Monday, December 31, 2012

2012: A Year in (Photo) Review...

Jumping on the "Shit People Say..." bandwagon (January 2012)

Fun on the set of Community (February 2012)

A trip to Hogwart's! (February 2012)

IBG's Annual Wine Tasting (February 2012)

PaleyFest fun (pictured: Once Upon A Time) (March 2012)

An evening with Homeland (March 2012)

Warner Brothers opens their Paley Center exhibit (April 2012)

The Christensen-Daley wedding in Boston (May 2012)

"Six Seasons and a Movie" art show (June 2012)

Best. Birthday Card. Ever! (June 2012)

"My Letter to Fear" stage production (June 2012)

I finally met Crystal the Monkey! (July 2012)

Summer TCA (July - August 2012)

 I finally met Jonathan Jackson! (July 2012)

 Madison refused to learn to swim (August 2012)

 Joined Celebuzz as a freelancer (August 2012)

Madison attended his first Hollywood party (September 2012)

Vancouver Diaries 2 (September 2012)

Return to Vancouver-- with avengeance (November 2012)

Christmas card photo shoot (sorry I never sent these) (November 2012)

 Cougar Town celebration at Gray's Pub (November 2012)

 Holidays 2012

Friday, December 28, 2012

From LA Examiner: Advance Reviews for 'Switched at Birth', 'Bunheads', & 'The Lying Game'...

After a record-length first season, some shows would need to take a breather, step back and deliver at least one simple, low-key episode in which its characters adjusted to all they just went through. Not Switched at Birth, though! The second season premiere, “The Door to Freedom” snaps the Vasquez and Kennish family right into a whole new set of problems, and in a role reversal of sorts, this time around it is Bay (Vanessa Marano) who is thriving, while Daphne (Katie Leclerc) is heartbroken, struggling to find her way, and hurting other in the process. In a way that still stays true to the characters’ personalities as we know them to be, Lizzy Weiss and her writers room have crafted a whole new set of issues to allow the actors to run the gambit of emotions and show off their range... [MORE

We didn’t realize how much we missed Bunheads in its hiatus until we screened the winter premiere and found ourselves laughing out-loud at key lines and clapping with glee over the amount of detail of every little thing that Amy Sherman-Palladino packs into her simple, hour-long episodes. No show on television has as much texture as Bunheads; aside from the talented actors and beautiful dance numbers, the sets themselves are chock full of quirky little tidbits and surprises. “Do You Wanna See Something?” had so many, it was the perfect way to invite us back into the world of Paradise, California, and remind us we weren’t really gone all that long anyway... [MORE

When The Lying Game went on hiatus a few months ago, it went out with a double cliffhanger: even if you saw Rebecca (Charisma Carpenter) being revealed as the twins’ birthmother coming (come on, the resemblance was just uncanny!), did you really assume Sutton (Alexandra Chando) was that devious to be working with her, using her twin sister Emma (Chando) as a pawn in their schemes? And then there was the case of Alec (Adrian Pasdar) being arrested for murder—at his own wedding. Yes, The Lying Game certainly left fans wanting more, but as the winter premiere indicates, you’re going to have to keep waiting. Little bits are revealed, but new questions and secrets rise to the surface—and then there’s always the good ole “can we even trust what we’ve just been told” paranoia aspect that sets in, considering Sutton as a source... [MORE]

Thursday, December 27, 2012

From LA Examiner: Season Premiere Photos from 'Cougar Town' and 'Dallas'...

Are we the only ones sitting around, waiting for the cul-de-sac crew to be back in our lives? It's gotten so bad over here, we're using our Penny Can to hold Christmas cookies! But in just two weeks we'll be able to blow the extra powdered sugar off the can and get to tossing copper again, because Cougar Town season four is finally premiering on TBS! ... [MORE]

It's going to be a bittersweet start to what was initially a much anticipated second season for TNT's Dallas, now knowing that J.R. Ewing (Larry Hagman) isn't going to survive the year. But before we get to the doom, gloom, and abundant tears, there will be ample backstabbing-- within the Ewing family, as well as from new threats just outside... [MORE]

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

2012 TV Year In Review...

The year is officially winding down, so that automatically means it's time for a 2012 Year in Review compilation. Rather than just compile a straight list of what I consider the best quality programming of the calendar year, though, I went ahead and created fun "Best of" categories-- some I guarantee you won't see listed on any other sites!-- in order to spotlight some shows I personally love but otherwise may not get too much critical acclaim.

