I've been a terrible blogger these past few months, partially because I went to Kansas for ten days, and partially because I've been spending a lot of time working on the new site PopCultureNexus.com with my co-conspirator Mary. But what's to say I can't cheat and post a link to PCN on here, thus making it look like I've actually written something new? It's just crazy enough to work! So if you're interested in reading about my incredibly fascinating lineup of villainous TV actors (it's more fun that it sounds, I promise) here's the link. Let me know if I missed any, and feel free to share which one you think is the most menacing of all. (Keep in mind that Arnold Vosloo was The Mummy.)
With the exception of some shows that are premiering in October, most new shows have been on for three or four weeks by now, so let's take a minute to evaluate which shows are worth sticking with, and which shows you can probably drop from your no doubt jam-packed TV schedule...
The Secret Circle is The CW's attempt to replicate the tremendous success they've had with The Vampire Diaries. Based on a young adult fantasy series written by L.J. Smith (who also wrote the Vampire Diaries books), The Secret Circle is being produced by Kevin Williamson (who also produced The Vampire Diaries). Do you sense a pattern here? As you can see, the two shows share a common lineage both on the page and on the screen. Having watched the first episode (which you can download free on iTunes), here's my breakdown of this new paranormal teen drama...
It's that time of year again. A new crop of TV shows are on the horizon, and the possibilities are endless. Some will disappoint; some will rise beyond their expectations; some will thrive; and some will be canceled before they even have a chance to hit their stride. (With my luck, most of my favorite new shows will fall into the latter category.) But until mid-September when most new shows debut, all we can do is speculate. As of now, my TV schedule is already full to the brim, but that won't stop me from adding ten or so new shows to my plate, although the odds are at least one or two of them will be canceled by Christmas. So here are the new shows I'm most excited for in the upcoming fall TV season...
What did we learn on TV this week? Well, we learned some valuable life advice from Raising Hope: Don't piss off the guys who's not afraid to pick dead birds out of the pool. On How I Met Your Mother, we learned that the concept of "dibs" was invented by Sir Walter Dibs. This week's Bones taught us that, a) Brennan is the person you want by your side when you come upon a group of armed guerillas (who knew she could wield a shovel like that?), and b) fleas have faster reflexes than any jungle cat. Chuck taught us, "don't mess with a repo man." From Parenthood, we got a lesson on playdate etiquette and the surprising complexities of kindergarten politics. And even though we kind of already knew this, The Vampire Diaries reinforced the law of supernature (is that the noun form of supernatural?) that where there are vampires, there must also be werewolves. All in all it was a very educational week of television. Here's a brief (not really) overview of everything I have deemed worthy of your time (be warned, my standards are not tremendously high).
Fall is here! Which means there's a slew of new and exciting TV shows for us to watch while we sit in our dorm rooms not doing our Spanish reading. And let's not forget the returning shows that can't be missed. However do I manage to watch 24 shows without a DVR? It's not easy, I'll tell you that much. So let's review what shows are required viewing for this television season:
My Generation - Thursdays at 8 on ABC (Premieres Sept. 23rd)
Let's be honest, this show will most likely be canceled before Christmas. Why? Because I will watch it. Sadly, I am the Angel of Death of television shows, so please, for my sake, watch this show. It's a mockumentary dramedy following a group of friends ten years after graduating from high school. I'll give you candy if you watch it.
Hawaii Five-0 - Mondays at 10 on CBS (Premieres Sept. 20th)
What's that you say? They already made a show called Hawaii Five-0 in the 70s? Wow, you're sharp. Like many people, I rolled my eyes when I heard CBS was remaking the hit series (can't anyone come up with an original idea these days?), but I was won over by the compelling promos and the positive buzz that has been surrounding this show. Although the theme song is faithful to the original, there are some changes in the cast: Kono is now a woman (played by Grace Park), and Danny is now Scott Caan (TWIST!). And did I mention Daniel Dae Kim (Lost) is maintaining his Hawaii residency to take up the part of Chin Ho Kelly? The other main cast member, Alex O'Loughlin, is probably the one person with a worse track record than me in shows getting canceled. The star of one-season wonders Moonlight and Three Rivers is playing Detective Steve McGarrett, so here's hoping the third time's the charm for this charming Aussie and that he can finally get a second season out of a show.
