Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Veronica Mars: There's a New Sheriff in Town (...Dammit)

Yes, I know what you're thinking. You're thinking that now that Keith is the sheriff, things will be much less interesting around here. Without tense, snarky standoffs with an arrogant sheriff, how will the Marses find the motivation to make their case? Well, the funny thing is, Veronica disagrees with all sheriffs, no matter who they are. So when Keith makes his case against Landry, Veronica tries to exonerate him, liking Mindy for the murder of the dean instead. But because it's her dad, and they have a good relationship – the thrill is gone, you know? Sigh… there's never going to be another Lamb.

So this is the week that we solve the murder, and for the first fifty minutes or so, the show tries to pull a Chinatown on you. It's Landry! It's Mindy! It's Landry! It's Mindy! It's Landry AND it's Mindy! They both have motive – Mindy would have gotten nothing in a divorce and Landry's career would have been ruined – and the fact that they flee to Mexico together doesn't help anything. But, as I'm sure you figured out weeks ago, neither of them did it. Instead, Landry was trying to pin it on Mindy's ex. Oh, and also, he kills Mindy. It's an accident, though – you know how sometimes when you're on a boat, and you get mad at someone, and you slug them and they fall off the boat and wash up on the Mexican shore? Yeah. Anyway, I don't think Landry's coming back anytime soon.

And the murderer is… [ripping open envelope] Tim! Who I thought was way, way too suspicious to have actually done it, so shows what I know. Tim was the one tapping Landry's phone, and he heard Landry tell Pepperdine what an idiot kiss-ass he was. So killing the dean and framing Landry kills two birds – it ruins Landry and it proves that Tim's smart. That's… well-adjusted. But what I want to know is – where's the next mystery? I was expecting a shocking ending that would set up Mini-Mystery #3, but we don't get that. Now how will I not be able to wait for the return of Veronica Mars?

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Tuesday, February 27, 2007

The Black Donnellys: The Kid's Got Potential...

After thinking it over for the day, I have this to say about The Black Donnellys: It’s got potential. I won’t say more than that after being burned by another show – in a similar timeslot – that had great potential. Fool me once about a Monday at 10 o’clock show, shame on NBC. Fool me twice…shame on Aaron Sorkin for ruining that timeslot for me. (Shut up…I’m not bitter!)

At any rate, The Black Donnellys feels like high-quality television. The lighting is dark, the colors are rich, and the filming is very attractive in general. The actors aren’t just a bunch of eye candy (also a potential negative, I suppose), and the plot is actually kind of interesting. Interesting enough to keep me watching for at least another week, even though I’m not that into the subject matter.

Essentially, the show revolves around four dark-haired Irish brothers in an Irish mob-controlled neighborhood. We’ve got Jimmy, the thug; Sean, the chick magnet; Kevin, the shitty gambler; and Tommy, the good one who just can’t break free from his Family. Initially not that interesting, right?

By the end of the episode, the “good one” has shot up a bunch of Italian mobsters and is the new neighborhood boss. Yeah, the dude is really into defending his Family. Like I said, interesting enough to keep me watching. Especially if they lose the overly-expository narration. It makes sense for the pilot, but will only get more annoying as the show goes on.

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Heroes: He's Not Bad, He's Just Misunderstood

Wow, this hour had everything! Drama! Action! Useful Matt! Some semblance of answers! And because the only plot we get is the one in Texas, there's nothing to distract us except for a few flashbacks to Mr. Bennet's past with the Paper and Conspiracy Factory. And damn, is what we get good.

We start up where we left off last week, with the Bennet family held hostage, and the kidnappers quickly settling into a good (former) cop, crazy nuclear cop routine. Things really start to get awesome when - to counteract the nuclear insanity of Ted - Matt, Claire, and Bennet form an alliance that is cemented when Matt shoots Claire. And I know that sounds bad, but it was to save the mom's life, and besides, they both told him to do it. Anyway, this is what I'm talking about. This is the kind of partnership I always wanted Matt to strike with other heroes/shadowy "paper salesmen." And I hope it lasts, even if it means Matt joining the Factory, because at least he's doing something.

And then there are the flashbacks, in which we see a young Haitian, a young and ridiculously adorable Hiro, and the moment Bennet chose his iconic glasses. We also learn that Claude was Bennet's first partner at the Paper and Conspiracy Factory, until Bennet was ordered to shoot him, and how Bennet adopted Claire: she was more or less foisted on him by the Factory. The dulcet tones of Mr. Nakamura (oh yes, that's right) give baby Claire to Bennet, but warn that they'll have to take her back if she manifests powers. And this is the entire reason why Bennet's been wiping memories left and right – to keep his daughter with him. Aww.

Unfortunately, Bennet's boss shows up and ruins everything by shooting Ted and making him go seriously, no-foolin' nuclear all up in the Bennet house, and it's up to Claire to sedate him. When the boss sees her heal her radiation burns, it's all over. The Haitian and Claire go on the run together, but not before shooting Bennet (!) and wiping his mind (!!) to divert suspicion from him. Rarely has a character become so sympathetic so fast, and I might be suspicious in other circumstances, but this episode was so good that I can't complain.

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24: This is Definitely Not Light Treason

Now, the burning question holding America riveted: who is Morris' sponsor? Is it Bart Simpson? Is it some guy who has some sort of weird hair, apparently? Is Morris okay to work? Is Chloe being too paranoid? The answers are no, yes, not really but he is anyway, and it looks that way. Anyone else confused? Morris does such a sharp U-turn from alcoholic with serious problems to the only sane one in his plot that I'm surprised he didn't get pulled over by the cops. Was this whole story just an excuse for The Simpsons to reciprocate Kiefer's guest appearance?

In the presidential murder plot, Carson the Assassin shows up, duct tapes Tom to a convenient pipe, and gets to work with his Highlighters of High Treason. As is usually the case when someone on TV is tied up, everyone else is all, "Where's Tom?" and they all act mildly concerned, but no one really cares enough to get up off his or her duff to try to find him. But Chad Lowe, for some reason, gets worried that everyone's concern about Tom will ruin the plan. I guess he doesn't watch much TV. Or maybe his mind is elsewhere, because he's the one recruited to kill the president. And since he can barely choke out the lie to the president about Tom's whereabouts and acts suspiciously nervous the whole time, Chad is officially the fourth worst presidential assassin ever, behind Squeaky Fromme, Sara Jane Moore, and that guy who tried to kill Andrew Jackson. Especially because he screws up – not only do they not blame it on Assad, but Assad looks like a hero because he pushed Palmer out of the way. Nice one, Chad.

Next week: Jack goes back to his first love – cutting off digits.

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Monday, February 26, 2007

Grease - YTOTIW: It Obviously Doesn't Take Much to be Better Viewing than the Oscars

Yes, I missed the beginning of the (as it turns out incredibly, painfully, horrifyingly boring) Oscars so that I could watch Grease: You’re the One That I Want. And I did it for you, readers! I did it for you. So here we go…

Last night on Grease: You’re the One That I Want, they changed the rules. Again. Presumably in response to the outcry from when they changed the rules the last time. Now, apparently, the judges can only save contestants until the semi-finals, at which point presumably the remaining contestants are so good that America can’t fuck it up no matter how hard it tries.

This week is Sandy week, and the songs will show both the sweet and sassy sides of Sandy. Also, the contestants paired up and worked on acting scenes with Kathleen Marshall last week, so it appears that we’ll finally be able to judge based on something more than just vocals. Only…not so much. We just get brief clips of the contestants awkwardly kissing each other in the scene, plus a quick opinion from Marshall on how they did. Real helpful, producers.

Before we get going with the performances, some perplexing news: in the bottom four this week are forgettable Kevin and old-looking Kathleen (predictable), plus Chad, who had one of the best performances last week, and Kate, who has the best female voice in the competition. Intriguing choices, America.

Ashley kicks off the night first with a brief clip of her acting scene with Kevin, and then with an average performance of “These Boots Were Made for Walking,” which is mostly memorable for the hysterical backup dancing provided by the male contestants. Vocally, she doesn’t knock my socks off. Reach your potential, Ashley!

Allie and Max were scene partners, because according to Allie, “In real life, Max is my Danny.” Riiiight. Apparently their chemistry doesn’t translate onstage due to her poor acting abilities. She sings “It’s Oh So Quiet,” by Björk (awesome!), and this may be the first time I’ve really been impressed by her voice…probably because the song’s not too low for her range, like most of her previous songs. Still, the highlight (aside from seeing Björk sung on national television) is probably her (bra-clad) boobs popping out of her top.

Laura did her scene with Derek (good choice), and from the five-second recap it appears she may have been too sweet, or something. However, she quickly blows “sweet” out of the water with “Fever,” by Peggy Lee. It’s hot. Laura is now officially my new favorite. Brunette Power!

And now, it’s sing-off time. Or shattered dreams time, if you listen to Billy Bush. America, apparently, chose to boot off Kevin and Kate. Kate? Really? The best female singer in the competition? For the millionth time ever, what the hell, America?

During the sing-off (“Blue Moon”), it quickly becomes apparent that Kevin has a better voice than Chad. And yet I almost forget about him while he’s doing his solo. Yeah, that boring. And he pays the price when the panel wisely kicks him out.

