Eclaire Fare

Enjoying Pop Culture, One Bite at a Time

Random Thoughts on TV: March 2009 March 24, 2009

Lately, I can’t seem to find the time to write a detailed post on anything other than episodes of Lost. Since I’m short on time, I’ve decided to compile my thoughts on various tv show happenings into one random post. First up, American Idol.

  • American Idol – I’m not missing this show at all this season. Althought last season I cheered for David Cook and was amazed when America actually chose him as the winner, I didn’t feel compelled to watch again this year. How could this season live up to last? What were the chances that my favorite contestant would actually win again (I’m still bitter about Jennifer Hudson’s too early ouster all those years ago)? Despite my decision not to keep up with the show this year, I’ve seen an episode here and there, since some of my friends and family are watching. From what I’ve seen, I think I made the right choice to steer clear. The talent pool seems to be extremely lacking. There are some good voices, some pretty faces, but not much star power. Of course, my assessment might have been somewhat colored by the fact that I sampled the Top 11 on country music week (I can’t stand this genre!). I’ll continue to hear updates on this season through the grapevine, but meanwhile I’ll be eagerly awaiting the superior So You Think You Can Dance.
  • Battlestar Galactica – “So Say We All!” So say we all that we don’t want this show to be over. 😦   The series finale aired last Friday, but we haven’t watched yet, partly because I haven’t had a good two hour window in which to watch the finale in its entirety, but mainly because my husband and I feel like if we don’t watch it, then the show isn’t over yet. Warped logic, I know, but it will just be so sad to see the credits roll for the last time. On the other hand, we are anxious to see how it all ends, so I have a feeling we’ll watch in the next few days. This season has been excellent, from the surprising revelation of the fifth Cylon’s identity, to Roslin and Adama’s understated yet enduring relationship, to the changing dynamic between the Cylons and humans. I am seriously considering purchasing the entire series on DVD once it’s available, and forcing my skeptical friends and family (you know who you are!) to watch it. Plus, I want to watch it from beginning to end to clear up all the confusion about the mythology that the breaks between seasons caused.
  • 24 – This has been an excellent season! President Taylor is a vast improvement over the past couple of characters to inhabit the show’s fictional oval office. I hope we see more of her husband as well, because he is a very likable character. In fact, I have enjoyed all the new characters (except maybe for FBI traitor Sean, who seems to be out of the picture now), particularly Agent Walker, Agent Moss (can’t help but love Jeffrey Nordling from his days on Once and Again), and Janis the brooding computer whiz. And the show has managed to shift gears from the face-off with Sangalan warlords to an American-led national threat without grasping at straws. Hats off to the writers for reinventing 24 this season! The move from L.A. to D.C. was a smart one.
  • Life on Mars – Boo to ABC for cancelling this excellent show, but kudos to the network for at least giving the showrunners enough notice to provide viewers with answers and give the show a proper send-off. I hate it when shows are cancelled last minute, and viewers are left forever wondering what happened next. (One example of this is Invasion, from a few years ago, which was flawed but intriguing, and never got a chance to tell its story in full.) I love the characters on Life on Mars. Jason O’Mara is my new tv crush – I hope he finds a successful follow-up role to Sam Tyler. I’ve even grown to like the annoyingly sexist Ray Carling (played by the terrific Michael Imperioli). But most impressive is the fact that I like Harvey Keitel as Lt. Hunt. He is brazen, insensitive, but unwaveringly loyal to his co-workers. Before this show, I had never been able to move past Harvey Keitel’s blatant display of nudity in The Piano. Harvey Keitel’s completely naked body isn’t something that I ever wanted to see, and it wasn’t an easy image to shake from my memory. Thanks to Life on Mars and Lt. Hunt, I have a much more pleasant (and fully clothed!) image to associate with the actor.  I’ll certainly miss the characters, the fantastic music, the quirky tone, and everything else about this show, but hopefully we’ll get some answers and Sam Tyler will have some kind of happy ending. (If I were him I’d rather stay with Annie than go back to Lisa Bonet.)
  • The Office – I haven’t enjoyed The Office as much this season. Certainly there have been some outstanding episodes, but the quality has been inconsistent. Take, for instance, last week’s episode, in which Michael made a fool of himself because he didn’t like having the new VP calling the shots in his office. (This episode also had Jim in the unfamiliar role of the stupid guy, when he wore a tux to the office on the day he should have been impressing the new VP.) Michael has come across as the annoying idiot far too often this season – on every phone call with David Wallace, when he tried to blame Dwight for the golden ticket idea then tried to take it back, when he traveled with Pam to give some presentations at other branches, etc. We haven’t seen much of Toby and Ryan this season. Where are they? Then there’s the awkwardness of the Angela/Dwight/Andy love triangle, the dissolution of which has left Andy with little purpose on the show. How about less of the dynamic idiot due of Michael and Dwight, and more of the awkward office politics  and interaction among the quirky characters (how great was it when Oscar and Andy befriended one another on the trip to Canada?).
  • 30 Rock – While The Office has lost points with me, 30 Rock’s stock is rising. It is consistently funny and smart, even when it’s absurd. I love that Jenna is always getting one-upped by Tracy, that Liz can’t find a stable relationship, that Jack isn’t really as together as he’d have everyone believe (and I love how his relationship with Salma Hayek’s character has developed), etc. Earlier this season I applauded the show for its hilarious tribute to Night Court. The writers outdid themselves again recently with a Harry and the Henderson’s themed episode. I guess I grew up watching the same tv and movies as the 30 Rock writers, because I love their retro pop culture references. Not only did they show the ridiculously sentimental clip of John Lithgow telling Harry to go away and live in the woods, but they wove this idea into the very fabric of the episode, by having Jack use a similar tactic to convince Frank he should give up on law school, and by having a young father witness this debacle between two fatherless men, thus convincing him to stay with his girlfriend and raise their baby together. Not to mention having John Lithgow himself running into Liz Lemon on the elevator. Brilliant!

