Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Reality Television

By Meg Walter


There is one type of television we watch to experience a different world.  For an hour we walk in the shoes of a meth cook, a 1960's advertising executive, a fading country star or a man fighting a zombie takeover. We watch in wonder because their lives are so foreign from our own.   

There is another type of television we watch to see how others experience our own world. For an hour we witness characters walk  in  shoes that  look just like ours, and we watch in wonder because the writers and actors seem to understand everything about the way family, relationships and the navigation of life's inevitable challenges really work. NBC's Parenthood is this television.

Fans of Friday Night Lights lauded the series (and still do) for the rawness of its dialog and the realistic portrayal of is characters' lives. It comes as no surprise that Jason Katims, FNL's executive producer, brought this same raw subtlety to Parenthood, his latest production project. Though Parenthood takes place in Berkeley and the four central families live in spaces that make me drool with envy instead of the humble homes of FNL's small  town  Texas, their lives feel just as real and their relationships just as complex.

The show follows the  Bravermans, Zeek and Camille and their four children,  Adam, Sarah, Crosby and Julia. Each child has a family of their own and deal with an array of challenges that may face any American family, from infidelity, to financial problems, to special needs children, to cancer. It's drama without melodrama, and  the characters are written in  such a way that we're willing to stick with them  through whatever they might be going through, and  we want each  and  every one to succeed.

Much credit is due to the cast, full of veteran television actors, who masterfully act by avoiding overacting. They understand that real conversations don't sound like script recitation, but are instead peppered with awkward pauses and "ummms" and happen more with facial expression than with words. Lauren Graham (of Gilmore Girls) fame, leans into awkward situations like that bold person you know whose confidence is admirable. Mae Whitman (Arrested Development (Her?),"Scott Pilgrim Versus The World), nails the post-high school identity crises without inducing viewer vomit. Max Burkholder is so convincing as a middle-schooler with Asperger Syndrome that I was really surprised to learn that he doesn't actually have  the diagnosis. And Monica Potter ("Patch Adams," "Head Over Heals") whose character struggles to put her breast cancer recovery needs above her family's makes me cry every. single.  episode. As we watched Adam Braverman look on as his wife Kristina (Potter) taught their son Max how to dance before the dance he is attending only because his mom is sick and wants to see her son go to a dance in case she won't have another chance, I looked over to see my husband  wipe away some manly eye water and ask, "Why are they doing this to  me?"

Because they know how.  They know that real people deal with real problems. That marriages have disagreements. That people get sick. That family can be tough. And that real people have real stories that can be told with simplicity and that anyone who is part of a real life with a real  family will watch with appreciation, like I do every week.

Join me. Tonight and every Tuesday night on NBC.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Now and Again: the UES Edition

By Jen Gulbrandsen

The writers of Gossip Girl have failed us so badly, I almost feel like sending you only the initial thoughts I type while watching the show…just so you know how it truly feels to sit through something incomplete and incoherent and incapable.

Instead of a recap (because I honestly don’t even know how to properly explain to you what went down without constantly typing, “but then we find out that ACTUALLY…”), I’m going to go through each character. I’m going to give them to you at their best, and also where they are now. Lest you think I’m being completely lazy, it fits the theme of the episode, where it seems that everyone has found a way to return to high school in one way or another.

First up: Queen B.
Then – Empress of the Steps. Sartorial Hit. Beloved and Feared by all.
Now – This is painful for me to say, but she’s become a mess. And not even a hot one. She allows for everyone to rule her life, rather than rule everyone else. This is NOT OKAY.

Chuck Bass
Then – A childish snot with lots of money and really great ascot ties. Wears a lot of purple.
Now – He’s potentially the most dedicated of all the original Upper East Siders. Sure he still schemes and plays all of the games they play, particularly with regard to bringing down his jerk of a father, but he’s actually… a good guy? Still wears a lot of purple, thank goodness.

Nathan Archibald
Then – The boy you want to marry. Sleeps around a little more often than I’d like. Plays a lot of lacrosse.
Now – The boy you want to marry. Sleeps around a little more often than I’d like. No more lacrosse.

Dan
Then – Someone we cared about, fighting for recognition. Had a good grasp of general hygiene.
Now – Has recognition and pretends to like everyone in order to maintain that recognition. Desperately needs a hair intervention.

Serena van Der Whorsen is actually the most consistent of the group. Still bouncing from man to man, still wearing great clothing (yes, even I can admit that), still unable to locate a hairbrush.

I leave you now, hoping and praying for Little J to come back from wherever she is to remind everyone who they are. Because this is getting pathetic.

Jen emphasized in English at Brigham Young University. She currently freelances as a ghost writer and works as a personal stylist to feed her addiction to all things pretty. Her TV preferences range from The Vampire Diaries to Arrested Development and she lives in a fantasy world where Stars Hollow still exists. See more at jengulbrandsen.blogspot.com.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Catfish

By Erin Jackson

 
Catfish was a documentary film that was a little unbelievable in 2010, and even more so in this profile linked, google-image searched 2012 lifestyle we lead. A young man, Nev, receives a few paintings from a little girl who saw some photos he took for a newspaper online and painted them for him. He keeps in touch with her and her family and soon forms a relationship with her older sister. When he tries to meet up with her, things begin to fall apart. The paintings were not those of a child prodigy, but those of a middle aged woman, who was also the person Nev thought was his 20-something girlfriend.
I had mixed feelings about it, as most of Nev's "discoveries" felt orchestrated and phony, and his upbeat, forgiving attitude felt disingenuous. So when I heard they would be making a series featuring people duped by others online, I was flummoxed. How would this transfer over to a series? How could he possibly find others in similar situations and present them this same way? The answer to these questions is a mixed bag. The faux DIY aesthetic aped from the film is a turn off. I still find it baffling that not only would someone create a years long fake persona but that someone would completely buy into it. And yet, after two episodes, I'm kind of hooked. The first episode followed a girl who thought she was dating a male model who, over the phone, sounded like a 12 year old boy. He kept giving preposterous reasons for not being able to meet up. This went on for a year, I think? Spoiler alert: he was not a male model. He was not a male. The girl who thought she was dating a male model kept asking "But wait, so, are you gay?" in a way that was bordering on a hate crime but then I realized that she wasn't homophobic, she just wanted to make sure that someone thought she was hot. After the "Catfish" told her that she might be bi-sexual maybe and that she thought she was good looking, everything was fine and they became friends. Which I think says a lot about these kinds of relationships. For everyone out there who is desperately lonely that they would create a false identity, there is someone equally self-obsessed and needy enough that they will believe anything as long as they are the center of someone's life.
The second episode is a little different. The "Catfish-ee" is an exotic dancer who thinks she met another exotic dancer online. She says she loved that they were from the same world and didn't judge each other, but again, weird excuses for not meeting up and he only sent her four pictures. Oh, sweetie, no. The "Catfish" turns out to be a slightly older and rather rounder than her beloved "Scorpio" but they too became friends and she decides she needs some time to make some life changes and not wait around for a guy to change her life. Good for her.
I hope they can add some variety to their "Catfish-ees" since I half wonder if this isn't part of a larger Catfish scheme where Nev gets people to dupe pretty ladies so he can swoop in and get some sweet Catfish lovin'. I still can't believe there are enough of these stories to sustain a series, and yet each week, there's a fairly compelling, if not bloated and drawn out, story about people reaching out to other people in some sort of jacked up way. It's that "okay, that has to be it though, right?" feeling after each episode that will keep me watching (this week's episode features a 10 year long relationship, what?!), half-hoping it gets cancelled and half-hoping it keeps going on for years. You know, that feeling you get after pretty much every MTV reality show.