Kathleen’s voice seems a bit tight, and she’s looking weirdly like a slightly bigger Amy Poehler to me tonight. Just thought I’d share that. The panel isn’t unanimous, and rightfully so, because they save Kathleen and boot Kate out. What the hell, two-thirds of the panel? Kathleen had better be a freaking awesome actress, given that she’s not as good a singer and looks like she’s thirty. And also wasn’t as good in the obviously inconsequential sing-off. Goddammit.

Kathleen sings “Let’s Hear it for the Boy,” and has, like, eight out of tune notes in the first line alone. The judges are probably all, “Oh, shit,” right about now. She’s flat and out of breath for pretty much the whole song, and it’s distracting enough that I don’t notice if she’s managing to be sweet and vivacious, or whatever the judges said they're looking for.

Special guest not-judge Frankie Avalon is here to perform “Beauty School Dropout” with the Sandy’s. Presumably he’s not coherent enough to be a guest judge (like you have to be coherent to be a judge), although his voice is still surprisingly good.

I’m guessing Ashley and Kathleen will be in the bottom next week, and the judges agree with my new choice of favorite and pick Laura as the best Sandy. Right on! Finally, for the record, Kevin and Kate rock the sing-off. They really are both great singers. Ah, well. I guess this just means it’s finally more than just a singing competition.

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The Amazing Race: Don't Be a Hater

Remember how Mary used to just love people with barely any reason? Yeah, now she's reached the point where she hates people with barely any reason. Charla and Mirna pass her, they're dead in her book. Likewise, David despises Kevin and Drew because Drew moved his bag. Yeesh. I understand that they want to fight harder and not rely on other teams so much so they can get farther in the race, but this is going a little too far in the other direction. Even Rob is being nice to other teams occasionally. It's too bad that David and Mary feel like they have to run the race that way, because they are no longer an appealing team. Especially when you compare them with the Guidos, who are enjoying themselves on this race. When the Guidos are more chill than you, that's when you really look bad.

Speaking of looking bad, the next time you're in Chile, check along the sides of the road for the scattered pieces of Mirna's mind. She loses it not only on the beauty queens (eh, but you knew she was going to hate them, rival blondes as they are) but on the local cab driver she hires to guide them to the pit stop. What was that you said last week about being good with the locals, Mirna?

As for Drew, he starts out this leg getting oxygen at the pit stop, and things don't get any better for him. Yes, they're eliminated, and Drew is so ready to go at that point that he walks off the mat before Phil can officially Philiminate them. This makes Phil sad and confused. I wish I could say that I'm sad to see those guys go, but at this point, it's just a relief. What was sad was watching Drew so thoroughly not enjoy himself. So long, frats.

P.S. Jessica is correct: David and Mary did take the Chos' bushel of kiwis shirts. And if what we see on other people's shirts can be believed, Eric is made entirely from recycled materials.

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Friday, February 23, 2007

Grey's Anatomy: Not Dead Yet

I might as well get it out of the way up front: Meredith’s not dead. She’s not even in a coma, or brain damaged, or anything. Her mom’s dead, but that’s no consolation. Ah, well. We’ll just have to put up with her squinty, bony, whiny ass for a while longer.

I have to say, even though it may have almost made me cry (just in the parts with Cristina!), last night’s episode of Grey’s Anatomy was more than a little disappointing. The cheesy afterlife sequences, populated with (dead) past guest stars, were just plain weird…especially with the train wreck girl bleeding out of her abdomen every five minutes. And how predictable was the ending with her mom helping her come back to life? Bah. However, I didn’t mind the conversations with Denny much, at least the parts where they discussed the circumstances surrounding Meredith’s “death.”

It’s rare that a television show gives its main character a mental illness, but I think it’s pretty clear that Meredith is struggling with depression (apparently including suicidal ideation), even though they didn’t name it last night. I hope that the show will be able to explore the issue in future episodes, since it’s a misunderstood disease that affects a great number of people.

Of course, it’s not all sunshine and lollipops and near-death experiences at Seattle Grace. It’s also incredibly awesome potential spin-offs! I would SO watch a show starring Addison. In fact, I would probably watch any show starring Kate Walsh. She’s just that awesome.

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Thursday, February 22, 2007

American Idol: Girls Rule, Boys Drool

Since every other network has moved its good shows out of the way of the American Idol juggernaut, there is now nothing good on opposite Idol (to totally generalize the situation). Thus, I have gotten sucked into watching. Damn. But since I’m watching, I might as well be sharing, right? Last night was the chicks, and they were a helluva lot better than the guys.

First up was Stephanie, singing “How Come You Don’t Call Me,” a song I didn’t recognize. She rocked. Great voice, great performance, great energy…just great.

Next up was Amy, whom I find adorable. Unfortunately, adorable isn’t enough to keep me entertained, and her rendition of “I Can’t Make You Love Me” was pretty boring. Sorry, Amy.

Leslie made the mistake of singing “Natural Woman,” and just seemed really goofy. Which makes sense, since I’m pretty sure she is really goofy.

Sabrina sang “I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You,” and did a great job compared to her auditions. I think that song made her voice sound just about as big as it possibly can.

Antonella, whom (full disclosure) I’ve hated since the group auditions, destroyed “Don’t Wanna Miss a Thing.” And I don’t mean “destroyed” in a good way. At all.

Jordin, the young ‘un, sang “Give Me One Reason,” and she actually had to work hard to make it show off her amazing voice. Her blinding lipstick was a bit of a distraction, unfortunately.

Nicole showcased her spazziest qualities with a song by Chaka Khan. It was really uncomfortable, but not as uncomfortable as watching the judges try to say “You can’t sing that way if you’re not black” without actually saying it.

Haley sang “It’s All Coming Back to Me Now,” which was a total yawn-fest, despite her lovely voice and boobage-amplifying dress.

Melinda, my new Favorite Person Ever, sang “Since You’ve Been Gone” (Aretha, not Kelly). It was awesome, even though it was the third Aretha of the night. Awesome!

Alaina sang “Brass in Pocket” (the “I’m special! So special!” song), and somehow managed to do a worse job than Scarlett Johansson in Lost in Translation.

Gina destroyed any goodwill she may have garnered with me through her “alternative” appearance by singing “All By Myself.” BARF, and not just because of the screamy notes at the end.

Lakisha destroyed “And I am Telling You.” And I mean “destroyed” in a good way. A very good way.

All in all, a good night to be a woman. Why does it have to be six guys and six girls, again?

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24: Don't Make Them Use the Quad-Glacier!

I'm impressed by the amount of Jack Bauer YouTube videos, but I'm not really surprised by them. So I could easily find two of them addressing the Mooninite Crisis in Boston and sending Jack, who's apparently taking time off from his job as the savior of Los Angeles, to deal with the imminent threat. Here it comes:

And for those of you who want more Chloe:

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Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Glowy Box Mailbag: Back by Popular Demand!

It’s that time again…time for the Glowy Box Mailbag! You ask Google questions, and Google sends you here, where we answer them belatedly. So without further ado, your best questions to Google this week:

Q: will veronica and logan get back together

A: As usual, my psychic powers are on the fritz, but my Magic 8-Ball says, “Why don’t you just keep watching the show and find out for yourself, buddy?”

Q: desperate housewives what happened Kayla

A: Great question! I’m guessing that Lynette realized a few weeks ago that Kayla is a total psychopath, and had her shipped off to an institution of some sort. Possibly the one where Paul kept Zach all drugged up and harmless those many seasons ago.

Q: what happened to JD’s baby in scrubs

A: First off, shame on you for not watching and finding out for yourself! However, I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt and assume that you had a hot date that night, and an unexpected power surge shorted out your DVR. Essentially, Kim lied to JD and told him that she had a miscarriage in order to see if they were just together because of her pregnancy. Turns out, they were. But unbeknownst to JD, Kim is still pregnant with his child! (Dum dum DUUUUM…)

Q: who sings the theme song for america’s next top model

A: According to Wikipedia, the “Wanna Be on Top” theme song is sung by none other than Miss Tyra Banks herself (and produced by Rodney Jerkins). Who knew?!

Q: why did matt and ashley break up

A: Hmm. That’s a toughie. I honestly have no clue who Matt and Ashley are, but I’m going to guess they broke up because he’s just not that into her. Or because he slept with her high school enemy (or maybe that hot copy girl) while they were on a break. Or because she wanted to go to LA for the summer to study art. Or because a crazy dentist ran over him and he lost his memory. The possibilities are endless!

That’s it for this week’s installment of the Glowy Box Mailbag. Thanks for asking Google!

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Veronica Mars: Out Like a Lamb

When last we left Veronica, she was stuck in Neptune prison, and time kept dragging on. And while I was convinced that it was all a misunderstanding, it just shows how much I know, because it really was the cookies that helped Josh break out (allergic to peanuts, you see). Oh, Veronica Mars, you always go slightly to the left of where I think you will. Anyway, Josh didn't really do it – the coach offed himself because he was suffering from a particularly nasty brain disease. But Josh stays gone so his family can get the insurance money. And while I think I'd be a bit more upset at my dad if he killed himself and expected me to take the fall so that the family could get the money, Josh seems to be okay with it. I guess I'm just heartless.

