Sunday, July 31, 2011

a few surprises

Summer TV is not throwaway TV like it once was. Previous summers I had mostly SYTYCD to get me through the TV off-season, but this season I have quite a few other shows that have made SYTYCD a little less exciting. Instead, here are the shows I look forward to each week:

Love in the Wild
I'm almost embarrassed to admit how much I like this show, but then I think about how great it is and NO, I'm not embarrassed! It's fun, the format is so incredibly smart, and each week has surprises, drama, and fun! There are a few couples I am really rooting for: Mike and Samantha, Miles and Heather. The challenges have been really interesting. I was so touched that Jess took herself out of the running not to break up any of the other couples with connections. I hate Ben for being a jerk to Brandee. And the show has definitely put Costa Rica on my radar as a near future vacation spot. Well, maybe. I could do without Snake Island and log rafting down crocadile river...

The Glee Project
Maybe this is the show I should be embarrassed to admit enjoying... But you know what, I admit to liking Glee, so whatever! Too late now. What is this show about? A competition show where a bunch of people compete to get a seven-episode arc on the next season of Glee. The casting director for Glee is the main advisor for the show and Ryan Murphy gets the final say on who gets eliminated. The main criteria for making it through to the following week: if Ryan thinks he can write a character for the contestant.

This show is what makes Glee great without what makes Glee horrible. What is that, you might ask? It has the fun musical numbers; it has fun, varied, colorful characters/contestants. What does it not have? Contrived storylines. I enjoy the "quickfire" challenges each week, where each contestant has to sing one line in a song that embodies that week's challenge. This week's, for example, was Sexuality and singing "Like a Virgin." A different week had Dancability and singing "Bad Romance." I also like the mini-music videos that they have to put together before being potentially eliminated. There are a good number of the contestants that I could really see on Glee, and I hope the producers consider bringing back more than just the winner for the show in the future. One of my favorites was eliminated last week, Marissa, but there are still a few that I'm rooting for.

There are 5 contestants left:
- Hannah: Chubby redhead who annoys me in personality, but is a character you can see on the show... Except Zizes already exists.
- Sam: Laidback rocker with dreads. Has been a street performer in LA. He's good looking but kinda annoys me, I can't quite place why.
- Lindsay: Oddly one of my favorites though she's one of those perfect looking, perfect girls. She has more story behind her -- she was adopted! -- but tends to stick to the surface and is very Lea Michele in many ways.
- Damien: Pretty boy and Northern Irish. He has the "foreigner" thing going for him and he's very cute in a boyband kind of way. He'd be a good Finn replacement.
- Alex: A gay, male version of Mercedes. Crazy range in singing, but his personality is annoying and his commitment to the process is lacking at times. It's amazing how many people he's outlasted in my opinion, but he would make for an interesting character.

ABC Family: Switched at Birth & The Nine Lives of Chloe King
Jenn already blogged about both of these shows. I had been a fan of Switched at Birth from the beginning and echo all her praises-- the portrayal of deaf culture and Katie Leclerc. But I also find that I really enjoy the contrast of all the characters, even if Bay can get annoying at times. I didn't watch Chloe King until reading Jenn's review actually, and now I'm hooked. Ahh, so good.

What a great summer of TV. :) Now I need to catch up with SYTYCD because I'm running out of room on my DVR!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Thursday Top Threes: Second opinion

J: Top three actors that you changed your mind on - used to hate but now like or vice versa.

1. Dakota Fanning: I'm quite shocked by this one. I despised her precocious child thing for years but then something funny happened: she grew up. The first really "teenage" role I saw her in was this movie Push (with Chris Evans) that was a rather mediocre sci-fi movie but somehow just turned me around on her.
2. Shia LaBeouf: I really did like Even Stevens back in the day! Now he just seems like a huge tool. And the Transformers movies are really bad.
3. Tom Cruise: A bit obvious but I mean, remember Top Gun??

