Wednesday, November 30, 2011

From LA Examiner: Photo Previews of Christmas on 'Up All Night' & 'Community'; David Alan Basche is Bringing Sitcoms Back...

"PHOTO PREVIEW: It's baby's "First Christmas" on Up All Night"

It's baby's "First Christmas" on NBC's Up All Night come next week, and we have a photo preview of all of the festivities and fake L.A. snow! ... [MORE]

"PHOTO PREVIEW: Taran Killam inspires a Community Christmas"

Last year it was Abed (Danny Pudi) who got the Greendale study group in the Christmas spirit on Community, but this time around even he needs a little prodding. Enter special guest star Taran Killam... [MORE]

"Q&A: David Alan Basche on how The Exes will help sitcoms make a comeback"

David Alan Basche has spent the last few years on quirky character dramas on both network and cable programs alike, but the veteran actor has his roots in sitcoms, so finding himself back on one at this stage in the television landscape, and his career, might just be perfect timing. Though he has been calling the east coast his home, he jumped at the chance to come out here to Los Angeles to star in The Exes for TV Land because of how funny he found the script-- and his co-stars... [MORE]

30 Days of Christmas: 2011 Edition...

For the last two years I took on a "30 Days of Christmas" experiment that had me listing my selections for all of the holiday movies and television episodes (classic, modern classic, and guilty pleasure) that this time of year just isn't complete without. But seeing as how I've been doing a "list" experiment in November (and seeing as how the next logical step would be to list Christmas music, but my knowledge of that part of pop culture is severely limited), I thought it might make more sense to just do a shortened version this year. So I am bringing you the Christmas episodes of 2011 television that are sure to be must sees*:

"Hairdos & Holidays" - Hart of Dixie - Airs on The CW on December 5th at 9pm. Wade (Wilson Bethel) and George (Scott Tucker) team up once again to go in search of the perfect tree for the town square. Meanwhile, there is yet another pageant in town, and Zoe (Rachel Bilson) takes her rivalry with Lemon (Jaime King) to a new level when she coaches someone against Magnolia (Claudia Lee), who is the favorite to win.

"Silent Night" - Haven - Airs on Syfy on December 6th at 10pm. When Christmas decorations pop up in July, the town becomes a place that the residents can't leave-- unless they disappear, at which they are doing so at an alarming rate. It is up to Audrey (Emily Rose) to find the troubled towns person who has trapped Haven-- before it becomes forever. Read my advance review here.

"First Christmas" - Up All Night - Airs on NBC on December 7th at 8pm. Reagan (Christina Applegate) will do anything to make Amy’s first Christmas perfect, even if it means getting help from an unlikely source, her mom (guest star Blythe Danner). In an effort to find Reagan the perfect gift, Chris (Will Arnett) faces a major obstacle…the mall. Meanwhile, Ava (Maya Rudolph) fears her relationship is in trouble when Kevin (guest star Jason Lee) decides to spend Christmas with his ex-wife. View a photo preview here.

"The Nutcracker"
- Suburgatory - Airs on ABC on December 7th at 8:30pm. When Tessa (Jane Levy) overhears George (Jeremy Sisto) break up with his girlfriend on Skype, she blames herself for his failed relationship and decides that she's going to get them back together. Unbeknownst to her, though, George is really enamored with Tessa's cute art teacher. He admits that he's over dating crazy city women, and that he's looking for love in the burbs. George decides to embrace the holiday spirit with a tree trimming party complete with ex-girlfriend, potential new girlfriend, and the Royces, and he soon finds himself under the mistletoe with a special someone. View a photo preview here.

"Express Christmas"
- Modern Family - Airs on ABC on December 7th at 9pm. The family is gathered at Jay (Ed O'Neill) and Gloria (Sofia Vergara)'s pool on a sunny December day, and that's where they realize that everyone will be scattered this coming Christmas, so if they want to celebrate together, then it will have to be today! Everyone sets off with their respective duties for this super fast celebration: Mitchell (Jesse Tyler Ferguson), Alex (Ariel Winter), and Lily (Aubrey Anderson-Emmons) get the tree, while Jay and Cameron (Eric Stonestreet) are in charge of gift wrapping, Phil (Ty Burrell) and Manny (Rico Rodriguez) get the groceries, Gloria and Luke (Nolan Gould) go retrieve the ornaments, and Claire (Julie Bowen) and Haley (Sarah Hyland) shop for all the gifts. View a photo preview here.

"Bitches Be Crazy"
- Happy Endings - Airs on ABC on December 7th at 9:30pm. Max (Adam Pally) once again desperate for cash, even with his kick-ass retro limo still around. So he agrees to dress up as Santa for Penny (Casey Wilson)'s charity event. Meanwhile, Jane (Eliza Coupe) and Brad (Damon Wayans Jr.) plan to go to Turks & Caicos for the holidays, but Jane accidentally gives the tickets to their housekeeper and then can't scheme fast enough to get it back. View a photo preview here.

"Regional Holiday Music" - Community - Airs on NBC on December 8th at 8pm. When the Greendale glee club has a nervous breakdown at the hands of Jeff Winger (Joel McHale), the choir director (guest star Taran Killam) recruits Abed (Danny Pudi) to recruit his friends to fill in. Christmas spirit soon fills them in this all-original holiday musical. View a photo preview here.

"Citizen Knope" - Parks and Recreation - Airs on NBC on December 8th at 8:30pm. Everyone in the Pawnee Parks Department tries to find Leslie (Amy Poehler) the perfect holiday present, while she decides to take action to get things done faster within her own department by forming yet another committee.

"Christmas Wishes" - The Office - Airs on NBC on December 8th at 9pm. It may not be a rousing game of White Elephant, but Andy (Ed Helms) has his own plans for his first holiday season as new regional manager-- namely deciding to grant every employee's Christmas wish. Things go awry at the office holiday party, though, when Robert California (James Spader) decides to drown his sorrows.

"12 Dates of Christmas" - Airs on ABC Family on December 11th at 8pm. Amy Smart is a woman relegated to relive Christmas eve over and over until she gets it right, not only with her blind date (Mark-Paul Gosselaar), but also her father and new step-mother, her ex-boyfriend, her neighbor, and a couple of special strangers she meets along the way. View a photo preview here.