There's quite a bit of information on the O'Dell front this week, since it seems that the second mini-mystery of the season is wrapping up soon. The Marses learn that: Stolz showed up the day of the dean's death; someone bugged Landry's phone; the shooting was an hour later than they thought (stupid basketball moving programming later – the best thing about The New CW for me is that Veronica Mars is no longer on a channel that bumps programming during playoffs. Okay, rant over); Mindy's ex's prints are on O'Dell's keyboard; and Weevil discovers Landry's bloody clothes in a… flue? Or something? We'll say flue. But I'm suspicious, because the shirt is conveniently monogrammed, and why not burn the clothes and make sure they were gone? If Landry did do it, he's the worst criminology professor ever. (Although I guess they do say that those who can't do, teach.)

Okay, but the big story. So Mindy's ex breaks into the O'Dell house again, and Sacks and Lamb go over to check it out. Mindy's ex whacks Lamb with a bat, Sacks shows up, there's all this shooting, and Lamb, I guess, falls on a piece of glass from the mirror he just broke, because suddenly… Lamb is dead? And Keith is the sheriff? I just – I – what? Up is down! Black is white! Crazy is sane! Donuts are raining from the sky! Cats and dogs are living together! What the hell just happened? And how exactly are the Marses supposed to function a) inside the establishment and b) without Lamb to kick around? Aw, Lamb. I miss him already.

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Tuesday, February 20, 2007

How I Met Your Mother: [SLAP!]

As an aspiring Slap Bet Commissioner, I'd just like take a moment to recognize the brilliant conclusion of How I Met Your Mother last night. Best Unexpected Slap EVER!

God, I love that show.

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Studio 60: Good Riddance?

I’m going to avoid commenting much on last night’s episode of Studio 60 for two reasons: First, I want to see where Sorkin’s going with this whole sexual harassment suit before I eviscerate him over it, because it seemed to possibly take a turn for the better toward the end of the episode, although knowing Sorkin, I kind of doubt it. Second, this may be the last episode of the show that’s aired on NBC (at the very least, the last episode in a long time), so it could be a moot point anyway.

That said, this show is going downhill fast. Danny and Jordan have already become boring, Matt and Harriet make me want to blow my brains out, and the only things to distract me from the drippy romance plotlines are a sexual harassment suit and an out-of-nowhere drug addiction. Not good, Sorkin, not good. Whatever I used to like about Studio 60 is a distant memory at this point, as my favorite characters are either underused (Cal, Jack) or mired in extremely unfortunate plotlines (Harriet, Jordan).

Devoted fans of Studio 60: Jump ship now, and transfer your save-the-show campaigning to 30 Rock! Trust me—it’s much more deserving of your loyalty. And before I forget, your Sorpinion of the week: Fake meat is stupid and pointless. I'd say something bitter about heart attacks and hardened arteries, but some of us prefer to live and let live, Sorkin.

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Grease - YTOTIW: Don't Know Much About Chemistry

Tonight is duets night on Grease: You’re the One that I Want, which unfortunately means no more Broadway songs (even fake jukebox musical ones). Bah. The "special" guest judge is Jon Secada, which is a bit of a plunge from Andrew Lloyd Webber. From the opening interview montage, it looks like Kate “The Voice” Rockwell and Derek “Stamos-Lite” Keeling are being painted as the favorites. And rightfully so, I’d say, although I still have high hopes for Ashley.

The producers have wisely move the contest-fixing sing-off bullshit to the top of the show where it belongs. Jason, Juliana, Kevin, and Kathleen will be singing “Those Magic Changes,” which has always seemed like the title of a Sex-Ed video to me. America picked Jason and Juliana as the worst, and the judges agree after the sing-off. Jason tells us that he’d love to go to David Ian’s house and “do it” for him. Yeah.

First up with the duets are Allie and Chad, singing “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough.” I think they do a good job, although the orchestra is so loud during their harmonizing that it could be covering up any number of off-notes. And I think Allie and Chad are confusing “chemistry” with “cheesy dance moves and a semi-porny ending.” The judges are practically peeing their pants over how “hot” it was, though, so what the hell do I know?

Billy Bush reminds us that the duets could be “a match made in heaven…OR IN HELL.” Ah, Billy Bush. He has that special Ron Burgundy cluelessness where I feel like you could feed him any line through the teleprompter and he’d read it.

Moving on, Austin and Laura sing “Don’t Know Much.” And instead of it being that catchy “Don’t Know Much About History” song, it’s that cheesy “I don’t know much…but I know I love you” song. Bah. However, they really picked one that could show their acting abilities, and they actually do a really great job. It even seems like it could almost be a Broadway ballad with the way it’s staged and acted. And I say that still thinking that Austin is totally creepy and their song is totally cheesy. So that should tell you just how good a job they did. You guys, I think Laura might be the dark horse candidate for Sandy.

Max and Ashley sing “It Takes Two.” Ashley does a good job, but Max misses “passionate” and lands on “kind of angry at Ashley, in a creepy kidnapper sort of way.” The judges again fail to read the subtext, and love Max like crazy while giving Ashley backhanded compliments like, “This is the first time you’ve seemed really spontaneous on stage.” WTF, judges?

Superpair Derek and Kate sing “From This Moment On,” and Derek’s voice is unfortunately not at its best. The performance isn’t really dynamic, either (boring song, no chemistry), but it’s solid, and Kate sings the hell out of it. It’s weird that such a great pairing would fall so short, though.

So I’m assuming the bottom four all learned the same song, so that the remaining two could pair up to sing it this week. Either that, or the sing-off was bullshit and the decision already made and announced to the bottom four. But that’s just crazy talk for a show with so little behind-the-scenes manipulation, right?

Kevin and Kathleen (vowing grossly to “perform [her] butt off and sing [her] brains out”) sing “Something to Talk About.” I love that song! What’s with the weird costumes, though? He’s in a black long-sleeve shirt, jeans, and a green quilted outdoor vest. She’s in a pink satin zebra-striped mini-dress. Yeah. They overcome the costumes to do a pretty solid job, although it’s a pretty easy song, so I’m not going to give them too much credit.
Austin, Chad, Ashley, and Allie are the judges’ favorites tonight. And, for the record, Juliana totally rocks the sing-out.

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24: You Can Always Put One Over on a Bauer Kid

This week is rather less exciting than you'd think, because one of the storylines is completely taken up by pouty Morris, who turns out to be an alcoholic. But that's not the worst part: Chloe is. She and Milo smell whisky on his breath, but she doesn't go to Buchanan and she doesn't take him off duty, and you just know it's all going to end in someone dying. I used to think it would be Morris, but now I think he's going to be responsible for someone's death out in the field for not analyzing data correctly or something. Also, the Extremely Shadowy Conspiracy finally, finally admits that their goal is to kill the president, and that they're going to pin it on Assad. Tom tries to sell them out, and Chad Lowe beats him with a flashlight. And that's all that happens on that front.

In the one tense plot this week, Josh is as dumb as Kim ever was, because he doesn't leave the moment he hears Grandpa threaten to kill him on the phone, while Grandpa's back is turned, and while Grandpa's attention is focused on his conversation. Instead, he waits until Grandpa is off the phone and can easily stop him. Stupid kid. Grandpa isn't that stupid, as we find out when Jack has exchanged himself for dumb Josh. Kneeling, waiting for Philip to execute him, he makes a heartfelt speech about how he never meant to disappoint Grandpa, but how he never felt he was good enough for him – and then Jack turns around and Philip is gone. That's really cold to do to your own son, but undeniably funny. But Philip leaves him a note to call a certain number, at which he finds – are you ready for this? I think you'd better get ready for this – Logan! Rocking an Al Gore beard! I love it when the prodigal evil returns! And I have high hopes that we'll see Martha again soon, since she seems to be what he's after. Hooray!

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Heroes: If Hiro Could Turn Back Time, If He Could Find a Way...

A wise man once said, "We're either going to die, or we're going to fly." The ubiquitous Heroes promos suggest that the Heroes do both this week, and for once, the promos are completely correct. The flier is, of course, Peter, who learns to control his powers, thanks to Claude beating him with a staff (no, really – thanks, Claude). He rescues Claude from Mr. Bennet and the Haitian by flying off with him, but Claude just ditches him for it. So Peter – and this is where I actually started to enjoy him a little – goes slightly evil on Isaac, the one who exposed them. And in the midst of all this telekinetic and invisible taunting, Isaac accidentally shoots Simone. I would give that an exclamation point if I had really come to care about Simone, but I haven't. Bye, Simone! Perhaps your death will turn Peter more evil?

Mohinder/Sylar: The "This Can Only End Badly" World Tour '07 heads to Montana, where Mohinder and his brain-craving assistant meet up with a woman with superhearing. Do I really need to tell you what happens? (I'll tell you this, at any rate: awesomely, Sylar discovers that superhearing is a bitch. Ha!)

