Friday, June 25, 2010

Bravo's Work of Art: A Different Perspective?

The fact that I like The Amazing Race and Top Chef makes sense--I love traveling and I love cooking. But it's less clear why I seem to get sucked into all these other reality shows, like Project Runway and Shear Genius and Top Design when in real life I probably have less-than-average interest in fashion and hairstyling and interior design.

Whatever the reason, this tendency continues with Bravo's latest competitive reality show Work of Art. I am definitely not into art. I sometimes wish I could draw or even do like computer graphic design but I think art museums are boring and I doubt I'd ever actually buy a piece of art.

But I find myself really liking this show a lot. I think one of the main reasons is that we get to see more of the artistic process. When I look at a painting or sculpture in a museum, I generally don't know what to think. I guess some people like that art is subjective and that they can have their own interpretation, but for me, I always kind of want to know what the artist's intent was. So with this show, we get to see that, how he or she came up with the idea and developed it and put it together.

And we also get to see how critics view the finished works. Given that I don't have much interest in art, I know even less about art criticism so I find the judging to be pretty fascinating as well. I've actually found myself agreeing with the judges for the most part, so maybe art isn't as baffling to me as I thought it was. Or maybe it's just the obvious editing...

All these Bravo shows have contestants with plenty of personality and this one is no different. One of the kookiest is Miles, who won the first two challenges and has had some kind of crazy antic every week. In one episode he was having trouble sleeping so he was napping all the time and actually included a bed in his sculpture and slept on it during the gallery show! In this week's challenge, the artists had to make a book cover for a classic novel, and Miles spent 4 hours actually reading the book! It's almost as if he's treating the time he's on this reality show as kind of performance art itself. I don't know if it's intentional or not but it's pretty dang entertaining.

I don't know what the actual art world thinks of this show--Project Runway and Top Chef have been pretty well embraced by their respective industries--but I guess I don't really care. So far the challenges have been interesting and hopefully that'll continue. Also the contestants so far have actually been kind of cooperative and helpful to each other -- no "I didn't come here to make friends" utterances yet -- but it's not all polite and boring. Maybe that's because this is the first season of the show and people didn't come in with a strategy or maybe it's something about artists?

Who knows, maybe this show will end up raises my appreciation for art? Pretty ironic I guess, since some people would probably consider reality TV to be the furthest thing from art!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

T^2: Fictional Favorites

M: Who is your favorite fictional mystery solver?

I love, love, love mysteries! I grew up reading everything I could get my hands on: Nancy Drew, Bobbsey Twins, Encyclopedia Brown, Boxcar Children... In any case, I think I'd have to choose Veronica Mars for this, even though I haven't actually watched the full series. (I do own it on DVD, though) I pick her mostly because I think I'd want to be her. Plus she was good at sleuthing and bad ass. Hmm, I really ought to watch the rest of the series!!

Jennifer: My favorite detective is Agatha Christie's Hercule Poirot. I've read almost every Poirot book and this question reminds me that I should really dig up my list and read the last few. I've watched a handful of TV/film adaptations (there are going to be a couple of new ones on Masterpiece Mystery! this summer too) but wasn't really enamored with any of them...I guess I just have my own picture of Poirot in my head. I do also really like Inspector Lewis and Sergeant Hathaway and am excited for new episodes this fall!

M: SYTYCD top 10!

The actual Top 10 starts!

Cristina: Lucky for her (and the other girls), she got Pasha. That was a really awesome Paso Doble. But I dunno, it wouldn't get me to call in a vote for her.

Adechike: I do like the potential for emotional growth in him. I kept thinking about what a beautiful dancer Allison is and has become.

Alex: He's a really awesome dancer, but a lot of the movements made me confused about which dancer was the girl and which was the guy. But technically his movement is incredible. I do kind of wish he wouldn't talk, though. He kind of sounds like a valley girl...