"Christmas" - New Girl - Airs on FOX on December 13th at 9pm. Paul (Justin Long) gives Jess (Zooey Deschanel) an expensive gift that makes her uber-nervous and turning to Nick (Jake Johnson) for advice on what to get him in return. The spirit of the season certainly comes out when Jess remembers her childhood spent caroling around the neighborhood, though whether or not she opts to bring Paul into that part of her life may determine just how long he'll be sticking around. View a photo preview here.

"It's A Hopeful Life" - Raising Hope - Airs on FOX on December 13th at 9:3pm.n a nod to the classic It's A Wonderful Life, the Chance family goes to the movies and are surprised to find similarities to their own life, which transports Jimmy (Lucas Neff) into a cinematic dream state where he imagines what life would be if he never met Lucy (guest star Bijou Phillips) and never had Hope. View a photo preview here.

* Disclaimer: I have not actually seen many of these yet, but based on loglines, photo previews, and just general love for the shows year-round (in addition to their past holiday episodes, where applicable) all make these feel like informed suggestions, nonetheless.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

I Once Was "Missing," But Now I've Found 'Parenthood'...

I love the Bravermans so much. I'm sure that was already clear. What was probably less so is that one of the things I love most is how there are just so many of them, and they're always willing to do whatever they have to for each other. That's not something I experienced in my own family, and I guess it's something I grew up believing you only saw on TV. Even though television is where the Bravermans exist, it still warms my heart that they do. One second into the scene in "Missing" where Amber (Mae Whitman) needed a new job and went to her family, however uncomfortably, to see about getting one, and it just hit me. That's exactly what I needed-- what I still may need. I probably would have fought it, had it been in front of me, stubbornly, proudly wanting to do everything and get everything on my own, but it would have saved me nonetheless. Parenthood saves me nonetheless.

I bullet-pointed my thoughts about "Missing" this week for a variety of reasons, but I stand by them, no matter what form they come in:

  • D.B. Woodside's characters' taste in women seems to be getting progressively worse. First Faith from Buffy, now Jasmine... #hottiecandobetter
  • Am I the only one who seriously wants to know why Julia (Erika Christensen) 1) had no contract with Zoe (Rosa Salazar) that she could now pull out to sue for the medical expenses she paid and 2) isn't now going to report Zoe for attempting to sell her unborn child!? It may have a hint of spitefulness attached, but it's valid. As a lawyer, it's her job to make sure the laws are being upheld, isn't that what Joel (Sam Jaeger) so pointedly pointed out just last episode?
  • The look of pure joy on Jabbar (Tyree Brown)'s face during his grandfather's commercial was just absolutely priceless. He's quickly becoming one of my favorites. Not just on this show.
  • Crosby (Dax Shepard) is the king of non-sequiturs, but I love how he kind of sheepishly said to Sarah (Lauren Graham) that he was going to her for advice on sleeping with his baby mama because he "assumed" she had been in the same boat-- err, bed-- with Seth (John Corbett). True, and thankfully not recently, but still, on many other shows those words would have been heated, causing over-the-top dramatics to erupt. Here, as in any real family, they just proved to be the perfect example of how well they know and relate to each other.
  • I would be a little offended if someone said they "immediately thought of [me]" when they heard the job "assistant." But I'm glad Kristina (Monica Potter) is giving Amber a chance as her assistant on the new campaign, even if it's not for the best reasons. And even more, I'm glad Amber was able to open up right away and admit she was scared of repeating her past mistakes. Acknowledging such shortcomings is the first step in the road to success. I probably read that somewhere, but I'm taking credit for it here and now.
  • Adam (Peter Krause) is continuing to disappoint me. He is turning away instead of tuning in and realizing what is really going on with his wife, and that's detrimental in so many ways. If this was just about a kiss-- one that he pulled away from-- I would say Kristina was overreacting, postpartum or not. But it's about everything that has been piling over and under that kiss-- from the drinking with his brother when he should be home with his family to lying about the aftermath with the assistant. I feel like he's turning into one of those "I have a cool job and now I'm a douchebag" guys. We saw it happen with Doug Savant's Tom Scavo on Desperate Housewives, too-- just another guy I never thought would fall victim to such a thing. It's sad, really, but even when he was panicking about his son being missing, it seemed to be more about him than his kid who was now alone in the world. He knows where Max (Max Burkholder) wanted to go, so though he may not know the route he took or how he may have gotten lost along the way, so his reaction just Even how angry he was getting at his wife for not answering her cell phone while she was AT WORK. You know, people with real jobs, especially on their first damn day, can't just take personal calls. Regardless of their "special" family situations. I don't know how to explain that, and I don't think it was intended to come off that way, but that's the impression I got. Something in me shifted about the way I feel about Adam. Something in Adam shifted. Now we're as out of sync as he and Kristina are.
  • I love Jonathan Tucker, but everything I've loved him in has had him playing kind of shifty characters, so it should be no surprise that I already don't trust his new politician character. As I shouldn't, since, you know, he's a politician.
  • Lauren Graham and Jason Ritter and a baby. I don't know her situation "down there" or if she can have more kids or if she wants to with teenagers still under her wing, if not her roof. So can they just adopt ME!?
  • I'm so glad Hattie (Sarah Ramos) has come around from awful. She was a character I admired at first, and then she turned into something of a brat, but tonight she was back to being the adult in the situation. Sure, she took the child's approach by yelling at her brother, but she was right at first that the "situation" with Max had to be dealt with. It isn't okay for Adam and Kristina to just let him go about his routine as if going out on his own and having to be brought home in a cop car was acceptable behavior. He may have some special needs, but he can't receive completely special treatment. He has to learn what he did can never happen again, even if he doesn't fully understand why, and a family field trip to the place he wanted to see in the first time is not the way to do that. They could really stand to hire Amber as an aide for Max, not a political paper-pusher!
  • Does anyone else think Zoe, not just her boyfriend, might be bad news? I know she's not, like, faking the pregnancy to get a payday or anything, but I feel like she's starting to use Julia. But as aforementioned, I didn't grow up with the "big family helps each other" mentality, so maybe I'm just cynical and a little bit paranoid.

From LA Examiner: 'Community' Photos; USA Mid-Season Premiere Dates; Showtime's Own "Fixer" Series; 'Pan Am' Cancelled?...

