Friday, September 30, 2011

Fall TV: Suburgatory

My first thought on hearing about this show: awful title. My second thought: Jeremy Sisto is old enough to be playing the father of a 16-year-old?? Man, I am getting old.

Anyway, my third thought: the premise didn't necessarily make sense to me...a single father finds condoms in his teenage daughter's room and decides that they need to move out of New York City to the suburbs? Like kids in the suburbs don't have sex? And the suburb they move to isn't like any suburb I've lived in...it's kinda Real Housewives of New Jersey where people are really tan and wear ridiculous clothes.

But all that aside, this was actually pretty funny. Jane Levy and Jeremy Sisto have good chemistry and comic timing as Tessa and her dad George, and the supporting cast (including Cheryl Hines) are almost caricatures but not quite. Unexpected, but there's definitely potential here.

Fall TV: Pan Am

Two network shows this fall appear to be trying to ride the coattails of Mad Men's success: NBC's The Playboy Club and ABC's Pan Am. Based partially on the subject matter and partially on bad reviews, I didn't even bother checking out the former but I did watch the latter and I was actually pleasantly surprised.

Judging by the pilot, this is a very different show from Mad Men. Mad Men has this rather brooding, contemplative and sometimes even sinister atmosphere to it while Pan Am starts off with, well, quite a lot of cheery fun. We are introduced to four young, beautiful stewardesses of the erstwhile airline, and while of course there are the indignities of being a female in that era (weigh ins, girdles, etc) and various complications in their lives (mainly romantic), they love their jobs and the opportunity to be independent and travel the world in glamorous fashion.

The biggest name in the cast is Christina Ricci, who plays Maggie, a beatnik type, but interestingly she had probably the smallest part in the first episode. Kelli Garner (who I liked in that show My Generation from last season that was awful but really watchable) is Kate, who is actually a spy on the side! And I didn't recognize the actresses playing the other two women, Laura (Kate's sister who was literally a runaway bride) and Collette (French? Or French-Canadian?) but they were both pretty likable as well. There are some men on this show, too, Mike Vogel as an optimistic, good-hearted pilot, and Michael Mosely as his womanizing copilot.

I'm not that clear on where the show is going to go moving forward -- it has some soapy elements but the premiere was kind of...feel-good, which is something kind of rare in dramas these days. While the show will clearly be incorporating some real-life history (there was this odd flashback of some of the crew rescuing people from the Bay of Pigs), I kind of doubt it'll be getting too gritty. Everything is pretty...glossy. But I don't necessarily have a problem with that, so I'm definitely interested to see how things progress.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Thursday Top Threes: Conspiracy Theory

burkie (filling in for mira this week):  conspiracy stories are big business in books, movies, and TV (not to mention journalism).  what are your top three?

burkie:
1. The Manchurian Candidate - the original film starring frank sinatra, laurence harvey, and angela lansbury.  thrilling stuff.  caught some of the remake with denzel washington on TV once, but it didn't come close.
2.  L.A. Confidential - conspiracy plus noir, so you know i like it. a great cast (russell crowe, guy pierce, and kevin spacey) and superbly directed.  one of my all-time favorite films.
3.  The Da Vinci Code - the novel by dan brown.  although i enjoyed Angels & Demons more from a story perspective, the sheer scope & magnitude of the conspiracy in The Da Vinci Code is fascinating.
honorable mention: The Chancellor Manuscript by Robert Ludlum.  not his best-known novel, but i love the conspiracy that he weaves around the death of j. edgar hoover.

Jennifer:
1. The X-files- Um, I watched all 9 seasons (plus 2 feature films) of this show and I can't really explain the conspiracy or how things ended up. But I did really like Cigarette Smoking Man and Krycek and the Lone Gunmen and all that stuff throughout the course of the series.
2. North by Northwest - Perhaps because conspiracy stories are usually twisty and confusing but I don't remember many details about any of my top three. I need to rewatch this...
3. The 39 Steps - I actually only watched the recent BBC version of this with Rupert Penry-Jones which supposedly paled in comparison to the Hitchcock version but I really liked the story. I'll definitely have to watch the Hitchcock film sometime.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Fall TV: Hart of Dixie

I'm a fan of Rachel Bilson from her days as Summer Roberts on The OC and her new show, Hart of Dixie has a nice old-school WB feel, despite it being from Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage (who kind of pioneered the move away from those shows with the aforementioned OC and Gossip Girl). I'm not sure if there's really an audience for this show anymore (similar feeling Privileged and, at least initially, Life Unexpected, didn't last very long) but I rather liked it.

Bilson plays Zoe Hart, a rising star surgeon who is rejected from her desired NYC cardiothoracic fellowship because she's supposedly too cold and impersonal with her patients. Her plans foiled, she accepts a job as a general practitioner in small town Bluebell, Alabama. When she arrives, she discovers that the man who offered her the job has passed away and left her his half of the practice. (The other half, Dr. Breeland, is not so welcoming.) After some initial mishaps, an emergency baby delivery (of course), and a revelation that ties Zoe to the town in a way she never expected, Dr. Hart is in Bluebell to stay.

Yeah, it all sounds kind of cheesy and predictable. But Bilson is charming (even though she's really stretching credibility as a cold, detached Cristina Yang type) and so is Scott Porter (Jason Street from Friday Night Lights) as a lawyer returned to his hometown to marry his childhood sweetheart, the ridiculously named Lemon Breeland (played by Jaime King, doing her usual Jamie King thing). Also in the cast is Cress Williams (also from FNL, but in a very different role) as former football player and town mayor.

