Monday, December 31, 2012

Year End 2012: Simply the best

     You can find this screencap in a video on YouTube titled
     "Best scene in the history of television". Hard to argue.

Caveat for my year-end lists: the non-existence of my readership should render this moot, but I feel compelled to clarify a few things. First off, while these lists are referred to as "best of," "worst of," and everything in between, they are of course a reflection of solely my opinion. Some people might think that "Work It" is the crown jewel of the comedia dell'arte; those same people might think that "Parks and Recreation" isn't funny at all - I mean, nobody even falls down in it or makes sexual puns. That's fine. We'll agree to disagree. In addition, there are a lot of shows that I don't watch. As much as I've heard nothing but good things about "Parenthood" and "The Good Wife," I don't watch them and therefore as much as they might be deserving of being on such a list, they're not on this one. My "worst of" list is also a representation of shows that were not only bad, but specifically a disappointment. "Honey Boo Boo" was not intended as profound commentary on Southern life and the harsh realities of childhood fame whose execution completed failed. That's why it won't be on my "worst of" list, and a mediocre, inoffensive sitcom with such a stellar cast like "Up All Night" is (although really, the tipping point for that one was its hilariously misguided decision to convert to multi-cam).

Here we are. A little more than 8,500 words and many hours of procrastination later, we've reached the fourth and final instalment of my year end series, in which I offer my list of the ten best shows on television for the year 2012. And what's more, no spoilers - everyone's a winner!

And oh, what a big year it was for the small screen.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Year End 2012: No. Stop. Don't. Just...wait in the car until I'm ready to turn the TV off


     Some will be lucky no one ever knew they had anything to
     do with ABC's "Work It". Others, like Amaury Nolasco and
     Ben Koldyke, aren't as fortunate.

Caveat for my year-end lists: the non-existence of my readership should render this moot, but I feel compelled to clarify a few things. First off, while these lists are referred to as "best of," "worst of," and everything in between, they are of course a reflection of solely my opinion. Some people might think that "Work It" is the crown jewel of the comedia dell'arte; those same people might think that "Parks and Recreation" isn't funny at all - I mean, nobody even falls down in it or makes sexual puns. That's fine. We'll agree to disagree. In addition, there are a lot of shows that I don't watch. As much as I've heard nothing but good things about "Parenthood" and "The Good Wife," I don't watch them and therefore as much as they might be deserving of being on such a list, they're not on this one. My "worst of" list is also a representation of shows that were not only bad, but specifically a disappointment. "Honey Boo Boo" was not intended as profound commentary on Southern life and the harsh realities of childhood fame whose execution completed failed. That's why it won't be on my "worst of" list, and a mediocre, inoffensive sitcom with such a stellar cast like "Up All Night" is (although really, the tipping point for that one was its hilariously misguided decision to convert to multi-cam).

And so it’s come to this: part three of my year end series, wherein I reflect on the moments in 2012 when I wished my parents had been new age hippies who got to tell their friends at parties that they didn’t even *have* a TV.

It is my list of the worst television shows of the year, presented in alphabetical order, followed by my selection of the single worst moment of the year in TV. One additional caveat: I have this terrible feeling that I’ve left some things off by accident.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Year End 2012: Missed it by that much

Caveat for my year-end lists: the non-existence of my readership should render this moot, but I feel compelled to clarify a few things. First off, while these lists are referred to as "best of," "worst of," and everything in between, they are of course a reflection of solely my opinion. Some people might think that "Work It" is the crown jewel of the comedia dell'arte; those same people might think that "Parks and Recreation" isn't funny at all - I mean, nobody even falls down in it or makes sexual puns. That's fine. We'll agree to disagree. In addition, there are a lot of shows that I don't watch. As much as I've heard nothing but good things about "Parenthood" and "The Good Wife," I don't watch them and therefore as much as they might be deserving of being on such a list, they're not on this one. My "worst of" list is also a representation of shows that were not only bad, but specifically a disappointment. "Honey Boo Boo" was not intended as profound commentary on Southern life and the harsh realities of childhood fame whose execution completed failed. That's why it won't be on my "worst of" list, and a mediocre, inoffensive sitcom with such a stellar cast like "Up All Night" is (although really, the tipping point for that one was its hilariously misguided decision to convert to multi-cam).

Part two of my year end series takes a look at the shows I placed just outside my top ten, in positions twenty through eleven. I should note an additional caveat that with some of these shows, rather than I explaining why I particularly like them, I focused much of the writeup on what was keeping it out of the top 10. Don't misinterpret that as severe condemnation or dislike in any way, but rather as constructive criticism for how to fix the parts I'm not crazy about within shows I otherwise really do like. Hence, just missing my top 10.

Onward...

