Eclaire Fare

Enjoying Pop Culture, One Bite at a Time

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?

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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?

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Glee 1.10: Ballads November 19, 2009

Filed under: Glee,Music,Television — Emily @ 2:32 pm
Tags: , ,

This week’s episode of Glee was one of my favorites yet. While some of the episodes have struggled to find the right balance of “funny” and “sweet,” this one was perfect. I laughed, I cried, I tapped my foot, and after the credits rolled I was singing the ballads that were so entertaining. My only complaint is that we didn’t get our weekly dose of Jane Lynch, aka Sue Sylvester. Maybe she needed a week off to get her edge back, after going soft in the last episode.

The best way to dissect this episode is to look at the ballads, since these songs reflected the characters’ struggles, triumphs, and awkward dilemmas:

Rachel and Mr. Schuester sing "Endless Love"

  • “Endless Love” – Rachel and Mr. Schuester kicked off the glee club’s ballad assignment by singing Rachel’s favorite ballad – a song that turned out to be highly inappropriate for her to be singing with her teacher, and which set off a major crush that led to many funny moments in the episode. I knew this would be a special episode when all the voice-overs started during this song; while most of the students were thinking about trivial things, Rachel was admiring Will’s eyes, and his dental hygiene. I loved Will’s reaction to the crazed look in Rachel’s eyes: his eyes got wider and wider, and the look on his face became more and more uncomfortable. It was so at odds with the song lyrics, that it was highly entertaining. Meanwhile, their duet was fantastic. All in all, this segment worked well on many different levels.
  • “I’ll Stand by You” – I like this song, and I liked Finn’s performance of it. It was silly, yet sweet, that he was singing to the ultrasound video of the baby, but for the audience it’s also a little sad, since that baby isn’t really his. The moment between him and his mom was touching – upon seeing the ultrasound video, she realized that Quinn was pregnant, and her reaction was to comfort her son, who had broken down in her arms. That was a much better parenting technique than the one we saw from Quinn’s mom and dad later in the episode.
  • “Don’t Stand So Close to Me/Young Girl” mash-up – This may have been my favorite moment of the whole episode. After Emma suggests that Will let Rachel down gently through a song, he performs a mash-up of Sting’s “Don’t Stand So Close to Me” and Gary Puckett’s “Young Girl.” First of all, what a fantastic mash-up it was, and second of all, Matthew Morrison once again gave an amazing performance. I loved how he was pleading for Rachel to understand his very clear message, through his dancing, his tone of voice, his looks of desperation, and most significantly, the lyrics. Of course, Rachel and Emma were both so enamoured with his performance that they didn’t notice the meaning. Speaking of Emma’s infatuation with Will, I am glad that the show has toned it down a bit. It is mostly a one-sided deal now, whereas for awhile Will seemed to be showing an interest in her.
  • “Crush” – What an awkward moment, when Rachel pushed “play” on the mix CD she made for her and Mr. Schuester, and started singing Jennifer Paige’s flirtatious “Crush.” The whole car ride was painfully awkward, but also amusing.
  • “Having My Baby” – Speaking of awkward, what a way to break the news of their teenage daughter’s pregnancy to two prim and proper parents: serenading the whole family in the middle of dinner with a Paul Anka song that includes lyrics like “I can see it, your face is glowing” and “the seed inside you, can you feel it growing.” In the midst of the song it was funny, but as soon as Quinn’s parents turned a cold shoulder it became very sad. It really wasn’t Finn’s place to tell them the news, but I guess we’re supposed to think that Quinn needed his support and didn’t have the strength to do it alone. Once again, Finn’s mom came through and offered to let Quinn stay with them as long as she wants to, after Quinn’s parents kicked her out.
  • “Lean on Me” – After an episode full of ups and downs, crushes and crushing moments, it was nice to end with such an uplifting, sweet moment. The whole glee club showed their support for Quinn and Finn by singing the ultimate friendship song. “Lean on me, when you’re not strong, and I’ll be your friend, I’ll help you carry on…” I loved the camaraderie that was represented through this song – despite all the people giving Quinn and Finn a hard time, they have their glee club buddies to depend on. Sniff, sniff. And they sang every last drop out of the music and lyrics. I was ready to stand up and sing along with them, but I didn’t, because then I wouldn’t have been able to appreciate their voices! After hearing Amber Riley (Mercedes) singing the national anthem at the World Series, I have an even greater respect for her voice and overall star power. Those American Idol contestants wouldn’t stand a chance competing against her! “Lean on Me” was a great ending to a great episode.