I'm glad that the CW isn't just making teen shows anymore and I think this may have the potential to become a Gilmore Girls-esque quirky small town show. And hopefully Schwartz and Savage have enough clout with the network that they won't get pressured to "spice things up" aka run the show into the ground...

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Sing-Off: season 3, week 2

Seriously, The Sing-Off would get a little more respect from me if it stopped trying to blatantly steal Glee's thunder. First, to announce itself as starting a musical movement in America? This TV trend is definitely thanks to Glee, which found success, in my opinion, partly due to American Idol watchers. Then, there's the thing of The Sing-Off's group numbers two weeks in a row-- both songs highlighted in last season's Glee and used in The Glee Project as well! "Raise Your Glass" performed by The Warblers and "Sing" sung by the New Directions. Sigh. The Sing-Off in its own right has so much going for it but these choices make it impossible not to draw these riding-on-the-coattail-of-Glee's-success conclusions.

Now onto my thoughts about this week's 8 groups...

Pack One:
  • Dartmouth Aires: (performing "Higher Ground") This group amused me, from their personality to their outfits. You can tell that they're totally having a blast! I think it's funny that the groups are each given a color to differentiate in their first week of performances and the Aires chose green and orange! Haha. All the way to their socks and shoes.
  • Pentatonix: (performing "E.T.") This was a really interesting arrangement. Their bass and effects were ridiculously awesome. I was worried cuz the groups who try to do something dance-y often give performances that are pretty disastrous but this group of FIVE pulled it off!
  • Messiah's Men: (performing some gospel song) I think it's awesome that they got a group of refugees who banded together through acapella to be on the show. These men were so inspiring. They don't have the wow factor of some of the other performances but they have such a story. Plus it gives you a warm and fuzzy happy feeling to watch and listen to them perform.
  • Two groups of five in the first pack! Sonos (performing "Wicked Game"). Apparently they normally perform using effects pedals--Ingrid (Michaelson) does that! I wouldn't mind seeing Sonos in concert but I didn't think they were dynamic enough to make it out of the first pack. Great sound but there was very little on the performance side.
Surprisingly, the judges chose Messiah's Men to leave this week. (No more curse of performing second in your pack, though!) :(

Pack Two:
  • The Collective (performing "Rolling in the Deep"). Their lead singer is the one I didn't like in the full ensemble number. I also felt like there was too much going on in this number. This group felt less cohesive than the other groups for me.
  • Soul'd Out (performing "Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In"): What horrible outfits the girls were wearing. Cuz there were so many of them (a group of 16!), I really thought it was hard for the leads to pop. Plus the leads had good voices but not great, commanding voices like some of the other lead vocalists in the other groups.  They did have some great harmonies together, though.
  • North Shore (performing "Runaround Sue"): A doowop group and they were so cute! They finally brought the energy the second half of the episode was sorely missing!
  • Deltones (performing "Feels Like Home") The group supported their lead vocalist so perfectly in this number. And the lead vocalist had one of the strongest lead vocals in this pack. With the weak performance by the first two groups, I definitely thought they were safe.
Oddly the Collective was saved before Deltones in this pack, but ultimately the judges sent home Soul'd Out. (And the curse of performing second in the pack returns!)

Once again while watching this week's group of eight, I was wondering how the packs of four were determined? The first two of the final pack were weaker than any of the groups in the first pack in this episode or the last pack in the first week's episode! I definitely would have sent home The Collective before Messiah's Men or Cat's Pajamas, personally. Oh well.  I'm not sure I have any strong favorites, but I am looking forward to some fun musical performances!!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Thursday Top Threes: Food!

J: Stole this topic from my favorite podcast Pop Culture Happy Hour -- what are your top three favorite movies about food or featuring food? 

Mira: Stopping by cuz I can. And I LOVE this question!
1. No Reservations: Loved this, and made me wanna eat everything they were making.
2. Simply Irresistable: A silly movie, but so likable.
3. Chicken Run: It's probably extremely horrible that I put this on the list... but... I remember still watching this in the movie theater and the movie making me really crave chicken pot pie. Why is this so terrible, you ask? Well, it's a movie about chickens trying to run away from people who had created this machine where you stuck the chicken in and out popped a chicken pot pie.
Honorable mention: Waitress for the pies, if only I liked pie more.
Need to watch: Ratatouille, Julie & Julia, Chocolat, Tortilla Soup.
I think I know at least one, if not two, of Burkie's answers. :)

 Jennifer: My answers are pretty standard...
1. Big Night: I can still picture that crazy timpano. Love Stanley Tucci!
2. Eat Drink Man Woman: Mmmm Chinese food.
3. Julie & Julia: The Julie parts of the movie kind of grated but all the scenes with Meryl Streep as Julia Child eating were hilarious and made me really really hungry. And Stanley Tucci again!
Honorable mention: The movie isn't about food, but I love the scenes in Sabrina at the culinary school in Paris =)

Fall TV: airplane previews

So, my favorite thing about flying internationally is the personalized entertainment systems that allow you to choose from tons of movies to watch.  Except for when the airlines don't have this luxury available; then there's nothing nice about flying internationally -- it's just long, uncomfortable, and your sleep schedule gets all screwed up.

On a recent flight, I got lucky and one of my many legs had my favorite personalized entertainment system and believe me, I made use of it. I watched Something Borrowed (fun enough), Midnight in Paris (really enjoyed it and thought-provoking in the Woody Allen way), Bridesmaids (fun!), Arthur (not horrible), and two sneak season premiers: Revenge and Once Upon a Time! I have no idea why they were available on the flight, but since they're on my list of shows I plan to watch this fall, I took full advantage of the opportunity!  At this point Revenge has already aired, but Once Upon a Time won't premier for another month... Here are a few of my thoughts on both premiers!