"PHOTO PREVIEW: Community sees the return of Batman & Jeff's sports rivalry"

There may only be a few episodes left for Community this year, but they promise to go out with a bang. In the next one up on NBC's schedule, "Foosball and Nocturnal Vigilantism," we will see the return of some of our favorite elements about this show: Abed (Danny Pudi)'s Batman, Jeff Winger (Joel McHale)'s crazy competitive nature, unlikely character bonding, and a special guest star... [MORE]

"USA sets mid-season premieres for White Collar, Royal Pains, Common Law"

January 2012 is shaping up to be "the" time to watch television, as today USA announced their return dates for hits White Collar and Royal Pains, as well as the debut for Common Law... [MORE]

"Showtime greenlights its own "fixer" series, starring Liev Schreiber"

Liev Schreiber is heading to Showtime, the Hollywood Reporter announced earlier today, in a pilot called Ray Donovan. Schreiber will play the titular character, a "fixer" for the rich and famous in Los Angeles... [MORE]

"Pan Am star Tweets of show's cancellation; ABC says "not correct"

Pan Am series star Karine Vanasse, who has been great about live-Tweeting episodes all season long with her online fans took to Twitter once again this morning to break news that fans and media alike took to mean cancellation for the promising freshman period drama... [MORE]

Dinner For Five...

Back in 2004, for some dumb reason I printed out my MySpace profile and glued it into a notebook. I don't know if I thought the bio I had drafted was particularly witty or if I just really liked the condensed "hobbies" I had listed. But I found it recently, and what stuck out the most was the section for "Who I'd Like To Meet." I'm sure it was supposed to mean who on MySpace you wanted to get to know, but for one thing, I never accepted anyone as my friend if I didn't already know them; I wasn't using the site as some sort of free or whatever. So I filled mine in with a list of celebrities (some dead, some alive, some I had oddly already met), and while I don't feel compelled to post it again for you here, I do think it is worth noting. I don't get starstruck, and there are very few people who I have been itching to meet in this business. From even before I started working in entertainment, there were only a handful of people I could have put on the list. And the thing is, a simple "Hey, how are you?" in passing isn't worth a whole lot. Not even snapping a picture means much if there isn't some kind of conversation behind it. Instead of simply meeting people, I wanted to get to know them. I wanted to sit down and have a (perhaps not fully heart-to-heart but still involved) conversation over a cup of coffee or a dinner. On occasion, that's exactly what I've gotten to do, first with peers who became friends when I was in production, and then as an interviewer, though admittedly those discussions tend to be less candid, as a recorder is usually running. There are still a handful who have never come my way, though, and for those, I would love to create one "Dinner for Five" type scenario, in which I could get all of my questions out over a nice, hearty meal.

Stephen King. If I could have dinner with only one famous person dead or alive, it would be Mr. King. His writing inspired my own years before I ever actually pursued it professionally. All "picking the published author's brain" aside, I just think he has lived a fascinating life-- from his struggles with addiction, to the height of his success, to the intricate tales he weaves and the themes he chooses to explore, to his professed desire to quit only to be seemingly unable to (that especially-- I want to know how much of that is his own creativity refusing to be stifled versus someone-- anyone, an agent, a publisher, his wife-- encouraging more, more, more. I want to know what he thinks of all of the adaptations and if he ever writes with the idea in mind that it might get adapted and therefore tweaks certain elements to make it more multi-medium friendly. I want to know how long he spends on research, if he gets distracted by all of the modern elements that take a writer's attention span away, why he never gives interviews that would give me something to reference, what he wants his final work to be, and by which work he wants to be most remembered. Seriously, I don't believe in paying thousands of dollars for a five minute meet and greet with a celebrity, but I think in this case I'd make an exception, even if only to get one or two of those questions answered!

Angelina Jolie. I don't care if she thinks about Jennifer Aniston; I don't care if she and Brad Pitt truly are the face of the new American couple now. I don't care about her previous marriages, or her knife-carrying phase, or her kissing her brother that one time. I don't care if she and Jon Voight are on better terms (well, I guess I care a little, but not enough to ask about it); I don't care how she picks her scripts. I want to hear about her charity work and the adoption process and why she hasn't written a follow-up to "Notes from My Travels" and if she'd ever write her own autobiography, rather than let the tabloids write one for her. I want to know what inspires her on a daily basis, because many times, in many ways, she has inspired me. I want to know what advice she gives young women, in this industry or not, who want to give back even in a fraction of the amount that she has.

Pamela Fryman. Once upon a time I thought I was going to be a director, and I looked at this woman's career and said 'How do I get that?' I no longer think I will direct professionally, though I still hold out hope that someday I'll get to do it for fun again, putting my money where my mouth is and finally producing a web series or a short based on my own work that no one else has yet to buy. And her career is still something of interest because there are (sadly) still so few female directors in general, let alone in television, and in the world of comedy television. She paved the way for those who are breaking in now, that's without a doubt, and she proved herself, for sure, and I want to hear all about who helped her get to where she is and who thought she could never do it.

Jonathan Larson. Yes, I know he has passed away, but believe me, when I go, he's one of the first people I'm looking up. If for nothing else, then to ask if he feels he should have been more specific if when he said all he wanted was to wake up everyday and write. And to ask if he approves of Christopher Columbus' film adaptation of his RENT or of the new Broadway, glitzy glam revival.

The final spot on my list is a toss up. Normally I would say Martin Luther King Jr because along similar lines as Larson, I would just love to know how else he planned to change the world if he had had the chance and what he thinks of where we are now. But I just finished reading "11/22/63" and I have to admit now I'm super curious about JFK. He as cut down in his prime, sure, but at a tumultuous time, when a lot of people felt he was doing wrong personally and for the country. I would love to pick his brain and see his ideas for the country, had he lived. Would things have been better or do we just look back on him with rose-colored glasses because it's bad to speak ill of the dead? No one's perfect, but these two held so much potential.

