Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Tonight's TV Talk: 'The Middle', 'Suburgatory', 'Modern Family', 'Happy Endings', and 'Revenge'...

TV Talk for Wednesday, February 29th 2012

The Middle (ABC, 8pm) - S3, Ep18: "Leap Year" - This show is charming in a way I never expected, but it needs to figure out something to do with Axl (Charlie McDermott). He's a funny buffoon, but even buffoons deserve plot points past being so bored he changes his attitude and starts cleaning-- just to give him something to do. If you've run out of things for a teenage jock to do, you, not he, may have peaked in high school. Also, if you want to evolve him a teeny bit by putting a vacuum in his hand, you can't have him pulling something over his sister in the next scene. It invalidated everything that came before it: why would he ever be bored if he could just mess with his siblings like he always does? And what better time to mess with Sue (Eden Sher) than on her Leap Year birthday!? A storyline that really didn't go anywhere and yet somehow managed to make Chica's forgotten birthday in Troop Beverly Hills seem a little less sad. I mean, we knew her parents sucked, but the Hecks? The Hecks were just so distracted they forgot about their only daughter's only once-every-four-years special day! What the what!? I have to say, I was glad they didn't pull the whole "we'll celebrate how old you actually are since Leap Year only comes once every four years," though. On the other hand, though, I loved Brick (Atticus Shaffer)'s sudden sense of leadership and friendship. He has always been so happy to be alone with his books, and tonight he even said he had no friends. But really, I think he proved the opposite by the way he rallied the boys of his social group. Sure, it was all over a girl, and sure, that is bound to only lead to fighting later when they realize they can all have a shot with her, but it was a major step for him. I'll admit it: when the seemingly normal girl first stepped foot in the classroom, I didn't smell a clerical error like Brick or Frankie (Patricia Heaton) jadedly did. No, instead I assumed it was the school's strange idea of an experiment: stick a cute girl in a room of messed up boys and see if they would feign normalcy, posture, or actually change for her. A fascinating study, really, though a bit twisted for a public elementary school.

Suburgatory (ABC, 8:30pm) - S1, Ep16: "Poetic Injustice" - Sex dreams must be a theme tonight. Who knew!? Will there be anything better than Sheila (Ana Gasteyer)'s sex dream about George (Jeremy Sisto) "opening [her] mouth and kissing [her] like a Frenchman"? I don't believe there will be! Although "the white Wesley Snipes of Chatswin" came pretty close. Emily Kapnek was on fire tonight! We got to see a different side to so many characters, patchy Fred (Chris Parnell) goatee aside. Dahlia (Carly Chaikin) actually made a human observation; just when we thought she didn't pay attention to anything that wasn't a mirror... Tessa (Jane Levy) does care about fitting in, even if just with a weird older woman with a tacky shoulder tattoo. George is giving into his crush on Dallas more and more every week... I was glad Tessa asked her new teacher if she was high, but I was bummed she didn't force an answer. Between the "Dahlia should be the teacher here" bit and the "poetry loves you, too," though she gave Tessa a 72, I had no other explanation for her behavior-- or her weird whisper voice. But then it dawned on me: she's the hipster of poetry. She only thinks it's cool when you clearly don't care-- or don't even really know what you're doing or why. She and her shoulder tattoo may be the worst. And I hope she and her hipster grad student attitude stay FOREVER. I especially liked her idea of grading wit, though. I'm going to start doing that in the comments of some of my favorite fellow bloggers...

Modern Family (ABC, 9pm) - S3, Ep17: "Leap Day" - I agree, Gloria (Sofia Vergara), Leap Day is stupid. Except it gave me an extra day to pay my rent, which you don't have to worry about, so I guess I see a slight more appeal in the day than you do. But for me it's more about the disappointment. Usually it's just an extra day to work; the weather is usually crappy; and no one ever handed me candy! I have about seven hundred Facebook friends and not one of them was born on Leap Day, yet television promises at least one person in a social circle, let alone family, will get to celebrate crazy elaborate parties for the rare "actual" birthdays that rolled around. What I would have given to attend Cam (Eric Stonestreet)'s Wizard of Oz party insensitive or not-- or hell, screw the party invite (those flying monkeys are scary!); just get me a pair of ruby slippers! So I took kind of a sick pleasure in watching Phil (Ty Burrell)'s favorite day get so ruined-- and for such a funny reason. I don't know how comedies before this one hadn't dealt with women's periods synching up, but I'm glad Modern Family was ballsy enough to "go there." Those three Dunphy women have pretty damn strong personalities on their own, but with this addition? They could steamroll the men in the house for sure. Though, as much as I know Claire (Julie Bowen) was heightened by hormones, everyone cries over those ASPCA commercials, and that is an indication she needs to bring a dog into their home. Mine is available for work. And he already bonded with Nolan Gould!

Happy Endings (ABC, 9:30pm) - S2, Ep16: "Cocktails & Dreams" - Max (Adam Pally) looks weird clean-shaven. If that's Grant (James Wolk)'s influence, then Grant had to go! I mean, that's a reason enough for a guy like Max to break up with him (remember the Paul Walker fan club guy??). I never expected him to break up with him over the issue of kids-- and certainly not being on the "I might want them someday" side of the argument. I felt like I didn't even know Max anymore! I mean, sure, we saw him kind of bond with his niece and nephew earlier this season, but this was a HUGE step. I'm proud of him, and of the writers, for taking it. In an episode that so dealt in the silliness (of sex dreams and Colin Hanks' earring and waffles on the ceiling...and then the floor), it's always nice to be punched in the heart after laughing so hard I felt punched in the gut. I do wish Penny (Casey Wilson) hadn't been the one to first call Dave (Zachary Knighton) out being like their brother, though, considering just a few weeks ago the show hinted at an attraction between these two "friends," but I like the complication it might bring if she learns Dave and Alex (Elisha Cuthbert) slept together and then realizes she doesn't see Dave as solely a brother figure. I get why Dave and Alex were deemed the Ross and Rachel of this show even more now. I didn't expect the show to take them there at this point in the story, though the fact that there has been no indication that they should get back together bodes well for uniqueness, and yes, more funny stuff to follow. I'm personally hoping they both see it as a big mistake they never want to talk about again. Or maybe even a "Eh well, friends fuck each other sometimes; it happens" scenario, rather than a "What does it mean!?" plot that they hash out with their sub-cluster of friends. If absolutely nothing else, it was their bonus sex after the break-up. But they should in no circumstance get back together-- now or even in the season finale, or in a season from now-- in my opinion. Because again, it is the idea of Penny and Dave that deserves it's time to be explored. We already know what happens when Alex and Dave try to have their "happy ending;" Penny and Dave may be even more disastrous, but we won't know until we see it given a go, right? Tonight's episode was so chock full of fun and perfect line delivery and quiet little lines and references (Dinosaurs!) I may have missed the first time around, I definitely have plans to watch it again first thing in the morning. It was just that good. Character callbacks (Alex' love of ribs) included.