[Incidentally, the funniest part of my movie watching experience is that the 40- or 50-something Asian American man sitting next to me on the plane watched pretty much all the same movies as me during this flight, with the exception of Arthur I think. Every time I glanced over at his screen, he was watching the SAME MOVIE AS ME.]

Revenge
So, as I blogged previously, my knowledge of this show was minimal and my expectations were low. I was definitely wrong to assume this would just be another run of the mill drama -- I'm hooked!  The show drew me in from the opening scene and as we watched the complex relationships between all the characters unfold, I was impressed! It was everything Ringer failed to be; it didn't fall into the trap of being a pilot that needed to set up a story.  It accomplished all that but it really unveiled the story beautifully and everything about it was just fantastic!

Short synopsis: Emily Thorne (born Amanda Clarke) has returned to the Hamptons to enact revenge on the families that helped destroy her father and thus her childhood. From her father's lover, the wife and queen of the Hamptons, Victoria Grayson, to his secretary Lydia Davis, who was having an affair with Victoria's husband, Conrad. Additionally, the story starts with Emily's engagement party to Victoria and Conrad's son, Daniel, who is shortly found murdered on the beach. If that doesn't build a complicated enough social network, Amanda's best friend as a child, Jack Porter still lives in the area with a boat named after Amanda; and she's able to afford this Hampton's lifestyle due to the success of a business partner of her father's.

Yeah it's complicated, there are a lot of characters and even more storylines accompanying each of the characters and their relationships with each other.  But despite ALL that craziness, it was laid out beautifully in the pilot. I'm excited to see where this show goes and I'm already rooting for Amanda and Jack! :)

Once Upon a Time
I was super excited about this show, as evidenced in a previous post. Fairy Tales, Ginnifer Goodwin (I'm not sure why, but I really like her), and well, that's all I needed to be really excited.  I was less excited about Jennifer Morrison (better known as Cameron from House), but you know what?  I liked her in this show!  I was worried that my high expectations would lead to disappointment, but it did not. If anything, I am even more excited to see where this show goes; unfortunately, I have to wait another MONTH before they even air the episode I already watch.... meaning 5 weeks before another new episode. Sigh.

Synopsis (ignore this if you want to be surprised by the premier): Snow White and her Prince have their happily ever after only to have it threatened by the evil stepmother.  The kingdom discovers that the only way to save it is through the child of Snow White and the Prince who is placed in a special closet for safekeeping (the evil people were attacking).  This child (a daughter) grows up in normal, non-fairy tale world and has a child of her own who she gives up for adoption at birth because she's so screwed up herself from not having had any parents. The next generation child is adopted and raised in the town where all the fairy tale people ended up after the evil attack, having forgotten their true identities. Now the previous generation child needs to go and save fairy tale land. Following all that? :)

Basically, fairy tale world existed but it got melded into regular world and now Snow White's child needs to go and save fairy tale world and bring the happily ever after back.  I loved how the fairy tale was shared and I thought the cast was all perfectly chosen to play the parts.  There's so much more to unravel and so much potential with where this show can go -- I'm really excited! And really hating that I have to wait another five weeks...

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Fall TV: two cute premiers

New Girl

I watched the sneak peek premier that was available on fox.com for whatever reason. The actual TV premier is tonight! The show was everything I expected it to be, mostly because the first episode was pretty much 40% already shown in all the promos for the show. Sort of like how Modern Family started out. In any case, if you were wondering if Zooey was going to be as cute as ever -- she is. If you were wondering if the characters were going to be amusing -- they are. If you were wondering if this show has high potential for success-- it does. Now I need to see some new material!

Oh yeah, for anyone not in the know -- since Jenn does this for all new shows -- a short synopsis. Zooey Deschanel plays Jessica, a teacher who recently walked in on her boyfriend cheating on her.  Though Zooey is gorgeous, somehow she always chooses to play quirky characters and Jessica's quirk is that she's nerdy in the way that would get skinny boys picked on and thrown in lockers. Anyway, she finds a new place to live with 3 guys: Coach a trainer (who apparently only was in the pilot) soon to be Winston a professional basketball player, Nick who is still nursing a broken heart from a breakup 6 months earlier, and Schmidt who plays a guy who tries to hard and thus is forced to pay up to the "douchebag jar" on a regular basis.

All I can do is hope that this show can find a strong direction that keeps us watchers hooked. I love Zooey and I really want her to stay on TV! :)


2 Broke Girls

This show had a decidedly sitcom feeling to it, which is hard for me to get past sometimes.Still, it has some witty dialogue, especially Kat Dennings' character, Max. Additionally, it didn't try to draw out storylines too much -- lots happened quickly: Max realizing the despair of Caroline's (the other broke girl) new life and feeling sorry for her; Caroline meeting Max's hot boyfriend, Max dumping the hot boyfriend because he's a man-slut.  I think that the sarcastic but soft-hearted nature of Max is well paired with the ditzy but very smart nature of Caroline.  Hopefully the show will find more to develop, but the first episode set everything up well...

So yeah, what the show is about: There are two girls, one who was always broke and working two jobs as a waitress and a nanny for a rich yuppie family with twins, and one who's father was just convicted of a ponzi scheme thus freezing all of the family's assets. The formerly rich one gets a job at the diner in Brooklyn because none of her upper east side friends would ever catch her there and ends up moving in with the always poor one. The two together plan on trying to save their money to open a cupcake shop, with the always poor one baking and the formerly rich one managing the business with her Wharton MBA. At the end of episode 1 they have saved $327 toward the $250,000 they need.

The Sing-Off: It's back!

