Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Glee: No One Kissed A Girl

Oh Glee.  Why must you taunt me so?  After one episode that showed a microcosm of promise I had foolishly hoped that you would start being good.  Well, maybe not good, but at least adequate.  But alas, it was not to be.  The Ringer was better than you last night.  Freaking The Ringer!  Here's what sucked (and what sucked a little bit less) about last night's episode, I Kissed A Girl.

The High Notes:

Sugar Matta
So, here is how to make a terrible character awesome:  Never let her speak.  No, seriously.  Sugar, who normally grates on my last nerve, was adorable in the background of this week's episode.  She made funny faces.  She bounced around.  She wore headbands.  And was by far and away the most entertaining thing about this episode.  Four for you Roxanne Bojarski!
Puck Tells Quinn "You're A Freakin' Mess"
Sure, it was followed by semi supportive preachyness, but I'm going to ignore that part and focus on the fact that someone finally told Quinn, to her face, that she'd gone all loco bananas.  Because she has.  If this were Ryan Murphy's other TV show, I would be holding out hope that all of my questions would be solved eventually, and in the case of Quinn we'd come to understand why she has become a grade A psycho bitch.  But its Glee.  So I'm not going to start counting any of those chickens.

That Was A Little Flat

Oh Santana.  When the writers decided that this season they had a hard on for you, I was hopeful that you'd actually have a good storyline that was written well.  And it seemed like it was going in that direction...until this episode happened.  What should have been the big emotional Santana episode turned into a hot mess of a story.  Santana is a bitch, Finn sings to her and Santana cries, Santana comes out to her parents off camera who are totally cool about it but her Abuela on camera, who is totally not.  The whole thing was rushed and seemed to focus on the unimportant aspects of the story (read: Finn showing Santana the light) rather than taking us on her journey.  It also didn't let Naya Rivera, who I have actually come to think is talented, do much more than the same slightly constipated sad face.
See?  I do credit the show with finally having a family member who is less than perfect about the whole coming out thing, as I suspect is sort of more the norm in middle America.  But the rest blew chunks and was a major let down.

Yikes, That Was Sour

The Music
After the great Adele mash up in the last episode, I had hopes that Glee had once again found its musical footing.  But every number in this was seriously underwhelming.  It seriously felt like they needed filler and came up with songs and situations that required the least amount of arrangement, choreography or skill.  The only group number, I Kissed A Girl, fell flat and I'm still trying to wash Coach Beiste's Jolene out of my brain.  Speaking of...

Beiste V. Sue
Watching Beiste pine over the man dating Sue was painful to watch from just about every angle.  It's funny to me how Glee refuses to develop Artie or Tina and yet Beiste gets so much of a storyline.  But the biggest problem with this story is that I WANT to like it.  Girl who never gets the guy goes after the cutie dating the evil blonde? I mean, that's the making of every good teen 90s film. And the awkwardness of the actual characters involved should make it really unique.  But mostly, its uncomfortable to watch and crazy hard to buy.  I want this storyline to die.  I want it to die now.

Kurt's Sweaters
This needs no explanation.  Just look.

Who in wardrobe did Chris Colfer piss off?

That's it. It's all the Glee my brain can take.  Luckily, the far superior Ryan Murphy show is on tonight, and will hopefully rid me of any memory of last night's disaster of an episode.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Great Scene: It's a Wonderful Life

Woa.  I think I have finally semi awoken from my food and booze coma! (Seriously.  I fell asleep at the happiest place on earth)  The best thing about Thanksgiving being behind us, besides having a whole year to feel this gross again, is that it marks the start of the Christmas season.  Like any good New York born Jew, I love Christmastime.  I listen to the holiday radio station, get pumped for very special TV episodes and most importantly, watch Christmas movies galore.  If you know me, you know that one of my favorite films of all time is It's A Wonderful Life, and although the following moment isn't Christmas-y it is still a great scene.  In fact, I would argue that it is one of the greatest scenes in film, and certainly the most chemistry filled.

The quick set up:  George Bailey (young George, who has yet to decide that he wishes that he had never been born) is totally crushing on Mary, who has loved him her whole life.  This is a bit of a problem for George, who has wanted nothing more than to escape his home town of Bedford Falls and hates the idea that anything (or anyone) would hold him back.  But years of flirty lust can't be ignored, and it all comes to a head in this scene. I mean, come on.  It makes the telephone sexy.  That takes some serious skill.

Great(est?).  Scene.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Countdown to Tofurkey Day: FRIENDS

FRIENDS is a show that a lot of people loved for a long time.  And it's enjoyable.  But did it deserve to be as special a part of pop culture history as it became?  For the most part, no.  But every year there was one FRIENDS episode that I looked forward to more than any other.  And it was their salute to Thanksgiving.  Now that I'm in my twenties and the holiday is spent with my own friends rather than family I find an even stronger kinship to those episodes than ever before.  And I still find them hella funny.

My all time favorite FRIENDS episode is The One With All The Thanksgivings, in which we see the turkey days of yore for our gang and learn quite a bit about them too.  It's a big Chandler/Monica episode, as we find out that a comment he made about her was the reason she lost weight and then dropped a knife on his toe.  At the end she tries to apologize by sticking the Turkey on her head and dancing around, which is not only hilarious but a high point for the series as it prompts Chandler to tell her he loves her for the first time.  If you are watching the Friends Marathon this weekend, you should hold out for this one.

While some Thanksgiving episodes brought out the guest stars (I still think Brad Pitt's turn in one is some of his best work) sometimes the best comes from just bringing the funny.  This clip, where Rachel accidentally makes a trifle out of a Shepard's Pie recipe that the gang has to eat always cracks me up.  Joey's final line is something I often quote, and it brings me much holiday cheer.  Click here for a clear but non-embeddable clip:

Or watch here:

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Countdown to Tofurkey Day: Movies

Thanksgiving is this week!  Hooorrraaayyyyy!  As an adult, I'm mostly excited that this means a five day weekend, but its also typically a magical time for family (or in my case, faux family) bonding and good food.  So that's fun.