  • Best TV Surprise - Arrow (The CW) - I am still a relatively new convert to genre programming in general, but the suspension of disbelief with Arrow hasn't had to be as great as initially expected because the writers and producers have taken great care to keep the story-- and our hero-- grounded in (a dark) reality. It has been great to watch the story unfold both externally with villains to physically take on every week, as well as internally, as Oliver (Stephen Amell) has to grapple with new discoveries about those he thought he knew so well. Arrow also wins "Best Abs"-- but that's more for Amell, not the show itself.
  • Best TV Comeback - Dexter (SHO) - The final few minutes of season six promised so much, but only season seven truly redeemed the show after a lackluster turn to religion the previous year. Having Debra (Jennifer Carpenter) learn Dexter's (Michael C. Hall) true nature was only the tip of the iceberg, as this season Dexter had to come to terms with his Dark Passenger as a part of himself, finding a true love and equal match only to have to choose between her and his sister, and the deaths of two characters we had been waiting for, for varying lengths. This is one show that found its passion again and went out with a bang every week.
  • Best TV Thriller - Homeland (SHO) - Say what you will about the implausibility of some of the occurrences in the later episodes-- I certainly have some complaints with new "good guy" Brody (Damian Lewis)-- but the one thing this show consistently does amazingly that no other show on television even comes close to matching is create a level of tension and sense of paranoia that really earns it the title of "Best Reason We All Need Free Healthcare." My heart pounds every week, and I'm so invested in what's currently happening on-screen at the moment, I don't have time to nitpick or second guess or try to think ahead until after each hour is over. That kind of commanding of attention in today's ADD world is extremely rare and therefore worthy of celebration all on its own.
  • Best Show We're Probably Too Old To Watch - Awkward (MTV) - I usually bemoan high school stories and their petty problems, but this one is such a fun ride with some truly unique characters that I am able to forget my deep hatred of teenagers for a half an hour each week. There's not one whiner in the group, but furthermore, Lauren Iungerich has created her own language that makes it actually seem cool to be a kid again. Jenna (Ashley Rickards) is dry yet relatable, a modern-day, live-action, less-morose Daria, and the dichotomy of personality between her and her mother only makes the similarities in their decisions and situations that much more poignant.
  • Best Guilty Pleasure TV - Ru Paul's Drag Race (LOGO) - I can't even really put into words why I love this show, it just genuinely makes me happy. I'm not going to get all deep with you and say that it's one of the most forward-thinking programming on television because it's giving a voice to those who are usually cast aside (though it is), and I'm not going to make a case that it's weekly challenges and guest judges are the most inspired in the reality genre (though, they are). I just like sitting back for an hour each week and genuinely smiling and enjoying myself and seeing that even when people are catty with each other, it's a little tongue-in-cheek, and at the end of the day, we're all sisters. It's a nice message. Maybe this one actually should have one "Best Feel Good TV"...
  • Best Feel Good TV - Suburgatory (ABC) - This one actually takes the title because of how much more than "just" a comedy it has turned out to be. Emily Kapnek handles serious and hardly explored in the media issues like abandonment issues and adoption sensitively, realistically, and most importantly, interestingly, all while mingling in quirky characters and relationships. She doesn't drag things out, but she doesn't wrap things up in one-episode wonders ala traditional sitcoms, either. There is great care taken to arc out every individual story and character, and the warm fuzzies each episode gives me are enhanced by the behind-the-scenes.
  • Best TV Eye-Candy - Supernatural (The CW) - For a show with only two main characters, they sure know how to pack a big impact into a small amount! Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki would have been enough to win this category, but then add in Misha Collins and this season's guest star Ty Olsson, and wow, do they know what we want! Well done!
  • Best Outside of the Box TV - Community (NBC) - Season three delivered a musical episode, a return to documentary style, a look at alternate timelines, a trip into Abed's imagination, another partial fake clip show, an homage to Law & Order, and my personal favorite, a trip inside a 1980s video game. This show is the epitome of creative writing, and what's even better is that with all its genre-bending, it always manages to stay true to the characters we know and love, and make us laugh along the way.
  • Best TV as Therapy - Parenthood (NBC) - Why pay a stranger to help you recognize and come to terms with your own flaws and family troubles when you can just watch this every week and see them reflected in fictional characters?
  • Best TV as Surrogate Family - Tie: Raising Hope (FOX) and Switched at Birth (ABC Family) - The Chances and the Kennishes/Vasquezes could not be more different, but I love them both in many of the same ways. There is a sense of warmth and comfort that I get from watching both that proves they will do anything for their family-- no matter how silly (Raising Hope) or how quickly moving and dramatic (Switched at Birth) things get.
  • Best New Friends - Happy Endings (ABC) - I only say it with love that I can find countless similarities and unintentional homages to Friends in Happy Endings. At first the comparison was simply because of the three guys/three girls "friends are the new family" dynamic of the show, but as the seasons have went on, the show has embraced the inevitable comparison and given us more to feed our sense of nostalgia and comfort. But they have also made the humor and heart of a single-camera comedy their own, as Friends before them did with the sitcom. Revitalizing the genre is one thing, but creating a lexicon is quite another, and Happy Endings has more quotable terms and phrases than almost any other show on air right now.
  • Best Mindf*ck TV - American Horror Story: Asylum (FX) - Stepping up the pace from the first season, answers have been delivered quicker than perhaps expected, but that only makes thoughts about each episode linger longer, as you have time to think about the impact and what it all means, rather than trying to guess who's dead or evil or crazy. There are much more psychological elements at play here, and that is a personal favorite, as well.
  • Best Not Really A Remake - Dallas (TNT) - It started out that John Ross (Josh Henderson) and Christopher (Jesse Metcalfe) had nothing on J.R. (Larry Hagman) and Bobby (Patrick Duffy), and in truth, they still have a long way to go to fill their fathers' Stetsons. But the show acknowledged that and showed their path to earning the right to be the new generation of Ewings, all while delivering deliciously soapy dramatic twists and additional threats to the family from those who are still apart of the family. This is how you stay true to the classics but still update enough for a new generation.
  • Best TV Musical - Smash (NBC) - Smash delivered one of my favorite pilots ever, and while the episodes that came between it and its season one finale were not without flaws, I still hold onto my opinion that it was successful in accomplishing what few other TV musicals have tried to. Camp included (because what musical doesn't come without at least one or two moments of camp!?), Smash managed to make compelling stories that kept you talking mixed with musical moments that always served the story. And the fact that it actually delivered a significant chunk of original music certainly only helped the case for its ambition.
  • Best Pilot Whose Series Is Still Too Far Away From Airing - The Following (FOX) - This was hands down one of my favorite pilots ever, and while intellectually I'm glad Kevin Williamson was given the time to flesh out the season long arc and shoot in a bubble without getting influenced by critics or fans or just general buzz, personally, it's been Joe Carroll (James Purefoy) level torture waiting to watch the rest of the story unfold on-air!

