Wednesday, November 28, 2007

What I'm Watching: Reaper

Reaper: Season 1, Episode 9 “Ashes to Ashes” (C+)

This is an entertaining episode, but nothing really makes sense. The Devil seems to be selectively omniscient, knowing all that is dark and pertaining to devilish activities, as he always pops up whenever Sam does something wrong, yet he does not know squat about the conversations that go on between his girlfriend and Sam. And he knows Sam better than to assume that Sam would not try to talk to his girlfriend. On the subject of girlfriends, it is great that Sam might be interested in the devil’s ex’s daughter, and while her possibly being the devil’s daughter is a bad thing for Sam, it is a good thing for the audience, as that will surely prove to be an entertaining storyline. I like that Andi is still open to the possibility of a relationship with Sam but that she is unwilling to make a move or make up her mind. This show could very well outlast my expectations for its run.

What I'm Watching: NCIS

NCIS: Season 5, Episode 10 “Corporal Punishment” (C+)

Maybe I am not being fair to this show, but once again I find myself zoning out and getting extremely lost in a fairly uncomplex plot. I may not be devoting my full attention, so grading the episode seems unfair. Regardless, by the time everything had been figured out, I was still trying to figure out who the first guy was and I had not been laughing for a good portion of the episode as I often do. To spice up this show, I think the characters need to go in more assignments and have specific one-on-one interactions, specifically Tony and Ziva. They had a great episode way back where they went undercover, and I think a similar but re-tooled return to that storyline could do wonders for the show.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

What I'm Watching: Samantha Who?

Samantha Who: Season 1, Episode 7 “The Hockey Date” (B-)

I have said it before, and I will say it again. Sam lost her memory, not her common sense. The difference needs to be more neatly outlined. There is enough to work with here to simply continue with the great characters which have been developed thus far, and leave Sam’s neurosis about her amnesia behind for a bit. She can still recall an important memory each episode, but limit her lack of memory to the realization that has been banned from the hockey arena. I cannot quite tell why Eddie Cibrian of all people is popping up on ABC shows (he guest-starred in “Dirty Sexy Money” a few weeks back). He brings nothing too interesting to the table, and pales in comparison to all of the other characters, even the eternally confused Todd.

What I'm Watching: Heroes

Heroes: Season 2, Episode 10 “Truth and Consequences” (D-)

Was this episode made before or after the writers’ guild went on strike? The storyline and dialogue here are embarrassing. Monica gets herself abducted by New Orleans hoodlums while trying to rescue some missing comic books, just when I thought it was safe never to have to think about Micah and company every again. I might have to add Micah to my need-to-be-killed-off poll. On that subject, I am proud to report the demise of Alejandro, but what an unexciting death. And did Sylar feel it was responsible to leave the body out on the ground when he had enough time to take off all his clothes and throw on a towel? I am a bit curious as to how he broke into Suresh’s apartment without Maya getting suspicious. Suresh himself is just getting too annoying, especially with his newfound elitism relating to pretty much everybody, especially a pissed-off H.R.G.

A year ago, I listed Hayden Panettiere as one of the best performers on television for her portrayal of Claire. Now, she has to be one of the worst. Her awful dialogue and the attempts at crying do not help much. She actually gives an after-all-the-times-I’ve-been-stabbed-but-this-hurts speech. That kind of thing is supposed to be used in comedy, not a supposed drama. I feel bad for Kristen Bell, who is saddled with a scene where Elle is not intelligent enough to realize that she should put down her drink before trying to drive away. She is supposed to be irresponsible and uncontrollable, not just plain dumb.

At this point, it is unclear as to whether Adam is evil or just vengeful. The Company may still be pulling the strings, but in any case, what a waste of Joanna Cassidy, whose performance on “Six Feet Under” is insulted by her brief guest spot as Victoria Pratt. Peter and Adam sort of make for a good team, but they are both invincible and it would be better if they had different abilities which could complement each other. The last scene is ridiculous. Hiro needs to go back to his comic-book roots and look up the definition of time-travel. He can go anywhere he wants, stop time as long as he wants, and return to any point in time. When he teleports away from Ando, he should be able to return one second later after spending a year in the past. We do not care that Ando took a nap on his desk. Hiro should have enough sense to try to talk to the legendary Peter Pretelli before running at the lightning-wielder with his sword. That cannot end well. I said unite the heroes, not pit them against each other!

What I'm Watching: Chuck

Chuck: Season 1, Episode 10 “Chuck Versus the Nemesis” (B+)

I can hardly get over how much the stores on “Chuck” and “Reaper” are alike, in this episode specifically with the preparation for the big shopping days and restructuring of employees to cover all the important areas. Morgan and Anna’s fling is amusing if not a bit overdone, but it is still in the background enough so as not to be an issue. I wish there had been a scene with Bryce and Chuck where they discussed in fuller length what happened at Stanford with Chuck getting expelled. Seeing Bryce and Sarah fight together is not quite as cool as Chuck seems to think and the continuous slow-motion shots are sort of irreverent. I hope Sarah sticks around (as I am sure she will) because she and Chuck really do make for a much more compelling and endearing team than Bryce and Sarah.

What I'm Watching: Dexter

Dexter: Season 2, Episode 9 “Resistance is Futile” (B+)

Wow, what a development. This episode is kept from being absolutely stellar by the somewhat awkward exposing of Deb’s relationship with Lundy, but the reactions by both Masuka and Lundy make it worth it. For those tense few minutes, the show actually makes us think that Doakes sent in the slides and Dexter has been caught. Immediately afterwards, Dexter is thinking one step ahead and making the best of his entourage. He might even get back together with Rita! Lila’s continued presence is slightly unexplained, but I presume that she will pose a problem and Dexter will have to get rid of her. While I am never a fan of people sneaking out of a house when it is being heavily guarded and planning to return hours later, hoping no one will bother to check on them, but I will make in exception in Dexter’s case. His confrontation with Doakes is one of the best scenes of the season (“You’re the Bay Harbor Butcher, man!”). Dexter still considers Doakes innocent, so he wants to avoid killing him if he can help it. There are still three episodes left this season, and I hope they do not drag it out. Right now, though, I am holding my breath for what will happen next.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Satellite Award Predictions

The Satellite Awards are, to put it briefly, a ridiculously amusing awards group that likes to reward bizarre and odd choices as well as some typical ones. The television nominations are particularly strange. I gave it my best shot at predicting them but expect to be fully incorrect in nearly every category. My goal here is to have fun. Nominations will be announced Friday, reactions online by Monday.

Predictions are continued from the movie blog and listed in alpabetical order by show title, in the format that the Satellite Awards press release lists them.

23. MINISERIES
A. AS YOU LIKE IT
B. BURY MY HEART AT WOUNDED KNEE
C. FOR ONE MORE DAY
D. LIFE SUPPORT
E. LONGFORD
F. THE ROBBER BRIDE

24. MOTION PICTURE MADE FOR TELEVISION
A. THE COMPANY
B. FIVE DAYS
C. JANE EYRE
D. THE STARTER WIFE
E. TIN MAN

25. ACTRESS IN A MINISERIES OR TV MOVIE
A. BRYCE DALLAS HOWARD, AS YOU LIKE IT
B. ELLEN BURSTYN, FOR ONE MORE DAY
C. RUTH WILSON, JANE EYRE
D. QUEEN LATIFAH, LIFE SUPPORT
E. MARY-LOUISE PARKER, THE ROBBER BRIDE
F. GENA ROWLANDS, WHAT IF GOD WERE THE SUN?

26. ACTOR IN A MINISERIES OR TV MOVIE
A. KEVIN KLINE, AS YOU LIKE IT
B. ADAM BEACH, BURY MY HEART AT WOUNDED KNEE
C. CHRIS O’DONNELL, THE COMPANY
D. MICHAEL IMPERIOLI, FOR ONE MORE DAY
E. TOM SELLECK, JESSE STONE: SEA OF CHANGE
F. JIM BROADBENT, LONGFORD

27. ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE ON TELEVISION
A. DANA DELANY, DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES
B. JENNIFER CARPENTER, DEXTER
C. JILL CLAYBURGH, DIRTY SEXY MONEY
D. KRISTEN BELL, HEROES
E. KRISTEN CHENOWETH, PUSHING DAISIES
F. ELIZABETH PERKINS, WEEDS

28. ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE ON TELEVISION
A. KEITH CARRADINE, DEXTER
B. DONALD SUTHERLAND, DIRTY SEXY MONEY
C. JEREMY PIVEN, ENTOURAGE
D. JOHN KRASINSKI, THE OFFICE
E. WILLIAM FICHTNER, PRISON BREAK
F. KEVIN NEALON, WEEDS

29. TELEVISION SERIES, DRAMA
A. BATTLESTAR GALACTICA
B. BROTHERHOOD
C. DEXTER
D. DIRTY SEXY MONEY
E. HOUSE
F. THE RICHES

30. ACTRESS IN A SERIES, DRAMA
A. MARY MCDONNELL, BATTLESTAR GALACTICA
B. JEANNE TRIPPLEHORN, BIG LOVE
C. ANNABETH GISH, BROTHERHOOD
D. KYRA SEDGWICK, THE CLOSER
E. MINNIE DRIVER, THE RICHES
F. HOLLY HUNTER, SAVING GRACE