One of the radio stations that I listen to does a guess the celebrity segment in the morning, where they play an audio clip and callers have to say who it is.  This week's theme is, naturally, Thanksgiving films. But once I heard it I was all confuzzled.  I only know one film, Pieces of April, that fits this category.  Even after they played the clip, I racked my brain trying to figure out where this audio bit came from.  What other Thanksgiving films are there?  Hey, guess what.  It was Katie Holmes.  And the film was Pieces of April.  It really must be only Thanksgiving movie.

Turns out I'm wrong.  A little wrong, at least.  A quick google search points to Hanna And Her Sisters, Home For The Holidays and even Planes Trains and Automobiles as films with Thanksgiving at least peripherally in sight.  But with the abundance of Christmas films, not to mention films names after Valentines Day, New Years Eve and even Groundhog Day, its a little surprising that a far more central holiday doesn't get all that much love from Hollywood.  So I'm vowing here and now that if someone makes a Thanksgiving film, hell-even a Black Friday film, I'll be one butt in a seat.  It's time for a little more holiday cheer in the cinema.  And it would be nice to have more films to blog about too.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

A Morning After Review: SNL With Jason Segel

Another Saturday gone by, another SNL.  This time with Jason Segel.  Let's reminisce about last night.

Cold Open:
Like a lot of SNL skits of late, Mitt Romney "Raw and Unleashed"was a one note joke about Mitt Romney wanting to appear edgy and dangerous but not being able to.  Once you got past the first joke, it was a predictable and unfunny cold open.  And something about Sudekis' Romney voice bugs.

Shallow note: Remember when How I Met Your Mother started and Jason Segel was kind of cute is a real guy sort of way?  The Muppet thing must have got to him because he kind of looks like one now.

Segel sang with the Muppets, who think that they are also are also hosting SNL.  Segel has pleasant singing voice, the song was catchy and the Muppets were adorable.  It wasn't super funny but it was a better monologue than last week and was definitely enjoyable.  And sadly, one of the best things about the night.

Red Flag:
A take off on those Chanel commercials, this had Kristen Wigg as a woman who men should be warned against.  Wigg's faces in it did make me laugh (which is rare for me) and while I'm not sure why the Chanel tie in, it was a funny concept.

Replacing Regis:
An excuse to have everyone on the show do a different impersonation  in a revolving door of potential co-hosts for Live with Kelly Ripa, this let the cast show what they are made of.  The best?
Sudekis' Rickey Gervais, Armisen's George Lopez, Elliot's Zooey Dechenel and Farrel's Denzel Washington.  I actually found it disappointing that the cast is so good at impressions and yet they use them so rarely.  I'd love to see any of these characters host a home decorating show or try to give law advice.   I don't know.  There is something good in there that they just aren't using.

Kemper-Pedic Commercial
This is one of those one note jokes (Segel does several things on his side of the bed, that all resemble masturbation, that won't wake his wife) that worked because of the short nature of the sketch.  One of the better fake commercials I have seen of late.

Kissing Family Thanksgiving:
I thought this was funny the first time I saw it years ago.  Now?  I get annoyed by the lip smacking noises and am bugged that they have nothing new to provide.  People spinning around before they kiss doesn't make it fresh and guys locking lips isn't edgy anymore.  They tried to change it up by having people spit food at each other but it just came off as gross and made no sense when they later referred to it as affection.  Spitting food is not kissing, folks.  This does not expand on what you do have, it takes it in a barfy direction.  But Paul Rudd showed up and him and I'm a sucker for a surprise guest, so that was fun.

Florence and The Machine: Shake It Out
Florence has a great voice and I enjoy this song but it was not a terribly exciting performance.  With a choir on stage you think there would be more movement but...nothing.  I prefer to listen than watch, which makes for an unsuccessful performance.

Weekend Update:
Govener Hunstman
Ah, so begins the "Candidates show up on SNL".  Hustsman's New Hampshire love was a good concept and he didn't totally bomb and I kind of love that SNL is part of the campaign stops now.  Will we see the president on it before election time?  My guess is yes.

Really with Seth and Kermit
Kermit saying Really was cute but school lunches was not the topic to do it on and having a Muppet there made the whole thing a little to PG for my taste.

Seth was pretty on tonight.  Go Seth!

Retirement Party
This sketch was NOT funny and Kristen Wigg's screeching hurt my ears.  Fail SNL.

New Jack Swing:
I never love when SNL does brief silly songs by various fake artists, but they continue to do it so it must appeal to someone.  Right?  Anyone?  Bueller?

Although I must admit, Florence was way more entertaining here than in her actual performance.

Digital Short:
"Seducing Women Through Chess"  Um, what was that?

Florence and The Machine: No Night No Light
See the above comment about performance number one, take out choir and put in harp.  Done.

The Blue Jean Committee
Oh Hey, Paul Rudd again!  Other than that, what was happening here?  Was the song supposed to be funny?  Were the people rocking out to it supposed to be funny?  None of it was.  Another week that I'm really curious what got cut in dress if this made it to air.

This was an episode that started out okay and then just got bad.  There wasn't a very good use of the host and the sketches just seemed thrown together.  What was the most disappointing was that the Regis sketch showed that there is some serious talent in this group.  I just hope some day they will get material to match.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Week In Review

It's been a pretty decent week, pop-culture wise.  It's time to review the best of the past seven days.

The Best News

2gether wants to get back 2gether
If you went to junior high when I went to junior high, there is a pretty good chance that you were a little obsessed with this MTV mock boy band and their funny but catchy songs.   This week, the four remaining members announced that they want to return to the network that brought them to life.  I know my calculus, and I know that them + my TV = amazingness.

Natalie Wood's Death Investigation Reopened
I grew up a little obsessed with whatever it is that happened that night on the boat where Natalie Wood died so many years ago.  This week the case was reopened and I, along with the rest of Celeb-obsessed Hollywood is dripping with anticipation over this murder mystery.  I have the feeling that way more juiciness is yet to come.

Aaron Tveit To Star In USA Pilot
If you don't know Aaron Tviet, you probably aren't a Broadway (or Gossip Girl) fan, but it looks like there is a good chance he may be on your radar soon.  I'm super pumped over the prospect of seeing Tveit every week, even if it means that I do have to start watching USA again.