Terriers - Wednesdays at 10 on FX (Premiered Sept. 8th)
This quirky buddy cop noir dramedy has a special place in my heart because the premise and setting is similar to that of the late great Veronica Mars: Unlicensed private investigators uncover the seedy underbelly of Southern California while exchanging witty dialogue and toting along a lovable canine. Ring any bells? Stars Donald Logue (Grounded For Life) and Michael Raymond-James (True Blood) have a beautiful bromance blooming, so tune in if you like funny, well-written shows with cool people and dogs.
Running Wilde - Tuesdays at 9:30 on Fox (Premieres Sept. 21st)
I shouldn't have to say anything more than "From the creator of Arrested Development," and "starring Will Arnett" to make you squeal with joy (ARE YOU SQUEALING YET?) about this new Fox comedy. Keri Russell costars as the yin to Arnett's yang, the straight (wo)man to his clown. Oh, and Arnett's former Arrested Development costar David Cross will be showing up, too. Hilarity is sure to ensue.
Other new shows of interest: Lone Star, The Event, Raising Hope, Better With You, Outsourced, Nikita
Cougar Town - Wednesdays at 9:30 on ABC (Premieres Sept. 22nd)
For the last time, this is not a show about a forty-something Courteney Cox dating younger men. The unfortunate name has given this show a bad reputation, but I assure you it has blossomed into a sharp, funny, well-oiled ensemble comedy about a group of friends/family/neighbors and their respective idiosyncrasies (for a rundown of these quirks, watch my favorite scene from the first season here). Former Friend Jennifer Aniston will be guest starring as Jules' (Courteney Cox) therapist, so that should be fun. I mean, come on, we all know you're watching Modern Family anyway, so how hard is it to not change the channel for thirty more minutes? Find out and you won't regret it.
The Good Wife - Tuesdays at 10 on CBS (Premieres Sept. 28th)
I'm going to be honest with you, I'm still on a Good Wife high after watching the entire first season in one week, so I'm a little overly excited for the premiere of this perfectly-executed legal drama. Here's all you need to know about The Good Wife: (1) It was the only network show other than Lost to earn a nomination for Outstanding Drama Series at the Emmys this year, alongside cable powerhouses like Mad Men and True Blood, (2) Michael Ealy (FlashForward) and Scott Porter (Friday Night Lights) will have recurring roles in the upcoming second season, and (3) it's awesome.
Chuck - Mondays at 8 on NBC (Premieres Sept. 20th)
This show is the Little Engine That Could (Get Another Season), and by some miracle it's still on the air, despite its (undeserved) lack of stellar ratings. Season four promises more excitement, Chuck and Sarah going strong as a spy couple, a baby on the way for Mr. and Mrs. Awesome, and a visit from Chuck's estranged mother, played by Linda Hamilton. How can you say no?
Community - Thursdays at 8 on NBC (Premieres Sept. 23rd)
Another one of my favorite underrated comedies returning for its second season, Community follows a group of misfits at a community college who form a study group led by Joel McHale, who plays a former lawyer walking the line between sleaze and sincerity like a pro. The cast of this show is pure brilliance (Troy and Abed could easily have their own spin-off), and the pop culture references alone are enough to keep you laughing throughout the whole half-hour. And everyone should be positively giddy to hear that Señor Chang (Ken Jeong, who you may know from Knocked Up and The Hangover) is coming back as a series regular. Can you say "fiesta"?
Other returning shows you should watch: 30 Rock, The Office, House, Castle, Parenthood, Survivor, Bones, The League, Modern Family, Life Unexpected, How I Met Your Mother, Gossip Girl, Glee
Emmys 2010: Everything Important and/or Interesting, Plus My Biased, Semi-Well-Informed Take on the Night's Winners and Losers
Last night, approximately 13.5 million people tuned in for the 62nd Primetime Emmy Awards. To the other 289.5 million people in the country, what could you possibly have been doing that was more important than watching the Emmys? I hope for your sake you TiVoed it.