And of course I'm blogging about it... :) I'm surprised at how quickly NBC got the episode onto the website for viewing; fortunately that meant I got to catch up right away! Week 1 showcased 8 out of the 16 total groups. The 8 groups were split up and one group was eliminated of each group of 4, leaving 6 groups into the next round.  Next week will showcase the remaining 8 groups.  Here were my thoughts on the groups that performed last night!

First group of four:
  • Yellow Jackets (performing "Wavin' Flag"): Wow! Powerful performance and what a fantastic song. I'd never heard it before but this performance made me want to buy it-- both the acapella version by this group and the original!
  • Fannin Family (performing "Who Says"): It amuses me that they picked a Selena Gomez song to perform on this show. There were some areas that just felt choppy for me but I thought they were a cute family!
  • Afro-Blue (performing "Put Your Records On"): I thought their arrangement was really interesting but I'm not sure I was fully sold on the whole performance. I think of a higher, sweeter melody rather than the softer sound heard here.
  • I love how the show inspires groups to form, like Delilah (performing "Grenade"). I had low expectations and thought there might be pitch issues but instead I thought this performance was incredible!!
In this group, I would have chosen to eliminate the Fannin Family; the judges agreed.

Second group of four:
  • So excited that there's a rapper/rapapella this year in Urban Method (performing "Love the Way You Are"). Heehee, I like how the rapper, Mike?, calls the group his "crew." I loved how the acapella backed up the rapping so perfectly!!
  • Cat's Pajamas (performing "Some Kind of Wonderful"): I loved their classic acapella sound. Their experience in performing together was easy to see; they made it look and sound so easy!
  • Kinfolk 9 (performing "Secrets"): I love this song. Their arrangement was pretty but I think they could have done without the mixed lead vocals. It felt like they needed a stronger deep sound below (though the judges praised the bass); I thought that it sounded like there was too much only in the high register.
  • Vocal Point (performing"Jump, Jive, and Wail"): That was awesome and ballsy, especially given that  it's a song so strongly driven by it's beat for swing dancing. I thought it was performed perfectly. Can't believe all their dancing while singing that!
Unfortunately my send home in this group was the self-proclaimed underdogs, Kinfolk 9. Fortunately for them, the judges disagreed and sent home Cat's Pajamas. Kinda makes it seem like second is not a good place to go in performance since both groups that performed second in their group of four were eliminated tonight.

I definitely always wonder how they choose to split up the contestants as they do. Four groups of four and one is eliminated in each group. What if one group had four perfectly fantastic performances and another had four mediocre ones?!? Not fair!

Final note, I really, really, really liked Sara Bareilles!!! She has the right mixture of being natural/silly and knowing her music.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Fall TV: The Secret Circle

So I don't know what happened to Kevin Williamson in the 5 or so years in between Dawson's Creek ending and The Vampire Diaries starting, but whatever it is, I'm really glad. TVD has been firing on all cylinders for two seasons (no sophomore slump for them) and now he's adapted another L.J. Smith young adult book series, The Secret Circle. Witches!

Predictably, I really enjoyed this. Life Unexpected went downhill FAST but Britt Robertson was definitely a find and it's no surprise that the CW immediately gave her another star vehicle. The series starts off with a bang: Cassie's single mom is killed in a house fire started magically by a man who never sets foot inside the house. Cassie has to move to Washington state to live with her grandmother where her mother grew up and of course, things start happening.

It turns out that the teens in this town have magical powers handed down through the generations and Cassie completes the "circle." Something bad happened with their parents' generation though, and there's plenty of secrets and hidden motivationss to uncover. The current circle includes Adam, whose father was in love with Cassie's mom and is convinced that history is set to repeat itself; his girlfriend Diana (ruh oh), unofficial leader of the circle whose father set the fire that killed Cassie's mom; Nick, Cassie's brooding neighbor; Faye, mean girl daughter of the high school principal; and Melissa, Faye's best friend. The younger cast is mostly unknowns but they're building up a nice dynamic among the 6 of them.

I really didn't like the Vampire Diaries pilot (I actually gave it up for a few weeks before trying again) but the producers have clearly learned a lot in the past two years. This pilot is tight. The music, the pacing, the effects, the lighting...it's all very slick. This show will probably skew a little younger than TVD but I think it's a great pairing and I'm looking forward too see how it progresses!

Odds and ends:
- I like that there will be lots of town history and mythology, like on TVD.
- Faye's bitchy but kind of awesome.
- We're clearly supposed to be shipping Cassie and Adam but I'm probably going to be feeling sorry for Diana.
- No eye candy on the level of Ian Somerhalder or Paul Wesley, but I've always liked Thomas Dekker, who plays Adam, back from his days on Heroes and The Sarah Connor Chronicles.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Fall TV: Ringer

I'll be the first to admit that I really really wanted to like this. I'm a huge Sarah Michelle Gellar fan from her Buffy days and I've been hoping for years that she would come back to TV after some underwhelming attempts at a movie career. And the pieces with Ringer all seem right: a double role playing twins, great supporting cast including Nestor Carbonell (Lost), Kristoffer Polaha (Life Unexpected) and Ioan Gruffud (Fantastic Four), and more modest expectations on the CW (it was originally developed for ratings giant CBS).

Gellar plays twins Bridget, a former stripper and recovering addict who is on the run from being a witness in a murder case and Siobhan, a wealthy socialite in New York. The sisters reunite after 6 years of not being in touch and go on a boat trip in the Hamptons (with some of the worst green screen effects I've seen recently), during which Siobhan mysteriously disappears. Bridget, assuming Siobhan committed suicide, panics and decides to take over her sister's identity. She quickly discovers that Siobhan's life is not at all perfect--her marriage is a sham, she's having an affair with her best friend's husband (and is probably pregnant with his child)...and has a contract out on her life too. Oh, and Siobhan's not actually dead.