The Most Awesome Moments On TV

The Good Wife: Cary Rejects Kalinda
Kalinda Sharma is character Kryptonite...she makes both men and women alike put their own necks on the line with the bat of an eye and the march of a stiletto boot.  Kalinda uses her sexuality to get whatever she wants, and it almost always works.  For years now Cary, the recently appointed Deputy State's Attorney, has pined away for his former co-worker and she in turn has used him every chance she got.  After he pushed her out of the line of fire (literally) the two locked lips in his office and it looked like he was finally going to go where many men (and women) had gone before.  And then?  He walked out.  Maybe Cary's spidey senses started tingling over Kalinda's need to get information on the SA's investigation into her boss or maybe he just finally got some perspective, but either way it was awesome to finally see someone say no to The Good Wife's little vixen.  I can't wait to see what happens between these two next.

Glee: The Slap Heard 'Round The Auditorium
Yes, Glee CAN make it onto my best of the week list...especially when it involves someone (in this case, Santana) slapping the hell out of Finn.  It was harsh, it was real and it was a well earned moment.  Now all we need if for someone to pummel Quinn.  That would be the best thing to happen all year

American Horror Story: Old Moira Wipes Her Lips
Oh American Horror Story.  You are a little sick and I love you for it.  When Moira, who appears young and nubile to men and old and crotchety to women, gave a potential house buyer a very special form of lip service, it seemed like usual AHS kinky fare.  But when it was OLD Moira who emerged from the room, wiping her lips.  Well, that was both a little gross and completely hilarious.

Best Theories

Revenge: Emily/Amanda and Charlotte Are Sisters
Emily Thorne, nee Amanda Clarke, has been making hell in the Hampton's all season on Revenge to get even with the rich bitches who destroyed her father's life.  The main source of her fury is Victoria Greyson, who had an affair with Amanda's father and seems to run the entire town.  Victoria has a daughter, Charlotte, who has had little interaction with Amanda thus far but it is beginning to seem clear that she may be more important than we are being lead to believe.  Word around the net is that Charlotte is a Clarke herself, and I'm starting to think word is right.

American Horror Story: Violet is Dead
Last week Violet took a bunch of pills, but then was seemingly revived by ghost boyfriend Tate when he oh so sweetly stuck his fingers down her throat.  This week, Violet never left the house (as ghosts are unable to do) and Tate told her that she had "evolved".  This theory is gaining some serious steam, and while I am leaning towards it being right, I hope I'm wrong.  It's time AHS gave us something unexpected and this won't be it.  Plus it makes it too easy for her and Tate to be together forever, which I fear would mean the end of this house when the season is over.  So I'm hoping, for the show's sake, this is one big ass fake-out.

Best Quotes

You're fellating Santa.  I have to be blunt sir, because that's how TMZ is gonna report it, Fox is gonna repeat it and John Stewart is gonna finish it.  Here.  Comes.  Santa.
 Eli Gold, The Good Wife

I haven't been fair to you.  You're not fat.  I should know, I slept with you.  I mean at some point,  I must have liked that you looked like a taco addict whose had one too many back alley liposuctions.   I am sorry Finn.  Really, I'm sorry that the New Directions are gonna get crushed by the Trouble Tones.  I'm also sorry that you have no talent.  Sorry that you sing like you're getting your prostate checked and you dance like you've been asleep for years and someone just woke you up.  Have fun riding on Rachel's coattails for the rest of your life, although I would watch out for her come holiday time because if I were her I'd stick a stunt in one of those boobs and let the Finn blubber light the lamp for eight magical nights.
Santana, Glee

I'm Max's mom.  I just want you to know that he doesn't realize that you're making fun of him behind his back but I've seen it.  And it needs to stop, all of it.  You and your friends, your cohorts, you think that you can get by with your Justin Bieber hairdo and your invisalign braces but guess what.  Puberty's gonna set in and its gonna set in ugly.
-Christina, Parenthood

A woman in my line can't be too careful.  There are a lot of minority men in this city who would like nothing more than to ravage me on this counter top.
Marcy, American Horror Story

That's all folks.  What were your faves this week?

Friday, November 18, 2011

Greater Than: Sexiest Man Alive

This week People Magazine named Bradley Cooper as the Sexiest Man Alive.  As soon as the announcement been made, people quickly started to protest that Cooper had stolen the title from the true sexiest man alive, Ryan Gosling.  Now normally I would not get all caught up in such shenanigans, but I'm thinking about pinning a flower in my hair and painting a sign because this is one protest I can totally get behind.  Because seriously?

Ryan Gosling > Bradley Cooper


For real.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Hey Now, You're An All Star

Many years ago, the grandaddy of competitive reality TV, Survivor, had the brilliant idea to have an all star season.  It seemed like a no-fail idea...the best competitors from previous years duking it out in a battle of the greats to see who really could outwit, outplay and outlast them all.  What followed though, was a serious dud of a season.  The players quickly voted out every person who had ever won the game before, and several others proved their heart wasn't into doing this a second time if they didn't get to be the grand puba of the game.  In the end, the final two were a couple who got engaged right before the winner was read, making the final verdict a moot point.  It was terrible.  And it made me hope I would never have to see an all star season of anything ever again.

But I did.  And you know what?  I was totally wrong.

Reality TV has learned a lot about how to bring back all your old favorites successfully, and I'm totally digging it.  First rule?  You can never bring back winners.  People will go after them out of jealousy and spite in addition to the fact that they are difficult to root for because they will never be considered the underdog.  Rule #2:  Bring back people who really want to do it again.  Sure there are contestants who the audience would rather see, but those people often end up being incredibly dull to watch if they are over it before they even get there.  I have changed my mind about certain people on all star seasons...just because they didn't come in with a fan base doesn't mean that they aren't coming out with one.  And finally, Rule #3: It has to be different.  It's important to acknowledge that these people have already played the game, know each other and that the public knows them.  The challenges, and sometimes the general concept of the game need to be rethought.  Survivor learned from its mistakes and when they brought back all stars, for a more aptly named "Heroes and Villains" season, it completely worked.

America's Next Top Model has been rocking the all star thing.  At first I wasn't into the whole branding, entertainment based version of the show, but they are right to recognize that these girls are there for their personalities, not to become the next great supermodel.  When they first announced the list of models returning to the competition, there were a ton I was totally bummed not to see. (No Jade?!)  But this season has really worked.  I find myself rooting for my all time favorite (GO LAURA!!!) and am enjoying seeing a slightly more grounded Lisa and a still in need of a smack down Angelea.  And now Allison, who was once only known for her big eyes and love of blood will forever be the singer-songwriter of the best/worst song to ever come out of reality TV.  Pot Ledom.....