Monday, November 28, 2011

From LA Examiner: Sasha Alexander Reveals 'Rizzoli & Isles' Details; ABC Family Mid-Season Returns; 'Haven' Has "Silent Night"; FX Mid-Season Returns

"Sasha Alexander sounds off on
Rizzoli & Isles’ juicy mysteries & character drama"

Rizzoli & Isles is premiering the second half of its second season on TNT, and coming up you can expect a lot more complicated cases, as well as interpersonal drama between characters, namely the BFFs and partners in crime (solving), Jane (Angie Harmon) and Maura (Sasha Alexander). Before you check out the winter premiere, “Can I Get A Witness?”, Alexander tells you what to expect from the twists and turns to come... [MORE]

"ABC Family sets Pretty Little Liars & The Lying Game 2012 returns"

To kick off 2012, ABC Family has announced today that they will be returning Pretty Little Liars and The Lying Game immediately after the new year, on January 2nd 2012. 1/2/12, that's quite poetic, isn't it? ... [MORE]

"Haven’s “Silent Night” shows the true detriment in being alone during the holidays"

Step aside Showtime, Syfy is already serving up their take on Stephen King’s "Under the Dome." It just seems perfectly fitting that the Syfy series already on air based on a Stephen King story, Haven, would tackle yet another one of his tall tales, but that is exactly what is happening in their special holiday episode, “Silent Night"... [MORE]

"FX sets mid-season 2012 premiere dates for Justified, Archer, Unsupervised"

Craving more action from the men of Justified? Couldn't get enough of the "new" Archer after his three-episode divergence into pirate life? Chomping at the bit to see what the guys behind It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia have come up with next? Well, you won't have to wait much longer to find out! ... [MORE]

Pet Peeves and Grievances...

My New Year's resolution this year is going to be to try to see the positive side to things. I want to see if life is better, or if I feel healthier, for seeing the glass as half-full and whatnot. But there's still over a month to go before New Year's, so let me get my complaints out of my system now in this brand new list starring my greatest pet peeves!

Refusal to use the Oxford comma. Whether you're a student, a journalist, or just a lover of the English language, I don't understand why you butcher it so much! A well-placed comma changes a lot. See this diagram that my friend Hanh posted on her Facebook page and which started an uncomfortable trend of me red-penning major news outlets' articles.

Animals dressed as humans. Unless it's my dog Madison dressed in hoodie pajamas. That's just too darn adorable!

People who mass text on holidays. Chances are, if you're mass texting me, we haven't even spoken in months anyway. At that point there's no need to send some kind of generic greeting. I know it may seem like the polite thing to do, but to me it just reminds me how we can't bother to stay in touch for the majority of the year. Also, I'm pretty anti-texting in general, so it also reminds me how little you know me.

Complaining about where you live or what you do for a living. Unless you are an indentured slave or under the age of eighteen, no one is forcing you to be anywhere or do anything. It's not the easy thing to pick up and move to quit a potentially lucrative position, but if it doesn't make you happy, you kind of owe it to yourself to try something else. Or at least to make strides to change smaller, baby step changes. If you're not going to try, I certainly want you to keep your whining to yourself!

People who use speakerphone in public areas. How narcissistic and needy are you? Do you really want everyone to know your boyfriend is an ass/you're out of tampons/your bank account resembles that of a teenager with a comic book addiction/you can't remember if you took your birth control or just your vitamins today/you have a very emphatic point to make and you clearly think you're right but it's something no one could possibly care about and you're wrong anyway?

Automated services that don't get you to a representative the minute you press 0. Also, along these lines, having to punch in a whole bunch of information in order to even get to a representative, only to have the representative need you to repeat all of the information in order to pull up your account. Wasn't punching it in in the first place pulling it up on the back-end so when whoever picked up the phone, well, picked up the phone, they had a file open, too!?

Drivers who put their flashers on mid-way through changing lanes. Because usually they start coming into my lane before they even look, let alone give me a chance to get out of their way, and that ends up in them almost driving into the side of my car. "Am I dead? Do you not see me!?"

"Wash Me" notes on cars. If it's bugging you that a car is not as clean as you think it should be, no one's asking you to bust out a bucket and clean it yourself (though that would be a nice "good deed for a stranger" sure to help your karma), but you don't have be passive aggressive about it, either. The receivers of these notes aren't being helped (like they didn't know their car was dirty!) and most likely will be passing the bad mood you just gave them onto others after. It's a domino effect, and we should all be trying to pay forward positive things.

Answering texts or emails while I'm in the middle of telling you a personal story. It used to be that I would say "answering texts or emails while we're at lunch/coffee/dinner/drinks/a meeting/etc" together and leave it at that, but everyone has become so increasingly dependent on their electronic devices, it's an unrealistic expectation now to spend hours with someone and not expect them to glance at their screen a couple of times. No matter how good you may be at multitasking (and I should know; I'm the best), it just reminds me I'm not that important when you start looking at someone else's story while I'm in the middle of mine. Even if you don't get distracted, I do, and it changes the mood. It may be the new marker for relationships these days: when someone is so wrapped up in you they can keep their phone in their pocket or bag or on their coffee table, you should just go ahead and marry them!

I Survived The "Murder House"...Or Did I!?...

I came up with a kick-ass (if I do say so myself) holiday card idea for this year, so this weekend Madison, freshly groomed, and I set out to the heart of Los Angeles to find the Murder House. Yes, the house used for exteriors in American Horror Story is a real place, and out of respect for the homeowners (and I assume there are people living there, at least part time, since there was a car parked in the driveway), I won't be posting the address here. Out of respect for the homeowners, I also didn't let Madison run loose on the front lawn, knowing he would want to mark everything, even the fittingly dead tree. Did we make it out okay? Or am I now blogging from beyond-- trapped in the basement with Infantada and the twins or under the gazebo with Moira and Hayden? Guess you won't really know for sure. But if no one mentions seeing me at the TCAs in January, then maybe you'll have your answer after all...

None of these are the official card selection. You'll have to stay tuned for that once I send it out!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

'Dexter' Gets Gellar, Underwhelms Audience Once Again...

I know no one is supposed to "want" to be alone. That would make one weird, right? I know no television show is "supposed" to perpetuate the lone wolf theory. That would make the show inaccessible, right? But the truth of the matter is, some people-- and some characters-- are just better when they're alone. No distractions to keep them from for what they truly have a gift; no one to physically slow them down. Dexter Morgan (Michael C. Hall) is one such character, and Dexter as a show itself is phenomenally better when he is working on his own (Dark Passenger not withstanding, of course). Stop worrying about trying to "surprise" or "shock" the audience; after Rita (Julie Benz)'s bathtub murder, you'll never have a bigger "Oh shit!" moment anyway. Stop pairing him up with randoms-- males and females alike; after all, serial killers don't change their M.O.s and solitary killers won't suddenly decide to work in tandem, becoming a "team killer." Stop having him try to save the victimized-- I thought he had no feelings, remember!?-- and instead focus him back on just trying to put down the abusers. Then Dexter Morgan will be able to breathe again, and Dexter the show will be back on track.

