Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Critical thinking

Let me start off by saying that the Television Critics Association has my eternal respect just for nominating Kristen Bell and Veronica Mars last year. You nominate Veronica, I mark you in the "good" column. It's that easy.

That said, the TCA released their 2006 nominations today, and it's a surprising mix of the deserving and the meh, in my opinion--and not just because Ms. Bell is conspicuously absent. One of the things that I find interesting, more than the nominees themselves, is the categories of the nominations, which are different from both the Emmys and the Golden Globes. With the TCA awards, there's "Program of the Year," which could go to a comedy, drama, or fake news show--sort of whatever the critics decide. Also, the nominations for acting are also gender-blind...or gender non-specific, at least. It makes for some interesting competition:

(my preferences italicized and explained below)

"Grey's Anatomy" (ABC)
"Lost" (ABC)
"The Office" (NBC)
"The Sopranos" (HBO)
"24" (Fox)

The little show that could, The Office found its voice this year, along with one of the best relationships on TV.

"The Daily Show" (Comedy Central)
"Everybody Hates Chris" (UPN)
"My Name Is Earl" (NBC)
"The Office" (NBC)
"Scrubs" (NBC)

My sister thinks this show is funny. Trust me, that's an achievement.

"Grey's Anatomy" (ABC)
"House" (Fox)
"Lost" (ABC)
"The Sopranos" (HBO)
"24" (Fox)

I kind of have to give it to the only show I watched this season, though I'm planning to get caught up with House in summer reruns and Lost on DVD.

Steve Carell ("The Office")
Stephen Colbert ("The Colbert Report")
Lauren Graham ("Gilmore Girls")
Jason Lee ("My Name Is Earl")
Jon Stewart ("The Daily Show with Jon Stewart")

This woman is amazing. Give her an award already!

Alan Alda ("The West Wing")
James Gandolfini ("The Sopranos")
Hugh Laurie ("House")
Kiefer Sutherland ("24")
Kyra Sedgwick ("The Closer")

No one on this list is as awesome as Kristen Bell. So I give it to Hugh Laurie, because he gives good accent.

"Big Love" (HBO)
"The Colbert Report" (Comedy Central)
"Everybody Hates Chris" (UPN)
"My Name Is Earl" (NBC)
"Prison Break" (Fox)

It's a breath of fresh, funny air, with a deceptively simple premise and some of the mellowest, most fun characters on TV.

There are some conspicuous absences (Battlestar Galactica?) but you've got to hand it to the TCA for recognizing a number of actors and series that no other awards will. Hats off to you, critics.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Rescue Me, finally

Rescue Me has been on my list of to-watch shows for ages. I continually forget about it because it doesn't have the same airing schedule as most other shows; by the time I remember a new season has started, I'm already a few episodes behind, wary of jumping in and being lost among the continuing storylines.

That said? I'm going to watch it tonight. Season Three is premiering at 10PM on FX, and that seems as good a time to start as any. It was a combination of three things that made me realize this show just might be the thing for me:

1) I caught the webisode and really enjoyed the man-banter and camaraderie between the crew members.

2) Denis Leary appeared on The Daily Show with John Stewart. Individually, these two are hilarious. Together, their wicked back-and-forth between practically set my TV on fire. Their mutual heckling did nothing to disguise how much these two like and respect each other.

3) John Scurti's anti-blog for TVGuide. I'm firmly in favor of mocking of castmates and self -- especially when it produces such funny results.

I'm not sure if Rescue Me is for everyone, but I'll tune in tonight to see if it's for me. If you're on the fence about the show, I'd say take a look at the three things that made up my mind. Maybe they'll do the same for you.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Everwood fans go through the five stages

With the news that Everwood won't be returning in the fall, it's clear that fans are going through the five stages of grief. Just reviewing Entertainment Weekly's Ask the TV Critic webpage, you can see examples of fan reactions. We've got:

1) Denial: "It can't be true! Everwood is gone? No way! The best show on TV cannot be cancelled."

2. Anger: "Everwood has not had the opportunity to build a strong and consistant fan base because of the inconsistant scheduling by the network. Too many long gaps during each season. Shame on CW!"

3. Bargaining: "Please do what you can to convince Dawn Ostroff that she and the CW have made a very grave mistake in not renewing EVERWOOD for another season."

4. Depression: "Everyone I know watches and loves Everwood and is devastated that it is being taken off the air."

5. Acceptance: (Umm...couldn't find an example of this. I guess the fans aren't there yet.)

It's ironic that fans should now have to go through these stages, considering Everwood's focus on the heavy subjects of grief and loss throughout its four-year run. Maybe Dawn Ostroff thought Everwood fans would be well-educated about how to deal with it at this point? Harsh.

What stage am I in? Maybe bargaining -- since I'm going to try to get you to watch the show right now, in the hopes that some miraculous reprieve will keep in on the air. Word on the street is that Seventh Heaven got its surprise renewal over Everwood for ratings reasons, and there's been buzz that if the final two episodes of Everwood do well enough, it might get renewed as a midseason replacement.

So listen: If you've ever been curious about Everwood, I implore you to watch the penultimate episode tonight at 9 on the WB. No complex espionage-driven plotlines here -- you can jump right in. Give it a chance.

Worst case-scenario? You don't like it. Fine. It's just an hour. Best-case scenario? You'll enjoy one of the best written, best acted, hands-down best shows on TV, and maybe even have a chance to help save it...before it's gone permanently.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Faerie Tales can come true

The proof is in the fact that my very own DVD set of Faerie Tale Theatre recently arrived.

I loved this show like cake when I was a kid. Do you remember it? Faerie Tale Theatre is a series of lavish, live-action retellings of fairy tales that aired on Showtime from 1982-1987. It was produced by Shelley Duvall, who also appeared in a couple of the segments: Rumplestiltskin and Rapunzel, I believe. There were 26 episodes featuring appearances by a wide range of well-known '80's actors guaranteed to marvel and amuse, from Joan Collins and Rick Schroeder to Vanessa Redgrave and Vincent Price.

My childhood memories of the show were fond and fervent, if a little fuzzy. Then, a couple years ago during a visit to Atlanta, I spotted some familiar cover artwork in the children's section of an independent video rental store. Could it be? It was: several videotapes from the series ("Cinderella," "Beauty and the Beast," "Snow White and the Seven Dwarves," and "The Dancing Princesses" if I recall correctly). They were rented and watched and prodigious giggling ensued. They even had the original cover artwork, something my DVD set is sadly lacking.

The series is awesome and great for kids (even if the creepy image of Mick Jagger from "The Nightingale" was indelibly pressed upon my brain). They managed to get some of the decently big stars of the era to take part in the series, so there are some pretty memorable '80's-flashback pairings. A few of my beloved episodes were "Cinderella" (featuring Matthew Broderick and Jennifer Beals), "The Little Mermaid" (with Pam Dawber and Treat Williams), and (the final episode and my absolute favorite) "The Dancing Princesses" (starring Lesley Ann Warren and Peter Weller).

Then there are some episodes that I can't remember at all, like "Aladdin and his Wonderful Lamp" (with Robert Carradine, Leonard Nimoy and James Earl Jones -- what a cast!). Some others I dimly recall, like "Sleeping Beauty" with Bernadette Peters and Christopher Reeve, or "The Snow Queen" with Melissa Gilbert and Lauren Hutton.