Erin Floyd Jackson has been BFFs with TV since she was a wee one when she would play TV Network Executive. She went to school to learn about how and why TV is the way it is and hopes to someday tear someone's creative vision down and re-edit it to her liking. In the meantime, she and her husband live in Huntsville, Alabama and they occasionally "blog" here (http://inappropriateapplause.tumblr.com/) when they are not geeking out over all the SCIENCE! in the Rocket City.

Monday, November 26, 2012

ANTM

By Jaclyn Hutchins

I don’t know if I deserve a gold star or a smack on the forehead for watching the entire 19th cycle of America’s Next Top Model, but I did it either way. I watched this show more regularly than shows like Grey’s Anatomy or The Good Wife aka shows I’m not embarrassed to say I watch. And you know what- I enjoyed every minute of it.

I enjoyed the irony behind the “College Edition” theme and how many times Tyra referenced her recently earned Harvard degree (I’m very confused by this by the way.).


I enjoyed hating the super-pretty-super-bitch Kristin.


I enjoyed the “staring at a car crash” feeling I got when watching Victoria talk about her relationship with her mother.

 

And of course, I enjoyed the makeovers, the fantastic photo shoots, and watching the judges evaluate the girls’ photos.



It didn’t even really matter who won, and next time I’m sick, I really hope Oxygen or Lifetime is having one of their Top Model marathons. I just can’t help myself.

Jaclyn Hutchins lives in the San Francisco Bay Area and teaches high school English. She is asked if her teacher knows where she is least once a month despite being perilously close to 30. Jaclyn’s latest rule for herself is that she cannot watch TV until she has completed her run for the day. She runs her first half-marathon in October.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Once Upon a Meh

By Megan Geilman


Season 1 of the new family fantasy series Once Upon a Time written by LOST writers Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz was somewhat promising. Starring Jennifer Morris and Ginnifer Goodwin, the show had family appeal, charm, and enough intrigue to keep you watching. Plus the occasional reference to LOST sent my fanatic heart a flutter. It combined all the classic storybook children’s characters into one giant bedtime conglomeration and sent them to our magic-less world. Since ABC is owned by Disney, there was free reign to use the likenesses of characters like Belle and Maleficent...and I’ll admit it was cute, at first.

Though the show features some semi big names in Morris and Goodwin, the best actor by far is Robert Carlyle--a theatre trained actor (another formulaic takeaway from LOST’s Terry O’Quinn and Michael Emerson) who is INCREDIBLE as Mr. Gold...but just plain weird as Rumplestiltskin with his little high pitched laugh and nasty teeth. 

The second season leaves the characters still stuck in Storybrook but now they all remember who they are. Snow and Emma have been thrown BACK to the land of magic, which has had it’s own troubles while everyone else was caught in a time-warp curse daze cast by the Evil Queen Regina. They’ve started introducing more obscure Disney character’s...and while I’m liking the saucy Capt. Hook that looks a little more Jack-Sparrow than Dustin Hoffman with the guy-liner, I draw the line at Mulan (who apparently does not reside in Sui Dynasty China, but has been fighting alongside and simultaneously fallen in love with Sleeping Beauty’s Prince Phillip). The storyline of storytime has grown convoluted and confusing.

I feel like Disney is hosting a high school reunion and everyone is invited, including kids from other schools they never hung out with, and messing up the order of things. And it looks like it’s not stopping there: In a recent episode entitled “The Doctor” --who ended up being Dr. Frankenstein--but who I originally thought was The Wizard of Oz since they referenced him several times as a “Wizard of Sorts” from a different land and his costume looked like it walked straight off the set of Wicked. Understandably this was probably the episode that aired around Halloween, but I’m having enough trouble keeping classic story tales AND Disney story-lines straight, I don’t need Boris Karloff and Gene Roddenberry showing up in my dreams. Which reminds me, they have yet to introduce Willy Wonka--who probably has a tiff with Jack the Pumpkin King for sleeping with Pocahontas.
Peace out ABC, I’m done.


Megan Geilman has had an on-again-off-again relationship with television since she was young and her parents occasionally let her stay up to watch Star Trek and X-Files. She recently relocated to beautiful San Clemente, CA with her husband, unborn child, and design business. She lives a half mile from the beach and plans on eating a lot of avocados. She occasionally blogs at http://ratedgforgeilman.blogspot.com andhttp://megangeilmandesign.blogspot.com

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Battleground

By Megan Geilman


Do you miss it? Do you miss the Election? The excitement, the constant poll watching, the barrage of negative ads, the endless Facebook debates (not to mention the REAL debacles, I mean debates). Yeah me neither.

Well, whether or not you got your kicks from all the election fervor, here is a little gem of a show that will keep you entertained without all the real-life drama. It’s centered around the fictional campaign of a third place candidate for a Wisconsin Senate Race. I absolutely loved this show and I’m hoping this review might in some small way help to get a 2nd season on the air--which is still a possibility, from what the interwebs tell me.

The writing is strong and the characters are fantastic: if you do not absolutely love Ben you have no soul. And if you do not absolutely love-hate Tak you have no brain. All the characters are memorable and sincerely remind you of people you know, wish you knew, or wish you didn’t know. Done in the mockumentary style, the characters are interviewed at some point in the future which gives you clues to where they end up, but not how they got there--which in my opinion, is a brilliant plot move and this show does it juuuust right.

It’s a Hulu original series, but it does not disappoint for quality: one of the show’s head honchos is Marc Webb, whom you may know by a little show called “500 Days of Summer” which he directed. Oh yeah, and “The Amazing Spider-man” which he directed as well. J.D. Walsh heads up the project and adds great local flavor since he himself grew up in Madison, WI and the entire show is set and filmed on location. Sure it doesn’t have the “Hollywood” of DC, but that’s part of the appeal. It brings the show into a sphere of accessibility for us lovers of all things local...idealists who have ever worked on something just a little bit bigger than ourselves. It’s a show with an artisanal craft feel--no additives, no preservatives--just good quality TV that cuts the corporate crap (even though Hulu is a conglomerate of ABC, NBC, and Fox).

I realize the timing of the show may not be ideal--we are all feeling a little bit jaded from the last year of pundits and partisanship. I originally watched the show when it aired back during the Republican Primaries, it was all still new and exciting back then, and the show let me keep the excitement going without the stress of who would come out on top. Personally, I’m really hoping the writers were just waiting for the election to be over so that they would have new writing material, especially since the season finale ended with an offer for the staff to work on the Presidential campaign. Fingers are crossed. Until then, I can do my part by campaigning for more viewers to watch its first season.

Megan Geilman has had an on-again-off-again relationship with television since she was young and her parents occasionally let her stay up to watch Star Trek and X-Files. She recently relocated to beautiful San Clemente, CA with her husband, unborn child, and design business. She lives a half mile from the beach and plans on eating a lot of avocados. She occasionally blogs at http://ratedgforgeilman.blogspot.com andhttp://megangeilmandesign.blogspot.com

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Survivor Episodes 6 & 7

By Lorraine Jackson

Episode 6: Let Them Eat Cake

People shivered and starved, shivered and starved, got muddy, made eachother muddy, put their muddy bodies against other people’s muddy bodies, and stood there for several hours in one of the less impressively designed Survivor Challenges that I have seen. Poor intern that invented the giant mud ball pit game probably had his torch extinguished last week, too.

In the end, the reward had to be won by negotiation, and Kalabaw agreed to give Tandang the remainder of their rice rations in exchange for the reward of soup, sandwiches, and brownies.

A friendly survivor tip: If you haven’t eaten real food in several days and then someone sits you down at a Kneaders and tells you to go nuts, nibble. Nibble on the carbs and protein, and for the love of everything holy, do not eat the brownies. That is all.