I say a lot of things are "too easy" about a lot of twists or reveals in television shows. I don't say this to imply that the writers of said television shows are lazy or that they are dumbing down for their audience. Sometimes paying careful attention to the carefully laid out clues (and being willing to read even a little bit between the lines) allows me to see things coming that literally cause others to gasp out-loud. But I do think that part of the problem is that nowadays, we are always looking for that big twist, and when it does come, it can never live up to expectations. We anticipate greater than what can be delivered; we are always chasing that high of the first, legitimate surprise. In the case of Dexter, I would argue that the very first such moment was Rita's death (some might say "But what about the reveal of Brian?" But if you read the first book, Brian was a given. And also, I try to wipe Brian from my memory); everything that the show has thrown at us to take us back to that moment of sheer "What did they just do?" has paled in comparison, and in the case of the most recent twist in "Get Gellar," made me sit up and go "Really? They were hoping THAT would get us talking?"

(Okay, to be fair, it did get me talking-- err, blogging but not in a positive way!)

In "Got Gellar," it was revealed that Travis (Colin Hanks)'s Dark Passenger really was a perfect mimic of Dexter's. Professor Gellar (Edward James Olmos) was not simply an older, assumedly wiser guide who was now actually deceased and appearing to his apprentice as a figment in his mind, but he was also a man who had taught the code to live, and ultimately kill, by and who was now watching over the ritual kills to assure everything went according to said code. The fact that Dexter couldn't see this-- couldn't even consider the possibility-- even as he was acknowledging Travis' Dark Passenger by name, is laughable. The show is turning him into a shell of his former serial killer self by not having him do his due diligence, really study Travis, and learn everything there was to know about him, his life, and his patterns. The "old" Dexter always tracked his potential victims to make sure they were truly guilty and therefore worthy of his table. This Dexter did no such thing. Obviously if he had, we wouldn't be in episode nine learning Gellar had been dead for months. But obviously if the show had revealed that earlier on, even if it was what was right for the pattern of the character, we'd be out of plot right about now. Dexter is moving at a much slower pace than ever before, and whether that's because it's trying to play to the masses for once or not, it's just not working.

And for the record, I hate the idea of Dexter playing to the masses. Part of what made it so lovable was how edgy, and yes, twisted, it was, and let's face it, that's not for everybody. Watering it down, especially now, six seasons in, is just insulting to those of us who have been its biggest proponents from the early days.

Anyway, if Dexter he had been this careless-- this stupid-- about previous kills, he surely would have been caught or killed himself by now. I get that as a father the character is changing, and he wants to play protector even more and perhaps in new ways. But he should have learned his lesson with Miguel Prado (Jimmy Smits) when it comes to working with someone to help kill a supposed enemy. And by the show ignoring that and instead showing Dexter taking Travis under his own wing, spending time with him, plotting a kill with him, it just seems to be trying to force Dexter to be something he is not. If anything, as a dad-- a dad who is increasingly cognizant of wanting to be a better father than Harry (James Remar) was-- Dexter should turn his back on helping someone else kill, even one more time, knowing that only feeds the Dark Passenger. He would never take young Harrison out into the night, would he? And surely he wouldn't want someone else to. Taking Travis out should have been his only option. Yet the show wanted to force more drama-- and additional episodes-- out of this arc, so they stretched. Boy, did they stretch!

The only thing interesting about "Get Gellar" to me, aside from Quinn (Desmond Harrington)'s intensifying spiral and little Harrison's adorable smile, was finally getting to see a little bit more into Louis (Josh Cooke)'s own perversion. I had a theory almost from the instant they introduced him that he was going to be the one to catch onto Dexter (he's been on the guy's computer and probably planted some sort of spyware, after all). I believed Dexter would learn of this and struggle with whether or not to kill him-- an innocent. I thought there might even be potential for Dexter to struggle with taking Louis under his wing (like a son figure) and use him as an apprentice, the way we were led to believe Gellar had been doing with who I now refer to as Schizo-Travis. I'm glad we're getting to see that Louis clearly does have some kind of sick dark side of his own, and if nothing else, he'll use his power for blackmail, which might put him more clearly on Dexter's radar. I just want Dexter to snap out of whatever funk is making him stupid and get back to the powerful borderline sociopath with whom we all fell in love.

I also have serious personal reservations about the Gellar reveal because I feel like, as carefully planned out as this may have been from day one in the writer's room, what we actually saw on-air was often a huge misdirect. I'm not talking seeing Gellar and Travis have conversations; we see that with Dexter and Harry all the time and we get it; it works. But comments the homicide detectives would make about things needing the strength of two men or the incisions on victims not matching, indicating two separate people working on various parts of the kills-- that will only still make sense if it is shown that Travis is legitimately schizophrenic and transforms into Gellar as he performs certain parts of the kills. In fact, I hope that's what Travis' deal is, and I hope we get to see a little bit of that before Dexter ultimately takes him out. Not only would that provide for great character work for Hanks, but it would be a truly unique avenue to explore-- something I fear this show is running short on. Dexter may certainly have psychological problems of his own, but he is always himself when he kills. To put him up against a guy who is mentally unstable and has been completely underestimated (especially at the fault of Dexter's complacency) would be the kind of kick-in-the-ass challenge Dexter Morgan needs to get back to his old self and Dexter needs to get back to its old self.

Showtime didn't send this episode to reviewers ahead of airing. Usually they only do this with the season finale, afraid of spoilers getting out and ruining the experience for those that watch it on the subscription service. But by holding this one back, it actually put much more of a spotlight on the so-called "twists"-- a big critical spotlight. In a way, they drew more attention to it simply by leading bloggers like me to believe that "it's so mind-blowing; it's so good; it's so big we can't risk you even teasing it too hard." From the Gellar reveal, to Louis, to just who Laguerta (Lauren Velez) was protecting by closing that dead hooker case early, the answers we received were all the obvious ones. And I guess you could say 'At least we received answers', but what always made Dexter so extraordinary was that it took risks as a show. From the very beginning, even the idea of having a serial killer as a protagonist was a huge "balls to the wall" (as MTV likes to say) risk approach. But no risk, no reward, right? And by playing it so "safe" in season six, Dexter should be reaping no rewards. Sunday nights should belong to Showtime, but sadly these days, only the 10pm hour does.