Monday, December 10, 2012

Year End 2012: My favourite TV episodes of 2012


Caveat for my year-end lists: the non-existence of my readership should render this moot, but I feel compelled to clarify a few things. First off, while these lists are referred to as "best of," "worst of," and everything in between, they are of course a reflection of solely my opinion. Some people might think that "Work It" is the crown jewel of the comedia dell'arte; those same people might think that "Parks and Recreation" isn't funny at all - I mean, nobody even falls down in it or makes sexual puns. That's fine. We'll agree to disagree. In addition, there are a lot of shows that I don't watch. As much as I've heard nothing but good things about "Parenthood" and "The Good Wife," I don't watch them and therefore as much as they might be deserving of being on such a list, they're not on this one. My "worst of" list is also a representation of shows that were not only bad, but specifically a disappointment. "Honey Boo Boo" was not intended as profound commentary on Southern life and the harsh realities of childhood fame whose execution completed failed. That's why it won't be on my "worst of" list, and a mediocre, inoffensive sitcom with such a stellar cast like "Up All Night" is (although really, the tipping point for that one was its hilariously misguided decision to convert to multi-cam).

Tonight comes the first of a four part "year-end" series, with a list of my favourite TV episodes of the year. I started compiling this list around mid-summer and looking back at it, it's a reminder of how much I've enjoyed the year in television. It's a lengthy list, but I wanted to give it a little bit more substance, so I've tried to explain in one sentence (I often failed) why each episode stood out to me.

Even though most shows have wrapped up airing new episodes for the year, 2012 isn't over. If I have any new inclusions for the rest of December, I'll add them as I see fit.

Click on to view the full list...

Monday, December 03, 2012

Reason be damned, CTV is bringing "The Amazing Race Canada" to a television near you

     CTV revealed the logo for "The Amazing Race Canada"
     during the Sunday night broadcast of the American version.

Late Sunday night, CTV (or rather American host Phil Keoghan at the end of Sunday's episode) announced the anchor in their summer 2013 primetime schedule - "The Amazing Race Canada," which will be set entirely in the great white north.

And my first thought was, "The hell?"

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Catchup: Brotherly love is a foreign concept for FX's "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia"

     Glenn Howerton, Charlie Day, Rob McElhenny, Danny DeVito
     and Kaitlin Olson of "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia"

At the climax of the Season 7 episode "Sweet Dee Gets Audited," the anti-heroes of FX's hysterical and absurd "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" conclude that what they're about to do - hosting the funeral for a baby that Dee wants to claim as a dependent but due to its fakeness she can't prove exists to the IRS - is the worst thing they've ever done.

And...whew. That seems like a rather bold statement coming from the likes of Mac (Rob McElhenny), Charlie Kelly (Charlie Day), and the Reynolds family - Dennis (Glenn Howerton), Sweet Dee (Kaitlin Olson), and their "father" Frank (comedy veteran Danny DeVito) - considering Dennis and Dee once got themselves addicted to crack so they could qualify for welfare. Considering the guys once not only abandoned Dee when confronted by an armed mugger, but actually pushed her into him as they ran away. Considering "The Gang," as they like to call themselves, once started jacking up prices at the bar and serving watered-down alcohol to underaged drinkers.

I think you get the idea. These people are among the world's worst. The lowest of low scum.

And yet, it can be so damn entertaining and hilarious to watch them screw with each other for twenty or so minutes.

Monday, November 26, 2012

"How I Met Your Mother": Twelve laughing viewers

   Joe Lo Truglio, Jason Segel, and Joe Manganiello in
   "How I Met Your Mother"

Tearing into "How I Met Your Mother" has really lost all purpose, since it's had the same, unwavering problems for a few years now and we're in so deep that nothing's going to change. But tonight's episode really ramped up both the sexism and contempt for the audience enough that I felt I needed to make fun of it. Also, it would be a shame to have no posts for November, despite promising myself I'd write a thing about my recent "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" catchup.

Perhaps I should follow in the footsteps of Pete Wells from The New York Times and write this solely in rhetorical questions. For example, HIMYM, do you actually believe that women are irresponsible human beings, unable to be tasked with the decision of determining guilt impartially when confronted with an attractive man? Is it completely logical to you that a jury, meant to reflect and represent society at large, would be made up entirely of people of the same sex? As a show that once gave us episodes as funny as "Slap Bet" and with devastatingly great performances as "Bad News," does the laugh track have to guffaw every time that Joe Manganiello shortens words? Is it really the right decision to have Josh Radnor at 38 playing a teenager when it was implausible enough to believe him at 32 playing Ted's college-aged self? And years after anyone lost interest in anyone's jobs (or their personal lives, really), what is the excuse for sending Marshall into new professional territory after having him flounder for so many seasons that isn't simply the easiness of lazy writing and time wasting?

With Angus T. Jones joining a cult, the fate of the ridiculously expensive "Two and a Half Men" remains in doubt, and I worry that CBS will be hesitant to let two of its most successful comedies go in the same year. And really, I've come to the conclusion that at this point, certain shows only exist to give Dennis Haskins a paying job. Though he did appear as the head of desserts last season, "Mad Men" was not one of them. This one is.

16 new episodes remain this season. Good lord, may they be the last 16 I ever see.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Sunday reviews: Excellent outings for "The Walking Dead" and "Homeland"

   David Morrissey of "The Walking Dead," and Claire Danes
   and Damian Lewis of "Homeland"

Wow. That was a damn good night for TV, featuring fantastic episodes from two shows I could easily rank among my favourites.