Expectedly, Kalabaw, starving, cold, and wet, loses the immunity challenge and sends home the 2nd and final 90 pound beauty queen, in hopes that someone on that tribe can feed them.

Episode 7: Let’s get together, yeah yeah NO.

Time to merge these babies. I have now put all my hopes and dreams into the breadbasket of Denise and Malcolm’s reunited alliance. The tribes are united on a new beach, and yet again, the hungry folk binge on red wine and bread. I cannot fathom what an emaciated hangover feels like.

Immediately, ChildStarLisa starts mothering around camp and airing out the dirty laundry- literally. And in the course, finds Wise Malcolm’s hidden immunity idol. Wise Malcolm begrudgingly pulls her into his alliance, and ChildStarLisa officially becomes the luckiest freaking mother hen on Planet Earth.

The immunity challenge is an endurance test, which is my favorite kind. I love watching middle class Americans slowly bake in the jungle to win a million dollars.

The producers decide to award immunity to the best man and the best woman. So you can imagine my joy when TherapistDenise won immunity FOR THE VERY FIRST TIME after almost 19 days in the wilderness.

Boy immunity was won by QuietCuteCarter, who I still know absolutely nothing about, though I would gander a guess that he would have lost to Denise if there had only been one immunity necklace.

Tribal Council is everything you could ever want out of a reality show. Senseless accusations, mild chaos, total unpredictability, and a grand finale of people crossing tribe alliances to vote out Returning Player Jonathan Penner, and Penner choosing to play his hidden immunity idol. BAM, Y’ALL.

The woman who brought her entire Victoria’s Secret Collection as her luxury item to the Philippines, R.C., was the victim of Penner’s idol, and EWJP sent her packing, sans torch.

What will become of Penner knowing that nearly everyone in his tribe tried to send him home? Will Denise make men cry with her awesomeness? Will Lisa continue to look more and more frazzled and less like a child star? All these questions will be answered soon.

Go forth and eat brownies.

Lorraine is a University employee by day, trash TV enthusiast at night, and equestrian nutcase all the time. She is wildly outnumbered by dudes in the house she shares with her husband Dan, cat Jeoffrey, and dog Reverend Trask.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The Mind of a Chef

By Erin Jackson



Monday the 5th marked the final episode of Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations. Nope, no more reservations. None of them. I was mopey the whole day, and as that last episode unfolded, I was inundated with a seemingly never ending stream of horrible reality shows that would take its place. The one premiering afterword had something to do with a dude who travels to "dangerous places" (aka places with brown people) to find the best coffee beans. And the current favorite genre of cable "infotainment" channels like the Travel Channel, people who go around and find crap in storage lockers/hoarder's houses/suitcases and sell it at auctions. The show finished as soon as I finished eating my Asian fused vaguely Chinese tofu dish from Huntsville, Alabama and I couldn't help but think Tony Bourdain hates me. He's leaving TV and he thinks I eat horribly and I'm going to be stuck with nothing but cooking competitions and meaningless travel shows. There would be no witty voiceovers, no rhapsodizing over the simply beauty of street food or traditional peasant food, no exclusive looks into the real lives of cutting edge chefs.

It looked like the future of televised food would be a bleak Bourdain-less blur of blah. But then, on the horizon (or, rather, my Tumblr dashboard) came a clip of a new show on PBS called The Mind of a Chef. It featured David Chang (of the revered Momofuku) along with a few buddies including Parks and Rec's Aziz Ansari. They were eating a sandwich that looked at once beautiful and terrifyingly fattening and then I heard that voice and knew what it meant: Anthony Bourdain is back and (probably) doesn't hate me. David Chang is the focus of the show, but Anthony produces it and does the voiceover. And it's a wonderful show.

It's not a No Reservations clone, but it definitely has a good share of its DNA. There's a little bit of Good Eats thrown in there for good measure as well. It isn't so much a travel show as it is a show that explores what makes certain food what it is and what some people are doing with it. The first episode is all about noodles, more particularly ramen, and I will never look at a package of Top Ramen the same again. At one point David makes gnocchi out of pulverized noodles, explaining along the way the starch content of noodles and making a few quips about how Asians invented pasta, but that he still expects Italian people to roll over in their graves "…even the living ones" when they see this concoction. This is just minutes after he takes out an uncooked block of ramen, sprinkles it with the seasoning packet and scarfs it down.

Watching the third episode, titled "Memories" my mind wandered into that horrible metaphor that America is a giant melting pot. David mentioned how part of the reason he became a chef was that he wanted more people to eat the food he grew up on and didn't want people to think he was weird for eating kimchi rather than meatloaf. And that made me feel oddly patriotic. David does not shy away from including others' cultures into his food (see above: gnocchi heresy) but he does it with enough reverence and enough innovation that it isn't mere appropriation or mimicry, it's something else. I mean, maybe we're not a melting pot, but when I saw David make a Korean burrito with edamame, hoisin sauce and kimchi salsa, I was like "That's America, right there." So, I salute you, David Chang, Anthony Bourdain and all involved with The Mind of a Chef, the new criterion of culinary shows.

Erin Floyd Jackson has been BFFs with TV since she was a wee one when she would play TV Network Executive. She went to school to learn about how and why TV is the way it is and hopes to someday tear someone's creative vision down and re-edit it to her liking. In the meantime, she and her husband live in Huntsville, Alabama and they occasionally "blog" here (http://inappropriateapplause.tumblr.com/) when they are not geeking out over all the SCIENCE! in the Rocket City.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Ben's Parents

By John Richards



Let’s celebrate the return of Jean-Ralphio in his very own style:

Engagement Party.
Ben’s Parents.
Divorced.
Asian Girlfriend.
Mike from Breaking Bad!
Metaphorical Unity Quilt.
Crying.
Breakdown.
No More Tissues.
Twizzlers Better Than Red Vines. Say Whaaaaat?
Surprise Pregnancy.
Ultimate Bacon-Wrapped Shrimp Showdown.




Forced Wedding Attendance.
Investment Opportunity Presentation.
Taxi Makeout Session.

Imma hit the couch, you know I be.

John is currently pursuing a JD/MBA at Santa Clara University School of Law. He likes sports, technology, and of course television. Follow him on twitter @j_rich or check out his blog www.johnericrichards.com.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Not just for the country lovers

By John Richards

I have never been a fan of country music. I am not vehemently opposed to the genre like some, but I also historically have never had any country tracks on my iPod/iPhone either. So no one is as surprised as I am that I have fallen fast and hard for ABC’s new drama Nashville. The show stars Connie Britton, aka Tami Taylor from Friday Night Lights, as Rayna James, the reigning Queen of Country in Nashville. But, Rayna’s hold on the crown is waning and is being challenged by an up and coming young superstar Juliette Barnes, played by Hayden Panettiere. The show’s characters are definitely intended to represent real life singers such as aging Faith Hill and pop superstar Taylor Swift. The season has started off with the two ladies fighting over tours, music, and of course, male guitarists.

But that isn’t what hooked me. I mean, I enjoy a good drama like anyone else, and this show serves the drama up beautifully. The show got me with the actual music. Trust me, my brain asplode as much as you, but watch this before you say anything else:


Yeah, I know right? Freaking good. A lot of the music for the show is being written by singing duo The Civil Wars. Google them if you want to increase your folk music collection’s awesomeness by a factor of 17. Oh and the two actors singing the song? Ya, that’s them actually singing. And get this, they are both foreign! An Aussie and Brit are crooning slow, melodramatic country. Slow clap.

I will always give a new show a one episode chance and this time I was not disappointed in the least. You won’t be either. Nashville is on Wednesdays on ABC.

*For all men trying to take away my man card, I have 5 words for you: Tami Taylor and Hayden Panettiere. You’re welcome.