Hottie Awards: 2011 Hotties...

What better way to warm up these increasingly cold days than with a stroll down memory lane of the Top Ten Hotties of 2011??

10. Something about Stefan Salvatore finally giving into his dark desires and becoming the Ripper he was always meant to be just made him that much more attractive on The Vampire Diaries. Maybe it's all the blood, but Paul Wesley looks healthier than he has in a long time, and he seems to be more having fun than ever before, too. He still reminds me a little bit of Justin Bieber, but at least he resembles a much more mature Justin Bieber these days!

9. Leila Gerstein knows how to give The CW audience what they want, and what they want is more Wilson Bethel! Southern gentlemen are where it's at this year! That is all...

8. Hands down, the hottest photo in People Magazine's Sexiest Man Alive issue was the Smart Water ad featuring Idris Elba. So at least they got one thing right?

7. Ryan Reynolds gave us the gift of his self-effacing sense of humor by guest-penning an interview with himself inside the pages of Entertainment Weekly this year and then more permanently and long-term by joining Twitter. But the best part about that is his profile icon-- as small as it may be-- gets to pop up in our stream at least once a day, allowing his pretty picture to brighten up our day every time. Icon indeed!

6. I always thought Ryan Gosling was stoner/hipster cute (like a younger, blonder David Arquette), but that's not really my "type." Then I saw Crazy Stupid Love, and well, the Dirty Dancing move worked on me, too. I make no apologies. The Clooney suits didn't hurt. He's grown up nicely! People Magazine made a huuuge mistake this year.

5. He's one of the nicest guys in show business, and he's also one of the funniest and one of the smartest. But lately it seems like Joel McHale may be one of the fittest, too, and he is not above showing all of his assets on Community-- or in promotional materials for Community. Whatever gets the ratings up, right? Sometimes he may have to strip down as part of a joke, but those are the jokes we most look forward to!

4. One great football series (Friday Night Lights) may have come to an end, but its star Tim Riggins didn't fade into obscurity in the real world the way he tried so hard to do in Dillon. Taylor Kitsch booked a big-screen 3D epic, stripped down, beefed up, and later shaved off all of his luxurious locks. From football hero to action hero, he'll always be my fake, pop culture boyfriend.

3. I was skeptical about the new season of The Biggest Loser without Jillian Michael as trainer. I'll admit it; I watch that show just to see what kinds of new ways she can yell the same old things. But then I saw the new trainer, Dolvett Quince, and I couldn't look away. He makes me want to exercise just so I please him with my fit-ness. That's the point of this show, right? Plus, he has THE BEST smile. And you know, "Hard work. Dedication." is the new "Clear eyes, full hearts..."

2. Hawaii Five-0 didn't necessarily get more interesting in the plot developments of the second season, but Alex O'Loughlin's increasing muscle mass certainly kept us tuned into CBS longer than we expected to. Whether he was in civvies (like tight tee-shirts) or completely shirtless in a random and pretty unnecessary but somehow still fun MMA match, O'Loughlin managed to keep it classy-- and never cheesy.

1. It's my own personal bias, but there will never be anything hotter than Jensen Ackles. Even when Dean was killing semi-likeable supernatural beings or lip-syncing to Air Supply, he made it more than work; he made us want to do it, too!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

YOUR 2011 Holiday Wishlist...

When I was a kid, my letters to Santa usually resembled an entire issue of TV Guide mixed with the "Big Book" from Toys R Us. I wanted brand names; I wanted hot ticket items; and wherever possible, I wanted them to have a pop culture tie in. It wasn't enough to ask for "a Barbie" for Christmas; no, I was precise and specific: I would ask for Kelly Kapowski or Brenda Walsh. I didn't just want a pretend make-up kit; I wanted the same exact compact I saw DJ Tanner using in some random episode of Full House-- or, if at all possible, the compact that April from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles could use as a communicator. Even when I asked for video games for my handheld devices, they were always film or TV related: Home Alone, Aladdin, The Lion King.

I was the odd one out in my family. My cousins seemed pretty happy to receive more generic toys or classic games. I am sure it wasn't easy for my parents-- before the days of the Internet-- to be able to find the exact New Kids on the Block beach towel I saw on a commercial that one time or a jacket I saw on The Nanny, in juniors sizes. These days it's much easier to come by these types of items, but because of the sheer volume of options available, it makes it much harder to know what is worth picking up and what should be left in the sea of internet crap. So it seems only fitting that today I cast a net far and wide to bring to you some of the best "inspired by TV" gifts to give to your loved ones this holiday season, aka "YOUR 2011 Holiday Wishlist." Come on, you didn't get all your shopping done on Black Friday anyway, right?


Friday Night Lights: The Complete Series - Five seasons of football, tears, and Taylors. If you order this unique box set from NBC directly, you will receive a stadium blanket with your purchase. The blanket is small, but it is fleece, and stamped with your favorite Coach's team. If you buy it from another retailer, you will shave a few dollars off the price and "just" get all five seasons in a unique, book-style packaging. Any lover of great story-telling needs to own this series.

Happy Endings - Okay, so only the first short (thirteen episode) season is actually available in time for Santa's sleigh to get to your neck of the woods, but more people need to tune into this show, and the easiest way to convince most is just to give them a batch of episodes and a quiet few days home from work all at once. There is no way they won't walk away thinking this sitcom is even better (and certainly more current) than Friends! Give the gift of laughter this holiday season.

Jurassic Park: The Ultimate Trilogy - Screw Terra Nova; just pick up the original, amazing dinosaur project with this remastered and repackaged special box set with all new bonus features. This time the dinosaurs are large and looming but you won't find yourself rooting for them because the people they ultimately terrorize are not trespassing on their land.

