February 27, 2013

The Men Who Cried Wolf: Review of HIMYM's "Weekend at Barney's"

In the first post I wrote about How I Met Your Mother, I gently acknowledged that it might be time for this show to come to an end. After this week's episode, I'm not going to be so gentle. "Weekend at Barney's" was what lousy television episodes are: stale.

Simply put, we'd seen it all before. How many times has Marshall made a buffoon of himself at sophisticated events while Lily stood by loving him anyway? And Ted dating a crazy?  That's nothing new. And worst of all, this was an episode centered around yet another one of Barney's schemes. And here's the problem with that: these characters can't be trusted. When Barney burned what we now know wasn't actually the Playbook, I thought, "Great! Character development!" Nope. Just when I was beginning to trust Barney and appreciate his relationship with Robin, he cried wolf. 

And he's not the only guilty one. Ted Mosby's been crying wolf about his own story for seven and a half seasons now. Ever since the pilot episode and his first date with Robin. So when he said that Jeanette was the last girl he dated before Mother, I responded skeptically.

Let me be clear, this is not a bad show, and this was not a bad episode. The acting is always good. The writing is always funny. And if that's what you're looking for, then HIMYM is the show for you. But I believe that good TV is better than that. And this episode was just... shoddy. If the characters don't grow, and if the plots aren't new, I'm not sure I can get through another season of How I Met Your Mother

February 19, 2013

Survivor: Caramoan "She Annoys Me Greatly" Review

That Survivor theme song. Can't you just hear it? It gives me the chills. And this week, before that horn signifying the beginning of another great episode sounded, two things were obvious. 

First, Malcolm, who was on the losing-est team in all Survivor history, was not going to lose this time. Well, lose anything but his swim trunks. He fought harder in that first reward challenge than anyone else. Maybe it was because he came so close to making it to the end last season. Or maybe it was because he's the least far removed from the game, having been on the most recent season. 

Second, Phillip has got to go, but he'll be around for awhile. Phillip is in the line of Boston Rob Survivor contestants. In other words, a strong, powerful player who you might only get one chance to vote off. Yet, when that chance comes around, these threats somehow get by with their torches still lit. By the end of the episode, with not a vote cast for the guy who so unconvincingly claims to have buried the hatchet, it was clear that we'll have to deal with Phillip for awhile. 

Then there's this guy:
Source: cbs.com

Cochran - Oh, John Cochran. I don't care how sunburnt you are, you're adorable. Overall this week, I was rooting for the Fans over the Favorites, but I think I'll always been rooting for Cochran.

As much as I love this show for the competition and sociological intrigue, the B-roll nature footage alone almost makes it worth watching. Who else thought that sea turtle was the most gorgeous thing you'd ever seen?

February 12, 2013

Outwit. Outplay. Outlast.

I am very excited for the return of Survivor. I admit openly that this is a reality show I watch consistently. Well, I watched consistently for about the first six seasons, then watched sporadically until Season 23: South Pacific. I've been a faithful fan since then, biting my nails until Jeff lets us know that the tribe has spoken. This, the original reality competition show, born 13 years and 25 seasons ago, is a sociological experiment that fascinates me. It puts real people in unreal situations that nonetheless bring out very real aspects of the human condition. 

CBS seems a little confused about the nature of this year's pool of contestants. This preview claims that Survivor: Caramoan will bring back "some of the most controversial castaways to ever play the game," and yet the subtitle of this season is "Fans vs. Favorites."

I'll guess we'll see. Frankly, I don't care what they call it. I'll watch. So, whatever. 

It's set to be quite the cast. I'm hoping this season doesn't bring out the worst in two of my favorites - Malcolm from last season and Cochran from South Pacific. Dawn from South Pacific is really fantastic. I don't imagine there's a bad side of her to bring out. And with the "fans," who knows what we'll find?

Before the premiere tomorrow, I wanted to say a word about reality shows. (I mentioned this briefly when I talked about the mockumentary nature of The Office in this post.) The camera, which stands for the producers, the directors, and indeed all the staff of a show like  Survivor, is itself a character. It changes the plot by what it chooses to capture and show to the audience. I want to be sure I acknowledge that, lest you think I didn't realize the unreality of reality TV. All I'm saying is that it makes it no less entertaining. And when we watch Survivor this season, we'll be entertained. I'm sure of it. 

