Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Movin' on up

TV and Sympathy readers, I have officially moved! Well, not me, technically - I still live in the same old apartment - but the TV and Sympathy website has a new home at

The new TV&S is more aesthetically pleasing, more organized, and has more room to grow (thanks to my amazing friend Josh -- you RULE!). Go visit the new site, wander around, and let me know what you think. All my old posts are over there, along with brand-spanking-new sorting and searching features like all the cool kids are using these days. In the future, I plan to add more recaps and reviews along with the blog posts and poor-quality MS Paint illustrations you've come to know (and love?).

So go check it out, and shoot me a suggestion about what you think I should recap or review next.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Aptly named, since it disappeared from my must-watch list

If you've checked out my calendar of shows, you might've noticed that I took the opportunity to watch the premiere of Vanished last week. You might also have noticed it no longer appears on the calendar. There's a reason for that. That reason is that Vanished isn't particularly good.

Watching Vanished is like being at a party where the hostess is trying too hard to make sure everyone's having fun. There are a whole bunch of activities planned, all kinds of food, a wide assortment of guests. But no one wants to participate in the activities, no one's hungry, and no one really wants to be there. Sure, everyone showed up, but they're just going through the motions of how they think they should behave in those circumstances. They're all sort of waiting for the night to be over, and not even in a particularly interesting way.

Vanished is that party. The crime seems planned, but none of the characters seems all that driven to investigate it. The chick's disappearance is rife with mystery, but no one's hungry to solve it. They're all too busy sleepwalking through their lives fulfilling expectations. "Oh, I should be doubting someone's motives now? Okay." or "Right, this is when I should be feeling tortured about my checkered past." Everyone's milling around a bit, waiting for the final payoff -- the pinata, the cake, the reappearance of the senator's missing wife.

Maybe some other viewers will stick around till the end of the party, but as for me, I'm heading out to see if there are any good frat parties at Hearst College or disorganized celebrations at Chili's.

Monday, August 28, 2006

There's no I in the Emmys

There is a me (and a my!) in the Emmy Awards, I suppose, but that doesn't mean that they're in any way representative of what I as a viewer feel merited recognition on Sunday. Category after category, the Emmy voters seemed to make bizarre and inappropriate selections.

Alan Alda? Hell to the no. Tony Shalhoub? Might be okay if he hadn't already won twice and weren't running against Steve Carell. At least we didn't see Stockard Channing picking up a trophy or I might be writing this post from the great beyond.

Alan Sepinwall, in his always excellent column, put it best when he applauded Conan for a solid performance (Conan and Jon Stewart are my personal favorite awards show hosts) but chastised the voters for their choices. By awarding so many actors from cancelled shows, the Emmys continue to prove that, despite all the updated nomination procedures, they're an anachronism that doesn't reflect the state of quality television today.

I'm not saying I know exactly what's worthwhile about television today. I haven't watched great shows like The Sopranos or Deadwood, and I know my tastes run towards the cult-ish more than the predictable or procedural. But I think when you fail to recognize so many quality performances and scripts from shows that are beloved by viewers or almost universally praised by critics, you're missing out on a big part of what's great about television.

Sure, the Emmys are an institution, a tradition. But part of being traditional means that what's new and cutting edge will get ignored. It also means that, sometimes, people will continue to take part in a tradition, just because they're expected to, even when it no longer has any meaning.

Okay, so they did get it right twice: The Office as outstanding comedy and Jeremy Piven as outstanding supporting actor in a comedy. (Even a broken watch is right twice a day.) Still, if you want to hear appropriate office-related squeeing and gleeing, head over to Jenna Fischer's MySpace page, where you can revel in the joy of being one of the few winners they got right.

Friday, August 25, 2006

As promised...

So, I honestly haven't been that excited about the Emmys this year. Don't get me wrong, I'll still be watching and blogging them, but I was fairly sorely disappointed by some of the absences from the nominee list, so I suppose I've been a bit soured on the whole business.

That said, I promised I'd let you all know who I'd be rooting for, so here are my brief thoughts on what I'd hope to see happen on Sunday:

Outstanding Drama Series
"Grey's Anatomy" (ABC)
"House" (FOX)
"The Sopranos" (HBO)
"24" (FOX)
"The West Wing" (NBC)

I am so torn between House and Grey's Anatomy here, but I think I have to give it to Grey's, for their outstanding cast and overall improvement this year. Sure, they're a soap, but they're bubbly and addictive.

Outstanding Comedy Series
"Arrested Development" (FOX)
"Curb Your Enthusiasm" (HBO)
"The Office" (NBC)
"Scrubs" (NBC)
"Two and a Half Men" (CBS)

The Dunder-Mifflinites had an amazing year as well. Though I'd like to give it to AD on their way out, I think The Office was really revitalized and astonishingly creative this past season.