Ashley: She could be the Katie of the season for me. I was very lukewarm to Katie, but well, no, she grew on me in week 1. I feel like Travis is the new Mia -- basically it's a win if you get them for your choreographer. (Agree with Nigel that it was totally contemporary not jazz!)

Billy: Haha, Billy B Buck... (Yay for Krump returning with COMFORT!) I feel like Billy Bell is too skinny and wearing too tight jeans to have real swag. HAHA. But still they were amazingly in sync.

Robert: I love that they've kept Anya around! No offense to him, but I was watching her the ENTIRE time. So... yeah. Wonder how many weeks I'll lament over Anthony not having made it onto the show? Oh well, at least the judges liked him.

Melinda: Stacey Tookey is SOOO cute! I have a major crush on her. Haha. I think the costume was a little too literal... I really liked that piece. And she did a great job.

Jose: If anyone knows how to help a bboy through anything, it's Kathryn. :) This dance made me smile throughout it... He was definitely dedicated to the performance.

Lauren: Wow lyrical hiphop without NappyTabs! (Maybe because they were in VEGAS!) "If I Were a Boy"!!! I liked that a LOT! :) Reminded me of Chelsie and Mark's "Keep Bleeding."

Kent: Haha, I love Kent. I thought he was definitely out of Kent world in this performance, but I thought he did a good job. And I love his personality!!!

Overall thoughts:
  • The girls this season are SO weak and it's already down to 4 girls, 6 guys! But it's interesting because on the flip side, I think that the girl all-stars are stronger.
  • My Favorite Dancers from week 2 (contestants): Kent, Lauren, Alex, Jose
  • My Favorite All-stars from week 2: Kathryn, Anya, Ade, Courtney
  • The judges are really making it a point to help the dancers to grow this year. I think that's kind of cool.
  • Also really glad that they decided to keep the All-stars stay on stage after the performance for support.
  • LOVE this show!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Thursday Talk Week 22

J: Which TV shows can you go back and watch again and again on DVD or in reruns? Which TV shows can you never watch again? Why?

Mira: It's funny, I own a toooon of TV show DVDs. But I never, ever watch them. However, when they're airing on syndication on TV, I often find myself sitting and rewatching random, old episodes. The thing is, I love watching random episodes of Gilmore Girls, but thinking about watching all of it? There were so many BAD episodes/seasons. Anyway, what I've been really wanting to just sit down and watch again is Buffy the Vampire Slayer and My So-Called Life. Show I cannot rewatch -- Full House. I loved it as a kid but it's just too corny. Oh and a bunch of the other TGIF shows... Boy Meets World, Sister, Sister...

Jennifer: I think the shows I've rewatched the most are Wonderfalls  and Veronica Mars. I also watch a lot of Buffy reruns on Logo and for some reason, Home Improvement. One show that I'd like to rewatch but don't own on DVD is The X-files. There were so many good episodes but out of 9 seasons it's kind of hard to remember which ones they were. Interestingly, I can no longer watch any episodes of Gilmore Girls, even from the early seasons before it got bad. I guess the knowledge of what eventually happens makes everything really grating. I also don't think I'll ever want to rewatch things like Lost or 24.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

M: and it starts!

Top 11... YAY!

Billy Bell -- He definitely deserved to make it, even if he's the 11th. If I had to give up anyone for an actual Top 10, it'd be Rob or Adechike. In fact, I'd like to say I'd give up both of them for Anthony back. Okay, back to Billy Bell. I like him in the way I really liked Jakob last season. Just watching this first dance ("Footloose" choreographed by Tyce) I can see how this All-Star stuff will be really good. You're never going to worry about the partner, and you get to see if the "new" dancer can keep up with the "seasoned" ones. Anyway, I prefer Tyce when he does his lyrical stuff more so than his Broadway/Jazz...

