Eclaire Fare

Enjoying Pop Culture, One Bite at a Time

Thoughts on Last Week’s TV September 30, 2009

I had trouble keeping up with primetime tv’s official fall premiere week, since I was out of town (read: away from my Tivo) from Thursday to Sunday. I’ve finally finished watching most of the shows I recorded, and am ready to give my brief opinions on each one. Here we go…

  • So You Think You Can Dance – I had been underwhelmed by the season six auditions until this episode, which showcased a couple of unique performers – most notably the first guy. When he walked out in those golf pants with that goofy grin on his face, I was expecting the worst, but instead he was fantastic – a quirky, cute, Evan-esque dancer. It’s old news now, but I am looking forward to seeing Adam Shankman as the fourth permanent judge on the show. He is such a lively, encouraging presence on the panel. I’m anxious for the actual competition to begin, but at the same time, I’m enjoying these shorter episodes!
  • Glee – I’ve already written at length about this episode here. “Preggers” was my favorite show of the week.
  • Eastwick – I watched this pilot episode mainly because the show is filmed on the old Gilmore Girls set a WB Studios in Burbank. I’ve toured that set twice now and was interested to see how it looked on tv. Unfortunately, the set was the most interesting thing about this “Desperate Housewives meets Bewitched” concoction. A couple of notes about the Eastwick, formerly Stars Hollow, set: it was weird to see Lane’s yellow house in the background shots of the town square, and I’m pretty sure that Rebecca Romijn’s character’s art gallery is in Luke’s Diner. What a shame that such an iconic location is now home to such mediocrity. A show about witches and magic should have at least a slightly dark tone, but Eastwick was all about being cute and funny. But if cute and funny is what the writers are going for, it’s not really working. I was appalled with how self-absorbed the three main characters are. For example, the “mother of five” witch was acting like she was the victim after she struck her husband with lightning! Maybe instead of using her powers to make the ground rumble and lightning come from the sky, she should be using them to help her husband overcome his obvious problem with alcohol. Oh well, this is a fantasty show. It’s just not my cup of tea, and I won’t be watching it again.
  • Cougartown – Simply awful. Atrocious. I may have laughed one time. I only watched it in the first place to see just how bad it was. Now, it wasn’t as bad as the train wreck that was Cavemen, but it was pretty close. What is Busy Phillips doing on this show? Why is she friends with Courtney Cox’s character, and how old is she supposed to be? I am confused because I’ve been watching her on Freaks and Geeks recently. I know that show was made ten years ago, but on it she played a high school student, and now she’s playing a young professional who hangs out with cougars? Weird. “Gross” is the best word I can use to sum up this show.
  • Modern Family – This show has a lot of potential. It gives us a peek into the lives of three very different families: a seasoned married couple (no nonsense, yet paranoid mom and a dad who thinks he’s cool) with three children, including a potentially wild teenage daughter; a gay couple who just adopted a baby girl; and an almost senior citizen (a hilarious Ed O’Neill) who is married to a much younger, fiery Latin woman who has a son just as passionate as she is. It turns out that they are all related, too. I laughed many times during the pilot, including the scene in which the dad accidentally shot his son, his daughter’s boyfriend, and himself with a pellet gun; and the scene in which Ed O’Neill was mistaken for one of the mall walkers because of his wind suit.
  • Fringe – This wasn’t one of the strongest episodes ever, but it was enjoyable nonetheless. We learned that Olivia has developed some sort of super hearing from her interdimensional travel. As for the main story about a mutant human who was killing the locals, it was very much like an X-Files episode. It reminded me of the one where Doggett and some new female agent went underground to investigate a reptile man who blinded his victims with venom so he could kill them. While Fluke Man was the nastiest X-Files creature ever, this mole rat scorpion boy was pretty gross, too.
  • FlashForward – I was highly intrigued by this show, am am interested to see how it will develop. It is reminiscent of Lost’s first season: there are many likable characters who we will learn more about a little at a time; all the characters have been brought together by a catastrophic, and unexplained event; and there is a ton of information that we don’t have yet. How creepy was that one guy walking around at the baseball park when basically the whole rest of the world was unconscious? Who was that?! I look forward to seeing what role Dominic Monaghan will play.
  • Vampire Diaries – I already shared by thoughts about this episode here.
  • The Office – I didn’t enjoy this episode as much as the season premiere. Too much of Michael being socially awkward, not enough interaction among the rest of the staff. I did, however, enjoy the unusual pairing of Toby and Dwight on their undercover mission to find out if Darryl was telling the truth about his work related injury. I loved that Darryl’s sister looks just like him, and that Toby got a chance to do something besides get insulted by Michael. I also liked Andy’s impromptu description of the makeshift cheese tray. Very random and amusing.
  • Community – Episode two of this new show introduced us to the hilarious Spanish teacher, Sr. Chang. My main problem with this comedy so far is that the funniest moments are always in the previews. The result is that when you watch the episode, nothing surprises you – kind of like when a movie trailer gives too much away. The show will be more successful when I laugh more often and am pleasantly surprised by jokes that weren’t in the promos.
  • Dollhouse – The season premiere left me feeling confused, as if I had missed an episode from last season. The thing is, I didn’t, so I hope they will fill in the blanks later on. The most compelling character now is Dr. Saunders, played by Amy Acker. I am curious to know who she was before she became a doll. And Acker is once again playing a tragic figure, as she did on Angel, since we already know her ultimate fate (if you watched the 13th episode, which didn’t air on tv). 😦   Why can’t they show the whole cast in the opening credits? Is it really necessary to see Eliza Dushku in 50 different costumes? She is only one small piece of the larger puzzle, and there are much more interesting aspects than her character. Oh, well. I’m glad that Paul Ballard is now her handler. Should add an interesting dynamic to their relationship.