With "The Walking Dead," I place more emphasis on "could" since I don't think I've really liked an episode of the show since the season 2 premiere. Last year I found that much like the creatures who threatened our heroes, "The Walking Dead" became very stagnant and slow moving, thinking what it was doing was enough to be effective...and it wasn't. With the reputations of critical darlings like "Mad Men" and "Breaking Bad" preceding it, AMC's zombie hit attempted to reach that level of storytelling and character development, and for the most part failed. I longed for the days of season one when the show was just running around and shooting zombies - a show I could at least enjoy as a guilty pleasure. After a season finale I didn't hate last year, I came into the third season with renewed optimism but still some reluctance to forgive, and this week was a major step in the right direction. I've spent two weeks yearning for a return to stories focusing on Andrea and Michonne, and having long grown tired of Rick and the gang's wacky misadventures, how refreshing it was to watch an episode where they are reduced to but a passing mention from one handed Merle, of all characters. More importantly, how refreshing it was to be introduced to new characters on this show who didn't make me want to stab my eyes out. David Morissey's mysterious "The Governor" (just "The Governor," never his real name) piques some serious interest, certainly more than the blink-and-you'll-miss-them prisoners from last week. I almost convinced myself I wanted to see more of them, and by the time they were dead I couldn't care less. Instructions for next week, writers: take us back to Woodbury, and shows us more of the Andrea/Michonne relationship. Also, I'm in no rush to see Rick and his soul family again. But I doubt you'll be interested in taking me up on that last bit.

"Homeland" continues to be a televisual force of nature with tonight's episode "Q and A," in which Carrie and Brody have an hour long conversation that simultaneously wins Claire Danes and Damian Lewis next year's Emmys. Holy. Crap. I was on the edge of my seat during most of the interrogation scenes, but no more so than in the second half of the episode when Carrie turns off all the cameras and gives Brody the "Wouldn't it be nice to stop lying?" speech. Have you ever seen such outstanding acting it actually wanted to make you pull your hair out? After tonight's episode, I can say that I have - weird as that may be. Whenever I discuss "Homeland" with my brother, the question we usually come back to is "What now? How does the show possibly continue into a second season? How does the show finish season 2? How does the show go into season 3?" After Brody's arrest last week, the question was never more prevalent. And tonight's answer of immunity for Brody in exchange for his help in unravelling Abu Nazir's plot is going to make for one hell of a second half for what is already a fantastic sophomore season. Then, we come to Kim Bauer and her cougar  Tyra and Landry's 12 state killing spree  Dana and Finn's hit-and-run. Already people online are comparing those fondly remembered subplots to tonight's adolescent antics, and while I'd like to think those people are wrong, there's too much evidence to suggest this doesn't spiral out of control (especially considering enough of the creative team behind "24" is now working here). Prove me wrong, kids. Prove - me - wrong! Still, all in all, a phenomenal episode. The funny thing is, given how absolutely exceptional Danes and Lewis are, it's almost plausible that they could turn around and top this next week. But to ask that would be greedy, because tonight, we got "Q and A" - one of the best television episodes of the year.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Emmys 2012: Did the voters watch more than three shows this year? (No, not really)

   The team from "Homeland" accepts the Emmy for Outstanding
   Drama Series at Sunday night's 64th Primetime Emmy Awards

They say the easiest way to win an Emmy is to have already won one, and last night's 64th Primetime Emmy Awards crowned very few new winners. The television academy's favourite new drama series "Homeland" took home a number of trophies on the drama side, but "Modern Family" once again undeservedly dominated the comedy awards, winning every category they were nominated for (it's still so very pleasantly weird they didn't get a nomination for comedy writing). Below are my thoughts on each individual winner as well as some notable moments on the telecast, plus the results of my post-nomination predictions. (Spoiler: I did poorly, as usual)

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Season 3 of "The Voice" transitions from unwatchable to legitimately maddening

   From left to right: Miranda Lambert's husband, former Mousketeer,
   massive tool, half of Gnarls Barkley, and the short haired guy from
   Maroon 5.

This fall, NBC launched a new sitcom called "Go On", in which widowed sportscaster Ryan King (Matthew Perry) is forced into a handful of "coping with loss" therapy sessions with "Community"-esque misfits before returning to work full time. And Ryan isn't ten minutes into his first session when his sports background takes over and he decides to turn the various losses and pains suffered by the group's established members into a bracket-style tournament that the Tyler James Williams character dubs "March Sadness".

But this parade of sob stories fighting to win over a jury of one's peers isn't unique to "Go On" - in fact, the ridiculous, over the top sob stories on the new season of "The Voice" consumed a third of the primetime hours on NBC this past week.