Best of the Rest (aka shows I also love but for which I couldn't come up with creative categories): Shameless (SHO), The New Normal (NBC), Wilfred (FX), Girls (HBO), Cougar Town (ABC/TBS), Nashville (ABC), Parks and Recreation (NBC), Nurse Jackie (SHO), Scandal (ABC), Southland (TNT), Fringe (FOX), and Archer (FX).
What were YOUR highlights of 2012's television year? Let me know in the comments below!

Monday, December 24, 2012

DanielleTBD's 2012 Pop Culture Christmas List...

The other day I Tweeted that all I really wanted for Pop Culture Christmas this year was for Taylor Kitsch to come back to TV. I love Stephen Amell in the role now, but Kitsch would have made a great Arrow. Unfortunately, he was too busy off trying to be a big screen star, and why? Television arguably has a better track record of quality scripts to quantity produced in a year (at least, cable does). But maybe I digress. I'd additionally love for Kitsch to come back to TV in my pilot, and when noting that, I realize that's another item on my list-- I really, really want and at this point need something to happen with my pilot. I am getting too old to keep saying "I'm trying to sell a show." I need to either sell it or move on. But I digress again. The point is, the more I got to thinking about it, the more I realized I do have a full-on list this year. I hope it's not too late for Santa to read this, but I won't expect everything gift-wrapped and under the tree by tomorrow!

1. For Taylor Kitsch to come back to TV, as aforementioned.

2. For Taylor Kitsch to come back to TV in my pilot, as aforementioned, which by proxy means my pilot is getting made (finally)!

3. An album of Grayson's Greatest Hits from Cougar Town. TBS has been so great about promoting the show and sending out Penny Cans to the press and stuff, but this could be sold in stores to make the studio, network, and production a little extra cashish. Think of the jams you could blast on the freeway! From "Confident in my Sexuality" to "Morning Routine Song" (and of course the extended edition of "Morning Routine Song"), to "Someday Girl" and the follow up single "Someday Guy," and of course, "Everything Man."

4. Now that I'm thinking about fun TV music, I would love an LA based charity concert featuring the best TV bands. Josh Hopkins could certainly play acoustically, and then there'd be a set by Mouse Rat, and the guys and gals of Nashville, and hopefully a big Broadway belt to take us home from the lovely ladies of Smash.

5. Some of my favorite short-lived shows to finally be available on DVD. I get it, studios don't want to waste money printing DVDs for series the audience never tuned into in the first place. Sometimes the music rights are even harder to acquire. But why not do the print on demand service that some networks turn to for under performers (I won't name any names here, but let's just say, FOX, MTV, and ABC have gone this route with personal favorites. They're short on extras, but if all you want is to own a hard copy of the show...). I would love to finally see Cold Case and Miss/Guided become available, for example.