31. ACTOR IN A SERIES, DRAMA
A. BILL PAXTON, BIG LOVE
B. JASON ISAACS, BROTHERHOOD
C. MICHAEL C. HALL, DEXTER
D. HUGH LAURIE, HOUSE
E. EDDIE IZZARD, THE RICHES
F. DENIS LEARY, RESCUE ME

32. TELEVISION SERIES, COMEDY OR MUSICAL
A. CHUCK
B. THE COLBERT REPORT
C. ENTOURAGE
D. FLIGHT OF THE CONCHORDS
E. THE OFFICE
F. PUSHING DAISIES

33. ACTRESS IN A SERIES, COMEDY OR MUSICAL
A. MARCIA CROSS, DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES
B. FELICITY HUFFMAN, DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES
C. JULIA-LOUIS DREYFUS, OLD CHRISTINE
D. CHRISTINA APPLEGATE, SAMANTHA WHO?
E. SARAH SILVERMAN, THE SARAH SILVERMAN PROGRAM
F. MARY-LOUISE PARKER, WEEDS

34. ACTOR IN A SERIES, COMEDY OR MUSICAL
A. ZACHARY LEVI, CHUCK
B. STEPHEN COLBERT, THE COLBERT REPORT
C. JASON LEE, MY NAME IS EARL
D. STEVE CARRELL, THE OFFICE
E. JAMES RODAY, PSYCH
F. BRET HARRISON, REAPER

BEST ENSEMBLE, TELEVISION
THE OFFICE

What I'm Watching: Desperate Housewives

Desperate Housewives: Season 4, Episode 8 “Distant Past” (D+)

I feel like this is an endless circle of recurring plotlines which go absolutely nowhere. Mike is a drug addict but Susan is too na├»ve to realize he has a continuing problem, Julie dates bad boys Susan likes at first but then hates, Orson gets overridden in every life decision Bree wants to make, and Lynette will never let anything get in the way of her accomplishing what she sets out to do. The favors everyone seems to need to do for each other in this episode are bizarre because the people in question were hardly friends in the first place (particularly Mike and Adam). I never thought the day would come when I would miss the youngest generation of the Scavo family, but honestly, who cares about Lynette’s parents getting divorced for a different reason if we never knew about them before this episode? Bree and Andrew’s bonding is probably the only decent progression in this episode, though I for one had pretty much forgot about the whole throwing-out-on-the-street incident myself until Andrew actually moved out. Edie is one vindictive spurned lover, and I suppose I am slightly interested to see how Victor exacts his revenge. Though I really feel like we have been here before.

What I'm Watching: Battlestar Galactica (Razor)

Battlestar Galactica: Razor (C+)

What a supreme disappointment! Reading several reviews, it would seem that most diehard BSG fans enjoyed the episode, but I cannot in good conscience agree. The flashback scheme of the two-part episode only works well if it is providing any previously unknown information or telling a compelling story. In this case, new character Kendra Shaw is wholly uninteresting, and there is only one minor interaction between Lee and Kara, which should have taken up a much larger portion of the episode, especially given the tension they had and the declaration of love they made to each other on New Caprica. We know from the very beginning that every regular character on the show has to survive, and there are precious few cast members in this TV movie anyway (Adama, Lee, Kara, and a cameo by Roslin). What we do learn in this film is very little and not terribly exhilarating. Cain is in no way a sympathetic character because she advocates destruction and suicide over militarily intelligent strategic thinking. Shaw goes over the edge and follows her blindly, or worse, becomes her, but she dies without ever appearing in any of the regular series episodes so her sacrifice is truly in vain. The revelation that Cain and the Six onboard Pegasus were lesbian lovers come out of left field and does not add much to the story. This presentation even lacks a climactic scene where Cain talks to the Six about how hurt she is and then tries to hurt the Six herself instead of just letting the torturer rape her. The hybrid Cylon experiment would be interesting, if it was covered more deeply and used somewhere else in the series. The brief surprise appearance of the Cylons from the original series is fun but seems unwise, as that show is almost universally hated and considered to be irreproachably awful.

Worst of all, the title seems forced. The razor Cain carries around with her and then gives to Shaw makes for a slightly decent but not terribly impressive metaphor. This two-hour special does not serve as an effective bridge between the third and fourth seasons of “Battlestar Galactica” but rather gets me more excited because I know that the fourth season will go forward in time rather than flashing back to events that have been explained. The promo for season four is awesome, and I personally cannot wait until March (!) when the show returns for at least the first part of its final season. I believe ten episodes out of twenty are filmed, and I personally do not mind if the series is split between two years in its presentation. I say that now, but I am hopeful that the mid-season finale next May makes me regret that statement.

What I'm Watching: Women's Murder Club

Women’s Murder Club: Season 1, Episode 8 “No Opportunity Necessary” (B+)

Tom is recently so excitable about hopping into the car with his ex-wife with his second wedding strewn all over his backseat. His naivety cannot last long, and I for one am wholeheartedly expecting a major wedding-stopper next week. Claire and Warren make for great supporting actors, whose guilt (or lack thereof, in some cases) of going to the wedding is amusing. Linda Park’s cruel D.A. calling someone else a bitch is a hoot. And kudos to the show for making the perky reporter funny instead of flimsy and annoying.

What I'm Watching: Dirty Sexy Money

Dirty Sexy Money: Season 1, Episode 8 “The Country House” (B+)

My heart warms a bit every time a see more than one Darling sitting at the same table and interacting. There should really be more of that. Brian and Karen in particular make for a fascinating and hilarious twosome. I definitely did not notice that Laura Palmer had joined the guest cast of this show (as Brian Jr.’s mother, I think). Too bad she does not have a juicy part. She was always good at being wrapped in plastic. Ellen shooting Patrick is both funny and progressive. Their meeting is one of the most awkward things I have ever seen, and seeing Patrick so easily dismissed by both his lovers is highly entertaining. Jeremy’s courtship of the woman from “The Knights of Prosperity” is surprisingly captivating, though I am sure that Mr. Babeson’s fate is not a happy one, at least with that girl. Trip and Simon’s arguing match is not as compelling as it perhaps should have been, partly due to Blair Underwood’s very unenthusiastic portrayal of Simon, but its intercutting with Nick’s wife finding about his kiss with Karen is brilliant. Was anyone else expecting the camera to pull back on Nick’s wife to find someone else in bed with her? On the subject of unfulfilled on-screen happenings, has anyone seen Juliet recently?

What I'm Watching: Pushing Daisies

Pushing Daisies: Season 1, Episode 7 “Smell of Success” (B+)

It is very much like the impact of smell which fills this episode: I am a little unsure during the episode how I feel about everything that is happening, but I always seem to walk away smiling. I love the new friendship between Olive and Chuck, especially Olive’s statement that they are not good enough friends yet for Chuck to cry in front of her. I am also especially thrilled for Chi McBride, who after serious roles on shows like “Boston Public” and “The Nine” gets a tremendous chance to just have the time of his life as Emerson Cod. His fascination with knitting and pop-up books helps him go from being a throwaway character to an oddly likeable grumpy detective. I cannot help laughing at Ned’s shocked face which he uses at least twice after the smell guy traps Emerson and him between his doors. This show is just so inventive with the themes it explores and really cares through each and every episode. Guest stars are also usually extremely well without becoming overbearing. I did notice that the narrator started using the term “our heroes” which makes him a little less distant and omniscient than I would prefer him to be.

What I'm Watching: NCIS

NCIS: Season 5, Episode 9 “Lost & Found” (B+)

They used a little kid once before who bonded very quickly with Gibbs; this time, he bonds with a bunch of the team members, without getting annoying, which is commendable. His obsession with Abby’s tattoos is a bit freaky (not quite as much as her consideration of showing him), but not to a troubling point. A recent “reader’s jeer” in TV Guide was annoyed with the fact that any suspect or victim of a case just happens to be somehow involved with the navy. Unless I missed something and the team of scouts was a naval children only branch, this is one case where the mother just happens to be a petty officer and so NCIS can in fact pursue the case. This slight filling in of the blanks does not cause too much of a problem, at least for this episode, but the show should be careful to keep the boundaries of reality and chance in mind.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

What I'm Watching: Weeds (Season Finale)

Weeds: Season 3, Episode 15 “Go” (A-)

I am impressed. While Doug’s singing is a bit strange, I have hardly seen an episode that ties up loose ends so completely while leaving the viewer with no idea where the show is going next. Nancy’s musings on a future career as a drug trafficker (!), Tara’s religious zealousness, and the DEA’s dogged pursuit of the drug dealer through different individuals makes it clear that the show can never again be the same. Nancy’s scene where she talks to Judah is only made more poignant by torching her home to ensure that nothing will be left. Playing the main title theme while shots of the destroyed locations from the opening credits is a brilliant way of reinventing the show. Nothing can ever be like it was, and I am so excited to see where it will go next summer.

Season grade: A- (give Mary-Louise Parker the Emmy!)

What I'm Watching: Samantha Who?

