Posts Tagged ‘TV’

Where I’ve Been

Sorry I’ve been neglecting this blog!  I’m going to try to post more frequently, but I’m busy with the albatross that is American Idol over at  You can read my most recent recap here.

A teaser…

Oh, Chicago, my hometown.  No wonder Idol hasn’t been back since Season 5.

And Idol kind of ruined the illusion for me tonight.  Now, of course we’ve always known that the big cattle call audition and the audition with the judges take place weeks apart from each other.  It’s the big elephant in the room.  The camera folks hang out outside some giant sporting venue with scores of people while the judges sit in some hotel room somewhere and we all pretend like these things are happening at exactly the same time.  This episode really stretched the bounds of my imagination.  The cattle call took place in cloudy weather at the United Center this year, which is way on the West Side in basically as in the middle of nowhere as you can get in a big city.  And the judges were sitting in front of a backdrop of a bustling Michigan Avenue (on a beautiful sunshiny day).

Only 13 people made it though to Hollywood from Chicago, and none of them gave me either the chills or the pitter-patters, not to mention the screaming thigh sweats.  Even the bad auditions were unremarkable.  Not a “Pants on the Ground” in the bunch.  Only the Tiny Tim impersonator made any impression whatsoever.

Here are the folks who lived to be cut at the end of Hollywood Week.

Again, click here to read my recap.  And you can follow me on Twitter @MagistraAI.


Breaking Up Is Hard (But Necessary) to Do — Part II

A few weeks ago I put several TV shows on notice — Get better, or get packin’.

I’ve come to some gut-wrenching decisions regarding three shows.  For one of the shows it’s good news, for the other two…not so much.

Community – In the past, you’ve provided me with fewer laughs than an episode of NCIS, but your last two episodes (the holiday show and the start of the second semester) were much more satisfying tonally.  Joel McHale, you’ve changed for the better.  I hope this positive character growth isn’t just a one -time thing like…

Chuck – Dear Chuck, you almost lost me last season with your repetitiveness and your whining about Sarah; but you made great strides with last year’s season finale.  It looked like we were headed in a much more exciting and mature direction.  But no.  Now you’re back to your old ways, working at the Buy More, pining over Sarah, fretting over the stupid Intersect, yadda yadda yadda.  Nothing has really changed, has it, Chuck?  So, because you couldn’t hold up your end of the bargain, I’m doing what I said I would do and walking away.

Glee – I’ve known it was over between us for a long time, but my visceral reaction to your winning the Golden Globe last night really sent me the clear message that I need to move on for my own health and sanity.  Maybe the fact that you make me so angry means that deep down there’s still something between us.  I don’t know.  I do know that I’ve been holding on to the glory of our first meeting for months now and you’ve never lived up to expectations.  So, good-bye, Glee, perhaps forever.

Golden Globes – TV Predictions

Just want to get my thoughts out there so I can gloat on Monday (or hide my head in shame).

TV Drama

Big Love



Mad Men

True Blood – WILL WIN. Sure, Mad Men seems like a lock in this category.  The Globes have loved the show in the past, but that’s just the problem.  The Globes fancy themselves to be the cutting-edge, cool teenage sister of the Emmys, and they’re going to pick the pretty young thing in this category.  Who should win?  Well, obviously Big Love.

Best Actress in a TV Drama

Glenn Close

January Jones

Julianna Margulies WILL WIN. Again, it’s all about newness.  January Jones could take the prize, but I think she should be disqualified on the grounds that her Saturday Night Live hosting gig proved unequivocally that she’s not really acting on Mad Men.

Anna Paquin

Kyra Sedgwick

Best Actor in a TV Drama

Simon Baker

Michael C. Hall

Jon Hamm WILL WIN.  This will be Mad Men‘s big high-profile award.  In a perfect world, Bill Paxton would be recognized for his subtle work as the patriarch on Big Love.  Actually, in a perfect world, we could go back in time and give all the awards to The Wire.

Hugh Laurie

Bill Paxton

TV Comedy

30 Rock



Modern Family WILL WIN. It just hurts my heart that Entourage is in this category.  Really?  Entourage?  That show is about on par with Two and a Half Men at this point.  There are so, so many other shows that should be filling its (and Glee‘s) spots on this list (How I Met Your Mother, The Big Bang Theory, The New Adventures of Old Christine, Parks and Recreation, Cougartown, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Flight of the Conchords, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, just to name a few).  Everyone is picking the utterly disappointing and maddening Glee to win this category (I loathe that show.  It’s the new Heroes.  Just you wait.  Everyone’s gonna start bitching about its craptacularity any day now), but I’m hoping the voters have the brains to pick the REAL best new comedy on TV, Modern Family.