6. A "Ya Heard? with Perd Hapley" mug. You've seen these oversize yellow mugs with Perd Hapley's mug painted on them on Parks and Recreation for seasons, and yet the NBC Store still doesn't sell them. Why not!? I have a "thing" about my drinkware: it all needs to match. But I would happily by a set of four of these for my own winter hot cocoa and guests'. Perd (yes, I know he has a real name!) never fails to put a smile on my face, even and especially when he popped over to moonlight as a DC reporter on Scandal.

7. To go back in time and get Parenthood nominated for some SAG and Golden Globe Awards. Seriously, it's just a travesty that the cast is not being celebrated, and if they don't get "lesser love" from these guys, they're never going to get Academy recognition come Emmy time :(

8. For Smash to keep Jennifer Hudson. I don't care if she just comes in once an episode to sing Karen an inspirational song. Hudson is a powerhouse, and I want to hear more from her. Literally.

9. How I Met Your Mother to reveal that his kids' mother was actually a surrogate-- that he went to some kind of "egg bank" and paid a friend to carry his children. Because Ted is still so awful there is no realistic way any woman would want to marry him, let alone

10. This is three-fold: first, I would like more people to watch Happy Endings so Paul Lee will pick it up for another season. And then another. And another. Ten seasons and a reunion, you guys! But also, more selfishly, I would like my very own hip-hop Santa. I was equally bummed and fascinated by the fact that the one in this year's Christmas episode was a creation by their prop department. Yes, yes, they have a very talented crew, in addition to cast, but that means I can't just go on eBay and buy one for myself! Must. Have.
Usually I end this list by saying "and world peace," but I think it's clear that's never going to be a viable option. So instead, I'd like to ask for the barely-more-realistic week of peace among the critics and Tweeters. This week, in the holiday spirit, be kind to each other. Snark is the easy writing to reach for, but if that's the only creativity you find, opt not to say anything for awhile. TCA will come soon enough, and you'll be able to word vomit all your sarcasm then.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Holiday Highlights - Best of the Rest - From '30 Rock' and 'Community' to 'Supernatural' and 'Will & Grace'...

With the holiday weekend coming up, just about every television network is dealing in reruns and special holiday programming, but why should you have to succumb to their specific licensing deals? I have compiled the Best of Holiday TV from years past—all now available on DVD and online—so you can have a creative and nostalgic Christmas break with friends, family, or solo. 

30 Rock“Christmas Special” – Jack (Alec Baldwin) hits his mother with a car and is "forced" to spend the holidays with her. He spends most of the episode trying to avoid her but later learns how his mother really afforded all of his holiday gifts as a kid, which manages to warm his heart while slightly creep the audience out. Liz (Tina Fey), meanwhile, takes on a “Letters to Santa” charity program but then gets just a wee bit racist on it, assuming she was conned into buying two grown men presents.

Arrested Development“Afternoon Delight” – Michael (Jason Bateman) decides to spend more time with his niece (Alia Shawkat) and takes her to the Bluth family Christmas party, where his sister (Portia de Rossi) is just trying to get someone to sleep with her. They end up singing a really inappropriate duet which manages to make the staff more uncomfortable than Gob (Will Arnett)’s constant posturing. And if that’s not enough of a holiday gem worthy of tradition, there’s also a giant version of the arcade game where you use a crane to select a toy when Gob, in a giant banana suit, gets stuck and Buster (Tony Hale) has to use his killer “army” training to help his family.

Chuck“Chuck vs Santa Claus” – A man on the run from police crashes into the Buy More and holds everyone inside hostage, including Chuck (Zachary Levi), Sarah (Yvonne Strahovski), John (Adam Baldwin), Ellie (Sarah Lancaser), and Awesome (Ryan McPartlin). While Chuck tries to talk the even more hapless "criminal" through the situation, he also has to deal with some very real feelings for his fake girlfriend during this festive time. And then, of course, the bad guy turns out to be someone very different from who he appears and it is time for an even unlikelier hero to save the day.

Community“Abed’s Uncontrollable Christmas” and “Regional Holiday Music” – The first year was an incomparable claymation romp through Abed’s (Danny Pudi) mind as his friends tried to help him come to terms with the holidays without a visit from his mom. But then the next tapped into a musical when the Greendale glee club had a nervous breakdown at the hands of Jeff Winger (Joel McHale), the choir director (guest star Taran Killam) recruited Abed to recruit his friends to fill in.

Friends“The One with the Holiday Armadillo” – Ross (David Schwimmer) has the best of intentions of teaching his son about Hanukkah but the kid just wants a visit from Santa. With no real holiday options left at the costume store, he comes up with a new alternative in a weird, scaly desert creature. Things get even wackier when Santa Claus and Superman show up.