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series
Frances Conroy, "Six Feet Under" (HBO)
Geena Davis, "Commander In Chief" (ABC)
Mariska Hargitay, "Law & Order: SVU" (NBC)
Allison Janney, "The West Wing" (NBC)
Kyra Sedgwick, "The Closer" (TNT)

Abstaining from selection based on fury and resentment at several notable ladies not being included. However, looking forward to seeing all their dresses.

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series
Peter Krause, "Six Feet Under" (HBO)
Denis Leary, "Rescue Me" (FX)
Christopher Meloni, "Law & Order: SVU" (NBC)
Martin Sheen, "The West Wing" (CBS)
Kiefer Sutherland, "24" (FOX)

Comic timing and dramatic chops? I never knew Leary had them until I watched Rescue Me. He created such a great character for himself.

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series
Stockard Channing, "Out of Practice" (CBS)
Jane Kaczmarek, "Malcolm in the Middle" (FOX)
Lisa Kudrow, "The Comeback" (HBO)
Debra Messing, "Will & Grace" (NBC)
Julia Louis-Dreyfus, "The New Adventures of Old Christine" (CBS)

Ditto my previous comments about the Dramatic Actress category. I think I should invite Lauren and Kristen to go get drunk with me and boycott these sham awards.

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series
Steve Carell, "The Office" (NBC)
Larry David, "Curb Your Enthusiasm" (HBO)
Kevin James, "The King of Queens" (CBS)
Tony Shalhoub, "Monk" (USA)
Charlie Sheen, "Two and a Half Men" (CBS)

Steve. So painfully funny, so much improvement over those first slightly awkward episodes. He's really carved out his own take on things, and it's a pleasure to watch.

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series
Candice Bergen, "Boston Legal" (ABC)
Blythe Danner, "Huff" (Showtime)
Sandra Oh, "Grey's Anatomy" (ABC)
Jean Smart, "24" (FOX)
Chandra Wilson, "Grey's Anatomy" (ABC)

So hard to choose between the two Seattle Grace docs. Since Sandra won a Golden Globe, I'll give this to Chandra.

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series
Alan Alda, "The West Wing" (NBC)
Michael Imperioli, "The Sopranos" (HBO)
Gregory Itzin, "24" (FOX)
Oliver Platt, "Huff" (Showtime)
William Shatner, "Boston Legal" (ABC)

This is all you give me to work with? No Enrico? No Dohring? I don't think so.

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series
Cheryl Hines, "Curb Your Enthusiasm" (HBO)
Megan Mullally, "Will & Grace" (NBC)
Elizabeth Perkins, "Weeds" (Showtime)
Jaime Pressly, "My Name Is Earl" (NBC)
Alfre Woodard, "Desperate Housewives" (ABC)

Jaime is a complete surprise and a white-trash delight in this role. Love her (if not her fashion line) and think she deserves success for her performance.

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series
Will Arnett, "Arrested Development" (FOX)
Bryan Cranston, "Malcolm in the Middle" (FOX)
Jon Cryer, "Two and a Half Men" (CBS)
Sean Hayes, "Will & Grace" (NBC)
Jeremy Piven, "Entourage" (HBO)

Completely to my surprise, this is one of the harder categories for me to pick. I'd like to give one to Cranston for his consistently great work on Malcom, were it not for standouts Arnett and Piven, who I've loved for years. If pressed, I'd have to give it to Arnett, since Piven is one of my TV Boyfriends, which means he's already a winner.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Pure character

With 'Top 25 Character' lists floating around the series of tubes known as the Internet, you just know I had to jump on the train with a list of my very own.

They're in no particular order, but you know V is near and dear to my heart, though I could just as easily have added Logan and Keith to the top of the list were I not keeping myself to a one-character-per-show limit.

1. Veronica Mars (VM) - Flinty, funny, fiercely loyal. Keen to protect herself and everyone she cares for, but not always able to.

2. Kara "Starbuck" Thrace (Battlestar Galactica) - Capable of handling everything but her own emotions.

3. Jim Halpert (The Office) - The most ordinary, or the most extraordinary guy, depending on how you look at it.

4. Zack Morris (Saved by the Bell) - BMOC. A legend to a generation.

5. Michael Wiseman - (Now and Again) - John Goodman's brain in Eric Close's body? Tell me that's not worth watching.

6. Buffy Summers (Buffy the Vampire Slayer) - Responsibility weighed heavily on her, but she still knew how to have fun.

7. Pacey Witter (Dawson's Creek) - The only person that never suffered character assassination on DC. Sweet, funny, full of mischief.

