Wednesday, September 28, 2011

New Girl: A point of clarification


I realized today that I have been overly negative in my discussion of Fox's new hit sitcom "New Girl" starring Zooey Deschanel and my actual opinion on the series may have been misunderstood. I wrote that I hated the pilot, and I did, but in the wake of Fox's announcement that the show has been picked up for a full 24 episode season I truly could not be happier for Zooey D and the gang.

While I hold that the pilot was uninspired I do feel that the series shows promise and regardless of my personal disappointment in episode one I feel the show has potential. I gave the pilot episode a "C" rating, which I stand by, but would like to now, after further reflection on the matter, change my classification of the show to "Keep an Eye On."

A "C" is no "D" and certainly no "F." What's more, there are so many shows on TV whose entire existences barely register a blip on the radar of my cultural consciousness (here's lookin' at you Body of Proof, Private Practice, The Middle and Rules of Engagement). Quite honestly, there are many times when I'll see a promo for a show and think to myself "What that frack is that?" or even worse "That show is still on the air?" What's more, thanks to the generally low level of America's intelligence, primetime television is still a wasteland of reality TV trash (Idol, X Factor, DWTS, SYTYCD, Bachelor, Bachelor Pad, ANTM, Project Runway, etc.).


What my point? My point is that for all its flaws, I still consider New Girl to be of a quality required for the pantheon of shows "worth talking about." It belongs in the discussion of pop culture relevance and I hold out hope that the writers will take the many poignant criticisms that critics have made and improve the show. It has a likeable star at its center and a cast of relatable characters that if played right can reach across demographics and (as many feminists have already begun pointing out) usher in a new age of gender-neutral programming -- notice I say gender neutral. Anyone who thinks TV is man's land is a blind fool (see: Desperate Housewives, Grey's Anatomy, the aforementioned Bachelor Pad, etc).

So, Zooey D. I don't like the show, but when I've got an extra 22 minutes I'll check it out every now and then to see what's going on. In the meantime, enjoy your record-breaking ratings and sing your heart out.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Fall TV Scorecard: Week 1

*The following grades refer ONLY to premiere episodes. In addition to a letter grades based on the quality of the single episodes, I will also suggest -- based on what those episodes suggest of the season to come -- that you "Subscribe" on Hulu, "Keep your eye on" for the odd episode here and there or "Kill and Bury," which should be self-explanatory.

How I Met Your Mother


Thankfully, the boys over at HIMYM gave us back to back episodes to launch the new season. Good thing too, since Ep. 1 didn't do it for me. Barney had some great screen time testing out pickup tactics but the rest of the gang just seemed awkwardly out of place at Punchy's wedding. Plus, if you're going to claim that it was the "Worst Wedding Ever" we need to see a little more of the chaos, especially for how much fun Robin and the Barnacle had with their dance number (a high point for the ep.). Individually a bad episode but I can't wait to see where the season goes.
Grade: B-
Class: Subscribe

2 and 1/2 Men:


I hadn't planned on watching Men but had a half hour to kill and plenty of curiosity. Chuck Lorre shows aren't really my thing (Mike and Molly, Big Bang Theory) and Men is no different. Still, I felt the much-hyped debut of Ashton Kutcher was a pretty funny episode even if some of the laughs felt a little cheap. Good individual episode but I'll probably never watch again.
Grade: B
Class: Keep An Eye On

2 Broke Girls


If multi-cam laugh track comedy is your thing then you'll probably dig 2 Broke Girls. Sure, the pilot felt low-budget and dirty and the scenes could not be more obvious set pieces, but now that we have a full season pickup I would assume future episodes will be a little shinier and smooth-edged. Kat Dennings is funny and her blonde counterpart makes for some good opposites-attract feel. They lose a few points, however, for their shoddy attempts at authenticity -- that NY Subway scene? Please.
Grade: B+
Class: Subscribe/Keep An Eye On

Castle


The first 20 minutes would have been gripping TV drama...if there was even the remote possibility that gun-shot-victim Beckett wouldn't survive. So, we sat watching worried faces just waiting for the actual show to begin. When it finally did we got a new police chief --Sheri Palmer from 24, one of my least favorite actresses -- and a homicide case that felt (and was) like an afterthought. Bottom line, from Kate's flash-forward-till-I'm-better arc and the sweep-under-the-rug leftovers from last season, the episode just came off a little too tidy. That said, I love Castle and will be watching every week.
Grade: B
Class: Subscribe