Even more random thoughts:

  • I am growing tired of The Mentalist’s leaps from horrific death scenes to happy music and silly jokes. A notable example is last week’s episode, in which one character went from shooting and killing a suspect to joking with Patrick in a matter of seconds. I’m all for light-hearted crime shows, but sometimes too much lightheartedness can seem insensitive.
  • The episodes of Friday Night Lights are piling up on my DVR. I now have six unwatched episodes. I assume this is the final season, so perhaps this is my way of making the show last longer (as I am attempting with the finale of Battlestar Galactica).
  • I am missing Fringe during its spring break. I look forward to its final fun of new episodes when it returns in April. Surely this show will be renewed for next season. It is the best new show of the year, in my opinion (with Life on Mars as a close second).
  • I didn’t need to say much about Lost here since I’ve devoted individual posts to each episode of the season. All I’ll say is that I think this is the best season yet, or at least as good as season one. I love how the show has reinvented itself time and again. And I love that Sawyer has taken on a more integral role.

I feel better now. It was good to get all of these ideas out of my head and onto the Internet. How are you feeling about tv these days? Good? Bad? Indifferent?

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Congratulations, David Cook! May 25, 2008

Filed under: American Idol,Television — Emily @ 4:16 pm

I couldn’t have been happier Wednesday night when Ryan Seacrest declared David Cook the winner of this season of American Idol. Honestly, I expected David Archuleta to win, because usually that’s the way reality shows go. It’s rare for the person who deserves to win to win. My saying that probably angers some of you David A. fans, but David Cook was the more original, unique contestant, and he has more commercial appeal. I wish David A. the best of success, but I don’t see myself buying an album of his. I still think he should go the way of Broadway for his music career, after he develops a bit more charisma. We shall see…

Now, about the two hour finale.