1. Vanessa Hudgens: I am a teenybopper and I enjoyed High School Musical and its sequels, and for whatever reason I liked her. For whatever reason I never noticed in those movies how monotonous and plain ol' ANNOYING her voice is. This became clear in Bandslam and Beastly. Yes, I watch quality movies, obviously.
2. Neil Patrick Harris: It's not that I disliked him as Doogie Howser, but I definitely was not any particular fan of his. Now I adore him and think he's fantastic. Mostly because of HIMYM, where he's fantastic as Barney.
3. Katie Holmes: I started out liking her lots in Dawson's Creek, and even at the end when she was unredeemingly perfect, I still liked her. Not anymore. All the reasons Jenn hated her during DC have become much more apparent in her career since and yeah, I kinda can't stand watching any movie with her in it.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Latest in sci-fi: Falling Skies and Alphas

Ever since Lost and Battlestar Galactica ended, it seems like most attempts at sci-fi TV shows haven't gone so well, especially on the big networks. V, Flashforward, The Event...they were all pretty awful. I think a problem that they all stared was that they started out too ambitious: characters spread out into disconnected storylines which made them hard to care about. Maybe I'm sort of a "soft" science-fiction fan but I feel like sci-fi shows work best when they balance the "science" and mythology and action parts with good character development. Falling Skies (TNT) and Alphas (SyFy) both premiered this summer and while they're definitely not Lost or BSG, I think they do a much better job at striking that balance.

Falling Skies - I liked the pilot of this show and it's actually been improving steadily since then. The show starts some time after Earth has been invaded and largely destroyed by aliens and follows a group of survivors as they struggle to fight back. Noah Wyle stars as Tom Mason, a former history professor who is now second in command of this group, called the 2nd Massachusetts (like in the Revolutionary War). He was a bit annoying in the pilot constantly spouting examples from history that related to their current situation but that's been toned down and he's actually a very strong lead. There are definitely some shades of BSG here, with the group being comprised of both "fighters" and civilians between which tensions arise, and a little of Jericho too. I like that the show is following just this one group (we don't have much idea of what's happening in the rest of the country/world) and there have been some really good character moments that allow the audience to get invested. The action and special effects have pretty decent as well (this is a Steven Spielberg-backed project, after all) and this past week's episode started to reveal a bit more about the aliens' motives. So it's not the most innovative or exciting or different, but with good acting, writing, and production values, this is definitely solid. I'm hoping that they keep up the quality and momentum.

Alphas (SyFy) - On the surface this seems a lot like Heroes, which I guess is not necessarily a bad thing considering that Heroes was actually quite good at the beginning. But I think the difference here again, is that this show is not trying to bring together all these characters initially in separate storylines. It begins with the five main characters who have "abilities"(called Alphas) already working together in a team that is somehow supported by the government (they have offices and I assume, paychecks). They're led by Dr. Lee Rosen, who doesn't have an ability himself but serves as mentor/psychiatrist/parental figure for the team. He's played by Oscar nominee David Strathairn, whose mere presence brings the show up a notch. The abilities represented by the team are pretty standard, but with a twist. Rachel can enhance one of her senses...but at the expense of the other four. Bill, a former FBI agent, can activate his "fight or flight" response which makes him incredibly strong but can have serious after effects. The 90-minute pilot lagged in spots and I'm not sure how the show will progress week-to-week but I found myself liking a lot of the characters so I'm going to stick with it for now.

Another sci-fi show I really want to watch is Torchwood: Miracle Day but I don't have Starz and it won't be on Netflix streaming right away...

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Thursday Top Three: fall preview

M: Being bombarded with previews of fall shows so early in the summer, which shows are you most looking forward to seeing (old/new)?

1. The New Girl (FOX): Commercials for this show is what inspired the question. Everytime I see a preview for the show, I'm so annoyed that I have to wait MONTHS to watch it!
2. Grimm (NBC): Not really sure what this is about but I'm excited to see fairy tale inspiration, rather than wizards, witches, werewolves, and vampires. :)
3. Glee (FOX): So many off-season changes, and I've been watching The Glee Project, which I'm sad to admit I totally enjoy, so I'm looking forward to what's to come next. I hope we can get back to the season 1 freshness and away from the season 2 contrived-ness. Plus, senior year so this transition out of the original cast has potential.

