Tag Archives: glee

Nerdies for Favorite Things of 2009

Hope you all are enjoying the holidays. Me, I’m having so much fun with family, I need more gigabytes in my brain to store all the memories being made.

I get grateful this time of year for 1) making it this far and 2) all the wonderful experiences I had in the last 12 months. So, between all the eating and social gatherings, I present to you my Nerdy Awards for favorite things this year.

Most Valuable Preposition: Up. Apparently, the best way to make sure a movie is good is by putting this two-letter word in the title. Up and Up in the Air tie for best movie I saw this year. Both are perfect blends of comedy and poignancy, light and dark, entertainment and explorations of what makes us human.

Best Reasons for Staying Home Wednesday Nights: Glee, Modern Family and Cougar Town. Wednesday nights are always a party in my house, as I sing along to Glee then laugh my face off with Family and Cougar. You’ve probably heard plenty about the first two but may not know that Cougar‘s cast, led by the game Courteney Cox, has really gelled into one hilarious ensemble.

Most Unique New Voices in Crime Fiction: Chet the Jet from Spencer Quinn’s Dog on It, Pietro Brwna from Josh Bazell’s Beat the Reaper, and Stella Hardesty in Sophie Littlefield‘s A Bad Day for Sorry. The field is crowded with cops and detectives but this year, I met fresh new characters starting with Chet, a dog who narrates the adventures he has while solving crimes with his human partner, Bernie. Brwna is a hit man turned jaded medical intern who uses a deadly weapon I’ve never seen used before. And Littlefield introduced us to a 50-year-old, slightly overweight woman who helps abused women keep their partners in line partly by using S&M restraints. These books are all first in a series so discover them now before the next installments come out (Chet’s new case, Thereby Hangs a Tail, arrives January 5).

Best Noir Debut: Richard Lange‘s This Wicked World. This is Lange’s first novel but it reads like he’s been writing them forever. Worthy of a place on my shelf among the genre’s greats.

Best Avoidance of Sophomore Slump: Gillian Flynn with Dark Places. Her debut, Sharp Objects, was so stunning, I wondered if her second novel would measure up. I was thrilled, then, to find Flynn delving even more deeply into the female psyche’s dark, twisted side in Places. Few writers can write about damaged, prickly women and make them so mesmerizing.

Fattest Books I Finished in Shortest Time: I got lost in Kate Morton’s gothic, 560-page The Forbidden Garden for 3 days, while my eyeballs were glued to the 512 pages in Stieg Larsson’s The Girl Who Played with Fire for 34 hours, finishing it in almost one sitting, minus a few hours of sleep.

Most Soul-Shaking Book: Jon Krakauer’s Where Men Win Glory: The Odyssey of Pat Tillman. This non-fiction tale of a star football-player-turned-soldier gunned down by friendly fire in Afghanistan ripped me apart and made me re-evaluate how I live my life. A searing read I won’t forget anytime soon.

Funniest Person I Least Expected to Be: Brian Williams on 30 Rock. The veteran NBC Nightly News anchor made me laugh hard when he unexpectedly showed up on Rock, telling Tina Fey he wanted to audition for her show within the show by doing a stand-up act. The punchline wasn’t funny at all but Williams’s hammy, goombah delivery was very much so.

Favorite Movie Trend: Women 45 and over kicking ass at the box office. Sandra Bullock had two big hits (The Proposal, The Blind Side), Meryl Streep had three movies (Julie & Julia, The Fantastic Mr. Fox, It’s Complicated), one of which may win her a third Oscar. And Sigourney Weaver returns as sci-fi queen in Avatar. I hope this trend continues so I can stop watching actors get older while their female co-stars get closer to infancy every year.

Best Performance by Any Actor, Male or Female: Mo’Nique in Precious. Not so much a performance as a terrifying inhabitation of a nightmarish character.

Most Memorable Movie Quote: I just met you and I love you.” —Dug the talking dog in Up.

What were some of your favorite things this year?

THE SING-OFF

Anybody watched this show? I abhor reality shows (except American Idol and Project Runway) but tuned in to NBC’s The Sing-Off because it was advertised as real-life Glee and you know I love me some of that. The four-night competition is between a capella groups made up of non-pro singers hoping to land a Sony recording contract. Guess what? The Glee comparison wasn’t completely off base! It was like watching sectionals, except some of the singers are older than school age.

