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...