Cristina -- Okay, I think it's unfair to be paired with Mark and Sonya... For anyone. Especially a Latin girl. (And hey, Nigel agrees with me!) I felt that Mark was using Cristina as a prop and something to dance around. So... I didn't really like it. But she seems kinda sweet (and is not a good singer)... Oh, and I didn't like what she was uh... wearing? Looks more like body paint. (Okay, the other judges really liked her.)

Jose -- Totally got lucky getting Comfort and hence hip hop. Comfort is so awesome in her genre, so it's fantastic she's back on the show. I really do like Jose, and I thought he was great in this routine. I really hope to see him grow the way Legacy did last season.

Adechike -- Maybe Adechike lucked out most, the most beautiful dancer (not person, but dancer!) on the show Kathryn and his genre choreographed by Travis!? I liked the dance and their performance of it. I love watching Kathryn dancing, though. (Hmm, the judges didn't like him much. *shrug*) Haha, I liked that he went to Laguardia HS, too. And he's a cute little guy. But I still miss Anthony!

Melinda -- Um, we already knew those "things American doesn't know about you" things. But she does look and smile like Kathryn... Ballroom with a partner who knows everything they're doing is so much more fun to watch.

Alex -- That was seriously a top 4 dance to me. I don't think anything will top that for my favorite dance of the night. The only thing I wish for was a little bit more power in their connection, but the dance was so powerfully danced by both Alex and Allison. SO awesome. It's really lucky that Sonya gave them softer music than her norm... I do like that he's a male ballet dancer and not contemporary. :)

Alexie -- HAHA! Adam Shankman in the '90s! :) Okay, she's half Twitch's size... I kinda thought that was a bit boring, though she's really cute and a good dancer.

Lauren-- Kinda reminds me of Mollie at first, but there is more maturity in her. How did she get her genre, too?! Pop jazz?! Ade is a fantastic partner, and I really, really enjoy Lauren's dancing. She performs and dances in the same way as Kathryn. (I keep comparing people to Kathryn!) I think I will like her! Definitely my favorite female... (Odd, Nigel said poor performance and chemistry, which I thought she was good at.) Haha, good luck 18-year-old, looking deep into who you are...

Kent -- And Anya?! Haha, Kent cracks me up. And I've got to say that when he dances, he is nothing like the talking Kent. Okay, though 18-year-old Kent, I'm glad they got you while you are young and still have all your youthful personality. You can tell he's a judge favorite; such a cutie!

Ashley -- I don't know anything about Ashley! Yay, I like Tyce slow pieces. Neil looks like a grown up little boy still. I dunno why, while I liked the number, it definitely made me think of ice skating on well, not ice and without skates. :) Yet another 19-year-old who isn't mature enough in emotion. (Haha, I like how when she said she thought she was in love right now the judges reactions were kind of... patronizing. "Little girl, puppy love" kind of reaction. Haha!)

Robert -- Courtney and African Jazz? Very interesting! Been very uninterested in him so far, but gotta say he was good here. Though I kept watching her. I definitely like African Jazz more than regular Jazz, I've gotta say. He's so fake humble to me, though. He reminds me of Mark and... hahaha, Neil, actually.

Overall notes:
  • Favorite Dance: Alex
  • Least Favorite: Melinda
  • Guys are wayyyyy stronger.
  • Top 3 (in no particular order): Alex, Kent, Lauren.
  • Favorite All-Star: Ade, I never realized what a strong partner he is.
  • I like the All-Star thing a lot! It's nice to be rooting for the new dancers and not have to worry about their partners letting them down.
  • The judges keep saying that the dancers are unlucky because they have no "free" weeks for a "learning curve" but I think I disagree. Only 1 dancer has to worry about going home, the dancers don't have to worry about having a weak partner, and because they're the only one on stage being voted on you can finally scrutinize them and get to know them faster than when you have to "meet" 20 people at once and can't really remember 6 of them until they're gone anyway.
  • They need to stop taking 18-year-olds if they're going to constantly harp on a lack of life experience and depth of emotion... AND TAKE ANTHONY!