I'm looking forward to watching all the Faerie Tale Theatre episodes now, both for the camp factor and to see if watching will magically transport me back to my childhood. I'm sure seeing them again will bring back memories both misty and watercolored. However, if I really wanted to travel back in time, I'd have to have my sister come over so we could go to swim practice in matching neon-green suits at 7:30 in the morning, then play Clue and eat mounds of parmesan-covered spaghetti. Now that would be a blast from the past.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Saturday's theme: men fight over Julia Ormond

The only thing that would make this day more Julia-Ormond-tastic would be a showing of the Sabrina remake. I wonder if men now avoid Julia because they're worried that they will fall for her, then one of their close male friends/relatives will fall for her, and then there will be bloodshed and death. At least she managed to get a husband! He's probably an only child. And a loner. And I'm off-topic.

First Knight (11AM, TNT): Like Guinevere, Julia Ormond's character in this film, many women have found themselves forced to choose between Sean Connery and Richard their dreams. Chivalry + adultery + swords = emo!

Legends of the Fall (1:30PM, TNT): Elliot from E.T., the villain from Stakeout, and Thelma's boytoy all want to get on Julia Ormond. Family discord + death + long hair = emo!

Romancing the Stone (3:30PM, WE): The only movie in which Michael Douglas is hot. I know some of you ladies are going to disagree with me, but I'm sticking firm on this one. I liked The American President and Wonder Boys, but they remain blissfully attraction-free.

The River Wild (5:00PM, WGN): The movie that cemented Kevin Bacon's creepiness and Meryl Streep's awesomeness doing anything whatsoever in front of the camera.

Pieces of April (5:25, IFC): Relive the days when Katie Holmes was picking hot, age-appropriate men and interesting roles. Patricia Clarkson is shiny and awesome as Katie's mom.

10 Things I Hate About You (6PM, Comedy Central): I saw this movie in the theater with a group of my friends for my birthday. My friends told me watching bitchy, standoffish, soccer-playing Kat was like watching me onscreen, but with longer hair. I found this perfectly acceptable, provided it would lead me to a Heath Ledger of my very own. At press time, Heath still belongs to Michelle Williams.

My Best Friend's Wedding (8PM, TBS): I'm not really sure what makes Dermot Mulroney so special that two women need to fight over him. I mean, come on, it's not as if he's Julia Ormond or something.

After reviewing the films above, I come to the conclusion that nothing can stop me from watching a Quantum Leap marathon.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Blast from the past: Quantum Leap

For the past couple weeks, my roommate and I have been watching the first season of Quantum Leap on DVD. What a gem! It reminds me both of how much television has changed over the years and how much has stayed the same.

For those of you who have managed to avoid any knowledge of Quantum Leap (pretty difficult considering it was on for five seasons, '89-'93), the basic story is this: scientist Dr. Sam Beckett finds himself "leaping" through time as the result of a time-travel experiment gone wrong...or "cock-eyed", as he puts it. Sam jumps in and out of different eras of history, attempting to set right what once went wrong; once something is set right, he leaps elsewhere in time for another task. As he attempts to correct the mistakes of the past, Sam's aided by his friend Al, a fellow scientist still in the present time. Al appears as a hologram that only Sam can see and hear, and acts as Sam's link to Ziggy, a supercomputer that helps Sam figure out what he's meant to fix and how to do it.

Sam's perpetual fish-out-of-water scenario provided for a never-ending source of hilarity and hijinks. I've never become very involved in shows that rely on the 'instant reset' button -- setting things back to the start at the end of each episode, without continuing plotlines or narrative threads -- but Quantum Leap managed to pull it off in a way that didn't get too repetitive. Plus, the show seemed to set the stage for a couple other shows I liked, like Sliders.

So what's the same about TV? Good characters can make or break a show. Scott Bakula, who plays Sam, is pretty much as good-natured and likeable a guy as you could ever hope to run across. They say Sam and Al (played by Dean Stockwell) are pretty much the personalities of their actors, and I'd believe it, given their easy, natural banter on the show.

What's different? The credits - they're incredibly long and quite detailed about the past events that Sam has taken part in. You could never catch a show with credits that long and informative today -- just look at the brevity of the intros for hit shows like Grey's Anatomy. The shorter the credits, the more time for commercials in today's profit-driven age. (The same age that axed Everwood in favor of the marginally more profitable yet deplorably poor-quality Seventh Heaven.) Also, the plotlines are a lot simpler. None of this 'several storylines interwoven together' stuff that got its start with ER. One goal, one story, e basta.)

Any other Quantum Leap fans out there? The first four seasons are available on DVD, so you can become one if you aren't already. We've got one episode left to watch from season one, so it's a fair bet that we'll be buying season two tonight and watching that this weekend.

What, you thought I was going to do something other than watch TV over the long weekend? Dubious.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

NBC Scrubs in

I'm pretty psyched about a few new shows that are scheduled to start on NBC this fall. Heroes and Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip are two of those I'll definitely tune in to come September. (More on those in a later post.)

However, I have to subtract some points from the network for their ignominious treatment of Scrubs. Season after season, they don't give this show the respect and scheduling it deserves. I know it isn't a runaway hit for them, but it's a solid performer that has a devoted fan base, and they really should give Scrubs its due.

For example, Scrubs doesn't appear on NBC's fall schedule. They've been renewed, but it looks like viewers will have to wait until January for new episodes, just like last season. The cast plays it off like they don't mind, saying the January start this season didn't seem to have a negative effect, either ratings- or creativity-wise, but you know it must feel a bit insulting. (There are, however, meager signs that it may show Thursdays at 9PM, which would unfortunately put it in the way of Grey's Anatomy in the fall.)

I fail to understand precisely why Scrubs remains underappreciated. Perhaps because it has a sense of humor that's rare on TV today: light-hearted, irreverent, and delightfully random. Think of the running Dr. Acula joke (and if you love it, then buy this shirt), or consider the giddy, goofy glory of Turk's Poison dance -- unselfconscious and sublime. Last week's finale had a couple bits I absolutely loved, things I wanted to pull my friends around the TV to watch with me: the janitor's 'baby cage' gift and the 'floating head doctor' sequence.

There are probably a couple moments like that in every episode. Unfortunately, the type of humor that Scrubs excels at can spell the kiss of death for some shows (Arrested Development and Sons and Daughters, to name a couple recent examples.) Perhaps it's a miracle Scrubs has lasted so long.

As long as they keep running Scrubs, I'll keep watching it -- but please don't schedule it opposite my favorite show again. I want to see how this whole 'I'm pregnant' cliffhanger gets resolved. Thanks, NBC! Smooches! ;)

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Sloane lives forever, but Alias will not

It's over. Final blows delivered, explosives detonated, motives revealed, and last sweet scenes recapped at (excrutiating) length. So how did the Alias finale stack up to my wish list?

Rambaldi resolution: I'll give it an B+. They tied up a lot of loose ends given the time allotted, but it wasn't clear exactly what that red gooey liquid did. Was Sloane just healed? Or will he live forever? He seemed to think so. Plus, if Sloane fell in the red ball and got all revitalized, why did a similar-looking red ball do something harmful to Vaughn back in Season Two? I admit confusion.

Jack and Irina: A-. Both of them kicking the bucket kinda shuts things down for any sort of reunion, but we did at least conclusively find out she had nefarious motives at heart. Maybe they'll hook up in the afterlife? Nah...they're probably headed for different destinations. Pity, 'cause you know Jack would still love her, even though she's all evil.

Sloane suffers: A-. Syd got to fill him with lead, which has got to feel good after all the pain he'd caused her over the years. I'd say being trapped by rubble, alone in a tomb for eternity (without even your trusty Casper daughter to keep you hallucinatory company), is nearly as bad as it can get. I'm also hoping he gets an itch on his foot that he can't reach. Now that would be torture.

