems like they're the ones controlling the school by picking their leader. That last scene with Serena asserting her new position over Blair was just bizarre. Leighton Meester continues to have the greatest facial expressions though. Her look of confusion/disbelief as Serena ties her scarf around her neck was so perfect.

Oh and check OUT those lockers. Geez, no ugly metal for Upper East Siders!

Friday, September 12, 2008

New fall shows: Fringe and True Blood

Fringe: I know I've said that I refuse to get sucked into another J.J. Abrams show, but apparently there's something that trumps my hate for J.J. Abrams -- my love for Pacey. Yes, Joshua Jackson is back on TV and I cannot resist. To be fair, Abrams has gone on record saying that he realizes how convoluted Alias and Lost got and that he's going to try to make Fringe a little more accessible, so maybe I'll give him the benefit of the doubt. A few things in the premiere had me a little worried though, not least of which was "the Pattern" which sounds suspiciously like it could devolve into a terrible Rambaldi-Dharma type conspiracy thing.

But beyond that, it remains to be seen whether the X-files-ish procedural aspect is going to work well. The lead girl, Olivia, played by Anna Torv, is a little bland but isn't as terrible as say, Jamie from Bionic Woman. But John Noble, as mad scientist (literally) Walter Bishop, and Joshua Jackson as Peter, his snarky genius son, are really great. Their dynamic was a lot of fun to watch. The beginning of the premiere was surpremely gross though...and as a non-horror-movie-fan, I hope there isn't going to be too much of that kind of stuff. Tentatively added to my schedule.

True Blood: I don't know why vampires are suddenly making a comeback, but this seemed like it was going to be one of the more interesting entries in the genre. Based on a series of novels, the title of the series refers to a synthetic blood beverage that's allowing vampires to come out into the public. The show takes place in Louisiana, which adds another unique element to the series (seems like all TV these days is about rich people in New York or California), although for some reason, the leads are played by a Kiwi (Anna Paquin), a Brit (Stephen Moyer), and an Aussie (Ryan Kwanten). (I'm not from the South so I can't comment on their accents.) A very blond and perky Anna Paquin plays Sookie, a local waitress who falls for Bill, a vampire returned to his hometown. The pilot sets up a murder that'll likely be an ongoing plotline, but other than that I can't say where the storyline's going to go.

I normally get into this kind of stuff but somehow I wasn't really hooked. Maybe it's because of the Twilight books (see my previous post) but I think I'm a little weary of this vampire true love stuff. I'm not sure Sookie and Bill's connection was that believable. And of course Sookie has a human admirer too, her boss Sam. Sookie does have some amusing coworkers and friends that could keep things fun, but I don't know. Unless buzz gets better I think I'm going to be shelving this one.

Project Runway - It's Already Fashion Week?

Amazingly I haven't posted about this season of Project Runway yet. Somehow it just felt extremely slow getting started and I wasn't really wowed by many of the earlier challenges or designs. It wasn't until Episode 6 (the drag queen challenge) that things really started to pick up and I was starting to pick out favorites.

I'm not sure what's up with the timing of this season though...we started off the week with half of the designers and on Wednesday night were only down to six but the Fashion Week show at Bryant Park was today. So all 6 collections were shown. I believe there are still two regular elimination shows left, so I guess that means there are 4 finalists this year, and 2 decoys? I find the decoy thing to be kind of annoying. They get eliminated but still get to do collections for Fashion Week and at the time of the show no one knows that they're not in the running to win, so it's pretty much the same as being a finalist, right?

Anyway, even though the winner won't be revealed for another MONTH, you can go look at the collections online. Also I read that the guest judge had to drop out at the last second and Tim Gunn filled in! Yay, Tim! I don't want to speculate too much but I had some definite likes and dislikes. Based on the challenges so far only, here's my rundown:

Leanne: Possibly my favorite and my current pick to win. I think she took a little while to kind of get into her groove, but she's made some of my favorite looks from this season. She does some really interesting things with shape and pieced looks while still remaining elegant and refined. Her car dress ROCKED and I totally loved the skirt she did for the NYC challenge. And her Diane von Furstenberg dress was just gorgeous. I also like that she's not really a reality-TV personality. While I did love Christian from last season, it's nice to see normal people succeed once in awhile.