So how did this all come off? Well, pretty...boring. I know that there's a certain amount of set up and world building that needs to take place during a pilot and I guess that stuff was achieved but I still felt like nothing really happened. SMG was fine, as was the supporting cast, but there just wasn't a lot to latch onto. I've read interviews with SMG referring to the show as trying to be film noir but I didn't really get much of that either.

I don't know, perhaps this is the kind of show that takes a couple of episodes to establish itself, and I'm definitely going to give it a chance, but based on this premiere, I think I'm a little worried. The show seems to be taking itself awfully seriously and it doesn't necessarily fit in with the other CW offerings either (it's airing after 90210 for some reason). Let's hope that things get a bit more interesting in the upcoming weeks...

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Thursday Top Threes: Local Color

B: which three TV shows do the best job of featuring their setting, to the point that the show wouldn't work if it were set anywhere else, and you'd feel like you already knew the place if you were to visit there based on the show?

Burkie:
1.  Friday Night Lights:  so texas, so perfect.  dillon, texas doesn't really exist, but it's as real as any texas town i've ever lived in, and so are the characters.
2.  Memphis Beat:  no suprise here, i suppose.  this show captures the best of memphis (and, thankfully, leaves out the worst) and highlights what a truly unique city it is, including the music.
3.  Gilmore Girls:  while Stars Hollow, CT isn't a real town, it certainly came to life for fans of this show and, for me, was as much a star of the show as lorelei or rory or luke.  i'd like to think that there are quirky new england towns like this with their goofy town hall meetings and colorful characters.  the show certainly would not have worked had it been set in new mexico.

Jennifer:
1. Gossip Girl: Definitely not the New York City world that I grew up in so I can't speak to whether there are people who actually live like Blair and Serena but I love that the show actually films in the city. I can't stand the fake NYC of studio lot shows.
2. Wonderfalls: So many shows are set in California or big cities so I liked that this show was centered around the somewhat random but real location of Niagara Falls, NY. Again, not sure about accuracy but they seemed to feature some local mythology and such about the falls.
3. Roswell: Obvious choice but having a show about aliens in Roswell, New Mexico was definitely fitting.

Friday, September 09, 2011

Jennifer: what I'm watching this fall

I'm lazy so I'm just sharing my entire spreadsheet. I've added the premiere dates as well. Look for my usual new series reviews...I'm planning to watch as many as possible!

Mira: what i'm watching this fall -- sundays


Sunday has never been a big TV night for me in the past, especially since I don't watch any of the adult animation shows. In fact, Sunday night in the falls = NFL, but this year it will be quite different...

The Amazing Race (CBS, 8:00-9:00PM): I got hooked on The Amazing Race pretty late (last spring), but I loooooove it. I love traveling and trying out different activities on my vacations so this show is perfect to turn to for inspiration.  Plus the different pairs that work together can be quite amusing (and annoying, too, unfortunately)!

Once Upon a Time* (ABC, 8:00-9:00PM): I looooooooove fairy tales and happily ever afters. Good example of this: my love for the movie Enchanted! As such, I am super excited about this show that is based on worlds straddling fairy tale and real world.

The Good Wife (CBS, 9:00-10:00PM): This show is one of the best on TV by far in my opinion, and given how much I watch -- HIGH praise!  I love Julianne Marguiles as Alicia Florick and think she deserves to win the best actress Emmy (even over Connie Britt, who I also love).  There's just so much to rave about that I could go on forever, but basically I cannot wait to see where they will go this season!

Pan Am*(ABC, 10:00-11:00PM): Christina Ricci kind of scares me but regardless I think Pan Am sounds interesting. They've tried TV shows about airports (LAX) before with no success, but the idea of focusing on pilots and flight attendants? Fascinating and potential for so much drama!!

Also on our DVR, though I am not sure if I will watch:
Homeland* (Showtime, 10:00-11:00PM)

* New show.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Mira: what i'm watching this fall -- fridays

I don't know if it's just me, but when a TV show that I watch is moved to Friday nights, I automatically assume that the networks are trying to kill it off...

Chuck (NBC, 8:00-9:00PM): I was quite surprised that Chuck seemingly found new life last season.  This is the show that just keeps going and manages to find just enough twist to set stage for a season that can prove to be different from the last. But now that it's played with having the dad be the twist, the mom be the twist, the sister learning about the spy family be the twist... well, I'm not quite sure where it will go. But it's managed to be a lot more fun and interesting than I had ever expected it could be.

Nikita (The CW, 8:00-9:00PM): I really hope that The CW is not trying to get rid of this show because I really like it! Of course it'll take some serious creativity to find a direction to go in that will ensure sustainability of a story. (Kind of like how Alias got really old after a while.) But I really love a lot of the characters in this show and I just wanna see them be happy already!!!

Grimm* (NBC, 9:00-10:00PM): There is so much potential with a TV show that builds off of the Grimm Fairy Tales for inspiration... I have not let myself research too much into what this show will be like, but I have high hopes anyway!  I hope that whatever it is, the show surprises me (in a good way).

Blue Bloods (CBS, 10:00-11:00PM): This show is like Numbers for me (another Friday night show, I think). I don't watch every episode of it, but I'll watch if it happens to be on while I'm in the living room. And I'll get sucked in as well.  The Reagans are a really interesting family and the play of cops, detectives, politicians, and lawyers is very interesting. Quite a cast as well!

* New show.

Thursday Top Threes: Pilots

J: The fall TV season is almost here! What are your top three favorite pilot/series premiere episodes of all time?