Revenge (ABC, 10pm) - S1, Ep16: "Scandal" - Can I just take a second to publicly thank Mike Kelley, Liz Tigelaar, and the rest of the Revenge writers for not doing the old-fashioned cliche thing and giving Daniel (Josh Bowman) amnesia. I much prefer the fact that he remembers what he and Tyler (Ashton Holmes) discussed before the gun went off and is simply keeping it to himself. He is smarter than people give him credit for, and he definitely has his own plans. Whether or not they pay off... Well, that will be the fun of the next batch of episodes, I imagine. And I hope his plan is strong because he is too pretty for jail, let alone freakin' Riker's! He is a flight risk if I ever met one, but a simple house arrest plan would do. I really don't want him to have survived the debacle on the beach only to get shanked in jail. Although, if he's in jail and somehow gets intel on David Clarke (James Tupper) through a crusty old cell block companion or guard or whatever... Okay, that'd be a stretch, and I know it. But his lawyer was quick to float the second shooter theory (maybe JFK was his inspiration?), I thought we'd have a little more free time with him. Well, we'd be free with him, and he'd be in his own private hell, bound to the house in which his feuding parents are staying and Emily would be forced to move into. On second thought that doesn't work either because it'd be too sitcom-y. In fact, I think I saw a similar concept fail on FOX a few years ago... Anyway, Ashley (Ashley Madekwe) was quick to step in and become family spokeswoman. She really is an opportunistic little sneak. She and Ellis (from Smash) should compare notes and maybe host a "how to claw your way to the top" podcast. Nolan (Gabriel Mann), for a rich guy and one who was assaulted recently at that, really needs to learn to lock his doors. And he needs to learn that he can't keep secrets. His face gives him away every time! When it comes to Jack (Nick Wechsler) I have to choose to believe he's so hung up on Amanda (Marguerita Levieva) because of the youthful memories he clings to, not the person he has spent these last few weeks with. Time and circumstance can change a lot about a person, but there would be no justification for such a sweet, innocent little girl turning into that. I hope she's bleeding out from a wound from the beach somewhere. Okay, I know how that sounds, and yes, it's crueler than it needs to be: to still be bleeding out would be too torturous, even for her. But I still hope she's gone for good (I know she's not. Oh, dramatic stakes!). And I certainly hope they find a way to frame her for the murder because it will get rid of her and give Emily another name to avenge. Eventually she'll want to take back her name, and this would certainly add complications to that plan. Look at Charlotte (Christa B. Allen). Look at how far she's falling with the weight of her real father and her brother's assumed crimes hovering over her. Yet, a "little" pill problem, and even swaying her boyfriend to back the second shooter story, is nothing when compared to fake Amanda's indiscretions. I have to admit, though, if Charlotte's not careful, it seems clear she could spiral pretty closely to Amanda. Emily (Emily VanCamp) may be keeping a distant eye on her, but no newfound blood loyalty leads me to believe she'd step in and risk exposing herself-- or even risk changing the course of her plans. Because they've already gotten off course enough as it is! It would be nice to see Charlotte look for a grounding force and go digging into her real father in order to find it. Something tells me he may not really be dead. In fact, I think I may even know where he's been keeping himself; Victoria (Madeleine Stowe) mentioned a family property of his tonight that felt heated-- and felt unnecessary to mention if it wouldn't come back to have significance. I'd love to watch him re-insert himself into their lives at some point. Would he recognize his daughter? He should; I imagine he'd be keeping tabs on her this whole time. But I bet he wouldn't metaphorically recognize the woman she's become, and only he could snap her out of her bad behavior, hopefully before it's too late. And what would that do to Victoria and the love she feels for her martyr? Also, is it me or does that dog seem to be aging down? By the time they return in April (APRIL!?!?!) that dog will be a puppy again!

From LA Examiner: The CW Finale Dates; PaleyFest Shake-Up; 'The Lying Game' Finale Photos..

"The CW sets One Tree Hill series finale, LA Complex US premiere dates"

Today The CW announced some key dates for this spring television season. Not only did they announce the two-hour finale event for long-running series One Tree Hill, but they set the U.S. premiere for L.A. Complex, a series already airing in Canada. Additionally, The CW announced season finale dates for all of their fan favorites, including The Vampire Diaries and Supernatural. Read on for the information and be sure to tune in to give your shows the best shot at returning next season! ... [MORE]

"PaleyFest 2012 Shake-Up: The Office out; Parks and Recreation in!"

Though PaleyFest 2012 is only days away from its opening night, today brings some last minute panel shuffling news. No longer will there be a panel to honor The Office, but in its place will be another NBC comedy: Parks and Recreation, which was also honored in 2011... [MORE]

"PHOTO PREVIEW: The Lying Game finale secrets revealed + someone gets hitched!"

This first season of The Lying Game on ABC Family has moved so fast that as the finale is upon us, only one thing seems certain: that Sutton (Alexandra Chando) cannot be trusted! Yet, in the "Unholy Matrimony," Emma (also Chando) is once again being swayed by her sister-- this time to narc to Kristen (Helen Slater) regarding the locket found in Rebecca (Charisma Carpenter)'s bedroom. So what is it about Sutton that is still drawing Emma in, after all of the terrible things she's done? ... [MORE]

'Happy Endings' Goes Viral...

The humor of Happy Endings seems perfectly fit for the web, where they can live uncensored and free, so it's pretty much more than about time that the ABC series takes itself there to include an original online component to hook even more of an audience. And this particular web series, though, seems designed to keep the show going. Sponsored by Subaru, the web component is a way to introduce product integration without taking up valuable TV screen time. Plus, it promises a look at the characters as never seen before: their younger selves!

In the first episode,
Penny (Casey Wilson) announces to the group that her mom is getting rid of her first car. She tells them that her car is in a storage unit that her mom’s third husband has stopped paying for. The storage locker is going to be auctioned off on an episode of a Storage Wars-esque reality show. The group says that the car represented their young adulthood as they each had defining moments of their youth in that car. Therefore, as we go through each webisode, we see their experiences in glorious flashback mode. We get to visit a past version of this group of friends and see defining moments of their relationships.

Personally, I hope that means more pink-hair Jane (Eliza Coupe) and Jew-Fro'ed out Max (Adam Pally)!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Tonight's TV Talk: 'Switched at Birth', 'Cougar Town', 'The River', and 'Parenthood'...

TV Talk for Tuesday, February 28th 2012

Switched at Birth (ABC Family, 8pm) - S1, Ep19: "Write a Lonely Soldier" - BLAIR REDFORD!! I'm so happy they didn't forget all about him, even if we just got a terribly Photoshopped photo and cracking voice-over. I mean, I know they brought up Ty just a few episodes ago, but I didn't want that to be all he was reduced to-- a casual mention-- because if he hadn't booked another show, he could potentially still be heating things up on this one. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy him on The Lying Game, but I would enjoy it even more if Ty could come back to stir things up with Daphne (Katie Leclerc). They were always just friends, and he found an attraction to Bay (Vanessa Marano), but Daphne found herself thinking about one friend-- Emmett (Sean Berdy) different recently, so why not another? I like him so much better than Wilke (Austin Butler)! This new kid is okay, too, I guess-- cockiness and anger aside, he did make some valid points about Wilke still not learning basic sign language-- but I still think the silent fighting thing belongs to Emmett (Sean Berdy). I'm glad we got to know as much about him and his situation as we did right all within his introductory episode. If we hadn't gone home with him, so to speak, to learn what terrible parents he has, we-- well, I would have just disliked him on principle and called him the villain of the season. Which would have been unfair. Because this show isn't so black and white to have good and bad guys anyway. But seriously, Daphne went to his house to yell at him and probably just ended up wanting to give him a hug. I know I did. "I have a lot of great conversations with myself, though" was just so heated and sad. I mean, I did, too, as a teenager, but by choice. There's comfort in knowing someone is there to listen if you want to talk; it provides a nice cushion-- a nice safety net. Things look a lot darker and much more serious when that is stripped away. I will say it's hard to get too invested in a storyline that deals with Angelo (Gilles Marini) when he's not on-screen. Learning he has a "Deepthroat" would be much more poignant if the scenes were followed by scenes of him dealing with this person-- whoever he or she is. I know it's only a matter of time until he returns, and I never thought I'd say this, but I can't wait! I still think Simone (Maiara Walsh) needs to go, by the way. Sure, getting Toby (Lucas Grabeel) a gig sounded like a nice girlfriend move, but everyone comes with a weight and a price attached, and it just seemed like her trying to control him and his music. Note she got Toby a gig, not GuitarFace a gig. She shut Wilke out completely. She
is Yoko Ono-- mixed with a little Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction. I don't think Wilke is anything more than a haircut for that band (gotta love Emmett for calling him out on that with his name sign!), but they are still a band, and it isn't right that one member pursues a solo act on the side. It just makes him seem shady. Emmett, too, is being shady. I blame his dad's crappy influence. He's angry now, and he's no longer acting like the perfect, adorable boyfriend he promised to be! He had absolutely no right to ask Bay to see her emails with Ty, and she never should have showed them to him-- innocent or otherwise. Though it was an interesting thought that her street art is something she does with her boyfriends. It's not-- not in the way he implied. But it is how she lets them in, what bonds them together deeper, at least until sex is on the table, I would imagine. Bay has boys and her art. That's it. It makes perfect sense that she'd want to combine the two passions. And as poorly photoshopped as that photo of Ty in Afghanistan was, I loved it. I loved that he supported her art; I mean, not enough to get arrested for it probably, but still. He's a good friend, even a million miles away. Emmett is not being a good anything right now. Well, maybe a good listener. He did remember Liam. I can't say the same; can you?

