Eclaire Fare

Enjoying Pop Culture, One Bite at a Time

Fall 2011 Preview: Fox’s New Shows September 9, 2011

Filed under: Fall Preview,Fringe,Glee,Television — Emily @ 4:46 pm

"New Girl" is a refreshingly funny sitcom that I look forward to watching this fall.

This fall, Fox is too busy overhyping Glee and its newest Idol wannabe to leave much room on the schedule for new shows. So this won’t take very long:

  • Terra Nova – You’ve probably seen promos for this – it seems to be the Fox show they are promoting heavily. It’s a cross between Jurassic Park and Avatar, and I am not super interested, but I do like the guy from Life on Mars (Jason O’Mara) that stars in it. So, I’ll check out the pilot at least. I’m not very crazy about dinosaurs (I only watched Jurassic Park when it had been out for nearly ten years, and I hated it), so I hope the focus is on the characters and not the things trying to eat them.
  • Allen Gregory/I Hate My Teenage Daughter – Meh. One is a cartoon about a super intelligent and mature seven year old. The other is about two incompetent single moms trying to raise their teenage daughters. My guess is that neither one will do particularly well.
  • The X Factor – Simon Cowell and Paula Abdul try to reclaim their former Idol glory, and just as my interest in that show continues to wane (I still can’t believe how weak the finalists were this past season!), I just don’t care about this one. I haven’t even investigated it – just another talent competition.
  • New Girl – I am actually very interested in this one. Zoey Deschanel is just so cute, charming, and funny. The trailer looked pretty funny, and I like that she has a trio of male roommates who are trying to help her get back on her feet after a bad breakup. Seems different and funny. I’ve already seen the pilot thanks to Tivo’s free preview, and it was laugh out loud funny. The characters are not your stereotypical sitcom types. They are quirky but likeable, even after just the first few minutes of the show. Make a point to watch this one – it’s worth your time! I especially loved the use of Dirty Dancing references and music in the pilot episode. Instant classic.

Mid season will mark the premiere of Alcatraz, which has potential since it comes from J.J. Abrams and has Jorge Garcia. But like many supernatural shows, it may be too specific to last very long. Another new show will be Touch, which sounds very convoluted and complex. But I’m interested in it because it has Kiefer Sutherland playing a loving father to an autistic 11 year old who happens to have a very special gift of seeing the interconnectedness of events that other people can’t see. Or something like that. Those shows usually don’t last very long (remember Flashforward? – probably not…), but maybe since they have a few more months to work on it, the showrunners will get this one right.

So I will be watching The New Girl, along with returning favorite Fringe. In my opinion, this sci-fi gem is by far the best show on Fox. Every season it reinvents itself or adds another layer of complexity and excitement. I was skeptical about the alternate universe last season, but after a few episodes I was hooked and was equally interested in both storylines (over here and over there). However, I am on the fence about Glee. I still haven’t been interested enough in it to finish watching all of last season. The final three episodes are waiting on my Tivo. A few issues I have with it: overpromotion, weak to nonexistent plots, and inconsistent (if any) character development. Suddenly last season almost all of the teenagers on the show were completely self-centered and even vindictive toward their fellow gleeks. Why watch a show that doesn’t have any likeable characters? I have heard about some behind the scenes changes, so I am willing to give the show another chance. But if things don’t change soon I will have no regrets jumping off the Glee bandwagon. What will you be watching this fall on Fox?

 

Fringe: A Show You Should Be Watching January 21, 2011

Filed under: Fringe,Television — Emily @ 4:32 pm
Tags: , , ,

A young woman loses herself in her job as she tries to escape the ghosts of her past. A father learns to depend on the son he has been estranged from for years, as the son struggles to forgive his father for a life altering act committed years ago. Meanwhile, mysterious events are taking place all over the world, and a team of scientists and investigators use unconventional methods to solve crimes, save lives, and sometimes even save the world!

This is a very basic synopsis of the excellent scifi show Fringe, which returns tonight after its winter break. If you have never watched before, do yourself a favor and start catching up! Fringe is currently in its third season, and it just gets better and better. It’s the only show I consistently watch the night it airs, and it’s also the best scifi show currently on tv. Here are my thoughts on why you should be watching Fringe, too.