Korto: She caught my attention much earlier than everyone else. She's really thoughtful and smart about her designs and she's been amazingly consistent. Again, not so much wild and crazy like we've seen from past winners Jay and Jeffrey and Christian, but really new and interesting things that women would actually want to wear. The seat belt coat was gorgeous (though I read that it was incredibly heavy!)

Kenley: Cannot stand her personality. I thought she was kind of cute during the first episode, but then I started to get more and more irked. Laughing at Daniel on the runway was just plain rude (especially since she claimed to be his friend) and she seems to be getting more and more defensive as the weeks go on. She can't take criticism and she can't stop interrupting the judges. Unfortunately, her designs have actually been alright. I'm not that big a fan...I didn't like the bubble dress thing that she won the NYC challenge with, and her look for this past week's challenge was terrible. I was kind of hoping she would get kicked off this week just so I wouldn't have to see her interview segments anymore...ok, yes I'm mean.

Jerell: This guy confuses me. He seems to put together these looks that don't seem like they'll make any sense and sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. He's flip-flopped from the top to the bottom a couple of times and I can never tell when he's going to do well. I was kind of surprised by his win this week...I liked his outfit but I'm not entirely sure what it had to do with Sagittarius?

Suede: At least he's kind of weaned himself off referring to himself in the third person all the time but I don't really get his style point of view yet. He's been riding safely in the middle for most of the season, which might be a bad thing.

Joe: Honestly I don't think he really belongs at the top. He's not terrible but he has this sort of sportswear thing going that's not that new or interesting but has served him well in a couple of challenges. Sometimes I feel like he's just a little too literal with the challenge descriptions though.

Was kind of surprised to see Terri out this week. Her attitude has getting on my nerves these past couple of weeks and the other designers have been calling her out for always doing the same pants, but she was never in the bottom before this week and she was good at what she did.

Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer

I actually really liked the first two books in this series, Twilight and New Moon. I mean, they weren't like masterpieces of literature or anything, but I thought Stephenie Meyer created a really interesting world and I was extremely curious as to how she was going to resolve everything. But then with the third book, Eclipse, I started to get a little weary, and I was really glad to hear that the fourth book, Breaking Dawn was going to be the last.I didn't want to buy the book but I was dying to know what happened, so I read spoilers. And I was pretty shocked by how terrible it all sounded. I wasn't expecting much when I finally got around to reading it myself, but maybe because of that, it wasn't really as bad as the spoilers made it sound.

But here's my main problem with the Twilight books: I can't stand Bella.

I get that Meyer wanted Bella to be the ordinary girl that gets caught up in the extraordinary. But Bella's not just ordinary--she's BORING. I mean, what do we know about her? She doesn't like clothes or girly things, she's too klutzy to be athletic or into sports, she's not particularly good at school, she voluntarily left a life with her mother in Tucson and doesn't appear to miss anyone or anything from there, and she decides to become a vampire without much thought to her actual family and things that she might miss out on as a result of it. She really seems to have no interests in life except for Edward (and occasionally Jacob), and girls whose lives revolve around their boyfriends? Annoying. And girls who are annoying who get everything they want in the end? BEYOND IRRITATING.

Another problem I have is with Bella's narrative "voice." I guess this is kind of a problem with Meyer's writing, but I find Bella's descriptions of everything to be really...boring. The flowery language, the random details, the constant just doesn't keep my attention. And the section after Bella first turned should have been interesting, but instead I was just impatient for something else to happen. The part where Bella and Edward go out to test her abilities and hunt was just excruciating. Actually I kind of hated the whole first section of the book with the wedding and the honeymoon. Actually, I find any parts where it's just Bella and Edward and no one else to be pretty unbearable...

Which brings me to my last problem: I don't get why Bella and Edward are so obsessed with each other. I kind of think it's a good thing they have Renesmee now because I kind of wondered what the heck they were going to talk about for FOREVER. It seems like ever since Edward revealed he was a vampire all they've ever talked about is Bella becoming one. Now that she finally is, what is it about their personalities that make them a good couple?

So after all that complaining, why did I not think Breaking Dawn was all that bad? I think it was Jacob's section that saved it. I really like Jacob. Sure, he's stupid at times, and his obsession with Bella is yet another annoyance, but to me his character was just so much more fully developed, and I found the whole werewolf side of the story to be a lot more interesting. I liked how Jacob came around to deciding that he needed to protect Bella and the Cullens. I liked that Seth and Leah came to join his pack. I liked how we got to find out a little bit more about Leah and I liked her explanation of how she related to Rosalie. (I'm going to fanwank a happy ending for her too because, heck, everyone else got one.) And I even liked how Jacob and Edward came to be kind of friends. All throughout the series I was pretty neutral on Edward--I didn't like or dislike him particularly--but around Jacob he seemed much more real, and I could actually see what an honorable guy he really was.