The groups are quite talented and one in particular, the Socals, reminded me the most of our beloved New Directions. They even sang “Don’t Stop Believin'” and “Somebody to Love.” Another bunch of preppy school kids, The Beelzebubs, sang “Sweet Caroline,” though Puck’s rendition was much, well, sweeter. The ‘Bubs are well-liked by the crowd but they turn me off with their cheesy smugness. My prediction for the win is Nota, an all-guy group which manages to put some spicy flavor into every song.

If you missed the three episodes which aired this past Monday through Wednesday, you can watch full episodes on NBC.com or Hulu. Then you can still vote for your favorite group (on NBC.com only; voting closes Sunday, Dec. 20) and the winners will be revealed on Monday’s show.

Check it out, tell me which group(s) you like best, and help some folks get a recording contract for Christmas!

Notes on New Series

At the beginning of each TV season, I like to sample new shows at least once. Last night, I did a marathon, watching NCIS: Los Angeles, Modern Family, Cougar Town, Glee and half of Eastwick. Since my eyes have way exceeded their daily radiation allotment, I’m going to keep this short and just go with quick impressions of each show.

Photo: Sonja Flemming/CBS

Photo: Sonja Flemming/CBS

NCIS: Los Angeles. Chris O’Donnell is so wrong for this role of tough, military-trained leader guy. He’s as edgy as soup; his low-energy line readings and pauses slow down the show’s pacing, which broadcasts every plot development from a mile away. It makes no sense that O’Donnell’s character doesn’t know what his first name is (he only has the initial “G”). If he’s an orphan like it’s implied, at some point while he was going through the system, someone would’ve given him a name, if for no other reason than proper record keeping. Everyone else in the pilot is completely forgettable, except for maybe Barrett Foa, whose tech expert is quirky without being annoying, and Linda Hunt, whose character looks exactly like the costume designer Edna from The Incredibles.  Even LL Cool J couldn’t make this show like his name. Nerd verdict: NCIS=Not Cool or Interesting Show.

Photo: Bob D'Amica/ABC

Photo: Bob D'Amico/ABC

Modern Family. I was a little wary of all the hype surrounding this show since I was underwhelmed by CBS’s Julianna Margulies-starrer The Good Wife, which also had advance rave reviews. But Family got in a few good jokes and most of the characters are likable. My favorites are the gay men who just adopted the cutest Vietnamese baby and named her Lily. A family member asks, “Wouldn’t that be hard for her to say?” I’m Vietnamese, can pronounce all my “L”s properly and still found that hilarious. Nerd verdict: A Family I’m happy to see.

Courtesy ABC

Courtesy ABC

Cougar Town. I think Courteney Cox can be really goofy and she does good, brave work here. Who doesn’t like a beautiful woman who can make fun of herself? The pilot was trying too hard to be witty, though. We get that Jules, Cox’s character, is a little desperate but the show shouldn’t come off that way, too. Dan Byrd (Aliens in America), as Jules’s son, does have a sane, grounding presence and the show has potential if everyone would just relax. Nerd verdict: I’d visit this Town again if residents quiet down a bit.

Eastwick. I bailed halfway through so my remarks only apply to the first 30 minutes. The leads, Rebecca Romjin, Lindsay Price and Jaime Ray Newman, lack bewitching powers and the Jack Nicholson role is filled by an actor looking like Chris Noth-lite speaking in affected soap-opera tones. Nerd verdict: No magic here.

glee

Courtesy Fox

Glee. This show has been on for a couple weeks and its pilot aired back in May but it’s still a new series. If you’re not watching it yet, you’ve got to start. Every week, it deftly mixes humor with pathos, features Jane Lynch as MVP, and includes at least one musical number. I don’t even like musicals but find myself looking forward every week to the showcase piece. This week, it was a high-school football team taking a timeout during a game to dance on the field to Beyonce’s “Single Ladies,” complete with the infamous moves. As entertaining as this was, though, the high point for me was the scene where Kurt (Chris Colfer) came out to his father (Mike O’Malley). Both actors handled the scene with the perfect amount of heart and it was a beautiful thing to watch. Nerd verdict: Glee, indeed.

What new shows have you seen? Which gets a season pass on the DVR and which will you just pass on?