Friday, June 11, 2010

T^2: Spooky!

M: With the plethora of supernatural series (tv shows, books, movies, comics) out there on all sorts of supernatural creatures (vampires, werewolves, ghosts)... what's your favorite and why?

Mira: I put the question up and of course I have trouble answering it! You know what? I pick Harry Potter. I was torn, considering an easy obvious answer such as Buffy (TV) or The Mediator (book series that mimics Buffy's formula perfectly except with ghosts instead of vampires), but you know... I just love, love, love Harry Potter. I can't help it. :)

Jennifer: My favorite series of all time is of course Buffy, but for something more current I'm going to plug Being Human, which is a British series that will be returning for its second season on BBC America this summer. It's about three twenty-somethings that share a house together: Mitchell is a vampire, George is a werewolf, and Annie is a ghost. I know it sounds kind of silly but it's actually really good. It kind of reminds me a little of Buffy in that it has a lot of smart comedy mixed in with the more dramatic and scary and suspenseful elements. Russell Tovey, who I love love love, plays George, and there's also a really great villain, Herrick, who doesn't look like a typical bad guy but is really creepy. Apparently SyFy is making an American version of the series but I'm sort of skeptical considering SyFy's track record (and stupid network name).

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Glee: Not quite a Gleek

If there's one word I would use to describe Glee, it would be...aggressive. It's about a show choir, after all, so subtlety is not something it strives for. Pretty much everything is over the top, in your face, emotions on sleeves, singing your feelings--that's what it's trying to do and that's what people love. But me? I'm not a full-on Gleek. Here are some reasons why:

1. I absolutely hated the Terri fake pregnancy storyline from the first half of the season. I guess I have to respect the writers and actress for really committing to the crazy, but what I hated most was that it just made Will look incredibly stupid. Sure, his behavior could probably be justified by some reason or another and he did eventually come to his senses, but for awhile there I just couldn't stand how blind he was being and it kind of colored my perception of all his non-Terri-related doings. I was really glad when that was over.
2. Speaking of Will, I get pretty cringe-y whenever he raps or dances or does anything "sexy." I also dislike how the show kind of treats him as the "voice of reason" but he's really just as messed up as everyone else.
3. The merry-go-round of teen relationships is status quo for any high school show, but Glee totally does it in overdrive. I mean, Rachel acts and is treated like she's at the bottom of the dating pool but she's been with three guys in half a year. I'm also not really sure if we're supposed to be rooting for her and Finn or not. I don't really get why he likes her, except that it allowed him to sing "Jessie's Girl."
4. The show is just so...literal and obvious. Rachel loses her voice and is feeling sorry for herself, so Finn introduces her to his quadriplegic friend! Kurt has a doomed crush on Finn, then their parents start dating so they have to move in together! Sue doesn't just have a softer side, she has a sister with Down Syndrome!
5. So...Sue Sylvester. I realize that she's a breakout character and Jane Lynch was kind of born to play this role but sometimes I wonder if she'd be better in smaller doses. She wasn't in a few episodes at all and I honestly didn't really miss her.
6. At first I thought the show was just moving really fast but actually it's kind of the opposite. Each episode is pretty much self-contained (and sometimes it seems like they're airing out of order) and while it seems like the characters are always having these BIG EMOTIONAL moments, they don't really change much as a result of them. (An exception being Quinn, who has stealthily become my favorite character.)
7. I'm sometimes confused about whether the musical numbers are fantasy sequences or not. It doesn't really matter but I wish the show was a little more clear/consistent on that.

I mean, don't get me wrong, the show is still incredibly entertaining. I love the musical numbers, there are always great lines (especially from Brittany) and funny little details (Sue's "date" outfit being a tracksuit with pearls), the guest stars like Neil Patrick Harris and Kristin Chenoweth have been great, I thought the plot with Rachel and her biological mom was handled pretty's definitely a fun hour of TV every week. So is it wrong for me to want more?

