Thursday, October 8, 2009

Last Time You'll Hear About These...

We’ve been on vacation away from the idiot box for two weeks, and it’s taken me a little while to get through the pile-up on the DVR. Thanks to the following three shows for making that task a little easier:

The Beautiful Life. I don’t know why the CW is still so obsessed with finding a companion to America’s Next Top Model: Tyra is rumored to be bored with the show and the current season is enjoying an ever declining viewership. Still, of the many shows jettisoned as a potential ANTM compliment, The Beautiful Life failed the fastest, which is kind of impressive. It’s no wonder: the high point was Mischa Barton reformatting her role as the vomiting ghost in Sixth Sense to a model that goes from pregnant to a runway stick in just six months.

Mercy. Remember how much I loved HawthoRNe? Mercy may actually be worse. I don’t know who convinced Michelle Trachtenberg to go back to the “Who, me?” acting style from her early days on Buffy, but it’s a huge backslide from the diabolically resourceful Georgina Sparks of Gossip Girl.

But the hands-down winner for most disappointing new show would have to be…

Cougartown. Remember how I was rooting for a fast-paced snarkfest? Cougartown delivered a never-ending hangover from the premise that woman have to wear too little clothing and drink too much alcohol to have a good time.

Monday, September 21, 2009

I said, "Meh" to most of the Emmy wins this year, but...

Congratulations to Glenn Close for her Emmy win for her portrayal of Patty Hewes of FX’s Damages!! An amazing show, an amazing character, an amazing actress!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


If you’ll remember, in this post about Entourage, I ridicule the thought that Gossip Girl can make it past the graduation from high school of most of its main characters.

September 14’s “Reversals of Fortune” may as well have begun with credits reading: “We probably should have made them freshmen in season one, but, shucks, the success of this show surprised us as much as it surprised everyone else.”

The show then proceeded to launch into a frenzied effort to build ridiculous sub-plots that have only one purpose: to distract viewers from the fact that all of these kids are supposed to be starting at prestigious Ivy League schools next week, thereby ending the drama their day-to-day contact creates.

Serena (Blake Lively)’s big plan is to taunt her estranged father with paparazzi photos of her in innumerable compromising positions so that he’ll take her calls. Now, I’m with the rest of the world in thinking that Blake Lively may be an escapee from some lab whose purpose is to create the perfect woman, but, you know what, I just don’t see much plot potential here. And that’s too bad, because Serena was in need of some serious growth—-her character hasn’t been interesting in a very long time. But no, the writers have instead decided to rest in the easy stereotype of “daddy issues.”

Add to that a gratuitous sex plot featuring Chuck (Ed Westwick) and Blair (Leighton Meester) that reinforces a stereotypical need of women to belittle their “competition” and folks, we’ve got ourselves a R-E-A-L winner of a season.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Everyone take a deep breath...

Near the end of the second season of The OC, Sports Guy Bill Simmons of ESPN Page 2 fame wrote a fantastic column comparing 90210 to The OC. He gives the ultimate edge to 90210 (which turned out to be the correct assessment—90210 ran for ten years while The OC barely made it four), and one of his reasons is plot development: “At the rate they're going, by Season 4, we'll see Ryan kidnapped by a UFO or something.” Actually season four saw Ryan falling into an alternate universe where, in a parody of It’s a Wonderful Life, he got to see what Newport Beach would be like without him, but still, a pretty good prediction.

I’m worried about Glee already.

Last night’s season premiere, “Showmance,” included the following: the glee club appearing to at least temporarily win over the student body and principal (Igbal Theba), Rachel (Lea Michele) being driven to desperation by her attraction to Finn (Cory Monteith), Emma (Jayma Mays) making desperate plays for Will (Matthew Morrison), Rachel almost making out with Finn, the revelation that Terri (Jessalyn Gilsig) is experiencing a hysterical pregnancy, Terri lying to Will about said pregnancy, Sue (Jane Lynch) planting some of her Cheerios on the glee club in an effort to destroy it, Will falling for Sue’s ploy and giving Rachel’s solo to cheerleader Quinn (Dianna Argon—could they cram anymore ex-Heroes into this show?), Emma reaching closure on attraction to Will and agreeing to date Ken (Patrick Gallagher), and Will quitting his second job so far for this series—a nighttime janitorial gig at the school that was meant to finance a new house that he and Terri both decide to buy and abandon the idea of buying in the same episode.

At this rate, Glee might be kidnapped by a UFO this season.

This manic flurry of activity isn’t a good trait in a sitcom, and not just because of the “viewers already feel like they need to watch each episode twice to keep up” factor. The message of instant gratification that the show promotes in its female characters (because its male characters all seem to drift through the action obliviously) is potentially a destructive one: if insta-resolution can’t be reached, the problem is with you!

The show has a lot of built-in, quirky edginess that needs to be allowed to develop, not thrust upon viewers by the mountain-full. It’s okay, Glee, you’ve got more than enough hype and viewership to guarantee that even the Fox guillotine will stick with you for at least one season.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

There was a reason that they went away the first time, you know...

E! Online is reporting that the CW’s remake of Melrose Place only pulled a disappointing 2.3 million viewers.

What?! No takers for filling the vacancies left by the likes of Heather Locklear, Courtney Thorne-Smith, and Marcia Cross with tweens with no major acting credits? Really?! It couldn’t possibly be because the people that were originally captivated by this show are now WAY out of your normal demographic, could it, CW?

