Monday, October 27, 2008

Mark Your Calendars People!

Season Premiere this THURSDAY on NBC at 8:30 pm ct!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Re-Tooling "The Office"

I, for one, love the casting of Amy Ryan as Toby's successor of everything HR on The Office. Of course, she provides the necessary love interest for Michael Scott now that Jan's become part of the lunatic fringe (I loved that she sang the Dusty Springfield song for 20 minutes during the post-natal baby shower on yesterday's episode). But Holly also appears to have 1) what could be a really interesting backstory and 2) the part of the brain that Michael Scott is missing. I'm interested to see how this current story line goes down.

Having said that, I really miss Toby and can't believe I'm the only one. There was something about that vitriolic relationship with Michael (although the vitriol always appeared one-sided) that balanced things out at Dunder Mifflin. Toby added another dimension to the inter-office relationships that, in his absence, now seem somewhat flat. Given that I think Holly can never be a replacement for Toby, I'm hoping that there's a comeback slated for later this season. I have a feeling that's just wishful thinking but one can hope.

And while I'm on the subject of missing my favorites from Dunder Mifflin, WE NEED PAM BACK. I'm scratching my head as to why they've chosen to write her off to New York and leave us with Jim who's whole "aww-shucks" appeal really blossoms when Pam is around. This whole Jim/Pam story seems ill-fated and makes me tense. I don't want to be tense with those two...yet.

And furthermore, where's the Angela we all know and love in that non-love-y way. She used to be funny because of her abject prudish-ness and her choice to shop at the American Girl store for her work wear. The fact that she's now the center of this "love triangle" with Dwight and Andy just betrays that brilliantly conceived original character. We haven't even seen one reference to cats or those t-shirts with the kids one them.

I still love this show. I'm glad they got past their 2nd season hour-long foibles and the writers' strike. But, I hope they don't forfeit the greatness of these characters as they were originally conceived to serve what seem to be overly-drawn, over-emphasized story lines.

Bottom line: I want to see more Meredith, Creed, Kevin, and Phyllis...and Stanley and Ryan and Oscar. And where's Pam?

Thank you.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Bonnie Hunt: Afternoon Snooze-Fest

I, for one, was very excited when I heard that comic/actress/Chicago native Bonnie Hunt was getting her own daytime talk show. Bonnie is wry sweetness and light in a darkly cynical world. Think Rosie O'Donnell before she really got angry. Think the fun of Ellen Degeneres but coming from a totally different angle. From her variety of movie roles that always played as though she wasn't acting but just "being herself" (Jerry Maguire, Cheaper by the Dozen), she seemed like the perfect person to have a fun, frivolous, frothy daytime talk-variety show with a snazzy, retro design and feel.

Cue up the snooze-fest button and my disappointment. Man, this show is about as interesting and fun as walking through swamp mud. Nothing of her personality translates onto live tv: she fails to be funny, witty, or personable really. Instead, she appears to be clueless and, frankly, uninteresting. Her hair always looks good. I love her Chicago accent (that is so played up it almost sounds fake...but then, virtually any really good Chicago accent sounds somewhat unreal). But this show is a drag and I think it's because she really sucks at interviewing people. Yesterday I watched a supremely awkward 2 segments with Jimmy Kimmel. I don't know...if you can't make people laugh with Jimmy Kimmel sitting there trying to help, I'm not sure you're funny.

Oh Bonnie. Oh, oh, Bonnie. We knew ever since your ill-fated sitcom in which you starred as none other than a talk show host that this is an endeavor to which you've always aspired. But I'm thinking maybe you should stick to small character involves less personal contact. And it hurts me to say that, really it does.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Top Chef Season 5 Coming Up!

Woo-hoo! November 12 at 9pm CST and I cannot wait. Make sure to mark calendars. But I do have some concerns regarding this new season that heads to New York City.

1. There's a new judge. Ted Allen has apparently flown the coop. Tom and Padma are still around as is Gail (and, really, what would a TC be without Gail flirting shamelessly with one particular male chef through the whole season--see Sam from Season 3). They're good. They're okay. But, there's a new guy on the official roster. His name is Toby Young. He wrote some famous book about cooking. I just hope he's not a loser. I was secretly hoping they'd keep that 4th judge's chair open for some fantastic guest judges as they have in the past (Bourdain, Ruhlman, Ripert, even DiSpirito). I guess we'll just have to wait and see.

2. The Cheftestants look very accomplished...and severe. This always concerns me. For marketing purposes, the casting of these shows has gotten skewed by who's willing to be the most obnoxious thing on tv. I hope this is not the case. If we learned anything from last season can it be that Stephanie was the perfectly likeable "girl next door" who happens to wield her knife like a culinary sabre. I hope these people are interesting and talented and not just loud.

3. The challenges. As we've seen in other skill-based reality shows (Project Runway to name one), as the seasons progress the file-o-fax of challenges gets thinner and things can get very bizarre. Top Chef consistently surprises me with the fine balancing of creative challenges that are do-able and that showcase necessary foundational skills. I hope they keep it up. If "cooking with Pop Rocks" is a challenge, I'm going to be annoyed.

4. Keep the drama for your mama. One of the major annoyances I have with the continuation of these types of shows is that latter seasons often opt to focus on "character storylines" instead of the minute-to-minute developments. So, producers find the "interesting" people and interview only them or edit the show to focus on relationships that are taken out of the context of the competition. Top Chef has done a great job of not really doing that and I hope they stay true to form here. The season with Marcel was enough for anyone to handle and they seemed to correct for that last season. I hope they stay in that vein and don't head back to fabricated dramatics.