Still on my Tivo from last week are a couple of other new shows (The Good Wife and The Forgotten), as well as the season premieres of The Mentalist and How I Met Your Mother. I’ll get around to them eventually. What were your favorite and least favorite shows last week?

 

Glee and Vampire Diaries Hit the Field September 29, 2009

Filed under: Television — Emily @ 11:59 am
Tags: , , ,

I’ve compared Glee and Vampire Diaries before, but since the shows represent two very different worlds, it is surprising that they found themselves on common ground once again on last week’s episodes. This time the common ground was that of a football field, as the game of tackles and extra points played a pivotal role on both shows. As usual, Glee had a more successful and satisfying result with its story of the week than did Vampire Diaries.

On Glee, what started as Kurt’s after school activity of reenacting a Beyonce music video turned into him becoming the savior of the dilapidated football team. (He told his dad that the dancing he witnessed was actually part of his conditioning for the role of kicker on the school team. And strangely, “Put a Ring On It” ultimately was part of Kurt’s and the entire team’s warm-up on their way to winning their first game of the season.

In other developments, Terri confessed to her sister that she’s faking her pregnancy, and they started scheming to “get a baby.” Conveniently, cheerleader captain and celibacy club president Quinn discovered that she is pregnant. She lied to Finn, telling him that he’s the father (even though they didn’t ever technically have sex), because she’d rather have Finn be the father of her child than the real father, pool boy Puck, who she had a drunken fling with on a day when she was down because she was feeling fat. Unbeknownst to Quinn, Terri has her sights set on secretly obtaining Quinn’s baby and passing it off as her own in about 8 months.

After a low profile last week, Sue Sylvester had a lot going on in this episode, from her warped segment on the local news (she promoted caning and littering!) to her continued quest to bring down Will and his glee club. This quest brought her to the home of the increasingly odd Sandy Ryerson (the fantastic Stephen Tobolowsky), where she had two of her best lines of the night after observing the sad state of his residence, which includes shelves full of dolls (“They’re my everything,” he said with a straight face), a “casting couch,” and Sandy’s much too short kimono. Sue’s lines of the night:

  • “Well, isn’t this just lovely and normal.”
  • “Boy, the only thing missing from this place is a couple dozen bodies limed and rotting in shallow graves under the floorboards.”

Not to be outdone, Sandy had a couple of good one liners as well: “I’m living in a cocoon of horror!” “Yesterday I ate nine cans of aerosol whipped cream.” Sue and Sandy’s pow wow led to a new partnership, with Sandy as the school’s art director, and Sue as his devious puppet master. Their first order of business was stealing Rachel away from glee club by offering her the lead in Caberet, while she was still nursing a fresh wound to her ego, inflicted by Will when he gave a lead solo from West Side Story to Tina. How dare a teacher encourage his students to come out of their shells by giving them a chance to shine? – I think I’ve made this sarcastic remark in reference to Rachel before. She is extremely annoying.

I loved everything about the main football plot of this episode, from Kurt’s shocking tryout (because of his musical accompaniment and his accurate kicking ability) to the last second team dance shuffle that led to their winning touchdown. Of course, it’s absurd to think that an entire team of jocks would agree to get their groove on with the game on the line, or that the kicker would be able to request a specific song every time he kicked an extra point, but I laughed enough to last me until next week’s episode, it was all so fun.

Unfortunately for the CW, I was little more than bored during last week’s episode of Vampire Diaries. Stefan and Elena grew more starry-eyed over each other, but he found some time to try out for the football team. His vampire quickness and reflexes make him a natural, and his star power gave him an in with Elena’s previously skeptical ex, Matt. Matt’s sister Vicki continued to perplex Elena’s brother, Jeremy, and things escalated to the point of a pre-football game brawl between him and Tyler. This situation presented Elena with a not-so-subtle clue that Stefan is different, when his hand healed almost instantly after a broken liquor bottle cut his hand. Damon, meanwhile, has himself a nice set up, since he’s glamoring Caroline into forgetting that he is feeding off of her. As far as she knows, she’s just dating Stefan’s hot brother. Damon used this relationship to receive an invite into Elena’s house. Now he can get in any time he wants. It’s hard to figure out what his game is, since he first told Stefan that he was going to try to put the past behind him and be normal like his brother, but then he killed the football coach to prove to Stefan that he doesn’t have an ounce of humanity left. I was rather irritated by this death, since the coach/history teacher was just about the only adult on the show. I’ve complained before about the absence of authority figures in Mystic Falls, and now that Mr. Tanner is dead, Vampire Diaries really is turning into Charlie Brown, with fangs.

Not sure why I’m still watching Vampire Diaries, but for the time being I will keep giving it a chance. Bottom line: on last week’s football-centric episodes, Vampire Diaries fumbled the ball, and Glee scored a touchdown. (Sorry – couldn’t resist at least a couple of football metaphors.)

 

2009 Emmy Awards: Predictions, Results, and Reactions September 20, 2009

The 2009 Emmy Awards have come and gone. How did Neil Patrick Harris fare as host? Which stars were best dressed, and which ones were worst? And most importantly, who took home awards? This year’s Emmy Awards ceremony was Mad Men themed, from the opening images of the stars’ arrivals with voiceover narration, to Neil Patrick Harris’s old school opening number, to the comic book page set up of the various camera views before commercial breaks. They also had Jon Hamm be one of the first presenters, along with Tina Fey. This show isn’t shy about playing favorites!

Speaking of 30 Rock, it won for Best Writing in a Comedy Series, with Matt Hubbard accepting the award for the episode “Reunion.” The Office, not to be outdone, won in the Best Directing for a Comedy Series category (Jeffrey Blitz for “Stress Relief”). When the show shifted gears to Reality Programming, I was initially irritated to see two dancers from Dancing with the Stars, but then some of my favorite SYTYCD performers appeared on stage, including season four winner Joshua, in a routine choregraphed by Tabitha and Napoleon. It was also nice to see Hugh Jackman’s excellent opening number from the Oscars win for “Best Original Music and Lyrics.” After that, the show settled into a dreary sea of cliched banter between presenters, and boring acceptance speeches. The awards that pleased me most were all of 30 Rock’s wins and Michael Emerson’s win for Best Actor in a Drama. The most disappointing category was Jon Cryer beating out everyone else for Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy.