Mira:
1. Pushing Daisies: I can still imagine scenes from this pilot, and it's been a couple years since I've watched it. Ned describing bringing his mom back to life, only to accidentally kill her again; running around in a meadow of daisies with his dog (Digby?) and then his dog gets hit by a vehicle and he brings the dog back to life; describing Chuck's crazy mermaid aunts... It was so vibrant and represents the show's quirkiness so perfectly in 40 minutes.
2. Glee: This episode also well represents what made Glee so exciting and fun and great in the beginning! From highlighting all the characters through their audition songs to introducing snarky Sue, gullible Finn, enthusiastic Mr. Schuester... And of course, "Don't Stop Believing."  Perfection. :)
3. Alias: This is the only pilot episode of a show that hooked me so much I ended up watching 8 straight episodes in a row.  Actually no, Veronica Mars may have hooked me in a similar way. (I watched the entire first season over the span of one weekend.) But I'll still give Alias an edge. I mean the red wig, the Chinese speaking, the excitement of a story told forward and backward -- it was a great pilot!

 Jennifer:
1. Friday Night Lights: I hadn't seen the movie, I didn't know anything about Texas, I had no interest in football, but this pilot, especially the second half, just shot me straight through the heart. Love love LOVE.
2. Lost: I ended up having plenty of problems with this show, but one thing I'll give J.J. Abrams is that he definitely knows how to start off a show (perhaps that's why he's had more success in movies lately). There was a lot to set up -- a huge cast of characters, the flashback construct, the mystery/possibly sci-fi style and atmosphere -- and it was hugely successful with all of it. It's been rare that a pilot excited me as much as this one.
3. Roswell: A less obvious choice, perhaps, but don't forget that this show was created and written by Jason Katims who went on to run FNL and Parenthood. All the characters are introduced so well, the use of music is amazing (especially love the first scene in the Crashdown of Max saving Liz with Sarah McLachlan's "Fear" building in the background), and there's a nice balance of romance, humor, action, and suspense. Ah, the old days of the WB...

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Mira: what i'm watching this fall -- thursdays

Thursdays are busy TV nights for me -- and I don't even watch Must See TV NBC sitcoms!

Charlie's Angels* (ABC, 8:00-9:00PM): Another show with a Friday Night Lights alum, one that I didn't like very much as well -- Minka Kelly. I never saw the original, but I did see the movie version with Cameron Diaz, Drew Barrymore and Lucy Liu.  For whatever reason, I'm curious how this new set of angels will do...

The X Factor Results* (Fox, 8:00-9:00PM)

Grey's Anatomy (ABC, 9:00-10:00PM): This consistently remains one of my favorite shows, even when the story lines get frustrating. This is the show I search for spoilers for the most and with good reason! Last season ended with a lot of crazy cliffhangers: Christina is preggerz and might abort the baby; Meredith tampered with Derek's Alzheimer's research and is getting fired; April got named head resident; MerDer adopted an African baby but Derek walked out on Merideth because of the research tampering. Despite some frustrating storylines, the writers can be trusted to get it to come together nicely, so I look forward to the new season!

Person of Interest* (CBS, 9:00-10:00PM): I have no idea what this is about but it's a J.J. Abrams show so of course I will watch it.  Then again, it's a J.J. Abrams show so I probably should NOT watch it because truthfully, J.J. Abrams shows have fantastic starts but always go terribly awry...

The Secret Circle* (The CW, 9:00-10:00PM): Enough with the vampires and werewolves! A story about witches!  Oh wait, they used to have a show about witches -- Charmed.  It's okay, it's been long enough and this show seems different enough that I will give it a shot. Plus, I'm still kicking myself for not having watched The Vampire Diaries and now being so far behind!

Private Practice (ABC, 10:00-11:00PM): The other half of Grey's Anatomy; well, sort of.  This show has really made a place for itself and I've found I really enjoy it a lot. However, unlike with Grey's, I am quite a bit more unforgiving with its story line twists and cliff hangers. It ended on Addison wanting a baby, Pete having a heart attack, Violet being selfish and leaving, and uh... that's all I remember. I was not happy with where Private Practice went toward the end of the season in terms of story, but I do love the characters and super complex relationships. OH YEAH, Cooper and Charlotte got married -- okay, the writers are forgiven for all the other crappy story lines.

Also on our TV watch list, but I am not positive I will be watching:
How to Be a Gentleman* (CBS, 8:30-9:00PM):
Prime Suspect* (NBC, 10:00-11:00PM):

* New show.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Mira: what i'm watching this fall -- wednesdays

My Wednesday night TV starts on September 21.  Interesting enough, Wednesday is my lightest TV night. Gives me a chance to catch up on my Monday and Tuesday night TV! Well, not really, since Wednesday night is also trivia night. So a light TV night is good!

The X Factor* (Fox, 8:00-9:30PM): My current guess is that this will be the first new show that I'll drop.  I don't envision myself sticking with it, especially if I have to watch it online or en masse off my DVR in late October... but I am curious enough to at least give it a try. Also given the variety of talent shows(Sorry, it looked like an incomplete thought but it was an incomplete deletion.)

Harry's Law (NBC, 9:00-10:00PM): This show was a surprise for us last year. We definitely were not expecting to enjoy it so much. And I definitely did not expect it would be renewed. Regardless, I'm glad it's back and I look forward to more of the dysfunctional shoe store law firm.

Revenge* (ABC, 10:00-11:00PM): I'm not really sure how this story is going to unfold but what I gather from it, the show is about a girl who comes to avenge the deaths of her parents. The wikipedia entry on the show indicates it is based off of The Count of Monte Cristo, which is interesting, and uh, I've never read. So yeah, mysterious, but sounds intriguing.

* New show.