The Office

Best Actress in a TV Comedy

Toni Collette

Courteney Cox WILL WIN. She deserves this.  If Lea Michelle (who is absolutely terrible on Glee, but maybe it’s not her fault, maybe it’s the fact that the writers haven’t a clue what they’re doing) wins, you can find me drowning my sorrows in a pint of gelato later this evening.

Edie Falco

Tina Fey

Lea Michelle

Best Actor in a TV Comedy

Alec Baldwin WILL WIN. And I would have no problem with that.  I’d kind of like to see Thomas Jane win, just because I have an odd affection for him (probably since he appeared in my favorite movie and my favorite TV show AND Deep Blue Sea, which is just campy awesomeness)

Steve Carell

David Duchovny

Thomas Jane

Matthew Morrison

Supporting Actress Hodgepodge

Jane Adams

Rose Byrne

Jane Lynch WILL WIN.  And that’s fine with me.  She’s the only decent part of Glee.  Every moment of Glee that exists when she’s not on screen is pure torture.  I’d also jump with joy if The Sev won for Big Love, but that ain’t gonna happen.

Janet McTeer

Chloe Sevigny

Supporting Actor Mishmash

Michael Emerson

Neil Patrick Harris WILL WIN. Everyone loves the NPH, and rightfully so.  I’d love to see Michael Emerson win, but obviously the Hollywood Foreign Press hates Lost, so whatever.  Piven should bow out gracefully and recognize the dungheap his show has become.

William Hurt

John Lithgow

Jeremy Piven

The Adam Lambert Non-Problem

Won’t somebody please think of the children?!

Having read Peggy Noonan’s screed about Adam Lambert’s American Music Awards performance (which she apparently caught onto as a cultural phenomenon a few weeks late), I realized that her problem (and a lot of other people’s problems) with Adam’s performance is not about the guy on guy aspect; it’s more of a “get off my lawn/these kids today” kind of thing.  And that’s somewhat encouraging.  I guess.  For society.

Now let me start off by saying, I did not like the Adam Lambert performance.  I thought it was crude for no reason, and I’m kind of over people kissing on stage for shock value.  It’s been played out.  It’s boring.   I would’ve much rather seen him take the performance to a whole androgynous David Bowie meets Robert Palmer kind of place.  Or, if he was insistent on including the smooching and the (actually kind of offensive on a feminist level) g-string grabbing, at least take the performance to a toga-clad Caligula pleasure boat scenario to the nth degree (with gold and little people and senators — see the movie Caligula for reference.  Or don’t.  Because it’s gross.  But Helen Mirren(?!) gets naked in it, so there’s that).  Now that would’ve been conversation worthy.  I actually agree with every word Michael Slezak writes here, if you’re interested in delving into this further.

The outrage over Lambert’s omnisexual performance feels a little like I imagine the outrage was over Elvis’ pelvis back in the 1960s.  It’s scary to think of our children as sexual beings who might understand what gyrating hips are meant to symbolize or know what it means when a guy drops to his knees in front of another guy.  It’s even scarier to think that our kids might actually be engaging in some of these acts or (heaven forbid!) think we adults are engaging in them or did engage in them when we were their age.  For some reason these thoughts freak parents out a lot more than if our kids should see someone’s head or arms blown off, but that’s another topic for another day.

What Ms. Noonan and countless others fail to recognize in their hullaballoo over Lambert’s performance is that it was broadcast after 10:00 PM on a school night when most of the impressionable children should’ve been in bed.  And, you know, there’s such thing as a DVR (or VCR, if you’re old school) for parents who want their kids to get a good night’s sleep/preview the late night television their children want to watch.

Another recent controversy that had the moral majority up in arms was the (OMFG) Gossip Girl threesome.  Much was made of the ads that alluded to three of the characters hooking-up; but in actuality, the threesome (at least what was shown of it) amounted to not much more than a chaste girl-on-girl kiss.  What the no one was talking about the next day was that at the very same time that the GG threesome was happening on the CW, over on CBS Charlie Sheen was waking up in bed with his brother (gross) and a woman while wearing each other’s underwear on Two and a Half Men (a show that skews to older viewers, but is no less accessible to youngn’s than the private lives of Manhattan’s elite).

But that kind of behavior only goes against Morality when it’s the under-25 set who are engaging in it, I suppose.

Merry Christmas from Hardrock, Cocoa, and Joe!

If you grew up in Chicago with WGN and The Bozo Show, you knew it was Christmastime because Hardrock, Cocoa, and Joe (and Suzy Snowflake and Frosty the Snowman) would start making an appearance where Scooby-Doo had been.