As for the fashion, or lack thereof, my pick for Worst Dressed goes to Patricia Arquette, who appeared to be wearing a black “Hefty trash bag” as a dress. Vanessa Williams’ aqua blue dress was pretty unflattering as well. Gabriel Byrne was looking rather unkempt with his loosened tie and wrinkled shirt (at least by the time they showed him in the crowd late in the show). On the other hand, my picks for Best Dressed go to Kyra Sedgwick, Alyson Hannigan (who looked great in a classic black straplessdress), and Justin Timberlake. I didn’t pay close attention to all the dresses and tuxes, though, so I am sure there are other good and bad choices I could have gone with.

NPH didnt win an Emmy, but he was a fun host.

NPH didn't win an Emmy, but he was a fun host.

So how did Neil Patrick Harris do as host? Sure, there were some awkward moments, but also some funny ones. I liked how every presenter was introduced by naming some obscure show or movie they appeared in. I double-checked the authenticity of some of them on IMDB because they sounded so ludicrous. Best moment of the night, though: Dr. Horrible interrupting the token Ernst and Young “Emmy vote tabulation process” explanation to proclaim that television is dead and Internet is the new king of entertainment. It was a clever and creative diversion, with bonus points for appearances by Nathan Fillion and other Dr. Horrible cast members, and a few musical moments.

Read on for a list of nominees in the major categories, as well as my predictions about and reactions to the winners.