Monday, September 05, 2011

Mira: what i'm watching this fall -- tuesdays

Now for my Tuesday night lineup... :)

Glee (Fox, 8:00-9:00PM): Season two was quite disappointing and I'd have to say there were only a handful of episodes I enjoyed last season ("Duets," "Born this Way" to name two).  Hopefully the show doesn't get overrun with the celebrity guests (ugh, Gwyneth) and can get back to the roots of what makes it so great. Watching The Glee Project this summer reminded me of that: the great songs, the diverse characters.  Get away from the contrived story lines and remember: less can be more!!  That reminds me, I'm excited to see how they incorporate the four semifinalists (two who got 7-episode arcs, two who got 2-episode arcs) into the show!


The New Girl* (Fox, 9:00-9:30PM): I've been so excited about this show and have blogged about it earlier. I'm a huge fan of Zooey Deschanel, I saw 1,122,182,382 commercials for it while watching So You Think You Can Dance, and the premise is really cute. I hope the show lives up to my every expectation and I really hope that they didn't show most of the first 3 episodes in all the commercials (because I've seen MANY different scenes in all those commercials). By the way, it's kind of a big deal that I've watched the commercials: I have DVR and can, and usually do, fast forward through them but I watched it anyway.


Ringer* (The CW, 9:00-10:00PM): I'm not quite sure what this show is about and it sounds awfully similar to an ABC Family show I've been watching, The Lying Game. A twin sister taking over the life of the other twin sister and then having to deal with the repercussions of the life that the second sister left behind?  Whatever it is, I'll give it a try because Sarah Michelle Gellar (Buffy!) is back on TV.


Parenthood (NBC, 10:00-11:00PM): This show was slow in take-off but has built such a great, diverse set of characters and relationships.  Where the stories left off: Adam learns Christina is preggerz and there looks to be potential for a Jasmine-Crosby reunion. I love how the show makes you feel like you're in each scene with the Bravermans and observing family dialogue in an intimate setting. There are good surprises, the right disappointments, twists for the sake of growth and not story line; great show and I can't wait to see what happens with the Bravermans this year!

Shows that will also be on my DVR, but I'm not watching:
NCIS (CBS, 8:00-9:00PM)
NCIS: LA (CBS, 9:00-10:00PM)
Body of Proof (ABC, 10:00-11:00PM)
Unforgettable* (CBS, 10:00-11:00PM)


* New show.

Sunday, September 04, 2011

The Hour Has Come

burkie here, with apologies to jenn not only for posting on her blog again, but also for scooping her on a british TV show.  that show?  The Hour, currently airing on BBC America.  the first two episodes are On Demand, which is how i've seen them. 

conceptually, The Hour is somewhat reminiscent of Mad Men and, strangely, 30 Rock (neither of which i watch).  like Mad Men, it is a stylish period piece (London, 1956).  the show revolves around the people involved in making a 60 Minutes-type television news program (called, appropriately, The Hour) that airs on the BBC, hence the resemblance to 30 Rock (an NBC show about an NBC show).  the similarities end there, especially as regards 30 RockThe Hour is definitely a drama, not a comedy.  as regards Mad Men, i've only watched that show once and it struck me as slick and polished, whereas The Hour has a decidedly noir feel to it, and i loves me some noir

The Hour (the show featured on the show...this is already getting confusing) is a brand new program on the BBC.  it's risky, especially as the production reins have been handed to a woman (Bel Rowley, played by Romola Garai).  she is ambitious and committed to delivering a hard-hitting news program with substance, but knows she needs the right face as anchor.  she knows her brilliant yet stormy friend and colleague Freddie Lyon (Ben Whishaw) has the brains and investigative doggedness that the project will require to succeed, but not the face.  she therefore pursues the charming, privileged, and shallow Hector Madden (Dominic West) as the show's lead anchor.  when freddie is sacked from his job, he reluctantly accepts bel's offer to join the show as a correspondent.  true to the time period, one of the program's early stories is Nasser's rise to power in Egypt and what that means both for the British Empire and the delicate balances of the Cold War.

you've probably already figured out how the characters feel about each other.  a bit clich├ęd, but they pull it off.  rowley and west deliver strong performances, but whishaw is terrific.  i don't know him, but i read that he won acclaim on stage as Hamlet and i can well believe that.  he's got presence.  of course, the other star is the noir aspect of the program, down to the art deco look of the BBC's Lime Grove Studios, the costuming, and the intrigue surrounding a murder mystery that freddie is investigating on the side.  give this show a try!  The Hour may become the hour you look forward to most.

Mira: what i'm watching this fall -- mondays

Given the amount of TV I watch and all the new shows R and I want to watch, I had to make a spreadsheet to chart it all.  Haha, I'm still not quite sure logistically how I'm going to watch everything I want to watch this fall since my DVR can only handle two shows simultaneously... but in any case, here are the Monday night shows, old and new, that I am hoping to watch and enjoy this year!

How I Met Your Mother (CBS, 8:00-8:30PM): I cannot believe I am still watching this show. Or that we have not met the mother yet. In truth, this sort of fell off my TV watching schedule last season and I'm not sure if I am fully caught up.  Fortunately for HIMYM, the cast keeps the show funny and interesting enough that I enjoy most, if not all, of the episodes.  That's enough to keep me going back for more, but the story line better pick up its pace! 

Terra Nova* (Fox, 8:00-9:00PM): This show is actually on R's TV schedule but there's enough hype to get me to watch at least one episode. I'm not sure that I'm fully sold on watching a dinosaur show, which is how I interpret it (kind of the reason I am not that interested in watching the movie, Tree of Life, cuz there are dinosaurs in it??), but I'll try to keep an open mind... But I can't help but think it'll end up like all those other weird shows such as V and The Event...    