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Quick review: NBC's "The New Normal"

     The cast of the new NBC comedy "The New Normal"

The upfronts trailer and early ads for NBC's new Ryan Murphy-created comedy "The New Normal" did not exhibit promise. There might be a more obvious thematic trend in the actual content of these new fall shows that I'm overlooking, but right now it seems like this season is seeing a lot of very talented and/or funny actors working on some real duds of shows. While traveling in the U.S. over the holiday, I took advantage of Hulu to watch a couple of pilots before they air on TV, and "The New Normal" was one of them. Rather than write up a specific review, I've copied and pasted a message I sent to a friend on Facebook describing all the things I didn't like about the show, most of which were reasons that I both abandoned "Glee" after its second season and didn't watch a second episode of "American Horror Story".

My reaction to "The New Normal" immediately after viewing:

Wasn't a fan of The New Normal. It's somewhere between meh and bad. Typical Ryan Murphy problems - serious tonal issues and at times unearned sentimentality. The old lady character from the ads is the main character Goldie's grandmother (because everyone in their family gets knocked up really young - Goldie is in her late 20s and got knocked up at 15) and she's basically Sue Sylvester, over the top for cheap laughs and you can already tell she's only gonna get worse. It's half unfunny sitcom and half lecture on tolerance.
One of the problems I have with Modern Family is that it seems far too often that Mitch really can't stand Cam but it's played as "oh that crazy Mitch and Cam, they're such a couple" like we're supposed to find it cute or endearing. This couple is kind of the same thing. Bryan is the "Cam" of this couple but kind of more of an unapologetic dick. But again, I think we're supposed to find it endearing that he means well, which is really cliched. He's recording these videos for his unborn child and cries at just the thought that the kid might call him daddy, and then when he's meeting with the guy from the surrogacy services all he wants for the child is that it will be blonde and thin.
Also, not to totez spoil this show for you, but this pilot ends on a goddamn cliffhanger re: whether or not Goldie (that's her actual name) will be impregnated from the artificial insemination. Can't think of another comedy that's ever done that. Cheap ploy to get people back for week 2. NICE TRY RYAN MURPHY BUT KTHXBAI.
Sigh. Oh well. My hopes weren't high, so this feels about right. I just so want NBC to have success with a good show. Fingers crossed for "Whitney" to become a surprise sophomore hit!!! Except...then I guess only the first part is true. Anyway.

Didn't end up finishing Fox's "Ben and Kate", but hopefully I can do that tonight and write up something about it tomorrow.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Greg Daniels promises a good final season for "The Office" - do I believe him?


Note: This has been a work in progress since last week, so a little bit of the wording is off re: dates. "Tuesday" refers to last Tuesday, August 21.

On Tuesday morning, I took a fun trip to the dental surgeon to have my wisdom teeth removed. Meanwhile, as I was enduring a good deal of pain, somewhere in California, Greg Daniels was relieving a great pain of mine by announcing that the upcoming ninth season of NBC's "The Office" would be the last for Scranton's paper pushers.

I fell in love with "The Office" pretty quickly back in the summer of 2007. Within no time, I suddenly found myself quoting the show constantly and anxiously awaiting the premiere of the fourth season. To my sadness, the show hit a rough patch and slowly but surely has become a pale imitation of its former brilliance. In this writer's opinion, seasons one, two, and three are near perfect; season four has a batting average of about 2/3; season five is probably about half, and has the four or five "Michael Scott Paper Company" episodes carrying it; season six is largely forgettable outside of the Jim and Pam wedding and baby episodes; season seven saw a great sendoff for Michael Scott, and was decent considering how much of the show was broken by then; and last year's eighth season was pretty much horrible.

So I would say that going into the ninth and final season, I am the least cautiously optimistic than I've ever been in the second half of this series. Greg Daniels, who helmed the show during its brightest years, is returning to help send Dunder Mifflin off into the sunset. And he's promised the following changes (courtesy of OfficeTally.com), to which I've attached my opinions.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Apparently I have opinions about Disney Channel's "ANT Farm", so this happened

     Unfrozen child stars from the 1980s (?)

When it comes to my television viewing, I can be a bit of a masochist. Last night, for no reason in particular, I decided to watch the bulk of a "Two and a Half Men" rerun, even though I find every aspect of that show to be dreadful - it's misogynistic, it's lazily written to the extent that it actually once used the very old "more chins than a Chinese phonebook" joke, it thinks crudeness and overt sexuality automatically equals comedy, the laugh track is obnoxiously loud, its stars are greatly overpaid considering what they're being asked to do, it panders to idiocy, it aspires to absolutely nothing, it's killed much better television shows that deserve good ratings, but most importantly, it's just not funny. And when I talk about how bad the show is, I don't mean that the show sucks now that Charlie Sheen is gone. The show was no better when he was around.

This sense of masochism is largely how I watch anything meant for children. See, as a product of the 1990s, I have the privilege...well, less so than in the past...to be part of an elite group of people in their late teens and early twenties who get to bitch about how kids TV these days is significantly worse than it used to be. Go-to examples to take shots at include "Hannah Montana" and "Wizards of Waverly Place", or really anything currently airing on the Disney Channel.

In my opinion, this sentiment has become cool and not everything made for kids these days is a horrid wasteland. Could I name a kids' show right now that I enjoy? No, but that's probably only because I don't really watch these shows anymore. This is not to say, though, that there isn't ample evidence on television that children's programming has become nothing more than 21 or so minutes of fame-obsessed nihilism. Case in point: Disney Channel's "ANT Farm".