There it is. Those are my worries couched in between my utter and abject excitement of something great to watch on a weekly basis. I'm counting down the days. Seriously.

Project Runway Kerfuffle Continues

I'm kinda thrilled about the latest Project Runway news which, incidentally, has nothing to do with designers or clothing. According to Reuters, the lawsuit regarding the PR move to Lifetime continues which will delay the production of further seasons. If NBC wins, it sounds like PR will stay on BRAVO.

It just seems right.

And the Weinstein's will lose. And that's always a good day for the little guy.

What shocked me was that the Weinstein's deal with Lifetime was for 5 more seasons. Given the current state of things, what do you suppose that would actually look like?

Again: A Big Hot Mess.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Project Runway: Failing to "Make It Work"

Am I the only one who couldn't seem to care about the most recent season of Project Runway? I don't think I watched more than 10 minutes of it. And I like the show. Just... didn't happen for me this season.
This fine question comes courtesy of Meghan's Blog this morning and I breathed a sigh of relief courtesy of solidarity. I fully agree. PR used to be one of the best shows out there: compelling designers, creative challenges, a sense of wonder in the whole process. In this season, I've watched probably 5 episodes and saw nothing but formulaic boring-ness. Most of the designers this season at one point or another came off as snotty, entitled brats. The judges, who used to be a source of comic relief (I do think Michael Kors can be really hilariously harsh) and design guidance now are just more comic-book, harpy versions of their former selves. And we've been saddled with guest judges who are big names but not necessarily authorities when it comes to fashion (I'm sorry, but Apollo Anton Ohno as fashion icon...c'mon). Heidi who was fairly wooden from the beginning (as any good mannequin should be) now fully believes she's on the same level as Michael Kors and Nina Garcia. Boring. The only compelling person left is Tim Gunn who still cracks me up but who continues to capture his unique contributions to fashion on his own show Tim Gunn's Guide to Style.

I wonder if this is a natural progression when it comes to these "contest based" reality shows. When it was a home-grown, humble production that no one fully understood yet, it was fantastic. But the bigger the draw, the more elitist and, frankly, uninteresting it becomes. I knew the entire show was in trouble when the designers started talking back to Tim. Remember the first season? Tim's word was fashion law. If he said your design was crappy, you'd best listen. He's still always right (it's uncanny, really) but when the contestants on the show are already putting out their own lines prior to appearing on PR, I have to ask what the purpose of the show is. When the contestants don't want to win but just make it to the final 3 so they can show at Bryant Park, how good can the contest really be?

I hate to say it but this smacks of exactly what happens when the Weinsteins get involved. As soon as they were on board to produce, the scale of the show became phenomenal...and it lost it's connection to the audience. If we can't relate to the people competing, why watch? I know I won't. I know someone won...and I don't even care enough to go Google to find out who it was. I'm sure I'll see Kenley on the omnipresent BRAVO re-runs but I don't want to.

PR's moving to Lifetime (and with that production moves from NY to LA) for the next seasons and I don't think it'll survive. The only real viscera that remained for Tim Gunn to work with was the backdrop of New York City and Parsons School of Design. With those gone, the show will inevitably go the way of everything else that moves to Los Angeles: it'll be too superficial and plastic for us to recognize it anymore.

"Where's Andre?" indeed. I think PR needs to spend a little more time looking to get him and his crazy, half-cocked counterparts back. That would be interesting.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

I Have a New Show and It's Name is "Chuck"

Oh this is very exciting. This summer was the pits for tv and since the return of the new fall season, I couldn't be happier but mostly because I keep stumbling upon these shows I didn't know existed! This is how I found Chuck. Which I now love.

The premise is simple: Chuck's an everyday "Joe Six-pack" (thank you Sarah Palin...or is that Tina Fey) who works as a devoted member of the Geek Team at his local big box tech store...except that he's got this special ability to decode spy "things" with his brain. So, he's been employed by the CIA to help deal with situations involving international intrigue. Protecting him is that blonde girl in the picture; yep, she's a hottie. And of course, all kinds of emotional things ensue...while they're fighting bad guys.

Of course, I picked this up in Season 2 so I have to go back and get caught up on exactly what's going on but in just one episode there are elements of this show that make me LOVE it: 1) Adorable, nerdy main character paired with vixen-ish, kick-ass girl-slash-possible love interest. 2) James Bond, Jason Bourne quality and feel to part (but not all of the show) 3) It walks the line between comedy and action/adventure nimbly. The show doesn't take itself too seriously in either genre. 4) GREAT supporting characters. Fantastic actually. 5) Plot points that aren't so far-fetched that it's all fantasy.

This is a thoroughly "likable" show. It's great. I say check it out. But prepare to fall in love with Chuck...because he's just too cute.

NBC, Mondays 8/7C.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Welcome Back!

Wow...It's been a long time since my last post. A lot has gone on in TV Land since then. So, after a hiatus, I've decided to come back. I've got a lot to say about 30 Rock, Lost, House, The Office, and Pushing Daisies just to name a few. And how about Tina Fey as Sarah Palin. Things just couldn't be better for tv watchers these days. So, stay tuned. Plenty more to come. Woo-hoo!