Saturday, September 30, 2006

CSI: Teeny Tiny Crime Scene!

Last week, CSI left two plot lines hanging, in the hope that you would be interested enough to skip Grey's Anatomy this week. Ha! Nice try, CBS! Anyway, let's check in with our storylines, already in progress: the miniature replica of a full-size crime scene, and Catherine, roofied and doing her own rape kit in a seedy motel.

Teeny Tiny Crime Scene: The CSIs are still peering at the scale model, and Sara gets in the best morbid quip with: "I think Malibu Barbie did it." Since Sara was the only girl on her block with Barbie's Dream Crime Scene, I think she knows what she's talking about. The music guys even get in on the fun with the Teeny Tiny Crime Scene Toy Piano, which plinks cutely over the processing scenes.

Turns out the victim is an aging rock star (played by Danny Bonaduce), but one who still has plenty of fans. In fact, the house is surrounded by groupies, which makes it nothing short of incredible that Greg actually manages to show up for work. I mean, if anything was a sure bet to waylay him, it would be a horde of shrieking fangirls. Also fans of Bonaduce are Grissom and Doc Robbins, who rock out over the body. Doc gets so into it that he actually belts out cause of death. As you can imagine, this instantly joins the "Chariots of Fire" bit as one of the funniest CSI moments ever.

But who did it? It's not the nanny (too stupid), the ex-wife (alibi), the current wife (alibi with the ex-wife), or the son (faints at the sight of blood), so Grissom's gang is out of suspects. But what about the baby, Gris? What about the baby?

Catherine's Terrible, Horrible, No-Good, Very Bad Day: Still determined to investigate her own rape under the table, Catherine calls Sara over to process the motel room while she takes DNA and trace over to the lab. Everything comes back negative, so she wasn't raped, but the motel owner and the bartender can't help her identify the man who drugged her. So she's at a dead end, and now Lindsey (remember her?) is mad at her because she was late picking her up from dance practice.

Could things get worse? Of course. Catherine gets T-boned at an intersection and Lindsey is stolen out of the back of the car. Sam Braun calls all too quickly to demand to know why she didn't tell him about the kidnapping. Seems he's getting his information from pictures he's received showing a drugged Catherine and a duct-taped Lindsey, along with ransom demands. Catherine blames Sam for what's happening.

She's right. They find Lindsey in the custody of the brother of last week's suicide victim, the man who killed himself after being cheated out of millions - by Sam Braun. But there's still one more suspect out there, the man who took Lindsey from the car. It's the dead guy's partner, who settles the score by shooting Sam right in front of Catherine.

And in other news, Ecklie may know about Grissom and Sara, in which case, he either a) is really, really, really observant, or b) has Grissom's townhouse bugged.

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Friday, September 29, 2006

Ugly Betty: Scheming pretty people

Meet Betty. She's ugly. Well, not really ugly, TV ugly. She's not a size 0, she has glasses, and there's the giant braces. All she wants is to work at a magazine. Thanks to her uggitude, she gets the chance.

Meet Daniel. He, too, has a simple dream: to screw every attractive woman in New York. And not to screw up the job that his dad got him as editor-in-chief of fashion magazine Mode. Mostly the former, though. So to help him beat the problem he has with sleeping with his assistants, Daddy gets Daniel a new assistant: Betty. But Daniel really likes things the way they were, so he decides to go all Devil Wears Prada on Betty to get her to quit. It works.

Meet Wilhelmina. She's got Botox in her office and an assistant, Marc, who just got here from the 80s (black and pink sweater, black and white checkered shirt, yellow tie. Did he leave his Members Only jacket at home?). Wilhelmina thinks she should have gotten the editor-in-chief job. And probably, she should have, because she's right: Daniel only got the job through nepotism and doesn't know what he's doing. She sabotages Daniel's presentation to a major client to bring him down.

So: Daniel needs to present a new idea to the client next morning or he's toast! Betty has a good idea but is still upset with how she was treated! If you need me to explain what happens next, you have never seen TV.

The verdict: I like this show. It's light and fun, and sometimes over the top (there's even a death-faking), but as long as they can keep from ruining it like they did Desperate Housewives, it should be good times.

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Thursday, September 28, 2006

America's Next Top Model: Double Episode-Palooza!

Get your fiercest face on, because you're about to be immersed in three hours worth of America's Next Top Model fabulousness!

In last week's premiere episode, we met the new crop of Top Model wannabes. Happily for them, the prettiness bar was lowered so far last cycle that the new models can step right over it. New models: This is not a compliment. Understand that this doesn't mean I think any of you are truly model material. You just aren't as fugly as the last crop. Or as old.

The new models do an initial photo shoot after they get off the plane (parking lots = HOTT) and head over to a big breakfast where they all pretend to eat. Then, I start swearing at my TV as those goddamn "Aswirl Twins" from last cycle show up. The obligatory shrieking reaches fever pitch when Tyra pops by, and we move into auditions and a nude photo shoot, which cleverly serves to weed out the prissy Republicans.

We've got Christian, who does a bunch of Tyra poses for them. CariDee, a conventional-looking blonde who comes out wearing a miniskirt and a fucking garter on one leg, which Miss Jay removes with his teeth. Anchal, a very nervous Indian gal wearing blue contacts who starts to cry when she realizes that the American culture makes her want light-colored eyes.

Michelle (tomboy) and Amanda (girly), obnoxious not-so-pretty but hella skinny twins: "We don't try and be the same. We don't try and be different, either." HAAATE. Megg, who appears happy and bubbly, and yet described herself as dark and intense and totally rock and roll. Riiight. Way to pick a personality and stick to it, Meg. Jaeda, the "hot girl on campus," whom I initially peg as the "too Maxim" contestant of the cycle before realizing that she's actually a man.

Monique, a crier with a troubled background who thought she was ugly as a child because she had the darkest skin in her family. She "wants to go as far as her mind takes [her]." Not to make an obvious "models are dumb" joke, but seriously? As far as your mind takes you and you choose modeling? Eugena, who didn't like the last season's contestants because they were boring. (I'm assuming she called them "boring" because she was too polite to say "ugly.") Brooke, who raps and disappointingly tries to rhyme "classy" with "booty." (What about "assy," Brooke? What about assy?)

Megan was in a plane crash when she was nine; her mom's dead body sheltered her from hypothermia. I think we've hit a new low with the sob stories, Tyra. A.J. tries to bring the tears with her cervical cancer survival story, but has been totally outdone by Megan. Melrose, as Melissa Rose is known, has a strong personality, but a kind of bony face, in my opinion.

Notable also-rans: Evita, who has two kids and a husband in Iraq (come back when you get in a tragic plane crash, bitch), and Cyndel, who is an "entertainer," not a stripper. Tyra wants us all to know that STRIPPING IS NOT MODELING.

The new finalists are challenged to feminize a male model's outfit and walk the runway in it. Melrose is deemed the best, despite her bizarrely bouncy walk and obnoxious "rock and roll" pose at the end. Michelle is the worst, stopping to pull up the leg of her pants. Megg continues to annoy me with her stupid fake "rock and roll" lameness.

The girls shriek anew when they see their "Tyra Magazine"-themed house in Brentwood. And yeah, Tyra magazine is only a matter of time. Unfortunately, all is not well in the house of Tyra. Monique pulls a diva move, hogging the shower and stealing Eugena's bed (there aren't enough beds for all the girls-ha!), and Melrose appoints herself house mom, telling everyone to wash their dishes.

Tyra Mail! "People think models are stupid, anorexic, drug-addicted bitches. Are you?" If you're on this show, probably three out of four, at least. Yes, our photo shoot theme is model stereotypes, the Most Controversial Shoot Ever.

Oddly enough, Monique has trouble portraying a diva throwing a cell phone at her assistant. CariDee is a little too convincing as a dumb blonde. Megg turns in an average performance as a drug addict. Eugena does a good job as a black girl turned white (coughTyracough?). Megan does a good job as a diva with a tiny dog, as do Anchal portraying a narcissist and Brooke portraying a backstabbing bitch, although Brooke has trouble looking pretty AND angry.

Christian lacks pose variety and is boring as a model-turned-actress, but A.J. is much better as a girl "working the casting couch," although it seems she'll be pegged as the girl who doesn't want it enough and has low confidence. Jaeda also suffers from a lack in pose creativity (in addition to being a man).

Michelle and Amanda are fine as a bulimic and anorexic, respectively. So...they're thin, huh? Melrose, who got a personal assistant for the day when she won the challenge, slowed down the shoot AND didn't do a good job playing a $10,000 a day model. Apparently she photographs somewhat old. And she, like many wannabe top models before her, cries about it.