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Showtime's "Episodes" sucks: Here's how to make it better

     The greatest comedians of our lifetime, the stars of the most
     important and influential television comedy of our generation.

Showtime's "Episodes", allegedly a comedy series, has not made me laugh once in nine episodes. So I came up with some ways to make the show better, or perhaps to improve your viewing experience. Even though I suggested refocusing the show on other characters/anatomical parts, Matt LeBlanc has to get credit for starring in a TV show in 2012 and not being the worst part of it. Here are my suggestions:

- Matt LeBlanc's gigantic penis becomes the new star of the show. Also, the penis can talk and suddenly "Episodes" starts beating its timeslot competitor, a reviled American remake of a beloved British comedy, in the ratings. They could keep LeBlanc to do a funny voice for the penis if they wanted to

- The head of comedy becomes the new star of the show. She can make funny faces and talk in her pseudo-valley girl voice and everyone will LOL

- The smarmy network lady who tells lies on behalf of the network president should have to interact with Superintendent Chalmers in every scene. Even Chalmers becomes skeptical of her lies

- Showtime subscriptions will now come with a fax machine. This will allow all the hacky multi-cam sitcom jokes to be immediately identified as jokes to the home viewers

- Every time Character A beats around the bush about something, finally says what's on their mind, followed by Character B saying "There it is!" without missing a beat, Louis C.K. and Michael Schur each get twenty dollars

- When a character pauses to wait for the non-existant laugh track applause to subside, drink an entire bottle of wine

- Sean and Beverly should literally faint whenever they find out that someone in the entertainment business told them a lie

- Wouldn't this be an awesome venue for the Friends reunion which is totally happening?!?!?!?! I heard Jennifer Aniston is dropping everything to jump at this incredible opportunity!!!!!!!!!!!

- Have the fictional Matt LeBlanc finally host "Saturday Night Live" in which "Pucks!" is parodied in a sketch. Sean and Beverly complain that SNL took a beloved staple of American comedy and ruined it. Also, CBS/NBC peace summit or something.

- An entire episode where David Crane and Jeffrey Klarik fight television critics to the death, a la the fight scene in "Anchorman". Episode will be titled "Class Warfare"

If this were an actual episode of "Episodes", this would be the point where I'd clarify that everything I had just said immediately before was meant to be viewed comedically and I'm not actually suggesting that these things would improve the show. It's called sarcasm, you see. It's a pretty high form of wit, so it's understandable that you wouldn't be familiar.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

There were a lot of characters on "Friday Night Lights" I wished I would never see again

     Clockwise from top: Kat McPhee on "Smash," star of "Off
     the Map" and "The Mob Doctor," typecasted murderer, girl
     who asked the question to Miss Teen South Carolina,
     has volleyball under special skills on her resume, Canadian
     box office draw, Rob Has A Podcast fantasy football
     competitor, new Charlie's Angel number...let's say two.

Better late than never, I spent the last twelve days making my way through all five seasons of "Friday Night Lights", which I really enjoyed. Except for some key parts that I didn't. And since I'm about six years too late on getting in on this party, I really don't have anyone to bounce these thoughts off of. So I turn to you, faithful blog.

So many of the show's problems have already been written to death about - the Tyra/Landry murder plot, Santiago, everything else about season two, its complete inability to handle a story about crime with any grace - so I'll spare you. But the Tyra/Landry murder story did leave me thinking about an aspect of storytelling that to me felt so obviously wrong that I can't believe the writers went down that path.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

If you could just go ahead and shut up about how NBC broadcasts the Olympics, that'd be great

     Opening ceremonies of the Summer Olympics in London.

There's been a fair bit of outrage on Twitter tonight regarding NBC's presentation of the opening ceremonies of the 2012 London Summer Olympics. Some of it is deserved, like the excessive commercial breaks that wouldn't be necessary if NBC didn't overpay for the television rights to these games again. Some if it is totally deserved - if Bob Costas and Matt Lauer did indeed spend the duration of Kazakhstan's entrance in the Parade of Nations talking about Borat (as Twitter tells me they did) then obviously that's not journalism and just very ignorant. That being said, allow me to offer a couple bullet point forms of defense.

- Tape delay: There are pros and cons here. You have to keep in mind both that a) there is a 5 hour time difference between London and the east coast of the United States, and b) NBC is still a television network that makes most of its money broadcasting in primetime. The argument that social media has killed the tape delay is only half right. Sure, CBS should continue to be nailed for tape delaying the Grammys every year on the West Coast considering they air on a Sunday and are produced in Los Angeles; but NBC should not be nailed for airing this event in primetime because fun fact: the majority of Americans were working today, a Friday, at 4:00pm eastern time and would have no way of seeing this event live. That's not to say that one of NBC's cable channels, like USA, couldn't have aired this live instead of the three reruns of "Law and Order: Special Victims Unit" that it aired during those hours instead. That's because it's much easier for them to do that than for NBC to clear three hours from every one of their affiliates to air the opening ceremonies live. An event this big is going to be talked about, even if it's three hours later than when it actually happened. The West Coast tape delay of the opening ceremonies are proving that right now. NBC Sports is another contended to air this event live, but at the time they were already showing Olympic coverage in the form of men's soccer.