Cougar Town (ABC, 8:30pm) - S3, Ep3: "Lover's Touch" - A few notes about tonight's episode: first and foremost: anyone who comes over for meals from now on can expect to eat caveman style. I've always hated doing dishes, and now I don't even have to do cutlery! And also, learning more and more about Tom (Bob Clendenin) is creepy, and I don't like it! I don't want to know he has grown kids in the world because that means he has had sex. And that there might be younger, less bald Tom's running around being just as creepy into other neighbors' windows. And he's a HEAD doctor!!! Who would have ever guessed!? But seriously, out of all of the games Cougar Town has invented, I have to admit I'm surprised that simply letting a dog pull you on a rope was what did one of them in-- and so badly. The minute I heard "Dominance Ball" I thought that might be the one to do it. I mean, it's no Fireball, let alone Ultimate Fireball, but still. It was introduced in an episode we knew to be about an injury. Even if chucking pennies at moving targets while tipsy on vino always seemed like a face welt waiting to happen! Or even Grayson (Josh Hopkins)'s inability to skate.
"Dog-boarding" just sounds awesome, and I still want to try it, but sadly my little Madison can't pull my weight. Travis (Dan Byrd) getting injured here wasn't funny when the news was first delivered, using words like "brain swelling," but of course Cougar Town got to put their own special stamp on it with the ridiculous helmet that poor Byrd has to wear for half a season. Instant hilarity. If I didn't know better I'd think he lost a bet or that the writers hate him as much as the Community writers hate Chevy Chase. This is Cougar Town's version of double leg casts! What a nice, on-going homage! Also, was it just me or was it suuuper weird to see Ellie (Christa Miller) embrace Laurie (Busy Philipps) over Andy (Ian Gomez)'s weird feet? I thought for sure she was up to something there, but no, it appears Ellie is just softening to that jellybean as time goes on. And Julies proved she is growing, too. Sure, she wants to live in the same nursing home with her son, but she admitted she can no longer tell him what to do, and that's huge in the "not trying to control his-- or anyone else's-- life" situation.

The River (ABC, 9pm) - S1, Ep5: "Peaches" - I cannot tell you how pissed I am that the crew didn't hang Scott Michael Foster out to dry last week and that he's still with them this week. Everything about him and the douchey characters he plays never ceases to piss me off. I fully expect this show to have casualties, and I hope he's the first. I'm still a little let down that the so-called curse didn't claim him already. If it was real, there should have been no exceptions. And the fact that Lena (Eloise Mumford) is getting close to him? Well, that's not going to end well. For either of them, really, if she's emotionally attached to yet another doomed man. But ooh, Ghost Ship! That made me oddly excited. There was this movie I saw in the '90s-- a B movie at best, but still-- where this ship found some cursed treasure, and those aboard were greedy enough to take some with them (kind of a twist on the old myth, but still). Well, touching it or taking it (I can't really remember the details) unlocked this serpent like spirit that inhabited the greedy one, using its body as a host and attacking the others aboard. Ultimately the survivors blew up their own ship to try to kill the thing on-board, but it wormed its way inside one of them, and as she clung to debris in the water, it shone in her eyes. Maybe this is the sequel that never came way back then. Oh, okay, I know it's not. But I still like the idea of all of these forces out in the Amazon conspiring against these mere mortals. It's bad enough that some of them-- well, mostly Lena-- are being tugged emotionally by missing loved ones. They let their guards down; they are so starved for other human contact, they don't question things of which in the regular world they would normally be suspicious. They're so focused on the unknown, they forgot all about the obvious threat: that of human nature. Not all of the forces against the Magus have to be supernatural, so I was honestly hoping the Exodus was just going to be full of pirates so "our" crew could be reminded of all of the dangers that may face them if and when they find Emmet (Bruce Greenwood), or any of his crew. Lena's dad, for one, should have been ravaged crazy by his time in the Amazon, but he was so eerily calm, even while being held captive, it seemed to give away a deeper truth. He had accepted his fate, and even seeing his daughter in the flesh and in front of him couldn't change his fate. Even with that little tip-off when we first saw them interact, though, her new kind of heartbreak in finding him only to lose him all over again-- and know this time it would be permanent-- was so poignant. I hope we see ramifications in the next episode. Yes, there are a lot of things going on on that ship, but this is a weight that should hang heavily over the entire rest of the expedition. You just never know what you're going to find out there, but so far you can count on not liking it once you do. I guess it should have been obvious here that we weren't dealing with any old people-- not when they were led by the never-trustworthy
Don McManus. He played a demon in Supernatural, you know, but also in this specific case his tiny vessel was so small and yet it survived this rough terrain. With a bunch of drunken hobos who didn't even seem to know how to steer. I didn't think so! But it irked me how little urgency there seemed to be from those on the Exodus. Only one dude was trying to pry the door open? I mean, Lena was leaving a mayday call, but she could have been doing that while trying to bust in the window or something. Sure, it may be a little unbelievable that you'd be lost at sunrise, but with everything they've seen so far, they should have easily believed the threat and scrambled-- done anything they could have, really, even if it resembled panic and fear, to fight for their lives the way they're down there fighting for Emmet's.