The low points of the show:

  • The ongoing boxing analogy. Why, oh why, did we have to see the Davids come on stage wearing silly boxing robes and gloves?
  • The opening number by the Top Twelve contestants – Cheese.
  • The Top 6 Girls performing the hits of Donna Summer – Watching Amanda look awkward on stage was particularly uncomfortable for me.
  • The weirdo Asian guy singing out of tune along with the USC marching band – What?
  • David Hernandez’s solo during the George Michael Medley – After the whole “former male stripper” hoopla from earlier this season, hearing David H. whisper the word “naked” during “Father Figure” in a creepy voice was not on the top of my list of things I wanted to see. By the way, “Father Figure” seems like an inappropriate song for a family show!

And the high points:

  • Jason Castro’s “Alleluia” – This reminded me of when he was on top of his game.
  • Carly Smithson and Michael Johns singing “The Letter” – Seriously, this was my very favorite moment of the finale. It reminded me how much I have missed these two, especially Michael. They were quite a pair! They should form a duo and hit the road together! They sounded great and had great on stage chemistry!
  • David Cook’s performance with ZZ Top – He’s going to be great on tour! He seemed right at home with these veterans.
  • George Michael’s “Praying for Time” – Although it was kind of a downer way to end the show, and his voice wasn’t quite what it used to be (he said he had a cold), this is a great song. George Michael has lots of good songs from the late 80s/early 90s. By the way, kudos to the show for having so many veteran performers on the show. Way to introduce the kids to some good music from “back in the day”! I mean, if I have to sit through The Jonas Brothers, they should be able to tolerate some Bryan Adams and the like. Actually, I fast forwarded through the Jonas Brothers, but I did watch Miley Cyrus during Idol Gives Back.
  • Hearing David Cook being named the winner! – Investing my time in this season paid off in the end. And who can call David C. arrogant after seeing his tears of emotion. He seems like a really nice guy, with an equally nice family. I wish him a long and successful music career!
 

Hey Boo, Awkward Much? May 14, 2008

Filed under: American Idol,Television — Emily @ 2:45 pm

These are my quick thoughts on last night’s Idol. For a bit more detail, go to my friend Lindsay’s post about this week’s show.

Judges’ Choice:

  • David Archuleta – Billy Joel’s “And So It Goes” – This was a good choice for David A. by Paula. And it’s a good song. He sang it very well, but, as usual, I was distracted by David’s facial expressions and all the runs he added to the song.
  • Syesha Mercado – Alicia Key’s “If I Ain’t Got You” – Eh… it was okay. She kind of yelled her way through it.
  • David Cook – Roberta Flack’s “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” – It was fun to hear his version of this song. Great ending!

Winner of Round One: I have to go with David C. on the judges’ choice round, but David A. was pretty good, too.

Contestants’ Choice:

  • David A. – Chris Brown’s “With You” – This was just about the most awkward thing I’d ever seen. Not a good choice – not a good choice at all. The slang, the phrasing, the bobbing up and down. Um, no. And was it Randy that said this is the kind of contemporary album David should make? Yikes.
  • Syesha – Peggy Lee’s “Fever” – I really liked the opening of the song, but by the end I agree with Simon’s assessment that it was like bad cabaret. Poor Syesha, though. The judges were really giving her a hard time!
  • David C. – Switchfoot’s “Dare You to Move” – Out of all the songs David could have chosen, this was no good. The arrangement was bad (for once Paula pointed out a valid concern), the opening verse was too low for his voice, and it was pitchy and boring.

Winner of Round Two: No one! They were all pretty bad. These people shouldn’t be allowed to choose their own songs.

Producers’ Choice:

  • David A. – Dan Folgerberg’s “Longer” – This song was most definitely too sentimental and old for David. Why, oh why, would the producers choose this old tune for him? So much for being youthful. But I do like the song – don’t know what Simon has against it.
  • Syesha – Gia Farrell’s “Hit Me Up” – I don’t like this song, and I didn’t like Syesha’s performance. It was loud and grating.
  • David C. – Aerosmith’s “I Don’t Wanna Miss a Thing” – Simon thinks this is one of the best songs of all time? I don’t like Aerosmith’s version at all (probably more because I can’t stand the movie it was in – Armageddon – or because it was way overplayed on the radio), but David C’s version was my favorite performance of the night.