Full House“Our Very First Christmas Show” – The Tanner family get stranded at the airport on their way out of town for the holidays. Stephanie (Jodie Sweetin) is worried that Santa won’t be able to find them since they’re not home. But thanks to a little magic—or a close family friend (Dave Coulier)—they get to celebrate a non-traditional but still pretty festive Christmas evening.

Happy Days"Guess Who's Coming To Christmas" – The first holiday special this soon-to-be classic sitcom ever aired was also the last time Richie’s brother ever appeared as a part of the Cunningham family. Not your usual holiday cheer? Well, it's okay because where one brother disappears, another is born. It was this episode, after all, in which Fonzie really became an honorary member of the family.

I Love Lucy “The I Love Lucy Christmas Special” – Part clip show, this very special episode saw the Ricardos reminiscing over past celebrations as a family and with their friends the Mertzes, but at the end of the night two Santas show up to give Little Ricky his presents, instilling the magic of Christmas—and the idea that maybe there is a Santa Claus after all—in the audience.

It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia“A Very Sunny Christmas” – Charlie (Charlie Day) has weird flashbacks of his childhood Christmases where he would wait downstairs on the couch for various “Santas” to come over and drop off presents before heading upstairs to “cheer up” his mom. Meanwhile, Mac (Rob McElhenney) learns that his own tradition of going from house to house to steal toys from other families is not what everyone did. So the two of them are in a holiday tailspin, trying to figure out how to make things right, and of course, they only succeed in making things much, much worse.

Modern Family“Undeck the Halls” – The Dunphy clan dons ridiculously ugly sweaters to video-chat with their out-of-state family members and then decides to cancel Christmas because none of the kids will confess to burning a hole in the armrest of the couch. Meanwhile, Cameron (Eric Stonestreet) is bitter over getting kicked out of a caroling group who just keep showing up everywhere, Mitchell (Jesse Tyler Ferguson) gets the mall Santa fired, and Jay (Ed O’Neill) has a hard time letting go of his long-standing traditions to incorporate some of his new family’s.

The Nanny“Oy to the World” – Brighton (Benjamin Salisbury) is focused on selfish, material things during the holiday season and Fran (Fran Drescher) decides he needs to be taught a lesson. But before they can make it to the homeless shelter at which they were going to volunteer, a big gust of wind knocks them to the North Pole where they have to save Santa (Charles Shaughnessy) from an evil version of Ms. Babcock (Lauren Lane).

The O.C.“The Best Chrismukkah Ever” – Seth (Adam Brody) introduces Chrismukkah to Ryan (Ben McKenzie) and the world, while Marissa (Mischa Barton) has some 'discount shopping' to do and finds herself in embarrassing situation(s).

The Office“Christmas Party” – Michael (Steve Carell) goes all-out on his Secret Santa gift and then turns it into Yankee Swap instead when he is hurt that he did not receive the same special thought.

Parks and Recreation “Citizen Knope” – 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. We have two words for you: Candy Swanson.

Raising Hope “It’s a Hopeful Life” – 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.

Saved by the Bell“A Home For Christmas” – In this hour-long Very Special Episode, Zack (Mark-Paul Gosselaar) falls for a young girl who works with Kelly (Tiffani Amber Thiessen) at a men’s clothing store in the mall. The girl gets fired because her mean boss Mr. Moody thinks she stole a sport coat, and Zack finds her and her father living in their car in the parking lot. Turns out, he had lost his job, too, and they’re homeless. So Zack’s mom invites them to spend the holidays at their house, and Zack’s dad even helps to get the guy a job.

The Simpsons“The Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire” – The first official winter holiday celebration for the now legendary animated series. Picking up where their previous year's sketch on the Tracey Ullman Show left off, the plot, which has become classic, was in 1989 just wacky. Bart needs tattoo removal surgery, which eats up the family's entire Christmas budget, so Homer attempts to win enough at the dog track to provide his kids with good presents. Naturally, he loses all of his money, but he returns with something even better: the new family pet, Santa's Little Helper, a scrawny, abused mutt who was going to be put down because he was no good as a racer.

South Park“Mr. Hankey the Christmas Poo” – Kyle feels ostracized for not being able to take part in the Christmas festivities and begins seeing his, well, poo come to life. Of course, he’s the only one who sees it so his family thinks he’s going crazy, but well, we all go a little crazy during the holidays, right?

Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip “The Christmas Show” – Matt (Matthew Perry) is determined to bring some holiday cheer to the show full of bitter, jaded staffers who are determined to debunk the magic of Christmas and instead criticize the material elements that have taken over. Sure there are some Scrooge-like sardonic jokes thrown in for the equally bitter and jaded audience, most notably a Santa statue giving the Hitler salute. But when the union musicians decide to call in sick to help get some out of work victims of Hurricane Katrina day gigs, even the Grinchiest of grinches' hearts grow three sizes.