Awesome wigs: B-. We only got one disguise. There was no wig. Bwah! However, points for the roof-jumping sequence, which definitely took me back to the early days of Alias.

Peace: A. Living on a secluded beach with your children and the love of your life? We should all be so lucky.

With all these things on my wish list, it seems like things would average out to a B+ or so. (I never was a math wiz. Well, I was, but I'm not in 5th grade anymore.) However, the people behind Alias gave me something I hadn't even asked for - flashbacks of important events in Syd's life that led her to become the amazing woman she is today. Why didn't I ask for it? Because I didn't know how much I'd love it until I saw it. Her mother's death, her recruitment, her ascension to field officer...they were all steps on a path that led Syd to what she described as " purpose. It's in my blood. It's who I am. I have never been so sure of anything in my life."

Seeing the flashbacks brought us full circle and reminded me of what I loved most about this show - Sydney's inner strength. I don't believe in destiny or faith or any of that Rambaldi hooey Sloane did. But I believe that when you live to the fullest extent of who you are, you can do great things.

I'm sorry, is that mushy? Well you know what they say: I'm a marshmallow. (I'm also the girl who was totally in tears over Jack and Syd's final scene together, but we won't get into that. I have a rep to protect.)

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

My dream Emmy ballot

As the song says, "all you have to do is dream." Of course, they should have been more specific with regard to a show or star getting nominated for an Emmy: "All you have to do is dream, and be on a network the Emmy voters actually consider, and do some serious campaigning, too, if you want any of these unlikely candidates to get nominated." But that wouldn't make for a very good sound clip, now would it?

Emmy nominations are announced on July 6th and the show will air on August 27th, but since the TV season is pretty much over, I'm getting a jump on the whole 'dream ballot' thing and posting a few of my totally biased, 100% uninformed opinions. You can tell they're uninformed because 1) I don't recall how many nominees are in each category 2) I'm a little fuzzy on the whole supporting vs. lead distinction and 3) I don't have the luxury of getting the submission tapes, so there are definitely things I'm missing. Nonetheless, here we go:

Drama Series
Veronica Mars
Grey's Anatomy
Battlestar Galactica

Lead Actress for a Drama Series
Kristen Bell - Veronica Mars
Mary McDonnell - Battlestar Galactica
Allison Janney - The West Wing
Jennifer Garner - Alias

Lead Actor for a Drama Series
Jason Dohring - Veronica Mars
Bradley Whitford - The West Wing
Wentworth Miller - Prison Break
Edward James Olmos - Battlestar Galactica

Supporting Actress for a Drama Series
Katee Sackhoff - Battlestar Galactica
Chandra Wilson - Grey's Anatomy
Kate Walsh - Grey's Anatomy
Lena Olin - Alias (probably doesn't qualify, but I don't have a guest category so here she goes)

Supporting Actor for a Drama Series
Enrico Colantoni - Veronica Mars
Victor Garber - Alias
Isaiah Washington - Grey's Anatomy
Chris Pratt - Everwood

Comedy Series
The Office
How I Met Your Mother
My Name Is Earl
Arrested Development
Gilmore Girls

Lead Actress for a Comedy Series
Lauren Graham - Gilmore Girls
Jenna Fischer - The Office (not really a lead, but that's how I think of her)
...drawing a big ole blank here and that's pretty sad

Lead Actor for a Comedy Series
John Krasinski - The Office (not a lead, maybe, except in MY HEART)
Jason Lee - My Name Is Earl
Jason Bateman - Arrested Development
Steve Carell - The Office

Supporting Actress for a Comedy Series
Jaime Pressly - My Name Is Earl
Alyson Hannigan - How I Met Your Mother
Kelly Bishop - Gilmore Girls
Jessica Walter - Arrested Development

Supporting Actor for a Comedy Series
Rainn Wilson - The Office
Michael Cera - Arrested Development
Will Arnett - Arrested Development
Ethan Suplee - My Name Is Earl
Neil Patrick Harris - How I Met Your Mother

Monday, May 22, 2006

Eight years later

Last week I watched the series finales of two shows. I'd once watched both of them regularly, but lost touch with them over the years. Will & Grace and That 70's Show were never favorites of mine, and I found them somewhat uneven over the years, but they had some good seasons. They were both solid hits for their networks, drawing in a satisfying group of viewers every week, so I was curious how they would handle their final send-offs.

That 70's Show was surprisingly effective. I remember watching this show mainly for the silly circle jokes, the tough love and acerbic wisdom of father Red Foreman, and the on-and-off relationship between best friends tomboy Donna and sweet dweeb Eric. All of these had fitting resolution in the finale. We got a few final circle jokes, a montage of Red's "put my foot in your ass" comments over the years, and a final reconciliation between Eric and Donna, who had separated when Topher Grace left the show at the end of the previous season.

There were some truly nice moments, such as the New Year's Eve speech from Kitty, Eric's mom, as she told her various friends and family all the things she'd appreciate and miss about them had the family chosen to move to Florida. Her comments felt real and unforced, Donna's tears in reaction from the heart. Ashton Kutcher returned to the show for the final episode as well, injecting some energy and vitality into his final appearance as Kelso, one of TV's most endearing idiots.

I've read a couple criticisms of the finale, saying that it boiled down to little more than a clip show, but I disagree. The two other brief montages, that of Donna-and-Eric moments throughout the years, as well as a series of shots of people falling off the water tower, weren't just space fillers. They reminded me of the easy humor and sweetness I liked about this show. That's just what I'll miss.

In contrast, the finale of Will and Grace felt a little off to me. The show always seemed to teeter between hilarity and over-the-top shrillness (much like Karen's voice). The final episode had some funny bits, mostly one-liners (the show's specialty), but so much of the humor felt self-referential, inside jokes that broke the fourth wall, not funny on their own merits. But perhaps that's the ultimate tribute to the fans--ending the show with scenes that only true Will and Grace aficionados will be able to appreciate.

One of the things I appreciated about W & G in the past was their boldness in creating a difficult relationship between Will and Grace. These were people who loved each other to a fault, told the truth about each other and had arguments and rifts. Even though it may have made viewers uncomfortable, there was an emotional honesty and a closeness between them that was enviable.

In the finale, however, that honesty came to a breaking point and their friendship ended when Grace returned to Leo, the father of her child. The two friends reunited briefly only to lose touch for many years, until their children met in college and married. The writers made some discussion of destiny, as if fate had made them friends for so long only so their children could meet and be married. That felt cheap to me. These two characters, with such a strong connection and friendship that survived so much, deserved more than to serve as stepping stones to their children's eventual happiness.

The Will & Grace finale ended on a more somber note than I'd have expected. It may have seemed like closure to some, but I found it sad to see Will and Grace chatting on the phone before meeting Karen and Jack at the bar. They seemed to have lost their spark and vitality. Things seemed to be ending for them rather than beginning--not exactly what I want from a series finale.

In my head, I like to think of the characters living on, having lives that are rich and full, even if I'll never get to see them. Even when your friends are no longer part of your life, you still want the best for them. TV friends are no different.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

The Goodbye Spygirl

After five years, three great and two just so-so, Alias is heading off the air this Monday.

I loved this show so much when it started. The pilot episode blew me away. It was like nothing I'd ever seen. I remember pulling my sister in from the other room and insisting she watch it, marveling at the action and the angst and the acting. Jennifer Garner was a complete surprise. Strong and vulnerable and daring and fun. I loved the interplay between her life as a spy and her life as a student. It was about balancing the two sides of yourself.