Parenthood (NBC, 10pm) - S3, Ep18: "My Brother's Wedding" - Such a clean way to wrap up Crosby (Dax Shepard) and Jasmine (Joy Bryant)'s other relationships! If this wasn't a season finale, I'm sure we would have gotten treated to longer dealings with their respective new people, but I'm glad we didn't because we didn't need it. The parallels in responses now to what happened last season when Crosby slept with the social worker were clear in their short bursts, and we can't harp on the past or the people who are going to live there: we must look only to the future-- to the now even further extended Braverman clan. As weird as it was to see Crosby and Jasmine happy, in love, and kissing without talking about their issues, I need to say: good luck to Jasmine. Seriously. I didn't like her at first (who doesn't tell someone they have a kid out in the world until he's old enough to introduce himself!? I will never get over that, and I'm not sorry about it), but she deserves my well wishes if she's diving into this wacky family full-force. Zeek (Craig T. Nelson) can't even pronounce the traditions he is forcing his family to uphold; Adam (Peter Krause) gets scary when he fights in front of his mommy; and grown men wrestle around and throw food on each other with no thought for person's home they are destroying. I mean, I got a kick out of it, but I wasn't in the middle of it. With so much focus on the wedding, I was almost hoping some of the other storylines wouldn't get so wrapped up. The way things went down, this certainly felt like a series finale. Jason Katims is great at writing those to be satisfying in case his shows don't come back and then going above and beyond when they do, but I was hoping this time around he'd leave something hanging in order to sway NBC to bring them back. I mean, Drew (Miles Heizer) isn't even a virgin anymore! I thought for sure that would be something that took some more time, and I never expected him to sleep with a girl who keeps her jewelry on; he may be getting in over his head with her, and I think we need to see how that plays out. Suddenly Zoe (Rosa Salazar) was a big girl now. Julia (Erika Christensen) empowered her just a little too much. Everything about Zoe (maybe it's because she no longer has the weight of the pregnancy belly?) seems brighter, stronger; she even seems to be standing up straighter and talking smarter. It broke my heart. She deserved that, of course, but Julia deserved her baby, too. And honestly, Julia is a lawyer, can I ask one more time why she didn't have paperwork to ensure this woman couldn't reneg? Or did she, but she's just being a good person now and not suing because it would put the baby in turmoil? As much as that hurt, watching Sarah (Lauren Graham), and the show in general, set Mark (Jason Ritter) free one more time hurt surprisingly worse. She finally did the mature thing by having the very real, pretty unpleasant conversation about kids. For so many couples that becomes a deal-breaker in relationships, and I am the strongest proponent of "get on the same page early because it's highly unlikely you'll convince the other person to change their mind later." It didn't make sense that she invited him to the wedding first, though. I'm sorry, but I still think bringing a guy to a wedding is a big deal. Sure, Mark already knows her family all-too well, but still. Emotions are stirred up, questions are asked (or implied), relationships are reevaluated. It's heavy. Her asking him to go before assessing the situation and realizing she had to have the conversation seemed to prove she still has more growing up to do, and I really think she really does need to do it on her own. She can't accept his marriage proposal only to hurt him again down the line. But if she keeps working on getting her shit together, then if they meet up again (and if County doesn't go), she and Mark may finally be in the same place at the same time. Parenthood, you have to come back next year. And the next and the next and the next. I need to watch these people grow together. I need to see an adoption process (any one really, maybe even one for Sarah and Mark)-- I don't believe Julia's incredibly opportune luck (that certainly felt like TV time/finale wrap-up!); I was promised it, damn it! I need to see how Sydney (Savannah Paige Rae) reacts to the brother she was promised being her age and opinionated and potentially not even permanent. I need to see the new baby Crosby and Jasmine will probably have. I need to see Sarah finally be okay. I need to see what kinds of people Sydney and Jabbar (Tyree Brown) turn out to be. I need to see if Drew realizes he is gay (I still think that would make a fascinating story). I need to know if Crosby and Jasmine will implode again just as quickly as they got married. I need to see Amber (Mae Whitman) continue to trust her gut and her heart and her instincts-- and actually see things pay off for her when doing so. I need to see more Friday Night Lights nods and cameos (Derek Freakin' Phillips!!). I need to celebrate countless other occasions-- all the occasions-- weddings, birthdays, holidays, even funerals with the Bravermans. I live vicariously through them, and I need to continue to use them as my own surrogate family. Clearly I still have some growing up to do, too. And I'm happy to do it. If I can do with them.

From LA Examiner: WonderCon Announcements; 'Breaking In' Advance Review; 'Happy Endings' Sex Dreams; FX Sets Summer Premieres; 'Raising Hope' Photos

"WonderCon 2012 to host Once Upon A Time, Community, Dan Vs + more"

Hot on the heels of Warner Brothers' WonderCon 2012 television events announcement, we have some more details for you on favorite shows that will be appearing over the March weekend right here in Southern California... [MORE]

"Breaking In reboots when it returns to FOX"

Disclaimer: We would watch Megan Mullally in anything. Even those butter commercials. But it helps that her newest project, the second season of FOX' already quirky workplace comedy Breaking In, is one that we already enjoy and are glad to see return this spring... [MORE]

"VIDEO: The Happy Endings cast previews their on-screen sex dreams"

Happy Endings’ Dave (Zachary Knighton) starting to sell alcohol on his steak truck sounds pretty much like just an excuse to be able to drink with his friends at work, right? But while we’re sure his intentions were positive-- a way to bring in some extra customers and have a good time on the job-- things backfire for Dave. As they tend to do. It turns out his signature cocktail comes with a powerful after effect: it gives his friends sex dreams about him! ... [MORE]

"FX sets summer premiere dates for Anger Management, Wilfred, Russell Brand"

Gear up for the summer, comedy fans! FX Network announced today their all-star line-up of series, including the premiere of Charlie Sheen's Anger Management, Russell Brand's Strangely Uplifting, and the second and third season premieres (respectively) for Wilfred and Louie... [MORE]

"FIRST LOOK: Katy Perry & Mary Birdsong guest on Raising Hope"

Raising Hope is not a show known for stunt casting, but in its next all-new episode, "Single White Female Role Model," it may do just that with not one but two very special guest stars. Mary Birdsong comes to Natesville as the less-than-feminist mayor, while series star Shannon Woodward's real life BFF Katy Perry plays Sabrina's not-so-former BFF...and new prison guard... [MORE]

Monday, February 27, 2012

Tonight's TV Talk: 'Hart of Dixie', 'The Lying Game', 'Castle', 'Hawaii Five-0', and 'Smash'...

TV Talk for Monday, February 27th 2012

Hart of Dixie (The CW, 9pm) - S1, Ep16: "Tributes & Triangles" - For a moment when George (Scott Porter) was talking about his dad being proud of him, I thought his father was dead. Like Lemon (Jaime King) accused of him, I apparently *had* forgotten what his family did to him at Planksgiving. But it left me wondering: did George get the title because of legacy? Would that explain why older, obviously just as worthy townsmen like Brick (Tim Matheson) or Lavon (Cress Williams)-- hell, even Dash DeWitt (Reginald Veljohnson) were passed over? Or was picking the hot young guy the flashy thing to do? It didn't seem like the committee needed to get Bluebell reinvigorated in the MOTY-- they seemed to care too much as it was-- but you never know. Either way, I liked the segue it provided into Zoe (Rachel Bilson)'s own father figure issues, but I did not like her threatening to change her name. First of all, with all the paperwork you have to go through, it's not worth it; she'll never finish the process. For another, I don't need another show whose title doesn't fit past the first season! Nevertheless, the writers are doing a good job, just when the majority of the audience is Team Wade, on showing just how similar Zoe and George are and why they might make a nice match. George may be even more damaged by his father's disappointments than Zoe. After all, her disappointments are a bit more recent; his have been on-going since his youth.
To learn his dad is proud now and yada yada yada? I don't know; I think it's too little too late (and maybe more for himself, taking credit and feeding his own ego, than George anyway)-- kind of like how I feel Zoe's dad throwing her a bone by doing the surgery is too little too late (and more for himself and his prestige anyway). And the Team George stuff is too little too late. Personally I still believe she should be with Wade (Wilson Bethel), but I see the merit in giving it a go with George before she commits to that. Also, I just can't with Magnolia (Claudia Lee)'s crush on Wade. It is too adorable for words. Perhaps even as adorable as Wade's "I love you, man" speech (to be clear, I would have preferred he serenaded his buddy, though) or somewhat self-deprecating self-analyzation. Justifiable and honestly quite clever-- they do have the interest in music that bonds them, even if he isn't trashy enough (as many might assume) to take an underage girl up on her flirtation). Things seem to be moving faster on this show these days-- even with Lavon coming clean about his feelings and prior relationship with Lemon (even if his convo with Zoe was oddly reminiscent of "They don't know we know they know we know!"). That's something that could have been dragged out for seasons just to add to the triangle tension. Hell, other shows on the same network probably would still drag it out. Earlier in the season the lead up to such a town event as the MOTY would have been all episode long, too. I'm glad the pace has been picked up, even though I'm a little confused by the chronology here tonight: Magnolia and Wade were still planning their song for the MOTY after Zoe gave her speech about him. So was it just a two-part event? A pre-event before the main one? That's all kinds of kooky!