1. Ringer (CW) - Sarah Michelle Gellar returns to TV! I don't think I really understand the premise but I'm optimistic.
2. New Girl (FOX) - I've realized that I kind of want to be Zooey Deschanel...
3. Community/Parks and Recreation (NBC) and The Vampire Diaries (CW) - My favorite shows from last season...all in the same hour.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Two summer diversions

Necessary Roughness (USA) - I don't know what attracted me to this show in the first place. Maybe because it's not about doctors, lawyers, or cops? I'm not that interested in pro football or psychology either though, which are the two things this does revolve around. But for some reason I kind of find it entertaining.

Callie Thorne (who I've never seen in anything else) is a strong lead as Dr. Dani Santino, a Long Island therapist who finds herself working for the New York Hawks, a fictional pro football team. She's also recently separated from her cheating husband and the mother to two difficult teenagers. Only two episodes have aired but I gather that each week she'll have a new patient while continuing to treat Terrence "TK" King, a player for the Hawks who's basically a loose cannon and also dealing with her family and love life.

My most important question, however, is: when in the world did Marc Blucas get so hot?? I thought he was so blah and boring as Riley on Buffy but here, as the Hawk's trainer, he actually has a personality! Also kind of fantastic: Scott Cohen (Max Medina from Gilmore Girls) as a mysterious Hawks employee whose job it seems is just to fix problems.

Love Bites (ABC) - I loved Becki Newton on Ugly Betty so I was excited when I heard about this show that was supposed to be about two single women. But then I guess it just fell apart in development...Jordana Spiro was supposed to be the second lead but she couldn't commit because of My Boys (which subsequently got cancelled) and then Becki Newton got pregnant. So they tried to retool the show as a sort of anthology series about love and relationships but there was more drama behind the scenes and eventually ABC cut the order and decided to just burn it off in the summer.

I don't really blame tends to be kind of cheesy and not particularly original but I actually do really like the format. Becki Newton as Annie and Greg Grunberg and Constance Zimmer as married couple Judd and Colleen are the only "regulars" and the three segments of each episode tend to be connected to them in some way but it allows for tons of familiar faces as guest stars. So far we've have Michelle Trachtenberg, Kyle Howard, Krysten Ritter, Bret Harrison (Reaper), Jay Harrington (Better Off Ted), Cheryl Hines, Matt Long (Jack & Bobby, Mad Men and the short lived The Deep End), Donald Faison, even Isaiah Mustafa (Old Spice Guy) and Ken Jeong (Community) just seemed like a really fun way for TV actors to do a little guest spot.

It really never would have survived during the regular season but it's cute enough that I'm happy that they're at least airing it this summer. Now, somebody get Becki Newton another project!!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Friday Night Lights: Always

I actually finished watching the final season of Friday Night Lights a couple of months ago when it aired on DirecTV but I decided to wait to blog about it until it closed out on NBC (which it did last night) and in a way that's let me kind of push off dealing with the fact that it really is all over. What I really want to do now is watch it all from the beginning again!

You know, I'm so thankful that we got five seasons of this show. Despite instant and fervent critical acclaim, the ratings were a disappointment from the start and it seemed like it was always on the verge of cancellation. But in a rare example of a TV network having faith in a quality show, it survived to a second season. And then DirecTV made an unprecedented deal to share costs and airing of the show which guaranteed the next three seasons.

Yes, there were missteps (ahem, second season), characters stuck in the same storylines over and over again (Street, Tyra, Julie),  things that never panned out (Santiago? Hastings? Epyck?) but overall, I don't hesitate to call this one of the highest quality shows in television. And it did it all with pretty much no flash or glamour. It rarely ventured outside of Dillon and never strayed from the honest and bare but amazingly un-melodramatic emotions that defined it from the very first episode. I have no personal connection to Texas, small towns or high school football, but this town, these characters, their stories... they got to me.

The last time I blogged about the show was in the middle of season 4, so let's talk about the last two seasons first. At the end of season 3, the show did something pretty risky. After ambiguously advancing the original cast of teenagers through high school, most of them finally graduated and ostensibly left the show. But instead of having Coach Taylor move on with the next generation of Dillon Panthers, it completely shook things up. Building tensions between Coach and the boosters throughout the season finally blew up with his ousting from the Panthers, but the surprise: a second high school was being reopened, East Dillon, and he was hired on to build their football program, the Lions. And just like that, Panther blue was suddenly evil!