8. Doug Ross (ER) - One of the original charming rogues. Breaking hearts as fast as he sews 'em up.

9. Cosmo Kramer (Seinfeld) - Weiry, wacky, wiry, watchable.

10. Greg House (House) - A rule-breaking bastard you can't help but root for.

11. G.O.B. (Arrested Development) - Devious, immature, magic on stage and screen.

12. Aeryn Sun (Farscape) - Hard on the outside, with a soft vulnerable filling for a certain IASA member.

13. Perry Cox (Scrubs) - Insults have never been so fun and fanciful.

14. Hoban "Wash" Washburne (Firefly) - Capable, whimsical, equal parts brave and scaredy-cat. Devoted to his woman and his work.

15. Ari Gold (Entourage) - I think I've said it all.

16. Javier Clemente Quintata (Felicity) - A brutally honest teddy bear.

17. Karen Walker (Will & Grace) - A brutally honest lush and flibbertigibbet.

18. Angela Chase (My So-Called Life) - The awkwardly beautiful girl we all grew up next door to.

19. Vicki the Robot (Small Wonder) - A freakishly strong, hyper-intelligent girl child robot? In no way is this a bad idea.

20. Ed Stevens (Ed) - Quirky and sweet. A perennial optimist with a flair for legal affairs.

21. Lorelai Gilmore (Gilmore Girls) - This pop-culture goddess may not be the best mother, but I bet Rory wouldn't trade her for any other.

22. Jack Bauer (24) - He's so busy kicking ass, he doesn't even bother to take names.

23. Sandy Cohen (The OC) - One of the few TV dads that isn't just a satellite of his children. (John Wesley Shipp, I'm talking to you.)

24. Samantha Jones (Sex and the City) - Vulgar, uninhibited, confident, glamorous, and daring. My favorite diva.

25. The Lone Gunmen (The X-Files) - Lovable nerds and conspiracy theorists, I can only think of them as a unit, like the Three Musketeers.

Several things are evident to me from this list: I like strong female characters (Buffy, Veronica, Aeryn) and brash male characters that I'd probably find insufferable in real life (G.O.B., Ari, Perry). I imagine what's entertaining to watch is not entertaining to live with.

I'm sure it's also evident how very young I am -- there are no classic characters on the list, as I really have had no exposure to them.

Frankly, though, I'm more curious what you think -- so have at it in the comments!

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

When does it premiere? When does it air? Now you know.

I've never been satisfied with keeping track of fall premieres as well as ongoing series that I'd like to check out. Calendars tend to either show premiere dates only, or show only when a program will be showing regularly but not the date it premieres.

Unsatisfied with the current options, I created a Google Calendar that lists all the shows and premiere dates I'm interested in, in order to help solve this problem for myself. You can view it here or go subscribe to it by clicking the button:

Keep in mind that this extremely does not include all the shows that will be airing this fall. It only includes things that I personally am interested in. As has probably been clear if you're reading the site, that isn't the widest range of programs ever. You probably won't catch me tuning in to Law & Order: Criminal Intent, so it's not listed. For some shows (like Vanished or Friday Night Lights), I've included only the premiere if I just intend to check it out, but may not watch it on a regular basis.

The premiere schedule is back-dated to Monday's Prison Break episode, and continues to add new and returning shows of note until October 11th, the premiere of 30 Rock. Enjoy!

Even if you're not interested in keeping up to date with the calendar, you can still see what I plan to be watching this season. And, if I've missed a show you think I should add or check out, let me know. I'll be back with some more in-depth thoughts on the fall schedule soon.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Do yourself a favor

To my regular blog readers, it's probably pretty clear that I'm fond of a little show called Veronica Mars. I've been lucky enough to tempt numerous friends and family members to watch it, and they've all enjoyed it, from my grandmother right down to my most recent convert, a coworker buddy.

I bring this up because Season 2 of VM is released on DVD today. If my numerous posts haven't convinced you to give this show a try by now, perhaps this awesome promo, first aired at Comic-Con, will do the trick.

So do yourself a favor, and go buy the DVDs. You've got plenty of time to get caught up before the Season Three premiere on October 3rd.

Get me an IV of TV, stat!

After watching 9 episodes of Prison Break back to back on Saturday in an attempt to get caught up before last night's Season Two premiere, I've come to the conclusion that mainlining TV shows has both good and bad aspects.

The good part is that you keep the momentum of the show going. This is great particularly for fast-paced shows in which only a brief period elapses between episodes. When you watch episodes in big batches, you don't have to put in the extra emotional energy of waiting for things to be resolved week to week. They leave you on a cliffhanger? You get it resolved ten minutes later when you watch the following episode.

This can also be helpful for shows that have convoluted mysteries. It might be hard to maintain your interest (and keep plot points straight) from week to week, but when you watch them all in a batch, you'll have a better understanding of the flow of clues and investigations.