Melrose and Christian wind up in the bottom two, and we say goodbye to Christian on account of her not looking like a model in person and being boring on film.'s MAKEOVER NIGHT! But first, let me take a moment to say that the new remix of the theme song is Not Fierce. Okay, back to makeovers!

Melrose goes platinum blond, which does make her look a bit younger. Brooke goes chocolate brown, which helps to dial down the cuteness and dial up the prettiness. Eugena looks fine with long extensions, Megan's pixie cut is dyed white blonde in a definite improvement over her boring, slightly piggish previous look, and Anchal gets shorter, more layered hair. CariDee gets a blonde weave that makes her look kind of like a porn star.

A.J.'s is shorter, straighter, and lighter, in our first makeover-gone-wrong of the night. She looks more masculine, and her nose totally looks bigger. She manages to improve it with some intense product application and spiking later in the night, though. Megg gets lotsa hair with a curly weave, and Michelle and Amanda both go red. Michelle's is more orangeish and textured, while Amanda's is darker and straighter, and they both look pretty good.

Jaeda's our first crier of the night with a short, Halle Berry-esque cut. Wow, Tyra. Way to take a girl that already looks extremely mannish and transform her into a total transvestite. I mean, wow. Monique cries, but I'm not really sure why, since all she got was a less textured weave, from what I can tell. Melrose also cried, but at least she looks better.

The girls are sent on a crazy challenge that involves getting dressed and putting on makeup in an elevator, and meeting Queen Latifah. I'll spare you the details, but Eugena wins. Monique, pissed that she got disqualified from the challenge for being slow, turns into a total diva phone hog.

Onward to the big photo shoot, where the girls wear crazy elaborate hair pieces with, like, moving parts and everything and attempt to keep from being overwhelmed by them in the photos. Jay basically tells Megan to think of her dead mother while she's posing, but it doesn't work, and she is outshone by her hair. Jaeda joins her in the bottom two, but avoids the cut. Goodbye, Megan. You lost to a dude.

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Kidnapped: Ph34r |{n4pp'$ 1337 $|{i11z!

OMG Kn4pp is teh r0XX0rz!!1!!!11! Always one step ahead of the feds! Gets midnight calls from cryptic convicts resembling Bill Gates! Knows that the feds know that he knows they're watching him! He even knows 1337! Although, to be fair, it's not that hard to figure out. Ask Colleen about the time when I cracked her complicated 1337 code simply by reading it.

There's more kidnapping this week, as the Cains' older daughter, Aubrey, also becomes a hostage. Aubrey may not be as smart as Leopold - she basically thinks she's on an extended hook-up until she finds the surveillance pictures in her boy toy Kenny's car - but she can also hold her breath under water for a long time. I'm telling you now, there had better be some payoff. I really hope the show is not just doing it because it looks cool to have the actors staring up through the water and then suddenly surfacing. Anyway, Kenny's clearly in the employ of the Cooler King, but he also has connections to Conrad. For you see, Conrad came from Queens, and, as Kenny tells Aubrey before he is (of course) interrupted, "Connie forgot where he came from."

The feds come very close to ruining everything again when Knapp corners Kenny; all those FBI cars screeching up puts poor Kenny on edge and he holds Aubrey at gunpoint. But Atkins from Anchorage singlehandedly saves the entire Bureau's reputation (or just has a bit of dumb luck) by shooting Kenny in the neck. Yes, he killed Kenny. But I actually like him, so I'm not going to call him a bastard.

And Leopold breaks out! I told you he was no Kim. More of a Michelle. Unfortunately, he's in Mexico, and the gangs outside may be worse than the kidnappers inside.

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Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Smith: The Mysteries of Liotta

The second episode is always the test of a show. The pilot presents the idea; episode two shows how it can be sustained. The problem with Smith is that, being a show about people who plan and execute heists, it loses quite a bit of momentum when it's not actually planning and executing heists. There is only a little job this week - stealing personal data (but trust me, it involved crashing a Hummer into a plate-glass window), and so the rest of the episode is devoted to continuing personal storylines from the pilot. Well, except for the extended motorcycle chase. But anyway, Hope gets suspicious reading about the art theft, the feds contact Dorothy/Annie's parents, and the brother/cousin of the two guys Jeff shot goes looking for him. And if you haven't gotten enough excitement yet, there's even a scene between Ray Liotta and his broker.

I spent most of the episode pondering the Mysteries of Liotta, such as: What is it about watching Liotta coach Little League that makes me shudder like I've just seen Vincent D'Onofrio? Why does Liotta always look like he's wearing eyeliner? The world may never know.

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Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Studio 60: Those Bloggers are Power-Mad!

This week on Studio 60, Aaron Sorkin makes clear, through the Studio 60 cast, his views on bloggers, who apparently don't understand that with much power comes much responsibility. A crazy cat lady in her pajamas (touché, Aaron) has much less a right to an opinion than a credentialed member of the traditional media! Stupid democratic internet giving power to the masses...

Oh, right, and Matt and Danny have to come up with the awesomest opening sketch that ever awesomed. It has to be awesome. And it kind of is, but I'm also partial to Gilbert & Sullivan parodies, so I may be biased. There's a big hullabaloo about the "Crazy Christians" sketch, which causes several sponsors to pull their ads and some affiliates to opt out of airing the show. Unfortunately, they don't actually show the sketch (despite Amanda Peet's brave decision to buck the higher-ups/Christian protesters and air it anyway), so we'll never know whether it was good enough to be worth angering sponsors over.

I still really like the show, but I'm beginning to wonder if that's not at least in part due to its familiarity. Matthew Perry is doing an okay job of breaking out of the Chandler mold, but Bradley Whitford is still a little too Josh for my liking, and the pacing, dialogue, and shooting still strongly resemble The West Wing. Which, fine, and I really do like it a lot, but freshening Studio 60 up a little wouldn't hurt. And they MUST be sick of all the "It's like West Wing in Hollywood!" reviews, right?

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Heroes: I'm warning you now...

Now that the pilot of Heroes has finally aired, I can post about the specifics of the episode, because my assumption is that a majority of you – at least, those of you who care – have seen it. However, because I still feel like it needs to be said: if you haven't seen it yet, because you taped it and are planning on watching it later, stop reading now. Just stop. Go and get a sandwich or something, or water your plants, or, if you're at work while you're reading this, do some actual work. Go on, go. I don't want anyone saying I didn't warn them (Mom).

Okay. Is everyone here who should be here? Good. So who else thinks that they're setting up the Petrelli brothers to be superhero/supervillain? And who else is slightly bothered by this? I know that if it comes down to it, you guys already know which Petrelli brother I'll be rooting for, and it's not the "good" one, but that's not why it bothers me. I've done my share of rooting for bad guys before. I just find the characterization extremely heavy-handed. We're hit over the head with the fact that Peter is the good one, because he's selfless, tends to people for a living, and cares about his mom, while Nathan is bad because he's a selfish politician who only cares about his campaign. Well, you know what, Peter? I didn't see you taking care of the charges against your mom. And why does "politician" have to be shorthand for "egocentric"? Wait, don't answer that.

My point is, it seems like lazy characterization, and maybe it's just because it's the pilot. But if this is something they're going to build on, why not stretch it out? Why spend all your "Nathan is selfish and Peter is perfect" in one place? Because they spent enough time talking about it that I have to believe that this is where they're going, not to mention that it's the old superhero conceit that the archenemy is often someone close to him. And who could be closer than two brothers with a psychic bond? I do like the idea of a fraternal face-off, but, as I said, I'd be happier if they stretched it out, the way they're doing with Glasses Man. We don't know what Glasses Man is up to. We don't know what his objective is. Because it's stupid to show your entire hand in the first episode.

So anyway, there's that. Have I mentioned how much I like Hiro? Yes? Okay, I think we're done here.

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Runaway: Sometimes I feel I've got to [clapclap] run away...

Donnie Wahlberg, former teen heartthrob, plays a high-powered lawyer accused of killing a young woman. Claiming he was framed, he takes his family on the run, moving from town to town and finally settling in one of those big, empty states while he tries to crack the case and figure out who's framing him and threatening his family.

All in all, the CW's first new drama is pretty solid. The characters have depth, the concept is an interesting one (as the teenage son puts it, "Who runs?"), and Donnie's wife is very well-played by Leslie Hope (Teri Bauer on 24). I especially like the pressure put on the children to keep up their cover stories, even though they may not be 100% behind the decision to go on the run.

That said, I doubt I'll keep watching. Normally, it's the type of show that intrigues me enough to watch it if I'm home and it's on, but doesn't quite grab me enough to make it appointment viewing unless I'm actively looking for new shows to watch (which, not so much this season). Unfortunately, the serial nature of Runaway makes casual viewing more challenging. In a weaker season, though, I'd definitely be watching this one.

