Friday, September 28, 2007

The Bionic Woman!!!

I loved this intro to Bionic Woman! It looks like it could be a terrific series. It blends some of the best actors with fun storylines. A friend's description of it says everything I want to say, so I'll let her speak for me.

Premiere Week - Returning Thursday Shows

Ugly Betty is still a wonderful show, and there are still mysteries worth following to their end. Betty is back, and still taking on the world, while being totally oblivious to her own appearance. Thankfully, they've stopped making constant jokes about her appearance. It's finally become about her character, which definitely includes, but isn't limited to her appearance. I still don't quite understand Daniel (Eric Mabius) and whether he's going to commit to being a schmuck or finally stand up and run his family's company - he still wavers back and forth in away that doesn't really make much sense. I loved that in the premiere Amanda gained a ton of weight (and wears a fat suit) since she stress eats and just found out she was adopted. She's probably my favorite character on the show. I still want Betty and Henry to get together, but that's definitely my own predilection for nerds cheering.

Grey's Anatomy was just as good as it's been. They resolved all the major things from the season finale pretty well - except the Bailey being rejected for chief resident problem. I understand the not being bogged down in paperwork running things, but she was really good at running things, people listened to her and respected her. That doesn't apply to Torres. Oh well. I don't run the show and they don't ask my opinion about how to run their imaginary hospital. Otherwise, it was terrific. I love that George decided to stay, and that the other new interns look up to him so much because he's already done all of the crap stuff before. It'll be interesting to see where Christina heads for love, and I laughed really hard when McSteamy said that he'd moved to Seattle just to get back McDreamy. When they cracked up, it was perfect. Still very funny and sexy show.

My Name is Earl was just a sad premiere. It shows Earl in prison - and all kinds of people he knew and wronged in prison, but mostly it shows how awful being in prison is. Outside of prision, it mostly shows how pathetic Randy is without Earl. Joy doesn't want to feel guilty about Earl taken the blame for her, so she takes care of Randy, but realizes how incapable he is of taking care of himself. Overall, it's mostly just sad rather than funny. Though Ben Foster (the Angel from X-Men 3 and the sidekick in 3:10 to Yuma) is a terrific criminal!

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Premiere Week - Wednesday and a Monday leftover

The premiere of Private Practice, the spin-off of Grey's Anatomy, was significantly better than it's original appearance, but still not really anything special. I do love that they added Audra McDonald (Tony Award winner) to replace Addison's best friend, she brings a more serious tone to the role, which was seriously lacking in all the other characters. I'm not sure all characters on a show have to demonstrate serious personality flaws in order for people to relate to them. Sometimes finding out their neuroses and secrets as the show goes along keeps you watching. Overall, I do find the show appealing and disagree with some reviews that saw Addison lost her IQ when she moved to L.A. - she seemed more like what she is, a woman going through a huge change and kinda freaking out. I'm sure she'll return as the tougher Addison we liked to hate. It'll also be interesting to see who she ends up with on the show - Kate Walsh hinted that she'd have at least a fling with one of them quite soon.

However, a show I forgot to watch on Monday, but really liked after I got a chance to watch it was Journeyman on NBC. It's a very grown-up series. It's on at 10, so they don't have to pander to teens and it actually seems written to a smart adult audience. It's about a guy that seems to get to hop through time (sort of like Quantum Leap, but without a guide so far) to make sure something happens. Since this was the first time he'd changed through time it through him off as well as me (the viewer). However, unlike QL he returns to his originally time as well as to the past (no future so far) which makes his wife and brother think he's gone or drinking or just crazy. In the past he found an old-girlfriend who died, but it turns out she didn't die, she's jumping through time too. That is left unexplained for the rest of the episode, but seems to be the potential "guide" or "teacher" he'll need. It seems interesting so far, and hopefully will get stronger and more detailed over time.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Premiere Week - Tuesday's Best

Bones has held on through being on the same network as American Idol, pushed from time period to time period, and I've been rooting for it since the first episode. And it just keeps getting better and better. They tend to rotate between kind of silly focus (Booth shooting a clown) and really serious (serial killers), and the season premiere was serious and perfectly nerdy, with a great back-story about Angela's first husband - whose name "might have a B in it". It was kind of scary with the whole cannibal element, but all the characters were back in full-force and their interactions are always good. My only complaint was the drastic hair changes that occurred in the 4 months they've been off the air. Small complaint.