Supernatural“A Very Supernatural Christmas” – Dean (Jensen Ackles) is dealing with his last holiday season before having to go to Hell, and he wants to go all out and celebrate with his brother, Sam (Jared Padalecki), who is more reluctant, thanks to never having any happy memories of the holidays of their youth. Though they do have to take on some Pagan Gods and risk losing their teeth in their case of the week, the episode also delivers some very sweet family flashbacks and the closeness of the brothers through the years.

Will & Grace“A Little Christmas Queer” – Will (Eric McCormack) takes his friends home for the holidays, where he is dismayed to see how open-minded his mother is being about his little nephew probably being gay. Jack (Sean Hayes) helps Will’s nephew put on a Christmas pageant for the group, while Karen (Megan Mullally) tries to figure out what’s in the family’s signature drink, and Grace (Debra Messing) flirts with Will’s brother.

Happy Holidays!

Friday, December 21, 2012

From LA Examiner: 'American Idol' LA Premiere; 'Modern Family' Holiday Photos...

American Idol has been the talk of the town since Mariah Carey officially signed on to be one of the new judges over the summer. From there, it has been all about how the new panel has been working out-- from surprise reactions to auditions, to gelling with Seacrest, to turmoil among the women. But in just a few weeks, fans will be able to see for themselves if the season lives up to the hype-- and get their own burning questions answered-- as FOX is hosting a live screening and Q&A event from right here in Los Angeles... [MORE

Modern Family didn't deliver a traditional holiday episode prior to the hit ABC comedy series going on a mini-hiatus this winter. Admittedly, that made us irrationally sad. Between "Undeck the Halls" and "Express Christmas" of seasons past, Modern Family has delivered some of our favorite family holiday episodes of all time. Maybe that's why they didn't want to take on Christmas again, though. Instead, Modern Family's fourth season is tackling a lesser-explored, but still quite festive, holiday extravaganza with "New Year's Eve"... [MORE

Thursday, December 20, 2012

From LA Examiner: 'Once Upon A Time' Return Photos; Photo Previews of 'Bunheads', 'Switched at Birth', & 'The Lying Game', Paley Center Winter Panels; 'Archer' S4 Guest Voices...

Once Upon A Time is still a few weeks away from returning, so we like to imagine that the Charming family is enjoying a nice, long reunion after Emma (Jennifer Morrison) and Mary Margaret (Ginnifer Goodwin) were returned from fairytale land. Let them live with ignorant bliss just a little while longer before Cora (Barbara Hershey) comes to Storybrooke and wrecks everything! ... [MORE]

"Bunheads meets Michelle back in Nevada in the winter premiere"

When ABC Family's Bunheads returns for the second half of its first season in January, quite some time has passed, and the quaint town of Paradise, California is looking pretty different! ... [MORE]

"Switched at Birth's Angelo plays Santa in the season two premiere"  

After coming into "some" money-- a five million dollar verdict in the lawsuit against the hospital-- Angelo is quick to make up for lost time by gifting his extended family with items he knows they actually want. Some of the items help set the kids up on possible professional paths, and some are just fun. But the Vasquezes and Kennishes are much smarter than to just take the presents at face value... [MORE]

"The Lying Game puts Rebecca at the center of the drama this winter"

ABC Family's The Lying Game left off with Alec (Adrian Pasdar) being hauled off to jail following his arrest for Derek's murder, but when the show returns for its winter round, even from a cell, he still manages to unnerve Emma (Alexandra Chando), who is desperate for answers. This time around, though, it's not Emma at the center of things, as Rebecca (Charisma Carpenter) reveals more and more of her cards-- and The Lying Game reveals yet another bombshell from the mysterious woman to waltz back into Alec and Ted's (Andy Buckley) lives... [MORE]

"Paley Center L.A. to honor Being Human, Fringe, and Suits"

Today the Paley Center for Media has announced three new winter programs to be held in their Los Angeles location. On the list to be celebrated with a special screening and panel are Syfy's Being Human, USA's Suits, and FOX's Fringe... [MORE]

"Timothy Olyphant & Ron Leibman guest voice Archer season four"

FX and Adam Reed's animated spy series Archer already boasts an impressive cast of voice actors-- from H. Jon Benjamin to Aisha Tyler and Judy Greer-- but every season is known for a couple of fun and unexpected guest voice actors, too. Last year brought Burt Reynolds, Sterling Archer's idol himself, and this season sees fellow FX star Timothy Olyphant, as well as Ron Leibman, to name a few... [MORE]

Primetime Holiday Highlights - 'A White House Christmas', 'CMA Country Christmas', 'The League'...