Outstanding Supporting Actor, Comedy
Jack McBrayer, 30 Rock
Tracy Morgan, 30 Rock
Kevin Dillon, Entourage
Neil Patrick Harris, How I Met Your Mother
Rainn Wilson, The Office
Jon Cryer, Two and a Half Men
  • Who I wanted to win: Neil Patrick Harris – please, please, please let him win this year! He has totally deserved it for the past two seasons, so I am hoping that the third time is the charm, especially since, as host, he will already be up on stage to accept his award.
  • Who I thought would win: Since Emmy voters tend to like over the top comedy, they might award Rainn Wilson, but I really think NPH has a good shot at it.
  • Who actually won: Jon Cryer. That is just outrageous. There are no words. At least it provided ample material for a funny running bit for NPH.
Outstanding Supporting Actress, Comedy
Kristin Chenoweth, Pushing Daisies
Jane Krakowski, 30 Rock
Elizabeth Perkins, Weeds
Amy Poehler, Saturday Night Live
Kristen Wiig, Saturday Night Live
Vanessa Williams, Ugly Betty
  • Who I wanted to win: Kristin Chenoweth – Wouldn’t it be nice if Pushing Daisies could have one last moment of recognition? I don’t think it will happen, though.
  • Who I thought would win: Elizabeth Perkins – I’ve never seen an episode of Weeds, so I can’t give an opinion on whether or not Perkins deserves the award, but she seems to fit the Emmy voter bill.
  • Who actually won: Kristin Chenoweth! Hooray! What an excellent start to the evening. Her acceptance speech proved that she was totally surprised by the win.
Outstanding Supporting Actor, Drama
William Shatner, Boston Legal
Christian Clemenson, Boston Legal
William Hurt, Damages
Aaron Paul, Breaking Bad
Michael Emerson, Lost
John Slattery, Mad Men
  • Who I wanted to win: Michael Emerson – He was so perfect last season as Benjamin Linus that it almost causes me physical pain to imagine him not winning in this category. Well then, I guess I should plug in my heating pad, because my muscles and joints are bound to start aching when the actual winner is announced.
  • Who I thought would win: If Emmy stands by its old, boring, and infuriating habits, William Shatner will win. If that happens, I will be furious. If the voters decide to mix things up, they might award John Slattery instead, since Mad Men is the trendy show du jour. (I’ve never watched it, so again, my opinion doesn’t really count.)
  • Who actually won: Michael Emerson!!! I am so thrilled that he won. He earned it, and it gives Lost the respect it deserves. He gave a very sincere, if creepy, acceptance speech. (It’s that voice of his!)
Outstanding Supporting Actress, Drama
Cherry Jones, 24
Chandra Wilson, Grey’s Anatomy
Sandra Oh, Grey’s Anatomy
Dianne Wiest, In Treatment
Hope Davis, In Treatment
Rose Byrne, Damages
  • Who I wanted to win: Back when I watched Grey’s Anatomy, I always liked Chandra Wilson’s performance, so I guess I’d be happy for her to win. Even though 24 is the only show in this category that I watch, I don’t think that Cherry Jones’ performance as the President makes her deserving of the award over these other women.
  • Who I thought would win: Dianne Wiest – Just a wild guess, but she does arguably have the most impressive track record among these nominees.
  • Who actually won: Cherry Jones. Ok. Good for her.
Outstanding Actor, Comedy
Tony Shalhoub, Monk
Steve Carell, The Office
Jim Parsons, The Big Bang Theory
Alec Baldwin, 30 Rock
Charlie Sheen, Two and a Half Men
Jemaine Clement, Flight of the Conchords
  • Who I wanted to win: Alec Baldwin – He is always pitch perfect as Jack Donaghy and so is completely deserving of this one. It’s also nice to see Jemaine Clement nominated for his hilarious work on Flight of the Conchords, but he’s up against some heavy hitters in this category!
  • Who I thought would win: Alec Baldwin – Amazingly, Baldwin seems to be as popular with Emmy voters as with the viewing public. As long as Charlie Sheen doesn’t win, I’ll be happy.
  • Who actually won: Alec Baldwin. I’m mainly just relieved that Rob Lowe didn’t call Charlie Sheen’s name. Alec gave a very polished and efficient acceptance speech.
Outstanding Actress, Drama
Sally Field, Brothers & Sisters
Kyra Sedgwick, The Closer
Glenn Close, Damages
Mariska Hargitay, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit
Holly Hunter, Saving Grace
Elisabeth Moss, Mad Men
  • Who I wanted to win: I don’t feel strongly about any of these nominees.
  • Who I thought would win: Glenn Close – She plays a powerful character on a risk-taking show, and that makes her quite a one-two punch to Emmy voters.
  • Who actually won: Glenn Close. Predictable.
Outstanding Actor, Drama
Simon Baker, The Mentalist
Bryan Cranston, Breaking Bad
Michael C. Hall, Dexter
Hugh Laurie, House
Gabriel Byrne, In Treatment
Jon Hamm, Mad Men
  • Who I wanted to win: Michael C. Hall! This is an extremely strong category, and it is highly doubtful that the Emmy voters will reward someone for playing a serial killer over some of the more noble characters represented. However, I think he does an amazing job as Dexter Morgan, and beyond that, that Dexter more accurately represents the human psyche than many of the other nominees.
  • Who I thought would win: Hugh Laurie. He’s always an Emmy favorite, but then there’s the trendy choice of Jon Hamm. As much as I love Simon Baker, he seems out of his league in this group. But I am setting all my hopes on Michael C. Hall winning. Fingers crossed!
  • Who actually won: Bryan Cranston. Come on, Emmys, how about letting someone else win? Then again, maybe I need to check out this show.
Outstanding Actress, Comedy
Julia Louis-Dreyfus, The New Adventures of Old Christine
Christina Applegate, Samantha Who?
Tina Fey, 30 Rock
Toni Collette, United States of Tara
Mary-Louise Parker, Weeds
Sarah Silverman, The Sarah Silverman Program
  • Who I wanted to win: Tina Fey
  • Who I thought would win: Tina Fey. She and the whole cast, as well as the writing, have been so good. They deserve to sweep most of the comedy categories (except for NPH’s category, of course).
  • Who actually won: Toni Collette. I’m okay with this. Spread the love a little beyond 30 Rock. Strangely, I know absolutely nothing about the show she was nominated for, United States of Tara. Perhaps I should check it out.
Outstanding Series, Comedy
30 Rock
Family Guy
Entourage
The Office
Flight of the Conchords
Weeds
How I Met Your Mother
  • What I wanted to win: 30 Rock
  • What I thought would win: 30 Rock. Like I said above, it’s the funniest, most consistently well done comedy on tv right now.
  • What actually won: 30 Rock. Yeah, this show’s gonna be on for many seasons to come.
Outstanding Series, Drama
Breaking Bad
Damages
Dexter
House
Lost
Mad Men
Big Love
  • What I wanted to win: Lost or Dexter, but I think Lost’s ship sailed a long time ago. Even though it just had its best season ever, I think the Emmy voters have already forgotten about it. I also think that season three was Dexter’s best season yet. So fascinating and well executed (pun intended – can’t help myself).
  • What I thought would win: House? Well, I wouldn’t award this medical drama for the uneven season it had, but then the Emmy voters don’t judge a show by an entire season so much as the one episode that is submitted. I don’t know much about the other four shows that are nominated, but if I were to pick one of them as the winner I would go with Mad Men.
  • What actually won: Mad Men (Excuse me while I roll my eyes. Then again, maybe I need to see what all the fuss is about with this show.)
Outstanding Host for a Reality or Reality-Competition Program
Ryan Seacrest, American Idol
Tom Bergeron, Dancing with the Stars
Heidi Klum, Project Runway
Jeff Probst, Survivor
Phil Keoghan, The Amazing Race
Padma Lakshmi and Tom Colicchio, Top Chef
  • Who I wanted to win: Well, I wanted Cat Deeley to win, but she wasn’t nominated. 😦
  • Who I thought would win: Jeff Probst. But do I care? Not really. I don’t watch any of these shows. As long as it’s not Tom Bergeron…
  • Who actually won: Jeff Probst
Outstanding Variety, Music or Comedy Series
The Colbert Report
The Daily Show with Jon Stewart
Late Show with David Letterman
Real Time with Bill Maher
Saturday Night Live
  • What I wanted to win: The Colbert Report
  • What I thought would win: The Colbert Report. Stephen Colbert is so great on that show.
  • What actually won: The Daily Show with Jon Stewart
Outstanding Reality-Competition Program
The Amazing Race
American Idol
Dancing with the Stars
Project Runway
Top Chef
  • What I wanted to win: Don’t really care
  • What I thought would win: The Amazing Race (doesn’t it win every year?)
  • What actually won: The Amazing Race
Outstanding Reality Program
Antiques Roadshow
Dirty Jobs
Dog Whisperer
Intervention
Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List
MythBusters
  • What I wanted to win: Dirty Jobs. I do love that Mike Rowe. He should be rewarded for what an easygoing, entertaining host he is.
  • What I thought would win: I honestly have no idea. Maybe Intervention, since it’s the most serious on the list?
  • What actually won: Intervention
Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series
Brenda Blethyn, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit
Carol Burnett, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit
Ellen Burstyn, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit
Sharon Lawrence, Grey’s Anatomy
CCH Pounder, The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency
  • Who I wanted to win: N/A
  • Who I thought would win: Sharon Lawrence
  • Who actually won: Ellen Burstyn
Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series
Edward Asner, CSI: NY
Ernest Borgnine, ER
Ted Danson, Damages
Michael J. Fox, Rescue Me
Jimmy Smits, Dexter
  • Who I wanted to win: Jimmy Smits, please! He was simply amazing as Miguel Prado, and I have spoken at length about it in previous posts.
  • Who I thought would win: Jimmy Smits (wishful thinking, perhaps, but he really was that good!)
  • Who actually won: Michael J. Fox
Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series
Jennifer Aniston, 30 Rock
Christine Baranski, The Big Bang Theory
Tina Fey, Saturday Night Live
Gena Rowlands, Monk
Elaine Stritch, 30 Rock
Betty White, My Name Is Earl
  • Who I wanted to win: Tina Fey
  • Who I thought would win: Tina Fey
  • Who actually won: Tina Fey
Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series
Alan Alda, 30 Rock
Will Arnett, 30 Rock
Beau Bridges, Desperate Housewives
Jon Hamm, 30 Rock
Steve Martin, 30 Rock
Justin Timberlake, Saturday Night Live
  • Who I wanted to win: Jon Hamm
  • Who I thought would win: Jon Hamm. He was terrific as Liz Lemon’s perfect guy, Dr. Drew.
  • Who actually won: Justin Timberlake. How about SNL getting some recognition in the guest acting category?