I've been doing Alias recaps for GMMR for the past few weeks, and it's definitely made me think more about what I've been wanting from the show now that it's winding down. What would I like to see from the characters? What needs to get resolved for me to have closure? Who should die? (Come on, people kick the bucket in finale as a matter of course.)

So what's on my wish list:

Rambaldi resolution: There's been a lot of Rambaldi-related nonsense over the years. What's with Page 47? What was Syd really chosen for? It's time to find out.

Jack and Irina: I want these two together or apart for good. They've got chemistry like nobody's business and once we find out whether Irina is or isn't evil (they keep going back and forth on us), I want an answer.

Sloane suffers: If karma needs to bite anyone in the ass, it's this weasel.

Awesome wigs: Unless we get one really awesome, implausible, extravagant wig in the finale, it's just not going to feel like the same show that I fell in love with back in the day.

Peace: I want Syd to feel like she can take a rest and trust someone else to take care of things for a change. Constantly dealing with duplicity and spy games has got to be hard. She and Vaughn need to hang out and be a family, possibly with Vaughn shirtless.

See? It won't take much to make me happy. They've got two whole hours. I think they can pull it off.

What does the cast think about the impending signoff? Kristin over at E!Online has their thoughts.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Alone again? Naturally.

My roommate is out of town this weekend, so I have the house and the couch all to myself. This means I'll probably end up watching one of my Netflix movies (Sexy Beast or Something New), one of the many, many movies we have on DVD, or possibly one of the many shows still waiting on my DVR.

Or maybe, just maybe, I'll end up watching one of these gems on TV:

Blade II (4PM, TNT): Kris Kristofferson and Ron Perlman. What more could you ask for? Oh yeah. Quality.

Ferris Bueller's Day Off (5PM, WGN): "You wear too much eye makeup. My sister wears too much. People think she's a whore." Danke schoen, darling, danke schoen for this movie.

Seven (6PM, TNT): I don't think so. I actually want to be able to sleep tonight.

Dick (6PM, Comedy Central): See Kirsten Dunst and Michelle Williams before either of them made out with Jake Gyllenhaal or someone who made out with Jake Gyllenhaal. Plus, awesome fashion and Dan Hedaya as President Nixon.

Remember the Titans (8PM, ABC): I don't think I do. Wasn't Titans a shortlived soap filled with coitus sordidus? Or was that Models, Inc.?

Fargo (8PM, Bravo): "And I guess that was your accomplice in the woodchipper." I don't have to guess - I know this movie is awesome in 50 different ways.

Big Daddy (8PM, ABC Family) and Billy Madison (8PM, Comedy Central): Take your pick. These are pretty much interchangeable. of them has a penguin, and the other has Cole and Dylan Sprouse (aka Ben Gellar). That's about it.

Yeah, it looks like a Netflix kinda night. Or, I just remembered I have all four seasons of Felicity on DVD...

Friday, May 19, 2006

Grey's heads one to the grave

Denny had to die.

At least, that's what Grey's Anatomy creator and finale writer Shonda Rhimes said over at the writer's blog. I'm inclined to agree with her -- and not just because Jeffrey Dean Morgan is so smokin' hot and talented that he deserves his own show. I agree because Denny's death is realistic for the circumstances and sets up a lot of interesting dramatic stuff for Izzie, Alex, and the whole crew.

However, I disagree with the execution (ha) of Denny's death. Rhimes says they portrayed it that way because death is often sudden, without warning, when you least expect it. Trouble is, I did expect it. A lot of us did. Not because of spoilers, though I know how much Rhimes hates them. I expected it because it was telegraphed from a mile away. I'm pretty sure I saw a scythe-carting dude cloaked in black in the background of every happy scene Izzie and Denny shared in the finale. And if there's one thing I've learned from television, it's that happiness doesn't last long.

How should it have been handled? Well, I don't want to say they should have followed The Body episode of Buffy (in which Buffy's mom dies) word for word, but I think that episode is a good model for understanding what an unexpected death feels like. All the events in the Izzie-Denny story, from the beginning, felt like they were leading up to her letting him in and then getting her heart broken. So to do things that way seems just predictable. I would've hoped that Shonda and crew would do something different.

Likewise with this season's cliffhanger. Having Meredith sleep with Derek just as she's made a connection with Finn is standard drama tactics - divide a woman between two romantic options. Since reports say Chris O'Donnell will be back next season, I'm guessing she's going to choose Finn. However, given that Derek has pretty much just admitted to himself (and Addison to the whole hospital) that he's still in love with Meredith, it feels just like prolonging the inevitable reunion between Mer and Der. I can be patient, but I don't want to feel strung along.

Reading over what I've just typed, I realize that, like a few of my other reviews lately, it's coming off more critically than I intend. I don't mean to get down on these shows - I write about most of them because I love them, and the site is called "TV and Sympathy", not "TV and a pissed off fan", or "Television Without Pity". Sometimes, though, it can be easier to focus on the negative rather than waxing rhapsodic about all the things I thought were so super-fabulous.

What did I love? The interrogation scenes, with the Chief grilling the interns about what really happened to Denny's LVAD wire, with each intern just completely derailing his line of questions to deal with their own personal issues. How the interns' prom clothes turned into funeral garb as soon as we discovered Denny was dead (as Shonda said in the blog). The long-awaited love scene between Meredith and Derek. Alex's reaction to Izzie's despair. Not to mention Addison's confrontation with Derek, Callie's confrontation with George, and George's apology to Meredith.

And don't even get me started on all the VM people who showed up in the last episode.

If you can't get enough Grey's, Michael Ausiello has a great Q&A with Shonda Rhimes up over at Or, on the fluffier side of things, check out the cast appearance at the Upfronts.

Tuesdays will be scorching come September

I've done it, Entertainment Weekly has done it, and now two of my favorite TV stars have done it. I'm talking about comparing Veronica Mars and Gilmore Girls, people. Now that they'll be airing back to back on Tuesday nights come September, I imagine many more people will be doing it.

From People, about the CW upfronts:

Gilmore Girls star Alexis Bledel and Veronica Mars's Kristen Bell took the stage and compared their series, which will share Tuesday nights. Both are set in small towns, they noted, and Bell pointed out, "We both date hot guys named Logan." Replied Bledel, "But my Logan is hotter!"

Umm...Alexis? You better check yourself before you wreck yourself. Or before legions of LoVe fans wreck you. Can't we just say they're both eye candy and get along?

Really, who's the loser in that scenario?

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Say it ain't so

Based on the CW schedule released today, next fall we'll have to live without Everwood, as it's nowhere to be found on their schedule. I know The TV Addict is bitter, and I'm pretty unhappy about it myself.

As an added stake to the heart (or a specter of hope, depending on how you look at it), the CW website had a page up indicating that Everwood would be on their schedule, airing on Sundays (looks like they've taken it down now, but you can see it on Instead, they renewed Seventh Heaven. Funny, Heaven isn't exactly where I think this show should end up.

Everwood's demise is so hard to hear because I feel like the show is still at the top of their game creatively. When I talk about the events that have taken place on the show this year, it's nothing big. No one's gotten married or divorced or pregnant in the past nine months. But it doesn't matter if nothing big happens in the lives of the people you love. You love them anyway.

This exchange from Monday's episode, which I just got around to watching today, seems particularly bittersweet now.

Reid: It's weird, to think that less than a year ago I didn't even know what Everwood was.
Amy: Yeah, a lot of people say that.
Reid: But now that I do, it's like I can't imagine my life without it. I'm really going to miss this place.