House is starting off well too. With the departure of his staff, the whole episode going to prove that House only does well when he has a smart variety of people to disagree with him and challenge him to think outside the box. Also, he's now going to start an Apprentice type competition to fill the vacant positions - though we know the old staff is still on the show's intro, so I'm guessing they're coming back. Robert Sean Leonard's scenes of stealing House's guitar and just hysterical! Still on top of its game and starting to go in a new direction that will be terrific.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Premiere Week - Monday Dramas

Chuck - A new offering on NBC (before Heroes) is kind of 40-Year-Old Virgin meets Alias. It's got a pretty impossible concept - a rogue spy blows up an NSA/CIA computer and sends all the images on it to his college roommate (Chuck) before being killed. Chuck sees all these seemingly unrelated images and is able to predict a bomb threat and call it off. Chuck works for the "Nerd Herd" at a electronics store fixing computers and such. He's pretty socially awkward and lives with his sister and her boyfriend. By the end of the episode -and launching a series that could go on forever - Chuck will secretly work for the NSA/CIA as the memories of these images he saw are put together. Presumably they will fill him in on ongoing activities. Overall, it's very cute, and with lots of fun action. It's a pretty tame option, but unlike 40YOV, there's little potty humor and more geek humor, and unlike Alias, we know what the heck is going on. The actors are all pretty terrific, especially Chuck. The return of several other TV regulars is fun - Adam Baldwin (from Angel and Firefly) is the NSA rep trailing Chuck, and Sarah Lancaster (from Everwood and Life of Brian is Chuck's sister). I'm going to keep watching!

Heroes - In case you are only just joining Heroes (and I highly recommend you do) I won't spoil too much, but the season premiere was pretty tame and yet very confusing. Hiro is in 15th Century Japan and meets his hero who turns out to be a money grubbing hired thug rather than the mystical hero he knows. Played expertly by Alias' David Anders ("Sark"), this story could become fantastic, but was pretty slow to get started. The cheerleader is starting her new life and seems to have found another hero at her new school. The best storyline was Greg Grunberg's (the cop) living in NYC and protecting the little girl who finds heroes. He's divorced, but finally a detective, and seems to be getting a handle on life and his gift. Also, there's some sort of big plan to take down the hero-hunting "company", but overall, I wasn't thrilled with the premiere, but based on the last 10 seconds, the next one will be terrific!!

CSI: Miami - Yes, I love this show, and even want to go to Miami to see the city the run around, though as it's been pointed out to me, they play with the colors on the film to make it look that cool and I would probably just be disappointed. The premiere was exactly like all other episodes, so if you already like this show you'll love this episode, and if you don't watch it, it's worth it just for the cheesy one-liners and watching David Caruso take his sunglasses on and off. Check out this blog entry about just that.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Premiere Week - Monday Comedies

How I Met Your Mother - This show is in my top 5 returning shows. It's still very sharp, and still inventing (or at least making those of us aware of) new terms. "Tramp Stamp" - being drunk and getting a tattoo to impress a girl. Mandy Moore guests as the "tramp" to be Ted's rebound girl when Robin brings home Enrique Iglesias as her rebound guy. There are some great arguments as Ted shaves his "break-up beard" (apparently a beard all guys grow when a relationship ends) and the others make fun of the shapes he creates shaving. I love this show and am very happy it made it to it's third season.

The Big Bang Theory - Two REALLY nerdy roommates live across the hall from a new hot woman. Sheldon is the seriously socially awkward one (his answer to the hot girl being a vegetarian is that his roommate "Leonard can't process corn", and "it took you 4 years to get through high school?!"), and seems both somewhat autistic and kind of sweet. Leonard ("David" from Roseanne) is less awkward, and kind of groans at Sheldon's faux pas, but is not a whole lot better at getting the girl to be their friend. Basically, it's written waiting for a laugh after almost every line, but most of them are really funny. They actually have 2 other "friends" who are just as nerdy (one from the recently cancelled Studio 60) bringing over a historical lecture by Stephen Hawking for fun. I'm not sure they can keep up the nerd jokes forever, but this episode is hysterical!!!

Two and a Half Men -
The premiere wasn't anything remarkable. Jake (the kid) is starting junior high school, and basically Alan and Charlie spend the whole time telling him how to avoid getting beat up, flushed, and robbed. They scare him pretty well, while leaving out all the fun they must have had at some point. There are a few jokes, but overall it started out really slow. The sub-plot is that Charlie has jock itch and scratches everywhere, with just about anything. It's two jokes they play out forever. It's much too simple even for a 30-minutes show! Very disappointing for such a great show in the past.