Glee


Season 3 of Ryan Murphey's zeitgeist of pop culture kicked off EXACTLY like season 2 kicked off. A hand-held documentary style introduction of what the cast has been up to over the summer (Will and Emma chastely cohabiting, Finn/Rachel Tina/Mike Kurt/Blaine together and happy, Zizies m.i.a. and new skankified Quinn, died hair and all) and the club heading out on a recruitment assignment to enlist more clubbers that goes horribly wrong (really? We've Got The Beat to enlist High School Students?) Glee is built on highs and lows and this episode was obviously nothing more than set up.
Grade: B-
Class: Keep An Eye On

Modern Family

Let's break this down. The show has won best comedy two years in a row and after last year all 6 adult cast members were nominated for acting Emmy's, two of which won. In short: this is the best show on television. I'm leery of new Lilly, but if any show can make me fall in love, it's Modern Family.
Grade: A
Class: Subscribe

Community


First, let me take a moment to express something. If you are not watching this show regularly, WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU? Community had an inconsistent first season, trading off between pure inspired comedy and random uncontrolled oddity. It's second season, however, was pure pop culture comedy ecstasy. Season 3 started off with a semi-fantasy musical number that addresses the shows critics and, I suspect, maps out what we'll see for the whole season (Annie and Jeff are going to do it, yup). This show is glorious, if you're not watching, shame on you.
Grade:A-
Class: Subscribe all ye uncultured philistines

Person of Interest


Of all the new shows, POI is what I was the most excited for and barring a spectacular premiere of Pan Am or American Horror Story it's in good position to be my pick of the year. Wasting the minimum time for set up, J.J.'s latest toy got us into the action with a shaved Jim Caviezal kicking butt and taking names. I suspect that as the show continues we'll get to confront the Minority-Report-esque paradoxes of pre-emptive force but at the same time, the pilot deftly avoided that conversation by A) Having Caviezel rely on extremity shots to people's thighs and B) proving the bad guys guilt and letting justice run its course while stopping a tragedy.
Grade: A-
Class: Subscribe

Up All Night


Repeat with me: Babies. Are. Not. Funny. This show was actually good once, then inexplicably the writers decide to drastically reformat it and now we're left with yet another project that squanders the abilities of Will Arnett. Come on!
Grade: B-
Class: Keep an Eye on

The Office


I had sworn to Kill and Buy the office but just when you think you're out they pullllllll you back in. The premiere was brilliant. James Spader is an evil genius ("I believe in negative reinforcement. I believe in positive reinforcement. Winners, prove me right. Losers, prove me wrong") and the writers decision on who to promote to the new regional manager was, in my opinion, the right choice. Based on the premiere, TO looks better than it has in years.
Grade: A
Class: Keep An Eye On

Free Agents


I had low, low hopes for this one. Two likable albeit moderately attractive leads and an entire premise built on inappropriate office hookups? Ross and Rachel didn't hook up till halfway through season 1, same for J.D. and Elliot. Castle and Becket STILL haven't and Booth and Brennan did finally but behind our backs. Point being, where do they go from here.

Still, the episode exceeded my expectations and Giles from Buffy was pretty funny as an offensive cad. I probably won't watch again, but for one night I was impressed.
Grade:B+
Class: KAEO/Kill and Bury

New Girl



It pains me to say it but Zooey D's appeal is waning. And, since her show is a one-trick pony built entirely on her appeal, that doesn't bode well. I HATED New Girl. Possibly because literally every inch was covered in the outlandish amount of promotional material, or the fact that I just didn't think it was funny at all. By Ep 2 the show will have traded in its black guy for a new black guy (you could argue racism, but then it would be racist to have no black guy at all. Maybe if they traded him for an Asian guy?) and will have to start coming up with new jokes that haven't been showcased for weeks during breaks of The X Factor. When the premise of your show is "we have a spunky protagonist" it's just not enough for me.
Grade:C
Class:Kill and Bury

Friday, September 16, 2011

Fall TV Premieres: What I'm Watching

Sing Hallelujah, come on, get happy. Fall TV is starting up.