So I guess you could say that I was on Team Jacob...sort of. Because I didn't really want Jacob and Bella together either. Jacob would always be second best and he didn't deserve that. The solution with him imprinting on Renesmee is maybe too convenient and definitely weird, but I guess it's the best Meyer could do without Bella having to lose anything. It reminds me a little bit of how I felt with the whole Jo-Laurie situation in Little Women. While I still groan whenever I think about Jo refusing Laurie's proposal, in the end I was ok with them not ending up together. But Laurie with Amy? I was so not ok with that for the longest time. The thing that changed my mind was this little TV show called Little Men from awhile back (based on the sequels to Little Women). I don't know if it was the casting or what but you could really see that Laurie and Amy were a good couple, and Jo and Laurie got to keep that great best friend relationship without any weirdness at all. So maybe I can be ok with this too, though who knows what Renesmee's going to be like as an adult. For some reason I imagine Dakota Fanning-like precociousness, which...ugh. Let's not think about that.

But you know, in general, for a vampire/werewolf/love saga, there's a pretty noticeable lack of loss and tragedy. No one important dies, and Bella gets everything she wants. She has Edward, she has Jacob, she has a daughter, she has immortality, she has a power, she even has Charlie (though for how long, who knows). And the lead-up to it all was SO anti-climactic. They got all those random assorted vampires to come from all over the world and there was no fight at all. All that time Bella spent learning how to fight and use her power and preparing to send off Jacob and Renesmee to South America and then...NOTHING. Since the very first book I've thought the Volturi were just lame and this only confirmed it. LAME.

Speaking of lame, Renesmee Carlie Cullen? I didn't think any fictional baby name could be worse than Albus Severus Potter but evidently I was wrong.

You know, after reading New Moon, I started to get worried about how the series could be resolved, and I came up with my own ending. It involved Edward getting killed, Bella eventually getting on with her life, finding out that Jacob imprinted on someone random, and then years later glimpsing the Cullens at some mall or something and meeting eyes with Rosalie. Okay, maybe that's a little melodramatic and just as cliched, and of course all the obsessed Bella-Edward fans out there would not have had it so, whatever. I'm just glad the series is over. I wonder why I get so into books and TV and things that I don't even really like that much...

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Skins on BBCAmerica

You know, I actually almost gave up on Skins after the first episode. It's a British TV show now airing on BBC America (confession: BBCA is actually one of the reasons I upgraded my cable package) about a group of teenagers living in Bristol, England. The ringleader of the group is Tony (played by Nicholas Hoult, that kid from About a Boy!?), who's popular and manipulative and used to getting his own way. He's actually kind of a...mean girl?

The first episode is pretty much just all about the things he cares about: sex, drugs, partying, and getting people to do whatever he wants. All with British accents and slang half of which I couldn't really understand (BBC America actually subtitles some of the dialogue to help us Americans out). The episode ends with the whole gang somehow stealing a car and driving it in into a harbor and...not getting in trouble for it. (Well, except for the part where a crapload of drugs that wasn't paid for ends up lost in the water too.) I can't say I actually know what British teenagers are like but I was a nerd in high school and I just felt like it was all kind of too much.

But I decided to stick it out for another episode, and I'm really glad I did. The show does have some ongoing plotlines but each episode focuses on just one or two of the characters, and the tone of the show kind of changes to fit. The second episode is about Cassie, who's sweet and kind of spacey (she seems to begin every other sentence with "Oh wow") and who's just returned from a stint of treatment for an eating disorder. The episode has sort of a dreamy, indie film feel to it, and the ending was actually kind of moving. Cassie also has a crush on Sid, the endearingly hapless sidekick to Tony who's in love with Michelle, Tony's girlfriend and is oblivious to Cassie's feelings. She's my favorite so far and I can see Sid and Cassie being the couple to root for.

