Tag Archives: TV

The LOVE Isn’t Just BIG, It’s Getting Epic

The following is by new contributing writer, Sarah Carbiener. She obsesses about TV as much as I do and will start providing regular coverage of it. I’m happy to have her extra pair of eyes since there are so many shows and I can’t watch them all.—PCN

During the first season of Big Love, I couldn’t help but be fascinated by the polygamous family, their world, the politics, and…be completely bored by the plots. It felt like the creators were too protective of their main characters, not wanting to put them in any real trouble and, gosh darn it, they really wanted us to love and root for the central family. Well, it was pretty hard to do that when they were in so little trouble for so long. This certainly wasn’t a problem in the third season, however, and it seems it won’t be in the fourth either. **Spoilers ahead!**

In the third season finale, Nicki (Chloe Sevigny) brings to the Henrickson household the daughter she abandoned when she left her first husband J.J.; Bill’s brother Joey (Shawn Doyle) kills Roman (Harry Dean Stanton), the prophet of Juniper Creek, to avenge the murder of his second wife-to-be; and after falling feet first through a barn loft and hitting his head, Bill (Bill Paxton) decides to follow Roman’s example and start his own church. (This is only a fifth of what happens in the finale. Like every episode last season, it was packed with plot developments.)

The fourth season picks up six weeks later with the FBI mysteriously still searching for the long-dead Roman. It isn’t until Nicki’s mother’s large walk-in freezer loses power that we discover where Roman’s been hiding.

Panicked, Adaleen (Mary Kay Place) calls Nicki, and because she is one of my favorite characters to hate, it was awesome to finally get to see her come apart at the seams. This is the woman who hired a man to approach her son Alby (Matt Ross) for sex in a truck stop and then murder him, and when he confronted her about it, she not only didn’t deny her actions, but she wasn’t at all remorseful. It doesn’t get much colder than that.

But in this opening episode, when she’s begging her daughter to go into the walk-in freezer and get some bacon because she doesn’t know how else to tell Nicki that her father’s dead, we finally get to see her as desperate and frantic and crazed as she makes everyone else.

After the discovery of the body, the episode becomes a much darker version of Weekend at Bernie’s as the Juniper Creek gang and the Henricksons keep trying to dump the body in the others’ backyard. Unfortunately for Bill, he forgot the one rule about revenge. (My father taught me this in the second grade, and it has served me well ever since.)

If someone picks on you, never get them back right away because you will always be the person who gets caught. Wait a few days and get them when they’re not expecting it. Bill drags Roman’s thawing corpse straight back to Juniper Creek when it shows up in the lot where he’s building the casino and, based on the end of this first episode, it looks like he’s getting caught.**End spoilers**

The rest of the episode includes some light conflict between Barb (Jeanne Tripplehorn) and the Native Americans they’re running the casino with, and a hilarious storyline between Bill’s homicidal parents (Bruce Dern, Grace Zabriskie). The septuagenarians’ fighting, complete with exclamations like, “Ow, my hip,” had me laughing so hard I was crying. Overall, a very strong start for what’s sure to be another intense season of our favorite polygamists. With Bill basically naming himself the next prophet, this may be the most literally epic season yet.

CHUCK’s Back!

Did you catch the Chuck season three premiere last night? Talk about two satisfying hours of television. I’ve always enjoyed this show, but now that Chuck (Zachary Levi) has downloaded the Intersect v.2 into his head, giving him access to skills like kung fu and flamenco-guitar playing, the fun factor has ratcheted up a few notches.

This doesn’t mean our Buy More nerd is James Bond. He’s too emotional for the Intersect to work properly so his klutziness is alive and well. He’s also still in love with Sarah (Yvonne Strahovski), the tension between them as thick as ever, if not more so because of something we see in flashback. Though I feel for their predicament (“Spies don’t fall in love,” she tells him), I kinda hope they never get together because the show will be over.

It might end anyway after this season if ratings don’t pick up. It baffles me why a well-written romantic action comedy like this (what other show does all that?) can’t find a bigger audience. I hope recurring guest stars Brandon “Superman” Routh and Kristin “Lana Lang” Kreuk will be able to help.

If you missed the premiere last night, you can watch it at nbc.com and another fresh episode airs tonight at 8 p.m. Any other fans out there?

Nerd verdict: Chuck yourself

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!

More TV Flippin’

The DVR was about to explode this weekend so I chained myself down with popcorn and cake for some marathon TV viewing. Some quick impressions:

3 riversThree Rivers. Warning: This soporific show might induce a coma. Though the actors—including Alex O’Loughlin (Moonlight), Daniel Henney (Agent Zero in X-Men Origins: Wolverine), Katherine Moennig (The L Word), and Alfre Woodard—are pretty, their characters are dull and saddled by storylines that are neither compelling nor groundbreaking. It’s all been done better on the myriad of medical shows that have gone before. Nerd verdict: Needs life support.

nursesMercy. For a better new hospital show, try this NBC series instead. It focuses on three nurses working at Mercy Hospital in Jersey, with stories revolving more around their lives than medical mysteries. The lead, Taylor Schilling, is a TV newcomer but she comes across like an old pro, playing her Iraq veteran character, Veronica, with intelligence, forthrightness and sly sexiness. Jaime Lee Kirchner injects sass into her role while Michelle Trachtenberg is a little annoying as the green, earnest nurse (more how the character is written than the actress’s fault), but she has less screen time than the other two so I’m okay with her for now. Nerd verdict: Check into Mercy.