So, what were you happy or disappointed about on this year’s Emmy Awards? Or, did you not even watch?

 

Glee 1.3 Hits (Almost) All the Right Notes

Filed under: Television — Emily @ 4:11 pm
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Impromptu singing at a car wash? A boy band performance at a PTA meeting? A restraining order delivered by Josh Groban himself? What’s not to love about Glee’s third episode? Appropriately entitled “Acafellas,” this episode centered upon Will’s attempt to revive his musical performance career by starting an acapella boy band. Joining him in the world of dated pop music and cheesy dance moves were football coach Ken Tanaka, Sheets ‘n Things employee Howard, the thumbless shop teacher, glee club star Finn, cougar-chasing jock Puck, and Josh Groban-obsessed Sandy Ryerson. In other developments, Sue Sylvester’s cheerleader spies attempted to derail the glee club by convincing them they needed to hire a well known (and ruthless) choreographer, Will had a heart to heart with his father about parenthood and pursuing his dreams, and Mercedes pursued a platonic relationship with uber-gay (unbeknownst to her) Kurt.

Mercedes impromptu solo at the car wash fundraiser was the highlight of this weeks episode

Mercedes' impromptu solo at the car wash fundraiser was the highlight of this week's episode

I thought this episode raised Glee back to the heights it reached in the pilot, which I’m relieved about since the second episode fell a bit flat. Some of my favorite moments:

  • The shop teacher’s freak shop accident, in which his over the counter cough medicine addiction caused him to cut off his thumbs. “I’ll never hitchhike across Europe…” And loved the irony that the guys gave him a cake with two hands giving the “thumbs up” signal.
  • The male teachers’ pow wow about their feelings: Ken lives at the YMCA and only has one pair of long pants, Sandy’s only creative outlet is writing Desperate Housewives fan fiction, Howard is afraid of his vacuum cleaner, Will (“apparently”) doesn’t know how to dance, and Henri doesn’t have thumbs. This exchange, of course, ended in the awkwardness of them singing “For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow” to Henri, which in turn inspired them to start Acafellas.
  • The Acafellas’ “white hot New Jack Swing” practice session (and the “this is how we do it” scene transition).
  • Sue Sylvester’s casual mention that when she was in Special Forces, she was “on the strike team in Panama when we extracted Noriega… We took out the shepherd, and then we went after the sheep.” I love that she was using war analogies in her quest to disband glee club.
  • The Acafellas’ sports bar performance of “Poison.” It was hilarious fun, even if they don’t do a very good job making it seem like a live performance. Why do they have to use a studio recording – can’t they just film them singing it live?
  • Sandy’s proclamation about Josh Groban: “He is an angel sent from heaven to deliver platinum records unto us.” As it turns out, this was a sign that he is super-obsessed with Josh, and considers him a pen pal, etc., etc.
  • Another performance by Vocal Adrenaline (“Mercy” by Duffy), with So You Think You Can Dance’s Lauren front and center.
  • Teenager Puck’s attraction to older women and his strategy of using his pool cleaning business to meet them was creepy and very inappropriate, but also amusing. Apparently cougars are the it joke on television this fall, since the topic is showing up on shows ranging from Glee to Cougartown, and several in between.
  • Mercedes’ car wash solo was my single most favorite moment of the episode. I loved the spontaneity and all-out drama of it, as the show suddenly turned into a Beyonce-style music video, complete with cheerleader background dancers, an SUV on a stage with fog and flashing lights, lots of breaking glass, and Mercedes having her moment in the spotlight with all sorts of vocal acrobatics: “I bust the windows out your car…” I’d love to see more moments like this on the show.
  • Acafellas’ performance of Color Me Badd’s “I Wanna Sex You Up” – Sure, in reality, a performance of this sexually charged song would be highly inappropriate at a PTA meeting, but like last week’s “Push It” at the school pep rally, I am willing to suspend my disbelief for the sake of entertainment.
  • It was nice to see Victor Garber as Will’s supportive father. Hope to see him, and Will’s mom, more in subsequent episodes.

And the not so right notes of the episode:

  • I wasn’t crazy about the subplot involving the glee club kids trying to hire Dakota to be their choreographer. His insults were so over the top, and no one ever explained where they would find $8,000 to pay him. Other than Mercedes’ standout moment, the teen-centric in this episode paled in comparison to those involving the grown ups.
  • Josh Groban’s cameo was just as bad as most celebrity appearances on fictional tv shows. His pleading with Sandy to stop calling him and leave him alone was poorly acted and a bit over the top, even for this show.
  • I also wasn’t amused by the scene in which Josh Groban hit on Will’s very drunk mom. It was the third scene of the episode where we saw her highly intoxicated, and by that time the joke was pretty much played out.

What were your favorite scenes in this episode? Are you loving Glee more and more with each episode like I am?