John is currently pursuing a JD/MBA at Santa Clara University School of Law. He likes sports, technology, and of course television. Follow him on twitter @j_rich or check out his blog www.johnericrichards.com.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Are the Writers Trolling Us?


"Dad, the only thing more vomit inducing than you enjoying my boyfriend's sloppy seconds is this Boy George hat I borrowed."

We’re back!  Well played, Sandy, well played.  No Gossip Girl for us last week, although technically it was a repeat of that one episode I didn’t write about (mostly because it was booooooring).  I’m hoping tonight isn’t a repeat of those 42 minutes during which I played a few rounds of Pyramid Solitaire on Facebook.

To begin with, I hate to tell you this Barry Watson, but Serena’s slept with EVERYONE and so has Nate, so there are some really high odds of you having slept with their entire lists combined.  Later the plot thickens because –ahem- Lily’s been there, too.  Skanky really runs in this family.

New low, GG writer’s room.  Like I said – they have to be trolling us now.

Speaking of low - I hate Ivy.  And I hate that we appear to own the same pair of fierce red jeans that I sincerely love.  I’m going to try to erase them from my mind, while simultaneously praying Jenny ventures back to Brooklyn and kicks Ivy in her smoker throat.

Let’s switch gears to our King and Queen.  I miss the Met Steps days when Blair was always the perfect fashion icon.  Thankfully her significant-non-significant other is a little more on the mark (or rather the stylists are doing a better job).  There are two reasons I watch Gossip Girl: Chuck and Blair’s clothing choices, and their pop culture banter.  I saw that non-subtle Facebook IPO reference you made there!  They head to an equestrian event, which is full of some pretty marvelous sartorial choices until the Van der Woodsen’s show up in the frame again, and Sage assaults my eyes with an awful too-small hipster fedora.  

Remember when Bart was dead?  Life was so much better then. 

Two final thoughts:
1. Nate, I promise if you start chronicling your own sordid past, your company will be JUST fine.
2.  He-Who-Is-Hairy is becoming a most glorious afterthought.  GO SHAVE.

Jen emphasized in English at Brigham Young University. She currently freelances as a ghost writer and works as a personal stylist to feed her addiction to all things pretty. Her TV preferences range from The Vampire Diaries to Arrested Development and she lives in a fantasy world where Stars Hollow still exists. See more at jengulbrandsen.blogspot.com.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

There have been 300 Law and Order: SVU

By Erin Jackson


I repeat: there have been three hundred episodes of Law and Order: Special Victims Unit. That statement is so preposterous and monumental that I think it deserves pause and reflection; some post-modern meditation of some sort. In 65 episodes, if it makes it that far (knock on wood) you could watch an episode a day and never see a repeat. However, given the frequency and scope of its airplay on cable TV, you will probably watch more than one a day and upset this phenomenon.

SVU's subject matter is upsetting, depressing, disgusting and vile. Its heroes are flawed and worn and haggard and driven to the brink on a weekly basis. So, why has it endured? Unfortunately, I lack the investigatory insight of say Munch or Stabler, so I can't really say. But I do know that I have most likely seen all 300 episodes now, and will probably see many of them a handful of times over and over until my dying day.

I've tried to quit it, several times. I swore it off after what felt like the tenth storyline in which Benson went undercover in some preposterous fashion for no real reason. And again when Christopher Meloni left the show. And every time it drew me back, most often through one of its "ripped from the headlines" episodes that began with the nudge nudge wink wink disclaimer that it was in fact not based on any real person, right after a promo that nearly explicitly claimed otherwise. Or I would catch up with an entire season over the course of one lonely, cloudy weekend through a marathon, with the pretext of it making good background noise for housework or catching up on sleep.

So, happy 300th, SVU. You have endured longer than your forefathers and decedents, and have lived to watch your doppelgängers and imitators' doppelgängers and imitators bite the dust. And for that, I salute you.

Erin Floyd Jackson has been BFFs with TV since she was a wee one when she would play TV Network Executive. She went to school to learn about how and why TV is the way it is and hopes to someday tear someone's creative vision down and re-edit it to her liking. In the meantime, she and her husband live in Huntsville, Alabama and they occasionally "blog" here (http://inappropriateapplause.tumblr.com/) when they are not geeking out over all the SCIENCE! in the Rocket City.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Parks n Rec's Heartfelt Halloween. Also, Fart Attack

By John Richards


“Am I interrupting something important?”

“Impossible. I work for the government.”

I’ve always wondered why every sitcom feels like it needs to make holiday episodes for their shows. Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, Valentines Day. I guess holiday parties are easy situations for writers to feature characters’ zany antics. However, this past week’s episode of Parks and Recreation, or Parks n Rec for us diehards, managed to weave some major drama in with the usual Halloween lulz.

First, we find out Ron is continuing his relationship with Xena: Warrior Princess, Lucy Lawless, Vice Principal Diane, who has invited him to come trick or treating with her and her little girls. Andy invited himself along as well. April being in Washington DC with Ben has allowed the show to pair Ron and Andy together a lot more this season, resulting in hilarious Andy-ness with Ron looking on with disapproval.

Meanwhile, Councilwoman Knope has been looking for a house for her and Ben to move into together, after Ben comes back from DC. After learning that no house comes equipped with a trampoline room, she decides to lease one anyways, resulting in a celebratory rave feat. Anne.


The Parks Department is hosting a scary movie party in the courtyard of the city offices, providing an opportunity for everyone to dress up in costumes. Donna is addicted to Twitter. Snooze. Moving on.

Ben calls Leslie to say that he might be taking another campaign manager job in Florida. But Leslie just signed a lease for that house, oh no! Leslie is bummed about Ben, so Anne says let’s go scare Tom, but instead they frighten Jerry, who promptly has a fart attack heart attack. Leslie kicks into her “Save insert cause here!” mode and holds a garage sale/live auction to raise money for Jerry’s medical bills. The entire garage sale auction bit was quite unfunny, although Tom did discover a new business idea: Rent-a-Swag. I really hope this means the return of Jean-Ralphio. *fingers crossed*

Back to the other plotline, Diane left her kids with Ron to continue trick or treating while she attended to a poop incident at the school. Of course, Ron has no idea what to do and ruins the rest of the night. At the Save Jerry garage sale auction, Diane confronts Ron about the ordeal. Unable to admit fault, Ron further angers Diane who storms off in rage (personally I wouldn’t piss off Xena, but this IS Ron Swanson that we’re talking about). April, oh yeah she is back from DC now, makes fun of Ron being sad about losing Diane. This makes Ron realize that he does want to continue with Diane, so he does something completely un-Swanson-esque -- apologize.

Back to Leslie, Ben calls and says the Florida guy really wants him to run his campaign. Leslie is even more sad, but while visiting him in the hospital, Jerry drops a wisdom bomb on her about life happiness. Leslie decides that her future with Ben can wait while he chases his career goals. While Leslie is trying to get out of the lease that she just signed, SURPRISE, Ben shows up and gets down on a knee and proposes to Leslie. Awwwww.

Now the gang’s all back together and the show can return to normalcy. It was great to see the show use the annual Halloween episode to further develop characters and plug in some treat, rather than a half an hour of stale tricks. Can’t wait for next week solely because of the title: Ben’s Parents.

John is currently pursuing a JD/MBA at Santa Clara University School of Law. He likes sports, technology, and of course television. Follow him on twitter @j_rich or check out his blog www.johnericrichards.com.

Monday, October 29, 2012

TV Potpourri: links to various miscellaneous extraneous televaneous things

By Erin Jackson

Here is an infographic about everyone's favorite television neighbor, Fred Rogers. (ps has anyone seen the new Daniel Tiger's Nieghborhood? Is it any good? Is it really creepy?)