The third episode is Jal's. She's very straightforward and smart and is a hugely talented clarinetist, but struggles to get respect from her rap artist father and wannabe brothers. They do love her though, as the boys end up in the hospital going after the drug dealers that smash her clarinet and her father replaces said worth-thousands clarinet just in time for a national music competition. Jal's probably got the best head on her shoulders out of everyone and isn't afraid to call people out for dumb behavior (which there's kind of a lot of) but she can also be really supportive of her friends, as seen in the fourth episode, featuring Chris, the group's sort of class clown and party animal.

I've heard Skins described as being similar to Gossip Girl but I don't know that that's a really accurate statement. Gossip Girl is so much about New York and the world that they live in--the gossip and scandal and money and fashion. Skins, on the other hand, is definitely not glamorous. These teens are all kind of screwed up in their own ways and find themselves in really crazy, messy situations (sometimes literally--these kids can trash houses like nobody's business), but somehow their lives seem a little closer to average. So while it's a very different show from Gossip Girl, I think people could really enjoy both. Check it out on BBC America on Sundays (it also reruns throughout the week).

Word of warning though--along with the drugs and alcohol and language, there's kind of a lot of nudity, the likes of which we never get on American shows. I'd heard that Europeans were more relaxed about these things but I'm pretty surprised at what they can get away with...

Here's a video trailer:

Lots more at

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

90210 = South of Nowhere?

When I first read about the premise for the new 90210, the first thing I thought was, this sounds like South of Nowhere (a somewhat lesser known little show on the N that started back in 2005 and will be ending this year). And last night's premiere made the similarities even more obvious! I mean, let's see, family with teenage children moves to California from the Midwest (Kansas on 90210, Ohio on South of Nowhere). Annie is the sweet and innocent daughter, like Spencer, and Dixon is kind of a combination of Clay and Clay he's the black kid adopted into a white family and like Glen he's the athlete whose talent rivals that of the star jock of their new school, Ethan/Aidan, who has a connection with Annie/Spencer, even though he's already dating Naomi/Madison, who's the richest, bitchiest girl in school. And then there's Silver/Ashley, the kind of indie alterna-chick who befriends Annie/Spencer. Of course South of Nowhere ended up going in a very different and kind of refreshing direction while 90210 seems to be on the predictable route for now.

I hadn't expected much from this show, because honestly the early seasons of the original were kind of terrible too. And we didn't really get much. It didn't have the punch that shows like the OC and Gossip Girl had from the very beginning and they tried to cram way too much into the first two episodes. So far I like Silver (which isn't a surprise since I really liked Jessica Stroup on Reaper) and Dixon and Navid seem ok. Naomi looks way too old to be a teenager and Ethan so far is incredibly boring (which is a shame because I kind of liked Dustin Milligan in the two minutes I saw of him on that failed show Runaway from a few years back). And Annie...I was never a fan of Shenae Grimes as Darcy on Degrassi and I'm finding her to be similarly grating here. I wonder if they're going to have her character bring out the claws like we saw with Darcy. I also kind of wonder what's up with that drama chick...the character/actress was not featured at all in any of the promotional materials but she had her own little subplot. Are they setting her up to get written off the show so Annie can get the lead in the musical or something?

As for the non-teenagers...of course it was really fun seeing Kelly and Brenda and Nat again, and there was the name-dropping of Brandon and "Hannah Zuckerman-Vasquez." The English teacher/Lacrosse coach, Ryan, is kind of cute (as obviously I'm now old enough to be crushing on the adults of a teen show), but I get a creepy feeling there'll be something going on with a student coming up. The parents are eh, whatever. Rob Estes is alright and Lori Loughlin is always the same. I am not a fan of the son-he-didn't-know-about storyline. The grandmother is hilarious, though maybe not as awesome as Lucille Bluth.

So it wasn't great. But it wasn't as awful as say, Secret Life of the American Teenager, so I'll keep watching it. Compared to the original 90210 though, the cast seems kind of lacking in eye candy. The girls are all way too skinny and none of the guys are exactly Luke Perry...

Tuesday, September 02, 2008


The season premier of Gossip Girl had it's ups and downs, but I thoroughly enjoyed it and am excited that it's back! Yay!

Best line so far: "Damn that motherchucker." (And you know the writers were giddy with glee to get to use it!)

:) Totally on Team Blair-Chuck! Team Bluck? Team Chair?