I was initially hesitant about this move, but it became clear in season 4 that this was very smart. It put Coach Taylor in a completely different environment and introduced us to different kinds of characters. The Panthers retained nearly all their old players but East Dillon had to start from scratch with all kids from the less privileged areas of town (burning question, how does Dillon have so much "town" anyway??). Coach Taylor was now dealing with kids who'd never played football before, a far cry from the legacy born-and-bred Panthers across town. Landry and Julie (still seniors in season 4, don't ask) transfer over to East Dillon and bridge the gap to the new cast of teenagers introduced. While in the first generations of teens there wasn't really a main character, this time around there is one: Vince Howard, who eventually becomes quarterback. Wonderfully played by Michael B. Jordan, Vince has been in trouble with the law and is basically forced to join the Lions as a "last chance" and immediately reveals natural talent. His family situation proved to be one of the more interesting forces in the last season, as his absentee father returns and clashes with Coach Taylor in how to handle Vince's suddenly bountiful college prospects.

A big surprise among the new characters: Becky Sproles. She wasn't even credited in the main cast for season 4 despite having been in almost every episode but over the last two seasons she really grew into her own. Initially she kind of annoyed me with her fixation on Tim Riggins (he was living in her mother's trailer) but the episode where she discovers she's pregnant and has an abortion really drew me over to her side. In season 5, finding herself essentially abandoned by her somewhat awful parents, she forges a surrogate family with, of all people, Billy and Mindy Riggins, which led to some of the funniest scenes in the series. Mindy and her stripper friends just amused me to no end.  It's really funny how Billy and Mindy became such mainstays of the series. On the surface they're pretty horrible examples for Becky but they, especially Mindy, become fiercely protective of her in a way she'd never experienced before. Becky also has a nice slow-burn storyline with Luke Cafferty, a former star Panther who was exposed to actually be zoned for East Dillon.

One of my favorite things from the early seasons were the scenes of Matt and Smash and Riggins and Landry just hanging out together on the football field late at night and there was one episode in season 5 that kind of recreated that magic with the new generation bonding on a road trip to an away game, getting drunk on the balconies of their motel. I also loved the relatively minor re-introduction and rehabilitation of Buddy Garrity Jr. Talk about perfect casting!

Speaking of the original generation, I can't not talk about Tim Riggins and Matt Saracen. Tim first. It wasn't any surprise that Tim just decided that he didn't like college and came back to Dillon. But what was a surprise was the path they took him down after his return. Strapped for cash, Billy starts an illegal chop shop operation and Tim helps, reluctantly, but when it all goes bad, Tim takes the fall and goes to prison. When he's released in season 5 (with the help of Coach and Buddy Garrity) he's a completely different man. Angry, jaded,'s Tim like we'd never seen him before. Out of all the characters I think it's probably the least clear where Tim will end up in the future but the series did end on a hopeful note for him.

Now Matt: Zach Gilford had one of the best performances of season 4 in "The Son," where Matt deals with his father's death. Matt had put off art school in Chicago to stay in Dillon to take care of his grandma (and be with Julie) but was clearly drifting and the news of his father, who's been overseas in Iraq for years and who he barely knows, rocked him. In the next episode, he picks up and finally leaves Dillon. He returns for an arc in the second half of season 5 after Julie comes out of yet another rebellious and ridiculous crisis that causes her to leave college. I loved loved the scenes of their reunion and how they fell back in step with eachother. Julie alone can be really awful but with Matt...they just make sense. That's probably why I wasn't too outraged when the writers decided to go down the annoying married young route with them in the finale. It did serve as a catalyst for a much more interesting story with her parents' marriage, and hey, this is fiction and no one's going to sway me from believing that Matt and Julie are destined to be Eric and Tami version 2.0.

