Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Tonight's TV Talk: 'New Girl', 'The Biggest Loser', 'Raising Hope', 'Haven'...

TV Talk for Tuesday, December 6th 2011

Full disclosure: I spent the evening at a holiday party (second one of the season, wooo!) so tonight, only three posts into this new column, none of what I am covering was watched "live." Ah well. I'm #notaNielsenfamily anyway, so I don't think it affects too much. Other than the late posting of this article since I had to play catch up after I arrived home. Sorry about that.

New Girl (FOX, 9pm) - S1, Ep8: "Bad In Bed" - This is the episode that would have pushed me over the edge of no longer watching New Girl if co-star Max Greenfield wasn't so darn adorable and endearing and featured in a small storyline that shows so much potential. Jess (Zooey Deschanel) was never more grating than when she was trying to be sexy. I get it; she's kind of nerdy; she's a little socially awkward; she's definitely not your average girl-next-door. That's all fine. I'm not saying that can't be sexy. But Jess goes above and beyond "uncomfortable with intimacy" into weird territory when with her voices and her wiggling eyebrows and her "I don't know how to stand or where to put my hands"-- and by the way, if she's so darn uncomfortable with intimacy, maybe she shouldn't rush into it. It makes the rest of us uncomfortable when she is, and I can only cringe when thinking of what must have been going through poor Paul (Justin Long)'s mind. It's all very stagey, very cartoony, and not at all how a real woman would behave in the boudoir. But on the flip side, Schmidt (Greenfield) had a great plot and character point of being super competitive with one of his co-workers (guest star Eva Amurri). You could cut their sexual tension with a knife! It was only the B-story (and at times it felt more like C because of the stupid "Nick doesn't like to get haircuts" element to the show-- really? If that's the best they could come up with for him, maybe he should just sit there and only interject a funny quip once in awhile ala Winston (Lamorne Morris)-- but it certainly left me wanting more.

The Biggest Loser (NBC, 9pm) - S12, Ep 12 - This was the episode where former contestants came back to compete in a marathon that would guarantee the winner a spot in the finals. Usually I watch this show simply for the final moments where everyone steps on the scale (and okay, recently, for new trainer Dolvett Quince!). I just love to see the transformations and the progress, and it inspires me and shows me that if they can lose fifteen pounds in a week, surely I should be able to do that in a couple of months! But this was an episode I wanted to watch all the way through to see all of the returning players and how much they've lost since we last saw them. Still, what was best about this episode for me was watching after having a chat with Alison Sweeney, in which she said the line producer was freaking out during a meeting, learning the results of the marathon. I didn't necessarily have that moment (mostly because I didn't even remember some of these people being on the show), but I do see how this could change everything. If a player goes home, does the work on their own, and then goes on to win a spot back in the finale and ultimately win the prize, doesn't that negate the purpose of the show? Clearly weight loss can be done around one's own schedule. In fact, it is more impressive when it is because it means you can juggle this new lifestyle. You have a greater possibility of keeping the weight off, I would think. But before we even got to the marathon, it was emotional (hey, crying burns calories, right?) because the four remaining had to watch those damn videos where their former fat selves gave them messages. And then there was John, who I'm sorry, but I just don't find sincere-- ever-- who gave me a real Will Ferrell in Old School vibe ("Jenny! Meatloaf!") by going home and having his wife be his own personal servant. It sounds terrible because I'm talking about a real man, not a character, and I've never once interacted him, but from the vibes he gives off on-screen, I feel like he has abusive tendencies like Vinny's dad. Probably not physical ones, but he plays a psychological mind game, for sure, and he always puts himself number one. We've seen that on the ranch. Sometimes people lose a bunch of weight and become bitches, but really, that inner bitch was always within them; they just finally felt like they could let it out, no longer having something obvious with which their victims could hurt them. And I'm still more bitter about who got voted out last week to be surprised by this week's. Not only was Becky the smaller woman, but it seemed like it was leaning towards a boys' club from early on this season. That's a bummer. I was rooting for my girl Sunny, in great part because I'm all for female empowerment, but also because she reminded me of the quick wit and fun spirit of previous winner Ali Vincent. After John's shady shenanigans and Antone's "unfair" former athlete advantage, I wanted to see the underdog take it! But in truth, everyone in the finale put in the work and deserves to be there. They had remarkable transformations, though I have to agree with Bob Harper that I don't know that all three will keep it off. There are some previous winners of the show that NBC never parades around during the "Where Are They Now?" specials, and I'm sure it's because they've gained it all back.