Without question, the greatest moment of the show was the first seven minutes. The opening sketch (which can be seen here) features Jimmy Fallon (the host), the cast of Glee, and an exciting assortment of other TV stars (and Kate Gosselin) doing a hilarious, Glee-inspired rendition of one of my all-time favorite songs, "Born To Run," by the legendary Bruce Springsteen. It starts out with Jimmy Fallon and the Glee kids, who then recruit Tina Fey (my idol) before finding Jon Hamm dirty dancing with Betty White in a dressing room. (By the way, between his stripper dance moves and his Emmy-nominated stint on 30 Rock, I'm starting to think Jon Hamm might be the funniest dramatic actor on TV.) Once they start singing, familiar faces start popping up everywhere, including Jorge Garcia (Lost), and Joel McHale (star of the hilarious-but-underappreciated Community), all giving their best impressions of the Boss. The best part has to be Tim Gunn, who (literally) rips off Fallon's shirt and stuffs a red baseball cap in his back pocket, imitating Springsteen's famous Born in the U.S.A. album cover. Once they storm the stage, clad in matching Glee costumes (except for Fallon, still in full Bruce garb), Randy Jackson joins Fallon center stage, Tina Fey and Jon Hamm dance like they're extras in Grease, and finally Glee's Amber Riley belts out the last note. And THAT is how you open an awards show.
Of course, I might be saying that because they happened to choose an intro that included several of my favorite things on this earth. Let's recap: Glee + Tina Fey + Betty White + Lost + Joel McHale + mockery of Kate Gosselin + Tim Gunn + a Bruce Springsteen song = one of the greatest moments of television I have ever witnessed.
Aaaand the night just went downhill from there. Not in a disappointing way, but in a how-can-you-possibly-top-that? kind of way. Although, some would argue that George Clooney's Modern Family skit (watch it here) was even better. But I'm running out of space, and you're running out of attention span, so let's get to it. Here are the night's highs and lows...
HIGH: Eric Stonestreet wins Outstanding Supporting Actor for a Comedy Series for his role on Modern Family. And he begins his acceptance speech by saying, "All I wanted to be was a clown in the circus." And, on a related note...
HIGH: Jon Cryer does NOT win Outstanding Supporting Actor for a Comedy Series for his role on Two and a Half Men. I've never understood why that show has been on the air as long as it has, or what the thrill is in watching Charlie Sheen play Charlie Sheen. Note to Two and a Half Men: No one cares. Sincerely, The World.
LOW: What was up with the ridiculous Tron-meets-The Matrix video game theme of the giant screens onstage last night? Come on, NBC. I expect that from Fox, but not from you.
HIGH: Jane Lynch wins Supporting Actress for Glee. She had this one in the bag, and her acceptance speech was humble and wonderful, thanking her parents, showrunner Ryan Murphy, and her wife.
LOW: Why does Chris Meloni looks so angry all the time? Is it because Law & Order: SVU didn't get nominated for Outstanding Drama? Honestly, at this point there are enough Law & Orders on TV that they could have their own awards show.
HIGH: Jeff Probst's dimples.
LOW: Jim Parsons and Sofia Vergara present together onstage. One plays a theoretical physicist on Big Bang Theory, and the other one is Sofia Vergara. There's no scenario in which these two people should be standing next to each other. It's just unnatural. And they knew it, because there's no way the awkwardness of that presentation was faked.
HIGH: Modern Family creators spoof Old Spice commercials: "We're on a horse."
LOW: Bryan Cranston wins Outstanding Actor in a Drama Series for the THIRD YEAR IN A ROW. Seriously, Bryan, give someone else a chance for once. I'm sure your work is great and all, but like I told my mother, getting an Emmy for playing a meth dealer with cancer is like getting an Oscar for playing a disabled concentration camp survivor. It's just not fair to the other nominees. Plus, I really felt it was Hugh Laurie's year to win for House.
HIGH: Archie Panjabi wins Outstanding Supporting Actress for a Drama Series for her role on The Good Wife. I've only just started watching this show, but I'm already blown away by Archie Panjabi's performance as the hardened in-house private investigator.