Yay for the start of a new Fall season of TV. And hopefully no writers strikes this year!!! In which case, yay for the start of a new FULL season of TV!!! :D

Thursday, August 28, 2008

My Fall TV Grid

Here's what I'll be watching/checking out this fall (click below to enlarge):

Some notes:
- Monday SUCKS. Why are so many shows in the same timeslot? I can record two on my DVR, so I'll have to be doing some online viewing.
- Other shows that rerun so not crucial when they air: Gavin & Stacey, Skins, Doctor Who, and Robin Hood on BBCAmerica (reviews of these to come soon), food shows like Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations and Dinner: Impossible, and assorted MTV shows.
- Midseason shows I'm looking for: Dollhouse, Reaper, Friday Night Lights, 24, Kyle XY, South of Nowhere, Scrubs, Battlestar Galactica and other things I'm probably missing.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Summer standouts

I think I'm in a bit of Olympics withdrawal...there was so much to watch every day but now it's like I don't know what to do with myself! Thankfully the new fall season is starting next week, with Gossip Girl and 90210 coming up first. But the summer really hasn't been all that bad in terms of TV viewing...there was So You Think You Can Dance of course and Project Runway's on again (though this season's been a bit slow somehow) and these three picks:

1. My Boys. This season was way too short and it ended on yet another irritating cliffhanger but it was still really fun. I'm kind of torn about the PJ/Bobby thing. I was secretly rooting for him to be the one on the plane and was so happy when he was but then the anti-climactic way it all played was kind of...disappointing. And here's the problem: I kind of like Elsa and she totally doesn't deserve Bobby dumping her at the altar. I'm not sure that PJ and Bobby are enough of a "they belong together" type couple to make it ok. I wonder how much this is a result of me just liking Kyle Howard in general...I've always rooted for him in all of his failed series (Grosse Pointe, Opposite Sex, Related...) and of course it doesn't hurt that he's playing a really improbably nice and decent filthy rich guy. (The rumors that he's dating Lauren Conrad are a little disturbing though...)

Anyway, besides that, I liked that Stephanie writes the fastest book ever and becomes a semi-celebrity only to end up hooking up with Kenny, who she's always despised. Mike's been more annoying, but Andy's always great and Brendan "pursuing" one of Bobby's friends for a business opportunity did make me laugh. So when is this show coming back??

2. The Middleman on ABCFamily. That other ABCFamily summer series (The Secret Life of the American Teenager) is inexplicably getting all the ratings this summer despite it's terrible acting and cliched characters and horrid writing, but this is the show I think people should be watching. It's not for's pretty wacky, but it's so much fun. It's based on a comic book series so the details of the world are nicely fleshed out from the beginning. The main character is Wendy Watson, an aspiring artist who finds herself recruited by a superhero of sorts called the Middleman. He's one in a line of nameless Middlemen, and doesn't reveal any other name. He's a straight, square guy, who like, drinks milk and has an endless supply of funny expletive substitutions. The two of them fight a series of wacky and weird alien occurrences. Wendy (often called Dubbie or Dub-Dub) also has her normal life to deal with, including Lacey, her roommate, who has a crush on the Middleman, and Noser, a musician who perpetually hangs out in the hallway outside her apartment. It's just a really fun, quirky show and I hope it can come back for another season!

3. Mad Men. It's back for a second season and as intriguing as ever. The tone of the show has always been a little dark but this season things feel even more unsettled. At the end of last season it seemed like Don was going to be re-committing himself to his family, but he's straying again. But this season Betty's being more assertive. Peggy's even more confident at work and at play, but acting like her surprise pregnancy never happened and the baby being raised by her older sister doesn't belong to her. This week we got a little more insight into what happened to her, and a surprising connection between her and Don. In other news, the office gets a Xerox machine, Joan is over 30 but now engaged, and Pete uses his father's death in a plane crash to try and get new business. I can't help feeling like things are sort of building towards a disaster of some kind somewhere though...

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Olympic Gymnastics: Nastia and Shawn rule!

After all the controversy and bellyaching and disappointment (for the US) that surrounded the women's team competition, my enjoyment of the port was kind of at an unexpected low. Thankfully, the all-around more than made up for it. Not only did the US win gold and silver, there were just a lot of really great gymnastics going on, unlike the men's competition where everyone besides Yang Wei seemed to be falling left and right.

So congratulations to Nastia and Shawn! I do really like Shawn Johnson...she's super cute and just seems like a really great, positive, upbeat kid, but I was actually rooting for Nastia to win. Her win is a little bit of a boost for the artistic in artistic gymnastics, and really, I've never seen her so flawless. Her stuck landings were phenomenal, and her beam and floor routines were just gorgeous. And of course the story with her dad just missing out on the gold twenty years ago made it all pretty perfect.