5 Great TV Deaths of the 00s

SPOILERS abound.  Shows appear in this order: Six Feet Under, LOST, Big Love, The Wire, and Grey’s Anatomy.  If you don’t want any of those shows spoiled for you, stay away.  You’ve been warned.


Six Feet Under – “Narm!”

Lost – “Not Penny’s boat!”

Big Love – The dangers of a long braid.

The Wire – “You look good, girl.”

Grey’s Anatomy – 007

Breaking Up Is Hard (But Necessary) to Do

We are now in the late December TV lull before January swings around with the promise of new episodes of the fall shows and the winter premieres of some new and returning shows (i.e. Big Love, Lost, 24, Project Runway, and the Godzilla of them all, American Idol).

So for my own productivity and sanity I’ve decided to bid adieu to a few old TV friends to make room for some new ones (at least until I can catch up over the summer on DVD).

Farewell, Ugly Betty.  It’s not you, it’s me.  I couldn’t handle the giant backlog of episodes clogging up my DVR.  It was stressing me out.  We will meet again, I promise.

Vale, NCIS.  I know you’ve made yourself available to me on On Demand, and maybe I’ll see you there; but hopefully you’ll pop up on Netflix soon and I can watch you via my Roku box like I did last year.  That was nice.  I miss that.

Good riddance, Glee.  I had so much hope for you, but you failed me.  Like Heroes before you, I get the sense that your writers have absolutely no idea what to do with you.  Some of your characters are all over the map, and others are just stereotypes.  I need to get out of this relationship now while I still have some self-respect.

You’re on notice, Community.  I was about ready to pull the plug on us, but you surprised me with a lovely holiday episode.  That bought you another month of my sweet, sweet viewership.

You’re also on notice, Fringe.  Like Ugly Betty and NCIS before you, it’s really not your fault.  You never fail to entertain and surprise me, it’s just that I’ve got, like, three episodes clogging up my DVR.  Something’s gotta give.

And you’re prematurely on notice, 24.  Seriously.  You lifted right out easily last year, and I won’t hesitate to give you the old Jack Bauer treatment if you don’t at least surpass Season 2 in sheer entertainment value.

Which shows are you exorcising from your life?

Fix It – 5 Steps to a Better Saturday Night Live

Ah, there was a time when I didn’t have a care or an inkling as to how bad Saturday Night Live was.  It was that blissful period between my hardcore babysitting days and my now super hardcore baby having days.  I remember a time when Saturday night meant something other than, “Let’s go out for an early 5:00 dinner so we can get the boy to bed by 7:00 and I can be asleep on the couch by 8:30, only to wake up at 10:30 to catch the most-likely disappointing cold open of SNL.”

Anyway, so, yeah, I care that SNL sucks (and I understand how passe it is to be complaining about how much it sucks).  But.  It could be easy to fix.

1. Forget everything you ever knew about a cold open. For the past I don’t know how many millions of years, SNL has been opening the show with political sketches.  I understand that The Powers That Be believe political commentary is their bread and butter; but with The Daily Show and The Colbert Report brilliantly commenting on political matters four days a week, your addition to the conversation had better be as good or better than theirs.  SNL lucked out big time last year with Tina Fey/Sarah Palin; but since the ’08 election, none of the limp impersonations of political figures (from Barack Obama to Timothy Geitner) have made a big impact.  The time has come to move the cold open out from behind the desk or podium and mix it up a bit, a la a game show parody or Adam Lambert at the AMAs or I don’t know.  I’m not a sketch writer.  And there’s a reason.

2. Speaking of parody… The sketches that are supposed to be send-ups of real events/TV shows/whatever are usually carbon copies of the original.  It is the Date Movie/Meet the Spartans version of comedy — direct imitation.  There’s nothing particularly clever about merely being able to sound like and look like the famous person you’re impersonating.  The reason the Jeopardy sketches worked so well was because Darrell Hammond didn’t just stand up there and do a Scottish accent, he brought something new to the character of Sean Connery.  Merely putting on a wig and saying you’re John Edwards does not make a lasting impression on anyone.  Go back and do some homework.  Watch Dana Carvey as Ross Perot or the late, great Phil Hartman as, well, anyone.

3. Diversify. You should not have to go outside of your cast to find an African-American woman to play Michelle Obama.  That is all.

4. The host can add a lot to the show, so don’t just call in the flavor of the month because she’s hot/he’s a great athlete.  You have a lot of great go-to performers to help you out when the show needs a boost (Alec Baldwin, Justin Timberlake), but you should be trying to expand that field.  There are a lot of hilarious actors on TV right now, many of them on NBC.  Think about Nick Offerman, Aziz Ansari, Aubrey Plaza, Danny Pudi, Joel McHale, or Donald Glover (just to name a few).