  • It’s a worthy successor to The X-FilesWhen The X-Files ended, I doubted that any other scifi show would captivate me as much as it had. Then along came this tale of FBI agent Olivia Dunham, who finds herself working for a division that investigates strange, seemingly inexplicable cases. She works alongside Dr. Walter Bishop, a brilliant scientist who uses unconventional investigative methods and spent several years in a mental institution. Tagging along as a “supervisor” for his father is Peter Bishop, and he and Walter are still working through all sorts of family baggage. This trio is joined by a few other team members, and together they investigate the strange, unimaginable, and sometimes horrific events tied to the Pattern. Instead of Mulder and Scully, we have Olivia, Peter, and Walter. Instead of aliens and government conspiracies, we have shape shifters and other world conspiracies. But both shows have a satisfying blend of character development and mysterious cases/freaks of the week.
  • Olivia – Olivia is an interesting and likable heroine. She loves her job and is committed to doing her best. She genuinely cares about the people she works with and the victims she encounters in her investigations. The writers have been slow to reveal details about her past, which makes her a somewhat enigmatic figure when it comes to her emotions, her mindset, and her relationships, or lack thereof.
  • Peter and Walter’s father/son relationship – This pair is one of the most entertaining on tv. John Noble and Joshua Jackson have great chemistry as the bickering father and son who obviously care for each other, even though they don’t always see eye to eye. Peter exhibits great patience with his socially dysfunctional and mentally unstable father, and Walter has proven how much he loves his son, even though some of his actions have been questionable. Some of the funniest, as well as the most heartwarming, moments on the show happen when these two are involved. And I should mention here that I totally have a crush on Joshua Jackson in this role. I was never a huge fan of Pacey when he was on Dawson’s Creek, but Peter is so charming, funny, and handsome that it’s hard not to love him. I even named my second child Peter, not completely because of this show – but it was definitely what gave me the initial idea for the name.
  • The Observers – Ohhhh, weird bald guys, wearing suits and hats, who show up at important or significant events in history. Count me in. The verdict is still out on who these guys are, what their ultimate goal is, and where they come from. But part of the fun of watching Fringe is noticing their appearances. It’s usually very subtle – they may be standing at a bus stop in the background, may walk past other characters, etc., but when they do show up it’s usually a signal that something important is about to happen.
  • The alternate universe – I don’t want to say much about this development, since it didn’t surface until late in the second season. Let me just say that it opened up a whole new world of possibilities for the show, and has resulted in a highly entertaining and exciting season three.
  • Rich mythology – The Observers and the alternate universe are only part of the intricate mythology of this show. The X-Files had a rich mythology, but the writers never resolved much of it. Fringe has done a more satisfying job of answering some questions, so that viewers aren’t as frustrated by the new questions those answers create, or the questions that are left unanswered. The first season didn’t supply much information – it was more about the case of the week, as well as getting to know the characters. But as season two progressed, we learned more about the other world, and after several episodes that only hinted at the secret of Peter’s past, the shocking truth was finally revealed, and that secret has led to all sorts of complications. So, yes, there are many complex details to figure out, but the show can also be enjoyed on an episode by episode basis.
  • The musical episode – When a show comes up with an unusual episode, I am sold. Buffy the Vampire Slayer succeeded with “Once More, with Feeling,” its musical episode, Angel impressed me with its “puppet” episode, and last season Fringe satisfied me with its version of a musical episode. It was part story time, part old school private eye, part musical – and I loved it! Agent Broyles played piano and sang a smooth jazz number, Olivia sang a beautiful ballad, and Walter even conjured up some singing corpses. It was weird, but it worked. This episode proved that you never know what you are going to see when you turn on Fringe.
  • The details – One of my favorite aspects of season three has been the amount of detail provided about the alternate universe. JFK was never assassinated, avocados are an endangered fruit, writing instruments have been replaced by electronic devices, etc. These sometimes subtle, sometimes large details give this other world a distinctive look and feel. If you are interested in reading about more of these details, check out this page on Fringepedia about the parallel universe.
  • Genuine chills and thrills – The CSI intros, infamous for being gross and shocking, have nothing on Fringe. A woman giving birth to a baby who ages 80 years and dies within a few minutes? Sure. A mad scientist who collects the donated organs of a deceased ballerina to put her back together again as a marionette dancer? Why not. A victim whose facial orifices close over, leaving him a faceless corpse? Well there you have it. The incidents, the investigations, and the discoveries never cease to shock, perplex, or surprise. Needless to say, the writing team is very creative and imaginative. The one hour episode flies by every week – so much is happening, and it is so entertaining.