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Monday, September 25, 2006

Desperate Housewives: Fear the Dentist

This week on Desperate Housewives, we learn that Republicans don't have oral sex (which may explain a lot). Also, probably of more thematic importance, we learn that the rainy days make everything clean again, "which is necessary on a street like Wisteria Lane, where everything can get so messy." What's messy? Well, it's six months after the season finale, and...

Orson, Bree's creepy dentist boyfriend fiancé, apparently killed his last wife when she tried to leave his controlling ass. Laurie Metcalf, kooky lady extraordinaire, came by the next day to find Orson mopping up, and his parrot saying "Orson, no!" over and over again. Oops. So, naturally, she crashes Bree's engagement party to announce that Orson is a murderer. AWK-WARD! And, um, how exactly did she find out about the party? Did Orson invite her? Because that combined with the parrot snafu may make him the worst murderer ever.

Mike is still in a coma, and no one seems to figure out that Orson is the one who put him there. Susan is lovingly taking care of him in the hospital/being hit on by a British hunk with a comatose wife, who even gives her a fancy watch in Mike's room. Jesus, Susan.

Tom's baby momma is insinuating herself into the Scavo family, crashing their Christmas card photo and Parker's birthday party, among other things. And yeah, she's totally crazy. Although so's Leanette, so I guess Tom has a type. Leanette is worried that she doesn't come first with Tom anymore, now that he's making all kinds of concessions to the crazy lady so that he can have a relationship with his new daughter.

And Gabby has apparently gone from not even wanting a kid to being Xiao-Mei's slave in the space of a year. She puts up a bit of a fight, threatening to deport Xiao-Mei as soon as she gives birth, but Xiao-Mei just runs away and hides in Paul's house, which Edie is having trouble unloading. Gabby and Carlos track Xiao-Mei down together, and Gabby makes clear to Carlos that waiting on his mistress hand and foot before being a single mom weren't in her life's plans.

At the very end of the episode, a construction crew is about to unearth a dead body buried under a golf course. Hmmm...I wonder if dentists like to golf?

This season's opener definitely surpasses the low bar set by last season, but I'm not convinced they can keep up the momentum. Hopefully, Mark Cherry won't continue to try my patience by having the four main ladies go against character, as most of them have in the past year, and as some (Gabby) already show signs of doing this season.

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Brothers and Sisters: Calista Flockhart's Yawn-ful Return to TV

10:00- Ok. Brothers and Sisters. I'm not optimistic, given the well-publicized reworking this show got over the summer. Recastings, departures due to "creative differences," and extensive reshooting are never good signs. But, here we go...

10:12- I'm feeling an inexplicably strong animosity towards this show. Possibly because Calista Flockhart is playing an Ann Coulter type. But I really don’t care who’s gay, who’s a drug addict, or who’s estranged from whom. The whole family drama thing is really just not grabbing me. I’d have turned it off after the first few minutes, but I foolishly promised I’d give it a chance. I mean, there has to be a reason all these good actors signed on for this, right? …Right?

10:26- Aaaand the animosity has shifted to boredom. I know that by their nature pilots are full of exposition, but Jesus Christ, they have to entertain me a little! Screw this, I'm outta here.

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The Amazing Race: Damn you, Mongolians!

For being so... helpful! Because if you learn nothing else from this episode, at least take this lesson away - Mongolians are very friendly. They provide directions, help fix cars, change flats, and find helmets. If it weren't for the friendly locals, a lot of teams would be roaming around with the nomads right now. But we'll get to that.

Phil throws the teams out of the nice, warm pit stop and tells them to go to Ulaanbaatar (hey, that's how they spell it), Mongolia. After visiting a temple, they're told to drive themselves to a national park, where they'll put on those big, furry Mongolian hats and ride horses to the Detour. This is where tonight's theme of Car Trouble starts to come into play, because Tyler and James get a flat, and either their jack doesn't work, or, what I believe is more likely, they just don't know how to use it. A friendly Mongolian helps them.

Detour: either take apart a traditional nomad dwelling (ger, pictured) or take an ox-like animal down to the river and get some water. Peter and Sarah have serious problems, starting out with the ger and then switching to the water when they get frustrated. But their ox-like thing turns out to be broken, so they have to go back to the ger. They have a complete meltdown (broken oxen will do that to you), which is not helped by the fact that Peter addresses Sarah like she's a golden retriever, clapping at her and barking "encouragement." She finally has to tell him to stop lecturing. Dustin and Kandice fare only slightly better; one of them (Kandice?) gets dragged by her horse for a few moments, and then they lose one of their fuzzy Mongolian hats, which they need to leave. When they can't find it, they end up wandering around aimlessly. Luckily for them, a friendly Mongolian helps them.

Leaving the Detour, Lyn and Karlyn, Erwin and Godwin, and Kellie and Jamie all have car trouble. Friendly Mongolians help them.

With all the problems the teams are having, we don't even get to the Roadblock until the 45-minute mark. At the Hotel Mongolia (such a lovely place), teams have to shoot a flaming arrow and ignite a target. Cool! Once they've done it, they can run up to Phil at the mat. Peter and Sarah eventually work through their issues and are first, while last place comes down to Lyn and Karlyn and Kellie and Jamie. Both teams get lost, but the cheerleaders get more lost, so they're eliminated.

Meanwhile this episode: teams make friends with each other, with David and Mary leading the way; Rob and Kimberly continue to fight; Duke and Lauren continue to be really cool with each other; and Sarah dances for a crowd. That can't be good for the leaky knee.

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Saturday, September 23, 2006

Cirque du CSI

When last we left the Vegas CSIs, they were holding vigil at Brass' bedside and two of them were about to have sex. Astoundingly, neither one of them was Catherine. Yes, after years of longing looks over corpses and bugs, Grissom and Sara finally got their act together. Which brings us to the new season.

Good news, everyone! Brass is back, now with a tattoo to commemorate his shooting. Sam Braun is back, too, because people keep dying around him. This time it's one of the investors in his new hotel. His case is a straightforward suicide. The other case this week, a death backstage at Ka, is an accident caused by a run-in with the moveable stage. The cases wrap up easily so they can get to setting up next week's episode.

Grissom and Sofia (Yeah, she's still there. I know, I forgot, too.) investigate a crime scene replicated in miniature - exactly - in a creepy little dollhouse. Catherine and Nick, on the other hand, have apparently wandered onto a WB show, because they're suddenly in the middle of a John Mayer performance. And everyone has fun until someone slips a mickey into Catherine's drink and she wakes up naked in a hotel room. And then she takes it upon herself to process her own crime scene. To be continued!

In character news: David the assistant coroner has a bad night, first grossing out the future in-laws, and then allowing a body to bleed out in the body bag, Warrick tells Hodges to shut up, because he can't hear it enough, and the Curse of the Ill-Advised Facial Hair claims another victim. Having apparently learned nothing from Grissom's beard and Nick's 'stache, Greg is sporting the kind of long sideburns that were popular only in the 70s, and, really, not even then. If things keep up like this, Doc Robbins is going to show up with mutton chops.

Oh, you want to know about Grissom and Sara? Did you really think they would address that? They're clearly still doing it, but the hottest thing between Grissom and Sara in this episode is the veggie burger he brings her. Of course, that is pretty hot for the two of them.

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Friday, September 22, 2006

Shark: Because L.A. has prosecutors, too

If you've heard about Shark, the show about a defense attorney who switches to prosecution, you've probably heard about how it's like House, only with lawyers. Sure, Sebastian Stark is arrogant and snarky, even with his female boss. And he has his little proteges, like House's Cottages (except, I guess, these would be Minnows). And, of course, he's great at what he does, and even has the House-like moment of epiphany as he discovers the clue that will break the case wide open. But House isn't the only show Shark resembles; there's also quite a bit of Justice in there too, only from the other side. As on Justice, we see the lawyers preparing the case and figuring out what they can use to their advantage to win the case. Both shows are set in L.A., so I'm holding out hope for a future courtroom death match between Stark and Ron Trott. Two sleazy, self-centered lawyers go in! One comes out!

Also in this episode, we're introduced to Stark's daughter Julie, one of those wise-beyond-her-years kids; Jessica Devlin, the district attorney who will clearly be sleeping with him later; the Minnows, one of whom is a total suck-up, one of whom has a problem with authority, one of whom gets canned, and two of whom are just kind of there; and, finally, the awesome mock courtroom in Stark's house, filled with legal relics and high-tech equipment.