February 11, 2013

3 Ways the Grammys Tried Too Hard

Did you watch the Grammys last night? I think the show tried a little too hard to make itself cool. And I don't mean the LL Cool J kind of cool. Here's what I mean:

1. LL Cool J's constant reminders to the viewing audience that they should tweet. Apparently, last year's Grammys were the most tweeted event up until that point. And they wanted to do it again. But I don't think that reading the most mundane, least innovative tweets from the viewers was the way to encourage social media  Newsflash: you don't have to tell people to tweet. They tweet unprompted. 

2. Announcing the upcoming announcers before and during every commercial break. Did they really need to fill that time? Did they have to tell us who was about to be onstage to read poorly from a teleprompter for 30 seconds? A notable exception here is Ellen DeGeneres and Beyonce. Their presentation was spectacular

3. "Grammy moments." I'm not a music critic, so I won't claim to know whether the quality of the creatively matched (read mismatched) artists was a stroke of brilliance. What I do think is that hyping the "Grammy Moments" was only going to lead to underwhelming performances. Great and memorable moments are almost always unplanned.

February 7, 2013

Senioritis - Community Season 4 Premiere

Just when you thought Community couldn't get more meta, in crawl the Greendale Babies.

There have been many great episodes of this show, and a couple truly terrible ones. Tonight was a great one.

Best quote: "All of this was once the future."

Best joke: "Our dance photo didn't turn out, someone moved my stapler..."

Best cameo: Fred Willard as Sitcom Pierce, obviously. 

Reason to watch the episode again: I think I missed some of the little ads at the bottom of the show within a show. Blind Blonde?

If you don't like shows that self-reference, or shows that are a commentary on television then you probably shouldn't watch Community. Otherwise, you probably should.

February 6, 2013

Roger Rees steals the show and Sue Heck once again steals my heart.

The Middle has never been short on great guest stars. There was Brooke Shields as the troublesome neighbor, Ray Romano as Frankie's old boyfriend, and Whoopi Goldberg as Sue's guidance counselor. Tonight, Roger Rees played "Mr. Glover," Sue's less than encouraging science teacher. I remember Rees as the illustrious Lord John Marbury on The West Wing. And on The Middle, he shined and in my opinion, stole the show. His delivery was flawless. His comedic timing perfect. That was a casting win for sure. 

But it was Sue (Eden Sher) who stole my heart. Not in her hilarious failed attempts to prove that smiles are contagious, but in her ever-present, persistent optimism. Optimism which eventually won her a smile  from Mr. Glover. 

Who wouldn't smile back at that grin?
Source: abc.com

What did you think of tonight's episode, "The Smile?" What did you think of the overt product placement for Red Lobster? It would have bothered me if I didn't love their biscuits so much. It probably didn't hurt that I also happened to be hungry while I watched.

The Middle keeps getting better and better. If you aren't watching yet, start now. 

Happy October 19th - The Return of Community

You may have heard that Community would return on October 19th. Troy and Abed are here to wish you a happy October 19th.

Seriously, though. What are you most looking forward to about the return of Community tomorrow? Will this season still entertain us without creator Dan Harmon? (Harmon recently answered questions over at reddit.) Will there be more paintball? We can only hope.

February 5, 2013

Yet another episode about destiny on the show about destiny.

Last night on How I Met Your Mother, the viewers got what they really wanted. Let's be honest, we don't watch this show to find out how he met their mother. We watch it for Robin Sparkles. (Admittedly, most viewers probably watch for Barney Stinson, but everyone's favorite 90's Canadian pop star runs a close second.)

Beyond the (real) fake websites and the delightful music video gimmicks, this show is really just a story of destiny. And last night's episode was no exception. The thing about "himym" destiny though, is that it's more of a choose your own adventure. Fortunately, thanks to the commitment of Jason Segal, himym will have one more season to choose the destiny for the MacLaren's gang. And I, for one, am glad. Glad that they won't attempt the show without Marshall. But mostly, glad that this show is going to come to an end. Because it's about time. Don't get me wrong, I am a fan. I think this show is well-written, well-acted, and masterfully put together. But all good things must come to an end. And although series finales rarely satisfy, they are undoubtedly better when they have the chance to end on their own terms.