The downside, however, is that character development can suffer. When you take a day to watch episodes that are meant to occur over the space of a few months in a character's lives, it can be hard to understand their reasoning and reactions. Something that happened months ago to them was just a few hours ago to you. What's meant to be a gradual thaw between characters can seem like a microwaved plot if watched too quickly.

When I first got a friend hooked on Veronica Mars, we watched the entire half of the first season in one night -- from "Silence of the Lamb" to "Leave It To Beaver". While I happily re-watched the L-V romance unfold in hyperspeed, she found it a bit jarring to see Logan's intentions towards Veronica change over just a few hours. She didn't see their week-by-week progress towards becoming friends again -- she saw Veronica kissing someone who thought she was trash. After watching the episodes a few more times, however, she had a better sense of what the characters were meant to have gone through.

All in all, I think watching TV shows marathon style works if a show 1) is meant to occur in near-real time, like Lost or Prison Break or 2) if the characters don't change too much over the course of a season, like House. Which reminds me: I've got a DVD to go purchase...

Monday, August 21, 2006

Gimme a Break

Like GMMR, I was lucky enough to get a set of the FOX screeners, so I could watch the premiere of Prison Break early. And, like GMMR, I thought it rocked. My brief, non-spoilery reactions below.

In the area of casting, I really enjoy Bill Fichtner in the 'Tommy Lee Jones' role, as my roommate puts it. In just one episode, he's established his character as a layered, deliberate, controlled, intelligent person, a force to be reckoned with. I must say, the chase is only fun to watch if you believe Michael and the escapees might be caught. Will Fichtner prove up to the task? Only time will tell, but I already believe he's a more capable adversary than Bellick.

Also, as I mentioned in an earlier post, Terrence Steadman had to be recast. Happily, one of my favorite bit-part actors, Jeff Perry (who also played Meredith's dad on Grey's Anatomy) has filled the role. I'm unsure how much of him we'll be seeing this season, but I think he brings a sense of weary intrigue to a part that already has a lot of mystery.

As for the plot, it was great seeing how they introduced the escapees and weaved in elements and shots from the first season to bring in new viewers. The tone of the show, the core that caught my interest, is still there. The tattoo is still relevant, the somewhat incredible plot twists are still present -- heck, even the transition-to-commercial music is the same! What's changed is the dynamic between the characters.

Before, they all had one united objective: getting out. Now, there's much more potential for conflict and disagreement, since they all have different destinations and loyalties. Though the circumstances have changed, the characters haven't. Michael is as wily as ever, T-Bag as squirrely as ever, Abruzzi as amoral as ever. What will be really interesting is seeing how all these personalities we've grown familiar with will react to their new environment.

All in all, the first episode was a great, fresh start to a new season, and it was fun getting to see a screener (complete with the time running on the bottom, placeholders for stock shots, and some pretty horrendous voiceovers). I expect big things from Prison Break this season, but let's be honest -- as long as they keep putting Wentworth Miller in suits, I'll keep watching.

Friday, August 18, 2006

TV Boyfriends: Michael Scofield

Other that the whole 'my pregnant girlfriend is going to marry some dickweed while I chill in prison' thing, Sucre is one lucky guy. Why? Because he gets to spend night after night in a cell with Michael Scofield. There are worse ways I can think of to spend one's time. Even if you are, in fact, "doing time," I wouldn't call that "hard time."

Reasons why I wouldn't describing sharing a cell with Michael as punishment:

- He's loyal. Once he cares about you, he considers it a duty to take care of you. And if he does something to hurt you, he'll do his best to make it up to you, even if that involves incarceration. As Wentworth says in this clip, he'd like to believe Michael has a plan to go back and make things right with Sara.

- Three words: Low latent inhibition. This is a guy who's so intelligent and perceptive, he pays attention to everything. Just think if he paid that much attention to you! He'd be great at giving presents, beyond just the standard origami roses everyone's handing out nowadays.

- He's inventive. You wouldn't get bored with Michael. No sirree. Nor would you have trouble solving problems. If anyone can find a solution to a difficult problem, it's this guy.

- I'm generally not a tattoo person, but how can you object when it's so creatively constructed? Or when the wearer is so lean and shapely? You can't.

- Michael's a good enough kisser to make you forget about career and moral obligations. Observe, then take the first of several cold showers.

- The man knows the meaning of follow-through. Neither blocked walls, nor butchered toes, nor Bellick will keep him from getting what he wants. If what he wants is you, rejoice! (Or OD on heroin, whatever frosts your cake.)