 

Vampire Diaries 1.2: Night of the Comet September 18, 2009

The drama was spilling over in abundance on this week’s episode of Vampire Diaries. In one corner you have Vicki, who is having hallucinations of creepy vampires in bathroom mirrors when she isn’t being glamoured by their “parlor tricks.” In another corner, you have Elena fretting about whether or not she’s ready to pursue a relationship with a brooding guy who has serious family issues and a broken heart from his previous girlfriend. In yet another corner, Aunt Jenna is struggling to maintain control of her teen charges before one of them ends up dropping out of school and going into rehab for an out of control drug habit. And finally, there’s a comet flying over Mystic Falls, which could either be simply a ball of snow and ice, or more forebodingly, a sign of bad things to come.

Stefan and Damons first confrontation over Elena, in their family home

Stefan and Damon's first confrontation over Elena, in their family home

I enjoyed this second episode much more than the pilot. I was especially drawn to Elena and Jeremy’s guardian, Aunt Jenna. We saw a more realistic view of her struggle to establish authority over Jeremy, and her feelings of inadequacy. I always like to see some family drama unfold on these shows, and between Aunt Jenna’s run-ins with Jeremy, and Stefan’s icy confrontation with Damon after Elena’s impromptu house call, there was plenty to go around. I also like Elena’s ex-boyfriend Matt. I know he’s supposed to be the dull human boy to Stefan’s mysterious and sexy vampire, but I like his rugged charm and protective attitude toward Elena and his sister, Vicki. Speaking of Vicki, she is played by Kayla Ewell, who I spotted this week on an episode of Freaks and Geeks. It’s interesting to note that she plays a high school student on both shows, since Freaks and Geeks aired ten years ago! She was 14 then, and was adorable as a fresh-faced newcomer who wasn’t ashamed to hang out with the geeks. Now look at her. She’s 24, and is somewhat annoying as a feisty high schooler who is embarrassed to let anyone know that she had a fling with younger Jeremy.

Kayla Ewell has been walking the halls of high school for ten years, since before she was Vicki on Vampire Diaries, she played a student on Freaks and Geeks.

Kayla Ewell has been walking the halls of high school for ten years, since before she was Vicki on Vampire Diaries, she played a student on Freaks and Geeks.

As for the music in episode two, I was especially glad to hear “Gravity” by Sara Bareilles. Since my main association for this song is Kayla and Kupono’s emotionally charged contemporary dance about addiction on last season’s So You Think You Can Dance, it was strange to hear the song in the context of a budding relationship. Strangely, the song works well in both situations. The concept of something/someone bringing you down can be a negative, as in the affects of a drug addiction or an abusive relationship, but in Stefan and Elena’s case, the idea of them bringing each other down was a positive one, because they were grounding each other in reality, instead of getting caught up in the drama of “what ifs” and “what abouts.” Melodramatic? Maybe. But satisfying and romantic? Definitely. I thought it was a sweet way for this “epic” couple to start their relationship.

So, am I planning to watch episode three of this supernatural teen drama? Yes, I am. I like the direction the show is headed, including:

  • Elena and Stefan’s moody relationship
  • Damon’s mysterious evil plan for the town (“it’s time for a wake-up call”)
  • The family dynamics in the Gilbert household, as well as the Salvatore home. (What’s the deal with the brothers’ guardian referring to them as “uncle”? Is he like their family protector?)
  • The music – It really does enhance the viewing experience. I already mentioned the closing song, “Gravity,” but here’s a link to the rest of the songs from the episode.
  • The Salvatore house – I loved that we got a long, lingering look at the old-fashioned and elaborate interior of Stefan and Damon’s family home. Vampire shows give us an opportunity to delve into the customs, fashions, and decorating trends of the past, and so I’m glad the props and set designers on this show have taken the time (and money) to do so. (True Blood has set the current standard in this area, but at least its teen counterpart is trying.)

What do you like or not like about this show?

 

Must-See TV Roundup: Thursday, September 17

Filed under: Fringe,Television — Emily @ 11:50 am
Tags: , , , , , ,

Thursday nights are known in tv-viewing homes across America as a conundrum, an impossibility, and most definitely a night that you have to check that your DVR is working, and then stay home so you won’t get behind on all the buzz about your favorite shows! I’ve mentioned on Eclaire Fare before that Thursdays this fall are especially a challenge for me, as there are about eight shows that I am interested in watching. So what did I decide was “must see tv” last night? Fringe, The Office, and Community. Still waiting on my Tivo are Bones, Vampire Diaries, and The Mentalist, and in the next few weeks I’ll be adding FlashForward and 30 Rock. I only recorded Bones because I wanted to see guest star Cyndi Lauper, but needless to say, I’ll have plenty of shows to choose from this weekend. So anyway, back to my must-see list, here are my thoughts on the season premieres that I felt compelled to watch right away.

These are currently my favorite people on tv!

These are currently my favorite people on tv!

  • Fringe – The season premiere was giving off strong X-Files vibes: the creepy shape shifter guy who was going around town killing innocent bystanders, the congressional hearing to determine whether or not the Fringe division would be shut down, and the global war for survival that very few people know is happening. And I loved every minute of it – from the jolting opening scene in which Olivia suddenly reappeared and catapulted through her windshield onto the pavement, to the closing, heartbreaking moment in which we saw poor, dead Charlie being dumped into an incinerator by shape shifter Charlie. This show certainly knows how to come out of the gate at a full gallop. What a terrific season opener! Walter and Peter’s banter is as clever and amusing as ever, Olivia still exhibits an appealing balance of emotion and resolve, and even the new girl on the block didn’t bother me. In fact, I think that FBI Agent Jessup may be a good addition to the group of core characters. She seems unphased by the weird stuff she’s encountered thus far, and was willing to bend the rules to keep the investigation into Olivia’s disappearance/car crash/subsequent murders going. The actress, Meghan Markle, looks vaguely familiar to me, but her tv credentials are pretty slim. Let’s hope that this will be her breakout role, so she won’t have to be remembered as one of the models who held a briefcase on Let’s Make a Deal! One more thing about her – I’m not sure what to make of the closing scene that showed her linking info from the Fringe cases to biblical events in Revelations. Are we supposed to think that she’s in a cult? or crazy? or keenly aware of a bigger picture? I look forward to finding out more. One more thought on this show: at the end of last season we found out that (apparently) Walter brought the Peter we know over from the parallel universe when his son Peter died as a little boy. This secret has all sorts of implications big and small, but I’m wondering if Peter could be a key figure in this struggle between the shape shifter group and William Bell. From what I gathered last night, something important has been hidden somewhere. I’m wondering if perhaps it’s hidden in Peter? Just a thought… This is currently my favorite show – quite an accomplishment for a sophomore!
Stanley was at the center of this weeks Office premiere.