The main non-singing related aspect of the episode that I enjoyed was Sarah Drew’s guest starring role as Suzy Pepper. She was worlds away from her role as the soft-spoken and sweet, but level-headed Hannah on Everwood. I was amused that she is still playing high school student roles, even though she’s nearly 30 years old. She was great as the neurotic, hot pepper-eating, student who had never gotten over her out of control crush for Mr. Schuester. I’d love to see more of this character on future episodes.

What did you love about this episode? Am I the only one that thinks it was one of the best yet, or was it really that good?

 

Glee 1.6: Vitamin D October 8, 2009

Filed under: Glee,Television — Emily @ 2:51 pm
Tags: , , ,

Remember those milk commercials from the ’80s and ’90s that had the tagline “Milk: It Does a Body Good.” Well, it is fitting that last night’s episode of Glee was titled “Vitamin D,” because this show is my weekly dose of feel good fun – and I know that all the laughing I do while I watch is good for me. I thoroughly enjoyed this week’s episode, which had the girls and guys facing off in a mash up, with the idea that the winners would get to choose which song they do at sectionals. While Will was trying to motivate his students to apply themselves, Sue was in turmoil over the glee club’s continued success; Ken and Emma were negotiating the terms of their “secret, live on separate sides of town” marriage; and Terri was weasling her way into Will’s work place by becoming the school nurse (she took a first aid class at Sheets ‘n Things!), with the hope of keeping Will and Emma apart. Things came full circle when Terri’s presence led to the glee club students’ hyper performances during their mashups, after she gave them a Suphedrine “pick me up” (after all, she is the school nurse, and it’s over the counter, so it’s perfectly fine). Let’s take a closer look at each of these subplots:

  • Sue’s Corner – I loved Jane Lynch’s lines so much this week that I may just transcribe every word she said. So, here are her quotes of the week, which includes just about everything:
    • While observing Will and Emma in the lunchroom: “Oh dear God, please, please, stop talking. I’m trying desperately to ignore the treacly sweet inanity of your asinine conversation, but now I’ve got bile in my mouth. I will hold my tongue… no further.”
    • While convincing Will that he needs to scare his students into succeeding: “We’re dealing with children. They need to be terrified. It’s like mother’s milk to them. Without it, their bones won’t grow properly. So if you want results with a kid, you find that competitive animal within, and unleash it. Okay.”
    • “Ellen, that blouse is just insane.” (In reference to Emma’s ridiculously bright yellow top, complete with a large bow attached to the top button)
    • Thinking outloud while writing in her journal (I hope this becomes a semi-regular bit on the show, because it was fantastic): “Dear Journal, feeling listless again today. It began at dawn when I tried to make a smoothie out of beef bones, breaking my juicer. And then at Cheerios practice – disaster. It was unmistakable. It was like spotting the first spark on the Hindenburg. A quiver. That quiver will lose us nationals. And without a championship, I’ll lose my endorsements, and without those endorsements, I won’t be able to buy my hovercraft.”
    • The standout moment in this episode, and perhaps the best Sue Sylvester quote so far out of a goody bag full: “Glee Club. Every time I try to destroy that clutch of scab eating mouth breathers it only comes back stronger, like some sexually ambiguous horror movie villain. Here I am, about to turn 30, and I’ve sacrificed everything, only to be shanghaied by the bi-curious machinations of a cabal of doughy, misshapen teens. Am I missing something journal? Is it me? Of course it’s not me. It’s Will Schuester. What is it about him, journal? Is it the arrogant smirk? Is it the store bought home perm? [and after remembering that she’s noticed Will and Emma flirting over lunch she continues…] If I can’t destroy the club, I will have to destroy THE MAN!”
    • [During a conversation with Will’s wife Terri] “Let me be frank. Your husband is hiding his kielbasa in a Hickory Farms gift basket that doesn’t belong to you.” Terri asks who, and Sue replies, “Guidance counselor. Real floozy of a man eater. Wears creepy brooches like the kind my Nana was buried in.”
    • “I’ve always thought the desire to procreate showed deep, personal weakness. Me – never wanted kids. Don’t have the time, don’t have the uterus.”
    • “I think you should both pack up and move out of the district, unless you want to lose your man to a mentally ill ginger pygmy with eyes like a bush baby.” Ouch. Sue certainly knows how to deliver an insult.
    • “I’m not an American citizen. I was born in the Panama canal zone. But I managed to get a passport, and run for office twice.”
    • The episode ended with the revelation that Sue was being brought in to co-chair the glee club. “Hey, kids. I gotta tell you, I’m just thrilled to be coming on board to co-captain this little showbiz cruise. I can’t wait to start singin’ and dancin’, and maybe even puttin’ on the ritz a little bit.” That should make for fun times.
    • The only thing about Sue’s storyline that I didn’t like is that she put the school nurse in a coma by tripping her as she walked down the stairs. I thought it was a bit extreme to say the old lady was in a coma. A broken leg or hip would have been enough to put her out of work for awhile.
  • Ken and Emma Sitting in a Tree… – I thought Ken’s marriage proposal was very sweet: “Emma Pilsbury, this is not an engagement ring. It’s more than that. It’s a promise. I know you have this thing about being clean. Now I can’t promise that I’ll pick up my underwear or squeegee the shower door, but I can promise to keep your life clean of sadness and loneliness, and any other dark clouds that might float into it. It’s cubic zirconia. I know how affected you were by Blood Diamond. Emma Pillsbury, M & M, will you marry me?” Sadly, Emma’s response was decidedly unromantic: “I would want to keep my last name, and I’d want to continue living in different parts of town, and I think it would be best if we didn’t see each other after school. And I wouldn’t want a big ceremony, like in a church, with people. We wouldn’t have to invite anybody, you know, or tell anybody actually, it could be like a secret marriage.” Ken’s smitten response: “That’s actually a better deal than I expected.” So I guess these two not-so-in-love birds are going to tie the knot. The Ken-Emma-Will love triangle is most certainly not why I watch the show, and it’s a shame that the writers have made Terri such an awful person. It doesn’t speak well of Will that he couldn’t pick a better spouse than this completely self-absorbed dingbat. And even though Ken comes across as an unattractive slob, he really is very sweet. He’s getting the worst deal in this situation.
  • Nurse Terri – It was interesting (and annoying) for Terri to be on Will’s turf at school. Of course, it was ridiculous that the principal would hire her based on her weak qualifications of having done first aid training and used a defibrillator at Sheets ‘n Things, but it was amusing to watch her “work.” She managed to get Will and the glee club students in trouble, but she also convinced Quinn to agree to give her the baby when it is born. What a “sweetheart” she is, telling Quinn that she can manage to pay for maternity care for nine months if Terri is going to pay for the kid for 18 years.
The Glee girls performed a hyper rendition of Halo/Walking on Sunshine

The Glee girls performed a hyper rendition of "Halo/Walking on Sunshine"

  • The Mash-Ups
    • The Guys – Their hyperactive rendition of “It’s My Life / Confessions” was entertaining, and comically fast. It makes me wonder how many caffeine pills N’Sync and the Backstreet Boys used to take, because they sure had a lot of energy.
    • The Girls – Rachel’s introduction says it best: “If there’s two things America needs right now, it’s sunshine and optimism. And also angels.” Their super sunny rendition of “Halo/Walkin’ on Sunshine” was really something. The warp speed. The yellow sundresses. The gold shoes. Again, the addition of the suphredrine made it an entertaining, yet hilarious performance.

Other Random Observations

  • Kurt doesn’t understand how lightning is in competition with an above ground swimming pool. Neither do I, but that was part of Will’s humorous attempt to convince his students that competition is a necessary and healthy ingredient of success.
  • I learned that a mash-up is “when you take two songs and mash them together to make an even richer explosion of musical expression.” I am now a fan of mash-ups. I’ve heard them before, of course, but I had never heard the term “mash-up.”
  • Rachel became slightly more likable in this episode, first by reaching out to Quinn, who was feeling like an outcast because of her pregnancy, and then by becoming a team player, learning to care more about the group than her own fame.
  • If I were to dress up for Halloween this year, I would be Sue Sylvester. I would wear a track suit and a smirk on my face, and I would memorize all the painfully inappropriate and hilarious things she has said so that I could converse in character all night. That would be really fun. Which Glee character would you be for Halloween?
 

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?

 

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.)