Raising Hope (FOX, 9:30pm) - S2, Ep8: "The Men of New Natesville" - Leave it to Greg Garcia to poke fun at a guy taking on more stereotypical "girly" attributes and do so in a heart-felt way that still makes me laugh. ABC could (and should) take notes on how to do it right! It was oddly touching, nay-- even heartbreaking, to see what Frank (Todd Giebenhain) was really up to in his house. He always held the air of mysterious verging on creepy, and yes, the Sabrina (Shannon Woodward) doll still leaned that way, but creating the perfect version of his life in miniature, stop-motion form was oddly sweet. It was like SIMs for the computer illiterate. Little boys who are bullied so often turn to comic books to give them a hero, but Frank just made himself a hero in a fake, 1:6 scale world. I didn't see it as him and Jimmy (Lucas Neff) playing with dolls, as Burt (Garrett Dillahunt) did, though, ultimately, that is exactly what they were doing, and I didn't see it as needing to "man up" as a reason to confront their childhood tormentor. It was more evolved than that; they had to get past their trauma in order to grow up. Similarly, the show itself was more evolved than to just have the mean "cool kid" peak during his reign of torment and now be an unemployed, fat loser who still lives at home with mom and dad. Instead he had learned a lesson about himself, stemming from the instance of bullying Virginia (Martha Plimpton) imparted on him when she wanted him to leave her son alone, and he made a big change with his life. Again, a more evolved change than the cliche becoming a priest or starting a charity and devoting his life to reform and good deeds. He became a woman. Kind of puts posturing into whole new terms, doesn't it? And in true, twisted Raising Hope fashion, the outer change didn't actually squelch the inner anger; she was just a "mean girl" now. So Jimmy still got a bit bullied as an adult, but he learned a little something about what really makes a man. Or a woman. And you know, there was some stuff about friendship thrown in for good measure, too. It may be a wacky show, but you always leave with nice warm and fuzzies, too, and at this time of year-- hell, just in this television landscape-- that is the diamond you hope to find in the rough.

Haven (Syfy, 10pm) - S2, Ep13: "Silent Night" - You can say it's because I'm a sucker for all things Christmas (and that I am), but the reason I truly loved Haven's holiday special was because it came out of nowhere and took on another Stephen King project (and one of my favorites ever). From the minute there were birds involved, I knew that the "trouble" here was going to be that the town of Haven had been trapped under a glass dome-- and since it was Christmas in July, and the entire town was just accepting that was how it always was, I knew it was not just any glass dome but a snow globe. I started to imagine King's novel if that had been set at Christmas time and not (spoiler alert) ended up with another race of beings' empathy being appealed to so they would eventually lift the cover they dropped on the town. For Haven, though, things got a bit unnecessarily complex because they wanted to keep the snow globe factor a secret until the third act. Fine. Sometimes I like knowing things ahead of the characters anyway. It feeds my superiority complex. But this episode meant so much more because it dealt with being alone on Christmas-- something I face yearly and have actually been pleasantly surprised to be seen reflected back to me through this year's television specials without characters clucking their tongues, shaking their heads, or otherwise pitying the orphaned, the disenfranchised, the loners. Here in Haven, the trouble may have been a teenager girl's, but really, the problem was Audrey (Emily Rose)'s, as well. Audrey who had no family growing up, and as it turned out earlier this season, false memories implanted in her mind of that no family anyway. The old saying is that there's nothing worse than being alone on the holidays, hence the people disappearing from Audrey's version of Haven, one by one being somehow transported inside the actual hand-held snow globe itself. Just go with it. It's the holidays; we expect a little nonsensical magic, even for a show that usually so clearly explains the hows and the whys. In truth, though, one could argue that since you can often feel alone even when you're surrounded by people, it might have made more sense if this teenage girl were somehow marked invisible and only Audrey could see her-- you know, since Audrey isn't affected by the troubles. But that's much less dramatic, especially visually, for the storytelling, so again, I just went with it.

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