Stanley was at the center of this week's Office premiere.

  • The Office – Oh, how I have missed Jim, Pam, Stanley, Creed, and the rest of the Dunder-Mifflin gang. They were all in top form in this season premiere. My favorite episodes are the ones in which we see a lot of interaction among the staff, and there was plenty of that going on when rumors spread out of control thanks to Michael’s need to be included. As usual, there was some inappropriateness from Michael (his inability to stay out of Stanley’s very personal business), but I like how some of his false gossip ended up being true, made others question themselves (Andy’s sexual identity crisis), and ultimately forced Jim and Pam to share their baby news. Those two sure know how to save the day. They spared Stanley the extreme awkwardness of having his dirty laundry revealed in front of the whole office by giving up on their plan to keep Pam’s pregancy secret as long as possible. The Office is at its best when all the characters are given a chance to shine, and at its worst when it focuses more on the slapstick, over the top antics of Michael and Dwight. The season premiere, then, falls in the “best of” category.
Say hello to the cast of Community

Say hello to the cast of Community

  • Community – I’ve really been looking forward to this new show! I enjoyed the pilot, but I had already seen all the funniest parts in the promos (the old man trying out for the track team, the dean giving his lackluster welcome speech to the students, Abed’s Breakfast Club reenactment, etc.). During the first half of the episode, I was irritated by what a jerk the main character, Jeff Winger, was. But, once he was put in his place by his professor friend (who gave him a packet full of blank paper instead of the answers to all his exams for the semester) and Britta (the girl he hit on, who then gave him false hope, only to take it away again), I started to like him more. Now that this ragtag group of misfits (the retiree, the single mom, the high school jock, the overachiever, the ditz, the Aspergers guy, and the disgraced fake lawyer) is banding together in an effort to survive their classes, I look forward to seeing what happens. I loved the music in the final scene, especially the Breakfast Club tune. And I have to add that I didn’t appreciate the total lack of respect the show had towards community colleges, at least at the beginning of the episode. I teach at such a college, and I’m happy to report that while there is some truth to the portrait of community college life that Community offers, my students are several notches above the ones represented on this show. I understand that they play on the stereotypes for maximum comical impact, but I hope that as the show goes on, the characters are portrayed as more than just dumb losers who couldn’t cut it at a university.

Did you watch these shows? What did you think about them? My favorite of the night was Fringe. They made a bold move, messing with one of the main characters, and I’m interested to see how that storyline will play out. Stay tuned for my thoughts on Glee (loved loved loved the latest episode!) and Vampire Diaries.

 

Glee and Vampire Diaries: Opposite Ends of the Teen Spectrum September 11, 2009

Somewhere in Ohio, high school misfits find a common purpose in a revamped glee club, while somewhere in Virginia, a sad and isolated high school student finds a reason to be gleeful when she hits it off with the “new boy at school” vampire. I had to think really hard to work “vamp” and “glee” into both of those sentences, which just goes to show you how far apart the worlds of these two shows are. One is all inspiration, comedy, and fun; the other is all doom, gloom, and a love that spans centuries. One is more comedy for everyone than teen show; the other is a drama mostly for teens, mostly supernatural, and not funny at all. (Well, I was amused by the cawing blackbird and spontaneous fog, but I’m not sure that’s what was intended.)

I highly anticipated the premiere, post-pilot episode of Glee, and I was cautiously intrigued by the approach of Vampire Diaries. Now that I’ve seen both of these shows, I am prepared to share my initial reactions and opinions.

Overall Impression

  • Glee – While the second episode didn’t have the absolute, joyous perfection of the pilot, I was still thoroughly entertained. Some stand out moments included anything involving the principal, anything involving Jane Lynch’s cheerleading coach, and the glee club’s two performances – Kanye West’s “Gold Digger” and Salt n Pepa’s “Push It.” I am not as interested in Rachel’s pining over Finn, or Terri’s spontaneous decision to fake being pregnant rather than telling Will it was a false positive. But if the show continues to find humor in the high school social strata, and if the glee club continues to grow and improve, I’ll keep tuning in.
  • Vampire Diaries – I was entertained enough by the pilot that I will watch the second episode, but I’m not yet convinced that this is “must see tv.” While I was watching the pilot, I kept thinking to myself, “I’m too old to be watching this.” I was so not interested in the melodrama of what’s his face wanting to get back together with Elena, or of Elena’s brother Jeremy being all wounded when his summer fling Vicki stopped paying attention to him. And the spooky parts weren’t very spooky. I wasn’t scared during the opening scene when the college kids had a bloody encounter with Damon, nor when Vicki was attacked in the woods. Really the only things I did like were Elena’s narration and diary entries, her friendship with possibly psychic Bonnie, Stefan’s mysterious past and desire to finally return home, and Stefan and Damon’s history as brothers, including their involvement with Elena’s Civil War-era look-alike  (Damon mentioned that he vowed to make life difficult for Stefan a long time ago, but we don’t really know why yet.).
Jane Lynch is my favorite thing about Glee.

Jane Lynch is my favorite thing about Glee.