I had a hard time writing this post. I really wanted to convey how much I love this show and why, but I didn’t want to give away too many details in the process. Much of the fun of watching Fringe is in the not knowing, not having all the information, not completely understanding what’s happening. I hope I’ve piqued your interest enough that you will give the show a try. Set your DVR for Friday nights at 8 p.m. central time! Let me know what you think after you check it out.

 

2010: Year in Review January 1, 2011

Filed under: Books,Fringe,Glee,Lost,Memories,Movies,Music,Television — Emily @ 5:24 pm

2010 was a year that marked the birth of my second son, which has made it decidedly more difficult for me to maintain this blog. Perhaps one of my new year’s resolutions will be to post more frequently. We shall see. Blame it on pregnancy ditziness, blame it on newborn phase sleep deprivation, but whatever the cause, much of 2010 is a blur, especially the entertainment world. I do remember saying goodbye to, and shedding some tears for, one of my all-time favorite shows. I also remember the wrong person winning American Idol, the soap opera I grew up on coming to an end, and Christopher Nolan continuing his movie-making magic. Here’s a bullet point list of the best of times, worst of times of 2010.

  • Good Reads
    • Stieg Larsson’s Girl trilogy – I read all three of these books in 2010 and found them completely riveting. Girl with the Dragon Tattoo was a satisfying blend of suspense and mystery revolving around the enigmatic Vanger family. The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest was a conspiracy-filled investigation to clear the name of the wrongfully accused, and The Girl Who Played with Fire was a satisfying ending to the trilogy with its expose of a secret organization and Lisbeth Salander finally finding some peace. I have watched the Swedish movie adaptations of the first two novels, and they were surprisingly good (meaning the transition from page to screen was pretty accurate). I hear there are American versions in the works, but since the trilogy is set in Sweden, and so much of the plot revolves around Swedish politics and culture, I don’t think they will be as good.
    • Eric Larson’s The Devil in the White City – I don’t usually read historical non-fiction, but I was fascinated by this book, which blends the story of an infamous serial killer with the city of Chicago’s efforts to prepare for and host the 1893 World’s Fair. Larson knew when to elaborate and when to summarize, to make this a quick and interesting read. Word on the street is that there is a movie in the works, with Leonardo DiCaprio set to play serial killer H.H. Holmes. Should be a good one!
  • Good Movies
    • Shutter Island – Speaking of Leonardo DiCaprio, he has completely redeemed himself for Titanic. Yeah, I guess I should have gotten over that about ten years ago, but I lost over three hours of my life to that movie!! It took me a long time to forgive him for shouting “I’m the king of the world” and such. This year, he only impressed me, starring in two of my favorite movies. One was Shutter Island, adapted from the Dennis Lehane novel. I knew it would be good when I saw that it starred DiCaprio, along with Mark Ruffalo (one of my favorite character actors) and Ben Kingsley. This one was terrific in the theater: the scenery, the music, the everything. The ending surprised (and disappointed) some people, but Martin Scorsese did a great job with every single detail, from beginning to end, and I was impressed.
    • Inception – The only person who outdid Scorsese this year was Christopher Nolan, who continues to amaze me with his ability to intrigue and entertain. Inception is the last movie I saw in the theater before my son was born, and I haven’t been back to the movies yet! What a terrific experience that movie was: the sights, the sounds, the story… the whole package. I look forward to giving it a second look soon.
  • Good Music
    • Mumford and Sons – Their Sigh No More is the only complete album I purchased in 2010, and I love it. From the mainstream hit “Little Lion Man,” to the solidarity of “Timshel,” to the poetry of “The Cave,” everything is worth listening to and enjoying.
    • Glee – Nothing is more fun to listen to than songs from Glee. They are fun to sing and dance along to, in the car, the kitchen, or anywhere else. The second season has been a little lackluster, but I’m still enjoying last season’s hits – most notably “Somebody to Love,” “Don’t Rain on My Parade,” “Borderline/Open Your Heart,” and “Alone.”
  • Good TV