The Sing Off (NBC, 8:00-10:00PM): I love, love, love this show! I'm looking forward to what types of groups come together on the show this year and what songs they will put together. The talent and range of acappella is so wide, so I hope to be nothing short of impressed! I am looking forward to Sara Bareilles as the third judge, replacing Nicole S. from The Pussycat Dolls.  

Two Broke Girls* (CBS, 8:30-9:00PM): Definitely not interested in watching Whitney's other show, Whitney, but this one looks like it has potential to be fun.  I've got to say though, a sitcom has to be pretty darn awesome to keep me watching it, so the chances of me sticking to this show are slim. I do really like Kat Dennings (Raise Your Voice, Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist), though. 

Hart of Dixie* (The CW, 9:00-10:00PM): Medical drama meets Sweet Home Alabama PLUS Rachel Bilson? I'm there! Only thing working against this show is that Scott Porter is supposed to play the love interest and I find him super annoying from his Friday Night Lights days. It's touted as being Everwood-esque, which isn't so bad. And it'll be fun to watch a southern-based primetime drama/soap; I'm still a little nostalgic for Savannah

Hawaii Five-0 (CBS, 10:00-11:00PM): This show was a surprise favorite of R and mine last year, kind of how The Good Wife snuck up on us the year before.  In any case, love the show, love the cast, and am looking forward to the second season!  Plus, need some resolution to the cliffhangers in the finale: McGarrett framed for the governor's murder, Kono arrested for stealing money, Chin Ho back on the police force, and Dan-o leaving for NJ... 

* New show. 

Friday, September 02, 2011

Doctor Who: I should have been British

It only took me like three years, but I'm finally caught up on Doctor Who! Resolution #2 technically fulfilled!

You know it's funny, as a huge Anglophile as well as a sci-fi geek, it makes perfect sense that I would be a fan of this show. And I mean, the concept is so great. Time and space travel allows for both fun ventures into the past as well as dreamt up visions of the future and other planets, the Doctor "regenerates" so the series can continue even with different actors playing the role, companions come and go...it's so sustainable. But somehow it took me awhile to really warm up to the show, and while there were plenty of superb episodes in the first four seasons and truly great performances from David Tennant and Billie Piper and Catherine Tate, among others, I don't think I really became a devotee until season five when Matt Smith took over as the Eleventh Doctor. It's probably not the most popular opinion, but he's definitely my favorite so far. Maybe it's because he's a little younger, a little less manic but a little more geeky?

And um, I kind of have a huge girl crush on Karen Gillan (the Doctor's companion, Amy Pond). She's Scottish, red-haired (or ginger as the British say), tall, gorgeous...I kind of want to be her. And I love love love Amy's husband Rory, too...they're so adorable together. Traditionally the Doctor has just a female companion so it's a nice change of pace to have a couple as his companions. There's been reference to them being his "best friends" which I find just really cute because the Doctor, despite his love of humans and interacting with them, is inherently a solitary guy (last of his race and all). Ok...girly ridiculousness over.

Also really interesting has been the development of River Song (played by Alex Kingston). She first appears in season 4 as a fellow time-traveler whose timelines intersect with the Doctor but in roughly reverse order (the last time she meets the Doctor is the first time he meets her). Apparently this storyline was actually inspired by The Time Traveler's Wife (which we're fans of on this blog) and River and the Doctor both keep diaries to keep track of their meetings and avoid, as River often proclaims, "spoilers!" Recently a big piece of River's identity was finally revealed, but there's still plenty more to explore, especially hints of a future romantic relationship. Alex Kingston is quite a bit older than Matt Smith but they have a fun, flirty chemistry that really just works.

I love that BBCAmerica is airing new episodes concurrently with the UK, and even better, they're available on demand in HD! Netflix has seasons 1-5 on streaming too!

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Thursday Top Threes: overrated

M: What are the top three movies/tv shows/books that everyone seems to love but... you just don't get it?

Jennifer:
1. NCIS. According to the Nielsen ratings, this is the most watched scripted show on TV (second is of course, NCIS: Los Angeles.) Admittedly I've never actually watched an entire episode but given I'm not at all into procedurals, I suspect it wouldn't hold my attention.
2. Grey's Anatomy. I watched the pilot, hated Meredith instantly, and that was that.
3. Atonement by Ian McEwan. I don't know what it was, but I just could not get through this book. It's been so critically acclaimed and won prizes and awards so I tried it twice: once when it first came out and again before they came out with the movie version but I couldn't get into it. I did watch and like the movie though so maybe it something about the writing style?

Mira:
1. The Hangover: I really don't understand why this movie was such a hit and considered to be SUCH a funny or how it lead to a sequel (if not more) so soon after. If you've ever seen Dude, Where's My Car?, it's pretty much exactly the same movie.
2. Seinfeld: I feel a little bad including this, but really I've never understood the "genius" of this show. Maybe cuz I'm such a major shipper and there isn't much to root for by way of relationship, maybe it's because I found all the characters annoying or unlikeable or both, but I never got it and still don't. And I wanted to, cuz I love New York.
3. The Twilight series. I read all the books before the super-craze and enjoyed most of them well enough. I only recently watched the 2nd and 3rd movie. They were entertaining enough. But not even being super critical of either the books or movies, I don't get why it's incited such fan devotion. Don't get it at all.
Honorable mention: (Sorry, this makes 4 but this is not a book/movie/tv show!) Nascar racing. The Grand Prix is in Baltimore this weekend and I've never paid any attention to Nascar or any of that car racing stuff but realize it's cars driving in circles for like 100 laps or something. Really? How does that draw interest?!