As for Michael's portrayer...I can forgive him his foray into Mariah Carey videos and his spot as a Buffy punk. He's named after a Jane Austen character, after all! And he draws cartoons! He's a keeper.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

From my office to the one we all share

Busy day at work today, so I'll just be busting out some Office-linky goodness.

- Television Without Pity, which typically abstains from recapping sitcoms, has offered up two stellar recaps of "The Dundies" and "Casino Night". That Jacob is such a romantic.

- The webisodes continue! Watching these webisodes reminds me that I have the crappiest sense of the layout at Dunder-Mifflin. The only places I'm really sure of are the reception area, Jim/Dwight's desks, and Michael's office.

- GMMR will be having her very own Office Chat over at Buddy TV tonight at 8:30 ET. It's times like this that being a West Coaster bums me out. I'd pop over during the East Coast feed, but I'll be in a meeting at the time. Bummer!

- Brian Baumgartner (aka Kevin) has a new blog up at TV Guide in which he mentions that he likes Rescue Me. I bet Lou is his favorite character. Or maybe Sean. I wonder if he reads my recaps? ;)

- Internet-related snooping led to my encountering this wonderful Jim-face picture posting. So much fun!

- More excellent Office commentary from Logan and Veronica over at the Neptune Navigator. I love that Logan is the total Jam shipper, and I love that it alludes to one of my fave Logan lines: "You had me at ice cold."

- Come on, you know you want to watch it again.

So I might have to start watching The OC again...

...because if Chris Pratt (aka Bright from Everwood) is going to be on it this fall, that's reason enough!

Michael Ausiello of TV Guide has all the details. Essentially, he'll have a multi-episode arc as a college buddy of Summer's starting on November 2nd.

I mean, if Everwood isn't going to get renewed, the next best thing is for all the actors on it to get roles on other people's shows. First Greg and Emily? Consider these fingers crossed.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Ruminating on Rescue Me

Every week, I do my recap over at Give Me My Remote. I watch the show, have a few laughs, get those heartstrings tugged, then type it all out and send to GMMR. But I tend to add very few editorial comments along with my recap. I want to let readers, if they missed the episode, decide for themselves how to feel about a particular storyline. So how do I feel?

I'm loving the 'New Lou' and the fact that Franco is finally acting like an adult (though, seriously, where is his daughter??). I'm liking the developments with Jerry (though not the most recent!) and the crazy Gavin family dynamics. I'm loathing the absence of Damien (I miss him! He ain't been around.), Sheila's ep-to-ep fluctuations in sanity, and the utter mishandling of Probie's sexuality.

But, as it's been said numerous times in the media, my main gripe is that RM could do a much better job of writing women. I love that their depictions of men are so complex and layered and damaged and lovely. I know that they're trying to present things from the male point of view. But for goodness' sake, hire a female writer! Trust me, she won't overshare about her menstrual cycles in the writer's room, she won't emasculate Garrity and Gavin by making them talk about their feelings in excrutiating detail, and she won't make the remaining female cast members spout feminist diatribes.

It will be, as Martha Stewart says, a good thing.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Video tidbits

These two videos exemplify why TV boyfriends are so utterly essential and adorable.

First, we have John Krasinski re-enacting that famous kiss. Scroll down to the video clip on the left side of the page.) That one's for Sara. Be sure to check out his characteristically Jim face at the very end.

Next, we have Jamie Bamber explaining how he becomes 'fat Lee'. That one's for Jonas. Be sure to fan yourself while watching or you might melt into a puddle from the accent.

Enjoy, ladies!

Bringing down the House DVDs

Recommending shows to people is such a tricky business. What if they don't like them? Will they stop liking you? I've had such wonderful luck with Veronica Mars, and my roommate is now on a recommend-Rescue Me kick with positive results, but telling others they simply must try a new show can occasionally go awry.

For example, it's hard to recommend a show that you've only seen a few times, even if you think the show and the potential viewer would match up so perfectly it would border on kismet. So I steered clear of recommending House to my roommate for a long time, even though I knew he liked funny, snarky, strong male leads in stand-alone-episode series, preferably with a mystery element, because I'd only seen a couple episodes and couldn't be 100% certain if House evangelism was the way to go.

As it turns out, I had nothing to worry about. The House S1 DVDs, borrowed from my roommate's brother, have been in near-constant rotation in our DVD player for the past few days. As I suspected, my roommate loves bitter, sarcastic House and his crew of curious investigators that go poking around in the internal affairs of every body who's anybody in Princeton-Plainsboro Hospital.

One thing I've enjoyed during all this marathoning? That House, like so many other medical shows, is an excellent venue for quality guest stars. They roll in on a gurney, we grow to care for them, then they're rolled off stage left in a wheelchair. House, in particular, is a great revolving door of Hey, It's That Guys and Gals: Hannah's mom, Lilly, Veronica and Lincoln, Mrs. Jack Bauer, Brandy, and that hot wasp-y guy we're supposed to believe JLH could have bagged.