115783_GROUP5FlashForward. Three eps in and it’s growing on me. At first, I thought it was too much a Lost rip-off, with references to Oceanic Airlines and Australia in the pilot, plus Lost‘s Penny, Sonya Walger, as a series regular (additional Losties include Kim Dickens guesting in ep 3 and Dominic Monaghan joining the show in episode 6). But I’m now caught up in the Mosaic and the visions and mystery without being pissed off—yet—by the obliqueness of it all. Nerd verdict: I see it being around six months from now.

Are you hooked on anything yet this season? What started out strong but has already lost you?

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?

Monday Night Madness

Photo: Mike Yarish/Fox

Photo: Mike Yarish/Fox

OK, I probably talk about Hugh Laurie a little too much around here but I love how, one night after the television academy denied him an Emmy, he showed them up with a brilliant performance in the season 6 House premiere that’s probably one of his best in the show’s history. In your face, TV Academy! Awesomeness is the best revenge.

This episode, which takes place solely in the Mayfield Psychiatric Hospital, was so good, I didn’t miss House’s team or Cuddy, not even when House got it on with Franka Potente. My favorite things:

  • Tony-winner Lin-Manuel Miranda as House’s rapping roommie, Alvie. His energy was so infectious, I could see why he didn’t want to take his meds if they dampened it. Too bad we won’t get to see more of him.
  • That rap Alvie did with House!
  • House being constantly outwitted by Dr. Nolan (a formidable Andre Braugher). It’s nice to see House humbled and not always getting away with his abusive behavior.
  • The quiet grace Franka Potente brought to Lydia. Quite a difference from the kinetic Lola in Tom Tykwer’s film.
  • Megan Dodds as the unflappable Dr. Beasley. Fun fact: She and Laurie both recurred on the British series Spooks aka MI-5, he as a blowsy bureaucrat and she as a CIA agent.

After House, I switched over to ABC’s Castle to catch one of my favorite mystery authors, Michael Connelly, in a cameo. Sometimes non-actors can give really stiff line readings but I think Connelly did a nice job, with a touch of his trademark dryness that amuses me. It was fun to hear Harry Bosch getting a shout-out.

I also recorded Heroes but haven’t had time to watch it yet. It’s been infected by major suckage in recent seasons but I don’t know why I haven’t given up on it yet. Watching the premiere ep might decide it for me.

I love this time of year when new network series premiere, old favorites come back and my DVR is full. It’s been woefully empty all summer, when I stop watching TV due to all the reality trash.

What did you think of this mold-breaking House episode? What else are you watching or looking forward to this season? Which mystery author would you like to see on Castle next? Vote below!

Emmys Highlights

First, let me get this out of the way. What does Hugh Laurie have to do to win a frakkin’ Emmy?! Jeff Probst now has two Emmys; Laurie, zero. ‘Nuff said.

nphOverall, the show was kinda boring because there weren’t a lot of surprises. Neil Patrick Harris did a good job in a thankless role—his opening number was amusing and I liked how he identified presenters by their most obscure roles—but I thought he’d be funnier and a lot more irreverent. Everything felt too safe. Even his Dr. Horrible appearance with Nathan Fillion fell a little flat.

If you want a complete list of winners, click here. Read on if you want to see who gets my Nerdies. (All photos via Variety.)

Most Deserving of Thanks: Stuntwoman Jeannie Epper. When Ken Howard won best supporting actor in a TV movie for Grey Gardens, he thanked Epper for giving him a kidney. Yeah, I’d say she was way more responsible for his winning the award than his agent was.

chenowethBest Audition for Her Next Job: Kristin Chenoweth. In her speech after winning best supporting actress in a comedy series for Pushing Daisies, she said, “I’m unemployed now so I’d like to be on Mad Men. I also like The Office and 24.” If you’re asking for a job, an Emmy is a good prop to be holding while you’re doing it. (It was cute how the Emmy was almost as tall as Chenoweth.)

Best Explanation for How He Became a Winner: Matt Hubbard, 3o Rock writer, said, “I’d first like to thank Walter Patterson for punching me in the 8th grade and turning me into a comedy writer.” If Chris Long didn’t repeatedly throw the dodgeball in my face in 5th grade, I wouldn’t be here, either.

Funniest Listing of Nominees: Late Night with Conan O’Brien. Every year I look forward to the category of best writing for a variety, music or comedy series because the nominated writers always do something goofy. This year, O’Brien is seen deleting all his writers as friends on Facebook. Runner-Up: Brian Williams reading the names of Saturday Night Live‘s writing staff and then saying that collectively they’re known simply as “Nerds.” Holla!

Person Who Couldn’t Be Nerdy if He Tried: Simon Baker. He came out to present an award wearing nerdy glasses and rumpled hair but still looked ultra hot. When I have bed hair and my glasses on, the neighborhood kids threaten to give me a wedgie.

Coolest “Rat”: As usual, Ricky Gervais was the funniest guy in the room. Sporting what he called a “Rat-Pack green” retro jacket, he said he felt comfortable and “above average” among TV stars since movie stars are so annoyingly good looking. He then invited an audit of his bank account in case anyone doubted how much he’ll make as executive producer of The Office (“whatever that means”) now that it’s going into syndication. Why hasn’t somebody hired Gervais to host an awards show already?

drew & JessicaBest Losing Reaction: Drew Barrymore. When Jessica Lange won for Grey Gardens, Barrymore bounced up from her seat with a face-splitting grin, clapping madly for her co-star. She got teary-eyed and exuded so much joy, you’d think she won the award herself. That’s either class or she pulled off an act deserving its own Emmy.

Most Boring Winner: Two and a half seconds after I said, “Please let it be anyone but Jon Cryer,” he was named best supporting comedy actor for Two and a Half Men. I’m too bored to write anything more about this.

What did you like or didn’t like? What did you think of Neil Patrick Harris? (Click here for my fashion comments.)