Winner of Round 3: David C. It seems to me that the producers want David C. to be the American Idol, because they sabotaged Syesha and David A. with their song choices for them.

Well, the judges certainly believe that Syesha will go home tonight. That’s how it should be. We’ve been anticipating a showdown of the Davids for weeks now. I will be shocked if one of them goes home instead.

 

American Idol’s Lackluster Rock Night May 6, 2008

Filed under: American Idol,Television — Emily @ 7:45 pm

This week the top four took on songs from rock ‘n roll. With all the rock songs out there, they couldn’t select songs any better than these? This is especially true of the first set of songs. Here are my thoughts…

FIRST SET OF SONGS:

  • David Cook – “Hungry Like the Wolf” – I wasn’t impressed by this performance. It was very generic. But Simon’s right that it’s probably enough to put David through to the next round.
  • Syesha Mercado – “Proud Mary” – She looked great, but it seemed kind of like going through the motions to me, and she shouted a lot.

Sidenote: The first two performances were marred by the sound – the instruments weren’t turned up loud enough. 

  • Jason Castro – “I Shot the Sheriff” – A Bob Marley song, obviously, suits him. He had more emotion in this performance than I had seen from him in a long time. The arrangement of the song, however, wasn’t very good, and once again the instruments weren’t loud enough. 
  • David Archuleta – “Stand by Me” – I really like this song, but as usual David over sang – too many runs and breathy notes. Somehow he turned this into an inspirational song in the middle. For once he messed up some notes, too. The ending of the song was quite pitchy and weak. Why do the judges never have anything bad to say to him?
SECOND SET OF SONGS:
  • David Cook – “Baba O’Reilly” by the Who – I don’t know this song, but I really liked it. It was my favorite performance of the night. It showed off David’s voice and his stage presence. 
  • Syesha Mercado – “A Change Is Gonna Come” by Sam Cook – It was very clear that this was a heartfelt performance. Although, to compare Sam Cook’s involvement in the civil rights movement to Syesha making the top four on American Idol is a bit of a stretch. I’d like to think she was just moved by the historical context of the song. But I have to agree with Paula that Syesha has changed a lot this season, and in this performance she proved to me that she deserves to still be here. And it was touching to see her crying on stage. It made her seem very genuine, and it’s been hard to see who she is as a person much of this season.  
  • Jason Castro – “Mr. Tambourine Man” – This was a good song choice for him, but it was only a so-so performance. I really think that Jason doesn’t care whether he stays or goes. When he forgot the words he just la-la’d his was through it, and earlier in the show when they introduced the contestants, he was yawning. 
  • David Archuleta – “Love Me Tender” – All the preteen girls will love this performance, which David described as a “really romantic love song.” As usual, David overdid the facial expressions and vocals. I am sure that David is a super nice person, but during his performances he is what I can only describe as artificially sincere. Or, as my husband puts it, “He’s just wrong… he’s too polished, too rehearsed, too pageanty.” I couldn’t have said it better myself.
Best Performances: 
  • Syesha’s “A Change Is Gonna Come” 
  • David Cook’s “Baba O’Reilly”
Least Impressive Performances:
  • Jason Castro’s “I Shot the Sheriff”
  • David Cook’s “Hungry Like the Wolf”
Jason Castro should definitely be the one going home this week, but I wouldn’t mind seeing David A. sent packing. (I’ll have to keep dreaming on that one, I’m afraid…)
 

American Idol Presents… Cheese April 30, 2008

Filed under: American Idol,Television — Emily @ 9:28 am

Welcome to Cheesefest 2008! That’s what I thought of this week’s Neil Diamond performance show. Each contestant sang two songs. There wasn’t much to like, but here are my thoughts:

ROUND ONE OF SONGS:

  • Jason Castro – “Forever in Blue Jeans” – This isn’t a very exciting song, but the style suits Jason okay. It was pretty boring, though.
  • David Cook “I’m Alive” – This song is really cheesy, so much so that even David Cook can’t make it sound cool. I was bored again.
  • Brooke White – “I’m a Believer” – I wasn’t a fan of the frantic pacing of the song, and something about Brooke’s super happy demeanor reminded me of The Brady Bunch. For me, it’s been three strikes so far in my search for a performance to love.
  • David Arculeta – “Sweet Caroline” – I’m sorry, I’m just not digging Neil Diamond night. During this number I kept flashing back to that old show Kids, Inc.
  • Syesha Mercado- “Hello Again” – It helped to hear a female version of a Neil Diamond song. She was able to make it “her own.” Plus, I don’t know this song, so I didn’t have any preconceived notions.

How awkward was it when Paula started talking about Jason’s second song that he hadn’t sung yet? Where was she for the first half of the show?!

ROUND TWO OF SONGS

  • Jason Castro – “September Morn” – Even Jason looked bored while he was singing this one. It didn’t suit him.
  • David Cook – “All I Really Need Is You” – This is the first performance that I actually enjoyed tonight. David’s voice was great, the instrumentals were nice, and the song wasn’t bad. Simon made a good observation that David made this song sound like it was written this year. That’s what was missing from most of the other performances. The songs seemed dated. Everyone should have taken some risks to make their songs more interesting.
  • Brooke White – “I Am, I Said” – I liked this one. I always like Brooke better playing piano instead of guitar. Plus, this song brought her back to the Brooke I liked in the early weeks, with that 70s vibe. Welcome back, Brooke!
  • David Archuleta – “America” – So this is one of the cheesiest songs I know, so I already had that bias going in. But for me, David’s performance was just a continuation of his “inspirational message of the week.” I wasn’t wowed in the least. All the networks might as well go ahead and sign David A. up for their 4th of July specials. He’d be perfect. Simon is right about it being a perfect song choice, based on David’s fan base. Kristy Lee Cook knows about that, too, since she’s “Proud to Be an American.” (Don’t get me wrong. I love America. But that doesn’t mean patriotic songs have to be my favorite. Actually, I just wrote something about American music…).
  • Syesha Mercado- “Thank the Lord for the Nighttime” – Syesha’s performance was part Kids, Inc. (the background drum beat) and part Sunday gospel hour (her vocals). These are two things that don’t mix, though, so I was very distracted.

I agree with Simon that this was the strangest show they’ve ever done. At least of the ones I have seen. It seems like they should have done the Neil Diamond episode earlier in the season, and done some of the more current artists here at the end of the season. Oh well.

Top Performances:

  1. David Cook’s “All I Really Need Is You”
  2. Brooke White’s “I Am, I Said”
  3. Syesha Mercado’s “Hello Again”

Bottom Two: Jason and Syesha

Going Home? – Syesha

 

American Idol Takes on Broadway April 23, 2008

Filed under: American Idol — Emily @ 11:42 am

Now that we’re down to six contestants, I will compile my thoughts on the performances in order of my preference – from my favorite to least favorite.

