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.