    • Breaking Bad – After three seasons of it receiving awards and accolades, we finally jumped on the Breaking Bad bandwagon, zooming through the first two seasons on DVD. Now we are anxiously awaiting season three, and hope it will reair on AMC before the dvd release. Bryan Cranston is truly amazing in this role, one that is about as far removed from the dad on Malcolm in the Middle as you can be. I’ve had several people tell me they don’t want to watch the show because it sounds depressing (actually, I think I was one of those people before I watched it!), but the show balances out the heavy themes (cancer, drug addiction, deception, etc.) with lighter moments. We so enjoyed this show that we decided to try out AMC’s other original series. We quickly lost interest in Mad Men (well made, yes, but no likable characters!), but immediately took to the new zombie drama The Walking Dead (too bad there were only six episodes in season one…). I was also interested in Rubicon, but since it was canceled after one season, I’m not sure I’ll ever watch it.
    • Fringe – I continue to love this sci-fi investigative show. The story arcs are imaginative, the characters well drawn, and the details thorough. This season has been all about this universe vs. the alternate universe, and I appreciate all the little details that the writers throw in about alt-universe (JFK was’t assassinated, they no longer use writing pens, avocado are a rare fruit, etc.). This show even inspired the name that I eventually chose for my son (Peter).
    • Lost – I couldn’t do a year end post without mentioning what is probably my all-time favorite show. I throughly enjoyed the final season, although it took me awhile to come to terms with the way it ended. The show had a great run, though, so I don’t miss it now. Too much other tv to watch anyway.
  • Good Sports
    • The Saints won the Super Bowl! – After years of embarrassment, followed by some years of “almost, but not quite,” the Saints finally had their moment of glory as Super Bowl champs, by winning a handful of crazy games. It was oh so sweet to celebrate with them after all those depressing Sunday afternoons growing up in Louisiana, watching the ‘Aints.
    • Duke wins the NCAA championship! – What a rare thing, for two of my teams to win championships during the same year! I have been a Duke fan since 1991, the year they won their first championship. I’ve followed their ups and downs ever since then, and was pleasantly surprised when they were the only #1 seed left standing for the Final Four last season, and added another championship to their collection. Go Blue Devils!
  • Disappointments
    • Velva Jean Learns to Drive – This book was okay, but I was really unhappy with how it ended.
    • The Event – I guess I shouldn’t have expected much from NBC, since their action/suspense shows usually fail, but this show was just one, big convoluted and implausible mess. I tried to watch it, but gave up on about episode 5 or 6. I suppose it will last for awhile, but I won’t be tuning in to this failed hybrid of 24 and Lost.
    • So You Think You Can Dance: Season 7 – When I first heard that the show was mixing things up by pairing new contestants with all-stars, I was super excited. And as much as I loved seeing Pasha, Mark, Kathryn, etc., their presence made it nearly impossible to pick favorites among the newbies. We couldn’t enjoy power couples, and I was usually too busy watching one of the all-stars do their thing to notice how the actual contestants were doing. Throw the ridiculous number of injuries in, and the uneven number of guys and girls during the second half of the season, and it was an epic failure. There were still a few memorable performances, but none that I can think of right now.
    • Lee beating Crystal on American Idol – Every year I only half watch the spectacle that is American Idol, and last season, my one eye open quickly pegged Crystal the only one with the total package amonst the weak top ten. As much as I liked Lee (he was a nice guy, after all), he wasn’t nearly as talented or comfortable on stage as Crystal. Like all previous contestants, their post-Idol successes or failures will determine the real winner (a shout out here to the one and only Jennifer Hudson, who was voted off way too soon on her season of Idol).

So what were the best and worst moments in 2010 entertainment for you?

 

Fall 2010 TV: What I’ll Be Watching September 17, 2010

The 2010-2011 television season officially kicks off next week, and it comes at just the right time for me. We took our time this summer finishing up episodes of our shows from last season, and last week we watched (and thoroughly enjoyed) season three of Dexter. That leaves us with only one week of wondering what to watch before our shows are back. Here’s a look at what I’ll definitely be watching this year, by day of the week (I always check out several new shows’ pilots, so it’s possible I may be adding a couple of shows to this list).