And I'm really going to miss Everwood.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

How the West was done

It's done. After 7 years, the West Wing has finally come to a close. And how did it end? Not with a bang, nor with a whimper. To me, it ended with a meh. It wasn't the Seinfeld level of head-scratching finales, but it wasn't the Buffy level of satisfying conclusions. No Toby? No "what's next" from Jed? No Jackal? With so much missing, it really felt like the end of an era on just a so-so note.

There were some nice moments, though. The callback to the "Bartlet for America" napkin. Ronna's amazement at working right outside the Oval Office. Donna mistaking her enormous office for the one the First Lady was meant to have. A jobless Charlie, Will, and Kate heading out to a movie in the middle of the day.

Even with those brief flashes of good, the majority of the episode left me feeling a bit tepid. It's as if they couldn't decide what note to end things on, so they chose not to end it on any note at all. I can't fault them for that, exactly, since goodness knows I haven't the foggiest idea how to conclude a show that's been creative and inspiring for many years, but I did feel a bit disappointed.

Oh well. At least we know who'll be President circa 2038 - from the Malcolm in the Middle series finale, it looks like it will be beleaguered middle child Malcolm himself. I haven't watched Malcolm for a few years, but I read Entertainment Weekly's positive review and then caught the last episode. I liked the note they ended things on - with Malcolm's whole family smelly and scattered and arguing, but full of love and the best intentions, as they've had throughout the series' run.

That is how a TV show should leave you, I think: sad that it's ending, but with fond memories that make you happy and hopeful for the characters.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006


Veronica Mars has been renewed!

Apparently they've been picked up for a full 22 episodes with the option that if the ratings are poor, they might get cut down to 13. No word on time slot yet, but you know I'd follow that show to the ends of the earth so it doesn't matter too much where it lands.

It isn't all sunshine and puppies, however. Sources say Everwood won't be around next season. Extreme boo!!! Nevertheless, my ecstatic mood will continue unabated.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Death takes a Colorado has a great interview with Everwood creator Rina Mimoun. The interview doesn't have any major spoilers, but Mimoun does gives a few hints about who will be the major death on Everwood in the weeks to come. She lays out three possibilities: Bright, Rose, and Andy's dad.

As sad as it will make me, I'm thinking it's got to be Rose. Why? A bunch of reasons.

- Andy's dad would be a sucker way out. Having hinted at the death all season, I don't think Mimoun would cop out with a non-main character death in the end. So we're left with Bright or Rose. Poor Abbott family!

- It's realistic. Complications from cancer could have an impact on someone's health even months later.

- It's been set up for months. Rose's health has been a concern for a long time. In a way, we're sorta prepared.

- It sets up a lot of potential for drama. How will Harold react to losing his wife? Or Amy and Bright to losing their mom? It might bring Amy closer to Ephram again, which would be a lone bright spot for such a tragedy.

- Bright is one of the characters that gets a decent amount of PR for the show. There aren't that many young people on the show for the fangirls to obsess over, and taking him away would just cut that number down further.

- Word on the street is that Emily VanCamp and Chris Pratt (the actors who play Amy and Bright) are dating. It would be pretty harsh to have one leave the show.

- The Bright/Hannah relationship has a lot left to explore, whereas Rose and Harold have already been through a lot together.

- Because I'll just be so darn pissed if they get rid of Bright. He's the comic relief, people! He has great hair! He's like an enormous teddy bear! He...I...please don't take Everwood away, CW.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Ah, young love.

Rob Thomas was kind enough to give all the squeeing Veronica Mars fangirls out there an ending that included Logan and Veronica together once again. With the show's fate up in the air, it's a move that can only be described as merciful. I'll be crushed if the show isn't renewed, especially given the awesome plane-flying, gift-basketing, postcard-writing efforts of some truly dedicated fans. But I'd be more crushed if VM ended with the show's two young stars caught in the middle of another emotionally devastating breakup.

Think of it. The writers could have ended the finale with Logan and Veronica scheduled to have a "talk", and simply left it at that. Fan fiction writers would have gleefully set their keyboards on fire filling in the blanks. ("My darling Logan, I was so wrong! Thank you for saving my life!" "No, it was I that was wrong! I should never have betrayed our epic love! I would be dead without you!" "Kiss me, you jackass!")

But instead, the people at VM showed us that after the harrowing events that night on the roof, there wasn't much left for Veronica and Logan to debate about their relationship. Their issues were resolved, to a degree. Earlier in the season, Logan didn't know whether Veronica felt the same way he did, but then she she came by his hotel room the morning after the anti-prom and confessed her feelings. Of course, after that confession didn't go so well (cough*Kendall*slut*cough), Veronica wasn't sure she could trust Logan with her heart. On the roof that night, and the morning after, she had her answer - she could trust and depend on Logan when she truly needed to. Plot devices be damned--when two people are meant to be together, and the impediments are removed, they're going to be together.

The finale contains so many lovely callbacks to earlier episodes, showing how much the characters have grown and matured. One is heartbreaking: the mirrored Pieta pose. Where Veronica held Logan on her couch in the season premiere, he holds her in the finale. Their positions reversed, Logan takes care of Veronica the same way she did, a way he couldn't possibly have done a year earlier.

Another callback feels like the world has righted itself. In the first episode, Logan jealously mocks a lovey-dovey Veronica and Duncan, saying "Ah, young love," which Veronica ignores mutely. In the finale, Kendall sarcastically tosses the same words at the reunited Veronica and Logan, who then rebuff her with a united front of snark that is delicious to watch.

The reunion of Logan and Veronica, while causing my inner fangirl no end of delight, also makes me wonder - what would the writers have done if Kristen Bell and Jason Dohring hadn't had such amazing chemistry? Their acting is stellar, but I'll get to that in another post (don't think I'm going to go the whole summer without weekly dissection of all things VM). I'm talking purely about the spark between the two characters. As far as I know, when Veronica Mars started, the writers weren't planning for Logan to have as big a role as he grew to have, particularly not the romantic role in Veronica's life. So what would they have done otherwise? Gotten her back together with Duncan? Let Leo have a good long look at her bedroom ceiling? I'm very curious what alternative they were planning.

Frankly, the creators of Veronica Mars lucked out by having two talented leads with such electricity between them. Epic love doesn't come along all that often--onscreen or otherwise. Let's hope their luck continues and Veronica Mars gets renewed for next season.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Soon, this will be all there is

As Logan once said, "Summer's almost here, and we won't see each other at all." He was talking about some chick, I think, but I'm talking about my favorite shows. Soon they will all be gone for the summer. I would probably be making my way towards a catatonic state of depression a la Buffy in "The Weight of the World," were it not for the continuing glories of movies on TV.

A Time To Kill (5PM, TNT): One of our first introductions to Matthew McConaughey, Sexiest Man Alive 2006. I've decided whenever I say his name from now on I'm going to insert that phrase quickly afterward like the disclaimers at the end of sweepstakes commercials. I don't think it's going to annoy people at all.

Major League (5PM, Comedy Central): Charlie Sheen before he got creepy. I'm coming to realize that "__________ before he got creepy" should just be one of my default movie descriptions.

Bridget Jones' Diary (6PM, Bravo): Singletons rejoice! There be hot, incompetent man-fighting here, along with a truly awesome reindeer jumper. Plus, see Baltar before he became Baltar.

Ever After (8PM, ABC Family): Sentimental girl-power Cinderella retelling with a pre-Heist and M:I II Dougray Scott. I've probably seen this movie five times. I'm such a frakkin' girl sometimes.