I was a little miffed over the judging though. I like the new system in that a more difficult routine performed well will score better than an easier one, but with different events being lower-scoring than others, it's kind of hard to tell who's really in the lead. And some of the execution scores are just downright confusing. How can a routine with several visible balance checks get the same execution score as one with none? I think Shawn's beam routine was really underscored, or the other people were overscored or SOMETHING. I was getting extremely annoyed but then it turned out right in the end.

Some other thoughts:
- Bela Karolyi can really suck sometimes but the clip of his watching Nastia's floor routine was just comedy gold. Especially loved Bob Costas' look of bewilderment as Bela practically attacks him out of excitement. Do they have video of him watching the whole competition.
- A lot of people were wondering what was up with Nastia's Barbie-pink leotard, but it was so her. The US team has a bunch of leotards in different colors and apparently Shawn and Nastia decided who was going to wear what together.
- Yang Yilin, who won the bronze, had some seriously crazy hair-clip action going on. I think I counted TWELVE. I totally sympathize though...Asian hair can be extremely slippery. When I did gymnastics as a kid, regular ponytails would fall out so easily, and I wasn't even doing anything that intense.
- Love the camaraderie between Shawn and Nastia and their coaches. They were all hugging and high fiving each other throughout the competition.
- The coverage was a little better this time, but we still didn't really see much outside the top group. I did like those Russian girls...Anna Pavlova's floor routine was pretty great. The NBC Olympics site kind of makes up for the coverage though...they have video of all the routines, and lots of fun extras like video of Nastia as a kid, Shawn Johnson Day in Iowa, and routines and interviews from past Worlds.
- The little feature they did on Shawn Johnson earlier in the broadcast was so cute. I totally cracked up at the scene with Shawn driving and hearing herself talked about on the radio. Her face was priceless.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Olympic Gymnastics: A Tale of Two Teams

Men's gymnastics is sometimes kind of overlooked but this year's team competition was just fantastic. The Chinese men were just awesomely untouchable, and the US pulled out a wonderful bronze medal performance. I was so proud of our guys, especially Jonathan Horton for being the picture of consistency, Justin Spring for catching the high bar every time on his crazy release moves, and Sasha Artemev for pulling off that clutch pommel horse routine. And I was so happy for Raj, finally being on the team, and how great was it seeing David Durante, the lone alternate, cheering emotionally from the stands? Just a really great feel-good moment for everyone. NBC's coverage could have been better...we barely saw the Japanese, who yes, won silver, and any of the teams that were supposedly in contention for the bronze. And they cut away for swimming semi-finals. Semi-finals! But overall, it was just a really great night.

But then we got to the women's competition, and last night just made me realize how sucky NBC's commentators and reporters are, and how unforgiving the media in general can be, and how they focus on the wrong things.

First, the coverage. I understand that NBC wants to air as much as possible live, and that China vs. USA was the big story, but would it have killed them to show some other countries instead of all the shots of people just standing around and waiting? We saw one Russian athlete, and one Romanian, and at the end of the broadcast they didn't even bother telling who won the bronze. (It was Romania.)

And the commentators are just terrible. I don't know what is up with Tim and Elfi criticizing the other teams for chatting around the chalk bin and coaches hugging athletes after mistakes and taking pictures and random crap like that when we're not even seeing their routines. And Al Trautwig keeps mentioning the same things over and over again, about Shawn's coach being from Beijing, and Cheng Fei wanting to quit and her parents not letting her and blah blah blah. Then there's Andrea Joyce, who poor Alicia Sacramone had to deal with right afterward. I mean, she's just had maybe the worst day of her life, and there are the reporters, rubbing salt in her wounds by asking inane questions. And the media in general, making it seem like the American team just totally fell apart.

I mean, yes, they had two costly mistakes and few other minor ones. But they won the frickin silver! There were some beautiful routines there, especially Nastia on bars, and in no way was this a disaster. The Chinese team was really excellent. They had an edge with their level of difficulty, especially on bars, and they made fewer mistakes. It wasn't that close but it wasn't a blowout either.