Arrested Development is coming and I for one start hyperventilating whenever I think about it, so when I heard about this documentary about the making of the new episodes, it pretty much put me into a coma.

I really love Key and Peele, and this is probably my second favorite sketch of the second season. Here Peter Atencio, the director and then some, describes some of the behind the scenes stuff of how they get the rights to things and things like that feed my nerdy little heart. (kind of NSFW? some swears are bleeped out?)

Want to "watch" TV when you're supposed to be "watching" something more important? This site hosts audio for TV and movies and more so you can multitask your heart out. I'm listening to an episode of Animaniacs as I type this.

Adventure Time's season finale was this Monday and it was so mathematical, but I am still stuck on the episode before. It broke my heart and warmed it at the same time, like it like was overheated in a microwave. And I'm not alone. This piece of fan art is a touching depiction of that heart wrenching episode.

Halloween is this week, which means this weekend is full of Halloweenie things, too. If you are going to have any sort of gathering, might I recommend this cover of Werewolf Bar Mitzvah (which might be my favorite thing on 30 Rock ever) for atmosphere?

Stephen Colbert gave a pretty great interview with Terry Gross (can either of them do any wrong?) in which he talks about music that has had an impact on his life. I particularly like his comparison of he and Jon Stewart to Elvis Costello and Bruce Springsteen.

Erin Floyd Jackson has been BFFs with TV since she was a wee one when she would play TV Network Executive. She went to school to learn about how and why TV is the way it is and hopes to someday tear someone's creative vision down and re-edit it to her liking. In the meantime, she and her husband live in Huntsville, Alabama and they occasionally "blog" here (http://inappropriateapplause.tumblr.com/) when they are not geeking out over all the SCIENCE! in the Rocket City.

Friday, October 26, 2012

I'm not here to make friends

By Meg Walter

 

Before we dive into the Project Runway All Stars premiere, let's talk about season 10's finale. Spoiler alert, obviously, but if you haven't watched it by now, be honest with yourself- you probably never will.

Christopher fell apart. The footage we saw of  Christopher was a red-eyed, snarky little man pacing back and forth muttering "What  fits?! What fits?!" The gown he sent down  the runway was fabulous, but the rest of his collection was meh.

Melissa made clothes that I would  actually buy and wear, but I shop at Target and  Old Navy so that isn't saying much in terms of fashion credibility.

I was worried Fabio might win. I understand that his collection was the freshest and most forward thinking, but I found most of it crooked and confusing. Plus I hate it when designers give their collections ridiculously pretentious names like "Urban Tribalism" or whatever he called it. Puh-lease.

So it was a relief that Dimitry took it.  As the season's dark  house, he won very few challenges,  but produced consistently solid pieces,  culminating in his final collection which was perfectly polished, masterfully tailored, and deserving of the win.

As for the three runners-up, I'm confident we'll  see them again  on an All Stars season. Speaking of...

Last  night we met the  All Star designers who will keep our Thursday nights exciting for the next  few months. I  know  that  they bring back some of the most  talented designers, but they also seem to bring back  the feistiest contestants because what's Project Runway without some nasty bad-mouthing? Joshua, the biggest Diva in PR history, is sure to keep things pretty heated, and Wendy already stated,"I'm not here to make friends," which gave me delighted  chills.

Design wise, it's  already clear that the standard is high and there were some pieces, like Ivy's jacket, Casanova's dress, and Anthony Ryan's whole look that really blew me away. Of course there were some rough ensembles,  and Peach,with her wacky sleeves dress  deserved to get the boot.

I prefer the All Star judges, even though some of Georgina's  own designs in her collection are totally bonkers. Isaac is what Michael Kors should be, and  how great was it to  see Mondo  again? No one can replace Tim Gunn, ever, but Joanna Coles is  a solid mentor, doling out design advice that makes a lot of  sense.

We're for an exciting season, kids.  As far as predictions go, I think Suede is  gone next week, and I  thinkthat Anthony Ryan,  Ivy and Laura will go far. Your thoughts?

Meg Walter writes about television to justify watching so darn much of it. When she's not on her couch letting her brain turn to jello she's blogging at tobetomars.blogspot.com, playing with her baby girl, or beating her husband in board games.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

You Say You Want a Revolution

By Megan Geilman


What would happen if one day everything electronic in the world stopped working? Complete global blackout: no cell phones, no email, no air travel, no instagram...not to mention complete lack of running water, heat, or modern medicine. This is the question that is asked in J.J. Abram’s new drama Revolution, which premiered with record numbers in September on NBC.

The show takes place 15 years after the blackout has happened, with flashbacks for character and storyline background. Everything is overgrown and a vigilante militia has ruthlessly taken over and no one is allowed to have guns except them...and so continues the current craze of bow and arrow glory. The two main characters are played by Tracy Spiridakos (“Charlie Matheson”) and Billy Burke (“Miles Matheson”) and embody a girl and her uncle who are on a rescue mission after the militia has killed her father and taken her brother captive. Giancarlo Esposito, who is very good at being bad, plays the menacing Captain Tom Neville, who is much more devious than his name would suggest. There are some friendly faces from LOST (Jacob and Juliet both play characters here that should get more air time as the show progresses) and Twihard’s should love seeing Bella’s dad sans mustache.

The show has it’s strong points: There are juicy details along the way that should make for some really good dramatic irony later on and who HASN’T wondered what a global blackout would be like? Probably the biggest issue I take with the show so far is rendered in a quote Joel McHale gave on Jimmy Kimmel: “It’s an apocalypse where everyone looks AWESOME.” Seriously. Everyone’s clothes seem to fit juuust right and the lack of makeup on the women looks very made up. And in 15 years apparently just the children aged.

The show also has a lot of unanswered questions (A J.J. Abram’s show with unanswered questions??) with the science of it: like how batteries and turbines don’t work and how all the planes dropped out of the sky like they didn’t have wings or momentum. Apparently magnets and newton’s law don’t work in the apocalypse either. However, if you can handle the unlikelihood of this hollywood-esque apocalypse, and have been looking for an opportunity to ask yourself “What would I do if I couldn’t google my way out of a problem?” than NBC’s Revolution might be the show for you.

Megan Geilman has had an on-again-off-again relationship with television since she was young and her parents occasionally let her stay up to watch Star Trek and X-Files. She recently relocated to beautiful San Clemente, CA with her husband, unborn child, and design business. She lives a half mile from the beach and plans on eating a lot of avocados. She occasionally blogs at http://ratedgforgeilman.blogspot.com andhttp://megangeilmandesign.blogspot.com

Monday, October 22, 2012

Community Blues

By Erin Jackson


So, there's that. Also, there's this. And I'm just… the opposite of Batman over all of it. Cut it out, NBC. And Chevy. My heart is already broken, there's no need to keep stomping on it like a frog in a sombrero or an overcooked yam.


Erin Floyd Jackson has been BFFs with TV since she was a wee one when she would play TV Network Executive. She went to school to learn about how and why TV is the way it is and hopes to someday tear someone's creative vision down and re-edit it to her liking. In the meantime, she and her husband live in Huntsville, Alabama and they occasionally "blog" here (http://inappropriateapplause.tumblr.com/) when they are not geeking out over all the SCIENCE! in the Rocket City.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Survivor Philippines 4&5: Wherein it is still raining.

By Lorraine Jackson

Episode 4:


As much as I want to open with a zinger, what CBS did to open the 4th episode of Survivor Philippines deserves nothing less than complete reverence. In an age of reality TV based around screaming, yakking, drunken embarrassment, and skanky girls pulling each other’s hair, the show opened with two minutes of starkly depressing silence. Matsing, being short half a tribe and completely down on their luck, tried to start a fire. And failed. Bravo, CBS.