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Top Five Guilty Non-Pleasures

I watch a lot of TV. And yet, somehow, I seem to not watch a lot of shows that I know I should be watching. And instead watch garbage along with the good. Why do I fill my TV-viewing schedule with a mixture of quality and crap, instead of 100% unadulterated smart TV? Maybe my brain needs some junk food; maybe I just can't handle more than a few serialized shows at a time...who knows? But here are my top five guilty non-pleasures - shows that I actually feel guilty about not watching - in no particular order:

Lost: Sigh. I know I would love it and get insanely into it, and that is why I do not watch it. Crazy? Maybe. I made a conscious decision not to watch during the first season, just because I knew it would end up as another appointment viewing show in an already over-stuffed schedule. Now it's just a matter of time before I rent the DVDs and catch up. It seems to me like it's more of a DVD marathon show than a watch-on-TV show anyway.

Battlestar Galactica: I'm not quite as certain I'd be into this one, since science fiction isn't really my thing (past X-Files addiction notwithstanding). has such a devoted legion of fans, especially on TV blogs I respect, that I feel like I at least should be giving it a shot. Another one for the DVDs?

The Office: I watched the first episode of the American version when it premiered, and while I found it funny, I also found it to possess that kind of uncomfortable, awkward humor that makes me cringe and want to change the channel. Unfortunately, I never changed it back. Upon hearing that the show really came into its own last season, I decided to jump right back in and watched last week's rerun of Casino Night, and last night's season premiere. Still cringy, but totally hilarious. Hopefully, I'll soon be watching regularly (sigh...better get those DVDs, too...), and this will be purely pleasure, rather than a guilty non-pleasure.

It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia: I thought I might like this one when it first aired, but I could never remember when it was on, and sort of gave it up to the cable network wasteland. Now I hear it's just my kind of offbeat, twisted humor, and I'll definitely be giving it a shot just as soon as I can figure out when it's on (which may, unfortunately, be next summer). I need another good comedy in my life!

The Wire: At least I have a good excuse for this one-- I don't get HBO. DVDs, here I come!

Happily, Veronica Mars was rescued from guilty non-pleasuredom by a group of friends who, unlike me, saw through its "Modern-Day Nancy Drew" premise and forced me to watch bittorrented episodes halfway through the season so that I could catch up and start watching with them. A close miss, that one.

I've been somewhat under the weather this week, but reviews of America's Next Top Model, Grey's Anatomy, and Six Degrees should be coming this weekend. In the meantime, feel free to share your guilty non-pleasures in the comments, or yell at me for not watching any of the aforementioned shows.

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Thursday, September 21, 2006

Kidnapped: Nope, no idiots here... except for the feds, of course

Twenty minutes of Kidnapped was enough to convince me that this is a good show. We get the brazen daylight kidnapping of teenager Leopold (he refuses to be called "Leo" because he thinks it's an old man's name, to which I say: Leopold?). We get to meet the mastermind behind the kidnapping, who likes to do his Cooler King impression. We meet Latimer King, an FBI agent in his last week on the job, and Knapp, a freelancer who specializes in bringing home kidnap victims, as he's rescuing the daughter of another client.

On paper, it sounds like everything you've seen before - the law enforcement officer dragged out of retirement for one last job, the rogue agent locking horns with the feds (who, of course, screw everything up) - but it works. Mostly because everyone is smart. King and Knapp are smart, the Cooler King is smart (he eliminates his minions as soon as he's done with them), and, best of all, Leopold is smart. He steals a plastic knife, hides his meds, and can hold his breath a long time underwater - which I assume will pay off later. He's no Kim, is what I'm saying. I want to see what's going to happen with him.

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Jericho: The Day Of

The premise of Jericho would make a great movie: small Kansas town dealing with the aftermath of a nuclear explosion - oh. Wait. Well, but this is different, because instead of Steve Guttenberg, it has Skeet Ulrich. Anyway, with such an interesting premise, and one that captivated the nation back in 1983, you would expect the show to be more engaging. Denver and Atlanta have been obliterated by nuclear blasts (so if you're reading from either of those cities, sorry, you're dead), and we're supposed to wonder what other cities have been destroyed. Skeet has been gone from Jericho for five years and we're supposed to wonder where he's been, especially when he comes back with emergency tracheotomy skills. The only thing I found myself wondering was whether Kansas really is flat enough that the citizens of Jericho would be able to see the mushroom cloud explode over Denver. Especially since there are intimations at the end of the episode that something similar has happened in Wichita. So they saw Denver blow up, but not Wichita? What kind of new geography is this?

I'll give it another try next week, to see what the show can do when it really warms to its premise. But for right now, it's not really grabbing me.

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Wednesday, September 20, 2006

House: Let me see that thong tha thong thong thong

Willkommen, bienvenue and welcome to my House recap! (Yes, I love Joel Grey and Cabaret, and I'm not at all ashamed to admit it.) Apologies if this is a little incoherent...I have a cold and am somewhat fuzzy-headed. Maybe I should ask House to put me out of my misery, for yes, that is our theme this week. Poor, poor Joel Grey is a famous medical researcher stricken with a mystery illness who wants House to help him OD on morphine.

Unfortunately for Joel Grey, that's totally illegal in New Jersey, so House makes him think he's getting the morphine, but puts him in a coma instead, all the better to run tons of tests on him against his will. Cameron's not game with the killing him plan OR the coma plan (I guess she's on Team "Let Him Die in Pain"), but has a quality chat with Joel Grey once they wake him up again about an old study of his that House brought to her attention. Apparently, he irradiated babies without their mothers' consent because patients' rights hold back research. Charming. And yeah, Cameron's not too pleased with him.

House, meanwhile, gets his flirt on with a patient's 17 1/2 year old daughter, who is hitting on him like crazy. Inspired by her red thong (and dude--how tacky is being able to see someone's thong coming up out of their pants?), House figures out what's wrong with Joel Grey. Unfortunately, it's terminal. The next morning, he's dead, and Cuddy suspects House of playing the angel of death. But no! It was Cameron! Murderess!!! (Okay, consensual mercy killing, but know she just wanted to kill the baby-poisoner.) House is proud of her, though, so I guess her evil plan worked.

Oh, right, and House is back on the cane and is, well, House again. Sweetness.

QuOTE: "I hate practicing medicine in high school." --House, upon hearing that Cameron told Wilson how Joel Grey was doing. (Truer words were never spoken.)

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Tuesday, September 19, 2006

What the Hell, World?

Dear World,
You are dead to me.

CSI: Miami is officially the world's number one American TV show:

With 50 million viewers around the globe (including 18.1 million Americans who tuned in last year), "CSI: Miami" toppled "Lost" and "Desperate Housewives," which ranked second and third, respectively, and even the mother ship, "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation," which finished in sixth place. [LA Times]

Is it the sunglasses? The constant hands-on-hips stance? The pact David Caruso has apparently signed with Satan? EXPLAIN YOURSELF, WORLD!

[via TV Tattle]

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Heroes: Too much Milo, not enough Greg

NBC, as with many other shows this TV season, is making the pilot episode of Heroes available here on Yahoo before its premiere next Monday. And I'm going to tell you this up front, so you don't get disappointed: Greg Grunberg isn't in it at all. He comes in with the next episode, or so I am led to believe. But it still works out better for him than the last time he was in a pilot, so as long as he doesn't get eaten, I'm not going to complain. Much.

But even if they didn't hold out the promise of future Grunbergitude, I would still want to see more. The premise is essentially the same as that of X-Men, in that humanity is reaching a new stage of evolution and some people get powers. In fact, there's a cab-driving professor who likes to tell us all about this phenomenon. Thanks, Professor X-position! Anyway, since we've all seen the premise before, the real reasons to watch are the characters. There's Claire (Hayden Panettiere), the invulnerable Texas cheerleader; Nikki (Ali Larter), who has some weird stuff going on with her reflection; and my favorite, Hiro (Masi Oka), the geeky cubicle slave who can travel through space and time. Seriously, when he went running through his office yelling about how he broke the space-time continuum, that's when I started to love him a little. And he was on Scrubs!

Of course, there's also Peter (Milo Ventimiglia, aka Jess from Gilmore Girls or Rocky Jr.), a nurse who probably flies, but we'll never know, because he spends so much time whining about his destiny. And his brother, who is more interesting, is a politician, so we've got this whole selfish brother/selfless brother dichotomy going on (The politician is actually the selfish one, but you can be forgiven for thinking otherwise, because Milo does spend a lot of time whining about himself and his destiny). The only part I liked about Milo's storyline came at the very end of the episode, and you'll see why when you watch it.

All in all, it's like a live-action comic book. But not in the Batman sort of way. I mean in a good way.

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Monday, September 18, 2006

Someday, I hope to remember the WB as more than the network that renewed 7th Heaven. Someday.