For Thursday, December 20th 2012 I recommend the following holiday programming: 

A White House Christmas: First Families Remember (NBC, 8 p.m.) – Meredith Vieira hosts this special look at Christmases past and present in the White House. First Families from the last four decades share holiday memories from their time in office, including First Lady Michelle Obama. Vieira goes behind the scenes with White House staff as they prepare for the 2012 holiday season and thousands of visitors each day. Also featuring former First Ladies Laura Bush, Hillary Clinton, Barbara Bush, Rosalynn Carter and their children. 

CMA Country Christmas (ABC, 9 p.m.) – Country's biggest stars are joining together to celebrate the holidays! For the third year, Sugarland's Jennifer Nettles will host the "CMA Country Christmas" special. Dierks Bentley, Lady Antebellum, Little Big Town, Martina McBride, Scotty McCreery, The Band Perry and Keith Urban will be on hand to perform and share their favorite tales of the season. Also appearing on the special will be pop singer Colbie Caillat, classical singer Katherine Jenkins and soul singer John Legend. 

The League (FX, 10:30 p.m.) – “A Krampus Carol” – Ruxin (Nick Kroll) receives a gift from his dad (guest star Jeff Goldblum), while Taco (Jonathan Lajoie) has a run in with a mall Santa. 

What will you watch??

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Primetime Holiday Highlights - 'A Home for the Holidays', 'Chicago Fire'...

For Wednesday, December 19th 2012 I recommend the following holiday programming:

A Home for the Holidays (CBS, 8 p.m.) – Rascal Flatts hosts the 14th annual event to raise awareness of adoption. In addition to Rascal Flatts, Rachel Crow, Melissa Etheridge, Matchbox 20, and Phillip Phillips perform. 

Holiday Engagement (Hallmark, 8 p.m.) – A reporter (Bonnie Somerville) hires a guy (Jordan Bridges) to pose as her boyfriend to impress her mother (Shelley Long) over the holidays, but of course what started out as a ruse grows into real feelings soon enough. 

Chicago Fire (NBC, 10 p.m.) – “Merry Christmas, Etc” – After putting out a kitchen fire in an upscale townhouse, Casey (Jesse Spencer), Herrmann (David Eigenberg), Mouch (Christian Stolte), Cruz (Joe Minoso), Otis (Yuri Sardarov) and Mills (Charlie Barnett) find themselves accused of stealing a $50,000 diamond necklace from the home, touching off an internal investigation. Cruz’s brother Leon (guest star Jeff Lima) is caught in the middle of an escalating gang war, leaving Cruz to make a desperate choice to save him. Meanwhile, Dawson (Monica Raymund) invites Casey to her cousin’s fancy Christmas party, and a frustrated Shay (Lauren German) has reached her limit with Severide (Taylor Kinney).

What will you watch??

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Cassadee Pope Wins Season 3 of 'The Voice'...

The Voice crowned its third season winner tonight in Los Angeles, but things were a little anticlimactic because if you were following the iTunes charts during voting hours last night (or all along this season, really), there was no doubt about who the winner would be... [MORE]

Chris Colfer's Superiority Complex Spotlighted In 'Struck by Lightning'...

When I was in high school I had a bit of a superiority complex. You've seen Mean Girls, right? You know how Tina Fey points out that self-esteem isn't the problem when the girls go apesh*t on each other? They all had just a little too much self-esteem, and so many Alphas (or Type As) don't mesh well together. I'm not really proud that I fit into that category, though I do think having the self-assurance and awareness that high school was only a blip while knowing and focusing on what I wanted to do for the rest of my life certainly helped get through the angsty times. But I also knew when to keep my mouth shut and keep a lot of my judgements of my peers to myself so I wouldn't constantly come off as an entitled bitch. No one wants to be around an entitled bitch. And no one should want to watch a movie about one either.

Carson Phillips in Struck by Lightning is an entitled bitch. He's the kind of kid who labels himself an outcast because he just can't stand to think of himself lumped in with the rest of the kids his age. There's something to be said for why one might feel so different that's his way of protecting himself, but that is not what Struck by Lightning explores. If it was more of an ensemble, at least there would be justification-- or at least explanation-- through the ways in which Carson has been treated. There would be balance and perspective. Instead, though, Struck by Lightning flashes back to only show Carson as a kid-- and even back then he was a severely acquired taste.