And then there's all the chatter about the Chinese gymnasts being underage. I don't know what to believe--Asians look young in general, and these girls were handpicked at an early age partly because of their size, but some of them do look awfully young and newspapers have found evidence of their ages being reported differently in different places. But does it really matter? And the Karolyis griping about it constantly is really not helping at all. I don't doubt their contribution to American gymnastics, but they really need to shut up at times like these. They're making the US seem like poor sports when the girls haven't been anything but gracious.

I'm hoping the all-around and event finals erase some of this bad press...I'm rooting for Nastia and Shawn take home the gold and silver. They'll both be in event finals as well, and Alicia has a chance at redemption during the vault finals.

But tonight is the men's all-around. It looks like China's going to take another gold, deservedly so because Yang Wei is awesome, but I'm looking out for Jonathan Horton. He was 4th in last year's worlds and must be riding a high from his team medal. Go Jonathan Horton!

Friday, August 08, 2008

So You Think You Can Dance - The End!

I know, there hasn't been much blogging lately. My life has been kind of crazy and stressful these past couple of weeks, but I have to say that So You Think You Can Dance has really done wonders in giving me a couple of hours of sheer happiness every week. One of the things I love the most about the show is that the results show is so completely worth watching. I could probably do without the musical performances but there's really not much filler. And last night's finale was just jam-packed full of wonderful and fun stuff. Some highlights:
  • The Phillip vs. Robert popping battle. Robert definitely is a freak of nature with his insane flexibility and double-jointedness but I kind of have to say that I liked Phillip's style better. Felt bad for him that he only got one vote but really the two of them together was fantastic.
  • Mary and Nigel actually dancing! Finally we got to see why they're qualified to be judges. No, they weren't fabulous or anything, but damn, has Mary got some legs! Who knew what she was hiding sitting behind that table all that time! And Nigel's tapping was really respectable. I loved that the rest of the judges said they needed to get up there and perform too.
  • Debbie Allen making fun of the way Lil C talks: AWESOME.
  • Gev rolling under all the girls during the Top 20 dance. With hip-hoppers making it further this season than ever before I wonder if Shane Sparks is going to be more a presence on the show next season. Come back, Shane!
  • Katee and Will nailing the pas de deux!
  • Seeing all our old favorites again! Sara, Travis, Dominic, Hok, Allison, Ivan, Neil...and man were Dimitri and Anya HOT during the group routine or what?
  • The crazy Donnie Darko bunny Cirque de Soleil Wade Robson routine. Somehow all those words totally go together. Creepy but really watchable.
  • Seeing No Air and Bleeding Love and the Mark/Courtney Sonya routine and Bollywood again. Mira and I are going to the tour this year and I can't WAIT to see them live in November!
So onto the results -- I kind of figured Courtney would be in fourth place. She grew on me the most throughout the season and she was so happy and gracious during her exit. Go Long Island! Katee getting eliminated next was a bit of a shocker...I was kind of rooting for her for the win (she was in SO MANY of the judges' favorite routines) but I can kind of see why her personality might not have captured people. It was really nice to see her get $50,000. I wonder why that just came out of nowhere.

So down to Joshua and Twitch...and of course, Joshua wins! I was afraid for a minute there that Twitch might win...I mean, his solos are great and he did hold his own throughout the season but he was not nearly as consistent or stand out in the partner routines as Joshua. Joshua seems like such a genuinely nice guy and I can't think of a routine that I didn't like him in.

Oh, and I must plug Cat Deeley once more before next season. I so don't understand how she wasn't nominated for an Emmy for best reality show host because she is SO awesome. You really can't help but love her and it's obvious that the judges and dancers love her too. She rules!

Sad that the season is over, but can't wait for the tour! And happily the Olympics are starting today! I'm pretty much going to be living and breathing gymnastics for the next week or so. Go Team USA!!

just to prove...

We still are blogging and watching TV!

I <3 So You Think You Can Dance.