I'm going to miss Top Model when it is over.  I really feel that this season on Top Chef, the first after its own All Star season.  I loved last year, when I knew who was good, who wasn't and who needed to be cut down to size.  I feel a little confused now.  I'm not seeing a front runner, which is kind of odd by Top Chef standards and I have a little bit of trouble telling one tatted up cheftestant from the next.  I'm sure I'll grow to love these people, but it somehow seems like a step back in quality after watching the All Stars kick some major culinary ass.  Oh well.  If it sucks, there is always that All Star version of Project Runway to look forward to. (GO MONDO!)

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Glee: Monster Mash Off

Every week I intend to write about Glee and every week it is just too painful to actually do.  This week...and I'm not sure if it is because there were no attempted rapes in last night's episode or because I can't bare to talk about Adam's little whore storyline on Parenthood...I'm doing it.  But I need to set a few ground rules.  Number one: I will never ever refer to what is about to transpire as a "glee-cap".  That phrase is overused and frankly, not as clever as everyone seems to think it is.  Number two: To avoid the "everything was terrible" scenario that I fear this could fall into, I will be dividing up my reviews into a "The Good, The Bad, The Ugly" kind of situation. Number Three:  If I say something is good, I do in fact mean that it is good for Glee, not by normal television quality standards.  If you want legit quality go watch, well, pretty much anything else.

With all that said, I give you my thoughts on "Mash Off"

The High Notes:

Finn vs. Santana
Is it just me, or is the rivalry between the two of these characters kind of awesome?  Normally in TV world, when characters fight/banter there is either a love/hate relationship going on or they are frenemys destined to one day discover how similar they in fact are.  These two?  It's just pure, cold hatred.  And I LOVE it.  Santana's long rant to Finn about how sorry she was that he was as disgusting as he is was both super harsh and kind of awesome and his pulling her out of the closet was both incredibly cruel and yet seemingly deserved.  Her slapping him at the end of the episode was the cherry on top of a lovely anger sundae, and I really hope we see more rounds of these two in the boxing ring.

"Rumour Has It/Someone Like You" Mash Up
With the whole West Side Story storyline that has been going down in the past few weeks, Glee seemed to have forgotten that fun orchestrations of familiar music is what they do best.  This episode let them get back to their roots and this Adele mash-up reminded me why I even bother to watch the show in the first place.  The two songs were perfectly tailored to each other with Mercedes and Santana taking the lead while the Trouble-tones danced it up.  It also served as the emotional breaking point for Santana which lead to the aforementioned slap of awesomeness. 

Rachel and Kurt Make Up
Rachel and Kurt both running for student body president and hating on each other (not to mention putting Finn in a really crappy position) was a REALLY dumb storyline and I am thrilled that it is finally over.  Plus we do need Kurt to increase his chances of getting into his dream school/spin-off-that-the-powers-that-be-insist-isn't-happening-but-still-totally-is.

That Was A Little Flat

Hot For Teacher
To be perfectly honest, I never like when Glee has characters singing when it isn't an actual performance.  I suppose they have established it as something that they do, but I still sort of view the show as a backstage musical.  The song was just too un-Glee like for my taste and the whole accompanying storyline of Puck's huge crush on Shelby kind of squicks me out.  Like any good Rent-head, I know that Idina Menzel is fantastic, but this all seems like a pretty big waste of her talent.

Sue, Burt and Will Team Up
Yeah, it was nice to see enemies work together to confront Santana, but Sue's declaration that it was her bad example that lead Santana to think that violence was okay will last exactly how long it took to watch that scene.  It is one of my least favorite things about the show...don't have the characters do/say something that should change their character but won't because you need them to be that way for the sake of your story.  If Sue is suddenly a puppy-petting, lollipop eating pinnacle of virtue after this episode, I will eat my hat.  Literally.

"Hit Me With Your Best Shot/One Way Or Another" Mash Up
I actually liked these two songs put together, but pairing up the song with a game of dodge ball was odd and took away from how "dangerous" the writers later wanted us to believe the game was.  I would have just loved to see this done as a legit "mash off", but alas.  It's Glee, so we had to throw balls at each other.

Yikes, That Was Sour

The Class President Speeches
Does no one at McKinley know how to speak?  I get that the writers wanted the kids to seem authentic but when Brittany's speech came off as the most intelligent you knew there was a problem.  Kurt's problem with dodge ball as a bullying tactic, something that was only introduced THIS EPISODE, was a severe writing flaw.  I understand writers.  It's hard when you haven't had some other thing being thrown at our characters all series long...oh wait.  Slushies.  That's right.  That could work.  Or how about Kurt just wanting to put an end to bullying in general?  It's like saying I want to take away the guns but leave the Nazis.  And Rachel's speech where she withdrew from the race and urged people to vote for Kurt was as milktoast as it could get.  Talk about how awesome he is Rachel!  Don't just say "vote for Kurt"!  Fuck this.  I'm writing in Santana's name.  At least she knows how to use her words.

Guest Star Madness
Could we not find a better use for Damian McGinty than having him be Finn's sidekick and the prime target for dodge balls?  Yeah, maybe you should have seen if your Glee-Project hopefuls could act, Murphy and Co., but I know that McGinty is at least charming enough to do SOMETHING.  And poor Vanessa Lengies, who has to tell the same joke every episode.  We get it.  She can't sing and she thinks she can.  Hysterical.  How far we've come from the amazing Roxanne Bojarski, huh Vanessa?  What really bugs here is that Glee got rid of Sam, Karofsky and even the annoying-but-not-this-bad Lauren Zizes for these folks?  Fail Glee.  Major fail.

It's A Numbers Game
So the Trouble-Tones and The New Directions are competing against each other at sectionals, huh?  Not only can I see this somehow not actually being allowed, but is anyone else bothered by the fact that neither group has the twelve members we have spent seasons establishing that you have to have to compete?  Can we at least get a line about changed rules?  Or throw Cameron, Emily and Hanna from Th Glee Project in the back of the room to pad out the group?  SOMETHING?  Also, I'm pretty sure it would not be okay for losing members from one group to join another after they lost, as I'm sure Mercedes, Brittany and Santana will do this year and as Kurt did last.  Wouldn't that be like a great quarterback from a losing team joining another right before the Superbowl?  It just seems wrong, and totally against the rules.  Yeah, I know.  It's Glee-land.  There are no rules.