Amongst other tribes, Kalabaw has an interesting twist when several days in the wild seem to reform the early alliances, and the tribe quickly divides as boys vs. girls. Keep in mind, that’s 3 vs. 3. Good luck with that. In Tandang, Abi continues to prove that the hotter and more exotic a woman is, the crazier she is.

Then the camera crews spend about 5 minutes following Russell while he looks everywhere for the idol. In a confessional interview, he correctly predicts to those of us at home “you’ve probably all watched me walk past it 100 times, and the camera guys are showing it to you right now.” You have. And they did.

I can hardly bear to watch the reward/immunity challenge.People are muddy, pots are breaking, people are screaming, and Loserly Matsing spends the first 70% of the challenge in the lead, and I start chanting survivor hymnals at my cubicle, to the alarm of my coworkers. (at least it was during my lunch break.)

To no avail. Matsing loses, Russell wrestles with God on national television, and not only does a higher power fail to help him win the challenge, that higher power doesn’t do much to intervene with Wise Malcolm and Therapist Denise from Sending Russell home. Sorry, Russell.

Episode 5:

 

By the end of last week’s episode, it was abundantly clear that Matsing was poised for dissolution. Malcom is sent to the crazy but athletic tribe of Tandang to be the new eye candy, and Denise is sent to the stable but accident-prone Kalabaw. What hurts most for me about this is that, as a Matsing Sympathizer, I know that one of them is about to lose a challenge, again.

Poor Denise.

They briefly show Wise Malcolm chowing down on the chocolate chip cookie rewards, surrounded by smelly beautiful women wooing him and rugged strong men secretly telling him of their idols and alliances. Malcolm is probably wondering just a little bit if he actually died in his frozen wet sleep in Matsing and that this is actually Heaven.

Denise was busy watching Dana puke her guts out.

It’s not long before the 80 pound blondie is tended to by the Emmy-Winning Jeff Probst, and begs for mercy. Because, you know, in America, when you’re hungry and starving and sick, there’s a camera and a medivac team to rescue you. #firstworldproblems. EWJP reassures her that “the pain is about to go away”, which was a little ominous for my tastes, but seemed good enough for her. Dawson introduces herself to America for pretty much the first time ever by wondering aloud “is now the wrong time to chat up Jeff Probst?” Yes, Dawson, it is. Nice to meet you.

Kalabaw decides to keep Denise’s losing streak alive by losing the immunity challenge, and I return to my cubicle chanting on behalf of my favorite player, who is clearly vulnerable as the new member of the tribe. But it’s quickly obvious that BaseballJeff, BlondeCarter, and ReturnerJonathan are happy with her contributions, and bring her into their alliance to take out the weak girls.

They send home Dawson, the Delusional Future Mrs. Probst, leaving her with mere seconds to leave a mark on America, and, apparently, on EWJP’s heart. He snuffs out her torch, and she tries to light his fire with a tender hug and a smelly cheek smooch. EWJP takes this in stride, which is why he deserves all those Emmys.

Stay tuned in next week to see if any more people try to kiss Jeff Probst!

Lorraine is a University employee by day, trash TV enthusiast at night, and equestrian nutcase all the time. She is wildly outnumbered by dudes in the house she shares with her husband Dan, cat Jeoffrey, and dog Reverend Trask.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Lily, oh Lily…

By Erin Jackson
 
 


I like How I Met Your Mother about 75% of the time, and I guess that makes sense since I like about 75% of the main characters, or at least find them to be well rounded and flawed enough to be amused by them.

The 25% I can't stand? Lily. I feel so bad for Alyson Hannigan because she is amazing and she brings a lot of heart to her, but the character is so beyond bland that nothing she gives her can be enough to make up for that.
Take for example the past Monday's episode. Lily and Marshall go outside for the first time without their new baby and realize that death is all around them, so they go home to write up their will (on a website, even though Marshall is a lawyer?) and Lily cries the whole time because she is a mother and that's what all mothers do all the time apparently. They have trouble deciding who should be their son's godparent and so Marshall ends up creating a game show to chose between their three best friends.

What bothers me is that this is the second time that Marshall has created a game and so this is his thing. It's also Lily's dad's thing. So, why give this trait to Marshall and not Lily? I think it would have been great if Lily was really amazing at coming up with board games or game shows and that her dad was still horrible at it. It would have led to some interesting character development. But, nope. They went with the creepy "every girl ends up marrying her dad" thing that is done to death. They have stopped giving her any personality trait or quirk unless it reinforces her being a stereotypical mother or wife.

Lily hasn't always been passive and bland. In the first season, she had doubts about marrying her only serious boyfriend, even though she knew they were meant for each other. She felt conflicted since she had always planned on living her life in a different way since she was an ardent feminist and artist. She didn't want to lose herself for someone, even if she loved them. She and Marshall broke up for a while, then got back together, and since then, her fears have been proven to be well founded. Her art became a joke, any ambition for anything other than being a wife and mother disappeared (I'm talking no hobbies or interests or anything, not just that she gave up a career, which would have been fine) and she became a walking caricature. Last season she got "pregnancy brain" and was bumbling and incompetent for a while. She is still easily distractible and overly emotional, though it is not acknowledged by anyone. Apparently her best friends aren't concerned by any of this and that really really irks me. Unless they pull a "Everyone Says I Love You" and it turns out she has had a brain tumor that has zapped her personality and it's removed and she's an interesting, multi-faceted person again, I sadly have to bid adieu to the potential that was Season One Lily.


Erin Floyd Jackson has been BFFs with TV since she was a wee one when she would play TV Network Executive. She went to school to learn about how and why TV is the way it is and hopes to someday tear someone's creative vision down and re-edit it to her liking. In the meantime, she and her husband live in Huntsville, Alabama and they occasionally "blog" here (http://inappropriateapplause.tumblr.com/) when they are not geeking out over all the SCIENCE! in the Rocket City.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The heartbreak felt round the world

By Meg Walter

Are you wearing black? Have you spent the morning crying? Did you cancel all your plans and decide to spend the day in bed? Well you have every right to because last night love officially died.

 
Jef with one F Holm and Emily Maynard confirmed their split. "It was a very difficult and heartbreaking decision," Maynard said. Read: their contract expired."What we shared was completely genuine and real and it breaks my heart but we have decided to break up," said Jef with one F. Read: Let me tell you about People Water!

But serisously, if these two crazy kids who fell in love on national television after spending a total of seven hours together and using a good deal of camera time to talk about PEOPLE WATER and meeting the child they would be raising together one time and playing with uber creepy puppets and calling it a metaphor for love can't make it, what chance do the rest of us have?
 
Now we have to wait until January (JANUARY?!) to feel the magic again when Sean, arguably the most boring man alive, woos twenty-five tan, perfect haired ladies all named Kristin, Courtney or Rachel and pops the question with a NEIL LANE rock and shows up beaming to the After The Rose show. But honestly I don't think my heart can make it til then.
 
In other news, Ben and Courtney also split but no one cared cause they're the worst.
 
Meg Walter writes about television to justify watching so darn much of it. When she's not on her couch letting her brain turn to jello she's blogging at tobetomars.blogspot.com, playing with her baby girl, or beating her husband in board games.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Revenge is a Dish Best Served Serialized

By Jen Gulbrandsen



In this edition of Who is Nate Sleeping With Tonight, we see some old faces that we didn’t miss (Nelly Yuki) and some we did (Dorota!).  Chuck’s suits are pretty glorious this evening, and Serena manages to make her ratty ponytail look even worse than usual, and that Marc by Marc dress Blair wears in the final scene is truly glorious.  In terms of actual plot, we have three things happening: Blair is trying to be the head of the Waldorf Fashion Haus, Chuck is trying to bring down his not-dead father, and everyone else is trying to find relevancy. 