LOW: "And the Emmy goes to...Kyra Sedgwick?" (And she makes Tina Fey hold her Emmy statue while she gives her speech!) Apparently in the Emmy business, you either win every year (like the aforementioned Cranston and fellow AMC darling and three-peat Mad Men), or you can win once for every fifth nomination, like Sedgwick. I guess her win for The Closer was overdue, but I really thought Julianna Margulies would win for her first season of The Good Wife. Maybe in four years...
HIGH: Julianna Margulies presents the Bob Hope Humanitarian Award to former ER costar and onscreen love George Clooney. Did anyone not get all nostalgic watching those two reunite onstage?
LOW: Sorry, miniseries and made-for-TV movies, but no one really cares. (Although, I have been meaning to watch The Pacific.)
HIGH: The fact that people are still willing to risk letting Ricky Gervais perform on live television.
LOW: Lost gets no Emmy love for its final stellar season. I guess it was just too complex for Emmy voters to understand its genius.
HIGH: The realization that George Clooney should a) guest star on Modern Family for real, and b) marry Sofia Vergara.
That's a wrap! If you haven't seen at least two of the shows I mentioned throughout this list, you have some homework to do before the Golden Globes.
It's May, and you know what that means: Sex! Death! Excessive guest stars! Expect an extra dose of excitement on your favorite shows in the coming weeks, as sweeps are upon us.
*WARNING* SPOILERS AHOY! Seriously, don't keep reading if you aren't caught up on the most recent week of television.
Best Karaoke Performance of the Week: House, Chase, and Foreman on House - Watching this unlikely trio sing "Midnight Train to Georgia" was one of my favorite moments of this show to date. Who knew that, in addition to being ridiculously attractive and having an adorable accent, Chase can actually sing! Sometimes life just isn't fair for the rest of us.
WTF Guest Appearance of the Week: Buzz Aldrin on 30 Rock - Frankly, I was a little disappointed by the former astronaut's appearance on 30 Rock as Liz's mother's coulda-been husband. I guess the yelling-at-the-moon bit was mildly amusing, but I would much rather they have poked fun at his recent stint on Dancing With the Stars.
Best Fake Mustaches: Travis, Bobby, and Andy on Cougar Town - It's the pure randomness of this show that delights me so much. As long as these guys keep pulling shenanigans like this (and adding new rules to Penny Can), I'll keep watching.
Most Mind-Blowing, Bawl-Inducing Episode Possibly in the History of Television (Excluding Joss Whedon Shows): "The Candidate," Lost - Now that was an intense hour of television. This week's episode included three significant and heart-wrenching deaths, and as much as it killed me (no pun intended...really) to see some beloved characters bite the dust, their deaths could not have been more fitting or more poignant. Not to mention the Sideways World Jack/Locke story was pure brilliance, painting them both as broken men trying to let go of the past.
Most Awesome Rendition of "Total Eclipse of the Heart" Possibly in the History of Music: The cast of Glee - When you take a song as over-the-top as "Total Eclipse of the Heart" and put it in a show like Glee, that really knows how to make fun of its own over-the-top-ness, there's no accounting for the explosion of awesomeness that will result. "Turn around briiiiight eyyyyyyes!"
Best Swipe at Glee: Jeff Winger on Community - This week's hilarious episode of Community parodied every dystopian, battle-for-earth action movie made in the last thirty years. The study group's biggest rivals in the apocalyptic paintball war were their community college's Glee Club. As the enemies were singing "Hit Me With Your Best Shot," Jeff shouted at them, "Write some original songs!" These clever shots at other shows are one of the reasons Community is starting to remind me more of 30 Rock every week.
Most Veronica Mars Alumni Guest Starring in One Episode: Castle - Oh, how I've missed seeing Max Greenfield (Leo) and Julie Gonzalo (Parker) on my television since the unjust demise of Veronica Mars... Featuring two VM alum is enough to make any episode of any show more than great (except maybe Two and a Half Men- there's no saving that train wreck), but throw in Rocco DiSpirito, molecular gastronomy, and a hidden engagement ring, and you've got yourself a top-notch episode.