The Princess Bride (8:15PM, AMC): Never go against the Sicilian... There is a shortage of perfect... You killed my... Ack! I can't decide. Most quotable movie ever.

Super Trooper (9PM, Comedy Central): I should probably watch this movie at some point, if only because a friend of mine quotes it often. It would be nice to know what the heck he's talking about. For once.

The Emperor's New Groove (9PM, ABC): To quote, "David Spade is perfectly cast as the voice of Kuzco, an arrogant emperor who is turned into a llama by his vengeful advisor." I wonder if Spade was worried about typecasting after this. Not too many emperor-turned-llama roles out there.

I own The Princess Bride on DVD, but even so, there's a serious chance that I'll end up watching it on TV. Why does that always happen?

Friday, May 12, 2006

Everwood, don't be gone for good

In a few weeks, loyal Everwood viewers might be watching not just the season finale, but the series finale of one of the few great dramas on TV right now. It's truly disturbing to me, given the drenload of forensics shows, mediocre comedies, and by-the-numbers procedurals that stay on the air year after year, that a show this heartfelt and lovely could be in danger of not making the cut to the CW next fall.

Seriously, people, Everwood is good. It's good because it has a sense of humor about the dramatic stuff and understands that there's weight even in the trivial and everyday. It's good because it captures the subtleties and nuances inherent in all human relationships. It's good because the writing is articulate yet natural, and doesn't sound like two thesauruses (thesaures?) having a conversation. It's good because it lets the characters grow.

In some other posts I've complained that TV creators often prolong the romantic involvement between TV characters to drag out the suspense. Not so with Everwood. Everwood has had characters get together and break up and make up in a way that's realistic and doesn't feel predicated on desperate plot devices.

Take, for example, Bright and Hannah. Total opposites, but they attracted, got together, and hung together for months. It was equally as interesting to watch them work at their relationship as it was to watch them dance around each other at first. And it's interesting now to watch them fall apart.

Or take Jake and Nina. Many viewers wanted to see Nina with Andy, but Jake somehow came along and was smart enough and sweet enough to steal the girl from one of the show's leading men, with barely anyone minding. We've watched Jake and Nina deal with commitment issues, addiction issues, work-life balance issues, all the mundane things that come up in the life cycle of an adult relationship, and it's still interesting.

The relationships are still interesting because they're all so real and messy and don't give any simple answers for how to make them work. Rose tells Hannah if she can't forgive Bright for cheating on her, then she can't make it work with him, even if she loves him. Andy tells Nina pretty much the opposite--that even if she feels ignored, if she still loves Jake, that's enough to stay with him. Who's to say whose advice is right? Or if they both are? Rose and Andy are coming from different places - he lost someone, and she was almost lost herself - but they both want the people they love to be happy. That much, at least, is simple.

And me? I love all of them, and if the CW wants me to be happy, they'll renew Everwood.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

The Office folds 'em - for this season

The Office finishes its second season tonight with a casino-themed finale. There is a ton of Office-related goodness over at Give Me My Remote today and you should absolutely check it out if you haven't already.

The Office has been surprising and wonderful this season. They've made great strides since their midseason premiere back in March 2005, developing their own brand of comedy and distancing themselves from their BBC progenitor. By playing up even the minor characters, finding humor in the most mundane situations, and letting relationships proceed in a natural way, they've built up a devoted following of viewers, many of them fellow cube-dwellers.

While I'm rooting for some action on the Pam-Jim front, I'm hoping it'll be as understated and lovely as the rest of their romantic developments this season. A show like the West Wing, which has been stringing out the relationship between Josh and Donna for 7 years, can handle some strong romantic declarations and consummations as it comes to its end. (BTW, great Josh-Donna article over in the LA Times.)

The "Jam" relationship on The Office, however, is a comparative fledgling. We've only had to watch their attraction simmering for a year and a half, and I think we could stand to watch it simmer a bit longer. While there's no way in hell I want Pam to go through with a Roy wedding, I wouldn't want Jim to tell Pam she's his lobster and for them to do a Graduate-style bus ride into the sunset.

I'm not saying I don't want them to get together. Goodness do I want them to get together - just look how cute they are! I'm just saying I want it to be as slow and sweet and tentative as the rest of their interactions. Their relationship is so great to watch because it feels like real life. In real life, going from good friends to more than friends doesn't always happen overnight with zero awkwardness. I don't expect a Jam relationship to happen that way. I just expect it to happen.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

The look of loss is in her eyes

Over at TV Squad, blogger Joel Keller discussed the look on Lorelai's face at the end of the Gilmore Girls finale: The look that said "What the hell did I just do?" The look that said "I just threw away the best relationship I've ever had to sleep with the guy who has given me nothing but trouble." He goes on to say how important that look was to the overall feel of the finale.

I completely agree with him. To me, Lorelai's expressions bookending the episode (there was a similar one at the beginning of the ep, when she wakes up at Sookie's) were the high point of what was an otherwise disappointing finale.

Lorelai's looks were played perfectly by Lauren Graham, who has long been woefully underappreciated awards-wise, if critically praised. She is so good at expressing a slew of emotions at once, and her face before the credits rolled revealed a stony look of regret and disbelief with a dash of self-loathing. It's a look that says you want to go back in time to take back what you just did, but you know you can't.

What Lorelai did was believable, I suppose, and in character. I still think Luke would've fought harder to be with her, considering he pined for her for years, but he's been so scattered the past few months that it might be in character. In truth it's hard for me to judge what I thought of it all, since I'd been spoiled about the ending for weeks. Having known the outcome beforehand, I can't say for sure whether the pieces fit together in a way that made sense.

In his post, Keller later went on to say: "what I'll take away from this season is [Lorelai's] look." I hope so. That look set up a different chapter in Lorelai's life: knowing she had something good, and she lost it. I just have to wonder where she'll go from there.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

My world, it is rocked. (Thoughts on the VM finale.)

Who would have dreamed that everything, everything, would come together so perfectly? I hoped, to be sure, but then earlier today I had a couple thoughts that made me worry that I couldn't possibly enjoy the season finale as much as I'd thought.

Thought #1 was me going over all the clues that we had laid on our doorstep since the first episode of this season: Curly Moran and his hand, the dead rat on the bus, the Casablancas kids' insurance policy, the chlamydia, Goodman telling Gia not to get on the bus...all of it. I couldn't think of a way that it would all make sense, that they'd pick up every thread they wove through the season. It was this enormous tangle. No way they could untangle it to make some sort of spiffy plot sweater! But they did.

Thought #2 was this might be it. Veronica Mars hasn't yet been picked up for a third season by the CW. I'll put aside the fact that this is monumentally stupid on their part, since good television comes along so rarely, you don't toss it aside when you're trying to make a name for yourself as a new network. I'll just say, it came into my head that despite all the rumors and suggestions that it's coming back next season, I realized that if VM isn't renewed, this could be the last episode. Ever. And that, my friends, is a sobering and terrible thought.

So, leadened with those thoughts, I watched the Veronica Mars season finale, and I came away happy. How is that possible? I'd attribute it all to the godlike powers of VM creator Rob Thomas and his band of amazing writers, producers, cast and crew. They rock.