Nate continues to search for it in the bedroom.  Dan is the woman scorned trying to publish the ultimate tell-all, which is good for me to see so I can be talked out of doing the same thing.  Serena’s entrance into high society has basically come of sleeping her way there.  There’s not a lot in this world I can trust, but Serena’s consistency is always appreciated.

I don’t know why I even bother to watch this anymore considering I saw the ultimate spoiler photo posted on the Internet today, but when Georgina opens her mouth I’m reminded that there is actually some wit in that writer’s room.  As funny as all of those one-liners may be, I am still caught up on one minor, miniscule detail: why did none of these kids finish college?  Did Chuck even apply to college?  I can’t even remember where Blair ended up.  And how could Nate abandon the Columbia lacrosse team? 

It pains me to say this, because she is my Queen and I love her (when she’s not being written horribly, as she is right now), but how is Blair even remotely qualified to run a large design house?  Are we even sure Nate knows how to spell?  I know the Upper East Side (UES) is awfully strange as it is, but I mean, one can only suspend disbelief for so long.

Serena dating an old dude from Seventh Heaven with a seventeen-year-old daughter who goes to Constance isn’t difficult to believe though.  I’m fairly certain she’s the character the writers throw all of their crazy ideas onto.  I can just see them in the room laughing at their computers, saying, “ha – I wonder if anyone will notice if we do this to her!”  Drugs?  Alcohol?  Sex tape?  Rehab?  Murder?  Serena!  It’s no wonder I can’t stand her – she’s the ultimate soap opera caricature. 

Did I mention that Nate’s sleepover buddy is the aforementioned seventeen-year-old girl?

“It’s legal; I checked,” says she.

Gosh, I just love you Gossip Girl.

Jen emphasized in English at Brigham Young University. She currently freelances as a ghost writer and works as a personal stylist to feed her addiction to all things pretty. Her TV preferences range from The Vampire Diaries to Arrested Development and she lives in a fantasy world where Stars Hollow still exists. See more at jengulbrandsen.blogspot.com.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

∞ + ∞ Reasons I ♥ Revenge

By Erin Jackson


Revenge is one of those shows that is at once ridiculously addictive and addictively ridiculous. I found myself going through season one in about a week of binge-watching on Netflix and find myself looking forward to Sunday night TV again. Why does it have this power over me and all its fans? To start, here are infinity plus infinity reasons I love Revenge (okay, it's just eight, but eight is a lot):

1. Nolan and his spy cameras. There are Revenge fans that think he and Emily will hook up eventually but honestly I don't see how he could ever love anything as much as he loves spy cameras. It's adorable how his face lights up with glee any time he has an excuse to make a hidden camera and it's like half the reason I watch Revenge, if I'm honest. Why even write the rest of this article? Oh, that's right because of...

2. The Luke and Jess-ness of the brothers Porter. They live above their liquid and food selling small businesses in a town of quirky rich people and don't fit in. The younger one (Declan) has the hots for the wealthy daughter of the least liked and richest person in town (okay, so not quite Rory, but still), and they are kind of grumpy a lot. It warms my Gilmore Girls-nostalgic heart.

3. Apparently, the Hamptons should be called Schrödinger's Town because everyone is pretty much both dead and alive, depending on when they are observed. And I like that. They play it up and it works for me.

4. Emily VanCamp's face. It's pretty adorable and great, and can really handle the layered nature of Emily Thorne. Sometimes, she'll deliver a line that is so innocuous but she'll give this furtive look, and other times, she'll talk about all her conniving schemes with Nolan and she'll say it so matter of fact that it makes you go "dang, girl, you're nuts".

5. The music gets a solid B+ from me. I have whipped out my phone to Shazam a few times and that's always a good sign.

6. Dramatic irony is pretty standard for soaps, but Revenge takes it up a few notches and it's delightful. Its narration helps make this even more delicious.

7. It's a show that my mom and I can watch and talk about. Now, my mom has awesome taste in TV (she managed to work Breaking Bad into a Sunday school lesson a few weeks ago) so it's not an issue of us watching the same shows, but it's fun to have an out there, over-the-top, soap-like show that we can call each other and be all "what?!" about.

8. Backstory and flashbacks! I love a good flashback episode, and there are a number of them, especially in the latter half of the first season, as well as a peppering of them throughout the series. They really help move the show along and keep it grounded in Emily's quest, which could easily be dwarfed by all the mess around her.

Intrigued by this list? Revenge is on Sunday nights on ABC and can be watched on Netflix Instant, so vengeance can be had by all!

Erin Floyd Jackson has been BFFs with TV since she was a wee one when she would play TV Network Executive. She went to school to learn about how and why TV is the way it is and hopes to someday tear someone's creative vision down and re-edit it to her liking. In the meantime, she and her husband live in Huntsville, Alabama and they occasionally "blog" here (http://inappropriateapplause.tumblr.com/) when they are not geeking out over all the SCIENCE! in the Rocket City.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Mouth to mouth on public transportation? Yeah, I’d call that rock bottom


By Jen Gulbrandsen


It’s the end of Gossip Girl, a thought I can hardly stand.  The show is, without question, my favorite guilty pleasure.  The clothing and the characters and the clear nonsense of the entire thing.  And Chuck.  Always Chuck.

Before we move forward with these recaps, there’s something important you must know.  I am a Chair shipper.  I love Chuck and I love Blair and I love them together and the only ending for this show that I will accept is a Chuck and Blair wedding.  If you’re Team Blair and Dan, or Team Dan and Anyone other than Death for that matter, I doubt we’ll exactly agree on reactions to episodes.

Now then.  Last season ended with complete character assassination for each and every single person, with none so great as Serena giving herself to some gross dude for drugs on the MetroNorth train, assumedly bound for New Haven and more gross dudes.  The most shocking shark jump was the reveal that Bart Bass has actually been alive this entire time, only returning to screw over his dear, darling son.  This led to a Monte Carlo gambling trip for Chuck, and ended with a tryst in the bedroom with his surprise guest, Blair.

Like I said – best guilty pleasure ever.

This premiere episode was weak, and disjointed, and had to rely on cheap stunts to move forward, but let’s face it, we’re not watching for good television.  We’re watching to see if Nate will whore it up again (and after next week’s promo, it looks like you won’t be let down at all).  Or maybe to see if Ivy ever gets voice therapy to fix her raspy, smoker tone.  I’m watching to see Chuck and Blair live happily ever after.  Odds are high that no one is watching for Barry Watson.  And that Ivy/Rufus happening?  Unfortunately none of can un-see that one. 

This final season holds an element of anticipation as we wait for the reveal of Gossip Girl.  I have my theories.  I think we know who she is.  There are even days that I think she might actually be Dan.  But until he shaves his stray neck hairs and gets a good haircut, I can’t pay him any more mention.

Finally, let’s talk about a certain little glittery rock that rests on a long chain around Blair’s neck.  Don’t fail me Gossip Girl writers!  Give me what I want!  It’s the least you can do for making me sit through years of bad puns and implausible plot development.

Thankfully we’ll always have Georgina’s zingers to save what little is left of this series.

Jen emphasized in English at Brigham Young University. She currently freelances as a ghost writer and works as a personal stylist to feed her addiction to all things pretty. Her TV preferences range from The Vampire Diaries to Arrested Development and she lives in a fantasy world where Stars Hollow still exists. See more at jengulbrandsen.blogspot.com.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Survivor Philippines: Yes, There is a Swimming Component.

By Lorraine Jackson

Let’s do a quick rhyming recap of Episode 2, shall we?