Matt: To follow his triumphant bout of relevance last week, Matt takes a victory lap, teaming up with Nuclear Ted and a new hero, a woman named Hana with power over the wireless web. It's still better than melting metal. However, the continued relevance comes in the form of another trademark Bad Matt Idea, as he wraps up the episode with Nuclear Ted (and Hana, presumably) in Texas, where he's holding the Bennets at gunpoint. You know, I used to not like Janice, but after the drubbing she gives him about the diamonds, I think we need her around to tell him when he's doing something stupid. He could not do stupid things, but I guess I'm okay with them as long as they get him involved in the major storylines.

Hiro/Ando: Hiro and Ando break up! And it's really sad, because they more or less declare their heterosexual life partner love for each other, and that love helps Hiro turn back time. But Hiro doesn't want Ando to get hurt because of him, and even though Ando finally believes in the quest, Hiro leaves him behind. Oh, I know that they're just going to get back together soon, because the writers love them just as much as we do, but it's still a heartbreaking scene. Because it's guy love, between two guys!

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Monday, February 19, 2007

The Amazing Race: Welcome Back, Most of You

It's finally here! The new season of The Amazing Race! The all-stars! The other people who are supposed to make good TV! The Phil! Obviously, we've got eleven teams, and since we already know them, there's no point in introducing them. But it's been a few years, in some cases, since we've seen them. Some things are the same: the Guidos still clink their glasses in the credits, Mary still carps at Dave, everyone is still obsessed with catching Rob and Amber, with good reason, and Mirna is still overly familiar (she calls it "good") with the locals. Some things have changed: Jill and John Vito have broken up, Eric and Danielle have hooked up, Joyce's short hair is ludicrously cute, and Mary has decided that she can't be sweetness and light to everyone but her husband all the time, so she lies to the beauty queens about which flight to Quito is faster. In fairness to her, she has raced with them before, and is probably over them at this point. She's not over the Chos, though, who appear in the form of her "Missing: Cho Brothers" T-shirt. Nice throwback to the Phil shirt, Mary, although I wish they'd lent you that one. (Bushel of kiwis. Hee!)

What I was most excited for in this race was the interaction between these teams we've come to know, and in some cases love, but it's too early in the race for all the drama to happen. Instead, everybody's all nice and friendly with each other. Weak! But there are some friendships that seem to emerge from this first episode. Mary (of course) hits it off with Charla and Mirna, while Oswald and Danny appear to make friends with all the loud, self-important blondes (Mirna plus the beauty queens). And for that, I find myself very disappointed in the boys, who got off to such a good start with a crack about how they recognize Rob and Amber "from [their] own cable channel." Good point, guys, but don't say it too loud: you don't want any TV execs to hear you.

Speaking of the Couple Of Whom America Apparently Cannot Get Enough, they come in first. Plenty of teams fight for last place, but none so hard as Kevin and Drew. Really, more Drew. He has a terrible time on this leg: he can't run for crap, he takes a spill and hurts his shoulder, and then he decides to keep driving on a flat tire, over rough roads. The tire gets so bad that he's more or less driving on the rims, as though he's on a high-speed chase on the 405, and I start to fear for Kevin, the camera guy, and the sound guy. Despite all of Drew's best efforts, they're still in the race – instead, John Vito and Jill go home. And in case you think I'm kidding about Drew's efforts, check out the look on Drew's face at the mat, the one that clearly says, "Damn, Phil, don't phunk with my knees." Drew is not having fun anymore, poor guy.

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Friday, February 16, 2007

Grey's Anatomy: Trepanation is the WORST

Let’s take a peek into my head at approximately 10:01 last night: “Is she dead? They wouldn’t kill off the main character. But she looks and sounds pretty dead! Grey's Anatomy is totally named after her, though. But the announcer said that next week would be devastating! Maybe she’s brain-damaged or something. Or maybe it’s the BEST TWIST EVER, and they actually killed off the main character. Although it seems like I would’ve heard spoilers to that effect, not that I really read spoilers that much…”

So yeah, she’s totally not dead, but it was still suspenseful enough to get me thinking. And then barfing at the cheesy “Am I dead?” sequence with Denny and that exploded guy.

And I guess I was wrong about Izzie killing that dude. Sorry, Izzie. I shouldn’t have doubted your abilities to save a man crushed under a car with nothing more than a scalpel and a regular hand drill. My bad!

I’m gonna say that telling George his marriage was a giant mistake was Izzie’s bad, though. And comparing Burke to a murdered corpse was Cristina’s bad, and letting Addison know that he cares about her may have been Alex’s bad. Only time and possibly the influence of alcohol will tell.

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Ugly Betty: Charlie, You Two-Timing Skank

So you remember how last week Henry had a girlfriend? It's Charlie from Heroes, whose name here is – well, Charlie. At least we don't have to learn a new name. However, it has the unintended consequence of making me expect to see Hiro at any moment, showing up, all, "Charlie! You said you were dead!" while Ando hits on Amanda. Charlie's pretty cool – Bettyish, in fact, so we know Henry has a type – and Betty befriends her. That is, right up until she's possessed by the spirit of Amanda (you kind of had to be there) and she ditches Charlie in the subway. And then she tells Henry she has a crush on him, and they almost kiss, but why put them together now when they can stretch it out and frustrate the viewers? They could do this for years! Like Gilmore Girls! It worked out great for them! I know it's only the beginning of the Betty/Henry tango, but it feels like it's been going on forever. Probably because I spent so much time yelling at the TV over Walter, and now I'm doing it again over Henry, so it all kind of blurs together into one long frustrating… gah! Yeah, I think I'm going to have to get used to this sort of thing.

Marc and Christina, meanwhile, team up to Project Runway a dress out of magazines and bubble wrap, and Sarah Jessica Parker's fashion choices are not questionable enough that she would wear that to the Oscars. I don't think Lara Flynn Boyle would wear it, to be honest. But, hey, it would have made a good showing in the recycling challenge. And that was a hilarious dressmaking montage. You just can't go wrong when you pair up Marc and Christina, although I really miss all their snide carping at each other. It was so much fun!

There's some guest star action this week: Jerry O'Connell goes the "Brad Pitt on Friends" route and shows up to be a jerk to his real-life fiancee, and Daniel gets up to some shenanigans with Lucy Liu (Lucy! What about Bender?), but the important part is that he finally believes that Claire killed Fey. And now Claire says that she's going to turn herself in! Nooooo, don't do it! You've already gotten away with it! Also, they don't have alcohol in prison, and I fear that at least half of your magnificence is because of the booze.

Oh, and you may think that you've seen cute, but unless you saw Justin perform Hairspray as a one-boy show, you don't know what cute is.

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Thursday, February 15, 2007

Glowy Box Mailbag

We may not receive much mail here at Glowy Box HQ (and we certainly don’t receive enough hot nekkid pictures), but we do get quite a few Google referrals. And sometimes, those referrals come in the form of a question. Since people typing actual questions into search engines cracks me up (“O mighty Google, who will win Dancing with the Stars?”), and since I desire nothing more than being helpful to our readership, I decided to answer some of those Google-referred questions. Thus, our inaugural Glowy Box Mailbag, from the best five questions posed in the last two days:

Q: what episode does Turk Donald Faison dances Poison

A: I give you a D+ for grammar, but an A+ for taste. That Poison dance is pretty much the Greatest Thing Ever. You can find it in the episode “My Half-Acre,” (episode nine of season five) or online here.

Q: who played hannah on House on last nights episode

A: Now that’s just lazy Googling—haven’t you ever heard of IMDB? I’m going to help you help yourself here, because if you teach a person to fish, he or she will never come back asking easily-answered questions again. Step one: Go to Step two: Search for House. Step three: Go to the latest episode’s cast listing. Step four: Profit.

Q: grey’s does izzy save the guy under the car

A: Ah, see, this is an example of using Google as some sort of oracle, rather than as a source for actual information. I’m not sure my psychic powers are completely tuned up today, but let me give it a shot: She doesn’t save the completely crushed, practically dead guy under the car, but ends up learning a valuable lesson about life and death. And yet, somehow, his friends aren’t consoled by that fact.

Q: what kind of purse does veronica mars carry

A: A brown one? Sorry, I don’t really know fashion.

Q: is austin from grease gay

A: I’m actually getting more of a “creepy child molester” vibe than a gay vibe, but that could just be me... Also, I really hope you aren’t asking because you’re actually buying into that “Hot Danny” stuff, because like I said: CREEPY.

That’s it for this Mailbag…thanks for all the great questions and I’m sorry I don’t have psychic powers, random Google searchers!

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Heroes: How Do You Solve a Problem Like Matt Parkman?

Without killing him, I mean. Because as boring and irrelevant and frustratingly clueless as I find Matt, I would still be upset if he died, just because of the residual goodwill I have for Greg Grunberg. Honestly, the guy could strangle a kitten on live TV and I'd be all, "Well, I don't support kitten-strangling, but he's in a band with Hugh Laurie! How cool is that?" Plus, he's doing the best he can with uninspiring material, and if it weren't for his own likeability, Matt would have none. So how can we reform Matt so that he's not a complete waste of our and Greg's time? Here's my plan:

1. Use His Power Wisely: Most of the time when Matt listens in on someone's thoughts, he hears them a) call him a loser or b) wish he would shut the hell up already. This week was the first time since we met him, way back when he found that little girl, that he actually used his power productively. He discovered the ambush and anticipated Jessica's moves, and if she weren't, you know, Jessica, he might have neutralized her. It was exciting, and it's the sort of thing he should be doing more often. And there are other constructive uses for his power. He could use it to ingratiate himself with people, so that they wouldn't hate on him so much. He's already done it once with his wife, so why not take it further? Matt could easily gain someone's trust by telling them exactly what they wanted to hear. I'm sure that could be useful on a case, although right now I can only think of how he could use it to get into someone's house and nick their jewelry. (What? He stole a whole bag of diamonds this week. It's a slippery slope.)