I'll write about the dramas later today after I've watched them!!

Gossip popular request

I did manage to catch the pilot of the new CW Gossip Girl, which will air on Wednesdays at 9, so if you're not interested in either Private Practice or The Bionic Woman, you should watch Gossip Girl. Also, it shows Sundays at 8 for now, if you miss Wednesday. This is a crazy, up-to-the-minute kind of show that will look horribly outdated someday (like when you see huge cell phones now in the age if mini-cells). However, it's even a little ahead of most people across the country I hope. It takes place in New York City, at a preppy, private high school. However, this are nothing like high school was for me. They are extremely wealthy, extrememly techie (everyone has a blackberry on hand), and yet still just like all high school kids: catty, self-involved, insecure, and dealing with sex, alcohol, and drugs on a minute-by-minute basis. Everything is fast-paced, the way it feels like high school is, where everything can change party to party. The actors are pretty good, considering they're so young. The main girl, Serena, has just mysteriously returned from boarding school, and we find out she slept with her best friends boyfriend before she left for boarding school. Serena is played by one of the girls from Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, and her best friend Blair also has a pretty long acting resume, and they play bitchy while kissing each other on the cheek really well. It's a very trashy show, but in the best way - it's a totally different life than any you've known. It's weird to watch high school students have as much sex and alcohol as they do - openly at bars even, but that's just my knee-jerk reaction to something different. I'll definitely keep watching until I have to actually confess that I'm addicted.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Burn Notice

Well, I didn't post on this amazing show until after the season finale, because I admit, I didn't think it could go the distance. However, the 2-hour season finale that showed last night proved that this show (unlike Prison Break) has many seasons within its inital story idea. Jeffrey Donovan (you've seen him in bit parts on every show) plays a former U.S. spy who has been "burned" which means he's been removed from the spy network and dropped in a city without ID, a job, money or means of getting any of these. Donovan's been dropped in Miami and somehow still wears his Gucci or Calvin Klein suits everywhere (which really works in Miami). The first season revolves around his trying to figure out who "burned" him, while doing small spy-jobs with two friends - Sam (a former navy seal who now reports on Donovan to the FBI) and Fiona (a former IRA hit-woman, and former girlfriend, played really well by Gabrielle Anwar!). The shows runs with commentary from Donovan explaining how to be a spy and the little things that you can do. It's very funny, and pretty informative if you are a paranoid person wanting to evade detection. Donovan is very cute and very smart, and his ability to piss off everyone in his life while still being their favorite person is terrific to watch. Check this out on USA as they re-run the whole season, or find it on DVD. You've got tons of time since the next season won't start until next summer!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

My first new fall season post

I'll admit I started watching Prison Break because the lead (Wentworth Miller) went to Princeton and he's wicked hot (and if you've see The Human Stain, a really good actor). And the first season was gripping - sitting on the edge of your seat, looking through your fingers because you can't watch, but you can't look away awesome. And then the title was fulfilled - he broke out of prison. So I watched the second season because, well he's still hot, and I liked his relationship with the female doctor and wanted to find out how they took down the President. Plus, all the other characters actually had idiosyncrasies that were interesting to watch. However, now it's the start of the third season, and the premiere just didn't show me any of the things I really liked about the previous season. He's back in prison in Panama, and I don't like any of the new prison characters. They seem to be focusing on two of the previous characters that I never really liked - Bellick (a really corrupt prison guard/prisoner) and Mahone (the FBI agent), who is intriguing since he has no problem killing people, but also has a drug addiction that cannot be fed while he's in prison. So, I think I'm going to let it go and keep watching How I Met Your Mother and the new show Chuck at the same time on Monday nights, and if I have time Dancing with the Stars! If anyone else keeps watching Prison Break and it gets better, please let me know!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Miss Potter - a play in 3 acts

The story of Beatrix Potter is fairly simple, and sadly represents the lives of many women who sought to be more than their lot allowed (think Jane Austen and the Brontes), and never married and struggled. However, our dear Miss Potter (played well by Renee Zellweger) had such an active imagination she made friends of her characters and actually saw them come to life on the page (and not metaphorically). The first act would be Miss Potter - the nutjob. She does manage to get Peter Rabbit published and enters the world of having people for friends. Ewan McGregor is her publisher and they fall in love creating a whole new world of children's literature. The second act would be Miss Potter - In love. She and Ewan are very convincing as a couple trying to get by undermining society's conventions. They are secretly engaged and send letters back and forth. However, she is alone in the third act - Miss Potter - the Conservationist. She moves to the Lake District and with the profits from her books, buys up farms to prevent them from being over-developed. She continues this throughout her life (according to Wikipedia) and keeps drawing. She left her land to the National Trust and it's still preserved today. Overall, the movie is very cute and tells a good story of beloved characters (Jemima Puddleduck, Peter Rabbit, Flopsy, Mopsy and Cottentail). Very cute, but not anything remarkable.