Now, technically I'm 4 days late in that the premiere season began on Monday, but besides Up All Night (which, as it turns out, I'm watching while I write this) we haven't really missed anything. Like every year there are a LOT of new shows coming out (read: chaff) and like every year 9 out of 10 will most likely fail. If not immediately, then soon. And if not soon, then they'll be moved to Friday's to die a sad, awkward death.

September 18

What better way to prepare for a new season than reminding yourself what was good last year. For added fun, make it a drinking game by taking a shot every time you see someone from the cast of Modern Family (hint: you's gonna get trashed).

September 19

Monday, which means I'll be watching How I Met Your Mother at 8:00* where, I'm hoping, Barney will re-unite with Nora and Ted will have something good happening in his life for a change.


At 9:30, I'm going to check out 2 Broke Girls. I haven't seen the pilot yet but most of my co-workers have and they're all pretty much unanimous that it's the most promising new sitcom.

But really, I'm just killing time until 10:00 when the new season of Castle kicks off. I'm dying to see whether Beckett survives being shot in the chest, but not as much as I'm dying to slap the show's writers for ending the season on such a pointless cliffhanger (like they could ever kill Becket, that would be like doing The Office without.....I mean doing 2 and 1/2 Men without......hmmm, moving on).

Note: I will NOT be watching The Playboy Club, but more on that later.

September 20

Hellooooo season 3 of Glee. It's kind of like the Aggie Football of television in that it's drastically inconsistent from week to week but manages to have just enough magic moments to make you believe and if you talk smack on in I will EAT YOUR FACE. Moving on.

September 21

Since I don't see my own family any more I'll just continue to live in a dream world where I belong to the Pritchett's of Modern Family (at 9:00). All 6 adult cast member were nominated for Emmy's and it's for good reason. This show is just about as good as it gets.

September 22

By and large THE most underrated and tragically underwatched show on television, Community is back at 8:00 with the addition of John Goodman. Yes, please.

At 9:00, I'm checking out Person of Interest. Not only is it produced by J.J. Abrams (a.k.a. Zeus) but it stars Lost's Michael Emerson and the-man-who-was-Jesus Jim Caviezel as some sort of trippy Minority Report-esque vigilante.


September 23

At the end of last season I swore that I was going to take The Office of my list of shows and I meant it. That said, I'm pleasantly intrigued by the addition of James Spader's Robert California and hey, I believe in second chances. So, I'm going to watch it the next day On Hulu for academic purposes.

September 25


Remember how I said I'm not watching The Playboy Club? It's not because I can't (unlike Utah, it will be playing in New York) or that I won't (besides the word Playboy in the title, this show is going to be tame-sauce) but rather that I believe that only one new Mad Men-era drama can survive on broadcast networks and I'm putting my money on Pan Am. Plus, I've always had kind of a thing for Christina Ricci, ever since Casper.


September 26

I would like to believe that Terra Nova will be good. It's got a heavy pedigree behind it (oh hey Steven Spielberg, what's up?) and is arguably the most ambitious project ever made by a broadcast network. So, with that in mind I believe in rewarding ambition (fortune favors the bold) and will give this show a fair treatment.

October 4

Let's just say it, House was rubbish last year. Oddly enough I had already dropped that show year's ago but got lured back in by a stellar season two shakes ago. Sadly it didn't hold up and the show (literally) drove itself through a wall. So, I will watch the season premiere On Hulu out of respect and then kindly say goodbye. (I'll miss YOU Olivia Wilde most of all)

October 5


American Horror Story. I'm still on the fence about this one, the latest from Nip/Tuck and Glee creator Ryan Murphy. This show is going to be adult (it's airing on FX) but it's also getting rave reviews and, frankly, I just can't withstand the curiosity of how they're going to sustain it in a weekly format. I'll check it out.


I mean seriously, what the what is that?

October 12

I find it kind of ridiculous that the people behind Psych are making us wait till mid-October but by then most (seriously) of the season's new shows will have flamed out and we'll be able to take comfort that something good is still on TV.