  1. David Cook – “Music of the Night” – Wow, what a great voice he has, and he proved it with his rendition of “Music of the Night.” I was surprised he played it straight, without giving it his usual rock edginess. I think that was a smart move, because it showed his versatility. In my opinion, this David is the front runner, not David Archuleta.
  2. Carly  Smithson – “Jesus Christ,  Superstar” – I liked Carly’s outfit, her enthusiasm, and – of course – her voice. She seemed very comfortable on stage for this performance, and looked like she was having a lot of fun. She had been missing that element for the past couple of weeks. Hopefully this improved performance will keep her safe this week.
  3. Syesha Mercado – “One Rock and Roll Too Many” – Syesha looked great, in her red dress, and this song was perfectly suited for her. She had tons more spunk in her than she has ever shown this season. Like Carly, she stepped it up this week.
  4. Jason Castro – “Memory” – Although I liked Jason’s understated version of this well-known Broadway tune, I have to agree with Simon’s assessment that it looked like Jason was being forced by his parents to sing this song. I fear he may be in trouble this week, unless his beautiful eyes save him. 🙂
  5. Brooke White – “You Must Love Me” – Brooke has gone from being my favorite contestant to being near the bottom of the list. For the second time this season, she stopped and started over. That shows that she is jittery, and the person who wins this competition needs to exude confidence. So far she hasn’t done so. I still love her voice, and her different vibe, but I’m not sure those are enough to keep her around at this point.
  6. David Archuleta – “Think of Me” – If he had continued the song in the style he began with, this may well have been my favorite performance of the night. I loved the guitar, and the pop sound. For the first time, I was able to believe David A. as a pop singer. But… then he had to go and turn it into his typical “inspirational message of the week,” complete with generic hand motions. Plus, I was very distracted by how hard he was trying not to close his eyes. I just don’t get why he’s so many people’s favorite. Well, I guess his great voice and the fact that he’s a cute, precocious teenage boy have something to do with it. 🙂

Bottom Three: Brooke, Jason, Carly

Going Home: Brooke? (but I am usually wrong with my predictions, so it will probably be someone else)

 

American Idol Gets “Carey”d Away April 16, 2008

Filed under: American Idol — Emily @ 8:45 am

Who knew that the guys would fare so well on Mariah Carey-theme night? Here are my thoughts on the seven performances:

  • David Archuleta – “When You Believe” – As much as I love the animated movie Prince Of Egypt, as well as this and all the other songs from it, I was bored. I stand by my opinion that David A. is not pop star material – at least not yet. I’m not sure he would ever be. He needs to finish high school and then head for Broadway, where he can wow audiences with his soaring, controlled voice. But my opinion must not be shared by much of America, as he always seems to be safe from the Bottom 3.
  • Carly Smithson – “Without You” – For the first time in a few weeks, I thought Carly looked really good: her hair, her makeup, her dress. However, her vocals were not as strong as they have been in previous weeks. I think she was responding to the judges’ comments that she seems angry when she performs, by toning it down. Since her strong voice is my favorite thing about her, this was not one of my faves from her.
  • Syesha Mercado – “Vanishing” – I had forgotten about this lesser known Mariah song from her first album, which I used to listen to on my purple “jam box” way back in the early 1990s (great album – I had forgotten!). I thought Syesha did a great job with it. Her personality was more apparent than in previous weeks, her voice was very controlled and confident, she looked great, and I would have to say this is my favorite performance from her of the season.
  • Brooke White – “Hero” – What happened? The song started well, but then she got all trembly and pitchy. Plus, this song is one of Mariah’s more bland ones. Brooke needs to step it up, or soon she’ll be steppin’ out.
  • Kristy Lee Cook – “Forever” – She is still at the bottom of the list for me, and I don’t like country music, but I can’t deny that she has done well the past couple of weeks, and that this could legitimately be a country hit. Looks like she may have dodged a bullet once again.
  • David Cook – “Always Be My Baby” – I always enjoy David’s rock twist on other genres, but his vocals this time were kind of weak. I still enjoyed it, but not as much as some of his others. But I agree with Simon that David is a risk taker, and he’s creative – more than any other contestant. That’s a trait that will serve him well as an artist.
  • Jason Castro – “I Don’t Want to Cry” – Another Mariah song that I love! I really liked the first half of Jason’s version, but I thought the arrangement lacked gusto toward the end. Hopefully Jason will earn enough votes to stay, especially since he was the final performer.

My Favorite Performances: Syesha, Jason

Predicting the Bottom Three: Carly, Brooke, Syesha

Out of those three, I am sad to say that I think Carly will be going home. She has a great voice, but she has never connected as well with the audience as some of the others have.