2. Pair Him Up With Other Heroes: Matt's previous meetings with other heroes have been nothing more than incidental: traffic stops, brief questioning, feedback. The only hero he spent more than five minutes talking to was Nuclear Ted, and he was the one who backed up Matt's story and convinced him to look into the Bennet/Haitian thing. Poor Matt could seriously use another boost of confidence like that. Not to mention that meeting – and joining forces with – another hero would make him a part of the larger storylines, and would help with the recent problem he's been having, in that all of his scenes are tremendous wastes of time. (Happily, the description for next week's episode claims that he will join up with Nuclear Ted and a new hero. Sounds worthwhile!) And by the way, whatever happened to his beef with Bennet? You know, how he was all, "I'm going to find out what you're up to"? He seems to've forgotten all about that, huh?

3. Let Him Be Happy: Matt is the writers' punching bag. You watch and you say, "There's no way they can make his life suck more," and the writers are all, "Sounds like a challenge to us!" And then they throw more crap at him. Matt has failed the detective exam three times, got suspended and probably will never be a cop again, is considered a kookoo crazypants by both the LAPD and the FBI, has dyslexia, was abducted by the Haitian and Mr. Bennet, lost the only guy who could corroborate his story, almost accidentally held up a convenience store, discovered his wife was cheating with his ex-partner, was defenestrated, and managed to get his first bodyguarding client killed. Okay, writers, I believe you can make his life worse. Can you please stop now?

Probably the only time we ever saw Matt happy was when his wife told him she was pregnant. And do you know what we learned from that scene? Matt is adorable when he's happy. True story. I'm glad that Greg Grunberg gets to play a role other than the wisecracking friend for once, but the fact remains that he's a funny guy, and it sucks that he isn't allowed to show it. Especially because the show can get so bogged down in mythology and angst. That's why Hiro and Ando are so refreshing – they're allowed to be their excitable and sarcastic selves and to have fun in their story. Matt never has fun. Ever. Couldn't we use another bright spot in all the brooding? And since drama clearly hasn't inspired the writers to write anything good for Matt, why not try a bit of comedy?

So that's my three-step plan to rehabilitate Matt. Habilitate, actually, because he was never that great to begin with. It may seem to be an impossible task, and that it's too late to change him, but isn't Heroes all about doing the impossible? And haven't the Heroes writers themselves already done the impossible, in sucking all the awesome out of Greg Grunberg? If they could accomplish that, there's nothing they can't do.

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Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Studio 60: The Beginning of the End?

Oy. Just…oy. After last week’s Danny/Jordan goodness (shut up), I was really looking forward to this week’s Studio 60, only to have my hopes bitterly dashed by a shitty, shitty episode involving pointless flashbacks, contrived hallucinations, and (worst of all?) a random drug problem. Goddammit, Sorkin. Goddammit. You have taken a show with enormous potential and turned it into an airing of your personal views, gripes, and demons.

At this point, despite the many things I really do like about the show, I wouldn’t blame NBC executives if they pulled the plug. I’d be a bit bummed, but I wouldn’t blame ‘em. Here’s hoping The Black Donnellys sucks big-time, since as TiFaux points out, it’s being brought in early to “temporarily” replace the ailing Studio 60.

So what happened? Nothing but a huge step backward in the quality of the show. Matt and Harriet met a long time ago and he really liked her, but she and Luke got to work on a sketch together. Matt remembered a writer from back when whom Wes fired for taking pills, but (SURPRISE!) the writer never existed, and was just a drug-induced, anvil-tastic hallucination wearing Matt’s clothing. Because, you see, Matt now has a drug problem. Complete with the minor violin chords of guilt, the extreme close-ups of wrongdoing, and the dramatic fadeouts of repercussions-to-come. Goddammit, Sorkin.

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House: She Gets Knocked Down, But She Gets Up Again

Breaking News! Last night on House, Wilson didn’t piss me off as much as usual. Huzzah! He did that same old “Dude, you can’t use a teenage girl as a guinea pig in a risky procedure that could lead to a cure for your chronic pain” routine, but it somehow seemed fresher and less irritating. Maybe it was because he actually joked around a little, instead of being Wilson: Arbiter of All That Is Just and Right in This World.

Our Patient of the Week is a teenage girl who has never been able to feel pain, got in a car accident with her mom, and is now slowly going insane in the membrane (insane in the brain). She gets increasingly paranoid, guilty, feverish, and paralyzed (yeah, bummer) until House figures out that she’s deficient in B-12. (Incidentally, B-12 is the only vitamin you absolutely have to fortify your diet with if you’re vegan, and this episode made me pull my supplements out of the drawer and take, like, eight.) But wait, she already had a shot of B-12 when she was admitted! Hmmm...mysterious.

As it turns out, much as House is the parasite living off Wilson’s food and draining him of his sanity, a giant, disgusting tapeworm is living in our patient’s gut, eating all her B-12 and making her cuh-raaazy. Money shot: House holds her down as she’s screaming and raving, cuts into her without anesthetic, and pulls out the tapeworm.

Oh, and we have some touching Valentines Day stories, too. House ruins Cuddy’s promising blind date, leading Cuddy to (semi-facetiously?) ask whether House “likes her” (check “yes” or “no”). Foreman has a confusing breakup with his nurse girlfriend who I had totally forgotten about—it has something to do with buying her tuition to nurse practitioner school, and I can’t say I really care that much either way. And Cameron asks Chase to be friends with benefits in the most clinical, least hot way possible (“We work together, you weren’t all girly and weird after we slept together before, and there’s no way I’ll fall in love with you.”). Who says romance is dead?

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Veronica Mars: Happy V-Day!

That's Veronica Day to you. There's no romance here, despite the best efforts of a precocious kid who tries to get Logan and Veronica back together. I wish I was kidding. Precocious kids are lazy writing, VM. I thought you were better than that. Yes, there's the Veronica Mars twist, in that the girl's dad just ran out on them and she's on Prozac, but still – it's a Precocious Kid Who Redeems With Cuteness. And she's trying to fix Veronica and Logan back up, which is another huge strike against her. Knock it off, Precocious Kid. If you saw them together, you'd realize the horrible mistake you're making. On the bright side, Logan is starting to get over the breakup, recovering enough to take the girl out for ice – hey, wait a minute! Damn you, Precocious Kid, for being good for something!

More good news: we don't have to send out the search dogs after all. Wallace is back, and he brought Cliff with him! Yay! Where have you boys been? Did you run into Piz? Tell him to stop moping and listening to emo and get back here. Anyway, it would have been a travesty had they not brought Wallace back for this episode, since the main case is about the murder of the Hearst basketball coach. Lamb suspects, and jails, the son, Josh. But Veronica, just to be contrary, thinks Josh is innocent, and brings him some contraband to buck up his spirits. And then Veronica is arrested for helping Josh escape! It's a two-parter, people! And I can't stop using the exclamation points! It's all so exciting! And Veronica orders Keith not to die! Which I do, too! Don't die, Keith! Not ever! Keep leaving out breakfast traps for Veronica!

Ahem. Sorry, but Veronica got arrested! I got all excited! I'll stop with the exclamation points now. So the Dean O'Dell case: Keith gets discouraged by the lack of progress and Mindy's non-forthrightness, and almost quits. But after reading a letter of recommendation the Dean wrote for Veronica, he (and I, and probably you, too) is reminded of just how awesome the student-hating Dean of Students was, and he's rededicated to the case. Mindy, however, fires him. Like I said with Landry before, the evidence points to her too much for her to have done it. And since no one's yet said anything about the stepson, I'm going to continue to suspect him. Until the episode where he's the prime suspect, and then I'll suspect the younger son.

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Tuesday, February 13, 2007

24: It's Just a Drill! Walk It Off!

It's very rare, but it happens: occasionally you can believe that the events in 24 are taking place in the real L.A. Such is the case this week, when the two-hour event is bookended by two car chases. And while they're fairly tame by L.A. standards, involving no driving through a movie set, no PIT maneuvers, and no driving on the rims after the tires have been blown out so that sparks fly all over the road, they're car chases nonetheless. We'll just have to hope for that other stuff later.

Last week, when Fayed said he'd be able to convince Morris to cooperate, I was thinking maybe they had some dirt on him or something. You know, some nice blackmail. Yeah, turns out it was just a drill, and although they didn't go to the trepanning place I thought they would, it's still kind of a disappointment. Torture again? But we just had torture last week! Anyway, because torture always works, even when it's the bad guys doing it, Morris gives up – extremely easily, I might add – and helps Fayed arm the rest of his bombs. What this means is that Chloe has to talk Jack through disarming one of the nukes (I liked it better when Marshall did it), and Morris spends the rest of the night throwing himself a pity party, to which everyone is invited. And I'm wondering if this might not lead to his own death, in an "undoing the mistakes that he made" sort of way. There has to be some reason the writers made him cave so easily. (Look, I know a drill to the shoulder would really hurt. But by the standards set by this show, he's a total wuss. You know he is.)