That brings us to the heart of this show: the Taylors. I don't really know what to say that hasn't been said. It was so wonderful to see a portrait of a marriage so strong but not always perfect. I think probably every fan of this show wants either to be the Taylors or for them to be their parents, or both. Their conflict in the series finale was so amazingly drawn. Tami, who's always supported and followed, for the most part, Eric in his coaching career, is now the one with a career opportunity of a lifetime: becoming dean of admissions at a college in Philadelphia. (How does one go from high school guidance counselor to principal to college dean of admissions in 5 years? Be awesome as Tami Taylor, obviously.) Eric at first doesn't even see moving as a possibility which is a huge blow to Tami. After yet another Julie crisis (announcing that she and Matt are engaged), Eric admits that it's her time. And the series ends with the Taylors in Philadelphia, Tami in her element at the college, and Coach with a new group of boys to inspire.

There's a ton of stuff that I haven't even gotten to--this is a monumental post already--but that just goes to show how brilliant and important this show has been over the years. Coincidentally, the show finally got its first Emmy nomination for Best Drama Series this week (along with well-deserved repeat nods for Kyle Chandler and Connie Britton). It probably won't win but I'm happy that it got that recognition at all.

Check out this wonderful oral history of the show, and to end on a happy note:


Thursday, July 14, 2011

Thursday Top Threes: Wasted Potential

Mira didn't have the brainpower to think of a question this week, so she passed the reins to the guestblogger.

Burkie: Top three TV or movie projects that had a great concept but failed to lived up to their potential.

1. Mystery Men. i love stories about lame superheroes and this one had it in spades: a guy who hurls silverware at people! a guy who hits people with a shovel! a guy who gets really mad! moreover, it had a great cast: william h. macy, geoffrey rush, janeane garofalo, peewee herman, ben stiller. alas, it just didn't deliver (actually, in my opinion, this whole category could probably be filled with ben stiller projects).
2. The Man Who Wasn't There. again, stuff & people i like: film noir, black & white, the coen brothers, billy bob thornton, frances mcdormand, and an interesting story about a nowhere man who schemes to get somewhere but it goes horribly wrong. it just didn't work for me. i didn't even finish watching it. i think the main problem was that nobody came across as very likable, which makes it hard to either root for somebody or feel much sympathy with them (again, i think coen brothers' projects could probably fill this list).
3. Life, Unexpected. is this CW show still on? jenn has blogged about it and mira & i were also initial fans, but it went downhill fast as it resorted to cliche after eye-rolling cliche storylines. waste of an engaging cast & premise.
Honorable mention: Photoblogged :)

1. Beastly -- Only because this is fresh in my mind. I loved the idea of a Beauty and the Beast rewrite in modern, high school times; especially since it was one of my favorite Disney animations! But yeah, it sucked. So much.
2. I Am Number Four -- An interesting concept as far as this genre goes and I think it could've been so much more. Instead it was overly predictable as if the writers were just trying to take shortcuts in creating the story. Interestingly, both of my posts so far star Pettyfer, who I also really do not like.
3. Avalon High -- I thought this book was great fun! Once again, a rewrite of something old in modern, high school times -- King Arthur. Unfortunately the Disney Channel original movie version of it sucked. So much. They tried to make it slightly different from the book but completely ruined it. COMPLETELY.

 Jennifer: I guess I'm going with only TV answers...
1. The Killing - I never reviewed this AMC series even though I watched the whole first season because it kind of went off the rails really fast and ended with one of the most frustrating and some might say, insulting, season finales ever. But it started off so promisingly. I initially found the lead character, Detective Sarah Linden, to be one of the more unique female characters on TV--quietly thoughtful and observant, strong but not overtly intimidating. Her partner and foil, Stephen Holder, was played by Joel Kinnaman in a truly interesting performance (the actor is Swedish but had these "urban" mannerisms and accent), and Michelle Forbes and Brent Sexton were fantastic as the grieving parents of the teenage murder victim Rosie Larsen. But the story just did not serve these characters. Too many red herrings, dumb plot twists, bad policework...and the ending was awful. Let's just say that the showrunner had to give all these defensive interviews afterward about how they never promised the audience any answers. The show was renewed for a second season but I doubt I'll be back.
2. Running Wilde - Keri Russell + Will Arnett + creator of Arrested Development = success, right? So many people, including me, were so excited about this show, but it just fell flat. Really disappointing.
3. Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip - I actually loved its debut despite myself. I thought Bradley Whitford and Matthew Perry were just fantastic together and the cast and world seemed so tight right from the beginning. But the show-within-the-show segments were just not funny and the ratings and writing started to tank at the same time. I gave up pretty early on, and NBC did too after the first season. Definitely wasted potential.