The Lying Game (ABC Family, 9pm) - S1, Ep19: "Weekend of Living Dangerously" - I guess it's a damn good thing Emma (Alexandra Chando) has a friend like Mads (Alice Greczyn), huh? Because without her Emma would just be passively flitting through Sutton's life. It's just a shame the writers didn't want to organically deliver the Ethan (Blair Redford) confrontation now, rather than force it at the eleventh hour in the season finale, though, because I didn't for one second Emma would get her backbone to come clean to Ted (Andy Buckley) and Kristen (Helen Slater)-- especially with their recent implying-divorce fighting-- before she got her backbone with Ethan. Well, okay, it wasn't Emma who needed the backbone here; it was Ethan. Just be a damn man, Ethan! I'm with Sutton: it shouldn't take you guys so long to figure things out. And poor Kristen. Her instincts may be right, but they're certainly decades too late. She's another one who needed more of a backbone because she accepted Ted's story a little too easily. That "very special moment" music in the scene with Ted and Alec (Adrian Pasdar) said it all: those two are skeevy schemers who scheme! Maybe they deserve Rebecca (Charisma Carpenter). And maybe she deserves them. I once thought she may have been assaulted, resulting in the child-bearing of the twins, but...holding onto that belief is just icky seeing her more recent behavior. There are a lot of flawed women on television these days, but that's just pushing it. I now believe she's some creepy stalker who slept with Alec's best friend to get close to Alec, and accidentally got knocked up. Yes, I saw the locket, but it was way too conveniently left out for anyone who would be snooping. I feel like it was a decoy. Though I'm still baffled by Pasdar letting something slip way back at TCA that Alec may be the father of the twins. That would only work if I was blatantly wrong about which guy she was in love with but right about the fact that she's using the BFF to get to him. Regardless, the whole thing just made me yell "Wear a condom!" at Ethan. Seriously, that boy has nice hair that a little kid should inherit someday but that day is not today-- not while she is still lying about who she is and he's one broken taillight away from being hauled off to jail again. He's the boy with the worst timing anyway. Oh, and this is apropos of nothing, but I feel compelled to point out: daylight in the cabin is lit like a terrible sitcom. "Oh, you crazy twin!"

(ABC, 10pm) - S4, Ep17: "Once Upon A Crime" - I feel like this episode was the writers taking out their anger that a stylized show like Once Upon A Time got so much early press this season. I mean, how else do you explain them killing off two of their key characters within the first ten minutes? Only to follow with a ticking clock over a third's life? I mean, there's something to be said for life imitating art, and fairy-tales are so in right now that a real life psychopath could get ideas about dressing up and/or killing young women like their once-favorite Disney princesses. It's a grim outlook (heh), but it's possible. That being said, I genuinely enjoyed it nonetheless. It was kitschy and fun and for once gave Castle (Nathan Fillion) a legitimate reason to be able to solve the case: because these murders, in their essence, were literary. Of course, the one time that would fit, he solves it on a visual clue anyway. Maybe he should look into Script Supervising... Though, the parallels to his mother (Susan Sullivan)'s own literary aspirations flowed nicely, as well. I did love Ryan (Seamus Dever)'s aversion to dolls here, too. It was such a small moment, but so perfect. And of course, the fact that it was oddly reminiscent of Dean Winchester (Supernatural) freaking out over the snakes in "Yellow Fever" didn't hurt! Yet, it was a little more understandable. Those dolls have dead eyes! I didn't love that Taylor Kinney was so unnecessary (of course, I wouldn't have liked it if he was so obviously the killer, ala Mickey in Scream 2 either). Blackmail is barely anything in a procedural, and a narrowly-escaped-victim is never just a lucky break.

Hawaii Five-0
(CBS, 10pm) - S2, Ep18: "Lekio" - It's always the husband! And I just have to say, pulling a Heartbreakers was not cool, show! But what *was* abundantly cool was utilizing James Caan as a spunky ex-cop to give the young guns a hard time. Calling his son "Hairdo" must have given him an extra tickle. But overall, his hard-nosed, old-fashioned gumshoe ways were skills that the Five-0 team could probably utilize again in the future-- more than just for his "marriage counseling." It's a good thing he's still on the island. And perhaps intrigued enough by their computer system to learn technology more advanced than a six-shooter. I liked his grouchy old man energy, but I liked that he introduced McGarrett (Alex O'Loughlin) to Original Ray's even more. It made Danny (Scott Caan)'s own grumpy old-young man energy pop that much more. He's not too far behind, the way he told his daughter her little friend was a demon child.

Smash (NBC, 10pm) - S1, Ep4: "The Cost of Art" - My in-depth analysis can be found here.

'Smash's' "Cost of Art" & An Open Letter To Julia Houston...

Dearest Julia:

Have I told you lately that I love you? Because I do. I love your big sweaters. I love your Muppet fur vest. I love your enthusiasm, even decades into your artistic career. I love your integrity; though you feel a pull to "the one that could have been," you fight it to not be a stereotype (though I'm sure that is only temporary). I love your ability to see talent, regardless of name or face recognition (or lack thereof). I love that you are so blatantly Team Karen. I love how you speak in seemingly idealistic and therefore inspiring terms about this industry (I want to believe the audience likes a coherent book, but I don't know, have you seen glee's ratings!?). I love your modern-day Will & Grace friendship with Tom. I love you; I love your work; I love you and your work.

I also love the attraction between Julia (Debra Messing) and Michael (Will Chase). Honestly, when he kept stealing little glances at her while singing, I forgot he was married. I focused on the chemistry they both so clearly have. When he came running to the party, no questions asked, just because it was she who called-- and then he got there only to realize his place was to perform in the background and therefore he wasn't really needed-- I remembered he was married, but I didn't care. I didn't care as much as he didn't seem to because all that seemed important was that he and Julia spend time together. They have a lot of catching up to do. They clearly are the ones who got away from each other-- or the ones they forced away due to timing and circumstance. But their chemistry is palpable.

Julia-- and Messing-- is so light and airy in Smash. She's a woman clearly under a lot of stress, but she manages to find the fun and the quirk to her crazy life and business nonetheless. She only tenses up around Michael right now because she's forcing herself to keep a distance and limit her reaction to seeing him. There was a brief moment of pure joy with Michael at the party, in part from the high of performing and seeing her original song so well received so early in its inception, but she shut it down quickly, ever the professional. I personally can't wait until she cracks and just gives into her instincts to be with him, though.

Is it a titular "Cost of Art" that Julia will end up falling into bed with her leading man, thereby threatening her happy home life as it were? I don't believe so. I believe this show is doing a spectacular job at setting up their deep-rooted feelings for each other that they've each tried to bury out of professionalism and morality. It's not just the case of "everybody sleeps together" to take community to a whole other level in the theater world.

...Though it definitely appeared like everybody sleeps with Derek (Jack Davenport). As a straight man in theater, he is in the minority as it is, and as a good-looking and powerful straight man in theater, he is quite the catch. He knows it, and he uses it to his advantage. Every time someone mentioned Ivy (Megan Hilty) sleeping with him, I found myself wondering why they follow-up commentary wasn't "I could have slept with him, too." And not just from Karen (Katharine McPhee). Let's face it; they all could have slept with him. Because I don't for one second believe Derek hasn't used his casting couch before-- even if "just" to put a girl in the ensemble. But by the surprising amount of judgment already directed Ivy's way, even if someone else in that company had slept with him in the past, they'd be dumb to admit it. Karen certainly won friends fast by showing that she stood up for her morals, as fleeting as they may be in this industry. It was nice to see her embraced for that, rather than mocked or disbelieved.

However, I hated that Karen (Katharine McPhee) had to learn how to tone herself down-- and how willing she was to at that-- in this episode. As the great saying (from What A Girl Wants) goes: "Why are you trying so hard to fit in when you were born to stand out?" The point of star quality is that when you have it, you shine on your own. There are literally thousands of men and women who would kill to have what Karen does innately. To subdue it is unnatural but also just kind of depressing. She shouldn't have pointed that out to Dev but to Derek. It's basically like asking someone to water his or herself down and conform. Karen doesn't need to dumb herself down to blend; she needs to find a role-- and the powers that be-- that will let her shine. I believe Julia is that power that will. It's just a matter of time.