Chad Lowe, meanwhile, is not Tom's minion after all. He's really the minion of some shadowy conspiracy guy who wants to take down the president. I assume they mean with lethal force, although they never get specific. It could be with the 25th amendment, which they've already invoked (although it's not inconceivable that they would recycle a plot point), but the 25th amendment would be a complete letdown after all of the sinister allusions of this episode.

And Philip Bauer is not just evil – he's really super seriously evil. He kidnaps his grandson to use as leverage and then orders the deaths of practically every character on the show, including Gredenko, Milo, a whole batch of CTU agents, and Jack. Oh, he's so evil, and I love it. At this point, he could only be more deliciously evil if he had sent the cougar to take out Kim – which I wouldn't put past him. Heck, I'd throw him a parade if he did.

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Heroes: And There Was Much Rejoicing

No Peter this week! Wherever he is, I'm sure we can safely assume that Claude is continuing to chuck him off buildings. Keep up the good work, Claude. Meanwhile, Claire sees Nathan and hears him decline any contact with her, and Sylar meets up with Mohinder just after stealing the ability to liquefy stuff. Man, these superpowers are becoming less and less useful. Liquefying stuff? How is that ever going to come in handy? If Sylar feels the need to kill him for that power, instead of being all, "Uh, you keep it," he must really be feeling Pokémonnish about these powers. Gotta catch 'em all!

Also meanwhile:

Hiro/Ando: Back in Vegas, the duo run into a showgirl with a story about an abusive boyfriend and a bag she needs back, and Ando, whose superpower is now manifesting itself as a weakness for the ladies, immediately volunteers to help her. But the showgirl's using them, and when Hiro confronts her, he gets called – I think – "Sulu" (ha!) and locked in a closet for his trouble. What I love about their storyline this week is the role reversal, as Ando throws all of Hiro's hero axioms back at him while Hiro grumps around. Sweet!

Jessica/Matt: Strike up the band! Ring the bells in every village square! Shout "bravo" at an annoyingly loud volume! Matt Parkman finally gets an engaging storyline! Hooray! His non-time-wasting plot involves a gig as bodyguard for a former Linderman henchman, and I'm sure you can guess which freakishly strong blonde Linderman's tapped to kill him. (Uh, no, not Elliot.) So, yeah, Matt fails miserably at his assignment, as his charge dies and he gets defenestrated, but I can't really fault him for that. Jessica is one evil chick, after all. Plus, he finally gets something interesting to do. I cannot stress that enough. What I can fault him for happens later: as always, no one believes Crazy Parkman's stories, so Matt, in a fit of "If I were Jack Bauer, they'd believe me" pique, steals a whole bag of diamonds. Well, at least Matt is consistent, in that he consistently makes bad decisions. And he did finally get some real use out of his power. I was getting really tired of him only reading people's minds to hear how much they think he sucks.

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Monday, February 12, 2007

Desperate Housewives: Sabotage!

Before I get into what happened last night on Desperate Housewives, is anyone else starting to like Andrew more and more as the weeks go by? Because I totally am. Although I’m a bit confused as to how he went from wacko/sleeping with his mom’s boyfriend and getting kicked out of the house to total defender of all things Bree. Does he have an angle I don’t know about? At any rate, I completely loved his smirking “Dude, not cool” bit when Austin got busted by Lynette.

So let’s see…what do we have? On the mystery front, Orson confesses to Bree (unheard by us) about what happened the night of Monique’s death. Mike, thanks to a little hypnotherapy (how handy!), remembers that Orson was totally there the night of Monique’s death, and Mike was just an innocent plumber who happened to stumble upon the aftermath and retrieve his (apparently) bloody wrench. Mrs. Hodges traps Alma in a closet and lures Bree onto a sabotaged ladder, landing her in the hospital. Man, Orson’s mom is WAY too invested in Orson’s and Alma’s relationship.

On the cradle-robbing front, Zach gets Gabrielle’s date to call her old, and reaps the ensuing drunken rewards. Which are so far just cuddling, but promise to descend into much creepier territory next week. Ew.

On the Pizzeria of Almost-Certain Failure front, Tom proves that while he does have a bit of management sense, he’s also rather immature and in constant need of reassurance that Lynette’s not the boss of him. Dude, Lynette’s TOTALLY the boss of you. For reals.

On the awkward funerals front, Susan attends Ian’s wife’s funeral and, shockingly, manages to turn it into The Susan Show. And gets a semi-proposal out of it. FYI, Susan, Mike would never propose to you in an embalming room. A prison visiting room, maybe. But I’d take “No touching!” over dead bodies any day as far as romantic proposals go.

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Grease - YTOTIW: Stretching the Meaning of “Broadway Songs”

Wow. I don’t even know where to start in describing last night’s two-hour slaughter of everything I know and love about musical theatre. How to put it into perspective? Let’s say you were watching a revue of what was purported to be great rap songs, and the closest thing to rap was Nelly’s “Hot in Herre.” You’d be pissed, right?

Last night on Grease: You’re the One that I Want, contestants ostensibly sang Broadway songs. Now, given that Andrew Lloyd Webber (symbol for everything that is wrong with Broadway today, and supremely creepy dude) was a guest judge, I expected the episode to be heavy on the Webber and light on the Sondheim. But Jesus freaking Christ—virtually every song that wasn’t written by Webber was from a goddamn jukebox or movie-based musical, and thus not even a Broadway song. In fact there was only one exception: a song from The Wiz, which is hardly a Broadway classic. Sigh. I’ll try to put my intense wrathfulness behind me and focus on the performances, but it’s gonna be tough.

Moving on…we have a new surprise twist! Apparently, the four Danny’s and Sandy’s with the fewest votes will compete in a sing-off for the judges, who will ultimately determine which two are eliminated. Considering this twist was totally unannounced prior to this episode, I’m guessing America screwed up last week and didn’t eliminate Matt and Ashley A., and the producers needed to give the judges a fail-safe, so that whoever they pick as best has no chance of being eliminated. Fair enough—America can be pretty dumb sometimes. Kind of ruins the point of the whole “America voting” thing though, eh?

First up tonight is Max, singing “Can You Feel the Love Tonight?” from “The Lion King.” His singing is fine, but the song requires no acting ability to pull off, and Max just comes across as kind of weird.

Next is Laura, singing “Jesus Christ Superstar,” which is coincidentally by our guest judge. I’m no Webber fan, but brave choice, since it’s not an easy song to sing (Max), requires acting (B-, Laura), and wasn’t written for a woman, or even one person. Fine job.

Derek sings “Footloose.” I’m sick of this shit already. You disappoint me, favorite Danny. Although that sleeveless top is making a valiant effort at assuaging me, as is the choreographed dancing. Rock on! And shame on the judges for not giving him more credit for the dancing, especially since it’s clearly not a requirement.

Ashley S. tells us she’s having vocal troubles this week, but forges ahead with “Take That Look Off Your Face,” from Webber’s “Tell Me on a Sunday.” Too bad she didn’t sing the titular song—I actually kind of like that one. At any rate, favorite Sandy, you are NOT rocking this song as well as I know you can. Do better! And act more, if your voice isn’t 100%. And pick a song you can dance to, since that’s one of your strengths. Nice belting at the end, though.

Kevin sings “Burning Love” from some Elvis jukebox musical, and does NOT rock it. Props again for dancing, though. Negative props for the weird giant hair. You have dropped off my favorites list, Kevin.

Juliana sings “Don’t Cry for Me, Argentina,” from my least-hated Webber musical. At least it’s a challenging song to sing, and she does a good job keeping a steady pace. I feel like not rushing would be the hardest part of singing this song. Well-played, Juliana, well-played.

Chad sings “My Eyes Adored You,” from “Jersey Boys” (the Four Seasons jukebox musical). Nice voice, but booooooring song choice and execution. Jesus Christ.

Kate sings “Buenos Aires,” also from my least-hated Webber musical. Nice, challenging song, too. Appropriate, since she’s one of the better vocalists. Well-acted, even. All right! Not her very best vocal work at times, but it’s a deceptively tough song, so I’ll forgive her. You’re on the favorites list, Kate!

Austin continues his creepy-but-talented-man-child streak with “Ease on Down the Road,” from “The Wiz.” I won’t criticize at all, since he’s the ONLY performer singing a song that isn’t either by Andrew Lloyd Webber or from a jukebox/movie-based musical.

Kathleen sings “Memories,” from “Cats.” Ugh, what a predictable choice. Stupid, if you ask me. Do you really want to beg a comparison to Betty Buckley or Elaine Page, Kathleen? Because trust me, that’s not a flattering comparison for you, however talented you may be. Fine job, and good emoting, but she seems a bit too mature for Sandy, possibly because she picked a song originally sung by an aged cat. Just sayin’.

And now, it’s time for the America Sucks Sing-Off. I really hope there’s a trap-door with a pit full of alligators involved! Oh, and America apparently likes talentless underdogs, because as I suspected, Matt and Ashley A. weren’t the bottom two. I don’t particularly love Jason and Allie, but what the hell, America? You obviously can’t be trusted with important decisions.