Best Non-Veronica Mars Guest Stars: Swoosie Kurtz and Fred Willard on Chuck - If Fred Willard keeps up this guest star streak (last week he was on Modern Family), I really don't think I'll ever get tired of him. Paired with the perfectly prickly Swoosie Kurtz (you might know her from Pushing Daisies or Lost), the two played a jaded CIA spy couple who give Chuck and Sarah a sobering glimpse of what their future could be.
Best Chuck Norris Impression: Frank Lapidus, Lost - Sawyer said it best last week when he said Lapidus "looks like he stepped off the set of a Burt Reynolds movie," and this week's episode only further enforced that impression of the scruffy pilot. While the castaways were trapped in the Hydra cages during the Smoke Monster attack, Lapidus took the proactive approach and began trying to kick open the door of his cage. Then Jack ruined all the fun by showing up and opening the cage door with the guard's key. Lame.
Best Immunity Idol Ruse: Rupert on Survivor - As much as it kills me to say it, Rupert has really been annoying me this season, but this week he's starting to win back the lovability he once owned back in his original season (in which he was voted Fan Favorite). When he realized he was on the chopping block (because he was bold enough to try to reveal Russell's truly evil nature), he used his resources (namely, a rock) and his brain (a tool that has been underutilized by many Survivors lately) and came up with a plan. Creating a suspicious bulge in his pocket with the rock, he made it appear as if he had found the hidden immunity idol, thus leading Russell the Troll-Man to split the Villains' votes, saving Rupert from the wrath of Russell.
Role-Reversal of the Week: Sawyer and Jack on Lost - This Freaky Friday moment has been at least a season and a half in the making, but this week's episode left Sawyer in exactly the same position Jack was in at the end of season five. His lack of faith and his determination to be the hero led him to make a bad decision that got other people killed. The good news? New Zen Jack is three for three this season in terms of his loony, death-cheating "plans." (Calling Dogen's poison-pill bluff, his little dynamite standoff with Richard Alpert, and now it looks like he was right to think that the bomb wouldn't have gone off without Sawyer's attempt to disarm it.) The moral of the story? Jack is back.
Best Spin Class Instructor: Dwight on The Office - Dwight was in peak form this week, tailing Michael's new girlfriend at the gym and attempting to seduce her to test her loyalty (naturally). In the last scene, Dwight is taking a spin class, or, more accurately, taking over a spin class. As the instructor directs them to cool down as they approach a gentle hill, Dwight shouts, "No! The hill is a trap! Let's take the dirt road off to the side!" Did Dwight miss his calling as a spin class instructor?
Best Fake Church Name: Our Lady of Reluctant Immigration, 30 Rock - It makes total sense that Jack's hardass Irish-American mother would play Bingo at a church with such a ridiculously xenophobic name, and it really does roll right off the tongue.
How I Met Your Mother Reference of the Week: Damon on The Vampire Diaries - Almost as good as Andy's mention of the CBS sitcom on The Office a few weeks ago was Damon's passing comment on how Stefan (who is very in tune with his humanity, unlike most vampires) "wants to feel every episode of How I Met Your Mother." Way to be relevant, HIMYM!
Best Torso: It's a tie between Jeff (Joel McHale) on Community and Damon (Ian Somerhalder) on The Vampire Diaries - Is it just me, or does the amount of semi-nudity on TV go up during May sweeps? I guess it makes sense. You know what they say: April plot devices bring May hook-ups.
What a week it's been. Most shows are working their way up to May sweeps, and turning up the quality dial as we get closer to finale time. Let's recap the best and worst in (important) television this week. *WARNING: GIANT SPOILERS AHEAD*
Best Fight Scene While Handcuffed To Your Significant Other: Chuck and Sarah on Chuck - Not only are Chuck and Sarah the most adorable new couple on TV, they kick ass, even when they're handcuffed together. They're turning Chuck into a modern-day version of The Avengers and it's pretty much awesome.
Double Guest Star Performance of the Week: Mike O'Malley on Glee and Parenthood - The former Yes, Dear star managed to appear on two shows this week, AND he was awesome in both of them, playing Kurt's dad on Glee and Lauren Graham's awkward-poetry-reading former flame on Parenthood. Here's hoping we see more of him on both shows.