If you love House like House loves Vicodin, then you'll be pleased to hear you have just one more week till Season 2 comes out on DVD. At the rate my roommate and I are going through Season 1, it's a fair bet that we'll be picking up S2 (along with VM S2) on August 22nd.

A new season of House premieres September 5th at 8. All I can say is, Gilmore Girls better step it up this season if it expects to be my lead-in to VM. If there's one thing House has got, it's a competitive streak.

Monday, August 14, 2006

They'll be our public dancers, dancers for money

News is swirling around the web that the contestants for next season of Dancing with the Stars have been announced.

Here they are, ordered by desirability to win, highest to lowest, with accompanying YouTube links so you'll have an idea of who the heck they all are:

Sara Evans
Harry Hamlin
Mario Lopez
Monique Coleman
Emmitt Smith
Joe Lawrence
Vivica Fox
Shanna Moakler
Willa Ford
Jerry Springer
Tucker Carlson

Though at first I was not particularly excited about watching Dancing with the Stars, it became something of a guilty pleasure for me last season. I found myself rooting for Drew and Cheryl even while my roommate inexplicably rooted for the far-less-competent Jerry Rice. When they won, I was pretty pleased.

This season, I'm hoping Harry or Sara can pull off some good moves, and that we don't have to tolerate too much of the pompous windbags I placed at the bottom of the list (yeah, I'm talking to you, Willa).

Ain't too proud to Begley

Last week, I noted that Michael McKean had done the unthinkable and passed on the role of the Dean of Hearst College.

This week, I'm happy to report that someone else has stepped up to the task. And no, not just anyone, but the lovely Ed Begley Jr.

As far as star sightings go, mine have been relatively mundane. Up until recently, the highlight was saying hi to Lyle Lovett when he stayed at the hotel where I front desk clerked during the summer of 2000. I haven't been lucky enough to rub elbows with the stars of Veronica Mars at the Upfronts like a certain lucky Bostonian I know. However, during a visit to Brentwood, I did once see Senor Begley driving out of a gas station in his electric car. It was one of those surreal 'that guy looks a lot like someone famous' moments that made sense later when I did some internet research and found out Begley's alter ego is environmentally-friendly Ed, peddler of green cleaners and inhabitant of a solar-powered shack in L.A.

Well, Ed, I salute you. Not just for your I-Heart-Mother-Earth ways (I drive a hybrid!), but for choosing to be part of a great TV show. Who knows, maybe Ed appearing on the show will bring in more septuagenarian viewers? My grandmother already watches the show, so this will be a little eye candy for her if nothing else. ;)

Friday, August 11, 2006

TV First Glimmers of Interest in Boys: MMC

If you read Monday's post, then it will come as no surprise that the video below brought me no end of glee.

I'm sure I should feel shame about this, and I do. But it's hard to properly feel shame when your inner ten-year-old is bouncing up and down repeating, in her high-pitched prepubescent squeal, "OMG they are so cuuuuute! Jay Ceeeeeeeeee!!!" It's only once she's tired herself out and is lying in a blissful heap on the floor in your mind that you can actually look at the show, and the boys on the show, somewhat objectively.

If John Carter was squeaky clean, then Justin, JC, Ryan, and the other boys of the Mickey Mouse Club were so clean that they make a sound only Superman and dogs can hear. Dean Cain might've been my first star crush, but Ryan, Justin, and JC pre-dated him as some of the first times I looked at boys and thought they might not be altogether a bad sort of thing.

Certainly I didn't have fuzzy feelings about the lot of them (preferring to annihilate them at kickball or keep things strictly Math Team), but perhaps these MMC boys, in their flowing garments with their gently undulating dance grooves and their dulcet, I-haven't-met-testosterone-yet voices, could be tolerated...even enjoyed.

I mean, seriously. The boys of the MMC were confident, talented, well-spoken, and comfortable making fools of themselves in front of millions. Compared to the cretins I shared a lunch table with, they were positively Adonic.

And, heck, 15 years later, Justin and Ryan didn't turn out so bad, did they? As for JC...well, did I mention Ryan and Justin turned out well?

Note: I recognize that this week represents something of a regression in maturity, a giving-in to my baser fangirl instincts, a vacation from quality posting. I'll be back with Serious Journalistic Prowess next week, I promise.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

I'm so excited. And I just can't hide it.

Season Two of Veronica Mars comes out on DVD on August 22nd, a scant 12 days away! To tide ourselves over till then, here we have a bit of a sneak peek in the form of an extended version of the Logan-and-Veronica "I'm really struggling" bathroom scene. And yes, it is squee-worthy. Proceed squeeing forthwith.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

TV Tidbits

Tangentially Veronica Mars-related:

- Bad call, Michael McKean. Didn't you want the adoration of fan girls everywhere?