Bad Egg Quinn
Quinny Fabray.  You used to not suck, and now you do.  I get that you feel like you will be trapped in your life but this whole Occupy Beth thing you have going on seems pretty destined to fail and is totally not what you want. Go find what made you an interesting character, because right now you are totally lost and I have no interest in finding you.
That's it folks.  Until next week, I'm all glee-d out.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Great Scene: The 4400

STOP RIGHT NOW if you ever intend to watch The 4400.  And you really should.  But if you don't care to listen to my amazing popinion or don't mind some major spoilage, please proceed.  Because this was a great scene.

The 4400 was a little known show on USA that started as a six part mini-series and ran for four years.  Sure it had USA production value and was a semi-procedural, but if you could get past all of that it really was kind of good.  The original premise was simple...4,400 people who were mysteriously taken throughout the past century are all returned at the same time and place with no memory of what happened to them.  But the world of the story quickly grew, especially when we realized that all of these people had come back with a different ability.  It was a pre-Heroes heroes, except it didn't start to suck after the first season.

Shawn Farrell was always my favorite of the returnees...a teen boy when he was taken, he came back to find that his younger brother Danny was now the same age and had trouble fitting in to the new family dynamic.  What was especially difficult was that Shawn was one of the first to develop a power, one in which he could both heal and kill with a simple touch.  He eventually went to live with the leader of a pro-4,400 movement and eventually became the face of the empire.  In what ended up being the series finale, Danny takes a shot that has been developed to give its user a 50/50 chance of either developing a power like the that of the 4,400 or dropping dead.  He soon find that he is a walking version of that shot, forcing everyone anywhere near him to gain an ability or a need for a casket.  Inhibiting his power is incredibly painful for Danny, but letting it do its thing means that half of the world's population would perish.

In this powerful scene, Danny begs Shawn to kill him to stop all the pain.  It's heartbreaking to watch Danny, who was always viewed Shawn as his rival begging his brother for help and even worse to see Shawn have to kill the one person he has left to love.

Skip ahead to 5:52 and watch the tearful goodbye.

Great. Scene.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Dear Hunger Games: Please Don't Suck

The official trailer for The Hunger Games was released today and while it had a lot of the Internet buzzing with excitement, I was not  impressed.  The costumes and sets seemed less than the epic images conjured up in the book, the tone was not nearly dark enough and the casting choices still seem totally bizarre (with the odd exception of Lenny Kravitz, who for some strange reason might just work).  I'm concerned that the greatness of the film will simply be the greatness of the story, and in that case, why not just tell people to read the freakin' book?  I'm all for the cinematic interpretations of great literature, but I always hope for them to be great films as well.  Hunger Games is incredibly visual and there is a lot that can be, should be, on the screen.  I'm just not so sure that it is.

The actual cut of the trailer didn't help matters much either.  They seemed to worry about spoiling anything, stopping short of the games actually beginning...and yet I could not help but feel that the trailer was only for those of us who has in fact read the book already.  I have always been fascinated by the distopian world of this story and here it is merely glossed over. I wonder if a casual viewer who saw this trailer in the theaters would ever truly understand what the games are.  So if it isn't for the non Hunger Games reader but it also isn't exclusively for fans of the book, then, well, I'm at a loss.  I hope this intended audience issue is just a trailer thing, and that the film itself knows exactly what it is.

Despite all of these things, I'm holding out hope for the film because, let's face it...I'm going to see it anyway.  Maybe Jennifer Lawrence will be so good at being a different kind of Katniss that I will except that she isn't the "right" kind, and maybe the games themselves will be so stunning, gruesome and emotional that I'll totally be entranced.  Maybe they just got all the crappy stuff out of the way.  That's what I'm going with.  Because I would really like it not to suck.

Check out the trailer here:

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Morning After Review: SNL with Emma Stone

A few thoughts on last night's Saturday Night Live:

The Cold Open: Republican Debate
When I began religiously watching SNL in the mid 90's, the cold open could be anything.  The one rule, and I think it was a good one, was that it had to be funny.  The current regime feels that it has to be political, which frankly is sometimes a really boring way to start the show.  With an election year fast approaching, at least they actually have something to mock and this week's Republican debate DID give them some genuine material.  That being said, I had a similar problem to it that I have when they mock Kathy Lee and Hoda...when the real life thing is so ridiculous it doesn't seem much like an exaggeration at all.

Monologue: Emma Stone
I enjoyed that they referenced the fact that they were totally ripping off Kirsten's Dunst's old Spiderman monologue but it pretty much sucked.  And the ANDREW GARFIELD showed up.  Win.

Secret Word
Emma Stone was hysterical in this.  Her beauty queen was such a ditzy creep and I'll be quoting that "the state bird is the peach" for a while.  The audience seemed to dig Kristen Wigg too, although to me it felt like wayyy too much of the same from her...she's a three note comedienne to me and here use used all three at once.  Overall, not much new to see here but not a total dud either.

WXPD News: New York
Bill Hader, to me, is by far and away the best that SNL has to offer, so I always appreciate any sketch that is Hader centric.  I still laugh any time Hader's old man news reporter Herb hits the mic in the face of ther person he is interviewing.  It was especially funny when they took the joke to the next level by having him prod Kristen Wigg with it to verify that her character was in fact a woman.  The fake punches at the end sucked, though.  But I guess that's live TV for you.

Digital Short
Andy Samberg sings about wanting it to rain in his video.  Not a digital short I will remember.

Coldplay: Paradise
As you know if you read my Friday post, this song has been talking to me.  So, even though I am not a Coldplay fan, I was excited to hear it.  Enjoyed it, really enjoyed the black light graffiti set but what the hell is up with Chris Martin?  Can he open his eyes when he sings, or can only one orifice be functioning at a time?