Samantha Who: Season 1, Episode 6 “The Hypnotherapist” (B)

The “Annie” joke that carries through is funny and doorman Tuvok singing is quite weird. I do think that the show should take a step from the amnesia problem and give Sam some time to work out her issues without obsessing about the fact that she cannot remember anything. The revelation that Todd’s apartment is actually her apartment is both humorous and good for the show, provided that Todd moves back in soon. Sam could use a more stable man in her life, and I think the show would benefit from it too.

What I'm Watching: Heroes

Heroes: Season 2, Episode 9 “Cautionary Tales” (C+)

I went into this episode feeling a lot better about the show, but maybe my sunny attitude was affected by the fact that nearly the entire episode takes place in the bright outdoors. The action certainly looks nice, but I am still a bit fuzzy about some of the writing. I have had enough of Claire’s preachy speeches about how she wants to live her life, and I think it is definitely time for her to leave town and hook up with some of the other heroes (and I do not mean West!). West’s bonding with H.R.G. happens way too quickly after West was deathly afraid of him. The scene that truly kills me is when H.R.G. is about to shoot Mohinder and West says in the most high-pitched voice I have ever heard a guy use: “Mr. Butler, what are you doing?” I tell you, this is not a good episode to be a blonde, since chances are you will get kidnapped or tied up. The hostage-exchange goes down way too quickly, and you would think that after that wicked idea H.R.G. had to stop Elle’s powers from working without the help of one Haitian, he would be a bit smarter than to let Elle so easily untie her hands and use her powers. Mohinder’s decision to shoot H.R.G. makes little sense, and it seems that for him to shoot him in the eye would have been an extra effort. The last scene is sort of awesome, but who is pulling the strings?

As for the rest of the story, we are still missing a number of characters, including the most powerful and intriguing ones, Peter and Sylar. Matt’s powers continue to evolve, but I wish that he would try a bit harder rather than just noticing that they are there. Hiro needs to move on from his time in Japan and start looking for the next invincible villain he will have to try and kill. I think that to reenergize this show, some major reformatting needs to happen. The teaming up of the heroes almost worked a few weeks ago when they tried to take on Maury, but I think if this show takes a cue from “X-Men” it could be headed in the right direction. Put them into pairs, for instance, Claire and Peter, Hiro and Nathan, Matt and Adam, and best of all, Sylar and Elle. I am rooting for that day.

What I'm Watching: Chuck

Chuck: Season 1, Episode 9 “Chuck Versus the Imported Hard Salami” (B+)

I knew there was a reason I liked this show. The cast is excellent, and their interactions just get funnier and funnier, and in some appropriate cases, more dramatic. The show has even managed to sustain Morgan who, after some teasing from that really creepy pair of guys, makes a move on Anna and ultimately ends up dating her, only to dump her as soon as he finds out Chuck is single again. I do wish Rachel Bilson could have a had a meatier (excuse the pun) role, but it was wrapped well with Casey’s assertion that Chuck was an undercover DEA agent and left enough possibility for the character to be brought back (though I doubt Bilson would be up for another guest spot). The ending of this episode is amazing in so many ways. It perfectly fuses comedy with drama to create an irresistible scene. Sarah kissing Chuck right before they are about to die is a great new direction for their relationship, and I especially love each of their reactions – Chuck’s confusion and Sarah’s declaration that things may be a bit awkward later. But the truly undeniably brilliant scene comes at the very end, when a grinning Chuck calls Sarah to ask her out, for real this time, just as Bryce is revealed to still be alive. Let’s see how that one plays out.

What I'm Watching: Dexter

Dexter: Season 2, Episode 8 “Morning Comes” (B+)

This is an episode packed with some bona fide intense scenes. Masuka and Deb discovering that someone from their department is in fact the Bay Harbor Butcher makes for an unexpectedly chilly moment. The show’s ability to make us momentarily forget that our lovable Dexter is the true killer and instead be afraid of some unknown evil murderer is exceptional. Lila has gone off the wagon, which is sort of too bad since she was such a strong-willed character when she was first introduced. At least her storyline is close to wrapped, and what a powerful scene at the end with Dexter threatening the release of the monster. Hopefully, by next episode Dexter should be back with Rita and Deb continuing along with her romance with Lundy. And I cannot wait to see what Doakes does with those slides.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Returning Soon...

I will be away from my television the entire week of Thanksgiving, but rest assured that come next week, I will return with reviews of Dexter, Chuck, Heroes, Samantha Who, Weeds, NCIS, Pushing Daisies, Dirty Sexy Money, and Women's Murder Club. An important reminder to all Battlestar Galactica fans that the TV movie "Razor" airs Saturday night at 9pm. That will definitely be first on my list to watch as I begin the lengthy process of catching up on all that I have missed. Hopefully WGA negotations will succesfully resume on the 26th and I will not have to prepare myself for the painful disappearance of shows come January.

After Thanksgiving, check back for revised Golden Globe predictions as well as SAG thoughts. And be sure to check out Movies with Abe for all the latest Oscar buzz.

What I'm Watching: Women's Murder Club

Women's Murder Club: Season 1, Episodes 6 & 7 "Play Through the Pain" & "The Past Comes Back to Haunt You" (B)

I do not have much to say about these two episodes. They were enjoyable enough, but honestly, a mere half-day after watching them both, I can hardly recall a thing about either one. The cast is able, the plots are fine, but it is just not memorable for me in the slightest. I do enjoy the Lindsay/Tom stuff, as awkward as it is, and think that they perhaps should do more with that and with the reporter's storyline than with the assistant D.A. This is one I could easily give up on and slip back into and some point. We will see.

What I'm Watching: Scrubs

Scrubs: Season 7, Episode 4 "My Identity Crisis" (C-)

This once-great series now feels so forced and desperately blocked-out. Characters pop up whenever it seems convenient they would be there (most notably when all the people lined up behind the janitor). Each episode's general path is predictable, character by character. In this episode, it was clear from the start that Carla would fuss for a while before realizing she is overreacting but determine that she is still smarter than Turk, and Dr. Cox would try to be mean but ultimately figure out that he is nice. J.D. is too jolly and naively annoying - it was cute in the first few seasons, but like any good character, he should have grown up at least a bit by now. I understand that the producers wanted to bring back Laverne in the form of her twin sister or whatever, but could they be a bit more clever about it? As far as the rest of the unnamed characters with pseudonyms, it is much more fun not to know their real names, even if J.D. can be clever about his mnemonic devices. At least we still do not know the Janitor's real name. Although I totally saw that one coming. To me, he will always be Dr. Jan I. Tor, as he was to his son's class.

What I'm Watching: The Office (Last Episode, For Now)

The Office: Season 4, Episode 8 "The Deposition" (C)

What an unfortunate way for this great show to go out as it airs the last of its prepared installments until the WGA strike comes to an end. "The Office" fails to properly use its stellar ensemble and instead chooses to take yet another field trip. Michael is relentlessly bullied in this episode but really deserves it as he just gets more and more oafish as the episode goes on. Everyone always says that Michael is ultimately a good salesman, but he falls flat here. His loyalty to the company makes little sense, especially after hearing David Wallace's deposition. He also overdoes it when he pushes Toby's tray onto the ground while Toby is attempting to connect with him. The sole good line from the deposition comes when Michael says "line" and the judge explains that he is "asking for a line, like in a play." Back on the home front, the story is much brighter and funnier, but it would have been nice to incorporate a few more "Office" mates. I really did enjoy Kelly's smack talk, though.

What I'm Watching: 30 Rock

30 Rock: Season 2, Episode 6 "Somebody to Love" (B+)

Okay, so the many pairs of pants bit was a bit weird, but I cannot resist this show. The northrax and Liz's suspicion of her neighbor's terrorist activities are so perfectly politically incorrect. I think that the continous product placement spoofs ("Can you give us our money now, please?") are a bit much, but I will deal with it if I can get fantastic scenes with the entire cast, minus a tragically absent Jane Krakowski. Edie Falco begins whta I hope will be a recurring arc as the definitely Democratic secret girlfriend of Jack. I love his reaction to finding out who she is - "D, Vermont?" The two make for an unbeatably funny pair. I am glad this one still has a few episodes left to air before scripts run out.

What I'm Watching: Smallville

Smallville: Season 7, Episode 8 "Blue" (F)

I do not even want to touch upon any part of this episode which involves any deceased member of Clark's family coming back to life or blue kryptonite which takes away Clark's powers. Its inane nature collapses upon itself, and it does the talking for me. What I am interested in is this stunning revelation that my new favorite character, the Daily Planet editor, is actually the presumed-dead Julian Luthor, a.k.a. Lex's brother. I am glad that Grant/Julian is not just another shady character in league with Lex but actually his flesh and blood. I just hope they do something interesting with it. His relationship with Lois, however inappropriate and annoying, is one of the only things keeping this show going.