Monday, September 17, 2007

The Emmys...from my perspective!

Overall, the Emmys were really funny, and a little less faux serious than they had been in the past, though they were really designed by the American Idol set crew. It was in the round, which looked fine from TV, but seemed to really annoy the people behind all the action. Ryan Seacrest (the actual host of American Idol) was the MC and did a good job - mostly by letting real comedians do the entertaining. There was no single show that ran away with awards. The big winners were 30 Rock (brand new) and The Sopranos (no longer on the air) so that was nice. For acting America Ferrara (Ugly Betty), Katherine Heigl (Grey's Anatomy), Sally Field (Brothers & Sisters) and Jaime Pressley (My Name is Earl) are all wonderful actresses and on very different shows and play very different parts, so that was kind of new and I thought worked out really well. However, on the men's side, there were a few eclectic choices that I wasn't so sure of, though I still think they picked well, just no sure-bets made it. I've never seen Extras with Ricky Gervais, but I know he's wonderfully funny, and when he won but wasn't there to accept, Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert decided to give the award to "their friend Steve Carrell" who ran up and celebrated with them. It was hysterical. Terry O'Quinn from Lost gave a great acceptance speech, and was also an unexpected win. However, the leading actor awards were kind of disappointing with James Spader (Boston Legal) winning for the third time in a row, and Jeremy Piven (Entourage) winning for a second time. I would have liked to see Hugh Laurie or Dennis Leary or even James Gandolfini win over Spader (though I do love Boston Legal I didn't think he'd done anything wonderful this season). And in Piven's place I would definitely have recognized Neil Patrick Harris or Rainn Wilson for their funnier work. I had a great time watching - especially fast-forwarding the thousands of commercials for Fox's upcoming season. Oh, and if they're only going to give the Emmy for Reality Competition to The Amazing Race (it's won every year the award existed) then why bother? Project Runway or Dancing with the Stars were a lot of fun this year.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

A good message

I love this quote. Samuel L. Jackson says it to inspire his team in Coach Carter. It just sounds like the best mantra you can hold inside.

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
-- Marianne Williamson from A Return To Love: Reflections on the Principles of A Course in Miracles, also quoted by Nelson Mandela at his Inauguration Address in 1994

An excellent replacement for the Harry Potter fix...

I'm sure many of you blog readers must think I only watch TV and movies, but I do occasionally read books too, and here's a great series for all you non-grown-ups. The Artemis Fowl series by Eoin Colfer is another story of a young boy without parental supervision who uses his own powers (in this case an extremely high IQ) to improve his lot in life. Also, there's all kinds of magic, but our anti-hero Artemis doesn't actually possess any. In the first book (5 have been published to date), Artermis has figured out how uncover the secrets of the fairy underworld (fairies break down into elves, pixies, dwarfs, etc.). He's going to use this knowledge to kidnap an elf (our hero Holly Short - first female member of the LEP recon squad) and get the gold for her return. The story is wonderfully written, with enough complexity for all "grown-up" readers, and a similar simplicity to the Harry Potter books so it definitely falls under "children's literature". The next 3 in the series involve other adventures between Artemis, his body-guard Butler, and Holly. There are other characters that come and go, and descriptions of life underground in "Haven" and "Atlantis". My two favorite characters are Foaly - a centaur who runs all technology below, which is all light-years ahead of human ("Mud Men") tech, and Mulch Diggums - a thieving, tunneling dwarf with a huge mouth. It's a terrific series, with all kinds of funny magic and fantasy.