The Lion King - Stories only come out of the Disney vault for a limited time, and this year it was Simba's turn to reign the movie theatre kingdom once again. After it got digitally remastered and re-released in 3D on the big screen, a new DVD set was sold, as well. You had a choice of just the original, modern classic film (on Blu-Ray and/or DVD) or the special eight-disc trilogy featuring the original film and two subsequent straight-to-home-video sequels. This was a film from my childhood, but I'm glad to have the chance to share it with the kids growing up today.

Smallville: The Complete Series - All ten seasons of The CW series of Clark Kent learning to be the man he was destined to be, in special packaging, and with bonus features that include the final Comic Con cast panel, a retrospective documentary with the cast and crew, as well as behind-the-scenes photos and a copy of The Daily Planet.


"11/22/63" by Stephen King wonders what would be possible if you could go back in time and change a major occurrence without too much of a butterfly effect screwing up something pesky like you never even being born in the first place. There are great nods to Back to the Future and other time-travel moments in our pop culture history, but what's even better is how King plays with his own past. His main character, an English teacher named Jake Epping who steps back in time on purpose, with a purpose (to stop the assassination of JFK), heads to Derry, Maine, first in order to test the theory about changing the course of life's events. And when he's in Derry, he meets a number of characters anyone familiar with King's lexicon will remember.

"The Hunger Games" Trilogy box set - With the movies being as talked about as the Harry Potter series, you're going to want to check out the source material to see if the big-screen adaptation holds up or if your imagination was far greater than any Hollywood technology could handle. Depending on where you order from, you can also get a "bonus" Mockingjay commemorative pin.

"Ready Player One" by Ernest Cline is a futuristic novel set in a time when we have all but completely given up on our daily, "real" lives and instead turned our attention to a virtual world. Individuals log into this virtual world for everything from school to work to ordering food and supplies and having them delivered to their real world door; money made for a job or any services is paid through the game and usually spent on more things within the game. Avatars and keystrokes replace real human interaction. But the real kicker is that the inventor of this world passes away and decides to leave his fortune to whoever can find specific Easter eggs hidden within his game-like world. Years pass before anyone can crack his code, until a teenage nobody finally finds the first one, and all of a sudden the game is really on. It becomes a struggle between the average Joe student of this genius' life and work and a greedy corporation who just wants the power and profit. Each task they are quested with in order to unlock the true fortune has to do with favorite parts of pop culture from the 1980s-- which to this teenager is literally ancient history, something he studied long after the fact. This novel works as commentary on what our increasingly digital society is becoming but also honors the value of such things in our lives. And with the recent passing of Steve Jobs, it seems even more fitting to consider the way we dedicate our lives to technology.

The Beauty Book. This artistic collection of photos of your favorite celebrities is not just a glossy way to revel in excess or fame; it's also charity! The proceeds from the book benefit brain cancer research, so it's a win-win for all involved. You get to give your friends the perfect coffee table book and get a tax deduction.

It may be a shameless plug, but I'd be remiss if I didn’t include my own pop culture memoir, “My Life, Made Possible by Pop Culture,” on this list again. A quick and fun read in either softcover or downloadable eBook form, this book takes my personal life and relationship experiences and relates them to the childhood television programs I grew up with as our babysitter, teacher, and role model. Many of those television programs were mentioned in the opener to this post.


"A Very She & Him Christmas" - This year it was Zooey Deschanel's world, and we were just living in it. I'm a sucker for holiday music-- from the day after Thanksgiving to New Years Day, I am driving around Los Angeles, even in eighty degree weather, blasting "Let It Snow"-- and this one is quirky and unique and quite fitting for the oddball holiday that sees us Los Angelians decked out in Santa hats, cozy sweaters, shorts, and flip flops!

"Camp" by Childish Gambino - I don't care if you're one of those people who claims not to like hip-hop or to be unable to understand what rappers are saying on their tracks, this is an album you need to check out. Donald Glover aka Childish Gambino is a master of wordplay and has created a work of art that stands out from the thousands of albums put out every year, by artists on much larger labels than he. This is not only clever but beautifully crafted and is an album you will want to hear over and over, for months on end.

"Detox" by Dr. Dre - What? I said this was a "wish" list. Though I was promised we'd have it by now... Le sigh.

"Stronger" by Kelly Clarkson - Who knew the princess of pop introduced by American Idol so many years ago would still be relevant, let alone making hits? But Clarkson is the real deal-- a talent that was able to shine long before the competition became just about the trend of the moment, and that is why her words are timeless and her sound is almost effortless. She reinvented herself a tiny bit for her newest album, released in the fall of 2011, but she still offers something for every kind of pop music lover-- ballads, break-up anthems, and dance tracks alike.

"Come Through For You" by Javier Colon - The Voice's first champion released his studio album based on one of his favorite previously released (off his debut and acoustic EPs) tracks. His sound is stripped down as we first fell in love with him during the blind audition rounds, but he brings out his whole bag of tricks, vocally, as well as with beats, and a couple of collaborations, including one with his coach and mentor, Adam Levine.

Toys, Games, & Miscellany:

Crayola Color Studio - When I was a kid I loved nothing more than to color. Even in high school I would occasionally doodle just so I could fill it in. Nowadays, though, they have taken coloring books to the next level by allowing kids to create their own AND put themselves in the story. Crayola has three offerings right now: Disney Princesses, Marvel Superheroes, or Cars, and I'm not entirely sure how it works, but I assume it's software that allows you to create an avatar and stick it into a prewritten arc, printing the pages so you can then color them in and ultimately make your own comic book. Um, awesome!!

Words with Friends App - Scrabble is suddenly cool! Look, there are so many mindless games and time-wasters out there. Nowadays when people arrive somewhere early and are waiting for their friends, or if they're in line to check out at a department or food store, or even if they're stuck in traffic, they kill time by fiddling with their smartphones. But this game is only a dollar and allows you to actually use your brain and play against your friends or a random opponent. It's a dollar App for the version without ads, but there is a free version, too, so this is really a no-lose situation. Plus, you can play against me; I'm terrible, so when you win it is sure to be a confidence booster!

The Modern Family board game-- fun for the whole family but also fun to play with a group of rowdy friends who turn it into a drinking game, Cougar Town or Happy Endings style, this offering from Pressman Toys is one part show trivia and one part weigh in on issues as seen in the show with your own opinions and beliefs. Players will have to prove they know a lot about the sitcom, and have to be willing to share a lot about themselves, if they want to win!