October 16

I just barely watch The Walking Dead and while I may not quite agree with Dalton Ross that it's the "Best show on television" I will say that it was pretty freaking cool. It is more cinematic than most full-production Zombie films and it's just darned entertaining.



p.s. Just finished Up All Night and I say pass. Simply put, BABIES ARE NOT FUNNY! Also, you may notice that I did not list New Girl (starring Zooey Deschanel). I watched and hated the pilot (it's on Hulu already). I'll give it one more chance before I pull the plug for good.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Survivor Man


So, back before it became diluted and banal (I'm looking at you, dancing competitions and bachelor-universe) reality tv was kind of cool. Mostly the genre was divided between raw examinations of the human condition (a la Real World), daredevil shenanigans (Fear Factor, Dog Eat Dog) and my personal favorite, cut-throat strategy-based competition (The Apprentice, The Mole, Survivor, The Amazing Race, etc.).

I was an avid Survivor fan and while I no longer keep up with the show (they've had more than 20 seasons for crying out loud) I still hold it in high regard, as I do for it's seasoned host: Jeff Probst.

First of all, Probst is absolutely charming. If you don't believe me watch this video.



Probst has frequently subbed in for Regis and in my opinion, I think he should get the job as replacement when Mr. Philbin makes his exit (sniff) from television this year. Sadly, he already inked a deal with CBS and of course, he might not take the gig if it was offered to him since he spends half the year at exotic locales with bikini clad women (sidenote: does anyone know if he's still dating hot Julie from All Stars?)

But, beyond his personal appeal. I love Jeff Probst for the fact that he is a true-blue, died-in-the-wool Survivor host. Unlike some emcees that are just doing it for the paycheck, Probst knows every inch of every season of his show. He regularly blogs about the different episodes, offering commentary on strategic decisions by castaways and predictions, but he will also take you to school if you try and talk down the show.

He recently had this spat with EW's Dalton Ross. Respectful, jovial, but also intimidatingly firm. Watch it, seriously.

He's the man. Don't believe me? Just ask the four Emmy's he's won for outstanding hosting.


Yeah. That sound you hear is JP drinking your milkshake.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Celebrity

I had talked about making a celebrity-sighting counter on my blog but after tonight I realize that would be foolish. I just got home from the red carpet premiere of "I Don't Know How She Does It" and already the list would be too daunting.

And, if everything goes according to plan I'll be meeting Michael Fassbender (a.k.a young Magneto, a.k.a one of the Inglorious Bastards, a.k.a. the coolest guy ever) on Wednesday.

But, here's some highlights from tonight.


I chatted with Matthew Broderick about his upcoming projects (including the soon-to-be-released Tower Heist and his next Broadway play) and an old movie called "The Stuntman" starring Peter O' Toole.


I bumped in Scott Adsit and asked him about next season of 30 Rock (he doesn't know anything about it, yet) and he expressed a subtle jab about the show not being included in EW's 50 shows were excited to see. I offered up the fact that 30 Rock has gotten a lot of love over the years from EW and he quipped that so has The Office, but it still made the list. Anyway.......he also recommends checking out the 1960's version of Bedazzled.

I saw (but didn't get to speak to) Pierce Brosnan who looked as bond-awesome as ever. I did overhear a reporter ask if he would ever consider doing another musical (a la Mamma Mia) to which he replied "Of Course."

And someone asked Greg Kinnear if he would be willing to replace Regis Philbin (who is leaving his morning talk show this year) to which he said "No one could EVER replace Regis"

Other than that I saw (in order of cool), Emma Roberts, Chord Overstreet, Sarah Jessica Parker, Christina Hendricks, Olivia Munn and, aparrently, one of the Jonas Brothers.

There were others, and a lot of talk about fashion which all went over my head. Red Carpets are way annoying, I had a set question to ask everyone but only got the chance with two people (not including the person I was explicitly sent there to get) so this may be my LAST red carpet for a while depending on how disappointed EW is with me.

Funny though, I couldn't help thinking how similar it was to a Crime Scene press conference. The lightning was certainly better, and the subject less grim, but the mechanics were exactly the same.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Indentured Servitude


Well, I've been here a week now and things are getting better. I've figured out how to feed myself at a relatively acceptable price. I've determined which series of trains to take for my 30-minute commute to work. I purchased an umbrella (which broke) to avoid getting drenched again while walking the 6 blocks to and from my apartment and the heat has mostly abetted to a degree at which I can actually fall asleep.