  • Sunday:
    • I won’t be watching anything on Sunday evenings, except maybe the occasional NFL game, if the Saints are playing.
  • Monday:
    • There’s no “must see tv” yet for me on this night. Although I still watch the occasional episode of How I Met Your Mother, I lost interest in that show about a season and a half ago. I’ve watched most of the Lone Star pilot, and based on that I don’t think it’s worth investing another hour a week to. I am slightly intrigued by the Hawaii Five-O remake, since it stars Daniel Dae Kim, but I’ll reserve judgment until I’ve seen the pilot.
  • Tuesday:
    • Glee – This was by far my favorite new show last season, and I can’t wait to hear (and download) more songs, laugh at more of Sue Sylvester’s snarky dialogue, and cheer for the rag tag team of misfit Glee clubbers.
    • Parenthood – I fell in love with this show over the summer. Lauren Graham is the main bright spot, but she is surrounded by an outstanding cast of colorful characters. I’m planning to write a “Why You Should Watch Parenthood” post pretty soon, so I’ll save most of my praise for that. Let me just say that the sub plots featured each week on this show seem like pretty realistic depictions of the situations families find themselves facing every day. Since I’m right in the middle of suburban family life, am in my early 30s, and have two kids, I suppose I am part of the target audience, and I’m enjoying every minute of this show that caters to me. Thanks, NBC!
  • Wednesday
    • Modern Family – It’s no surprise that I’m also a fan of this other new family show from last season. I was pleased to see it win so many Emmy’s this year – it is very much deserving. I laugh just as much at this show as I do at any of the other comedies I watch (there are several of them). I love how it finds humor in typical family situations, like the classic family sitcoms of the past few decades, but adds a healthy dose of sarcasm and satire to the mix. Perfect recipe!
  • Thursday
    • Fringe – I’ve been anticipating this show more than any other over the summer. Partly because I actually watched the season finale when it aired, and thus had to wait the full four months to find out what happens next, but also because it left viewers with a crazy cliffhanger! I can’t wait to see what crazy adventures Olivia, Peter, Walter, and Astrid find themselves in the midst of next. I’m also planning a “Why You Should Watch Fringe” post, so stay tuned for that if you have considered watching this show.
    • Community – This little comedy that could grew on me more and more with each episode last season. It has some silly moments that fall flat, but I mostly adore the characters, the frequent pop culture references, and the quirky tone. I liked it from the beginning since I actually teach at a community college. There’s a lot of reality in the show’s portrayal of community college campus life (except maybe for the paint ball war…), taken to the extreme, of course.
    • 30 Rock – I fell behind on this show for awhile last season. It lost some of its edge, spending too much time on Jack and his two girlfriends. Once it turned more attention to Liz’s disfunctional love life, this Emmy darling was back at the top of its game. Liz’s boyfriends on the show have always been hilarious, so I hope we will see more of airline pilot Matt Damon, who first showed up in last season’s finale. And how bizarre and hilarious is Will Forte as Jenna’s Cher/Jenna impersonating boyfriend. Greatness.
    • The Office – This show is past its prime, but as long as it still makes me laugh, I’ll keep watching. Honestly, Michael Scott isn’t the funniest thing about it, but he may be the glue that holds the supporting cast together. But really, shouldn’t the show just end when Steve Carrell leaves?
  • Friday
    • Supernatural – I haven’t watched this show in new episodes on tv since season two. Now it’s entering it’s sixth season, and after catching up with seasons three through five on dvd and summer reruns, I’m ready to jump back in. I’ll enjoy being able to enjoy reading about the show online without fear of spoilers – it has quite an avid fan base!
  • Saturday

    • Nothing interesting comes on Saturday nights!

So there you have it. I am watching fewer shows this season than I have in a long time – especially since there are no shows waiting in the wings, like Lost, 24, and Battlestar Galactica in recent years. There are eight shows on my list, but since four of them are half hour comedies, I don’t feel like I’m investing a lot of time in tv this fall. What will you be watching? Is my list missing anything that’s must-see for you?

 

Fall 2009 TV: What I’m Still Watching December 1, 2009

A couple of months ago, I gave an overview of what tv shows I would be watching this fall. Some of them were my returning favorites, while others were newbies that I wasn’t sure about. Now that the fall season is well underway, and most of these shows are about to go into holiday hibernation, I thought I’d give an update on what I’m still watching, and which shows have lost my interest.