And it sure seems that the writers plan to wrap things up neatly. In last night's episode, older Ted admitted Jeanette was his "one final horrible mistake." Will she be his last girlfriend before we meet the mother? Or just the last crazy one? How I Met Your Mother might be the only show on television that knew how it would end before it began. Maybe the finale won't disappoint after all.

February 3, 2013

We Peacock Comedy - The 30 Rock finale, and fourth wall fallout on The Office

Thursday was a big night on NBC. It was the end for 30 Rock, and in a lot of ways, it felt like a new beginning on The Office.

Saying goodbye to 30 Rock is like a Liz Lemon party - Mandatory. And while Thursday's episodes didn't touch me like I thought they might, there were some moments. The cameos - bravo. And the theme song from "Rural Juror" did bring me unexpectedly to the point of tears. My biggest surprise was the fact that Liz's heart-to-heart with Tracy was more precious (although more awkward) than her heart-to-heart with Jack. Mostly "because the human heart is not properly connected to the human brain." 

Now, The Office. At the end of last week's episode, "Customer Loyalty," when the fourth wall (already fragile and cracked thanks to the mockumentary format) shattered, I was floored. Literally, I fell to the floor right off my couch. Because the writers of this unbelievably good show reminded their audience of what The Office really is. And at it's best, it's not a comedy; it's a commentary on life. And now, it's a whole new show. Every episode we've already seen now contains unseen characters and unuttered lines. So here's what I have to say about Brian the Boom Guy:

  • This is the most brilliant story arc the writers have come up with in years. It gives John Krasinski and Jenna Fischer a chance to show us their acting chops like never before. It reminds us what The Office always was - a show about people, not a place.  
  • I want this to be the last we see of Brian the Boom Guy. A continuation of this plot line will only serve to destroy millions of "Jam" fans' belief in true love. And we can't have that. But as much as I hate it, I get it. It's real. Real people, real tensions. And like I said, the fact that this show is relatable is what makes it great. If the Jim and Pam story was smooth sailing ever since their Niagara boat ride wedding, it wouldn't seem real. If they didn't have that phone fight that we all knew too well, they wouldn't seem real. So I want this to be the end of Brian the Boom Guy. But if he needs to stick around a little longer, I get that, too. Just don't break our hearts, ok writers?
  • 9 seasons of The Office were building up to this point. That's the thing about a mockumentary. The folks behind the lens are a character, too. And while we, the audience, were busy forgetting that through the Sabre crisis, Michael's departure, and the chaos that followed, the man behind the camera was waiting for his moment. 

Bottom line: No matter what happens next to our favorite Scranton residents, The Office will not be fizzling out in its final season. It's going out with a bang. Or should I say... a boom?

So what do we have to look forward to next week? The return of Community, of course! And Andy's back for "Couples Discount." Sneak peek: 

Source: nbc.com
Here's to NBC for a good Thursday, and here's hoping that, even without 30 Rock, we can all keep on peacocking comedy.


I'm a young professional whose day job has nothing to do with television or media of any kind. But I'm a fan - a big fan - of television. I didn't grow up with cable, and I don't have cable now. But network  tv is enough for me. And so I've decided to tell you why.

As this is my pilot post, I'll tell you a few things you'll need to know about this blog.

I don't have cable. Or satellite or fiber-optic TV. I'll only be reviewing shows on network television. That is to say, broadcast television. The kind of television I get through my rabbit ear antenna. Mostly current shows, but I might choose to write some things about shows no longer on the air. 

There will be spoilers. If you are a Hulu watcher or haven't yet seen the episode I'm reviewing, ALERT. 

There won't be too much exposition. It's not my goal to summarize the shows I watch. I just want to tell you what I think of them! 

I'm a beginner. I'm no professional blogger, and I'll be learning the ropes as I write this. 

No one is paying me. So when I say I love a show, or link to a network's website or youtube channel or Pinterest page, it's because I actually love that show.

I welcome your comments! Let me know what you think of the shows I like and dislike. Just keep it civil and clean. 

I think TV can be great. And I don't think that the small screen is any less awesome as a medium than the movies. 

So let's watch TV!