Last night, a similarly TV-obsessed friend and I settled in to watch the WB's big sendoff before it merges with UPN and becomes the CW. (Had to keep the "the," huh, guys?) To celebrate their last night, the WB re-aired the original pilot episodes of Felicity, Angel, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and Dawson's Creek.

Now, as you may recall, I wasn't allowed to watch much TV when these shows originally aired, so this was actually my first time viewing all of these episodes except the Buffy pilot, which I finally saw a few years ago. Luckily, my friend's parents were more TV-friendly, and he was happy to answer all my "But who does Greg Grunberg play?" and "Is Michelle Williams' character really a virgin?"-type questions. He also came up with the genius plan of a "WB Classic" network, which would air all-WB shows, all the time.

I feel like the WB was really the network of my generation, pretty much neatly encompassing our journey from childhood to adulthood. It started in 1995, when I was in middle school, and now ends its run as I'm a year out of college. Since I didn't actually get to watch it for much of that time, last night was an opportunity for me to experience some of the quintessential adolescent television-watching moments I missed out on the first time around. Here's a quick rundown of my impressions...

Felicity: Really, really creepy. She follows this guy all the way across the country, turning down a paid four years at Stanford, after he writes a nice message in her yearbook?! Um...yeah. My friend assured me it got better (before it got worse again), but I was expecting a lot more from Felicity, given that it is J.J. Abrams and all. Bonus points for casting the Pink Power Ranger and Elliot's boyfriend from Scrubs, though.

Angel: I had forgotten how much darker this show was than Buffy. It really stood out as the most adult show of the night. Also, how is it that David Boreanaz has had multiple shows and yet James Marsters, who is also good-looking and can actually kind of act (comic timing, good fake British accent), is stuck with a bit part on Smallville?

Buffy the Vampire Slayer: You can tell just from the pilot that this show has all the makings of awesomeness. The characters are there (save Angel, who is just sort of wooden and vaguely creepy, Boreanaz), the themes are there, the distinctive vernacular is there, and the surprisingly high (for the WB) production quality is there. Makes me want to go out and watch the whole series on DVD. It's been too long!

Dawson's Creek: SO not sorry I missed this one the first time around! Dawson seems like a clueless maybe-jerk (my friend assures me this does not change), Joey seems like a jealous bitch, Pacey is believable, but most of what he did made me cringe, and Jen...actually didn't annoy me that much. But perhaps was a little too perfect. Maybe you just had to be that age, or something. It's also possible that my vision of the show is slightly colored now that I know Joey (supposedly) gave birth to the spawn of Cruise, but I'm pretty sure I'm just not down with the teen melodrama. Ah, well.

And was anyone else totally weirded out when they kept showing America's Next Top Model promos? I kept being like, "What the- this isn't UPN! Oh, wait..." Just as an instinctive reaction. Weirdness.

So yeah, goodbye, WB. Some of your shows sucked, and some prevailed against all odds and were wonderful. Many of them were just good bad TV. No one can say that you didn't influence the television landscape enormously (although not entirely for the better), and no one can say that you didn't really, really start the CW off on the wrong foot by renewing 7th Heaven, but that was your mistake to make. Well, yours and UPN's. Best of luck in the future, guys!

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The Amazing Race: Tenthennial Extravaganza!

Phil tells the teams that this season will be different. This season will have twists and turns, and surprises they won't expect. But do they listen? No. And yet it's true. The theme song is slightly different, they go backwards (i.e. west) for the first time, and the first team is eliminated halfway through the first leg! I know! This effectively puts the fear of Phil into these teams. Phear!

But not everything has changed. The teams still have tasks to perform, some with their own pros and cons. This week's Roadblock is one of those gross eating challenges, in which racers have to eat fish eyes - out of fish heads. Ew! And yet, the worst part of this Roadblock seems to be figuring out how to use chopsticks, because no one freaks out while doing it. If anyone were to have problems, it would be the beauty queens, but the one who does it just says it's "actually, really not that bad." Teams actually struggle more at the pit stop, because Phil decides to make them rappel up the Great Wall of China before they can check in. What happened to Phil? He's mean all of a sudden!

Anyway, here's a rundown of the teams, in order of check-in, including the two (!) eliminated:

1. Tyler and James - friends/models/former addicts: The requisite "buff young guy" team. I actually think they might be Eric and Jeremy under different names. Seriously, the only thing I can remember to tell you about them is that they called the Forbidden City "Ninjaland." Which would be an awesome theme park, but would maybe be more suited for Japan.

2. Duke and Lauren - father/daughter: Duke initially turned me off a bit, because his first interview was about his "disappointment as a father" when he looks at her (she's a lesbian and he's trying to deal with that), and then things got worse at the airport, when he joked, in response to another team's question as to whether they were dating, "I've been trying to ask her out for years." Ew. But I ended up liking them, because they're very encouraging with each other, and Lauren even teared up watching her dad scale the Great Wall. There's hope for them yet.

3. Peter and Sarah - friends/recently dating: Sarah's the one with the prosthetic leg that you've probably seen in the previews. They seem like a smart team, or, at least, smart enough to take side roads to avoid a backup on the highway while driving to the airport. But they get very stressed out when things don't go their way (including, it seems, next week).

4. Dustin and Kandice - friends/beauty queens: I can't tell them apart. They look exactly the same: same long blond hair, same eyes, same face, even, I swear. It's possible that one of them has curlier hair, but I couldn't say for certain.

5. Rob and Kimberly - dating: They yell a lot.

6. Kellie and Jamie - friends/cheerleaders: They interview at the beginning about how they could "have a conversation with a doorknob," and it turns out that it would be pretty even in terms of intelligence, because these girls are box-of-rocks dumb. They're the ones who ask Duke and Lauren if they're dating, and they go on to wonder if Muslims believe in Buddha. But as long as they're not asked to figure anything out, they might be all right.

7. Erwin and Godwin - brothers: The jury's still out on these guys. They could be fun, or they could be annoying. It was pretty funny how their water pistols got confiscated in the airport, though.

8. Tom and Terry - dating: They could be the new Guido. Their first interview is about how they don't want to be friends with anyone, but they haven't done anything specifically evil yet. I did have to laugh when they mocked the cheerleaders' clapping routine. So we'll see.

9. Lyn and Karlyn - friends/single moms: They don't like Peter and Sarah. They were rappelling for themselves and their kids. That's about all I've got.

10. David and Mary - married parents: They also argue, but not as much as Rob and Kimberly. And sure, Mary would rather hug Phil than her husband, but I think that's a pretty common reaction, so we'll let it slide.

Eliminated #1: Bilal and Sa'eed - friends/Muslims: This was a surprise, not just for how early the elimination was, but for how heavily they were promoted as the first Muslim team to run the race. Every other team said how nice they were, so we'll trust them, because they spent more time with these guys than we did.

Eliminated #2: Vipul and Arti - married: This was a heartbreaker. We didn't see much of them, but they were really sweet with each other, even when things weren't going well, and that's always an attitude that I like to see on the race.

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Sunday, September 17, 2006

CSI Miami: Because David Caruso Will Not Be Upstaged

All I can say about this is: CSI: Original Recipe had better look out.

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ER: Why Won't You Just Die Already?

You know how in horror movies when the monster is coming closer and closer while the hero is trying valiantly to kill it? He shoots it a bunch of times, it keeps coming. He tries to stab it, the knife bounces off. He tries to set it on fire, to no effect. It just keeps lurching toward him until he can find its one weakness. That's kind of the way I think of ER now, in the sense that we would have to crush it or drop it in a vat of molten metal or... whatever happened to the third Terminator - I think she got crushed too, maybe - in order to get rid of it. It just won't die.

Consider: I am 22 years old. ER has been on for over half my life. Granted, both The Simpsons and Law and Order have been on for longer. I can't even remember TV without those shows. But neither show is quite so stale as ER is. ER has always been a character-driven drama, and it's a little hard to get fans to care about your characters when even the third wave of actors is beginning to leave and new characters are cropping up all the time. The Simpsons (which, as we've discussed on this blog, is not exactly fresh as a daisy itself) never really changes, and most of its original actors are still around. It's also helped by the buzz surrounding its upcoming movie. Law and Order is a procedural that barely tells you anything about its characters (see: "Is this because I'm a lesbian?"). Its viewers are tuning in for the - well, the law and order - rather than the actors.

There's nothing better for a show than to go out at the top of its game, at its peak or just a couple seasons after. It is way, way too late for that for ER. The shark is a dot to them. The most they can hope for is to go off the air with the fewest number of people shouting, "Wait, that show is still on the air?"