The Acting

  • Glee – Overall, the acting is excellent on this show, which means that the casting was well done, too. The very best thing about Glee is Jane Lynch as cheerleading coach Sue Sylvester. Lynch has always been fantastic in any role, but she is so completely hilarious and spot-on here, that every expression, every glare, every word out of her mouth is golden. If she isn’t nominated for supporting actress in a comedy category at all the tv awards shows this year, then something is very, very wrong. Matthew Morrison plays idealistic do-gooder very well, and I also love Jayma Mays as germaphobic guidance counselor Emma Pillsbury. So far the teen cast are too caricaturish to evaluate, but given time I imagine we’ll see some sort of development with them as well.
  • Vampire Diaries – I observed some rather atrocious acting during the pilot. I hate to name names, so instead I’ll just give credit to those who impressed me or seemed well cast. Well, that just leaves me with the three who received top billing: Nina Dobrev, Paul Wesley, and Ian Somerhalder. Dobrev brings a quiet confidence and a no-nonsense air to Elena, Wesley plays “I’m the good one” vampire Stefan as well as one can, and Somerhalder brings some much-needed comic relief (I’m not sure it was supposed to be funny, but I laughed) and passion to the whole proceedings. Somerhalder just has that creepy, evil eye look about him, similar to Cillian Murphy, that makes him well-suited for a role such as this. He will be entertaining as Damon, and will probably be the main reason I’ll keep watching, if I do.

The Soundtrack

  • Glee – The music is probably the main reason I watch this show. I enjoy hearing choral interpretations of popular songs, plus I like the quirky, Bobby McPherrinish harmonies that provide atmosphere for many of the scenes.
  • Vampire Diaries – In the tradition of many CW shows that have come before it, this vampire love saga is chock full of barely known music from current bands. At least, it’s barely known to me. But I am all for promoting the little guys. In fact, I like how the CW often advertises the music at the end of its shows: “Tonight’s episode featured music from…” That being said, I didn’t absolutely love any of the music in the pilot episode enough to go download it. Maybe next week. Click here for a list of the songs from the pilot.
Vampire Diaries is the land of lost teens, with almost no adults to be found.

Vampire Diaries is the land of lost teens, with almost no adults to be found.

Where Have All the Grown-Ups Gone?

  • Glee – Well, all the grown-ups are hanging out in the halls of the high school, because most of them are teachers and faculty. The only parent we’ve seen is Finn’s mom, when he flashed back to their fun times on the front lawn with the lawn care guy. And the only spouse we’ve seen is Will’s crazy, self-centered wife Terri (played very well by Jessalyn Gilsig. And for a show about a high school, this is as it should be. Since most of the action takes place at school, there’s no reason to develop the parents at this point.
  • Vampire Diaries – Now that is a good question for this show – where are all the grown-ups? We saw one older teacher, who was put in his place by Stefan when he gave the class some misinformation about Mystic Falls’ civil war civilian casualties. And then there was that secretary who Stefan glamored into enrolling him at the school without proper paperwork. But Elena and Jeremy live with their grad student aunt, who doesn’t look much older than 25, and none of the other kids seem to have any sort of parental guidance. (Am I forgetting anyone?) I haven’t figured out the relationship between Stefan and his “uncle.” I’m guessing that’s just a living descendant of the family who is aware of his family’s bloodsucking past. It seems awkward to just ignore all the parents. I mean, a simple mention would do, or a wave goodbye as Bonnie and the gang head to their coffee shop hangout. I am surprised that we aren’t seeing more parents since this show is from Mr. Dawson’s Creek himself, Kevin Williamson. I always enjoyed the parents’ subplots on that show, since real teenagers’ lives are usually mixed up, rather than totally separate from, their moms and dads, grandparents, guardians… Maybe the show will introduce more adult characters in the coming weeks. If not, I’m calling this out as a flaw.
Vampire Diaries reminds me of Roswell, specifically Max and Lizs relationship.

Vampire Diaries reminds me of Roswell, specifically Max and Liz's relationship.

Reminds me of…

  • Glee – It’s hard to think of any shows like this one. It reminds me more of Christopher Guest movies, such as Best in Show or A Mighty Wind. Unlike most of what comes on tv these days (lots of revivals, remakes, and spin-offs), this one seems very original.
  • Vampire Diaries – This show has nothing in common with Buffy the Vampire Slayer, except that a vampire falls in love with a teenage girl. But I don’t see Elena picking up a sword and vanquishing Damon in the season finale. No, Vampire Diaries is more reminiscent of Roswell. On that show, alien Max Evans fell in love with Liz Parker, and Liz wrote in her diary about how her world was turned upside down the moment she got involved with him. Like Elena, Liz had a friend with psychic connections – as I recall, Maria was somehow in touch with that kind of thing. Aliens, vampires… while there are many differences, both Liz and Elena are drawn to Max and Stefan because they aren’t like the other boys.

In the Great Scheme of Things

  • Glee – I am thrilled to have a musical comedy on tv. Amidst all the melodrama of teen romance, the mystery of criminal investigations, and the depressing cases of medical shows, Glee is a breath of fresh air. I just hope the showrunners and cast can keep up with audience expectation for a long time to come.
  • Vampire Diaries – This, my friends, is no Joss Whedon show. Buffy or Angel it will never be. The love triangle was always just a part of the story on those shows, with a more epic story arc taking center stage. I’m not sure this show will ever rise above the Stefan-Elena-Damon love triangle and the mayhem that Stefan will try to prevent Damon from inflicting on Mystic Falls. Do I sound skeptical? Well, I am. Perhaps if I continue watching, then after several episodes I will compare Vampire Diaries to other vampire shows of the past, to see how it stacks up. I should at least give it a chance.

So obviously, if I were forced to choose between these two shows, I would immediately select Glee. Vampire Diaries pales (pun intended) in comparison to the more magical, zingier Glee. What did you think of these two shows?