Didn’t Make It Past the First Round

At the beginning of the fall season, I watched a handful of pilots out of curiosity, and had a reaction of either immediate disinterest or horror.

  • Cougar Town – So bad that it was painful to watch. Poor Courtney Cox – Monica Geller would be embarrassed by her character.
  • The Middle – Hidy ho, neighbor! This show was too “hunky dory” for my taste. It came across as a slightly desperate attempt to reach out to middle America. The result was a sometimes funny, but mostly contrived comedy that was a wannabe hybrid of Everybody Loves Raymond and Malcolm in the Middle.
  • Eastwick – I may have liked this show if it had a darker, supernatural element to it. Instead, it was mostly soap opera fluff with a dash of magic thrown in. I also found all three main characters unlikable, particularly the married one. I felt little sympathy for her when her husband threatened to seek full custody of their kids when they decided to get divorced. Who could blame him? She struck him with lightning! I wrote this show off by the end of the pilot, and it looks like the network has done the same, since I read they haven’t ordered the back nine episodes.

Still Sitting on the Sidelines

Some shows that I considered watching haven’t even seen any playing time. These are all shows I have watched off and on in past seasons, but so far this season the episodes are just piling up on my Tivo.

  • Bones – Actually, I only recorded the first episode of the season, and really only because Cyndi Lauper was guest starring. It’s still sitting unwatched on my Now Playing list. (I lost interest in this show about the time that Angela and Hodgins broke up. That was such a forced story.)
  • The Mentalist – I like the characters on this sophomore hit (and I love Simon Baker!), and I’m intrigued by the ongoing Red John investigation, but I just haven’t found the time to watch any episodes this season. I may catch up some in the next couple of months.
  • CSI – Ever since Warrick’s tragic departure, and then Grissom’s move to South America (or where ever he went to live in the jungle with Sara), this show has been a little depressing. I’m not a huge fan of some of the newer characters, although I like Laurence Fishburne just fine.  At this point in this veteran show’s run, I only watch the episodes that sound interesting to me. So far this season nothing has sounded too good.
  • How I Met Your Mother – I still haven’t finished last season’s episodes, much less gotten into this season’s. I guess this just isn’t Must See TV for me. It really never has been. I’ll probably do what I’ve always done, which is to catch up during summer reruns.

I finally started acting my age and stopped watching Vampire Diaries.

Cut from the Lineup

  • FlashForward – I really wanted to be excited about this show. Yet every week something was missing. I didn’t find any of the characters compelling, and wasn’t sure why it really mattered what they saw in the future and what they would do about it now. And it took them forever to introduce Charlie – I mean Dominic Monaghan’s character! In every preview, they would show him, but he didn’t actually have much screen time until several episodes in. By that time, I had already decided to bail. Perhaps this show was trying to do too much with too many characters. What worked for Lost doesn’t seem to be working for it. I have a feeling this one won’t make it past season one.
  • Vampire Diaries – All along, I felt too old to be watching this show. I rolled my eyes at all the exaggerations of teen angst, and the absence of authority figures. It seems like most of the grown ups were only introduced so they could be killed off (such as the football coach and the reporter). I was intrigued enough by the family dynamics between Stefan and Damon, and Damon really is a fun character. However, the final nail in the coffin was all the mumbo jumbo about crystals and such, and the secret society who vowed to protect the town from vampires. It was all a little hokey. Why not just stick to the formula of a teen who falls in love with a brooding but good-hearted vampire, who happens to have an evil, trouble-making vampire brother? The show seems to be a hit for the CW, and I am sure many fans will continue to enjoy it. I, however, am relieved that I now have one less show to watch on Thursday nights.

"Modern Family" is one of my favorite shows this season

Second Team

These are shows that I’m still watching regularly, but sometimes weeks after they air. In other words, they aren’t “must see.”