Saturday, June 05, 2010

Friday Night Lights: Game Changer

I just realized that haven't blogged about Friday Night Lights in awhile. Despite my complete ignorance of all things football and especially Texas high school football, I was totally in love with this show from the start and was kind of distressed at how the ratings were never good and how it was always on the verge of cancellation and how it got no love from the Emmys or Golden Globes. Season 2 took a bit of a dip creatively though, and I was sure that it was going to get canned but then NBC did something really surprising and made a deal with DirecTV to "share" the show, with DirecTV airing the season first, then NBC later on. Seasons 4 is currently airing on NBC now, and season 5 is already guaranteed (and possibly the last). It's pretty amazing to think that we're going to have 5 seasons (well 1 full season and 4 half-seasons) of a show that was so close to being another "brilliant but cancelled" situation.

Anyway, because of the strange airing schedule, I somehow missed out on talking about season 3 altogether. It's been kind of a long time since it finished but I really did love it. Like I said, season 2 had a lot of problems, call it a sophomore slump or something, but season 3 really brought things back on track. Matt Saracen is probably my favorite character and I despised his storylines in season 2, so I was really glad that season 3 brought him back together with Julie (in a nice, slow natural way too), and I also loved the arc that got him demoted from QB1 because of young phenom JD. The conflict in both him and Coach Taylor was just so well done. Of course Matt is almost family to the Taylors and he's led the team to a state championship so demoting him during his senior year was pretty terrible but outside pressures concering JD's raw talent were palpable. I also liked that Matt admitted that he knew he wasn't as talented as JD, and that with Julie's help he found himself another role on the team. And of course I loved that he got to step back in during the state game when JD had a meltdown, even though they still ended up losing.

Season 3 also brought us goodbye arcs for original characters Smash and Street. While I was initially kind of annoyed that Smash had an offscreen injury that prevented him from taking the scholarship that they spent so much time getting him to in the previous season, his goodbye episode was really fantastic. (That's one thing that I've noticed about me and FNL...there are so many contrivances and inconsistencies but I'm really forgiving because of how great the acting and writing and emotions can be. On a lesser show those things could have been a dealbreaker for me.)

As for Jason Street, I was never a big fan of how the show could never really figure out what to do with him. He seemed to just always be repeating the same cycle of finding something that he really thought he was good at and putting his all into it (coaching, wheelchair rugby, selling cars, etc), only to have it be crushed or just peter out. I thought it was pretty random for him to become a dad from a one-night stand, and even more random that he ends up a with a sports agent job in New York, but I'm glad he got out of Dillon and got a somewhat happy ending. (Another funny thing is that while obviously I love Dillon as the setting for the show, I still want all the teen characters I like to eventually get out.)

In other storylines, I did like Tyra and Landry reuniting, although Tyra was sort of another character that just seemed to be going through the same thing over and over again, in her case with her ambition/college plans. The scenes with Landry where she reads her college essay and then later when she gets her acceptance letter to UT were really poignant and wonderful. I also found Tim and Lyla to be a strangely perfect couple and kind of loved how Buddy Garrity's life fell apart but he ended up being a much more likable person because of it.

The season 3 finale really set up a lot of interesting things for this current season. Lyla, Tyra, and Tim were off to college, but Matt was not. (Julie and Landry somehow did not graduate...don't ask.) The tensions that had been escalating all season with JD and his heinous dad (FNL's only out-and-out villain) resulted in Coach Taylor getting fired from the Panthers...but then hired as coach for the new high school being reopened across town, East Dillon High.