It didn't bother me that Ivy was pointing out Karen's shortcomings at this point. Sure, it got Karen bumped to the back row and then out of the number for a time being, but that just helped her gain points with her fellow ensemble-ers. The world of theater can be so cutthroat, but I believe these ensemble players when they embrace Karen and teach her how to be one of them. Ivy calling her out humbled her; it showed them that she was just like them, all trying to make a living doing what they loved. She wasn't being a diva or being carried up the fame ladder. Besides, ensembles often become like family because they're in the trenches together. Additionally, all of the things Ivy pointed out about Karen were fixable-- and Karen did so almost immediately. So soon if Ivy doesn't stop worrying about what those around her are doing and worry about stepping up her own game, she'll have nothing to complain about, and Derek and even Tom will have to take notice of what she is doing that's lackluster. Because already in this episode there were some gaps in her abilities. Being so easily distracted-- even if she was just playing it up to call out Karen-- is one. Not being able to keep up with the intensity of the song is another. Remember when I said this was Ivy's part to lose? It looks like her unraveling may be occurring sooner-- and without real personal provocation-- than I ever expected.

Technical point of contention: just last episode a character was chastised for saying "chorus" instead of ensemble (it proved the amateur we were dealing with), and yet in this episode, everyone in the actual ensemble to Queen Ivy herself dropped the term. I kept waiting for Karen to stand up and correct someone, but she never did. Maybe it's because she's about making friends in this company, not isolating herself, as unfortunately it seems Ivy is setting out to do, even if unintentionally, but really I think it was just an oversight on the consultants' and/or Scripty's part.

Also, can we talk about Lyle (Nick Jonas) for a second? I mean, what kind of a narcissist performs at his own birthday party? Birthday parties, as they are, are all about "look at me, love me, shower presents down upon me!" He can't successfully claim to just want to hang out with his friends when he literally sat in the center of the room at an imposing piano and sang at the top of one's lungs. I don't care how talented you may be, past the age of six or seven, that shit's just not cute. Nor was Ivy's cougar-eyes devouring him. Ivy should be a cougar by no one's standards, but this one is literally a child. So unless she's going to pull him into the bedroom for an Easy A fake-out, it's just not okay that she'd consider sleeping with him. This smarmy kid owning a piece of "Marilyn" worries me. He is too young and already too entitled, and if he is coming with the big bucks, the usually strong Eileen (Anjelica Huston) may find herself having to kowtow to what he wants. And what if what he wants is a part within the show!? Can he pull off a man as complicated as JFK or Arthur Miller or even Clark Gable? Not organically. It'd be like Vanessa Hudgens in the role of Mimi Marquez! ...Oh wait; I guess we just found the true "Cost of Art."

My minor nitpicks aside, though, this episode is Smash. It is the show as it always should be-- that toe-tapping, tingling excited feeling while watching that doesn't dissipate with the end credits. I want to live in it. I want to play with these people and work in the arts in the same way as they are. I don't know how you can top this, but I'm somehow sure they will manage it next week. And then next and next and next.

From LA Examiner: Claudia Lee Sings on 'Hart of Dixie'; Preview 'Parenthood's' Wedding...

"Claudia Lee on “Here Right Now” & bringing her musical talents to Hart of Dixie"

The last time we chatted with Claudia Lee, she told us she’d love to be able to bring her musical talents to her Hart of Dixie character, Magnolia Breeland, and wouldn’t you know it? Just a few months later, that’s exactly what’s happening. “Tributes & Triangles” will feature Magnolia and Lee belting out their big guns when Wade (Wilson Bethel) writes a tribute number for George (Scott Porter), who has been voted “Man of the Year” by Bluebell. Lee, who is currently shooting another upcoming episode of Hart of Dixie, took some time with us once again to chat about the episode, evolution of her character, and her brand new, studio-length album... [MORE]

"PHOTO PREVIEW: Parenthood plans a wedding in its third season finale"

The third season finale of Parenthood is not going out quietly. Though the peacock network has not yet decided on its fate for a fourth season, and though showrunner Jason Katims is currently working on another pilot-- this time a medical drama titled County, Parenthood is using its season finale to launch a whole new line of potential story-telling, rather than wrapping up the lives of the Bravermans. And honestly, we wouldn't want it any other way... [MORE]

If I Were A Network Executive (Chapter One)...

It's that time of year where television networks are casting pilots that they hope to potentially pick up to series for the next season. They are hanging their ratings hopes-- and a whole lot of cash-- on attaching well-loved, even if not entirely well-recognized, names and faces to these brand new babies, knowing that with the right village doing the child-rearing, the little pilot that could may just turn into a bonafide hit.

Or at least that was once the case in the days of appointment television, which these days, technology has rendered antiquated. It's a shame because the quality of television programming has only gotten exponentially better in recent years, but because no one "has" to tune in to catch the episode live, very few choose to watch that way, making the medium as a whole appear to be on a downward slope. But my thoughts on appointment viewing really could fill a whole entry in and of itself, and today I am here to talk to you about pilot season scheduling. Because as I have been reading through the scripts that were picked up to pilot production-- and then reading about the lucky (or not, depending on what you think of said scripts) actors cast in the roles, I have been playing a dangerous, dangerous game in my mind: a game of What Shows I'd Like To See On My Fall 2012 Schedule. And it is a game sure to end in heartbreak for me. Even if some of my favorite pilots (at least, thus far on paper) do get picked up, it may mean the demise of a current low-rated favorite. So with a somewhat hesitant hand, I type for you my favorites from this pilot season so far.*