Keri Russell is pretty amazing, playing a waitress who finds out she's pregnant, but married to a horrible, controlling husband (played pretty scarily by Jeremy Sisto - from Six Feet Under). She's a waitress at a pie diner, and spends all day designing all kinds of kooky pies to serve at the diner. She gives them all kinds of names and then we get to see her quickly make them - like "I Hate My Husband Pie... You take bittersweet chocolate and don't sweeten it. You make it into a pudding and drown it in caramel". They keep them evenly spaced throughout the movie so the gimmick doesn't wear off. Russell is terrific, finding the strength to live with her husband, by finding comfort in the arms of her doctor - played with bumbling, loveability by Firefly's Nathon Fillion, who will be appearing on Desperate Housewives this season! Anyway, Waitress is a very cute movie, that spends a lot of time making you uneasy with the relationship between Russell and Sisto, but warm and fuzzy with Russell and Fillion. Just so you don't worry, she doesn't get hurt badly, and the ending is terrific!

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Ad Men

It took me a while to get into Mad Men, a new series on AMC, Thursdays at 10. It's so carefully representative of the late 50s/early 60s that the very pregnant women smoke and drink, the sexism is rampant at home and at work, and people smoke EVERYWHERE. It's actually very uncomfortable to watch at times, not having grown up with any of those things being true. However, it also has some of the best characters on TV. They're all in advertising, which was just becoming a big deal on Madison Avenue at the time (hence Mad Men), take long, alcohol-laden lunches, and try to make a lot of money. I really like the main character - Don Draper, who seems to be living at least a triple life. He's got a faux bohemian girlfriend in the city, a perfect Betsy Crocker wife and 2 kids in the suburbs, and has been hitting on a client. However, he does all this while seeming in perfect control and still a good guy. And we've found out that he changed his name and some of his identity at some point when a long-lost brother returns and he pays him to stay away. It's not done to be mysterious, but there's a lot of unexplained innuendo and subtlety. There's also the newest kid at the office (who was "Connor" on Angel which took me ages to figure out) that is just kind of spooky - he's from a rich family, just married, but seems to want to be a cool, big-shot kind of guy, and fails miserably. He's of the "F&*k, I'm good, Just ask me" style with nothing to back it up. Plus, he's having an affair with one of the perfect secretaries (cone-bra, corsets, and all). The characters on this show are just so compelling, it's hard to explain why the stories are so good, but you just can't stop watching. P.S. - "Saffron" from Firefly plays the office vixen, she's awesome!

Monday, September 3, 2007

Becoming Jane

First, if you're not someone who already likes Jane Austen's work, then you'll probably find this a waste of time. However, if you're like most of the women I know, you know exactly how awesome Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle really are, then you'll probably love Becoming Jane as much as I did. It's definitely a fictional account of her early writing career, but the screenplay brings in many of the element she would later incorporate into her stories. Anne Hathaway does a credible job playing Jane as a witty woman who knew she wasn't going to live a wealthy life, but thought she could buck convention and marry the man she loved. James McAvoy (from The Last King of Scotland) plays a lawyer sent to live in the country to end his frivolous lifestyle and meets Jane. He teases her about her writing and of course she gets her hackles up and whacks him back. Their banter is good, and McAvoy has succeeded where Jude Law never made it - as a love interest that isn't smarmy but cunning and deserving. The costumes and setttings are perfect. Oh, oh, oh, and Dame Maggie Smith plays a rich neighbor who gets angry when Jane spurns her nephew's proposal. It's clearly the inspiration for P&P's Lady Catherine de Bourgh. Overall, it's a terrific historical romantic comedy. It's not overly complicated, but if you're an Austen fan, you'll see all the elements of her books represented.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Animated fairy tales...

If you're looking for an animated fairy tale of sorts (and you're over the age of 4), choose Hoodwinked over Happily N'ever After. Hoodwinked includes many of the same fairy tales - Little Red Riding Hood, Three Little Pigs, etc., but there's a mystery to be solved, lots of funny satire and making fun of fairy tale inconsistencies. It's worth watching more than once, even as a grown-up. However, Happily N'ever After is barely funny, has no satire and actually tries to figure out what would happen if all the bad guys in the fairy tales, specifically the wicked step-mother in Cinderella, were to win for a change. The only thing memorable about this movie is the distracting amout of animated cleavage the wicked step-mother shows. It starts off well, but then doesn't actually go anywhere once the evil people take over. Hoodwinked, however, is fun from the begining to the end - with a large investigation into the goings on at Granny's house - before the wolf eats everyone. Then they parody a cop-drama trying to figure out the bigger mystery while incorporating all the elements of Little Red Riding Hood, and other stories too. It's a great animated movie, and the voices and animation are terrific.