I've only watched it once, so my thoughts are probably going to be a bit scattered, but there were so many things I loved about the episode. The pace was breakneck, just like last season's finale, a series of painful and perfect moments piled one after the other so you don't have time to take a breath:

- Veronica's dream of how things might have been: parents - check; epic love - check; best friend...maybe not meant to be.
- Lamb collaring Weevil right at graduation, so untimely but so slimily in character for Lamb.
- Aaron Echolls, setting a standard for slime that even Lamb couldn't hope to attain.
- Veronica rifling off her list of clues that led to Cassidy's guilt, each action more horrifying than the next, as he transforms into a monster before our eyes.
- V struggling and failing to reach Keith for a final moment, coupled with her scream to Logan that "he killed my father!"...panicked and heartbreaking.
- The mirror image of Logan holding Veronica, then his face the morning after, trying so hard to be strong for her.
- Nods and brief appearances by so many characters I'll miss: Alicia! Mr. C! Lianne! C.W.! Duncan! Lilly! F--- this summer hiatus guys, let's all go live on a commune together and play Clue, you'd all be into that, right?

And the inevitable cliffhanger? To quote Veronica, "I'm fine with it." Only, she didn't mean it, and I do. I really am fine with it. I'm concerned with what will become of the mysterious briefcase of doom, but my heart wasn't pounding at the end quite as hard as it was last season with the desperate need for it to be September, immediately. For that, I'm grateful. Not knowing the fate of the show, I'll sleep a little better knowing the fate of the characters I love.

Plus, it's not as if everything got tied up into a tidy little bow; there's still so much left to do, so much left to explore in Season Three. Mac? Alicia and Keith, round 2? Epic love: the college years? Come to think of it, did we ever find out about that dead rat? (Maybe dead rat=spy pen...)

Who cares--I'll be happy no matter what. Weeeell...if "no matter what" means "as long as they renew VM for another season. And by the way? I am so so glad I didn't watch the preview for the finale. It was better to be absolutely unspoiled.

Watch Veronica Mars

The season finale airs at 9PM tonight on UPN.

I'm not sure I can be clearer about this.

Look, even Veronica is worried you won't watch:

If you don't watch, then you'll only have yourself to blame for missing out on what I'm guessing will be one of the best hours of television all year.

Monday, May 08, 2006

All good shows must come to an end...but not their stars

This season, a few great shows are coming to a close. One of the things I find myself wondering when an awesome show comes to an end is: what are the actors going to do now? Some actors try to move on to other series (often failing -- see, e.g., Jason Alexander), some disappear from the spotlight for years (see e.g. Keri Russell), and some go straight to kickin' ass and taking names on the big screen (like Claire Danes.

We've got answers for a couple key actors from shows I love: Alias and the West Wing.

Victor Garber, always subtle and wonderful as Jack Bristow, will be moving on to a life of American Crime over on FOX, where he'll play a high-profile defense attorney. Garber is so excellent at walking the fine line between good guy and bad guy, complete with ambiguous morals, that I'm sure he'll be as perfect a lawyer as he was a SpyDaddy.

Bradley Whitford is moving on to Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, Aaron Sorkin's new show about the behind-the-scenes action at a SNL-type comedy show. Studio 60 has been picked up by NBC and also stars Matthew Perry and Amanda Peet. I'm very excited about this show because I loved Sorkin's writing, from The American President to Sports Night.

I'm keeping my eyes open for news on what Carl Lumbly and Janel Moloney will be doing in the near future. I'd ask about Kevin Weisman, but he'll probably just be changing diapers.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Five reasons why C.J. Cregg rocks

1. Her stature. It's not that she's tall. It's that her carriage commands respect. She's got the gravitas for the big issues and a voice that makes you sit up and pay attention. More that that, it's a voice that you want to trust -- or listen to for the rest of your life, if you're Danny Concannon.

2. Her style. C.J. has come along way from the pilot episode. Just looking at the clip of her at the press podium with her puffier, lighter hair, and her somewhat frumpier suit makes me think of how much sleeker both her clothes and her hairstyles have become over the years. She's embraced a professional, funky style that's all her own.

3. Her smarts. CEO's and world leaders are all knocking down her door for a reason. While it's a more than a bit implausible that C.J. would've made the leap from Press Secretary to Chief of Staff, you can suspend your disbelief because this lady knows her stuff. I don't have any matters of grave importance on which I need advising, but if I did, she'd be the first fictional character I'd call.

4. Her speeches. When she shows up at Danny's late at night and explains why she's been skittish about their relationship, she's all over the place, but it makes sense. She's unapologetic for the choices she's made but in her every word shows how vulnerable she is to the relationship they're beginning. Even while rambling about skiing, she's hestitantly baring her soul to him, and it is as sincere and awkward as it should be.

5. Her smile. For the power she wields and the difficult decisions she's forced to make every day, she still has the open, gleeful smile of a teenage girl who just got asked to dance by the object of her affections.

Allison Janney, I'm going to miss watching you every week. You are a talented, talented woman and I hope you go on to even more amazing roles.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Frankie says relax. It must be Saturday!

It's a gorgeous Saturday, sunny with a hint of a breeze. The birds are digging it, chirping up a storm (not literally). And what am I doing today? I'm going apartment hunting. This face, right here? My over-the-moon face.

For those of you not lucky enough to be experiencing some sublime spring weather yourselves, there's always the good old reliable telly to be enjoyed.

O Brother, Where Art Thou (4PM, TBS): Really wonderful music and some excellent loose-limbed dancing from George Clooney. If you're like me, you'll head for a snack during the whole John Goodman scene, 'cause he gives me the heebie jeebies.

Gilda (5PM, TCM): Rita Hayworth in her classic hair-flipping role. If you saw Notting Hill and wondered what movie Julia Roberts was referencing during the morning after with Hugh ("They go to bed with Gilda; then they wake up with me"), this is it. Watch it for the iconic performance that made Hayworth a star.

Gangs of New York (7:30PM, Bravo): Daniel Day Lewis, who was uptight and prissy in one of my favorite movies ever, plays a gangster sporting a sweet handlebar moustache and a serious 'tude. Too bad he solves his conflicts through violence, rather than karmic reparations, like another mustachioed misfit I know.

Seabiscuit (8PM, ABC): A Best Picture nominee that I've never seen -- now isn't that shameful? Especially when it has Chris Cooper, who I absolutely love, and Tobey Maguire, who I've absolutely lusted after.

The Goonies (8PM, ABC Family): Sloth love Chunk.

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (8PM, FX): What would really be extraordinary is if watching this movie didn't make me want to saw off my own head rather than sit through it, as the trailers indicated it would.

What I'll be watching: the heartwarming horse film, of course...unless nostalgia gets the best of me and decide that I love Chunk too.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Getting through the impending drought

When you're no longer a student, summer is kind of a bummer. The weather's awesome, but 40 hours a week you're indoors chained to a computer. Even worse, most TV shows go on their summer break too -- probably just to spite you. By summer's end, you've grown accustomed to there being a vacuum of quality television (minus a few exceptions), but at the start of summer, the pain of living without your favorite show is still fresh. You've got a long three-four months ahead of you. Welcome to the drought.

Thankfully, every summer there are always a few bright spots to help you make it through a summer devoid of new VM, GG, GA, and BSG. This summer is no different. If you can't watch new TV, watch the next best thing: TV on DVD.

July 18th: The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr
Bruce Campbell is a hilarious cult hero who has never fully been appreciated by the entertainment industry as a whole. Like the castmembers of The Office, he's hardworking and humble. His books are informative, self-deprecating, and show how much he loves what he does. I love it too.

Also July 18th: She-ra, Princess of Power
Whether I remember the salient details of the show is irrelevant. What is relevant is that this show probably had an indelible effect on my psyche during my formative years. He-Man be damned, I was all about She-ra and her awesome power to fight evil while looking pretty in an outfit comprised of kickin' boots and a bustier. I'm fairly certain she was just a predecessor to some of my current day heroines like Buffy and Sydney Bristow.