  • American Judy (ABC, would make a nice 8:30pm fit after Suburgatory, which I'd like to see moved into The Middle's current time slot) - Premise: A cosmopolitan woman (Judy Greer) gets married, becomes a fish out of water in the suburbs having to juggle step-kids, her mother-in-law (Mimi Kennedy), and the ex wife of her husband, who also happens to be the town sheriff (Elaine Hendrix). My thoughts: I will watch Greer in anything, and I still lament the loss of Miss/Guided, but rounding the cast out already with such fine additional females proves that ABC's comedy block is looking to take on the cattiness of Desperate Housewives and GCB, too.
  • 666 Park Avenue (ABC, would fit nicely after The River, assuming that survives its first season) - Premise: When a young couple (Dave Annable and a TBA woman) accepts an offer to manage one of the most historic apartment buildings in New York City, they unwittingly begin to experience supernatural occurrences, which complicate and endanger the lives of everyone in the building. Terry O'Quinn also stars. Thoughts: This certainly sounds like a toned-down American Horror Story, which may end up meaning a more coherent American Horror Story, which is something I would love to see done on television, presuming it's about drawing out and preying on the fears and neuroses of the characters, rather than just flashing grotesque images at them, and the audience in turn. Psychological horror has always been my favorite kind of horror, and I know O'Quinn can pull off just the right kind of suspicious and creepy! Maybe they'll even give him a scar over the eye for nostalgia (and mystery)'s sake.
  • Gilded Lilys (ABC, I honestly have no idea how to make this one fit since their previous period piece bombed) - Premise: Revolves around the opening of the first luxury hotel in New York in 1895 and the intermingling of love, treachery and disdain between the classes set against a backdrop of vicious family rivalries, scandalous secrets and conflict and co-mingling of the classes. Thoughts: Sounds like a soapy Downton Abbey to me! That is meant to be a compliment. Adding in the relationship drama makes such a reach back in time much more accessible and appealing to those of us who like trying to find something to relate to in our entertainment.
  • Untitled Louis C.K. (CBS, would love to see it tackle the tough Thursdays at 8:30pm slot) - Premise: An ensemble comedy revolving around young people as they try to achieve their creative dreams in these tough financial times. Thoughts: On paper, this one doesn't necessarily seem right for me when looking at format (multi-camera? I usually pass), but things can change, and with Louis C.K.'s sensibility, I would hope they might take into consideration how to best utilize his snark. But beyond that, the premise just resonated with me because it's exactly what I struggle with, and I trust Louis C.K. to not water down or artificially sweeten the outlook of things really at all.
  • Cult (The CW, Tuesdays at 9pm would be a nice fit, countering ABC's The River) - Premise: An inquisitive, young female production assistant on a wildly popular television show joins a journalist blogger in investigating the show's rabid fans. Together, the duo finds the fans might be recreating crime scenes from the show in their real lives-- behavior that has lead to a rash of disappearances and a likely murder. Thoughts: I'll forgive this show for stealing Jessica Lucas from my own pilot because it's just that interesting. The idea of diving into a "crazy" fandom, only to realize that the fans know more about what's going on that those who work on the show, is meta on its own, but here it's sinister and amazing on a different level. How much is real? That's what I would look forward to learning week to week!
  • The Selection (The CW, can we FINALLY create original programming at 10pm? Because this might be paired nicely with Cult) - Premise: Based on the forthcoming series of books by Kiera Cass, The Selection is an epic romance set 300 years in the future which centers on a poor young woman who is chosen by lottery to participate in a competition to become the next queen of a war-torn nation at a crossroads. Thoughts: Aimee Teegarden would have made a somewhat subdued Katniss, and that is exactly what we seem to be getting here. I'm all for watching that play out on-screen, assuming the romance angle here won't go the same was as Katniss/Peeta in The Hunger Games. I still find that anti-feminist, and The CW really doesn't need to be brought under fire for such ideas.
  • Let It Go (FOX, would work with Raising Hope on Tuesdays) - Premise: Ensemble comedy about a married couple, his best friend, and her sister as they try to navigate, negotiate and sometimes manipulate society's unspoken rules. Thoughts: Zachary Levi was perfectly cast as the dad here because as much as I hate voice-over, I heard his voice reading it in this script, and it just fit (and made me hate voice-over a little less). I admit I didn't laugh until the third act, but it's a charming Traffic Light with kids type of piece. I wish Tyler Labine had been cast in this one.
  • Untitled Kevin Williamson Serial Killer Drama (FOX, anytime, anywhere, but honestly should be on FX) - Premise: A thriller revolving around a diabolical serial killer (James Purefoy) who uses technology to create a cult of serial killers and the FBI agent (Kevin Bacon) who finds himself in the middle of it. Thoughts: This is a cable drama that could too-easily be dumbed down for the procedural audience if Williamson's not careful! But seriously, it is a story I wrote about five years ago, from the female perspective. I followed dual characters, too, a serial killer and the detective tracking her, in order to show just how close a person can be to snapping, and how close two sides of a coin can be to each other. I want to hug this one. It's like what would have happened if Sidney Prescott never killed Billy Loomis and he had gone on to hone his skills.
  • Animal Kingdom (NBC, ??) - Premise: An office comedy revolving around a House-like veterinarian (Justin Kirk) who loves animals but typically hates their owners. Thoughts: I'll admit it: I didn't get to read this one yet. But the premise sounds like it's written about the male me, so...I'm in!
  • Friday Night Dinner (NBC, should actually air on Friday nights, probably at 8pm) - Premise: An adaptation of the British series that revolves around the Goodmans (Tony Shaloub and Allison Janney), a traditional Jewish family as they observe Shabbat dinners in which twenty-something brothers Adam and Jonny visit their parents. Thoughts: I'm a fan of the original series and normally wouldn't want to see a remake, but it's so hard for me to get my hands on the original, and I love Janney's off-beat brand of humor so much, I have high hopes for this one.
  • Lady Friends (NBC, hopefully Wednesday nights instead of Whitney or Chelsea, paired with the return of Up All Night) - Premise: Two friends, Nicole and Jen (Andrea Anders and Rachel Dratch), who lead vastly different lives. Nicole has a perfect family and trouble-free pregnancy; while Jen has a strained relationship with her family, trouble with men and gained weight while on a diet. Thoughts: This comes from Kari Lizer, whom I just adore, and it sounds like Baby Mama without the actual pregnancy. NBC is all gung-ho about presenting a block of funny females, and this is one that actually made me laugh.
  • Untitled Hilary Winston (NBC, hopefully Wednesday nights on a new funny female block) - Premise: A shy and focused woman leans on her co-workers in a bid to come out of her shell and plot revenge after being dumped by her fiancé (Kyle Howard). Thoughts: First of all, Hilary Winston = comedy gold. Her memoir, My Boyfriend Wrote A Book About Me, is so candid and naturally funny that I'm glad certain passages were lifted and adapted for this pilot script. Second of all, Howard's voice was the one who came to me when reading the role of the fiance, a take on his Friends stoner student character, so the casting just seemed perfect. Bonus? There's a golf-cart chase in the script!
  • Bad Girls (NBC, any evening at 10pm except Monday or Tuesday because I want those to belong to Smash and Parenthood for the forseeable future, respectively) - Premise: Adapted from the long-running U.K. series, follows the ins and outs of a group of unlikely women in a federal prison: a scandalous female warden, her new protégé and a host of inmates-- some mothers, some friends-- who struggle with loyalties to people on the inside and outside. Thoughts: John Wells, will you marry me? This should be like Oz with women, but it's going to NBC, not Showtime, so I do have slight fears it may turn into GCB behind bars. I sincerely hope not, and I have enough faith in Wells and his writer Nancy Pimenthal to think this one will play by their rules, not some network formula's. This was one of only three scripts I could not put down and actively reached for more once I had finished with the pilot.
  • Beautiful People (NBC, honestly I think this would work best as an original made-for-TV movie; I don't know how it can sustain week-to-week without becoming melodramatic) - Premise: An imaginative and thematically rich ensemble "what-if" drama set 10 minutes in the future where families of mechanical human beings exist to service the human population-- until some of the mechanicals begin to "awaken." Thoughts: Just like Touch before it, this slightly fantastical world was extremely beautifully (no pun intended) imagined. But the idea that these machines may be broken because they start to exhibit human feelings? Well, it just seems to set up intermingling between the robots and the people, and I don't know (but am intrigued to find out) how that can work long-term.
  • Chicago Fire (NBC, maybe Thursdays at 10pm?) - Premise: Action-driven drama exploring the complex and heroic men and women of the Chicago Fire Department. Thoughts: It's like Southland but with firefighters and Taylor Kinney. HOT.
  • Midnight Sun (NBC, uh, Thursdays at 10pm?) - Premise: A thriller in which a female FBI cult specialist begins to investigate the mysterious disappearance of a group commune in Alaska who uncovers a larger conspiracy in the process. Thought: The high-concept and methodical nature reminds me a bit of The Killing, but admittedly I want to reserve full judgement until I learn who gets the main role.

Admittedly, there are a number of shows I want to like but am on the fence about based on current casting (hey, things can still change!) or fear that original idea will be molded to fit a network's already existing brand, thereby eliminating the elements I actually like about it. But as I make it policy not to review pilot scripts, you will have to wait until shows get picked up to know which those may be!

Thanks to The Hollywood Reporter for providing concise loglines. Trying to write summaries at this stage myself always produces books instead of teases.

*I reserve the right to change my mind once later casting announcements have been made and/or upon seeing completed filmed pilot. Execution really can change oh, so much!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Define "Good"...

Serious point of contention:

A lot of fans get upset at their so-called favorite show if they do not consider every episode to live up to their expectations of perfection. But my question is how many episodes can be considered "just" good versus great, let alone revolutionary/groundbreaking/amazing before you call it and give up on the show? Most fans will not give up on the show at all; they'll continue to watch, always lamenting how far its fallen. But for me it's a percentage thing-- a numbers game. If a show only produces ten or twelve or thirteen episodes per season, ala the cable model, shouldn't we hold that shorter order up to higher standards, given they have more time to develop and flesh out characters and arcs than an insanely packed twenty-two (or twenty-four) episode network season during which writers easily get burnt out and stretched too thin?

It's a seriously question. Writing in general is emotionally taxing; writing for television is even harder core. So how much slack do you cut your favorite shows? And which shows have you given up on because they didn't live up to early expectations?

Friday, February 24, 2012

From LA Examiner: 'Fringe' and 'GCB' Previews; WB WonderCon Panels Announced...