Oh yeah, and work started so my life has some purpose beyond wandering around and wondering what the horizon actually looks like.

Short version: I'm not exactly loving it out here.

But, you're in New York Cityyyyyyyyyyyy. I understand the sentiment but I don't espouse it. On Monday I crossed the last two famous landmarks of my list of things I need to see which means that besides the cool sight of skyscrapers disappearing into a blanket of fog this morning (which was, I admit, pretty cool) my day-to-days are filled with spotting rats on the tracks, wondering why NONE of my mail seems to arrive and carrying on internal debates about wether getting dressed, walking to the store, paying too much money and walking back is worth satisfying my sweet tooth craving for late night ice cream.

Now, back to my job. It does have its perks. I saw a movie the other day that hasn't been released yet (I can't really talk about it, but I'll give you a hint: sports, Capote) and I did manage to score a byline on the website the other day (for a 150-word bit of nothing about Alicia Silverstone's new movie, I wrote a much longer treatment today about Jessica Simpson's breasts but it didn't quite make it online. True story).


I also get to sit in on EW meetings which is like christmas morning. We chat about upcoming issues and occasionally drift into tangents about which stars are and are not completely full of S***. (Best part, someone that I've never liked, is. I'll give you a hint: mouth, Merryl. p.s., it's not Merryl, I love her. You could cast Merryl as Batman and she'd be the right choice.). The chance to get insider knowledge from the most trusted names in the industry is invaluable, as is debating the questionable sexual orientation of certain pretty-boy hack jobs.

But, I'm a definitely, unequivocally an intern. Unlike the Deseret News where I truly felt accepted by the apes as an equal (that's a reference to Jane Goudall, not a crack at Des employees) at EW I am a full time errand boy; sorting mail and transcribing the real reporters' interviews (which, I admit, gives me the inside scoop on some puh-retty cool stuff).

So far...meh.

I'm sure this is just "change is bad" talking and that in like a month I'll be skipping down 5th avenue humming "New York, New York" or shouting into a bluetooth about deadlines while callously pushing over slow-moving old ladies (that's what New Yorkers do, they're "hard" according to the sunscreen song). My friends from Utah will call me and I'll screen their calls thinking "oh ho, an old colleague from Looooogan is calling me, how quaint. They've never even had real Pad Thai" and then I'll stuff the phone back into my pocket, check the crease on my pinstripe suit and buy a pretzel from the guy on the corner (sidebar: I DO love the pretzels).

It'll probably happen, I'll fall in love with the city and become the pretentious magazine-writing jerk that I dream of being. Or, I'll continue to find mediocre satisfaction, muscle my way through to January and come crawling back to Utah with my tail between my legs and beg the Herald Journal to take me. Honestly, I'm totally ok with either one.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

New York, New York

Don't get married to the above photograph; it isn't staying.

Eventually it will be replaced by something I shoot (I have ideas, but I also have a history of not going after my ideas) but I wanted to get the Wood's Stock: New York Edition up and running.

So, I kind of live in New York now. As a matter of fact I signed my lease today so for better or worse I'm stuck here until January.

I got all of my touristy affairs done when I was out last may so these last few days have been about slowly settling myself in as a local. As such, I opened a bank account with Chase (regrettably), saw my first subway rat on Thursday, my first cockroach on Friday and finally figured out where to buy groceries on Saturday.

Not that I haven't done SOME touristy things, for example on Saturday Tash and I got our Yankee on.


It was my 2nd all-time MLB game and I must say I like the Giant's stadium better. It's those splash hits into the bay, you gotta love that. Still, I did appreciate the understated spartan simplicity of the Yankee Colosseum, and the spicy Italian sausage was delicious.




The game itself was kind of non-exciting. Yankees got ahead in the bottom of the seventh and then just rode out the game. Emotionally I was much more invested in the Utah St.\Auburn game, of which I was constantly receiving update texts. F*ing onsides kick.


As for my internship with EW. It hasn't started yet, I have NO details.