In fairness, I haven’t seen it, and I’m not likely to. The lack of internet buzz tells me all I need to know.

It was kind of cute when they brought back 90210. But season one’s debut out-performed season two’s debut by a two-to-one margin. Message: people only watched the show to see how Jennie Garth and Shannen Doherty aged, and now they’re over it. And in the interim, the CW continues to give teenage girls everywhere adult models that are past the awkwardness of adolescence as prototypes of what it takes to be among the non-tortured elite of your local high school. Way to go, guys, I’m sure you haven’t inspired any eating disorders or desperation to grow up too fast AT ALL.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Start Your Engines...

It’s the day after Labor Day, which can only mean one thing: Fox and the CW try to conquer the 18-49 crowd’s quota of new TV shows before anyone else can.

I’m prepared to be disappointed, but here are the new shows that I’m excited about:

1) The Good Wife (CBS). I don’t know why, but CBS shows seldom do it for me. But Chris Noth returning to a variation of his role as Mr. Big? You have my full attention. I’m a little worried that the show is going to over-rely on star power, with Mr. Sex and the City and Juliana Margulies of ER fame as the two leads, but I do love a good female reinvention drama.
2) The Modern Family (ABC). I’m hoping that this show will be what In The Motherhood should have been. But given ABC’s track record with the subject (In the Motherhood, Surviving Surburbia…) it’s more a hope-springs-eternal mindset that pushes this show to the number two slot.
3) Glee (Fox). Attention: Fox has finally learned that targeted marketing works! IMDB reports that the show, which is basically a remake of the ill-fated Freaks and Geeks set to music, is currently up 793% in popularity. The gleek in me was already prepared to love this show, and the fact that it gives a home to the genius of Jane Lynch (late of The L Word) and Lea Michele (of the Broadway genius Spring Awakening) convinced me. But Fox? You know how sometimes you get over-excited about the rare potential Nielson success of one of your launches and proceed to pimp the show until everyone is sick of it? The tweet-peats have gotta go.
4) Cougar Town (ABC). It seems to be the year for re-launching the careers of former network stars that enjoyed cult-followings. If that’s going to be the theme, I’m glad that Courtney Cox made the cut, even if it is with playing the reincarnation of Edie Brit from Desperate Housewives. Tons of talent involved in this series—Cox plus Bill Lawrence (Scrubs)’s skills as producer—I’m hoping that the script will reflect it in a fast-paced snark-fest. Hopefully the time slot (9:30 on Wednesday), doesn’t mean that it’s just a placeholder for the return of LOST in January.
5) Eastwick (ABC). I cannot imagine the fabled town of Eastwick without Jack Nicholson, Michelle Pfeiffer, Susan Sarandon, and Cher, but for the sake of the tremendous combined talents of Lindsay Price, Rebecca Romijn, and Jamie Ray Newman, I’m going to try. And it would be nice to see ABC be able to expand their woman-friendly line-up into the realm of fantasy.

Sorry, CW. The early premiere didn't work here. You're further down on the DVR prioritizer.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

But these, I will miss.

Yesterday, I talked about what shows I was overjoyed to see banished from the idiot box.

Today, I’m mourning fallen shows that, to varying degrees, were interesting for women. Unfortunately, this list is a lot longer:

The L Word (Showtime). I’m actually impressed that The L Word made it as long as it did. The show was a wonderful exploration of the mania of living in a community bound by a life of otherness. And it did so without being preachy. The final two seasons moved away from this exploration in favor of scandalous hook-ups, which proved to be the show’s ultimate undoing. The series’ finale, “Last Word,” was more a manic surrender than anything else.

Lipstick Jungle (NBC): I’ve said it here before: it’s tough to make a show that needs to capitalize on the Sex and the City void to be successful when you have to censor the gratuitous sex and swearing to squeak it through network approval. After just two seasons, Lipstick Jungle finally lost the fight. It turns out that women’s problems that aren’t solved by Jimmy Choo’s aren’t as commercially viable, which is a sad social comment.

(CW). Privileged might have made it on a different network, but it’s not right for the CW’s demographic, who tune into Gossip Girl, America’s Next Top Model, and 90210. The quarter-life crisis of a Yale graduate just didn’t fit in the line-up. It’s a pity, Megan (Joanna Garcia) was one of the most relatable characters on television for the twenty-something crowd that, like this author, hasn’t quite realized their ambitions for what they want to be when they grow up.

The Starter Wife (USA). This cancellation might be one of the saddest, if only for the realization that, when the boys make fun of the more ridiculous qualities of Hollywood on Entourage, it’s a blockbuster, but when the girls do it on The Starter Wife, it gets cancelled. Plus, I’m a sucker for Debra Messing, and think it’s sad that she’ll probably never find a post-Will and Grace home.

The Unusuals (ABC). This show not finding a following is one of those things that make me think I’m hopelessly out of touch with popular reality. The show was packed with talent like Amber Tamblyn (Gilmore Girls and Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants), Harrold Perrineau (LOST), and Adam Goldberg (Entourage and How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days). The script had a Seinfeld-esque quirkishness that made you laugh, shake your head, and see bits of yourself and your friends in everyone on the screen.

So long, friends! It is with a heavy heart that I delete you from the DVR prioritizer.