"Smallville" still has a bunch of episodes left but the next one is not until December 13th. Stay tuned.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

What I'm Watching: Dirty Sexy Money

Dirty Sexy Money: Season 1, Episode 7 "The Wedding" (C+)

This is an amusing episode, but the story is fairly repetitive and some of it is just preposterous. Karen dumping the new hubby after mere minutes of marriage is something that easily could have been seen coming, though her scene with Nick is a great one. Tripp being drunk is fun, but I feel like someone in his position would be a little more careful about letting himself go. I do not know why Juliet's former best friend and Jeremy's former flame is remaining on the show. She seems like she could easily have been written out. Sad to see Brian Jr. go, especially when he and his father have finally become close. It should be interesting to see Patrick's two lovers meet next week. The one thing I really could not stand is Simon Elder speaking in German to show how shady he is. People who normally speak English speaking foreign languages in private is lame and completely dumb. Maybe it will be a good twist to have Simon manipulating events, but in English, please.

I also cannot say approve of actress replacement, which caught me off-guard in this episode. Brooke Smith, currently popping up on "Weeds", has been inexplicably substituted for in the part of Brian Jr.'s mother, a shame since Smith would have been great at what looks to be a juicy upcoming role.

What I'm Watching: Bionic Woman

Bionic Woman: Season 1, Episode 7 "Trust Issues" (C-)

This show at least is improving slightly, but I am still not convinced of the strength of a majority of the storylines. That Jaime would run out on Tom and Becca and leave them aloneis unrealistic. She probably grew up watching "Alias" but is not nearly as skilled at lying and making her fake job actually seem viable. I just realized that Isaiah Washington's character's name is Antonio. I was confused for a bit as to who that was, but it all sort of makes sense now. Is he officially dead now? Jonas really is not too bright as far as the whole checking up on mistrust thing; he could have easily avoided the near-death of the prez.

What I'm Watching: Pushing Daisies

Pushing Daisies: Season 1, Episode 6 "Bitches" (B+)

The addition of Olive to the team and the perfect pairing of the four wives with each member of the crime-solving team make for a fun episode. The polygamy tie-in is interesting also, and I sort of would like to see Ned and Olive eventually get together, even if it is a one-time thing only to give Ned someone to touch. This is a great show which has proven it can sustain its gimmick each week, but I would love to see the characters, even Emerson, get at least a temporary significant other.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Golden Globe Musings: Best TV Series - Drama

The following represents some preliminary thoughts on Golden Globe contenders for the given category. Predictions will be narrowed and revised towards the end of November or the beginning of December. A reminder that last year’s nominees mean zilch at the Globes and that the race is almost entirely unpredictable.

Last year’s nominees:
BIG LOVE
GREY’S ANATOMY
(winner)
HEROES
LOST
24


This year’s top contenders:
BIG LOVE
A nominee last year in this category, this show is now HBO’s second longest-running drama (“The Wire” has never been nominated). I hear very little buzz compared to last year.

DEXTER
Last year’s best new show walked away with only one Globe nomination and a whole lot of Emmy snubs. I think the show is only getting more popular and may land a spot here.

DIRTY SEXY MONEY
This is the only new network show which should garner enough attention to warrant a place here. The hiccup is that it may not be seen entirely as a drama.

GREY’S ANATOMY
It is rumored to have gone way downhill this season, but the beauty of the Golden Globes is that they look at the entire year and often forgive a lackluster second half. There is a lot of competition, so “Grey’s Anatomy” may fall through the cracks.

HEROES
Another show which was immensely popular in its early days but has since plummeted in quality. Even its creator acknowledged how bad it is now. Can the once-beloved show overcome dismal reviews?

HOUSE
I am happy that this show has yet to appear on this list despite back-to-back wins for lead actor Hugh Laurie. I see no reason why they would ever nominate it if they have much more exciting, story-oriented fare to choose from, but given its Emmy history, I have learned not to underestimate it.

LOST
This show rebounded in a major way with a stellar finale which fans (including myself) went wild for. The trouble is, if you do not watch the show, the finale means little. I think that the impression of the finale should do the trick, though.

MAD MEN
They advertised the hell out of this show about advertising in the 60s. It was compared favorably to “The Sopranos” (never a bad thing). It aired on AMC but I think it should be able to get nominated anyway.

THE SOPRANOS
The mob dramedy missed out on a nomination last year despite being eligible for the first half of its final season, which was far superior to this year’s second half. The final season of the show was made great by individual episodes, not the cohesive rule. I have said before that the Globes are not kind to shows they have stopped nominating, however…

24
…this show is the exception. After three straight nominations, “24” took an unexplained leave of absence from this category to make room for “Commander-in-Chief” and “Prison Break” of all shows before returning last year for its fifth season. The sixth season was panned and missed out big time at the Emmys, but is this a true Globe favorite?

Anything else? Always count on a major surprise here. Boston Legal may continue to destroy television and pop up here. A plethora of new shows, including Brothers & Sisters, Damages, The Riches, and Tell Me You Love Me, may have better luck with their stars. Rome made it in two years ago but I think there is zero buzz. Both Brotherhood and The Closer have never made it in despite good feelings. And diehard fans of Battlestar Galactica and The Wire will never give up hope.

Current predictions:
DEXTER
DIRTY SEXY MONEY
GREY’S ANATOMY
LOST
MAD MEN

What I'm Watching: Reaper

Reaper: Season 1, Episode 8 "The Cop" (B)

Wow, Mitch Pileggi is typecast. This is honestly probably the most I have ever seen him do, with the exception of a few Skinner-centered "X-Files" episodes. He blends in well here as a cop who sold his soul to the devil. I like the twist with him being the fifth victim. Sock's obsession with Gladys is a little weird, but her inserting herself into his dream is hilarious. Will Sam and Andi ever get together and try it as a couple? Man, I hope so.

What I'm Watching: Carpoolers

Carpoolers: Season 1, Episode 6 "The Code" (D)

I suppose this day had to come sooner or later, when "Carpoolers" ceased to be just harmless fun and became a dreadful excuse for a show. I am nowhere near close to giving up on the show, but this installment certainly does not help matters. Marmaduke's ATM is going a bit too random, and Gracen trying to break into it instead of just asking him is dumb. Everyone makes too big a deal of everything, and it gets old quick. "Carpoolers" is lucky because it has a good deal more episodes than most shows which are already written, but this kind of crap does not argue well for its continued existence.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

What I'm Watching: NCIS

NCIS: Season 5, Episode 8 "Designated Target" (C+)

Mistaken identity is not the most original of concepts, and the cab driver setting does not help. I also have to say that I do not care that McGee's girlfriend is spending all his money or that he has amassed a lot of credit. While that is all somewhat boring, what really intrigues me is the possible flirting going on between Ziva and Tony. I was always rooting for Tony and Kate to get together way back before she got killed. I thought a romance was out of the question with Tony's season-long undercover work last year. Now that this new opportunity has presented itself, I am quite happy.

What I'm Watching: Weeds

Weeds: Season 3, Episode 14 "Protection" (B)

This is a decent enough episode, but nothing stands out as incredibly shocking or amusing except for that crazy, how-the-hell-are-they-going-to-get-out-of-it ending. The ensemble cast is largely missing from this installment, and Allie Grant, Mary-Kate Olsen, and Maulik Pancholy really enhance every scene they are in. Shane's delusion is, as Nancy describes is, sad, but its semi-supernatural element also really contrasts in a bad way with the tendency and tone of the show. Next week's season finale is going to be quite a ride, however.

What I'm Watching: Samantha Who?

Samantha Who: Season 1, Episode 5 "The Restraining Order" (B)

This show is still good, it just haas to remember that Sam lost her memory, not her common sense. The convenient gimmicks with her holding weapons or saying threatening things when around the guy who filed the restraining order is tiresome. Supporting females Melissa McCarthy, Jennifer Esposito, and Jean Smart should all be given much more screen time. I would also like to see more of Barry Watson, since his romance with Sam could be a lot of fun.

What I'm Watching: Heroes

Heroes: Season 2, Episode 8 "Four Months Ago" (C-)

This episode purports to give us so many answers, but there are even more questions raised by these supposed revelations. Peter and Adam spent 24 hours a day in cells next to each other for over three months and hardly know anything about each other? Peter blew up one second, then appeared a second later with longer hair to save Nathan. Does that make any sense? And how the hell did Peter and the Haitian get to Ireland after running a few feet outside the hospital Nathan was in? Elle is an intriguing character which is good, and now that she is an officially credited member of the cast she should become a more developed character.

The fact that D.L. did not die from Linderman's bullet but instead from a guy with anger issues who shot him point-blank after D.L. just punched him in the face is completely uninteresting. The decision to bring back Jessica is awful. Nikki is only remotely bearable when her alter ego(s) is absent, and with it, I can hardly stand to watch. As far as the worst current plotline goes, I will only comment as much to note which twin annoys me more (a poll which appeared on a "Heroes" fan site). I have to go with Alejandro, since Maya at least does something whereas he just whines all the time.

This flashback episode just does not work. Last year's "Six Months Ago" was a major turning point for the series, after which it got steadily better. Right now the only question that needed answering was how Peter survived the blast, which was not answered at all. Adam's involvement with Peter could have been explained with a brief scene-long flashback, and Elle is still a huge mystery. I am still hopeful that next week will start living up to the hype that creator Tim Kring started when he deemed the last and next few episodes the best yet.