- America, ra-ra-ra: Please stop. America is far from the only nation to do this. If you watched CTV's coverage in Canada as I did, then you must remember watching Brian Williams and Lisa LaFlamme babble over footage of Canadian athletes walking through the entire stadium as between five and ten countries behind them were ignored entirely. The countries with the biggest teams, like Australia, Canada, and the U.S. among others, will usually have commercials aired over them because nobody wants to watch 200+ person teams walk through the stadium as the commentators have run out of things to read from the notes they printed off Wikipedia. The Olympics are extremely political, so it's kind of pointless to complain when more coverage is given to a team of hundreds than to a team of 4. Also, coverage will always vary by country because they're trying to try to offer you a take on the games from your own nationality. Because of the primetime tape delay NBC uses, they get complaints about their coverage focusing too much on the American team. Umm...what? They have three primetime hours to sum up the day's highlights, and the people who watch the games in that format want to hear first and foremost about the American team. Canadian television operates on a different model and because of that, coverage will be ongoing all throughout the day on the main CTV network and can therefore more easily cover a broader scope of nations that will otherwise be ignored. Don't blame NBC - this would happen on any major American network. It's just the biz, folks.

Friday, July 27, 2012

TV Review: Two seasons in, "Happy Endings" should have no trouble living up to its title

     "Happy Endings" cast, left to right: Zachary Knighton,
     Eliza Coupe, Damon Wayans Jr., Casey Wilson, Adam Pally,
     and Elisha Cuthbert. (Not pictured: cougar)

You may have noticed over the last couple of years (or longer, even) that certain TV seasons were dominated by a recurring theme or premise.

For example, last year ABC picked up three comedies about the plight of the white male: the first was "Last Man Standing", in which Tim Allen somehow baffled-by-modern-culture'd his way into a second season. The second was its original timeslot partner "Man Up", in which three white guys played video games in their basements while their wives looked on derisively (at least until November, when they were cancelled). The third, and easily the biggest offender, was "Work It" in which men were desperate enough to dress up in drag and act in one of the worst series in the history of television.

The year before that, however, was the year of the sitcom that followed the hijinks of three couples, connected in some way, that were each in different stages of their relationships. The first to premiere was ABC's "Better with You", which wasn't very funny but starred a lot of likeable people, like Joanna Garcia and Debra Jo Rupp. Next up was NBC's "Perfect Couples" which was just as unfunny and incredibly similar in almost every way except for being a single camera show (seriously, they even had Kyle Bornheimer compete against "Better With You"'s Josh Cooke as duelling showkillers - although as expected, both lost again.). Fox also had a similar setup with a comedy called "Traffic Light", which featured fewer couples but wasn't any funnier.

And just as all of those shows had either died or were about to die, in came the season's closing act: ABC's "Happy Endings", which is sometimes funnier in singular episodes than those other three shows combined.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

2012 Emmy nominations post-mortem: The surprises, the snubs, and the shameful

     Kerry Washington of ABC's "Scandal" and late night host
     Jimmy Kimmel present the nominations for the 64th Primetime
     Emmy Awards.

The Primetime Emmys sting of disappointment every year, and this year they stung even earlier. Not long before the nomination announcements, Nick Offerman from Parks and Recreation Reads Tweets From Young Female Celebrities had to bail on announcing because of a travel delay. In the end, though, I was glad that the actor giving the funniest performance on television did not have to get up so early in the morning to announce to the world that his own show, the best comedy on TV, was being ignored in favour of shows that move at a glacial level in terms of character development and humour, like The Big Bang Theory and Modern Family.

I could write long, generic paragraphs about what I liked and didn't like, but I'd better go through the major awards category by category, so as to keep my thoughts under control and in their proper places. I'll also make note of who I think should win (as in who I feel is most deserving and who I want to win) and who I think will win. I have nothing to say about the miniseries and movie categories, so why waste time trying to write about them? A combination of joy and disgust after the break.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

My hypothetical 2012 Emmy ballot


The nominations for the 64th Primetime Emmy Awards will be announced in a little more than 32 hours, so before that, I reveal my hypothetical Emmy ballot for I guess record's sake, as well as which nominee I'd vote for to win. I stuck to acting and series categories because I feel like there's too much to sort through with writing and directing categories and the variety and reality categories bored me. Onward...

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Review: An adorkable season of Fox's "New Girl"


In an age of television comedy that can truly be considered golden (Parks and Recreation, Louie, 30 Rock, Happy Endings, Cougar Town, and literally on and on), the bar is understandably set high. A year or ten ago, a current hit like Modern Family would have been groundbreaking, not only as comedy but as television in general. Today's great TV comedies offer worlds with such great depth (think Pawnee, or the wide eyed curiosity with which Louis C.K. sees the world on Louie) and characters that constantly evolve (think Jeff Winger, or any number of Community characters). So when something like Modern Family embraces its role as a product sold by The ABC Manufacturing Network Inc. and over the years stays exactly as consumers seem to want, those who have come to know and love depth and evolution will understandably start to turn on it.