Weekend Update:
The concept of Jason Sudeikis' devil being offended by the Penn Sate scandal was funny, but it fell a little short in execution.  It felt like they truly wanted it to be a "Really w/Seth and ___" but decided against it.  I did enjoy the list of all of the things on the Internet that the devil was responsible for...that was clever.  I almost wish that was a sketch in itself.
Garth and Kat is the one of my favorite things Kristen Wigg does and the only thing I ever enjoy of Fred Armisen's but it was fun to see.  Chris Martin being their back up singer was a fun twist a sketch that always the same.  And hey, he had his eyes open here!  But I guess it would be really hard to read lips without them.

Les Jeunes De Paris
Yes! I love Ta Douleur  and the Miley version sketch so was hoping for this.  Granted, this whole people dance to odd music and strange things happen sketch isn't for everyone but I love it.  It was the least successful of the three they have done (I think it is the music choice) but who doesn't love someone giving birth to a midget on stage?

Bridal Shower Gone Wrong:
Emma Stone's odd older man character Wallace was a hoot and his gifts of gay porn and used anal lubricant, along with his human toilet provided for some laughs.  This was Stone's sketch, and I'm glad they let her play the old man with the odd proclivities rather than a party goer with one of the regulars taking on the Wallace role.  It would have made it less fun.  This was my favorite sketch of the night, although I'm not sure that the audience agreed.

Coldplay: Every Teardrop Is A Waterfall
I'm not sure if that was Chris Martin dancing or if a ghost was beating him up on stage, but it was odd either way.   Also needed to look up the name of song since I couldn't understand a word of the lyrics.  Could we not have done Paradise again?

Crying At The Office
The pulling ice cream to eat out of nowhere  and shots of Coldplay crying was funny, but all I could think was "Why haven't I tried listening to Adele while I'M crying at the office?"  So, thanks for the idea, SNL.  I know it was a joke, but I'm totally taking it seriously.

We're Gonna Make Technology Hump
The title says it all.  Very much an end of the show sketch and one of those "who the fuck came up with this?" things.  But I bet I know a bunch of World Of Warcraft fans who thought it was funny.  But for

Overall an okay show, by far not the worst that I've seen but not Timberlake level stellar either.  I did appreciate the use of the host and even the musical guest in the sketches and enjoyed that the political sketches were kept to a minimum.  And did I mention Andrew Garfield?  Oh, I did.  Well, yeah.  That was good too.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Depression Induced Lyric Loving

I am sad.  It's why I haven't blogged too much this week, it's why I didn't love last night's mid season finale of The Vampire Diaries, its why I can't muster up the energy to talk about American Horror Story, which I actually did sort of like.  Sadness sucks.  And it changes you in a really unhealthy way.  And for me...well I think that the radio is sending me messages.

For real.

Last night, while driving home, Coldplay's Paradise seemed to be talking about me.  Oh my god!  I was just a girl who expected the world!  It did fly away from my reach!  Life goes on, but it DOES get so heavy!  And so I started to cry.  (Has crying always been this unpleasant?  I really don't like it)  No sooner had the droplets started to fall from my face that Andy Grammer's Keep Your Head Up started to play.  I DO need to keep my head up because I really SHOULD let my hair down!  It IS hard to remember sometimes, but I WILL turn out fine!  Thanks music!

The worst of it came this morning when Kelly Clakson's Mr. Know It All came on the radio.  Yes, I know it's about a relationship.  The Mr. in the title does kind of tip off the whole about a guy thing.  But I started relating it to how my bosses, my family, even my friend DON'T know a thing about me.  Clearly this is the problem!  Thank god I have Kelly to show me the way.

The thing is, I usually don't listen to lyrics very much.  I mean, I listen.  I know them.  But I don't really think about what they are really trying to say.  They don't make or break a song for me.  My friend Mary always talks about great lyrics and usually it means very little to me in terms of a song's worth.  I like the orchestrations, the build, the feeling.  But suddenly, because of my sadness, I get it.  These songs MEAN something.  They are saying something, to someone, somewhere, who can relate.  There is pain, there is love, there is hope.  It's why people write music.  And for most people, it is why they listen.  And now, for me, it is why I will listen.  It took me a while, but I get it.  Lyrics are important.  And as blog as my witness, I will now heavily consider them in my popionions about music.

I'm off to listen to something that tells me that I'm a superstar or to get up again when I get knocked down.  Although I suspect that may be about something else.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Bring It On: A Review

A born and bread New York theater lover, it is sometimes difficult to live in Los Angeles where the pickings are far more slim than they are on the Great White Way.  I usually have to travel to see an original musical and even then, the work always seems pretty rough.  That's right Toto.  We're not by Broadway anymore.

So color me pleasantly surprised when I went to see Bring It On at the Ahmanson this weekend.  Not only was it extremely polished and professional in every way, but it was actually a lot of fun.  Out of all of the potential Broadway transfers I have seen in the past year, this is the only one that I truly hope makes it.

The first thing you need to know about Bring It On: The Musical is that it is NOT based on the movie.  It is about cheerleading, there are two schools (one being incredibly more diverse than the other) and the team colors are the same as they were in the film.  Bu that is where the buck stops.  Here's the set up: Campbell is the head cheerleader at Truman High, a school poised to win their first national championship.  Being the nice gal that she is, she lets seemingly shy sophomore Eva on the squad and then when it seems as though the kid may quit, she lets her be her sophomore lieutenant, should her two potential backups fail to do her head cheerleader duties in case of an emergency.  When Campbell gets redistricted to the funky but cheerleader-less Truman high, she is heart broken.  Her attempts to create a squad are halted by Danielle, the queen bee of Jackson and the leader of the dance crew.

Eventually, Campbell learns how to fit in at Jackson, by showing that she is willing to get down and dirty and dance with the rest of them.  But when she hears that Eva managed to take over the squad over at Truman, her spidey senses start to tingle.  She believes that the sophomore has totally single, white female-d her life, and sets on a path to take it back...starting with getting a squad together at Jackson.  Even though it is easier said than done, she manages to trick her fellow students into believing that there would be fame and fortune should they win, and the race is on between the two squads to take nationals.