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Saturday, September 16, 2006

Smith: Liotta's Six

Smith is another one of the CBS shows available on Google video (commercial-free) before its premiere Tuesday night, and I recommend giving it a look, either online or on your television. If you liked Ocean's Eleven, but want a bit more character drama with your heists, this is your show. The pilot is full of suspense and sets up juicy backstory on many of the characters that should pay off in future episodes. Amy Smart has a particularly interesting role, not for the history that she has with one of the other members of the team, but for what may be in her own personal history. And while we get almost nothing about Shohreh Aghdashloo's character, a shadowy, maybe crime boss, that's just the way I like it for now. Although I encourage the show to use her more, because there's no point in hiring an Oscar nominee if you're not going to give her a lot to do.

The show picks up the "in medias res" mantle that Alias, home of the "72 Hours Earlier" caption, left behind by starting first at the most exciting part of the heist, then flashing back to sixty minutes earlier, at the start of the heist, then going back to three weeks earlier, when they actually start planning the thing. And while it is good to watch the crime unfold once you've already been introduced to the players, I still think it's bad form to flash back from what is already a flashback. Smith does try to alleviate your confusion by providing some of the characters' names in captions during their introductory scenes, which, for a pilot, is pretty smart. Not smart, however: Ray Liotta's character going over the blueprints for his next job, in a glass-walled office, while his boss watches him. Worst criminal ever?

Ultimately, it's a show with a lot of promise. I don't want to say much more, because you should really see for yourself.

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Come Back to TV, Kevin Weisman

Dear Kevin,

Has it really only been a few months since Alias went off the air? It feels a lot longer. Long enough that I've already forgotten most of the Rambaldi mythology (which wasn't really that hard, because I didn't pay a whole lot of attention to it in the first place). And now a new season is starting up. Victor Garber, Greg Grunberg, and Ron Rifkin all have new shows. Even that one guy whose storyline was completely pointless. They're all back. So how about you?

Listen, I'm sorry about the times I wanted Marshall to simmer down. I'm pretty sure it wasn't that often, and besides, all I remember now are the good times. You know, like: I lost my keys. Sloane is here. That one time you saved Sydney. That other time you saved Sydney. The Marshall and Weiss Show: Perverted Russian Military Guy Edition. The Marshall and Weiss Comeback Special: Let's Run Rachel Into a Door, Hooray! The Poker Game of Awesome (pictured at left, because who wouldn't want to play poker with those guys?). And let's not forget that fantastic speech from the finale.

Tell me the good times aren't over, Kev. Come on back. I miss you.

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The Class: Not Unwatchable, Not the Next Friends

I just caught the pilot episode of CBS's The Class on google video, and I can't say I was really impressed. The premise involves a guy reuniting his third grade class for a party. Since this episode basically just set up the premise, I'll probably give it another shot with the second and third episodes to see where it goes and if it improves. But to get added to my regular viewing schedule, much less merit a comparison to Friends, another of David Crane's shows, it'll have to improve quite a bit.

I found a few of the characters (suicidal guy, girl married to football player) somewhat likeable, and a few (quirky girl and her sister, angsty girl) annoyingly overacted. I can definitely see the show getting better as the characters develop, but I could also see how it might be impossible to sustain the "third grade reunion" premise beyond a few episodes without stretching my credulity. We'll see how it goes, but my hopes aren't very high for this one.

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Friday, September 15, 2006

A Tribute to Summer Television

Come Monday, the new TV season will officially be in gear (except for Fox, who blew their wad a little early), and the summer season will be over. This is a tribute to the few, the proud, the summer shows. The crappy ones made me look forward to the fall season even more, and the good ones sustained me through lean times. Here are my top five, in no particular order except that Project Runway is the best ever:

Project Runway: Legitimately one of my favorite shows, summer or no, Project Runway needs no further explanation except to thank Bravo for airing it in the summer this year. Way to give me something that's actually good to watch this summer, Bravo!

Falcon Beach: Laugh if you will, but this OC wannabe kept me entertained all summer. Bad acting, poor production values, laughably melodramatic writing, and insanely convoluted plots all came together in just the right amounts: enough to make it funny, not so much that it was unwatchable. I can't say that I actually cared when Erin got pregnant, Lane got busted for dealing drugs, or Paige's dad got caught up in a corporate scandal, but I kept watching/laughing, and that's what matters. And you can see for yourself with streaming episodes online. Thanks, ABC Family!

The Janice Dickinson Modeling Agency: All crazy bitch, all the time. This show featured Janice Dickinson, fired from America's Next Top Model for being, well, a crazy bitch, and her "modeling agency." The models may have been inexperienced (all), homeless (Teresa Cutie), or muscle-bound crybabies (Sorin), but Janice was gonna whip them into shape! That is, when she wasn't getting trashed and falling into fountains while wearing one-of-a-kind couture gowns. Thanks for fulfilling my weekly quota of crazy bitch, Oxygen!

Psych: Perfectly paired with that other quirky detective show, Monk (on Friday nights, unfortunately), Psych is about a fake psychic who helps the police solve crimes. Yeah, the premise seemed a little weird and limited to me, too, but I watched because the previews looked good, and because I love Dule Hill (Charlie on The West Wing), who plays Shawn's (James Roday) long-suffering best friend. I was rewarded with an offbeat show that's legitimately fun to watch. Thanks for bringing it back for the winter, USA!

Eureka: I've already expressed my love for this show, but in short, this was my big surprise find of the summer. It's not amazingly fantastic television by any means, but it's fun, entertaining, and getting better every week. Thanks for giving it a chance, Sci Fi!

I'm sure I missed plenty of great shows, but hey, it's summer. I was supposed to be outside or something. What were your top summer shows?

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Survivor: I'm Rooting For the Chicken

Unless you've been living in a cave with your fingers in your ears, or have been taping the new season of Survivor somewhere remote, you've heard about the new twist for Survivor's current season: dividing the teams, at least initially, by race. Much ink has been spilled about this already, and I don't really want to add to it, except to say: I don't like it. Dividing people by race - or by gender, religion, sexuality, what have you - forces them to represent that group, so everything they do, good or bad, reflects back on the group as a whole. But the only person you can successfully represent is yourself.

Anyway, the best member of this Survivor cast isn't on any of the tribes: it's a chicken. When Jeff Probst throws the teams off his ship at the beginning of the episode, they are allowed to take as many items from the boat as they can grab, including two chickens. But one of the chickens makes a break for it, flapping out into the water as Yul jumps in after it. "Go, chicken, go!" I yell, but sadly, Jonathan snatches both the chickens and takes them back to Raro's camp, where they are confined under a box. While incarcerated, Steve McChicken convinces his buddy that they need to break out, and they choose their moment perfectly. Jessica the roller girl lifts up the box just a bit, and - freedom! The chickens scurry off into the trees, the better to taunt the hungry survivors. I can only imagine how happy this made Colleen. Liz, too, actually.

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Thursday, September 14, 2006

Project Runway: I Miss Alison!

[Hey, guys: I’m trying a bit of a different format from last week. Namely, much longer…more of a full recap. Please let me know what you think, and if you’d prefer it to be more short and snappy next week! Non-PR fans, scroll way down for other new content! Okay, here we go…]

Well, it’s been a long couple months, but we’re finally down to the final five! …OR SO WE THOUGHT. (Cue ominous music)

Heidi greets the contestants on the runway, and appears to be wearing a giant silk handkerchief fashioned into some sort of sack dress. Has she completely lost the ability to dress herself when not in her third trimester? The “final five” find out that they will be attending a party, with surprise guests (ominous music), where they will find out what the new challenge will be.

Aaaand…JESUS CHRIST. The guests are freaking Vincent and Angela, the two most annoying, useless, undeserving wastes of space of the season. And they’re back in the competition! AND ALISON IS STILL GONE!!! Supposedly, these two losers (and I mean that only in the sense that they actually lost…and in the sense that they lose at life) get to come back because they’d won challenges before, and the other auf’d contestants hadn’t.

Three contestants will be eliminated this week, and the only way Angela or Vincent can stay is to win (yeah, right). At this point I start shaking my fist at the ceiling and cursing Heidi Klum and her blasted twists. And Angela is wearing one of her goddamn bubble skirts, probably just to spite me.

Kayne hits the nail on the head: “It’s like cockroaches. You step on them once, and they just keep on crawling around.” I was going to go with zits that come back after you pop them, but I can go with cockroaches. Right on, sister friend.

The challenge is to make black and white cocktail dresses. Foolishly, I think to myself, “That’s not so bad,” thereby bringing about the next twist: They must use ALL the fabric they buy at Mood—even the scraps. WILL THE MADNESS NEVER STOP???

Laura tells Angela that she thinks it’s somewhat unfair that Angela gets to return, since she only won a team competition. Laura is so right. And not just ‘cause I hate Angela. Her win would never, ever had been possible without Laura and Michael on her team. Had it just been Angela on her own, the outfit would have been covered with fleurchons like warts on a toad. (Sorry, toads.)