What I'm Watching: Chuck

Chuck: Season 1, Episode 8 "Chuck Versus the Truth" (B+)

Fantastic use of guest stars! When I found out that Kevin Weisman (Marshall from "Alias") would be guest-starring on this show, I was thrilled. He is given a great albeit limited role as a bad guy who poisons spies with a truth serum. He also gets the awesome opportunity to do some acrobatics, something he hardly got to do opposite Jennifer Garner on "Alias". Rachel Bilson from "The O.C." begins what I believe is a recurring arc as a deli-owning love interest for Chuck. They should work well together. Sarah's admission to Casey that she was trained in resisting truth serums is exciting - it is nice to know that some romantic fling could eventually occur between her and Chuck.

What I'm Watching: Prison Break (Fall Finale)

Prison Break: Season 3, Episode 8 "Bang & Burn" (F)

What kind of guards are these who come in one minute and shoot an innocent man dead and then reward a guilty one with a transfer out of Sona? It is so completely frustrating that Michael was kept in Sona for so long and just when he gets Lechero on board, he gets sprung. Whistler and the Company's escape attempt is so blatant and horribly obvious and unrealistic. Whistler clearly knows nothing about subtlety if he climbs up on a roof and leaves himself exposed instead of waiting until the helicopters are closer. Susan B. Anthony, or whatever her name is, needs to get killed right now. Mahone also needs to be written out of the script. No one cares anymore. I like the semi-alliance which Whistler's girlfriend, Lincoln, and Sucre have formed but it is all moot now that Lincoln is out of Sona and away from Whitsler. "Prison Break" just keeps starting at new prisons - how impressive can Michael be and just how big a prison can he break out of?

"Prison Break" is slated for a return in January, but who knows how the strike will affect things.

Golden Globe Musings: Best TV Series - Comedy/Musical

The following represents some preliminary thoughts on Golden Globe contenders for the given category. Predictions will be narrowed and revised towards the end of November or the beginning of December. A reminder that last year’s nominees mean zilch at the Globes and that the race is almost entirely unpredictable.

Last year’s nominees:
DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES
ENTOURAGE
THE OFFICE
UGLY BETTY
(winner)
WEEDS

This year’s top contenders:
CALIFORNICATION
I am not sure how much of a critical hit it is, but it is certainly popular and got quickly renewed for a second season. The praise may be limited to Duchovny.

CURB YOUR ENTHUSIASM
The Larry David comedy won this prize a few years back but it has aired its most recent seasons at odd times so as to miss various eligibility periods. I assume it is just as funny as ever, and that should be enough to allow it to return to the list.

DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES
Do people still like this show? I am honestly not sure. The Globes have always been a bit behind on the times with this one, giving it a win in this category two years in a row and nominating all four lead actresses right before they all got snubbed for an Emmy. I think competition will banish “Housewives” from the nominees.

ENTOURAGE
Another show that just keeps on getting better (even though the second season was the best, but it remains on par with last season). Supporting star Jeremy Piven’s back-to-back Emmy wins seem to indicate that the popularity of the show is not decreasing either.

FLIGHT OF THE CONCHORDS
This category, much as it is rarely applicable, is for comedy and musical shows. “Flight of the Conchords” fits into both those categories and excels at both. I am going to go out on a limb and predict this one just because its inclusion would be so awesome.

THE OFFICE
I see no reason why “The Office” should be dropped from this list. NBC has shown confidence in it by starting it off with four hour-long installments. The first half of 2007 was good enough that the reality that this will be the first show to run out of episodes due to the writers’ strike should not sting too badly.

PUSHING DAISIES
It is a surefire hit, and even if audiences do not love it, critics will. The major question is whether it is in fact a comedy. It is a new show, but should be able to air enough episodes before they run out to make it a substantial series.

30 ROCK
Alec Baldwin won a Globe last year for his lead role on this show while the series went home otherwise empty-handed. That should change this year, especially since a lot of the best episodes from the first season came from its second half, which is eligible this year.

UGLY BETTY
No word on how this is doing critically. I would be thrilled if it quietly went away and no one made a fuss, but something tells me that will not happen. Certainly no one is as excited as they were last year, and it has already been rewarded with this award last year, so that factor is gone.

WEEDS
The Showtime series has been nominated thus far for its entire broadcast history. I think the third season is far better than the second and that the show should have no trouble at all making a return to the category.

Anything else? The stars might be popular with fans, but I have to hope no one thinks Back to You deserves an award. Chuck, Reaper, and Samantha Who? may all fare better with their leads than here. Scrubs and The New Adventures of Old Christine have that same history. If anyone is still watching My Name is Earl, it could make a comeback after dropping off the list last year. As far as USA offerings go, Psych does not have enough support and Monk’s time has passed, earning a nomination in this category way back in 2003.

Current predictions (there are often six nominees in this category):
ENTOURAGE
FLIGHT OF THE CONCHORDS
THE OFFICE
PUSHING DAISIES
30 ROCK
WEEDS
(6th nominee)

Monday, November 12, 2007

What I'm Watching: Dexter

Dexter: Season 2, Episode 7 "That Night, A Forest Grew" (B+)

With last week's failings now done, the show has bounced back but still contains some uncertain elements. They manage not to bring the show down, so it is not as big a deal. Lila seems to be pretty freaking crazy, but I suppose that will help Dexter realize something about himself. As for Rita, it seems weird that they are keeping her around but I guess Dexter might eventually get back together with her. Jennifer Carpenter proves that she can sustain her character in a plotline less interesting than last year's in her scenes with Keith Carradine and Michael C. Hall. I know Dexter has recently gone "clean", but having him kill someone right about now would not be the worst idea.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

What I'm Watching: Desperate Housewives

Desperate Housewives: Season 4, Episode 7 "You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover" (C)

While the plots have generally improved signficantly there is still the matter of aimless direction. I have no idea where any of this is going. Will Gabrielle and Carlos be happy once Edie is shut up for good and Victor is pronounced dead? Will Susan and Mike be rich and happy? Will Orson ever get mad at Bree? I am glad that Katherine's husband is not just some abusive guy and that there is more hidden there. Tonight's episode does feature a fun guest spot from Sarah Paulson which I thoroughly enjoyed. No "Housewives" next week, but there should be two or three more episodes left.

What I'm Watching: Women's Murder Club

Women's Murder Club: Season 1, Episode 5 "Maybe, Baby" (B-)

The denouement of this missing baby case feels more than a bit tedious, and Lindsay and Tom shouting about not being married anymore gets a bit tiresome. Sure, it has to do with Lindsay not being able to have a baby, and leads to their eventual makeout session which finally will resolve at least a smidgen of the sexual tension between them, but cut it down a bit. Tyrees Allen has surprised me after his lackluster performance in the final season of "Alias", and I think he should be given a good deal more screen time. Ditto the reporter. She is far more interesting than the sappy assistant D.A. played by Laura Harris. More drama and intrigue should fill in for some of the overdone comic elements to make for a more balanced show.

What I'm Watching: Scrubs

Scrubs: Season 7, Episode 3 "My Inconvenient Truth" (D+)

The Janitor of all people is not someone I would have expected would start trying to teach people about recycling and the like. NBC's "Green Week" strikes again, but unfortunately that is not the worst thing about this episode. This show is reusing plots scene for scene. From the first moment the underused Tom Cavanagh appeared, I knew that he would be more successful than J.D. expected, J.D. would call him out on that, Dan would be hurt for only a second, and then J.D. would realize his immaturity and all would be well again. That was exactly what happened this time (it has to be the third time at the very least), but this time they really dragged it out and beat it to death by having J.D. ask people if he was immature. I prefer the cocksure, obnoxious J.D. to this uncertain character who does not understand himself in the slightest. As far as NBC going green, I doubt destroying the windshield of an expensive Prius is great for the environment.

What I'm Watching: The Office

The Office: Season 4, Episode 7 "Survivor Man" (C)

NBC's "Green Week" swings its nature axe and destroys this episode. This only affirms my recent feeling that "The Office" needs to stop taking field trips and have everyone stay in at the office. There is enough material to work with that an entire half-hour at the office will not do anyone any harm. Putting Jim in charge is intriguing but ultimately way unfulfilling, as we learn that he made the same mistakes as Michael? I do not buy it. And Dwight is just a bit more than creepy stalking Michael in the woods. I will admit I did laugh when Michael cut his pants off to make a head scarf and a tent, and then refashioned them to be pants again. Did anyone else catch Michael wearing a "Battlestar Galactica" sweatshirt at the end, presumably the property of one Dwight Schrute?

Sadly, because of the strike, it looks like next week's "Office" is the last one we will be seeing for quite some time. Let's make it a good one.

What I'm Watching: 30 Rock

30 Rock: Season 2, Episode 5 "Greenzo" (B+)

This show is so good at using celebrity guest stars without having them overtake the episode or getting hung up on the fact that they are famous and writing poor dialogue and even worse characters for them. My favorite thus far is Al Gore's blink-and-you'll-miss-it cameo as himself. I am thrilled that he is willing to mock himself to the extent where he rushes off to save a whale that might be in trouble. David Schwimmer does a fine job as well as an environment-friendly mascot who takes his job far too seriously. Favorite line of the night besides Gore's is his response to Liz saying her computer takes a long time to boot up in the morning - "You know what else takes a long time to start? A new Earth!" And luckily enough the crazy nature of this show does not interfere with its cohesiveness, and the ridiculous memories of Kenneth's party are only harped on for a brief moment. Credit should be given to this show for incorporating NBC's "Green Week" without it being obtrusive, and for making fun of it on air.