In comes Fox's "New Girl", a show whose very title might suggest beyond its literal meaning that whatever it is you're about to see, it's anything but stale. Is it? In some ways yes, and some ways no. On the one hand, it's perhaps the boldest show on television in how willing it is to take risks that have a fairly middling rate of success. But when those risks don't pay off, it's not much more than high brow slapstick, if such a concept is plausible.

Saturday, July 07, 2012

Review: ABC's "Suburgatory"


There were a few contenders for the title of the 2011 TV season's best new comedy - many landed on Fox's "New Girl," a show which certainly knew its strengths but unfortunately has yet to solve some of its weaknesses (which is understandable, considering they're only about to enter their second season). A show in a similar state of embracing strengths but failing to recognize weakness was "Suburgatory", which unlike "New Girl" had more strengths to use in better ways and is probably a lot closer to weeding out its Alan Tudyk problem than the Fox sitcom is to weeding out its Lamorne Morris problem. As a result, "Suburgatory" was not only the best new comedy of last season, but was in many weeks the best new series of last season.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Reviews: HBO's freshman comedies "Veep" and "Girls"


"Veep": Take political satire at its finest and combine it with expertly crafted cringe-worthy comedy, and you get this fantastic series that is not only a great vehicle for star Julia Louis-Dreyfus, but a fantastic showcase for its ensemble, consisting of Anna Chlumsky and Tony Hale among others. The show's complete apathy for politics and anything associated with it is well earned in the misfit characters' low ranking jobs, and combined with Armando Iannucci's love of vulgarity, makes for great bits of absurd dialogue like "I'll redact your fuckin' face!" The show didn't always hit home runs in the laughter department, but its literal home runs, like the "Baseball" episode, proved the show was firing on all cylinders the more its ensemble cast worked together to make it out of a high-profile but low-status event without a scandal on their heels. Concluding this write-up is a paragraph from the notes I took while watching the pilot, which nicely sums up the series and its view of politics: "Vice President has her Chief of Staff sign card of condolence to Senator’s widow for her by making a writing motion in the air – all in front of the Chair of the American Foundation for Developmental Disabilities, who she is meeting with after using the word “retard” in a public address" Great show, can't wait to see it come back - and hopefully with at least a couple more episodes next season.


"Girls": As Lena Dunham pointed out, "Girls" in an appropriately ironic title for her show - its characters, despite having such a specific worldview, are so self-important that one of them may even feel as if they are, to borrow a phrase from Hannah Horvath, "the voice of [their] generation." Said specific worldview is not easy in the slightest do sort through and decipher. Meeting these characters and observing their world for the first time is very jarring, and upon first viewing the pilot of this show was certainly polarizing; as many people hated this show as the ones who loved it, and initially I counted myself among the former. Through the next couple of episodes, we were able to more clearly see what the series was saying about life, the universe, and its characters. In fact, there probably isn't another show, at least one this good, that had a better sense of self - what it was, where it was going, what it meant, and even why it meant. Through the ten episodes we saw the appropriate amount of growth in its characters - we learned that Adam is more than just a shirtless creep and that Shoshanna is more than just a ditzy cartoon that might actually fit in better with George and Tessa Altman in Chatswin. Hannah's growth throughout the season was also pretty much spot on, for her specifically but also for any person in that stage of their life. Hannah wants so badly to grow up, but the kind of life that comes with being an adult, and thus is able to provide material for her book, is the same one that so often comes crashing down on her and leaving her in desperate need of help. Real life is all she wants, but real life is so much harder than stealing money her parents left for the hotel's housekeeping or continually having Marnie bail her out on rent. The last few minutes of the finale, as Hannah heads home on the subway, has her purse stolen, and sits on the beach at Coney Island to eat cake, is just a brilliantly interesting bit of television, and man, did I end up liking this show more than I ever thought I would.

Ann Curry forced out of Today show: a return to first place?


A lot of people have been comparing the recent rumours that Ann Curry will be forced out of her job as  co-anchor on NBC's "Today" to the predicament Conan O'Brien found himself in back in January 2010. Curry and O'Brien, both established NBC personalities, spent years waiting to take a job that as it turns out was never really given to them. Both were paid large sums of money to walk away from NBC altogether. And at their helms, both took shows that had for years been outrating their competitors by comfortable margins into second place.

But the clearest similarity I can see is that both O'Brien and Curry were wrongly promoted to jobs they were ill-suited for.