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Thursday Top Threes: Geeks!

J: Top three fictional computer geeks!

Jennifer: Way too many to choose from! Gotta go with the girl geeks first though!
1. Chloe O'Brian from 24. Hilariously blunt and grumbling and socially awkward but becomes Jack Bauer's most loyal and trusted sidekick.
2. Willow Rosenberg from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Well, more from the early seasons anyway. "It's the computer age! Nerds are in! They're still in, right?"
3. Chuck Bartowski from Chuck. I've been up and down on this show and all of the Chuck/Sarah relationship angst but I still really love Zachary Levi in this role. TV boyfriend!

Mira: Fun question!
1. Liz Lemon from 30 Rock: I mean, I only wanna be her and all, or at least have her job. :)
2. Seth Cohen from The OC: He got kind of annoying by the end of the show, but I thought they all got kind of annoying and stopped watching it, though Jenn swears the final season was okay. Still Seth in the early days was adorable!
3. Hiro from Heroes: Yet another show that got really annoying by the end, but I was super excited about the show when it first came out and I thought Hiro was one of the best, if not the best, characters on it!

Monday, July 04, 2011

SYTYCD: top 16

Talking with others about the first two weeks of SYTYCD, I agree -- wish they had just eliminated two in the first week of top 20. Then Yvetta and the tall tapper guy would still be here. :( And maybe some of my less favorite dancers would have been gone. Especially since a good number of them were in the bottom 3.

Yay for this week's guest judges -- Kristin Chenoweth and Lil C!

Sasha & Alexander: Sasha disappearing into the piano box was creepy! Especially when her hands peeked out. I'm having a really hard time warming up to Alexander but I do love Sasha. The judges are really right in that the girls are so, so, so strong this season! Her lines in the dance this week were gorgeous. I loooove KC -- "I played a tulip and a frog peed on me," quite a feat -- and I don't mean the ones on the bottom of you legs."

Caitlyn & Mitchell: I really like Caitlyn a lot. She's this season's Jeannine for me. (I didn't think much of her when Jeannine was first introduced on the show -- I commented that she was lucky to be Phillip Chbeeb's partner. Then I quickly learned the error of my ways to see that he was lucky to have her.) I thought she was amazing in this dance. Mitchell isn't... masculine and strong enough for me, at least not in Latin.

Miranda & Robert: I hate how Miranda and Robert talk, Miranda more so. Their dance was only okay for me. I think I was distracted by the tapping in the song that wasn't being interpreted on stage, but I guess that's a choreography thing. Also, I didn't really see the story that they were supposed to be telling. That's one number I won't be remembering.

Melanie & Marco: Kiss number 1. I thought this number would have been better if Melanie weren't wearing the really distractingly ugly dress that she was wearing. But I agree with the judges that they're one of the strongest couples in this competition. Melanie is a judges' favorite, and Marco has the great story (and I love his passion for dance that comes out with every performance). And kiss number 2 between Mary & Nigel. Eww. (And HILARIOUS. I love Cat Deeley's facial expression.) And Kiss number 3 and number 4... Poor Cat.

Ashley & Chris: What is it with jazz choreographers and zombies? Haha, in any case, I'm not a big fan of Ashley's but I thought she was really great in this Sonya zombie number. It is interesting to me how much every week the judges adore her, though. Chris was okay, but I didn't notice him much truthfully.

Clarice & Jess: I felt like this performance was not as smooth as you'd expect the foxtrot to be, especially set to "Fly Me to the Moon." It wasn't gliding for me, even though Mary Murphy claims they did it. Hmphh. The judges really loved it. I did not. I'd definitely not miss Jess leaving.

Ryan & Ricky: This piece was unexpectedly quieter than what I was expecting. But I thought that it was technically very impressive and I liked the concept. I've gotta say that the fabric rope thing was what I was staring at the entire time, though.

Jordan & Tadd: I think the best part of that performance was Tadd breaking across the floor in just his boxers. I felt I would enjoyed the routine better with a little less story, a little more dance. But it was fun.