What I'm Watching: Smallville

Smallville: Season 7, Episode 7 "Wrath" (F)

We have seen all of this before, haven't we? In the series' twelfth episode back in 2002, Shawn Ashmore (look-alike brother of Aaron Ashmore, who currently plays Jimmy Olsen) guest-starred as a kid who accidentally got Clark's powers by, you guessed it, a lightning-inspired transference. Lana goes a bit further into the whole psychotic crazed killer thing. Clark somehow conveniently manages to hold on to his powers so that 1) he is able to stop Lana from ultimately killing Lex and 2) he and Lana are able to have sex (too much information). To top the whole thing off, that goo escaping from the canister at the end is far too reminiscent of a certain black oil from "The X-Files" which produced the exact same effect when it leeched onto a host. Does this show have absolutely zero original ideas? Making jokes about sexual harassment sure is not going to help matters.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

What I'm Watching: Bionic Woman

Bionic Woman: Season 1, Episode 6 "The List" (C+)

I am happy to say that this is the best "Bionic" installment yet. Teaming Jaime back up with her CIA beau could have been a bad idea, but they work as a good if uncommunicative team. Tom makes for a compelling character because he is efficient without being cocky or obnoxious. Some of the spy stuff is corny, like them actually getting locked in that room, but for the most part, some good action and fight scenes make up for it. This is the best usage of Jonas thus far as a surprising ally for Jaime's sister. I am continually appalled by the presence of "Battlestar Galactica" cast members. Seriously, I doubt the auditions are that long after a casting director sees the sci-fi drama on an actor's resume. Unfortunately, the role given to BSG's Leoban, a.k.a. Callum Keith Rennie, is not a particularly meaty one, but hey, someone has got to hold down the fort while Starbuck (Katee Sackhoff) and the seedy lawyer (Mark Sheppard) MIA.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Writers' Strike Goes On

Update: "24" has been indefinitely postponed because FOX wants to air another "non-stop season". I read this first from The Futon Critic, another fantastic source for news about the strike.

I have been trying to follow the writers' strike in terms of how it will affect primetime television. The most immediate impact has been the shutting down of production of comedies like "Desperate Housewives", "Two and a Half Men", "Back to You", and "Til Death". A fantastic reference site which outlines show-by-show how many episodes each one should have completed can be found here. I recommend checking it out. From the looks of it, it looks like this could be great news for two shows whose returns I have been anxiously awaiting. The final season of "The Shield" has been written, but there is no airdate yet. Hopefully FX will decide to air that sooner than later. Additionally, it appears that "Jericho" has finished filming its seven episodes, which CBS should air now and then give viewers time to respond and call for more episodes. More news as it comes, but the best resource to check all the time is probably Goldderby Forums. People just post news there, so look for fast updates and breaking news.

What I'm Watching: Reaper

Reaper: Season 1, Episode 7 "Love, Bullets, and Blacktop" (B)

It is fun to see Sam getting in over his head and moving too fast with a girl who clearly likes him much more than he digs her. The vessels keep getting even more ridiculous, but I suppose it is the nature of this show, and it sort of works. Every time I start watching this show, I think I am watching "Chuck" since the two have so many parallels. The work staff here is universally less motivated, and the management just as obnoxious but hardly as forceful. Plus Chuck is a bit cooler than Sam, no offense to our resident bounty hunter. But the one asset that "Reaper" has that "Chuck" does not is Ray Wise, who is continually terrific as the Devil, who keeps making fun of Sam when he refuses to work up the courage to ask out a girl.

What I'm Watching: Carpoolers

Carpoolers: Season 1, Episode 5 "A Divorce to Remember" (B-)

So maybe the execution leaves something to be desired (I really did not like Faith Ford's "let's get on with it"), but the conceptual stuff here is quite funny. Rebecca Romjin guest-stars as a character with the most ridiculous name since another character on the show (Marmaduke). While Romjin does little besides tower over every single person, it is particularly amusing to see the reactions she produces in Aubrey and Gracen. The other carpoolers are also becoming more developed. Dougie and his wife always want to make their marriage as corny as possible, but it works. And Laird who tells Gracen that he is working from home, to which Laird responds, "You're a dentist!" I am glad this show has made it this far, and it might actually benefit from the writers' strike since ABC will not want to cancel any of its shows, even its underperforming and poorly-reviewed comedies.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

What I'm Watching: NCIS

NCIS: Season 5, Episode 7 "Requiem" (B+)

This show had yet to use the "24 hours earlier" gimmick which both "Alias" and "Battlestar Galactica" love to do so much. It works surprisingly well to launch the hour, even though there is little payoff at the end since Gibbs essentially just decides to wake up. In any case, exploring Gibbs' past personal life is certainly better than looking at his present with the whole four ex-wives and a number of girlfriends thing. Props to Tony, who dives in immediately with his suit and rescues both of them. There is hope for this show after all.

What I'm Watching: Weeds

Weeds: Season 3, Episode 13 "Risk" (B+)

Just when it seemed like everything was finally going right, things are not at all okay. Silas gets himself beaten up by rival dealers, and Shane is delusional and talking to his dead dad. I like Nancy and Conrad as a couple and also the pairing of Helia and Celia. Celia's rage-induced destruction of Sullivan's office is great, and I am intrigued by his interaction with Tara. Let's see some more Doug and Isabelle next episode, perhaps?

What I'm Watching: Samantha Who?

Samantha Who: Season 1, Episode 4 "The Virgin" (B+)

I am very fond of the flashback snippets which reveal what mean Sam was really like. The one in this episode with her making fun of the boyfriend is especially fun. Samantha seems a bit too naive when deciphering her virgin status, but at least it gives way to the line by Tim Russ which I have been anticipating since it first aired during promos - Sam: "I'm a virgin." Tim Russ: "Yes, ma'am, and I'm a pirate." Gotta love those parents and those friends. A truly stellar ensemble here makes this show better than it might have been. Christina Applegate does a fine job as the lead, but her supporting cast is just as great.

What I'm Watching: Heroes

Heroes: Season 2, Episode 7 “Out of Time” (D-)

I want to like this show, but I find myself laughing out loud at most of what happens. First off, who are we missing this episode? Only Sylar and the horrible twins, which is not bad. Thankfully, Hiro is back in the present and his ridiculous perception of the space-time continuum can stop making me cringe. A very unimpressive Matt somehow manages to stop his all-powerful dad while hardly lifting a finger (figuratively, of course). I like the idea of making the characters infinitely more powerful, but not if they are not going to have to try hard and simply chat about brisket and potatoes. The Company defending itself from attack is cool for a second since they are all together, but the show is trying so hard not to provide answers to keep the suspense going (Bob actually says “let’s not talk about the past now”). Nathan supremely needs a haircut. I remember all last year I wished Nikki would die every episode, but now with the addition of all the horrible new characters, I had begun to be able to stand her.

I guess horn-rimmed glasses are not the fashion these days. Claire immediately suspects her father of being the one West (what kind of a name is West, anyway?) identified as his abductor. His stopping by to cook waffles (what???!!) is almost as bad as her reaction to her father’s forcing them to move again. I wish that the virus, instead of taking out a staggering 93% of the human population (because that is realistic), would just kill West and the wonder twins. And out of all the guest actresses from last season (Jayma Mays as Charlie, Nora Zehetner as Eden), the show decided only to submit Ashley Crow, who delivers a consistently terrible performance as Claire’s mother (still topping that list of hateable characters!)

As far as that whopper revelation at the end goes, I am not sure what to make of it. Are we to assume that the Kensei who just interacted with Hiro back in feudal Japan transported right to the future to say hello to Peter, or that the future Adam is actually a far later and more savvy version. Could everything Kensei told Hiro be a lie and he was in fact an all-knowing supervillain all along? I wish that the villains on this show could be more like Sylar used to be, rather than a drunk British guy and an old grandpa. Next week is a flashback episode, if I am correct, which should hopefully provide some insight into what the hell the writers were thinking.

Afterthought: is it a coincidence that the virus knocked out 93% of the population and that .07% of the population are heroes?

What I'm Watching: Chuck

Chuck: Season 1, Episode 7 "Chuck Versus the Alma Mater" (B+)

Even if this is not a fantastic installment all by itself, it absolutely fits into the tone of the show. Chuck calling all the spies who come from class is quite amusing. I also enjoy the constant rebellion again the tyrannic Harry, especially after watching C.S. Lee portray the far different Masuka on "Dexter". Morgan continues to surprise me as a supportable character who does not get overly obnoxious. Great to see Julia Ling in a fun recurring role after seeing her pop up a bunch of times on "Studio 60" last season. Chuck's reason to Standford is entertaining, and it is interesting to find out the Bryce was simply looking out for Chuck. I hope they do more with that idea.