  • 30 Rock – Still funny, but I’m not compelled to watch it immediately
  • The Office – Continues to be hit or miss. I don’t like the direction the show has taken Jim’s character lately, portraying him as a fish out of water in his co-manager position.
  • Community – Community seems to be getting better with each episode. We just watched the Green Week episode, which was hilarious, particularly the montage sequence that had Senor Chang salsa dancing at the “Greene Daye” concert, while Shirley gave an inspiring speech about brownies, and Abed and Troy sang “Somewhere Out There” to coax their lab mouse out of hiding. Comic genius.
  • Modern Family – Modern Family also gets better with each episode. I love how it balances quirky and deadpan humor with characters that are actually lovable. I like all the characters on the show, which is very rare on today’s brand of sitcom. On the latest episode that I watched, which had to do with a “stolen” bicycle, toddler time, and the installation of a ceiling fan, I was really touched by the ending. Jay (Ed O’Neill) and Gloria’s wine country getaway plans are spoiled when Manny’s father cancels his plan to take him to Disneyland. Rather than tell Manny the truth about his deadbeat dad, Jay sacrifices his and Gloria’s kid-free weekend, telling Manny that his dad wanted them to take him to Disney World, and that he had sent a limo to take them there. That was really sweet. And like Jay said, the most important part of being a dad is just showing up. Sniff, sniff. This show really deserves a post all its own, so I won’t praise it anymore right now.

Glee remains a joy to watch

My Must-See TV

  • SYTYCD – I’m still enjoying this show, although this season’s choreography and performances have been underwhelming, except for a handul of my favorite couples. I’m used to investing more time into this show during its summer runs, but since it’s up against so many fall shows, I’ve devoted much less time to blogging about it. I vote that they return to a summer-only format.
  • Glee – I am in love with this show. While some episodes are better than others, and some of the humor is just plain silly, there is plenty to make up for those small complaints. The musical numbers are always fun, Sue Sylvester is the funniest character on tv, and every episode ends on an uplifting note that has me either cheering for the characters or celebrating life itself. Can one little tv show achieve all that? Apparently so.
  • V – ABC, why must you be so cruel? Four episodes? That’s it? And now we have to wait until March?! I am disappointed to learn that the ratings have plummeted, and I hope that someone will generate enough buzz to get this show back on America’s radar. It is certainly worth it! I was fascinated by the first four episodes. It was very different from the 1980s miniseries, but that wasn’t a bad thing. I like both versions. In this new version, the acting is top notch, the cinematography and special effects are impressive, and the story is compelling and very applicable to our society’s current concerns (healthcare, vaccinations, terrorism, etc.). Perhaps they should have just made this into another miniseries, because it will be very disappointing if the show gets canceled before we know how it ends!
  • Fringe – How strange that this is the only one hour drama that I am currently watching (now that V is on a long hiatus). It used to be that I only watched a couple of comedies, and several one hour shows. Maybe I just don’t have the time anymore, or maybe there are more good comedies than dramas right now). With Lost and 24 scheduled to kick off in the next couple of months, my tv lineup will be more balanced. But for now, I remain fascinated by this scifi/thriller/mystery/drama. Olivia, Peter, and Walter are all characters that I care about, and the mysteries are a satisfying blend of disturbing and riveting. I got really antsy waiting for this show to return during Fox’s baseball playoffs coverage. I’m glad that at least one good new show from last season has continued to be successful.

So there you have it. I now have three must-see shows, plus another four comedies that I enjoy watching. That’s all that remains from an original batch of 15 shows that I was considering watching. Have you lost interest in any of this season’s shows? Which ones are you still loving?

Related Post:

 

Thoughts on Last Week’s TV: September 28-October 2 October 7, 2009

Once again, I’m quite a bit behind on my tv blogging. I’ll continue to blame the fact that most of the shows I watch are on Thursday night, which means that I spend the weekend and the beginning part of the following week making my way through all of them. As I share my random thoughts about the shows this week, I’ll list them in the order that I watched them, to give you an idea of my viewing priorities.