- A guy who's making a habit of macking on smart, sassy, petite blond investigators gets interviewed.

- Get thee to a mall, VM fans! You know, shopping in the bay area is so limited...I should probably try San Diego this weekend to see if they have some interesting stuff.

- If you're heading to SD, you might want to wear this so they'll know who they're dealing with.

- The Tubey Awards are up! And VM won a bunch of 'em. Those TWoP people can be a bit prickly, but they've got taste.

And otherwise:

- People really want you to watch The Wire.

- One change to the fall schedule I'm not particularly psyched about: Ugly Betty moves to Thursdays at 8, opposite My Name Is Earl and The Office. Maureen Ryan is, however.

- I don't need to watch a Battlestar Galactica primer, but I probably will.

- If at first you don't succeed, remember that Will Arnett didn't either.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

More than meets the eye

I think it can be agreed upon that Wentworth Miller is a work of art. Not just the lean, toned body (that's a post for another day -- a Friday for sure), but the tattoo on his character's body holding the key to breaking himself and his brother out of prison.

Now it turns out that in addition to being aesthetically pleasing in person, Wentworth actually knows a little something about art. Back in his days at Princeton, he also drew a comic strip with his dad where he displays some quirky talent.

Unfortunately, with the escapees on the run this season, we can expect to see more of Wentworth covered up this season (to prevent people from catching a glimpse of his note-worthy tattoo). However, if all his ensembles are as hot as this suit, I don't think I'll mind.

With the look Sara's giving him here, I don't think she'd mind either.

Season One of Prison Break came out on DVD today, so we can all enjoy Wentworth from capture to escape. I missed the second half of the season, so I know I'll be picking up a copy.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Young at heart

In honor of my little brother's birthday today (hi, Drew!), I thought I'd post about my favorite TV shows when I was a kid. I think it's probably pretty clear I was a child of the 80's. If you spent your formative years watching TV in the 80's, then the list below should have some fond memories for you.

In no particular order, I was all about:

1. Rainbow Brite
2. Saved by the Bell
3. Kids Incorporated
4. Mickey Mouse Club
5. She-Ra
6. Smurfs
7. Gummi Bears
8. Transformers
9. Faerie Tale Theater
10. Avonlea

I think that each one of these shows had a deep psychological impact on me, turning me into the person I am today: that is, a bouncy singing diminutive blue performer with a powerful sword and belt who can turn into a toaster at will and who loves hanging with her fairy godmother and Mr. Belding in her idyllic Canadian hometown.

I'm sure Abbey would say the same for her magical appearance-manipulating earrings, unrecognized business acumen, and purple-haired boyfriend.

What shows do you all blame (or credit) for making you the fine upstanding citizens you are today? Did anyone get their philosophical side from Splinter, or their moral fiber from G.I. Joe? ( probably got it from Zack Morris.)

Friday, August 04, 2006

TV Ex-Boyfriends: John Carter

Bumbling. Inept. Awkward. It's hard to believe these adjectives could describe a quality TV boyfriend. And yet from 1994 to perhaps 1998, during the first few years of the ER craze, they absolutely did.

Eager, well-meaning, and intelligent, John Carter burst into the ER with the air of an overenthusiastic, inexperienced puppy that's about to get kicked. Not as suave as Ross, as steady as Greene, or as stoic as Benton, Carter was sweet and sentimental, wearing his heart on his sleeve even as he operated on the hearts of others. Carter's most defining characteristic was that he cared. As a teenage girl, how I wished he'd cared about me -- but instead it was always one of those pesky patients of the week. Cock-blocks, the lot of them.

Looking back now, it's hard to remember quite why I loved Carter. Maybe it was his smile? Hopeful and earnest, none of the Adama angst or Turk tomfoolery I'd come to love in later years. Carter was vanilla and his adorableness was wide-eyed and unthreatening. To a teenage girl just beginning to indulge in romantic longing, this was highly appealing.

Yes, Dr. Carter always was good and tried to do good. No shades of gray for this doctor. When they later tried to add addiction issues, I jumped off the Carter train. I liked my Carter innocent and unsullied, which is probably the reason I didn't 'ship him with anyone. Unlike most of my TV boyfriends, I wanted him alone, not being romantic with one of those jaded nurses or pharmaceutical-peddlers or lawyers. Carter a la carte. Ohh, that's so bad I'm going to have to end on it.