Carson is quick to roll his eyes, to smirk, to look down on everyone in his small town, assuming that he is heads and tails above them because he has a passion that's somewhat academic and not your usual meathead sports or flighty arts "kids' dreams." He accuses his administration of being on a power trip, when really, he's the one most guilty of such a thing. It's a wonder he managed to get voted into Student Council or Editor of the school paper at all because he certainly doesn't have any friends, just kids who would rather let him do all the work since he's just going to claim their efforts weren't up to his standards anyway. He speaks in soliloquy, and most of the time when he opens his mouth, we wish he didn't have the desire to hear his own voice so we could be spared the sophomoric wisdom he sprouts.

I can admit that at times he makes some good points-- Why should we have to learn what imaginary numbers are? Why are there even imaginary numbers to begin with!? And of course today there is an overabundance of medicating those who don't really need it, but why is his the only voice that's deemed relevant or even remotely intelligent enough to bring up key points? It is because his character is Colfer's, and Colfer wrote this as a vehicle for himself? That seems absurdly shortsighted and equally sophomoric. Giving some good lines and actual character development to those around you doesn't diminish your role, it enhances the overall work. I haven't read Colfer's novelization of Struck by Lightning, so I don't know if this one-man-show effect only happened due to flaws in medium translations, but I did not intend to sit through a story from the POV of a whiny adolescent's extremely skewed journal, and yet, low and behold, that is what I got here.

I can also admit that home life is kind of crappy (drugged up mother, absentee father) so he has more of a reason than most to be cynical. But these are excuses-- and ones that don't even earn any sympathy from a guy who reaches for blackmail over attempting to relate to his peers to get what he wants. He can't ask for help; no, he doesn't want to ask for help-- not from these people who he deems so beneath him. But if they really were not worthy of his time or talent, then he wouldn't need their help in the first place. That's the kind of wisdom that can only come with hindsight, and apparently a couple of years out of high school isn't enough for everyone to mature past the petty pains that time may have caused.

When Carson actually admits that everyone hates him, his ego is still so big that he assumes it's because everyone is jealous of him-- because he's smarter and better than everyone. I'm all for a writer working out one's own issues through his or her own fictional works, but Struck by Lightning really could have used an objective set of eyes to say to Colfer that someone-- anyone-- within the story needs to call this kid on his sh*t. 

Instead what we get is a group of characters all so scared to be themselves they go along with Carson's blackmail and accept his belittling outbursts. If they're cliches, they are so because Colfer wrote them that way, which screams volumes about how he feels about typical teenagers, too. They kowtow to his so-called genius, presumably because it's easier to agree than constantly argue, but it still reinforces his terribleness in him. He sits at a school desk like it's his throne, openly mocking their every suggestion and attempt to help him from behind his pretentious reading glasses. It's ridiculously one-sided and while undoubtedly meant to give a voice to the underdogs, no true underdog would want to be associated with this. Ultimately what Carson is doing is its own, admittedly slightly higher brow, brand of bullying. It's unclear if everyone actually hates him, but honestly, they all have more than a right to.

Struck by Lightning is full of missed opportunities for Carson. His grandmother may have dementia, but there's something extremely poignant and on the nose when she tells him she doesn't recognize him. He's far from the sweet dreamer he claims to be; he has turned ambitious into a four-letter word. It's also just sloppy in moments (the process of reapplying to college is really not as dire as this movie makes it, and living life behind a camera is actually a way to avoid living in the present). There's no forward momentum here for anyone; it's an hour and fifteen minutes of character study on a completely unlikeable kid who will never get to grow out of his particular brand of terrible teenager phase. Again, if it was an ensemble there would be more to grab onto and enjoy, but why would you want to sit through something where you don't like the main character, let alone find anything redeemable about him?

The one saving grace is that at least when he's gone, we don't have to endure changes of hearts from kids who suddenly realized the brilliance he saw in himself. In that way, the film seems to nod to the fact that Carson was ridiculous. But it still made us spend time with him, so we can't be too excited by the minor miracle at the end.

It's hard to bemoan the stereotypes of the supporting characters around Carson too much when those characters are pretty much all relegated to cameos anyway (with the exception of his reluctant sidekick played by Rebel Wilson). This isn't a movie about high school; it's a movie about one very specific kid in high school. Struck by Lightning is all about Carson, and he's just the worst, which is made all the more a shame by the amazing actors lined up around him that go improperly used. Struck by Lightning could have been the who's who of teen royalty-- from Suburgatory's Allie Grant, to Awkward's Ashley Rickards, and 1600 Penn's Robbie Amell. Even Allison Janney as Carson's unstable mother is an unflatteringly one-note part. Carson steals focus from everyone not because of the power of Colfer's emotional performance but because it's written that he's the center of this universe. He's so stuck in his own head, believing his own bullshit, accusing everyone else of being selfish when he's the biggest offender, that when you remember the story starts with him actually getting struck by lightning, you actually smile. Because at least his kind of bad attitude and bad behavior isn't going to go unpunished.