And just like that, the Panthers we've loved and been rooting for all this time are suddenly...evil! JD becomes a total douche over the summer, all the remaining teen characters left (Julie, Landry, Devin) transfer over to East Dillon, and all the new teen characters are there as well. Because of all the crazy zoning and gerrymandering that Buddy championed last season, Dillon has retained nearly all the Panthers, and so the Lions have to start from scratch. East Dillon is the "bad" part of town (although for some reason this means the school is predominantly black and not Hispanic like I would have thought) and we're introduced to Vince, who's never played football and is forced to join the football team as an alternative to juvenile detention. Also on the team is Luke, a former Panther whose "official address" turns out to just be a mailbox on an empty lot but actually lives on a farm in East Dillon. (Oh, and Landry, who the coach still calls Lance.)

At first I was skeptical of all this change, but it's turned out to be a really good thing for the show. With most of the original characters gone, it makes sense to basically start over. Instead of the pressures of being a team with plenty of success in their history, with kids that have played football their entire lives, now we're following a team that's starting from nothing, which is a completely different challenge. Friday Night Lights has never been shy about about tackling race and class issues and now it's in the forefront more than ever.

As for our old favorites, Tim pretty much immediately drops out of college (disappointing but not all that surprising), Landry finds yet another girl, and Matt has stuck around town for his Grandma and Julie and is attending community college and delivering pizza (I love him but he's another one that really needs to get out of town). Yesterday's episode found Matt dealing with the news of his father's death overseas and was really one of the best of the series overall. Zach Gilford was so fantastic in it, I'm definitely sad that he's going to be leaving the series soon as well.

So if you've forgotten about Friday Night Lights or are just behind, definitely come back! Seasons 1-3 are streaming on Netflix and the current season is streaming on Hulu. No excuses!

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Thursday Talk Week 22

J: So with the regular TV season pretty much over, let's recap! Name your...
Favorite new drama
Favorite new comedy
Favorite returning drama
Favorite returning comedy
Best finale
Show you're most looking forward to returning in the fall
Show you're most disappointed was canceled


Favorite new drama - This season I picked up Glee, Life Unexpected, Parenthood, The Vampire Diaries and Caprica. I think there were good and bad things about all of them, but actually I think the drama that I enjoyed the most? Make It or Break It!
Favorite new comedy - Community (runner up: Modern Family)
Favorite returning drama - Hm, this one is hard too. I guess I'll pick Friday Night Lights, even though I only watched half the season when it was airing on DirecTV and it only just started airing on NBC a few weeks ago.
Favorite returning comedy - Parks and Recreation (runner up: The Big Bang Theory)
Best finale - Vampire Diaries
Show you're most looking forward to returning in the fall - I have high hopes for Life Unexpected, and of course Vampire Diaries because of all the crazy cliffhangers!
Show you're most disappointed was canceled - Better Off Ted


Favorite new drama: The Good Wife. (I was trying to decide which category Make It or Break It would be in of Drama/Comedy and the same with Glee.) For straight drama though, I loved, loved, loved The Good Wife.
Favorite new comedy: Glee (even though it's dramedy, same goes with Parenthood -- which category?)
Favorite returning drama: Grey's Anatomy (I love my angsty hospital drama.)
Favorite returning comedy: Greek (though I kind of liked where Chuck went this season, but I haven't finished the season and I kept watching it in chunks of 3 episodes at a time.)
Best finale: Um, I'm going to be showing a lot of love for Glee in this post, but I'm going to hedge a bet that my favorite finale this season is next week's season finale of Glee. I have such high expectations of it, though, so hopefully I won't be disappointed!
Show you're most looking forward to returning in the fall: Glee, the season isn't even over and I'm already sad that next week is the last new episode I'll get for months!
Show you're most disappointed was canceled: The Deep End. I DIDN'T EVEN KNOW IT GOT CANCELED! I was wondering what happened to the rest of the episodes and why it didn't come back during May sweeps! (I was contemplating lesser candidates such as The Beautiful Life, which had potential to be Gossip Girl-bitchy, or Eastwick, which was interesting in some ways but really annoying in lots of others.) Boo! That makes me sad cuz the characters were kinda interesting and the one guy actor was really, really pretty.