You know what's truly shocking? I am older now than Noah Wyle was when he first appeared as John Carter. Oh, God. Someone get me a walker and some Depends, I'm about ready to shuffle off this mortal coil.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Joobie is just like everyone else

I'm not a big reality TV person. I think I've said before that it's just hard for me to get involved or care too much about it. I've never cared about Survivor, or Big Brother, or The Biggest Loser. The few months in 2004 when my roommate decided Fantasia Barrino was the best thing since sliced bread where among the more unpleasant of my life. (Just kidding, Corey.)

That said, I love Kelly Clarkson. I think she's a great singer, and a classy dame, and I loved watching her rise to fame on the first season of American Idol. I didn't watch too much of it--just a few episodes with my coworkers, and then the finale. And at the time, I felt like I was watching something truly magical: the transformation from an ordinary person to a star. That's what the American Idol folks were hoping to achieve, but I only feel like they succeeded with it the first time. When she belted out "Respect" in one of her earliest performances, it was a shock of talent that ran a shiver down my spine.

And now, just like GMMR and Jonas, I've seen Kelly in concert. And I have to say, I still feel that magic. I still think Kelly is doing what she was meant to do. And if a reality TV show got her there, well, then I suppose they can't be all bad.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

TV Tidbits

It's been a busy week in the world of TV, and for me as well. Now that shows are beginning to film again following the hiatus, there's a bevy of spoilers to enjoy (or avoid, depending on your preference). Here are a few things I found new and notable in the last few days:

- A Veronica Mars spoiler I wasn't able to duck. Fortunately, it's just about casting, nothing too major. Should have some happy female fans, and I'm never upset about eye candy, so it's hard to get too bent out of shape about it.

- Prison Break DVDs are out on August 8th. Since the show premieres August 21 (so soon!), it's definitely worth going out to pick these up and relive all the incarcerated shenanigans and glorious Michael-Sara sexual tension before picking up with our favorite escapees.

- G.O.B.! TV Squad has an interview with Will Arnett, the lucky bastards. It's great to hear that Arrested Development opened up a lot of doors for Will, because he's a talented guy who was very humble about his Emmy nomination. I'll be rooting for him on August 29th.

- I think I may have found the next trashy reality show to replace ANTM for me while their writers are on strike.

- Critics all over the place agree that last night's Rescue Me episode had the show back in good form. I liked it too.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Jessica Biel can act (!) and other surprises

Last night I had the distinct pleasure of seeing an early screening of The Illusionist, starring Edward Norton, Paul Giamatti, and Jessica Biel. Yes, I know this is only tangentially related to TV, but given that Biel starred in a show I positively scorn (Seventh Heaven, to be specific), I thought it noteworthy to post.

Let me start off by saying that the movie is spectacular. It's got romance, political intrigue, magic, and mystery. Long-time big-screen boyfriend Edward Norton stars as the enigmatic Eisenheim the Illusionist, who has captivated turn-of-the-century Vienna with his surreal and spiritual performances. Jessica Biel, in a surprising bit of casting, plays Sophie, the childhood love Eisenheim was torn from and still burns for. And Paul Giamatti, who excels at any role he plays, is the police inspector investigating Eisenheim's illusions and potential agenda with regard to Sophie's boyfriend, the Crown Prince (Rufus Sewell).

The movie is full of surprises and reveals, not the least of which is the capable performance that Biel gives as Sophie. It helps that she is stunning on film, ethereal and luminous in period clothing and lighting. Even better, there's no twinge of spoiled Mary Camden in her performance, which I was surprised to enjoy.

It's no surprise, however, that Norton is perfectly cast as Eisenheim. The film's director, Neil Burger, who was present after the screening, describes Norton as "intense." That intensity works very well for the character of a late 19th century magician in The Illusionist. Norton is commanding and self-possessed on stage, naturally inhabiting the showman characteristics necessary to perform to a large audience. In his scenes with Biel, he's magnetic and passionate. No one gives dark looks filled with ardor and longing like Norton -- except, perhaps, Jason Dohring. (Fitting since the two could be brothers -- both blessed with an abundance of talent and enough charisma to have chemistry with a block of wood.)

Performances aside, the writing, art direction, and music are lovely. The score, composed by Philip Glass, is haunting and mysterious with a dramatic flair of which Eisenheim himself would approve. The script, also written by Burger, is great too -- particularly the philosophical, lyrical speeches Eisenheim gives during each of his performances. The movie has an intentionally eerie "silent-film" appearance which, along with Prague as the backdrop, makes the events of the film seem part of another time. Everything that happens takes on the otherworldly feel of a place where reality blurs and magic may be possible.

Essentially, I loved it. My sister loved it. And you might love it too! So if you want to see Mary Camden really act, watch Edward Norton be hot for 110 minutes, or just enjoy a truly great movie, check out The Illusionist. It's opening August 18th, and there's a trailer here.