September 30, 2013

How I Met Your Mother Season 9 - Worth the Wait After All?

I am so reluctant to give How I Met Your Mother any more attention that it already has, especially after their Emmy Awards infiltration. But I should acknowledge that, based on last week's season premiere, Cristin Milioti may have been the best casting decision in recent sitcom history. I mean that. I don't think a character's introduction has ever been so (long) anticipated.

Her chemistry with Alyson Hannigan's "Lily" was particularly compelling. Milioti brought an energy to the show that made her scenes contrast starkly with Barney's tired tropes. 

The best part of Milioti's performance was its effortlessness. Rather than seeming to be a character who was defined by all the things the audience knew about her, she was a character who happened to include those things. 

I was somewhat less impressed with Milioti's scenes with Josh Radnor's "Ted." But I suspect their chemistry will develop over time. 

So while the premiere of How I Met Your Mother continued in many of the shenanigans that made me so angry last season, the introduction of the titular "mother," whose name we still don't know, gives me hope. Hope that maybe - just maybe - this final season won't be so bad after all.

September 27, 2013

ABC Comedy Wednesday Round-Up

The Middle
The 5th season premiere of The Middle was everything that's great about this show. The characters are both sweet and touching, and hilariously flawed. That makes for great comedy, as does the relatability of the show. Anyone who's ever left for college or dropped their kid off at college knew just what the Heck's were going through. Heck, anyone who ever shopped at Bed Bath Between knows what they were going through. With Season 5, The Middle's still going strong.

The Middle - season 5 premiere

Back in the Game
This new series didn't quite hit a home run, but Psych alum Maggie Lawson delivered a fantastic performance as the spunky tomboy single mom Terry. I was less enthused by James Caan's "The Cannon," but that may just be because his character isn't very likable. Although I'm guessing he'll grow on the audience as he grows on Terry and her son. I'm intrigued by the ragtag group of athletes who make up the "Angles." If this is a show about lovable losers, I'll keep on watching. With comedies, the true laughs come when we see ourselves in the characters.

Back in the Game - series premiere

Modern Family
I'm a viewer, but no superfan of this award-winning ABC comedy. I was disappointed to see this show win the Emmy over The Big Bang Theory and 30 Rock on Sunday night. I have two big problems with Modern Family.

For one thing, while the show claims to confront "modern" issues, they tend, as comedies often do, to land squarely on the stereotype. In the first episode that aired this week, that's exactly what happened with Mitch and Cam's proposal storyline. Not to mention the fact that the plot just seemed a little stale. You can only do the "See, they're a normal couple!" thing so many times. I don't think anyone except the writers doubt the validity of the two's relationship.

Modern Family - premiere
For another, the characters on the show are utterly un-relateable to most of the show's American audience. Their SoCal mini-mansions are evidence of just how 1% these families are.

The one really fantastic joke was of course, delivered by Ty Burrell's Phil Dunphy, who played his daughters off of one another's perceived worst/best qualities. But one great joke isn't enough for me. I watch Modern Family because my TV stays on between the aforementioned comedies and Nashville.

September 23, 2013

What was wrong with the Emmy Awards? Almost everything.

I think it might be time to give the other networks a shot at award shows. So far this year, CBS tanked the Grammy Awards and then this year's Tony's weren't much to speak of, either. Tonight, CBS failed us at the Emmys, too.

CBS has a problem. The network doesn't know how not to promote their own shows. That's just not classy. Did you notice opening that the disasterous pre-taped open included long clips of CBS shows and only subliminal mentions of shows from other networks?

The totally shameless plugs of new CBS shows by their "stars." Will Arnett, Allison Janney, etc. made me feel incredibly uncomfortable. Didn't those actors feel strange and cheap? I was embarrassed for them.

The How I Met Your Mother "PSA" was not only a shameless plug for the show, it actually wasn't even all that accurate. Neil Patrick Harris seemed not to care too much about the Emmys. Remember his finale at the 2011 Tony's? The man used to have passion! There were other things, too. Like the totally unnecessary plug for Under the Dome. And let me say, I don't think that the jokes make up for the self-promotion, despite how funny Ryan Seacrest dig was.

Seriously, CBS. Stop promoting your shows within the Emmy Awards. This was a night for all of TV, not just for you. Besides, that's what the commercial breaks are for.

Add to that the totally bizarre and out-of-place musical performances by Elton John and Carrie Underwood, and what we had was a disaster. When Neil Patrick Harris finally got to his song and dance, it was too little too late. There is no doubt that the choreography number should have opened the entire show. Maybe then the night would have actually had some energy or life to it.

The folks out there on Twitter spent a lot of time complaining about the actors and shows who were robbed of various awards. Frankly, I think who won and lost was overshadowed by just how bad the broadcast of the awards was.

Next time, let's just have Amy Poehler and Tina Fey host the whole thing:

Tina Fey and Amy Poehler should host every award show, ever.

And let's have it on NBC or ABC instead. 

September 18, 2013

Survivor: Blood vs. Water Premiere - The After School Special with a Side of Sexism

Well folks, there isn't much chance that this season of Survivor will come close to matching the wonder and phenomenon of Caramoan, but it is already shaping up to be an interesting one.

Clearly, Blood vs. Water will be unlike any other season of Survivor. Yes, when you win, your loved one loses. Yes, when you vote someone off, you might upset a specific player still in the game. Yes, the emotions are going to run deeper and the tears flow faster than any other season in the game's history. I GET IT, ALREADY! Truthfully, I'm already annoyed by the excessive drama. I'm ready for the strategy. The politics. The competition. That's why I watch Survivor. And those things won't get started for a couple more weeks. But I guess I have to keep watching up until then to keep from falling behind.

See what I mean? Forced, excessive drama. Already.

The production team made some interesting choices in what to focus on this week. For awhile there, I thought I was watching an after-school special warning of the dangers of drugs, teen pregnancy, and intolerance. But no, just a few short minutes later, sexism ran rampant as NFL Brad and his merry band of self-proclaimed meathead followers declare that women are all the same to them.

Tonight's challenge did nothing for me. I'm just glad purgatory... I mean... redemption island is back.

As for Tribal Council, here's a word that's losing its meaning: Blindside. I was sorry to see you go, Marissa, but you were absolutely not blindsided. Let's save that term for the truly remarkable back-stabs. I'm rooting for a few authentic blindsides this season.

For what it's worth, I'm also rooting for Rupert, Marissa, Tye-Die Laura, and Tina.