Sunday, July 13, 2008

atlas shrugged

Instead of cleaning yesterday, I ended up finishing off the final 400 pages of Atlas Shrugged... (If you haven't read the book yet and don't want spoilers, don't read!)

a) It's not quite as depressing throughout the book as everyone made it out to be. From the valley on, I was no longer depressed while reading it because there finally existed some much-needed hope in the book. Plus, anyone who knows me well knows I hate secrets that I'm not a part of. So I was just really annoyed and pissed off for the first 500-600 pages or so where the mysterious "destroyer" kept coming and claiming people, and Francisco kept making implications about the greater secret he was hiding and fighting for.

b) I think my dislike for physics and probability (and probably philosophy as well) were best defined by this book. I can't regard and understand the world in absolutes, in perfect situations. My brain has never really been able to wrap itself around the idea of looking at isolated situations where EVERYTHING is perfect and all the other factors that could affect the formula are ignorable for the sake of science. That's what this book was to me. People were basically put into black and white categories of perfect or imperfect. There were no real in betweens (and I'm sure someone will argue with me that that's not true, look at Eddie, Cheryl), but really as I read it there were none. And the perfect people were perfect all the way through. I mean 4 men fall in love with Dagny, 1 man gets her -- her OTL. Two of the men, the "perfect" ones are okay with it because they know who she loves and they understand and it's enough to know that she loves them, but just not in the way she's meant to love her OTL. The third one was okay with it because he never had her anyway, and he always knew he never would (at least that's my interpretation). How can one so perfectly emote with reason? I just can't grasp this "perfectness," this equation.

3) I agree with some concepts from the book but not all.
-- The concepts I agree with: Man should never feel entitled to something they didn't work for. Government control of society, economy, genius must be prevented. The greatest good you can do for society is to do the best you can do for yourself (once again, just my interpretation). Communism is evil.
-- Things I don't agree with: Don't do anything for others, do it for yourself. Let the weak, the stupid, the looters and leeches run themselves into the ground; you have no obligation to them. Communism is evil.

4) John Galt is exactly what I'd imagine a cult leader to be like. To me I felt that people were following him simply because what he said seemed to be so deep and beyond what they were able to comprehend that it MUST be right. Okay, so the men of Galt's Gully probably did believe and understand it, but I don't think that *every* single person who was taken there did. I think that they just felt that they must follow him because he must be right. That kind of blind trust to believe someone, isn't that how cult leaders are born and their power thrives? And for that, I am grateful Ayn Rand gave us Dagny. Because she is the only character who allowed the reader insight into their inner struggles of accepting the philosophy. Even if she was deeply in love with him, so it didn't matter anyway.

::sigh:: I'm just glad to be done with the book.

Friday, July 04, 2008

So You Think You Can Dance update

We're closing in on the top 10 and my favorite couples are clear: Chelsie/Mark and Katee/Joshua. I think what appeals to me about these pairings is that they have great chemistry and they emote on stage. I do wonder if they've been a bit lucky with their genre/choregrapher picks favorite routines this season have both been Tabitha and Napoleon hip-hop routines--Katee/Joshua from Week 1 and Chelsie/Mark from last week. I don't really care that they're "hip-hop-lite," they were wonderfully performed and just really watchable.

This week didn't have any super wow moments for me--Mia's choreography is always very powerful but it's not always my cup of tea. Benji's West Coast Swing wasn't nearly as fun as Sara/Pasha from las year and I thought the costumes were just hideous. I did like the new Broadway choreographer though--Andy something--much better than Tyce's stuff this season.

I think the couples are going to be getting mixed up in a few weeks though, so that'll definitely be interesting. In terms of individual dancers, I think the guys are knocking the girls out of the park this year. Mark, Will, Twitch, and Joshua are all just excellent. I do like Gev (his solo last night was so much fun!), but he and Courtney have been kind of flying under the radar...I'm waiting for them to break out a bit. That leaves Thayne--I think he'll be the next to go unless something big happens.

As for the girls--I like Chelsie and Katee obviously, I don't like Kherington or Jessica, and Courtney's questionable. I really want to love Comfort but she's gotten stuck with a lot of ballroom routines that just weren't that exciting. I'm hoping that she'll stick around and get to do a hip-hop or contemporary.

Another thing I really love about this show is that sometimes the musical choices really jump out at me. I got hooked on the Veronica's "Untouched" a couple of weeks ago (even though the routine was not that good) and I was really intrigued by the odd swing cover of Bon Jovi's "It's My Life" for Chelsie/Mark's foxtrot this week.

I also think they've hit on a good formula for the results shows. I never used to watch the American Idol ones because they're all fluff, but here the group pieces are actually really good, the guest dance performances have been pretty good (loved seeing Dominic and Hok last week and the popper Robert this week), and of course there are the solos. I get a little less enthused about the musical performances but that's only a small bit. And of course Cat Deeley is just such a wonderful reality TV host. Love her! (Though maybe not all of her dresses...)