What I'm Watching: Prison Break

Prison Break: Season 3, Episodes 6 & 7 "Photo Finish" & "Vamonos" (F)

Two pretty big twists cannot make up for this dismal two-hour presentation. How could they not break out? This show is getting worse and worse, and the writers should take any opportunity they can to get them out of prison and back on the run. It is no longer the despicable Company who is the enemy, but rather the elements. Seriously, the glare and the wind are not fascinating adversaries. Why would our two wannabe escapees not bother to take the ladder down from the window? These guards who pulled out of the prison sure come in quite a bit and make a whole dramatic scene. I have heard enough talk of this "justice" as it is carried out in Panama. The guard shooting the guy point blank, Lechero the milkman blabbering on about it, and Alex wigging out because of his postponed hearing and his drug withdrawal. Inserting a whodunnit in the middle of this episode is pretty much the most unnecessary and inexcusable plotlines in recent memory. This show is becoming like the most recent season of "24" as the writers are continually running out of ideas (not that the writers are doing much these days besides not writing, per the strike and all). Lechero getting in on the breakout should hopfeully reinvigorate this show a bit since they will have support from a higher-up. Why could Lincoln not just shoot Susan B. Anthony? Whistler seems to have some tricks up his sleeve which will hopefully inspire Michael to make some secretive decisions a bit less stupid than challenging Whistler to a fight to the death. Because that worked out so well last time.

What I'm Watching: Dexter

Dexter: Season 2, Episode 6 "Dex, Lies, and Videotape" (B-)

Sadly, this episode feels very out of step for this usually fantastic show. I have been hoping for a copycat killer for a while but I wish it could have been someone a bit more inspired and serious. I for one was completely happy with the old Dexter, and his obsession with becoming the "new Dexter" is a bit uncalled for. I think it is about time someone else learned Dexter's secret, preferably either Deb, Maria, Batista, or Lundy. Rita's jealousy is understandable but Lila's message is so blatant and dumb on her part. This should be a lesson to everyone never to leave confidential information in a voicemail. I am not happy that Dexter did sleep with Lila, but I suppose it is good that he is finally showing some emotion and not keeping it a secret from her. The show needs a major event to redirect it, and hopefully Dexter's responses to the police hot on his trail should be just that.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Golden Globe Musings: Best Actress in a Supporting Role in a Television Series

Golden Globe Musings: Best Actress in a Supporting Role in a Television Series

The following represents some preliminary thoughts on Golden Globe contenders for the given category. Predictions will be narrowed and revised towards the end of November or the beginning of December. A reminder that last year’s nominees mean zilch at the Globes and that the race is almost entirely unpredictable. As far as the supporting categories go, a majority of the nominees usually come from TV movies and mini-series. I will be analyzing and predicting only the nominees who come from drama or comedy series.

Last year’s nominees:
KATHERINE HEIGL, GREY’S ANATOMY
SARAH PAULSON, STUDIO 60
(show cancelled)
ELIZABETH PERKINS, WEEDS

This year’s top contenders:
KATHERINE HEIGL, GREY’S ANATOMY
Reviews of the show have gotten progressively worse, but Heigl is fresh off an Emmy victory. The Globes timeline includes the second half of the previous season which may be more favorable for Heigl.

ELIZABETH MITCHELL, LOST
Mitchell is chilling as the mysterious Other Juliet on the ABC drama. She somehow walked away without an Emmy nomination this past year but I doubt that every awards guild will be able to ignore her.

JAIME PRESSLY, MY NAME IS EARL
I have partially gotten over the fact that I think Pressly is terrible on the show and in no way deserving of an Emmy nomination, let alone a win. I am more surprised that the Globes have yet to include Pressly on their list of nominees. But hey, I will take my victories where I can get them.

JENNA FISCHER, THE OFFICE
I will never give up hope that some supporting cast member on “The Office” will get nominated for a Golden Globe. Fischer had an unbelievable year with excellent episodes which featured her showing off both comedic and dramatic skill. How can they not recognize her?

Anyone else? “Grey’s Anatomy” co-stars Sandra Oh and Chandra Wilson could easily be on voters’ shortlists. Oh won this award two years ago, so she has the upper hand, but the Globes rarely invite past winners back for another go-around, unlike the Emmy Awards. Candice Bergen should be living proof of that unless she somehow gets another nomination for her downright awful performance on “Boston Legal”. If “Ugly Betty” is still as popular as it was last year, Vanessa Williams could end up with a nomination. I am rooting for Jane Krakowski to take advantage of buzz for “30 Rock”. Dana Delany is a new addition to the “Desperate Housewives” cast and could manage a surprise entry into this category. I support the chances of two actresses on new ABC shows: Natalie Zea (“Dirty Sexy Money”) and Kristin Chenoweth (“Pushing Daisies”), though how much the Globes will adore their shows is as of yet unknown.

Current predictions:
ELIZABETH MITCHELL, LOST
JENNA FISCHER, THE OFFICE

What I'm Watching: Desperate Housewives

Desperate Housewives: Season 4, Episode 6 "Now I Know, Don't Be Scared" (C)

This is one episode that starts off just as dismally as the past few, but almost comes through in the end. The gay couple act as if they are simply there to make trouble, purposely mentioning how everyone hates them and trying to offend people. I certainly do not mind the addition of some gay characters to the show, but there is no need to harp on just how much people might not like them; instead, let them develop a bit first. This episode really proves that the men are fairly useless on this show, which was so not the case. Carlos, Mike, and Tom are really dumb and are hardly saved by costume-coordinators Orson and Adam. Slightly funny delivery scene with Frankenstein holding the baby (if of course they had not shown it in the preview). The best acting I have seen on this season of the show comes from Marcia Cross talking to her daughter about the baby. I am glad that Lynette's cancer is gone so that she can go back to smiling every few episodes. And I have an inkling that Victor is not going to kill Carlos because he realizes how much he loves Gabrielle...but I could be wrong.

What I'm Watching: Women's Murder Club

Women's Murder Club: Season 1, Episode 4 "Grannies, Guns and Love Mints" (B-)

Alright, I'll bite. It is an interesting idea to set the crime in a nursing-home community. The personal lives of each of the club members are even more fully explored to often comic effect in this hour, which is good, although I am not much one for the whole standing-on-table declaration thing. I like that Tyrees Allen is still able to have a good time on what is basically an all girls' show. And Lindsay's date at the end with the old woman who thought that Lindsay was her daughter? Slightly touching, but a little more weird.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

That Darn Writers' Strike

The Writers Guild of America has been threatening a strike based on the lack of adequate compensation for Internet and other such mediums of reprodution for some time now. Starting tomorrow, the strike is supposed to go into effect. Ideally, it can be swiftly dealt with and easily resolved without much pain to anyone. But if it goes on, as the last one in 1980 did for five months, notable effects for television as we know it will start to occur.

The way it looks right now, and I speak with little knowledge of the matter, having gathered most of my intel from the Primetime Emmys threads over at Goldderby Forums, is that most scripted shows should be able to make it to January without much impact but then will run out of scripts. Midseason shows like "24" and "Lost" have enough for about half of their upcoming seasons, but might delay based on the desire to air the entire season consecutively with no repeats. Come January, if the strike has not yet ended, reality shows may start to multiply and who the hell knows what else will occur. I would have to hope it ends soon so that the television season is not irreconciliably affected.

What does this mean for TV with Abe? I will still be here reviewing as many episodes and shows as I can get my hands on. Golden Globe predictions have almost come to a close, and series predictions will be posted to coincide with best picture predictions on the film side of things. Check out Movies with Abe for Golden Globe predictions and other awards predictions all leading up to the Oscars and the announcement of the 1st Annual AFT Film Awards. Stay tuned.

What I'm Watching: Scrubs

Scrubs: Season 7, Episode 2 "My Hard Labor" (B+)

I have heard grumblings that people are not enjoying this season of the show. I am not overly enthusiastic about it, but I am surely entertained and laughing a good deal. Recently the show has been swapping side-splitting hilarity for more dramatic and serious concepts regarding its characters. JD not wanting to be with Kim and Dr. Cox not wanting his daughter to associate shots and pain with him are just two of the examples from this episode. The appearance of Laverne's twin sister or whoever she is will hopefully be expanded upon in future episodes and re-energize the cast members. I could go for more outwardly hilarious though at this point and maybe a slight de-emphasis on all the drama. Just for a bit.

What I'm Watching: The Office

The Office: Season 4, Episode 6 "Branch Wars" (B+)

Fellow watchers pointed out that the acting by the main cast members, particularly Rainn Wilson and John Krasinski, was really weird in this episode. I certainly agree with that, though I am not sure it is altogether a bad thing. This is without a doubt a hilarious episode. The fake mustaches kept me laughing for a while, as well as Karen finding Jim in the car and the other two continuing to relay secret information over the walkie-talkie. It is so funny that Stanley just wanted to get a raise and was never planning to leave, and so characteristic of the show and Stanley's character. "The Office" is getting increasingly good at developing side plots, like the Finer Things Club where Toby wears a bowtie and Jim does not even read the book. The ending scene is classic. Toby: "Did you even read the book? What happened at the end? Who was the main character?" Jim: "Angela. No wait, the ashes."