Jonathan found the idol,
hidden right under his nose.
Roxy freaked her teammates out,
when she spoke in gibbering prose.

Lisa had a nervous breakdown,
Child stardom breaks your head.
And Abi spoke the words I crave,
“if you **** with me, you’re dead.”

Kalabaw and Tandang won,
So Matsing must vote again.
They sent home the gibbering Roxy,
I’ll miss her crazy in the den!

Feel caught up? Good. Because Episode three is a barrel of fun.

Episode Three: Enter Peter, the quiet engineering grad of red hooded death. Peter gets right to work making things happen in the Yellow Tribe of Tandang, which includes Childstar Lisa, Lingerie RC, Brazilian Abi, Medivac Michael, and the TBD Artis. Peter layed low, and pretty soon, he is going to be orchestrating making people cry, and saving the childstar. IAMSOEXCITED.

Reward/Immunity Challenge:
I like some people on the loserliest of loser teams, Matsing. But I LOVE to watch them lose. Survivor so beautifully separates true athleticism from fake athleticism, and watching skinny runner Angie and tough man Russell flail in the water like two cats with one leg between them is the best kind of entertainment. 41 year-old Denise the Dolphin is the team’s saving grace, and my personal hero. I want to look like that when I’m 41.

Even knowing that Russell and Angie were on the verge of drowning through most of the challenge, I was still shocked when Matsing lost the reward and immunity in another nail-biter. Again. For the third time. Golly, how I love reality TV.

Before we get to tribal council, there is a positively DIVINE scene of Abi bouncing around camp trying to find the immunity idol by digging two inches down in the sand with a tiny bamboo stick on a ¼ mile stretch of beach. It is so priceless it should be GIF’ed. Anyone know how to GIF?

Tribal Council goes about as you would expect after these priceless words from Wise Malcolm:
“it’s just tragic that I’m stuck out here with this goonsquad of a tibe. A girl who couldn’t get a float out from two feet of water. Russell, built like an ox, couldn’t climb a ladder to save his life. And Denise is a rockstar. A little munchkin of muscle.”

If I were there, I would have voted to send home dear sweet Utah local sweetheart Angie just because she seems to genuinely believe that “I would of went again” is a legitimate sentence. And a legitimate defense.

Matsing voted to send home dear sweet Utah local sweetheart Angie because they want to eat tomorrow. And it became painfully clear that a 97 pound blonde 20 year old was not contributing to that cause. Farewell, Utah Favorite.

Tune in again soon to see if Matsing can keep their magnificent losing streak alive!

Lorraine is a University employee by day, trash TV enthusiast at night, and equestrian nutcase all the time. She is wildly outnumbered by dudes in the house she shares with her husband Dan, cat Jeoffrey, and dog Reverend Trask.

Friday, October 5, 2012

And then sometimes television breaks your heart.

By Meg Walter


In the Project Runway workroom, Tim Gunn said to Sonjia, "Do I believe that you've been working up to your potential as a designer? No. I don't. I do believe you've been holding back. I believe you haven't been giving it your all. I just know there's so much more in you. You've gotta get it out." As badly as I wanted to disagree and yell at my television, I knew Tim was right and so did Sonjia. Sonjia rallied her spirits and created what she thought would be a hit for the Avant-Garde challenge. Unfortunately the judges found it was a miss, and again I had to reluctantly agree. That dress is not avant-garde. It's droopy and sad and made with mesh.

It's tough when you're favorite isn't the best. Over the past few weeks it's been apparent that Christopher is this season's star, and that although Sonjia is adorable and delightful and an inspiration for short-haired woman everywhere, she does not deserve to win. Is she a better designer than Fabio? Yes. And better than Melissa. But Christopher is more creative and Dimitri is more precise, and in the end she just wasn't going to win.

It's one thing when a favorite is eliminated on The Bachelor or Big Brother. It makes the show slightly less entertaining. But when Tim sends my favorite designer to the workroom to pack up their things, it tears me up. Maybe it's because Sanjia was there to fulfill a dream. Because her mother taught her to sew and it's all she's ever known. She doesn't want to be on the cover of US Weekly. She never said "I'm not here to make friends." She just wants to be successful doing what she loves, just like every one else. But us everyone elses rarely get the opportunity to compete for our dream on television, so we channel our ambitions, pick a favorite, feel their successes and heartaches as our own, and are most often reminded that we can't all live our dreams. There can only be one Project Runway winner. Sadly it's not Sonjia. But she'll keep sewing. We'll all keep trying. And hopefully Heidi's right, Sonjia still has a bright future in fashion, and all us everyone elses have hope yet.

Meg Walter writes about television to justify watching so darn much of it. When she's not on her couch letting her brain turn to jello she's blogging at tobetomars.blogspot.com, playing with her baby girl, or beating her husband in board games..



Thursday, October 4, 2012

No Bones About It

By Megan Geilman


I have been a longtime fan of Fox’s “Bones”--a show based on the life and times of real life Forensic Anthropologist Kathy Reich’s. The main character in the show, Dr. Temperance Brennan is based off of Reich’s protagonist of the same name in her novels, which although a little weak in the writing, have a real life authenticity that cannot be matched. Since I’ve seen every episode at least a couple of times and have read most of her books, I count myself in the “above average” fan base.

Currently we are 3 episodes into the new season of Bones...and so far, things are on the upswing...but just barely. Last season was dismal with a hurriedly copacetic cohabitation with Booth and Brennan and understandably, that had to do with the real-life timing of Emily Deschanel’s pregnancy. But with the writing taking a nosedive and Dr. Lance Sweets looking most of the time like he’d accidentally swallowed some remains...I was almost hesitant to tune in for another season.

But I did, and it may have had to do with the brilliant new serial killer, Christopher Pelant, who although is on house arrest for hacking into a few government agencies, performs his dirty deeds by sending computer codes through his scanned library book returns and even includes carving a computer virus into the bones of one of his remains...pretty inventive, right? Although it was a bit of a hack job bringing him in, inventing new characters and previous scenarios the viewers didn’t know about, his premise was intriguing enough I was excited to see the continuation in the season opener.

Unfortunately, the resolve was a bit of a hack job as well, with Angela “magically” solving the psych patient’s secret wall message--with no explanation whatsoever. I guess we are still supposed to be so wowed by the killer’s genius that we don’t care how they caught him. Luckily for us (and the show’s writers), the plot includes Pelant reviving his egyptian identity and expediting himself from prison allowing a few more episodes where they could possibly win back my affections.

The second episode allowed a little more character development and to resolve some issues with Tempe and Christine’s 3 months absence after being framed by the nefarious Pelant and his devious library book plot. Unfortunately the writing is still pretty bad (puns, really?) and the overall episode was definitely lacking.

The 3rd episode picked it up a bit with a surprise AWESOME explosion (am I sounding a bit too Hodgins-like with that enthusiasm?) and an intriguing unknown-twin-brother-wife-hitman-twist plot with an intense ending where Sweets gets shot while preventing a second explosion...don’t worry, it’s just a flesh wound! The writers also gave me some hope for the rest of the season by introducing a new character, rookie FBI Agent Olivia Sparling. This angry skinny blonde, although initially a bit abrasive, showed promise with hints into a deeper character and does in fact have good chemistry with Sweets. And even though I get attached to my characters and generally don’t like seeing fictional relationships break up...let’s face it, Daisy was annoying as hell.

Megan Geilman has had an on-again-off-again relationship with television since she was young and her parents occasionally let her stay up to watch Star Trek and X-Files. She recently relocated to beautiful San Clemente, CA with her husband, unborn child, and design business. She lives a half mile from the beach and plans on eating a lot of avocados. She occasionally blogs at http://ratedgforgeilman.blogspot.com and http://megangeilmandesign.blogspot.com