Bring It On has a lot going for it.  You know when you see those cheerleading championships on ESPN and you think "How the hell do they do that"?  Well, imagine that, while the athletes sing AT THE SAME TIME.  In addition to having crazy choreography, the show has to have an ultra talented cast to pull it off.  Obviously they have one of the hardest working ensembles in the biz, although I do fear that an onstage accident is imminent.  Watching them pull it off is all kinds of amazing.  But they aren't the only ones worth watching.  Taylor Lowderman is an adorable lead, bringing her best Elle Woods to the part but still making it her own.  She has a lot to do here, and she pulls all of the singing, acting and acrobatics off with ease.  Adrienne Warren plays a solid foil turned friend in Danielle, although I do feel like hers is the role that would work best with "a name" in the part.  As Danielle's two besties, Ariana DeBose and Gregory Haney bring life to Nautica and La Cienaga- the former having the best voice in the show and the latter great comedic timing.  Ryann Redmond, Kate Rockwell and Nicolas Womak all bring the funny as well and it was great to see So You Think You Can Dance alum Neil Haskell making some money off of the "tricks" and charm he was criticized for having on the show.  Finally, Elle MeLemore rocked as Eva, a difficult part as we are meant to be uncertain as to the character's true intentions for the first 3/4 of the show and she pulled off all of Eva's transitional moments incredibly well.

One of my favorite things about Bring It On was, as you may have just noticed, that there are a lot of characters in this show.  There are two schools filled with people, not all of whom are even on the squad.  And yet it is really easy to know who all of them are.  They are distinct individuals and each one plays a part in the story.  This is one of the most successful aspects of the book.  I also appreciated that I wasn't truly able to predict where the story was going, which took me along for the ride.  There is a fully fleshed out story here, which a lot of musicals of late have been lacking.  A great deal of the characters get their own individual arcs, which is lovely to see as well and makes you feel like you have been on an actual journey.

The other great thing about the show was the music.  My two favorite music writers of the theater scene right now are Lin Manuel Miranda, who won a Tony for In The Heights and Tom Kitt who  too won a Tony for Next To Normal and wrote the kick ass orchestrations for American Idiot.  Bring It On's music is written by both men.  There are lots of great production numbers and a few excellent ballads.  There were no legit sleeper songs, which I really appreciated.  Miranda's trademark rap made its way into the show as well and it surprisingly worked.  And the almost Disney-esque hopeful tone to many of the numbers really worked with what the story was about and who the protagonist was.  It was a large part of what made it such a fun night at the theater.

All that being said, Bring It On wasn't perfect.  The show could afford to be tightened a little bit.  For the first twenty minutes, before Campbell gets redistricted, I was certain that there would be no actual conflict and that we would just watch pretty people do pretty things for a few hours. (Which I don't need...that's why I watch the CW) I'm glad that it didn't turn out that way, but it was a looonnngg time to wait for a plot to start.  There are also tiny logic problems, like the fact that we never are actually told that Campbell and her boyfriend break up when they both move on to someone else or that Eva is able to surpass Kylar as captain because Kylar was sick...except that she comes back to the squad yet Eva remains in charge.  These things don't matter much in the grand scheme of things but they do take away a little from the show.  I also didn't love the love storyline between Campbell and the music loving boy at her new school, mostly because he seemed underdeveloped and unrelated to all of the rest of the action.  I understand that its a peppy musical and romance seems needed but I wish it was with a more fleshed out and integrated character.  In addition, as much as I loved the music, Act 1 was heavy on the big production numbers which made the excess of the smaller numbers in Act 2 feel uneven.  They need to spread everything around a little more..create some hills and valleys of musical magic.  They have all the parts, they just need to figure out how to put it together.

Despite all of these problems, one thing remains clear...Bring It On is FUN.  It may not have a great deal of deeper meaning or be the most perfectly structured thing to hit the stage but it does keep you entertained for a few hours.  Are we looking at a Best Musical Tony contender here?  Probably not.  But if you are in Los Angeles and are looking for something to do, get your butt down to the Ahmanson.  Yes, it will be annoying when people think you just saw someone try to be Kirsten Dunst on stage and you will need to explain otherwise, but trust me.  It will be worth it.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Great Scene: The West Wing

When it comes to great scenes, I usually tend to favor two person back and forths where it is the specific combination of those two individuals at that specific moment that leads to an explosive, heart-warming or  painful moment.  While monologues can be great, I usually find them to be a little self indulgent on the writer's part.  Or they seem like actor Emmy bait.  But sometimes, monologues are so good I don't care if they are any of those things.  And those times are usually when its something written by Aaron Sorkin.  And this amazing scene from The West Wing's Two Cathedrals shows exactly why.

The set up:  The devout President Bartlet is left alone in a cathedral after the death of his long time secretary, Mrs. Landigham.  What happens next is a wonderful display of a President's anger at his situation and a man furious with his creator.

Great.  Scene.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Killers And Druggies and Theives, Oh My!

Two warnings before you read this post.  A) It's really spoilery.  So if you are behind on American Horror Story or Breaking Bad or plan to ever watch old episodes of daytime television, Gossip Girl or The Vampire Diaries you may want to reconsider reading this one.  And B) I'm about to defend the criminal element.  So if you'd be offended by such a thing, well, now's the time click away from this page.


Okay, now that that's done, I want to take you back.  Way back, about a whole week ago, to a conversation I was having with my lovely friend who runs The Angst Report.  She was nervous about this week's episode of American Horror Story, out of fear that it would confirm (as it did) that angsty teen ghost Tate would turn out to be a school shooter.  The problem is that she is kind of crazy in love with the character and partially feared that she would have to stop loving him while simultaneously knowing that she wouldn't.  And what would that say about her?  Would she need to join the ranks of those crazy broads who marry men in prison?  After the episode aired, I had another friend who tweeted the same concern, and was admittedly ashamed that she still loved the character.  There were message board posts about it, with one person angrily disowning him while others coyly rebutted with their still ever present Tate crushes.  It's like the whole world is hanging their head in shame.

Me?  I'm all like "WHO CARES?"

How on earth could I crucify Tate?  I watch Dexter, and that boy is a serial killer.  Half the cast of Lost was responsible for ending someones life at one point or another. Breaking Bad's Walter White is both keeping meth addicts good and hooked while also having the blood of at least six people directly on his hands.  I'm also totally crazy about BB's Jesse Pinkman, who went and killed a sweet, innocent vegan.  But you know, he felt reaallllyyyyy bad about it.