The sing-off is, as predicted, totally a bullshit way for the judges to pitch their least favorites. They take turns singing parts of “Tears on My Pillow,” a pretty easy song that even Matt is able to manage without totally screwing up. And…shocker of shockers…Ashley A. and Matt are out, and order is restored in the world. No thanks to you, America.

Jason, saved from elimination, sings “That’ll Be the Day,” from some Buddy Holly jukebox musical. This is so much bullshit I can’t even handle it. Billy Bush doesn’t even bother naming the musical it’s from! If the show can’t find decent, recognizable songs for guys to sing outside of jukebox musicals, they just aren’t looking hard enough. What about “Beautiful Morning,” from “Oklahoma!” or “Hey There,” from “The Pajama Game,” bitches? Or anything else John Raitt ever sang, for that matter. Is there some sort of pre-Andrew Lloyd Webber ban in effect here? Whatever. Jason does okay with the singing and dancing, but kind of kills the spirit of the song. Much as this show is killing the spirit of Broadway.

Allie sings “I Don’t Know How to Love Him,” from “Jesus Christ Superstar.” Ah, I was wondering when this oversung gem would turn up. I don’t think Allie gets what this song is about at ALL, but she does an okay job.

Compared to the obviousness of last week’s decision, there aren’t any clear losers this week that I can tell. However, I’d probably kick out Jason and Allie, actually. But that could just be because by the time they performed, I was so sick of Andrew Lloyd Webber and non-Broadway songs that I would have hated the best such performances in the world. My favorite Danny is still definitely Derek, but I think Kate was my favorite Sandy this week. However, this show had better break out some Rogers and Hammerstein or Lerner and Lowe next week, or I’m gonna have to go knock some heads together.

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24: Won't Someone Please Think of the Interrogators?

Some people are imitating what they see on TV, and, for once, they're not children. An advocacy group has found a link between TV torture and torture in real life, by real military officers. And, sure, they mention other shows, like Lost or The Wire, but let's get real here - it's 24. 24 is like Discount Torture Warehouse. In fact, the article implies that the interrogators get their ideas directly from 24, which seems like a very bad idea. All of Jack's various methods of torture - the plastic bag, the neuroinflammatory, the lamp and electrical cord, shooting the wife in the leg - were concocted by writers who are only interested in entertainment value. Jack Bauer's towel trick is good TV, but would it really work? And just because it always works for Jack, and he never gets his comeuppance, or at least does get his comeuppance and then gets repatriated the next season, doesn't mean it'll work out the same way in real life. 24's producers say they show the consequences of torture - the toll it takes on Jack. Yeah, we've seen that this season. Jack gets leery of torture, but then an hour later he's suffocating his own brother. Somehow it's always his only option.

Personally, I'd like to see Jack get away from the torture. Torture's gotten old on 24. It's no longer as shocking as it used to be, which is why they have to go to greater lengths, like having him torture his own brother. But they're going to reach a point - very soon, I think - where the only thing they can do to spice up the torture is to have Jack torture himself. I want to see Jack turn to more creative ways of getting information, like that stunt he pulled with Assad, Fayed's minion, and the hit-and-run. They got the information they needed, and it was an extremely entertaining scene, because it was surprising. More of that, please. I mean, I know I probably won't get my wish, but I can ask.

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Friday, February 09, 2007

Scrubs: ROAD TRIP!

Last night's Scrubs was hilarious as always, with some actual drama thrown in for funsies. Best part: Dr. Kelso's retirement RV is full of kimonos. Most shocking part: JD's baby-momma claims she had a miscarriage and causes them to break up, but she's really still pregnant. (!!!) That's just totally uncool. Or...totally "Dorian." Pregnant women are crazy, yo.

Dr. Cox and Jordan's baby is having some trouble in the womb, and needs emergency surgery. Did anyone else envision that creepy stomach-bursting moment from Alien when the fetus's hand reached out and grabbed Turk? Ew/yikes. I wonder if this means they're going with the special needs child angle John C. McGinley was hoping for. If so, bravo, Bill Lawrence.

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Grey's Anatomy: Crushing Injuries are the WORST

Is it just me, or has Grey’s Anatomy reached ER-esque proportions during sweeps? First we have not one, but two marriage proposals, and now a ferryboat disaster? And as if that weren’t enough, the episode (part one of three) ends with Meredith being thrown into the water by a flailing patient. Yeah.

Oh, and how creepy was that little girl who was following Meredith around? If other people hadn’t seen her, and this were a crappier show, I’d totally expect the three-parter to end like this:

Derek: How did you get out of that water alive? You know you can’t swim!

Meredith [soaking wet, wrapped in blankets]: I would have drowned, if it weren’t for that little blonde girl jumping in to save me.

Derek: You mean this little blonde girl? [Pulls sheet off of body lying on the ground to reveal the little blonde girl] Meredith, she died in the accident. She couldn’t have helped you. You must be crazy from the hypothermia, or the anorexia.

Meredith: But she saved me! I KNOW WHAT I SAW!!!

Thankfully, this isn’t The Ghost Whisperer, or Touched by an Angel, or some other crappy supernatural show I’ve never seen. As evidenced by the fact that Izzy didn’t gain superstrength to save the guy trapped under a car, and Alex didn’t gain super-plastic-surgery-ing to make it so I didn’t want to hurl every time they showed that poor crushed woman’s face. Seriously. (P.S. - Yay, Alex! Getting better every week!)

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Ugly Betty: Claire Meade Is My Drunken TV Mom

Last week, I asked what Alexis' problem was, and Ugly Betty has delivered a quick response. Her problem is that Bradford not only opposed Alex's decision to become a woman, but threatened that he would lose everything and openly wished that his son was dead. Okay, I can understand the bitterness. But it doesn't mean I'm completely sold on Alexis, as some of the "funny" Meade family memories were fairly disturbing. For one thing, young Alex shoved Daniel off a boat into freezing cold water, causing him to lose a toe, and then there's the whole wetting the bed until he was 15 thing. Isn't that one of the signs of a potential serial killer? So, yeah, Ugly Betty, while I no longer question Alexis' motives, now I think that she's going to kill Daniel and bury him in a shallow grave. The best part of all this Meade family drama: Judith Light is back as the brilliantly sarcastic, drunken ice queen of a Meade matriarch, Claire, and the day she spends with Betty at the spa is exactly as hilarious as you would expect it to be. And then she confesses to Fey's murder. Is it wrong that I want her to get away with it? She's just so cool!

And the roster of Team Henry just keeps growing, adding to its ranks the very awesome Claire. She earns herself a standing ovation from me when she tells Betty (re: Walter, of course), "This guy is a pain in the ass, break up with him!" What did I tell you? So cool! Even Walter isn't on Team Walter anymore, because he can see the breakup coming. So he lets Betty go and moves to Maryland. This means that Betty can get with Henry, right? Right? Well, it would, except that the most integral part of Team Henry isn't on the team anymore. His ex-girlfriend is in town, and Henry's going to try to make it work with her. Noooooooooo! Damn you, Ugly Betty, I should have known you would do this to me! I mean Betty! Oh, screw it, I mean me.

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Thursday, February 08, 2007

Veronica Mars: We're So Over (It)

This week on Veronica Mars: Veronica gets crazy jealous. As in, jealous to the point of actually being crazy about it. She can't sleep, can't concentrate on anything, because she's obsessing about Logan and Madison. When she confronts Logan about it, she insists, "This is something I'm never getting over," and oh, how I wish I could believe that. They're just going to get back together before February sweeps is over. That's how they roll. Break up, stay broken up for an episode or two, get back together, repeat. Logan, knowing how this vicious cycle operates, leaves a drunken message on her voicemail about how sorry he is and how much he loves her and probably some other stuff. The fact that Veronica deletes this message without listening to all of it only means that their eventual reconciliation is delayed a week. On the plus side, Veronica nearly has Weevil cube Madison's car, which, while crazy, and mostly illegal, would have at least been enjoyable for everyone. Much more so than Sad, Sad, Repentant, and Sad Logan. Logan, don't you ever get tired of saying, "I never meant to hurt you?"

Case? Why, yes, there was a case this week. Bonnie, who you may remember from both Tim and Dick, comes to Veronica wanting to know who slipped her RU-486. It wasn't either of the two possible fathers, it wasn't Bonnie's evangelist father, the CFO of his ministries, or Doug the Nervous Guy, who's taken time off from his coroner job to send literature to patrons of a women's clinic. No, it was Bonnie's roommate, who rightly points out that both possible fathers kind of suck, and who gave her the pill to keep her from making what she considered a big mistake. The most important thing we learn in the course of this storyline is that Tim is also investigating Dean O'Dell's death. I can only imagine that this means Tim and the Marses are going to be teaming up at some point. Awesome?

And in the Dean O'Dell case, not much happens. Veronica finds an earwitness through Tim's dossiers, and Mindy claims that she had the Volvo at the Grand on the night the dean was killed. The dried bits of egg on the Volvo suggest otherwise. Also, Mindy appears to be trying to seduce Keith. I may be mistaken, but when a character calls another character over because she hears an intruder downstairs who turns out to be her ex, and then invites the guy to stay for drinks, that's usually a big flashing warning sign. Not that the people on TV see it, though.