"Danielle Dishes (with a little help from Fringe EPs): "The End of All Things"

Last week's Fringe introduced a mega plot twist when it revealed Olivia (Anna Torv) to suddenly have all of the memories of Peter (Joshua Jackson)'s Olivia. They started out somewhat gradual, coming back in a dose of a case that the Walter (John Noble) and Astrid (Jasika Nicole) around her had not actually worked, but it culminated in actually feeling the emotions of the relationship with Peter. Before things could go too far, though, she disappeared, and "The End of All Things" picks up with Peter searching to bring her home-- to this home, as well as the reveal of who took her without getting the full scope of the why... [MORE]

"Mid-Season Preview: ABC's GCB"

This may be the only time we ever advise you in such a way, but if you’re interested in the high-society story told in GCB, skip the novel and dive straight into ABC’s delicious new drama. Though the opening moments of the pilot episode provide salaciousness through a philandering, thieving husband (the blink-and-you-sadly-miss-him Greg Vaughan), what unfolds after is actually a tale of one woman’s attempt at redemption-- with its roots deep in Southern hospitality, as well as religion-- and surrounded by a group of women who never quite moved on from those sophomoric days. Yes, GCB is campy at times, and no, it is not revolutionary in premise nor big, bold statement, but it is devilishly fun nonetheless... [MORE]

"WonderCon comes to Anaheim with WB's Alcatraz, Fringe, etc"

WonderCon has been moved to Anaheim CA this year, and though the event isn't until March 2012, the line-up is being slowly unveiled. Today we have confirmation on which Warner Brothers television properties will be screening and providing panels for fans who come out to the three-day long event: Alcatraz, Fringe, DC Nation, The Secret Circle, and Person of Interest! ... [MORE]

"Fringe's Blair Brown Q&A: Introducing "Meana" & more, post "End of All Things"

The February 24th episode of Fringe was its last for a few weeks, but with its in-depth introduction of a new Nina (Blair Brown) and reveal that Robert David Jones (Jared Harris) can move between worlds freely, and without being taken down by mere bullets, "The End of All Things" ended with a big question mark hanging over it. And without a new episode until late March, that kind of intrigue and mystery can be torturous. Thankfully, though, we had a chance to catch Brown over the phone to get her take on what we saw, and what we will (eventually) see... [MORE]

Did Oprah Shut Down Maya Rudolph's Latest 'SNL' Sketch?...

In my opinion, if Maya Rudolph was going to retire her Whitney Houston for her return to SNL, she should have pulled out Oprah on-air. Her version was the most I've ever liked Oprah; it's what should be dominating airwaves. And it got so many laughs in dress rehearsal (especially by those at the Update desk with her), I can't imagine why it never made it to the actual show.

I'm inclined to blame the real Winfrey, though. Her mafia is everywhere!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Cutting Room Floor Commentary: Christine Lakin Reflects On '80s TV and Celebrity Crushes...

I am a child of the '90s. So when a recent assignment for Snakkle TV put me on the phone with Christine Lakin of Step by Step fame (and only a month after meeting Patrick Duffy at the TCAs!), a little part of me had to stop from singing the theme song all day leading up to the interview. Snakkle is a "Before they were stars" and "Where are they now?" site geared entirely for the fans. While they rely on witty commentary on yearbook photos and old screen tests and regional commercials, they are never mean about the subjects they profile. It is the type of site I would have killed to read as a kid (you know, if the internet was as developed as it is now when I was a kid), so working there is an honor. And chatting with Lakin was, as well. Some former child stars don't like to talk about the work that made them a household name. I get that-- to a degree. Past work is past work, and if you exist solely on it, you will dry up fast in this town. Lakin has been working steadily as an actress and also a producer since her days as a teen TGIF star, but she is also smart enough not to bite the hand that fed her. She knows just how crazy a dream she has gotten to live out, and she's happy to talk about it (don't believe me? Just read her Twitter bio). But perhaps most importantly, she never begrudges fans their freak-out moments because she, too, has had her own. She literally grew up on television, but she grew up with it, too. In this installment of "Cutting Room Floor Commentary" from my Snakkle feature about her new project Worst Audition Ever, Lakin and I talk about interactions with fans, the shows whose fan clubs she would have joined, and who her celebrity crushes in the '80s and '90s were.

: When Step by Step ended, because it was on for so long, you didn't look that different from how you look now. So do people still come up to you a lot, referencing the show and recognizing you from Step by Step versus what you've worked on since?

Christine Lakin: It's funny, you know, not really. I think people of a certain age do. There's a whole set of people who are slightly younger than me that really remember the show and know me from that. You know, I can't say that people are coming up to me 'Oh my God, Step by Step, I loved that show!' But it inevitably comes up, like, for instance if I hang out with a new group of people-- it inevitably comes up that someone will say to me 'I don't mean to embarrass you or anything, but my friend, she loves Step by Step.' I just think it's great. I think it's super flattering, and I think it's great that people who watched it, it obviously impacted their childhood, and I get it because I have those shows, too. It was a time in television that we don't really see often anymore and that I think was really cool-- a kind of family. I'm proud to be a part of it.

D: You just mentioned the shows that you were so invested in-- what were some of those?

C.L.: Oh God, The Wonder Years! That was huge for me. You know, Growing Pains was one. Full House, to a degree. Perfect Strangers-- I actually really loved the Friday night TV so when I found out that the show was going to be on Friday nights, I was like 'I have made it!' You would have thought I was going to Broadway. It was literally the greatest thing to ever happen in my life because it was everything I grew up with. But you know, I grew up with Carol Burnett and The Cosby Show and stuff like Mr. Belvedere and Family Ties. I was a product of all of those shows. I watched a lot of TV as a kid, and specifically sitcoms. Nickelodeon, You Can't Do That on Television, Saved By The Bell--

D: I do think it's funny, then, that what helped you get the part was crying on camera. You ended up on a show that was not a serious drama, and all of your influences were comedic anyway.

C.L.: I actually had another monologue. It was one that was funny or whatever, but I filmed it in Atlanta, and it wasn't of the quality-- it was just my mom filming me with a video camera; I probably looked like I was in some kind of jail cell! So they wanted to get something that was really great quality, and I think they wanted the dramatic one just so I'd have it. That way I'd have the funny one and the one that's more dramatic, but yeah, it's very odd that that would be the thing that the producer would see.

D: But if you can do that-- if you can cry on cue like that I'm pretty sure he felt your range would be wide enough for him.

C.L.: Yeah, kid actor tricks! [Laughs]

D: When the show was on, you guys were all over the cover of magazines, and I'll admit that growing up that was my thing-- I was a big Teen Beat, Bop, whatever--

C.L.: Seventeen.

D: Yeah, let's rip out the photos of the cute boys and wallpaper my room. So I have to ask: who was your celebrity crush growing up?

C.L.: Okay, get ready for this--

D: Uh oh.

C.L.: I have notes, literally--

D: Still?

C.L.: Yeah, that I sent my girlfriends in, like, fifth grade talking about my TV crushes. You're going to die. Neil Patrick Harris.

D: Nice!

C.L.: Mmm-hmm. Probably didn't really realize because he didn't know at the time, but definitely he would not have been looking for someone like me. But I thought he was so cute! And also, Fred Savage. Just because of The Wonder Years. And of course Michael J. Fox because I always seemed to like the funny, little, cute, witty thing. I loved that. Which is so weird. But then I remember meeting [Jeremy] Jackson from Baywatch, and I had a total crush on him! We met at some event, and I have this picture with him, and I would, like, salivate over him. I have an old picture with Zachary Ty Bryan-- again, you'd meet these people at, you know, charity events or wherever it was. I was thirteen, crushing on boys, so they were definitely some of my big ones. But it's funny because I had this crush on Fred Savage, and years later he's directing now and a producer, and I was up in Vancouver filming, and he was filming something else, and we ended up getting together with a mutual group of people to watch the Emmys or whatever. And I know Danica-- I know people that know him-- and we had met a couple of times before, but now we were adults, and we were watching the Emmys, and I was just laughing to myself. I was like 'Oh my God, if I could have told eleven year-old me what would happen, I probably would have wet my pants back then!' You know?

Oh, I know all too well! But I did find it refreshing that celebrities really are just like us and can still get excited over things in this industry, too-- no matter how long they've been here.