What I'm Watching: Smallville

Smallville: Season 7, Episode 6 "Lara" (F)

What just happened here? Clark suddenly has a shard containing his mother? It seems to me quite implausible that this memory serum that Creepy Doctor invented brings to light events that were completely eradicated from Kara's memory. And of course then she is just like "Oh Clark, I never knew!" and everything is fine. Lana is still so ridiculously cunning with her meteor-freak organization that she wants to keep secret from Clark. Some romance for Jimmy and Kara would be fine as long as it shuts Chloe up.

A friend recommended that I start keeping a tally of how many times each character ends up in the hospital. I think that a count of how many times some one loses their memory after learning about Clark's powers might be just as interesting. It is so late to start and the numbers must already be in the hundreds...

Friday, November 2, 2007

Golden Globe Musings: Best Actor in a Supporting Role in a Television Series

The following represents some preliminary thoughts on Golden Globe contenders for the given category. Predictions will be narrowed and revised towards the end of November or the beginning of December. A reminder that last year’s nominees mean zilch at the Globes and that the race is almost entirely unpredictable. As far as the supporting categories go, a majority of the nominees usually come from TV movies and mini-series. I will be analyzing and predicting only the nominees who come from drama or comedy series.

Last year’s nominees:
JEREMY PIVEN, ENTOURAGE
MASI OKA, HEROES
JUSTIN KIRK, WEEDS


This year’s top contenders:
DONALD SUTHERLAND, DIRTY SEXY MONEY
Sutherland is an awards magnet, especially with the Golden Globes. He earned a nod for a far lesser performance on the short-lived “Commander-in-Chief” two years ago. He has an awesome role as the patriarch of a ridiculously rich family on “Dirty Sexy Money” and should be able to crack the top five.

JEREMY PIVEN, ENTOURAGE
Piven has been nominated three years running now, the entire broadcast history of the show. He just keeps getting better, which is an impressive feat. Sean Hayes, who only got worse as “Will & Grace”, stuck around quite a while in this category.

TERRY O’QUINN, LOST
O’Quinn had a killer episode this year (“The Man from Tallahassee”) for which he won an Emmy. His performance throughout the entire season is fairly sparse, however. “Lost” may have fallen out of favor with the Globes, but stars Naveen Andrews, Matthew Fox, and Evangeline Lilly have all been nominated over the past two years.

JOHN KRASINSKI, THE OFFICE
Krasinski missed out on an Emmy nomination this year due to a poor submitted episode, but he has been on the cusp of receiving some sort of recognition for his performance for a while now. If they really love “The Office”, Krasinski might have a shot…

RAINN WILSON, THE OFFICE
…but Wilson has the far showier role. While I would be ecstatic if both got nominated, I am not sure if support is strong enough for both of them to make it in. All three “Sex and the City” ladies did make it in 2003. I may just have to predict them both to be hopeful and find myself disappointed once again.

Anyone else? “Weeds” goofball Justin Kirk made it in last year for his wacky portrayal of Andy Botwin on the Showtime comedy. His role this year has not been as major as it was in past seasons. The same goes for Masi Oka, who was nominated for “Heroes” last year but has sort of lost his charm. William Shatner (“Boston Legal”) and Naveen Andrews (“Lost”) are both past nominees who had their time to shine, but have done little to reinvigorate their performances recently. “Damages” villain Ted Danson once got nominated for “Becker” and critics raved about his performance on the FX drama. There is always the unlikely possibility that Walton Goggins could actually get some sort of award or nomination for his stunning work on “The Shield” this past season.

Current predictions:
DONALD SUTHERLAND, DIRTY SEXY MONEY
JEREMY PIVEN, ENTOURAGE
JOHN KRASINSKI, THE OFFICE
RAINN WILSON, THE OFFICE

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Golden Globe Musings: Best Actress in a TV Series – Comedy/Musical

The following represents some preliminary thoughts on Golden Globe contenders for the given category. Predictions will be narrowed and revised towards the end of November or the beginning of December. A reminder that last year’s nominees mean zilch at the Globes and that the race is almost entirely unpredictable.

Last year’s nominees:
MARCIA CROSS, DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES
FELICITY HUFFMAN, DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES
JULIA LOUIS-DREYFUS, OLD CHRISTINE
AMERICA FERRERA, UGLY BETTY
MARY-LOUISE PARKER, WEEDS

This year’s top contenders:
PATRICIA HEATON, BACK TO YOU
The show is doing well with ratings and critics somehow seem to like it. Heaton could break in to this category, but keep in mind that she was never nominated during the entire run of “Everybody Loves Raymond” (Ray Ramano was the show’s only nominee, three years in a row). Truth be told, she really is not good on this show.

MARCIA CROSS, DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES
With nominations three years running, Cross seems a shoo-in for a fourth. The problem is that Cross was absent most of early 2007 for the second half of the show’s third season. Her nomination will have to depend entirely upon her work in the show’s fourth season, which to this point has not been altogether impressive.

TERI HATCHER, DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES
They absolutely loved her during year one, giving her the win. They liked her somewhat the second year, nominating her along with the other three Housewives. Last year, not so much. I think Hatcher’s time has passed, though I am sure her book about her comeback would be inclined to disagree.

FELICITY HUFFMAN, DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES
Huffman is the most overrated Housewife, but her role just keeps getting baitier. Unless the Globes completely pass on “Desperate Housewives” (which they have a history of doing with shows that critics abandon), Huffman should definitely be in.

EVA LONGORIA, DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES
Longoria has received only one nomination, but honestly she has been the strongest player on the show this past year. I know that pretty much no one agrees with me on this, so I will not inflate her chances, but if voters really look at the effort she is putting in to the performance, she might have a shot.

JULIA LOUIS-DREYFUS, OLD CHRISTINE
I had hoped this would be a fad quickly gotten over by all the awards guild, but a second Emmy nod for Louis-Dreyfus indicates otherwise. She could be in by default to the end of her show simply because they liked her on “Seinfeld” and figure she may as well be here again (see: Matt LeBlanc’s nomination for “Joey”).

CHRISTINA APPLEGATE, SAMANTHA WHO?
The new hit ABC comedy stars Applegate as a woman who used to be really mean, but after getting amnesia tries to correct the error of her ways. It is a great role and Applegate plays it supremely. There are people who will find it too gimmicky and Applegate too whiny. Applegate previously earned a nomination for the 1998 NBC comedy “Jesse”.

TINA FEY, 30 ROCK
Fey, the “straight [wo]man” on the show, did not get nominated last year. “30 Rock” has skyrocketed in popularity with critics since then, winning the Emmy for Best Comedy Series and earning Fey an Emmy nomination. I still think the Globes will ignore Fey simply because the role is not showy.

AMERICA FERRERA, UGLY BETTY
Last year’s winner went on to win the Emmy, proving that audiences still love her. I have not heard a peep about the second season of “Ugly Betty” so I cannot say whether it has declined in quality or anything like that. Ferrera is to me the most bearable part of “Ugly Betty” so I do not mind her nomination as much as I mind the show showing up elsewhere (like Best Comedy Series).

MARY-LOUISE PARKER, WEEDS
Anyone who has been watching the third season of “Weeds” should agree that this is Parker’s best season yet. With a more ridiculous plotline and juicier material for her character, Nancy, Parker has run with every punch and excelled at it.

Anyone else? “Men in Trees” star Anne Heche entertains her audience on Friday nights on ABC but has yet to receive a mention from any awards guild. Joely Fisher is a respected actress, despite her dismal performance on “’Til Death”. I am not sure if Anna Friel is considered lead on “Pushing Daisies”, but I feel like she is just a bit too perky for Globe voters’ tastes. And to go out on a limb, let us call Sarah Silverman a contender for her show of the same name.

Current predictions:
FELICITY HUFFMAN, DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES
JULIA LOUIS-DREYFUS, OLD CHRISTINE
CHRISTINA APPLEGATE, SAMANTHA WHO?
AMERICA FERRERA, UGLY BETTY
MARY-LOUISE PARKER, WEEDS

What I'm Watching: Dirty Sexy Money

Dirty Sexy Money: Season 1, Episode 6 "The Game" (B+)

Everything on this show is so over-the-top, and that is what I love about it. Billionaires get together and bet properties with "retail values of $400 million" and it turns out one of them has the dealer as his personal assistant. Jeremy gets a job, ruins a car, buys the woman a new one, she does not notice, and when he tells her, she does not care but still will not date him. I am thrilled that we get a chance to see the Darlings interact, though the sight of them playing video games together is a bit strange. Trip and Nick's trickery (loved that twist!) should prove to be very insightful. Great scenes this week with Natalie Zea, Jill Clayburgh, William Baldwin, and Donald Sutherland. And these Darlings do not know any other billionaires, they have to go to Simon Elder?

What I'm Watching: Pushing Daisies

Pushing Daisies: Season 1, Episode 5 "Girth" (B)

This episode is a lot of fun, and Anna Friel and Kristen Chenoweth ultimately play much nicer together than expected. You can never be too sure with this show, so I thought that the murderer really would be a ghost wielding a fire-breathing dragon. As much as fantasy is cool, it is a good thing that this show knows when to stay grounded in semi-reality. Ned's visit to the aunts is touching. And did anyone else notice that Ned with his collar up this whole episode looked a bit like a vampire?