August 8th: Prison Break
I was really digging the first half of the show, but the hiatus nearly killed my interest. I think PB is best watched in an uninterrupted stream of adrenaline-fueled panic when its breakneck pace can truly be appreciated. Plus, it looks like it will be bursting with extras.

And, although it hasn't been officially announced yet, a little birdie told me the Veronica Mars Season Two DVD will be released on August 15th. We won't know for certain for another couple weeks, but I can already feel the tremors of psychitude begin to sweep through my body. Unlike the Season One DVD, I'm hoping it will contain some extras. Pretty please?

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Trashtastic and tuneful

Last night's television was brought to me by the letter "A".

I finally got around to watching Tuesday's American Idol performances, before checking out the results show.

Loved Katharine's performance of "Black Horse and the Cherry Tree" - funky, relaxed, and the vocals were great. I think she really shines when she's acting natural and enjoying being on stage. When she gets it right, it looks effortless and completely natural.

Taylor, on the other hand, might enjoy being on stage a tad too much. I love him, but I feel a bit embarrassed for him when he really gets into it. A bit of advice, Taylor: try not to make your audience feel uncomfortable while watching you. It's like the slightly drunk friend at the wedding who gets a little too into shaking his groove thang.

Elliot's great, and I like his understated vibe, but there's always something not quite right about his vocals for me. He always seems a little uncomfortable with the phrasing, not quite sure where to take a breath or hold a note. "Home" was a great song choice, though.

Paris wasn't lighting up the stage for me during "Kiss" (and who else was thinking of Pretty Woman during that set?), but I thought she did adequately on the Mary J. tune. She really seems to have a different personality on stage than she does in person, and the two never really connect for me. I think it was her time to go. Maybe after a bit of growing up she'll be a truly stellar performer.

And as for Chris' performance? I hate to use the word 'mesmerizing', because it seems like such a "Paula" word, so I'll use 'captivating' instead. His voice was perfect on "Renegade" - as good as a recording. If you were only listening to the songs on the radio, this is the performance you'd want to hear.

And what do we all think of the cracktastic Ford commercial featuring an Afro-ed Paris, pimpin' Chris, ghettofied Elliot, voluptu-licious Katharine, and description-defyingly attired Taylor?

When Idol was over, I caught America's Next Top Model. After watching last night's ANTM, I feel totally justified in liking Joanie and hating Jade. A bitchified Jade said of Joanie: "She's not even on my level." You're right, Jade! She's several levels above you - just look at her gorgeous picture from the elephant photo shoot. Girlfriend can take a picture! She's articulate and graceful to boot. Definitely my favorite for this cycle.

And after all that reality TV, I capped off the evening with a dose of Alias, which I then happily recapped for Give Me My Remote. Good times!

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Community soap: it's for sharing!

Some TV shows can only be appreciated when you're part of a community -- where "community" means "more than one person launching poorly-thought-out insults at the screen." These are shows that simply cry out for discussion/mocking in a group environment, and in today's TV-cosystem they are plentiful. While shows like Battlestar Galactica might benefit from some solitary reflection and rumination on the themes and conflicts, reality TV is not exactly conducive to solo analysis. When a show isn't exactly profound and transcendent, it's better just to dish about it with your friends; a show like that won't hold up under a thoughtful, critical analysis.

Tonight, I'll be hanging with a friend and watching two such superficial shows: American Idol and America's Next Top Model. I haven't really been keeping up with either of the shows lately, because they are so much better to watch with your homies. Still, based on my minimal knowledge, I do have some preference about who should take home the title of the America's Next Top Model/Idol.

American Idol: Like so many others, I've loved Chris and Katharine from the start. Both of them have their own style, a great voice and stage presence, and something nice to look at (be it boobs or bald head).

America's Next Top Model: Based on absolutely nothing at all, I have a strong affinity for Joanie (center) and a searing hatred for Jade (far left). That's the great thing about reality TV. You don't need to know someone to dislike them. It can be completely arbitrary and/or based on the fact that you think she looks kind of evil. I also think Sara (third from left) is kind of awesome, but that may just be because she has the same name, height, and often-startled-expression-in-pictures as my sister and she went to the same college as my best friend. Again with the arbitrary!

What shows do you love watching with your friends, even if you think they're completely boring when you're by your lonesome?

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Free ain't easy

My friends and family know it: I'm delayed gratification girl. However, I'm also extreme media whore girl, which puts me in a bit of a pickle. What's a girl to do when she lives to scour the daily entertainment news, but so much of that news contains the dreaded spoilers for all shows under the sun?

I'm no spoiler-phobe when it comes to most of the shows I watch. I already know what's supposed to happen in the season finale of Gilmore Girls and I wouldn't mind if I found out that Meredith was finally going to reunite with McDreamy in the next episode of Grey's Anatomy. But I am fiercely protective when it comes to Veronica Mars. I really value the story they are trying to tell and want to maintain as much of an element of surprise as is possible. I don't care about that with all my shows. Maybe that's because most of the shows I watch aren't mysteries that are about to come to their (likely) shocking conclusion. Or maybe it's because I have such respect for and such faith in what the writers and actors doing with Veronica Mars, that I'd hate to, y'know, spoil it.

You know who I don't have faith in? The UPN promo department. It was hard, but tonight I didn't watch the preview for next week's episode. The previews can be tricky. Sometimes they give a lot away, sometimes they give you the red herring. It's hard to know what you'll get from them, but you'll definitely come away with some expectation. And you know what? I don't want any expectations. I want to be a blank slate that Rob Thomas and co. can write on as they wish.

So if you see me online this week? Help me stay spoiler-free.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Greyed out

Matt Roush over at was pretty darn complimentary of Chris O'Donnell's performance on Grey's Anatomy last night. He described it as "scruffy, laid-back, amused, and adorable." Matt's usually right on target and I really respect his opinions about television in general. But this time? I'm not feeling it. Scruffy and laid-back, okay. Amused and adorable, not so much.

Maybe it's Chris. I think once you play Robin, you automatically become a little bit asexual. (In contrast, of course, to Batman himself, who is hot no matter which way you look at it. Yes, even if you look at it in profile with those ghastly protruding nipples.) Or maybe it's me. I think now that I've grown older, my television tastes run more towards the unattainable bad boy, rather than the good guy who bounds up to you like a puppy, all love and sweetness. McVet, as Chris was called on the show, seems to fall more into the latter category. True, he did project quite a relaxed vibe in comparison to Meredith's scattered energy, but I didn't see any chemistry between them whatsoever. Zero sparks.

Whatever the case, Grey's felt a little flat to me last night. I'm not really loving Callie and George, though I did like when George finally came back to the Casa de Interns and made up with Izzie. And I liked the sweet hug between Denny and Izzie at the end, but I found myself wondering something: if Denny is such a charmer and a great all around guy, how come he never ever has any visitors? Where are all his friends? He seems like a total gem, but I find it hard to believe, given the smooth skill with which he wooed Izzie, that he doesn't have a single friend to come visit him in the hospital.

The couple with the most chemistry last night? In something of a surprise, it turned out to be Derek and Addison, coming through at the last moment with their stressed-out shower sex. They might not have been doing it for all the right reasons, but at least there was some raw emotion in it -- though nothing quite so fierce as the shock, disappointment, hurt, and jealousy in Derek's eyes when he saw Mer walk down those stairs.