Best Rock Duo: Booth and Bones on Bones - As much as my mother might disagree, you really can't go wrong with Foreigner, and this was evidenced by Booth and Bones' reprisal of their performance of "Hot Blooded" this week when the two visited a rock 'n' roll fantasy camp for a case.
Best Interpretive Dance Duo: Jules and Grayson on Cougar Town - Their well-choreographed dance to Enya's "Sail Away" involved cowboy hats and lots of wine. I'm sorry, but this show just cracks me up. Cowboy hats and Enya! Who thinks of this stuff?!
Soundtrack of the Week: Cougar Town - This week's top-notch episode featured the aforementioned midnight Enya dance party, as well as one of my personal favorites, "Something Beautiful" by Needtobreathe.
Best Father/Son Casting: Fred Willard as Ty Burrell's father on Modern Family - Sorry, Ty Burrell, but you are clearly adopted, because there is no way you are anyone but Fred Willard's son. The only thing more alike than their faces is their awkward and chipper senses of humor.
Best Cameo by an Exotic Animal: Argus the peacock on 30 Rock - Jack's mentor/father figure Don Geiss was reincarnated into a peacock, who had surprisingly strong chemistry with Liz Lemon. The only thing that could make this funnier was Kenneth's bird impressions and extensive knowledge of peafowl.
Runner-Up: Troy and Abed's goat on Community - Okay, so a goat isn't exactly what you would call "exotic," but it at least gets points for wearing a saddle/sweater-like article of clothing. Plus, it's a goat in a library.
Best Drag: Will Forte on 30 Rock - Nothing could have prepared me for the image of the Will Forte dressed as Jenna (Jane Krakowski), playing a Jenna impersonator and Jenna's new boyfriend (of course).
Big Reveal of the Week: Brotherly Love/Hate on The Vampire Diaries - We finally learned why Damon and Stefan don't get along in their afterlives! And, of course, the brood-justifying backstory of the brothers and how they became vampires only made Damon even more adorably wounded and likable. *Swoon*
Biggest Disappointment of the Week: The Office - As much as it kills me to say it, this week's episode might have been the least funny Office ever. Of course, I still maintain this show is one of the greatest comedies of all time, I'm just saying, everyone has to have a low point, and maybe this is it for them.
Best Imitation of Lost: FlashForward - Considering the majority of its (less than ample) viewers only watch the show because it's been billed as the next Lost, it seems like mimickingit might be the best move for FF. This week's episode juxtaposed present-day events with flashbacks, giving a backstory for Janis and doing an excellent impression of an episode of Lost.
Joss Whedon Rip-Off of the Week: Fringe musical episode - Really, Fringe? A musical episode? Isn't it bad enough that your entire premise is essentially a snarked-up version of The X-Files? To be fair, I stopped watching Fringe after last season, so I haven't actually seen the musical episode, but I don't need to in order to know that they're trying to simultaneously copy Joss' legendary musical episode of Buffy and hitch a ride on the musical bandwagon created by Glee. Come on, Fox. A little originality wouldn't kill you.
Most Exciting Wardrobe of the Week: Glee - Mercedes' hunger-induced hallucination left her seeing all her friends as food: Artie cake, Tina ice cream, a Jesse burger, and a Rachel cupcake. People dressed as foods never gets old!
Retort of the Week: Stanley on The Office - This week's lackluster episode did have at least one memorable line, from Mr. Stanley Hudson. His response to an offer to participate in a minority training seminar: "I'll slap you in the face with a rainbow."
Best Plaid: JT on Survivor - After his embarrassing exit, this week's episode of Survivor had the farm boy sitting pretty on the jury in a cute plaid number. Just the way we like him: adorable and silent.
Best Plot-Irrelevant Robot of the Week: Troy and Abed's robot on Community - In their attempts to accomplish everything on Abed's list of quintessential college experiences, Troy and Abed (currently my favorite TV duo) created a not-so-advanced robot which had no real significance in the episode. But it was damn funny.