If I knew any of these people in real life, I would hate them.  I would demand that they be thrown in jail and forced to atone for their sins time and time again.  But this is why the real world sucks, and why I much more prefer to live in TV land.  In the wonderful world of make believe I actually have the chance to see these characters for who they are, not what they did.  I'm allowed to be interested in them, even love them, despite their actions.  In reality, we let ourselves be all about the black and white.  Fiction gets to play in the grey.

Over the past few years, some of my favorite characters have been murders, thieves, and drug dealers.  There are at least two shows on the air that have prostitutes as protagonists.  Countless drug addicts are the central focus of their shows.  And man, do we love us some con men.  In fact, its hard to come up with a crime that we can't manage to forgive a character for.  Yes, I know what you're going to say.  And you're wrong.  Because we kind of love ourselves some rapists too.

Daytime television currently has two leading males who are both known rapists.  General Hospital's Luke raped Laura when she was a teenager and he was a skeevy nightclub owner.  Since then, the two got married, had kids and were on the cover of Time magazine as the "OMG, best couple ever".  And he RAPED her.  But Luke is all flawed, coming from an abusive and alcoholic household, so we forgive him.  Or at least forget the action.  Similarly, the adorably quippy Todd on One Life To Live started out as Gang Rapist #3.  He doesn't apologize for who he is and remains a reluctant anti-hero, but he is so darn interesting that we love him.  Similarly, both Vampire Diaries Tyler and Gossip Girl's Chuck attempted to rape characters in the pilots of their shows (For Chuck, it was two girls!).  They have since become fan favorites who have arced and grown and thus we forget their transgressions because we want to love them.

You see, we just can't help but love our criminals.  In fact, the only transgression I can never see us forgiving is pedophilia.  Because in the world of the grey, where it is all about shades of morality, we CAN forgive taking someones life but we CAN'T forgive taking someones innocence.  In television, children represent all that is good.  In fact, giving a character a child to hang around makes them instantly more likable.  Both OLTL's Todd and Breaking Bad's Jesse are well known for their love of kids, and those feelings are always reciprocated by the adorable little munchkins.  If you ruin them, you can't be saved.  You're done.  Stick a fork in you.

But as far as I know, there are no pedophiles on my TV screen. (At least no fictional ones.  But that's another post)   The characters who grace it may do bad things, but they almost always do them for reasons that are at least intriguing to watch.  And I DO want to watch them.  And sometimes, I even like them.  And for that, I shall not feel ashamed.  This is why I love television.  And you know what?  It's why you do too.

The Angst Report, FuckYeahAaronPaul and Televisionista own these pictures, I do not.  I suspect they do not actually own them either, but they are all awesome for making them available so I don't have to screencap.  Thanks guys!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Broadway on my TV

I was going to blog about last night's Glee this morning, but I really don't want to spend any more time thinking about last night's train wreck of an episode.  I mean really, what was that? (And oh, poor Damian McGinty.  You were adorable on The Glee Project and can totally sing, but I now stand firmly by my stance that the competition should have tested acting skills.  Yikes.)  No, I just can't do Glee.  But I'm still in a peppy show tune-y mood, and luckily for me, last night's performance of Godspell on Letterman totally gave me something to sing about.

It should be said...I have not seen Godspell.  But I do troll the Internet from time to time and had read some less than flattering buzz about the show.  Couple that with the fact that I know very little about the source material (Yes, I AM talking about the New Testament.  Bite me) and it was slowly slipping down my to do list for my great New York trip.  But then I saw last night's televised performance and it totally changed my mind.  It's back on the list.  It's back on it hard.

Here's what was great about the Godspell performance:

A- They did a medley 
I don't know any of these songs, but I kind of feel like I do now.  And I know that there is more than one number that doesn't suck

B-Everyone got a moment in the sun 
The best thing a show can do when performing on television is make you curious about the characters.  That will hook you into getting your butt in a seat.  By showcasing almost the entire cast, I was interested in all of these people and what their story is.  Plus most of them can really sing, which is a nice departure from Glee-land (I'm sorry.  Still scarred)

C-It felt like a Broadway show
Sometimes when a show performs on TV it tries to hard to be cool.  They are the talk show's musical guest, after all, and thus tend to trying to present themselves as the Kanye West of musical theater.  Kids, there is a reason Kanye West doesn't do Broadway.  Broadway shouldn't try to do him.  Embracing the fact that you are a show is a GOOD thing.  It takes the audience to the world of your story and makes them want to be a part of it.  Also, it feels genuine which means we can just sit back and enjoy the performance and not shift in out seats over the uncomfortable attempts to be cool.

D- It was fun.
Simply put, the cast looked like they were having a great time.  Which makes you think you will too.

E- Hunter Parrish makes a pretty Jesus
I'm sure that this will sell the show, but it actually has nothing to do with the performance.  I really just think that it needs to be said.

Check out the Godspell performance here:

There are a few other show performances on TV throughout the years that  have sold the show really well.

Spring Awakening on The View used a great song (Touch Me) and showcased the beauty of the show while providing a teaser into the characters.

42nd Street's Lullaby of Broadway from the Tony's sums up everything great about going to see it:

Hair's Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In on Letterman combined the show's two most well know songs so create an Electric performance.  It set the standard for Godspell:

And Ragtime's performance on The Rosie O'Donnell Show (the old one)  showed how to showcase a big ensemble show in a small space.

These shows knew how to capture the essence of their show and give a killer performance.  And they were all a hell of a lot more entertaining to watch than an episode of Glee.

Damn.  There I go again....

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Greater Than: Ryan Murphy's Teens

It's kind of amazing how much better a show American Horror story is than Glee.  So much better, in fact, that is seems kind of unfair to compare the two.  We need a much more even playing field here.  And for that, we need to go old school.

From 1999 to 2001, Ryan Murphy presented us with a quirky cast of teens trying to make it through high school.  There was the really dumb blonde.  There was the bitchy mean girl who was masking some serious insecurities.  There was the popular blonde and the unpopular brunette who had feelings for the same dopey guy.  There was an androgynous teacher.  There was a restaurant named after a stale piece of bread. I know it may sound familiar, but Popular wasn't Glee.  It was WAYYY better.

Popular > Glee

Go find Popular on DVD.  Now.  And there is a new episode of Glee on tonight as well.