Saturday, May 05, 2012

After 15 years, I finally got around to seeing "Titanic"



I was only four years old when "Titanic" was first released in theatres on December 19, 1997. As you might expect, a story about young love wrapped in an epic historical disaster is not exactly compelling to a four year old. Nor does such a movie that has eleven Academy Awards and was once the highest grossing movie of all time entice a four year old. So for the next fifteen years, I continued on in a state of ignorance about "Titanic" the motion picture. But on Thursday night, that finally changed.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

How "The Voice" went from refreshing to unbearable


When NBC's "The Voice" premiered its first season on April 26 of last year, it was a surprisingly refreshing take on the singing competition series, and a very good alternative to the dreadful "American Idol". I started watching "The Voice" for two main reasons: I was curious to see if this was the show that could pull NBC out of the toilet, and of course there were those spinning chairs.

The second season premiered after the Super Bowl and the ratings were higher than ever. But the show has taken a severe plunge in quality this season and a show that I once found did everything right has now done almost everything wrong.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

In which I defend a show I'm not particularly fond of at the moment



Every Monday, a video preview of that night's episode of "How I Met Your Mother" - be it a new episode or a rerun - goes up on the show's official Facebook page run by CBS. And every week, I continue to find the comments on those posts annoy me to no end. So allow me to vent about the ways in which other people vent: the weekly complaints follow.

1) "Another rerun??? Omg lyk u guys need to get it together, why is there only 1 nu ep each month? Gosh!!!!!!" (15-25 likes) - This is irritating to anyone familiar with how television works. There are 24 episodes a season and 36 weeks in the broadcast television season. That means that 12 times during the season, CBS cannot air a new episode of the show. It's always been that way. This is not a new phenomenon that's suddenly appeared this year. There are sweeps periods (periods in which television ratings are tracked to determine advertising costs on each show) every year in November, February, and May. Expect new episodes in the fall, but once the new year hits, don't look for them outside of sweeps. It's just how television works. Remember in the fall when we got 11 new episodes in a row? That's why there's reruns now. Accept it. Move on. Far better shows are not on the air at all.

2) "Omg finaly a new ep! It's been months since the last new episode!!!" (20-30 likes) - Same complaint, worded differently depending on a rerun or a new episode. Again, you're wrong, and get over it.

3) "This video is not available in your geographic region? That's sooo racist. Where do I live,, Narnia?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!? LOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOL" (5-12 likes) - People seem to think that CBS has it out for the international viewers of their shows by geo-filtering their material so that it can only be viewed within the United States. In reality, there are copious legal issues that prevent CBS from displaying video content in different countries. CBS does not hate your homeland, they just can't be bothered to sort out the legal issues of every specific country and different advertisers to display worldwide-viewable videos. Also, maybe this is just because I'm a Canadian and we get nearly every American show same day here, but why don't you just wait 10 hours and watch the episode? Is the preview all that necessary? And every person uses the Narnia joke. We get it, Narnia is a fictional location from a children's book hidden away from the rest of the civilized world. Someone on the page claimed the joke isn't funny anymore, but my response is that it wasn't ever funny. Finally, claims on the page that CBS doesn't care about anyone that isn't American or gives them money is also ridiculous - cock blocking you out of a 30 second promo doesn't give them extra bags of money to use as napkins. Any excuse to bag on the U.S. is a popular sentiment among those who are not American.

4) The show sucks now, you're going in circles, reveal the mother, end the show already (4-5 likes) - Okay yeah, can't argue with this one.

And if you continue to post such bullshit:

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Review: "Paul": Pegg and Frost just make me feel happy


Let's end on a high note! This may be one of the few positive reviews on this blog to date. This was also a Writer's Craft assignment, and if I recall correctly, I did get 100 on this. But judge for yourself, after the jump.



Sunday, January 08, 2012

"How I Met Your Mother": State of the sitcom address

My brother and sister-in-law started watching "How I Met Your Mother" a couple years ago, and seemed to really be liking it for the most part. So this past April, over the Easter weekend, I went back and began catching up on all six seasons. Conveniently, my aunt had bought the first four seasons of the show on DVD under the assumption she would start watching them at some point, but it turns out I got to them first.

It took me only a month to get caught up, and the fact that the show's early seasons felt so natural and fluid only encouraged me to watch at a rate of about eight episodes a night. Along with "The Big Bang Theory," it remains one of only two TV comedies with a laugh track that I watch - only "HIMYM" feels like a show that probably wouldn't have a laugh track nor be filmed with multiple cameras were it not aired on CBS. The structure of the show is such that it can't even be filmed in front of an audience because the number of flashbacks and cutaways on the show, as well as its use of narration, would make the show feel like a "hostage situation" for a live audience, according to its creators. More importantly, the comedy of the show is genuinely funny enough to make me laugh; the same can't always be said for "TBBT".

Somewhere along its run, however, "HIMYM" has lost its way. I know this because every TV critic has been saying it and writing about it for a while now. A friend who watches and loves the show and I were texting the other night about the current state of the show, as we've done many times before. And each time I feel like we're going to talk in circles again about the show's flaws, we always seem to find new areas of concern or trace problems back to possible origins that we hadn't thought about before.

Inaugural blog post


I get annoying on Twitter (which you can read at www.twitter.com/DirkNoel by the way) because I post a lot of nonsense that my followers don't care to read. So I made this blog so I can have an outlet to write about and review TV, pop culture, whatever I want to write about basically. Give me a read. I think I'm funny, anyway.