My bottom 3 couples:
- Miranda & Robert
- Clarice & Jess
- Ashley & Chris

Actual bottom 3:
- Ashley & Chris
- Miranda & Robert
- Caitlyn & Mitchell (BOO!)

Miranda and Robert -- I guess no couple switch-ups again...

Saturday, July 02, 2011

Summer of ABCFamily

Burkie did his roundup of the summer USA and TNT shows that Mira and I don't watch so I figured it's my turn to summarize a network I do watch: ABCFamily!

First, a qualification. I would consider myself a fan of ABCFamily...they used to have really cute original movies back in the day and I've enjoyed many of their series throughout the years including Kyle XY, Greek, The Middleman, 10 Things I Hate About You, and Huge, but their latest offerings (and biggest hits, which is worrisome) have majorly turned me off. The Secret Life of the American Teenager makes me want to puke, Pretty Little Liars is just insane, and we all know how Mira and I fell out of love with Make it or Break it. But I still decided to check out their three new series this summer and I was happy to see that they're not exactly following in those footsteps.

Switched at Birth: As clear from the title of the show, this show is about two teenage girls who discover that they were switched in the hospital as babies. And of course, their families are complete opposites: Bay grew up with the Kennishes, a wealthy white family, while Daphne went home with Regina, a Hispanic single mother. The Kennishes are pretty entitled and conceited (Mr. and Mrs. are played by D.W. Moffett, who perfected the asshole dad routine as J.D. McCoy's dad on Friday Night Lights, and Lea Thompson, whose acting style I find really grating), while Regina is defensive and a little hot-headed (but supported by her wise, voice-of-reason mother).

A lot of the plot details are really obvious: Bay finds out that she's artistic and rebellious like Regina, Daphne is athletic like the Kennishes. They even immediately kind of swap love interests: Bay's ex-boyfriend Liam pursues Daphne, while Bay finds herself attracted to Ty, a boy from Daphne's neighborhood.

But there is one really different thing about this show, and it's kind of a big one that's keeping me interested: Daphne is deaf. While she speaks relatively well and can read lips, most people don't understand her world. The actress who plays her, Katie Leclerc, is really great. Daphne could have come off as insufferably saint-like but I found myself really liking her. Bay is actually the annoying one (it doesn't help that she's played by Vanessa Marano, who was Luke's long-lost daughter on Gilmore Girls, one of the worst characters ever) as kind of a brat who finally finds a reason to feel sorry for herself.

It's probably likely that I'll tire of this show and its ABCFamily-ness, especially if they renew the show and it airs during the regular TV season when I have less time, but for now I'll keep watching.

The Nine Lives of Chloe King: This is definitely my favorite of the a way it's kind of like the ABCFamily version of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. It's not as edgy or dark or witty as Buffy, but the lead, Skyler Samuels as Chloe, is really likable as a teenage girl who discovers that she has cat-like powers (and nine lives) and is part of an ancient tribe of some sort called the Mai, and she has two sidekicks, Amy and Paul, who are kind of Willow/Cordelia and Xander-like. They're brought into the secret right away, which I like, and they're also a couple right away too. Two other kids at school, Alek and Jasmine, are also Mai and believe that she is the "Uniter" and the key to saving the race. But this also means that she's being hunted by an assassin who has connections to the father of her love interest, Brian (played by Grey Damon who prettied up the final season of Friday Night Lights as Hastings but didn't get anything to do much else), whom she can't kiss because it'll probably kill him.

On the surface it all sounds somewhat ridiculous but it's actually kind of fun. I like all the characters and hope that the mythology doesn't get too crazy or dumb. Kyle XY started off kind of similarly but then eventually got really good (as good as ABCFamily gets anyway) so I'm hopeful about this one.

State of Georgia: Only one episode of this has aired and there were a lot of things I didn't like about it but I'll probably stick with it for a few weeks because of one reason: Majandra Delfino! She's been completely off the radar since her days as Maria on Roswell which is definitely a shame because she's so likable and has great comic timing here. She plays Jo, the nerdy best friend of Georgia (Raven-Symone, overacting as usual) who moves with her to New York to start their careers. Georgia wants to be an actress, and Jo is supposed to join a physics graduate program. The humor is really broad and in-your-face so I hope that gets toned down a little. We shall see...