5. Put all sketches on Two of the best sketches of the past two years (a Thanksgiving sketch where Will Forte plays a creepy guy who snuck into the house for dinner and a sketch called “Mirror Image” which featured Kristin Wiig and Amy Adams as “identical” twins) are nowhere to be found online, which means they basically don’t exist in the world anymore.  The potential for the show’s sketches to go viral is a great little focus group opportunity for The Powers That Be to see what’s resonating with the online community.  That said, don’t beat any dead horses.  Keep doing Gilly, sure, but mix up the premise a bit.  And don’t let the sketches run too long.  And never, ever let Jason Sudeikis stop dancing (via Hulu).

Flowery Language – TV/Movie Quotes That Have Found Their Way Into My Vernacular

I’ve said it before.  I watch a lot of TV and I down a lot of donuts (Ha! There’s another paraphrased TV quote!), so it should be no surprise that sometimes a memorable (or not so memorable) quote or two will find their way into my everyday jive.

Here are the TV/Movie quotes I’ve caught myself uttering in conversation over the last week.

“Good job,” Randy Travis on Idol. When Randy Travis creepily said this to Kris Allen on last season’s Idol, I knew it was gold, Jerry (see below).

Usage: When someone does a “good job.”  N.B. Creepy eyebrows are a necessary accompaniment to this quote

“That’s gold, Jerry!” Banya on Seinfeld

Usage: When something is just brilliant (see above).

The following (NSFW, language-wise) clip from Magnolia (AKA the best movie of the last 15 years), boasts no fewer than four quotes I find myself using often in everyday conversation: “OK.  I’m not askin’,” “I don’t even know no ‘loud crash,'” “That ain’t mine!” and “Fo’ what, fo’ what, fo’ what?”

Usages: Usually just exclamations or whenever the quote happens to fit the situation.  Another acceptable random exclamatory quote from this movie is “Let me tell you ’bout the worm.”

“Whoops…” from The Office. Unfortunately I couldn’t find a clip of this one because it’s just too, too slight a moment.  It’s from the Season 3 finale, “The Job,” and it’s what Jim says right after Michael asks him if he and Karen are going to be doing it.

Usage: When someone puts a foot in their mouth.  Also acceptable is Adam Sandler’s “Whaaaat?” from The Wedding Singer

“And what they are is just stone cold gay,” from Parks and Recreation. Same thing for this Parks and Recreation quote.  This one is from the episode where Leslie inadvertently marries two male penguins at the zoo and as a result becomes a gay icon in Pawnee.  She goes to the town’s gay club and is impressed by how everyone is just being themselves and dancing and having a good time.

Usage: An addendum to any personal description.  i.e. “Mary is funny and she loves puppies and what she is, is just stone cold gay.”

That TV Show Is Sooo 1987, Part 1…?

This post about movies from your childhood that don’t hold up got me thinking about movies from my childhood that DO hold up (i.e. Girls Just Wanna Have Fun and Can’t Buy Me Love.  Both are infinitely entertaining.  Someone jumps, nay, somersaults through a window and into a party in the former film.  They’re just not making that kind of movie today).  But that’s a post for another day.  This post is about the weird ass TV I loved as a kid that may or may not hold up.

It’s no secret that I’m a TV-phile to a very unhealthy extent.  It has always been that way.  Some kids grow up to be cowboys.  Some grow up to be the kind of person who DVRs America’s Next Top Model.

Most of the shows I loved as a kid have eventually been released on DVD (Family Ties, The Cosby Show, one measly season of Growing Pains), but some shows have gone by the wayside — never to be seen again.  Except.  Now we have YouTube.

Here are some of the more random and embarrassing shows from my childhood that I still hold dear in my heart.  What would be on your list?

Just the 10 of Us.  I wanted to be a Lubbock family member.  As a kid I always longed to be part of a big family (I was the elder of two kids, but now I’m eternally grateful for my small family), and the Lubbocks fit the bill.  I used to come home every single day from school and watch this show in syndication on USA.  The show featured the acting stylings of Brooke Theiss (AKA Lesley the head Alpha on 90210), Jamie Luner (of Melrose Place, etc.), and (in cameos at different times) Matthew Perry and Matt LeBlanc.  Here’s the theme song, for your listening pleasure:

Rags to Riches.  Again with my lifelong “big family” theme.  This was a show that was basically Annie with 1960s musical interludes.  It was Glee before Glee was Glee.  Staring Heidi Ziegler from — what else? — Just the 10 of Us!

Beverly Hills Teens. Totally!  Boasting characters with names like Lark and Bianca, this was the show that little girls’ dreams were made of — before 90210 came along, of course.  I taped the theme song directly from the TV on my little yellow Casio cassette player and listened to that song until the tape set itself on fire in protest.

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