Kayne claims he’s going for an “edited” look, and I fervently hope he succeeds. Laura interviews that she’s really starting to doubt herself after the last challenge. I start to worry. But not as much as I worry about Uli when she grabs some crazy black and white prints at Mood and says she’s going for a “Hippie beach party cocktail dress.” DANGER, Will Robinson, DANGER!

I can’t stop laughing at Angela’s concept: a leather shrug with an “Edwardian collar” lined with ivory charmeuse. That’s just…yeah. There’s no way that’s going to turn out well. And Vincent accidentally purchased extra fabric. At this point, I relax a little and stop worrying that either of these two could actually make it through to next week and continue to make my eyes (Angela) and ears (Vincent) bleed. Jeffrey and I are possibly in agreement for the first time ever: We “never ever ever ever ever EVER wanted to see Angela again.”

As he works, Vincent starts talking about how “the more things progress, the more you see the true nature of things. It’s starting to get a little too ugly for my taste.” Like he never left! Um, it WAS ugly, Vincent. Remember your dress from last week? That’s the very definition of ugly. Then, you left, and for five minutes it was less ugly. Now you are back, and yes, it’s probably “starting to get a little too ugly” again. But that’s really no one’s fault but your own, dude.

Michael is worried about Kayne, but in a nice, constructive way. And now I am worried about Kayne in an actually worried way. In other worrying news, Laura’s model tries to advise her on making the dress more youthful.

At the commercial break, a special treat! Zach Braff introduces a special sneak preview of The Last Kiss, and he does a Tim Gunn impersonation! It’s like two of my favorite people in one!

The designers all get makeup consultations with Collier Strong, who gets to prove that he knows how to do more than a smoky eye and a natural look for day. I suspect that he feels the same way about Angela as I do, since he suggests a crazy Chinese opera look for her model.

And now, it’s Tim Time: Jeffrey appears to be making pleather leggings. Kayne may be totally screwed, since he ignored the rules and made his outfit black, instead of black and white. Tim thinks Michael’s is okay, but may look a bit unfinished and (yikes) see-through. Angela’s doesn’t fit her model well, and she has time issues. Laura is worried about not being able to design young. Her confidence was severely shaken last week, and the pregnancy is clearly affecting her emotions (she’s crying and exhausted). I have to say, no one’s looking like a home run at this point.

Kayne thinks he “dropped the ball a little bit,” but “still rocked it out.” I remain worried. Jia, Vincent’s model, has been in an accident, and he’ll have a replacement model for the runway. A model too big for his dress. Don’t make it work, Vincent! Jeffey is confident and feels like he had a “fresh idea” (there’s a shocker). Kayne thinks Jeffrey’s looks “costume-y and cheap,” and I say this with love, but coming from Kayne, that’s a bad sign.

Tim does a scrap inspection. People seem to be making purses and other accessories out of everything bigger than a postcard. Uli actually makes a kind of awesome necklace. Onward to the runway…

Great. Now Heidi’s wearing a crazy glittery skirt and a lumpy satin blazer. What the hell, Heidi? Zac Posen is the special guest judge. Go here if you find my my fashion-ignorant descriptions lacking, and need pictures (I didn't want to make this even longer than it was).

Angela: Um…is the giant popped collar made entirely of fleurchons? With a weird-ass leather Angela's dressback? And a goddamn fleurchon in the cleavage?! You suck, Angela. I can't even describe how crazy this "cocktail dress" is. You need visual evidence:

Kayne: A pretty simple black dress. Very modern, open in the back, but the only white is some tacked-on trim on the back.

Laura: Very identifiably Laura, but still a bit of a departure for her (no plunging neckline, for example). It’s black lace on white fabric with fringe at the bottom, and a square neckline.

Michael: A white dress with an asymmetrical neckline and a cool black cummerbund-type belt thing with black flowers made of a plastic-y material.

Jeffrey: Kind of a rockabilly, urban chic look. White fabric with varying densities of black dots, a black belt, and yes, it turns out, pleather leggings. It seems a bit trashy, and not much like a cocktail dress.

Uli: Actually a little too much print for me, especially when combined with the big fabric necklace. It also has big bell sleeves with ruffles. I don’t love it.

Vincent: Um…is that a cape? Or a scarf? Scape? He seems to have made it with his extra fabric. The dress seems overly tiny and overly simple. You can’t make a dress that short and strapless, dude.

They all stay to be interrogated. Zac loves Michael’s dress, and Nina loves his styling. Heidi thinks it’s modern. The judges don’t like Vincent’s—the dress is too short, and the cape is…a cape. Zac thinks Uli’s is cute, but Michael doesn’t like the necklace, and Nina thinks the sleeves are too long. The judges all think Angela’s is costume-y.

Jeffrey tries to head off the “too punky” criticism by saying he was going for the alternative, LA cocktail party look. The judges think it looks cheap, and he needs to branch out. Laura’s gets rave reviews—youthful, sellable, fabulous. Zac says the front of Kayne’s is very elegant, but it falls apart in the back. Nina appreciates that he tried to edit, but doesn’t love the results, especially that there’s no white.

The judges deliberate. Michael awesomely calls Angela’s dress “vampire.” In other news, “vampire” is my new favorite adjective. As in, “Yeah, I checked out The Arcade Fire's new CD. It was totally vampire!” Back to judging. The judges agree that Vincent’s dress is terribly proportioned for no good reason.

Nina thinks Jeffrey could be bringing a more “luxury” element (which, true, could that dress have been any more Urban Outfitters?), and Michael thinks he’s too Gwen Stefani all the time. Uli gets some deserved “same old, same old” criticism. Nina thinks that Kayne listened and tried, but has a ways to go. They loved Laura’s—she maintained her point of view while designing for someone other than herself. Yeah, my worry was for nothing...I’ve clearly been fooled by those tricky editors again.

And…the winner is Laura! Michael is very gracious. Angela is out like a mofo. Good riddance AGAIN, Angela. Vincent is also out hardcore. “I’ve been making beautiful music all along…I do it so damn well, it’s a gift.” Let me put this clearly, Vincent: YOU SUCK. Uli is in, and does a cute little dance into the back room.

It’s down to Kayne and Jeffrey. Kayne didn’t use white, and they still have taste level questions. Jeffrey’s looked cheap, and he’s always all-edge, no elegance. Kayne is out! (le sob). Um…did I see this right? Did Jeffrey run into the back room flipping everyone off excitedly? The boy has class. There are hugs all around, and Kayne clarifies that he’s “not really a bitch; I just play one on TV.”

Oh, Kayne. You brightened up my Wednesday nights, and while you were sometimes tacky, you were also sometimes very, very fabulous. I’ll miss you!

[Ok everyone...the verdict? Painfully, insanely long? 100% genius and worth the half-hour it took you to read it? (Riiight...) Apologies for the lack of cut, random browsers. Blogger doesn't have a good "below the fold" feature.]

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Tonight on Justice: A SoCal Geography Lesson

Don't let anyone tell you Jerry Bruckheimer isn't educational. With this latest episode of Justice, I learned an important geography lesson: Orange County is not like L.A. The gist of it is that citizens of Orange County are conservative and don't trust anyone from Los Angeles. And, despite having Disneyland, they are no fun at all. Alden complains that she has to dress like her mother to get the jury to like her, Ron gets benched because people in L.A. County barely like him, to say nothing of the O.C., and Tom uses his down-home Nebraska charm to help win the case. Because Orange County is a lot like Nebraska. No, really, he said it. But Victor Garber gets perhaps the best line of the night when he neatly sums up the O.C. attitude: "It's Orange County. The airport is named for John Wayne, for God's sake. Man up."

And kudos to Justice for finally suprising me. For once, the way the crime played out was not telegraphed in the middle of the trial.

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Eureka: Surprisingly Likeable

Intrigued by the premise, I tuned into the pilot episode of The Sci Fi Channel's Eureka expecting to find a cheesy, contrived mess. I mean, let's face it, Sci Fi has a pretty mixed record where original material is concerned, and the whole "secret town populated by geniuses" concept, while interesting, has the potential to get pretty stale pretty fast.

Two months later, I'm still watching. In fact, when I tuned into channel 62 the other night at nine and found a college football documentary instead of Eureka, I totally panicked, flipping channels manically (and cursing Comcast) until I found Sci Fi on 51 (goodbye, Style Network!). I'm clearly hooked.

But why? The show can be heavy-handed, with ominous music of doom and cheesy dialogue. The main character quite often comes across as somewhat dim-witted. And as much as the writers try to force them together (uh-oh, they have to kiss to get her ex-husband angry in order to save the town!), Colin Ferguson and Salli Richardson don't have enough chemistry to light up a light bulb, let alone the deepest recesses of my admittedly tiny, shriveled heart.