  • Glee – After adoring the Kurt-centric “Put a Ring On It” episode, I had mixed feelings about this episode, which focused on Will’s attempt to breathe new life into glee club by welcoming back one of its former stars, played by the amazing Kristin Chenoweth. Meanwhile, there was a will she/won’t she subplot about whether Rachel would rejoin glee club. Chenoweth stole the entire show – it was great hearing her perform the song from Cabaret, as well as her bowling alley duet with Will of “Alone.” That being said, I was irritated by the over the top nature of her character. Sure, it was funny that she met Will in the mansion she was squatting in (she and her box of wine), but was it necessary for her to show up to class, rehearsals, and performances drunk all the time? And the part about her teaching two of the girls how to shoplift using their thighs was just odd. I’m still annoyed by Rachel’s diva attitude, but I must say that it was nice to have her back when the group performed “Somebody to Love.” I am really looking forward to this week’s “guys vs. girls” episode. Should be fun!
  • Fringe – How odd, that a bowling alley was pivotal in Glee and Fringe last week. It’s not often that I can find common ground between a high school musical comedy and a sci fi investigative drama. While Kristin Chenoweth was stealing bowling shoes and Finn was manipulating Rachel, Olivia was being rehabilitated by a wise bowling alley manager. I enjoyed watching her frustration grow over his instructions about bowling and tying shoe laces, until finally she focused enough to be able to walk across the room without her cane, and point her gun without her hand shaking. The investigation of the week also added another interesting layer to the show’s mythology, as we discovered that mysterious men are carrying top secret info about human culture to the strange albino man. Up until now I’ve assumed that he was friendly and wanted to help Walter et al, but now I’m not so sure. Is he from the parallel universe, or somewhere else completely?
  • FlashForward – I was honestly bored during this week’s episode, and found the strange mix of humor and drama off-putting. On one hand, you had the humorous account of the guy who was on the toilet when the world passed out, as well as in his flash forward. On the other hand, you have a father trying to decide how to tell his son that his mother is dead, and a little girl trying to process the disturbing vision she had of the future. However, I’m willing to stick with the show and see where it’s going. So far, I haven’t been drawn into the characters’ lives enough to care about them.
  • Vampire Diaries – I already shared my thoughts about this episode here. One thing I can say is that this episode drew me into the series more, because it introduced some new mythology and an edgier tone.
  • So You Think You Can Dance – The parade of auditions continues… I decided not to blog in detail about the auditions because usually when I do that, the majority of my favorites don’t end up in the Top 20. Instead, I’ll wait until Vegas Week, and then start sharing my thoughts on individual dancers. I would like to commend the judges for not belittling many of the wannabes. They give them constructive criticism and encourage them to keep practicing. So much nicer than the American Idol judges. (Mary was only out of line one time, when she joked with Mia that the “demons have been exorcized” after that guy in New Orleans looked like he was having a “conniption fit” on the stage.)
  • The Office – I rolled my eyes through much of this episode, which found Michael and Jim butting heads in their new positions as co-managers. Michael was behaving like a four year old, and Jim’s response was to stare at the camera like, “How am I supposed to deal with this?” Also not very funny was Pam asking peope for money instead of traditional wedding gifts. That was more sad than funny, even though it makes sense. They are about to have a baby, so they need dollar bills, not fine china. However, I was amused by Phyllis, when she told Pam that she would be giving her and Jim a birdhouse mailbox as a wedding gift. That reminds me of the oven mitt she made as a Secret Santa gift a few seasons ago. It was kind of funny how jealous Dwight was of Jim, and how he tried (but failed miserably) to start a revolt in the office. The best part of the episode was when Michael gave Jim a “World’s Best Boss” mug, and they shared a strong drink in Jim’s office. It was nice that they found some common ground – the stress that comes with making tough decisions. That was a sweet moment.
  • Community – This show continues to be uneven, but this episode was rather amusing. It was nice to see John Michael Higgins (Best in Show, Kath and Kim) as Professor Whitman, an accounting professor who had taken it upon himself to inspire his students to seize the day and live life to the fullest, by doing things like standing on their desks, walking around barefoot, throwing away their textbooks, and climbing trees. His performance was an appropriate satire of movies like Dead Poets Society. And I’m not sure what to think of that bizarre movie that Abed made for his film class, but it was certainly entertaining. My favorite part of the episode was Pierce (Chevy Chase) teaching football jock Troy how to sneeze like a man. Troy’s wimpy sneezes were funny enough, but then Pierce demonstrated a few different loud and in charge sneezes, and they were hilarious. I can relate personally to the phenomenon of the masculine sneeze, as my husband nearly brings down our house every time he sneezes.

And the ones that I haven’t gotten to at all: How I Met Your Mother, The Mentalist, Dollhouse

What were your favorite shows last week? Any new shows that you have added to your weekly lineup? Any that you’ve already given up on?

 

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?