The Big Bang Theory created a “sick rhyme” (because this particular song is not for when Sheldon is sad but only when he is sick!) when it introduced “Soft Kitty,” a little ditty Sheldon’s mother, and then Penny, had to sing in order to soothe him. And Stylin Online took the idea a step further by making it into a plush doll you can hug when you are sick. Press its paw to hear the tune, and for the really diehard fan, you can even buy a matching tee shirt with the lyrics screen-printed across the chest.

Community claymation figurines - Nothing may ever beat "Abed's Uncontrollable Christmas" as a holiday special episode, and now you can take home the Greendale gang in all their animated glory. No, not the actual puppets used for the stop-motion special (um, they cost thousands of dollars each to make!), but NBC has created miniature versions for all your house decorating pleasure. You can buy them individually, so you just select your favorite character(s), or you can buy them in groups of three and end up with everyone eventually. Full disclosure: these are on my own holiday wishlist!

A hand-blown wine glass that holds a full bottle of wine. Or in my case, a full bottle of Zico coconut water. This is so you and your own cul-de-sac crew can have a "Big Carl," but be sure to give it your own unique name or the Cougar Town "Council" will mock you. And then come up with a weird punishment.

Agloves. These are a must for anyone in cold climates because they are your standard sleek black gloves, wrapped in touch screen technology film so that you don't have to pull the gloves off to text or surf the web for directions when you're out in "weather." Smart!

Friday, November 25, 2011

From LA Examiner: Interviews with the Modern Day Jiminy Cricket & Mrs. Claus...

"Raphael Sbarge examines Jiminy Cricket’s struggle on
Once Upon A Time"

We didn’t think we could anticipate another new episode of Once Upon A Time even more than we usually do, but it turns out absence really does make the heart grow fonder. Well, that and the promise of another intriguing, intricate backstory episode. The next episode up, “That Still Small Voice,” focuses on who Jiminy Cricket (Raphael Sbarge) was in the fairy-tale world and how that informs how he acts as Archie, Henry (Jared Gilmore)’s Storybrooke therapist. And things only get more complicated when a sinkhole forms in the center of town, Henry decides to climb in in search of the fairy-tale world, and Archie is called upon to talk him back out. But things never seem to go according to plan in Storybrooke these days… [MORE]

"Laura Vandervoort gets into the family spirit with Desperately Seeking Santa"

You know Laura Vandervoort as strong, driven women from genre television shows like Smallville and V, but her latest project, an original made-for-TV holiday movie on the ABC Family network will show her in a much softer light. As Jennifer, a mall marketing executive who masterminds a new “Hunky Santa Show” in order to win a promotion up to corporate, in Desperately Seeking Santa, Vandervoort is still strong and driven, but she is also about to embark in romantic comedy territory when she starts to fall for the new Santa in town, working class family guy David (Nick Zano). Vandervoort previews her new holiday role right here... [MORE]

My 2011 Holiday Wishlist...

Black Friday is upon us today, but with the state of the economy what it is-- and corporate greed being what it will always be-- retailers everywhere will keep various sales up and running for all of your holiday shopping needs long past "just" this one day. It's been quite a while since I've mailed anything to the North Pole, and honestly, since well before I even started making my own money, more often than not if I'd see something I wanted, rather than put it on a list and wait to see if someone else made my dreams come true, I'd just buy it for myself. I'm into immediate gratification that way. But times are tough, and that kind of attitude makes it even tougher for friends to get me something other than a gift certificate, so I sat down to consider some of the items I want that I have yet (for whatever reason) to actually already pick up for myself. And if the mood strikes you to pick up something for your favorite rambling TV blogger this year, I have compiled my "Dear Santa" wishlist right here:

Community Christmas figurines. Currently the set is still missing Baby Shirley and Troop Leader Abed from being complete, and admittedly I want to "collect 'em all," so it may make sense to just wait to buy these until they're all available and can be obtained with some kind of bulk discount. But I imagine the NBC Store will be updated with these additional items soon...

Kindle gift certificates. I know I just kind of dismissed gift certificates, but I like to read, and it's hard to anticipate what I want to read next, in part because I don't keep up with the books that will be released next the way I do television show premieres, so it's hard to just put a list of books on this wish list. I like to just read book reviews and purchase on the spot the ones I think are most in tune with my own interests and opinions. Although, there are two I do know I want: "The Future of Us" by Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler and "1Q84" by Haruki Murakami. I wouldn't turn down the hardcovers, but I feel like it's more cost-effective to buy the eBooks. Your gift, your call, though :)

An xBox Kinect. In truth I mostly want this so I can then get the Disneyland Adventures game. The trailer looks amazing, and everyone who has actually played said it's like actually being in the park, but being a behind-the-scenes player who gets to ride rides and go inside the story to interact with characters on their home turf setting.

Saved By The Bell: The Board Game and beach towel. I had both of these items when I was a kid and got rid of both, for separate reasons, at separate times in my adolescence. But I'm into kitschy nostalgia these days and would love to "re own" both of these things. It's a slippery slope, though, and I know once I do an eBay search for them, I will inevitably find a dozen other items I just had to have back in the day that now I could finally obtain for myself. I don't want to scratch that itch out of fear for my wallet. It's better suited for someone with better self control-- or unlimited funds-- like Santa.

Customizable M&Ms. I don't even really like this candy. I'm not a big fan of milk chocolate in general, let alone in such small doses, and the flavor cut by a candy shell. But I like the idea of stamping my own photos or personal messages on them. Just like Chan + Jan 4eva!

Enrollment in Godiva's Chocolate of the Month club. Okay,
this is a much better bet if you're looking to buy me candy. I always wanted to partake but never felt right about asking someone to spend a few hundred dollars on-- well, candy. I guess I got over that. Dark assortment, please.

Awkward. season one on DVD. Lately I've been getting all of the TV on DVD I could want (and then some) sent to me in review copies, but somehow this show that I actually fell pleasantly in love with earlier this fall escaped me.

New "kicky" boots.

Sapphire and aquamarine hoop earrings. I finally decided to make up a pair of earring to match the tennis bracelet I wear every day, and of course as soon as I was ready to go put a deposit down, my jeweler went out of business (it's not all bad; there's a Michael Kors there now, and I do love handbags!). So if anyone sees a pair already existing in the world, send 'em my way!

... Oh, and if you have time, world peace :)