And yet, somehow, it works. I'm a great lover of "quirky," which Eureka provides in spades. The plots are marvelously absurd (did anyone else fall in love with the show all over again when an army of angry Starks marched down the street in the last episode?), and while the town is largely full of oddballs, they aren't just empty stereotypes there to provide a cheap laugh when necessary (although they certainly sometimes do that, too).

Colin Ferguson as Sheriff Jack Carter is the truly essential ingredient. He manages to be insanely likeable, even when he's given goofy dialogue or stupid plotlines. I may kind of love him, despite the fact that he sometimes seems like the quintessential embarrassing dad, which I actually really, really love about his character.

I guess what it all boils down to is that not every show needs to be highbrow, intellectual entertainment. Some are just meant to be enjoyed, and you can't examine those shows for every little flaw. You just have to sit back and enjoy the ride. (Note to Men in Trees fans: The preceding does not apply to you! That show is legitimately bad.)

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Wednesday, September 13, 2006

24: Grandpa Bauer!

Ever wonder where exactly a guy like Jack Bauer, the thumb-severing, embassy-invading, one-man anti-terrorist unit, came from? Well, you'll find out next season. Reports are that James Cromwell is joining the 24 cast as Jack's dad. But what remains to be seen is the sort of Bauer he'll be. Is he witless cougar-bait, like his granddaughter Kim, or will he go out into the field and torture people at his son's side? Or, as is more likely, knowing Jack, will his son torture him?

One thing we know for sure: there will be torture.

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Men in Trees: Can we send Anne Heche to Alaska for real?

Ok, yeah, I could write a lot about the hackneyed dialogue, predictable jokes, painfully obvious metaphors (that the writers still feel the need to explain out loud), obligatorily wacky hijinks, and Anne freakin’ Heche, but that would be wasting your time and mine.

Let’s just say that my initial “ignore it and it’ll go away” instincts were right, and I was led astray by a few reviews that suggested it might be lazy but enjoyable viewing. Yeah, not so much. Men in Trees deserves to die a sad, lonely death on Friday nights, and have its decomposing body eaten by cats until its neighbors, Las Vegas and Close to Home, notice the smell and call the police. Make it happen, people.

I'm calling it now: First new show cancelled. Won't see five episodes. (Or is that just wishful thinking?)

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CSI NY: Where Art Imitates Life Imitates Art

From People via TV Squad:

Things got a bit too realistic on the set of CSI: New York on Tuesday, where an actual mummified body was discovered inside the building where production was underway.

That may actually trump the craziest thing I have ever seen on live television. I was watching a car chase on KCAL (the all news car chase, all the time channel in LA) when the bad guy drove over the 6th Street bridge, narrowly missing a jumbo jet parked on it! The police cars followed him across the bridge, also barely avoiding the airplane, and the guys in the news helicopters are all, "WTF? I mean, um, I'm sure there's a good explanation for this..."

It turns out that they drove through the set for the movie S.W.A.T., in which the bad guys steal a plane and land it on the 6th Street bridge, or something (yeah, the movie's not too memorable). A car chase through a film set. Is that not the most LA thing you've ever heard of? But finding a dead body on the set of CSI might actually top that! Especially since it was a mummified body, and you know there have been episodes about that.

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Standoff: I Still Can't Give a Care

Standoff made a valiant effort this week with a show that had quite a bit of hostage negotiating and very little of that tac team guy who just wants to shoot the hell out of everything, but ultimately, it's a little too in love with their hostage negotiators in love. I liked the negotiating storyline this week - air traffic controller takes LAX tower hostage after he causes two planes to collide in midair - but they went too far by trying to tie in Matt and Emily's issues. Because the controller "let his personal life interfere with his work." Like them. You see?

Oh, and then it turns out that last week, when they said that they could get fired for being a couple? Yeah, that was a massive lie, because the boss is totally cool with it. And when she says, "You can't get married. There's a new policy," they do that awkward, "ha, ha, we're totally not thinking about getting married" laugh that means that they're completely in looooooove and they really are going to get married. Listen, you guys, if you're going to center a show around a couple, make sure that a) that couple has an interesting dynamic and good chemistry, and b) they're not taken from the Big Book O' Stock Characters. Because I think I've seen this couple before, except Matt was Tom Hanks and Emily was Dan Aykroyd.

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House: Wilson and House are totally broken up

In tonight’s episode of The X-Files House, a 7-year-old thinks he’s being abducted by aliens and ends up bleeding out of his ass. Yummy. Mulder Chase is sympathetic to the little guy, but a decreasingly pain-free Scully House has had his confidence shattered by his “incorrect” diagnosis last week, and wants to discharge the weirdo ASAP.

Maybe if House were on his game (or if he had seen the right CSI episode) he would’ve guessed, like me, that the kid was a “chimera” as soon as they found out he had mystery DNA in addition to his own. Hey, House writers: find your own crazy obscure conditions to base scripts around, and stop copying CSI from three seasons ago!

QuOTE (Quote of the Episode—is this one of those cases where an acronym is too good?): “Who’s gonna take us seriously if we don’t have a laser pointer?” –House

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Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Hugh Laurie Shakes it Like a Polaroid Picture

In the interest of accuracy, this post's title should probably read: "Hugh Laurie Shakes a Polaroid Picture." But that's way less fun, right?

The good folks ifilm at have managed to dig up a 1986 Polaroid ad featuring your favorite grumpy doctor and mine, Hugh Laurie:

He plays a beleaguered photographer who makes goofy faces and for some reason really, really wants to take a picture of an ugly flower arrangement. Happily, his Polaroid camera makes it happen. If only House's problems could be resolved so easily...

[ifilm via]

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Prison Break: I Get It

No, seriously. I get it. I GET IT. Stop flashing back and forth between a picture of Michael Scofield and a picture of the guy that the FBI agent was trailing before. Definitely stop doing it fast enough to damn near give me a seizure. There are parallels between the two men. I understand that. I understood it before this week's episode. Leave the Mallets of Exposition at home and let's focus on the action.

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Monday, September 11, 2006

Studio 60: The Hype is Justified

As the show with the most buzz coming into the new season, Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip has already had lots of column space devoted to it, with much more to come. People will write about which parts are really based on Aaron Sorkin's life, about the concept it shares with 30 Rock, and about the few rough bits that definitely exist in the pilot. But here's what's really important:

You know that thrill you get when you're watching an intense moment on a really great show? A show that truly excites you? Your heart beats faster, you get a little head rush, you maybe have to take a calming breath or two? That's what I used to feel when I watched the first few seasons of The West Wing. And that's what I felt as Studio 60 wrapped up the first act and went into the opening credits.

And as a bonus, I laughed out loud more in the first 25 minutes of Studio 60 than I did watching Fox's "Founding Fathers of Comedy" night yesterday. Welcome back to television, Aaron Sorkin. We missed you.

I'll probably write more once the show officially premieres in a week. Until then, see the premiere episode of Studio 60 for yourself here.

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The Simpsons: Back in my day...

[Old fogey voice] Once upon a time, back when I was a young whippersnapper, The Simpsons was a fresh, funny show. I know you may not believe me after watching last night's snorefest of a season premiere, which kicked off the show's eighteenth season, but it's true, by gum. The show was full of inventive parodies, it skewered modern society to hilarious effect, and it featured a town populated with well-written, quirky, and above all, funny residents.

The Simpsons of my youth is regrettably dead, and has been replaced with some sort of pod-Simpsons, which looks the same, and even sort of acts the same, but is empty and unfunny behind its lifeless eyes. The most humane thing to do would be to put it out of its misery, especially since it seems to be infecting nearby shows. Because if you can't make Homer and Bart as mob bosses funny, there's no hope for you left. [/Old fogey voice]

Incidentally, Fox, "The Founding Fathers of Comedy?" Really? If our founding fathers were as bad at founding as The War at Home is at being funny, we'd all be speaking...British...right now.

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Studio 60 on AOL

If I'm reading this news release right, it looks like the pilot of Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, probably my most anticipated new show this season, will be streaming on today, a week before its television premiere. Mmmm...corporate synergy...

Time Warner Inc.'s AOL on Monday plans to announce that it will offer two new NBC programs on its Web site a week before their broadcast TV premiere.

The shows, "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip" and "Twenty Good Years" are produced by Time Warner-owned Warner Bros. Television for NBC.

Oh right, and you'll be able to see Twenty Good Years a week early, too. Um, score.

I gotta say, though, I do love this whole "release the show before the premiere" strategy that's so trendy this season. It's a nice luxury for those of us with crowded TV-viewing schedules and no Tivos.

Thanks to the TV addict for the tip.

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