Meanwhile, it's Mac's birthday, even though we don't see her. But I'm not worried about her. It's Wallace I'm ready to call out the search dogs for. We have yet to see him in 2007, and while I don't want to have to start WallaceWatch '07, if he doesn't show up next week, I'll have no choice. Although, if I had to start up a watch for every cast member who misses more than one episode of Veronica Mars, I'd never get anything else done.

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Wednesday, February 07, 2007

House: Gypsies, Tramps and Toothpicks

Last night on House, everyone got down to business and actually treated a patient instead of being jailed, having their assets frozen, or generally being assholes (Wilson). Yay! The case of the week followed the classic “teen gets sick, conventional treatments make teen worse, House demands the parents allow an experimental treatment, parents refuse, teen turns out to have something totally different and easily curable and would have been severely hurt by the experimental treatment” model: Swallowed Toothpick version.

Crazy twist: The boy’s parents are gypsies, and don’t trust doctors! Woah! Yeah, it didn’t amount to much. But the patient’s girlfriend was played by Jessy Schram, whom you may remember as Logan’s adorable ex-girlfriend Hannah on Veronica Mars.

In other House news, a new, wheelchair-bound (reasonably attractive female) doctor gets House’s parking space, so House makes a bet with Cuddy and spends the week in a wheelchair. I won’t go into the details, but he loses the bet, still gets a good space, and has some fabulous banter with the new doctor, some of which involves House’s favorite subject: Cuddy’s boobs. It was pretty great.

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Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Studio 60: Snakes on a Set, Part II

I have to say, I don’t think it’s the hallmark of a great show that when I’m watching Studio 60, I’m constantly trying to decipher what negative message Aaron Sorkin is trying to convey about Hollywood. He uses Studio 60 as a mouthpiece so often that I now examine every plotline for Sorkin’s opinions – “Sorpinions,” if you will. So Sorkin, wherever you are, I’m not sure what your Sorpinion is on the whole black writer plot thing. We need more black writers in television? The current ones need to be more black? Some black guy pissed you off by not wanting to write for a black character a dozen years ago, and is finally getting his comeuppance in the form of an angry man dressed as a piece of fruit?

Whatever- I’m clearly ignoring the most important part of the episode: the motherfucking snakes on the motherfucking set. After sending a ferret down after the snake, and a coyote (!) after the ferret, Cal gives up and rips up the stage. Oh, and that rich Asian dude agrees to help Jack out, even though Jack totally let his daughter get falling-down drunk on his watch. The End!

What’s that? Some stuff with couples happened, too? Sigh…okay. Matt and Harriet fought long and painfully the entire episode, and I don’t want to talk about it because it was long and painful. Danny and Jordan spent some quality time together on the roof and ended up making out, and I don’t want to talk about it because I had an embarrassingly big smile on my face the whole time. Yeah. I’m a giant dork like that. I also kind of secretly want to see that new Hugh Grant/Drew Barrymore movie. And not entirely in an ironic way. Wanna fight about it? Someday maybe I can regain your respect. Until then, I hope we can enjoy making fun of Matt and Harriet’s ridiculousness together.

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Heroes: School of Blunt Force Trauma

I'm a little ashamed of myself for it, but I was actually glad not to see Greg Grunberg in the credits this week - not because I don't want to see him, but because I don't want to see Matt. Maybe the writers can take this week to think of ways to use the extremely cool actor they've landed in better ways. Greg, meanwhile, can take the week off to jam with his band and do all the other cool things he does. How did such a cool guy get stuck with such a lame part? Come on, writers! Stop squandering your Grunberg!

So anyway, Niki gets released by Linderman (and then locked up again by Jessica), and Isaac is working with Mr. Bennet, but the big stories are:

Peter: Claude, in the course of teaching him how to use his powers, frames him as a purse-snatcher, slugs him, mocks him about the hair in the face (Thank you! Someone said it!) and throws him off a building. Oh, Claude. You don't have to try so hard. I already love you. Anyway, Claude tells him that other people suck and the only way to focus his powers is to forget about everyone else, but Peter realizes the opposite is true: by remembering the people he stole his powers from, he can call up those powers. Peter, why have Claude as your sensei if you're not even going to listen to him? Because you're not going to do anything about that hair, are you? No, I didn't think so.

Hiro: George Takei finally has lines this week, and he's brought along Hiro's big sister Kimiko. Kimiko is smart, business-minded, and total sidekick-nip, because Ando has a serious crush on her. Aw, Ando! Anyway, Hiro's dad wants him to come home and become an executive vice president, not realizing that this would be the worst idea ever. I mean, he's cute and all, but do you want him to be your executive vice president of anything but awesome? Hiro skillfully manages to point up his business incompetence while simultaneously highlighting his sister's competence, and Mr. Nakamura goes back to Japan with Kimiko, leaving Hiro and Ando to their quest. Come back soon, Nakamuras!

The Bennets: As Zach and Claire head out on a field trip to find Claire's birth mom, Sylar escapes, locks up Mr. Bennet, and heads over to the Bennet residence to creepily chat up Mrs. Bennet, who takes quite a while to get freaked out about this guy. I blame it on the constant neuralyzing. Finally Mr. Bennet comes home with the Haitian, runs off Sylar, and erases Mrs. Bennet's memory again (see?). Meanwhile, Claire's birth mom tells us, but not Claire, who Claire's father is. And, as probably 90% of you predicted, it's Nathan. Oh, I'm sorry, let me do that again, with the appropriate level of shock: it's Nathan!!!1!!1! (DUN!)

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24: His Name is Jack Bauer, and He's a Torturer

Jack has a problem. More than one, of course, but one in particular stands out in this episode, and it's the torturing. Call it what you will - questioning, breaking, sweet lady interrogating - he just can't get enough. He gets the shakes early in the episode when his dad kills one of the minions assigned to take them out before he can "question" him, and then he just needs someone to torture. Like Graem. There have been many shocking torture scenes before on 24, but nothing quite like watching Jack grow more steadily kookoo for torture while injecting his brother with increasing doses of a neuroinflammatory. If Jack ever could realize that he has a problem, and it's hurting people (rather, about hurting people), this would be the time. But he can't, because America needs him to torture. Besides, he seems to hit pay dirt, as he always does, by getting Graem to confess that he was the big bad behind season 5, that he arranged Palmer's, Tony's, and Michelle's deaths, and that he was trying to get Jack killed. Because he "loves his country." Graem, if you really loved America, you'd keep Jack alive, because he's the only one keeping the country in one piece.

Although I suppose that if Graem really, really loved America, he'd break under torture and tell him that Philip is his partner in evil. Yep, Papa Bauer is a supervillain too, which only makes sense, given how his sons turned out. Ineffectual Philip just wasn't cutting it at all. (However, that still doesn't explain Kim.) And to prove his evil, Philip kills Graem to prevent him from ever talking. Another Bauer-Bauer showdown is in the works, and I predict maybe five minutes of agonizing before Jack starts torturing his dad. He can't help himself! He has an addiction!

Meanwhile, Fayed and McCarthy the Aussie guy have agreed upon a new nuclear engineer, but because the show is so careful not to tell us his name or show us his face, it has to be someone we know. Unfortunately, CTU's decryption program working to restore the engineer's picture moves ever so slowly, as though it were waiting for Morris to leave to go see his brother in the hospital. So the CTUers don't realize that it's Morris until just before he's kidnapped. He puts up very little resistance, severely disappointing my mom, who points out that even Chloe knew how to handle a gun. Maybe so, but Morris is British. His only weapon is a cutting wit.

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Monday, February 05, 2007

Cash and Treasures: Travel Channel Strikes Gold (Har har har)

The part of me that wanted to be a professional shipwreck treasure hunter when I was ten has finally found an outlet in the Travel Channel’s Best Places to Find Cash and Treasures. Hosted by Becky Worley (until I kidnap her, hide her in my closet, and steal her job), the show travels to various places where treasures can be found. So far, I’ve seen episodes focusing on such wide-ranging treasures as diamonds, prehistoric shark teeth, and, yes, shipwrecked Spanish gold.

The show’s focus seems to be more on showing viewers places where they can strike it rich, which I think is a mistake. The joy of the show isn’t knowing that I can go to some public park in Arizona and find a $250 geode (although that is totally cool). It’s the excitement of discovery as Becky goes in with local experts to find (for example) dirty rocks with the potential to become gems, and then the amazing reveals as those rocks are polished, cut, and appraised. It’s the rush of seeing Becky find a centuries-old silver coin in a sunken ship; of knowing that the coin was just sitting down there, waiting to be found. The subtle focus on the “strike it rich” theme cheapens the show, in my opinion.

But hey, overall, it’s a really fun show for people like me, who have secretly always wanted to buy a metal detector and spend our days combing the English countryside for ancient coins and belt buckles and stuff. This show also makes me wonder what else I'm missing on the Travel Channel...apparently it's not all crap about cruises and stuff. Who knew? Cash and Treasures airs at 10 PM Tuesdays on the Travel Channel.

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