Bunheads: Color me confused

Fanny (Kelly Bishop) helps herself to Michelle’s (Sutton Foster) unpacking.

How do you feel about Bunheads?  ABC Family’s show about a former Las Vegas Showgirl who moved in with her deceased husband’s mother has me a little stumped.  I’m not sure that I like it, but I can’t really say for certain that I don’t like it.  Things in the plus column: Sutton Foster (who is proving to be a great comedienne and perfect for creator Amy Sherman Palladino’s writing), the opening credits, the rat-a-tat language, Kelly Bishop’s tightrope walk between elegant and bohemian, and the potential for actual dance in every episode.  Things in the minus column: the “quirky” townsfolk, the lack of structure, the uncertainty about what this show is about – is it about Michelle and Fanny’s relationship?  The ballet school?  The teen dancers’ struggle?  Michelle’s quest to find success?  Fanny’s innate awesomeness?  I’m just not sure. Continue reading

Random Musings on Summer TV: The Bachelorette, Bunheads, Girls & Veep

I haven't watched a single Teen Wolf episode yet this season. This is totally unacceptable.

Ahhh, summer TV.  So much to love and yet it all feels so much less important than the regular season, doesn’t it?  I’m super behind on my Teen Wolf watching which is extremely disappointing (however I’m flying to Portland this weekend and you better believe I’ll be watching it on the plane), I am still trying to catch up on Game of Thrones (I need to concentrate so much when I watch GoT that I tend to save episodes until I have a good chunk of uninterrupted time to watch), and FX is rerunning all 4 seasons of Sons of Anarchy and despite the fact that I have seen them all at least twice on Netflix, I’m watching again.  But, there have been a few surprises already this summer which makes me very hopeful. Continue reading

TV News: Little Blips

Oh Happy Day!

ABC Family has renewed Make It or Break It!  Music to my ears. [Vulture]

Coming off this summer’s Teen Wolf success, MTV is hoping to capture some more scripted magic in a bottle. [THR]

Up All Night just got a little more awesome with the addition of Blythe Danner.  [TVLine]

Check out songs from Glee’s 3rd season premiere.  [TVSquad]

Quick Takes: The Closer, Pretty Little Liars, and Love Bites

Chris Gorham and the all important giraffe wearing a top hat.

Love Bites (NBC) – I’m only doing a quick take this week because I was SO disappointed that we didn’t have a Becki Newton-centric episode AGAIN.  She is totally the best thing on this show (besides the randomly rotating door of guest stars) and I really miss her and her character.  The theme this week was “Boys to Men” – each vignette explored a different stage in guy’s relationship maturity.  I totally recognized the actress who played Marissa in “Ben & Marissa” (coincidentally, the names of my cousin his wife) and the actor who played her husband Rico, but I don’t think I could place them if my life depended on it.  This vignette wasn’t really funny until the very end during the skyped a capella version of “Taps”.  Drunk women who cheat on their husbands for forgetting their birthdays are not funny.  They are sad.  But the character of 23 year-old Ben, all clingy and insecure, felt like a real person to me.  I knew guys like that in college, so gold star for that.  Again, I recognized both Steffi & Tommy (Tommy was played by the guy who was Robin’s puppy dog boyfriend on How I Met Your Mother this season) in the second vignette, but don’t know their names.  The actors this week are all sort of second tier “Hey It’s That Guy” sightings.  You know you’ve seen them in stuff before, but they’re not big enough to remember their name.  Anyway, Steffi and Tommy had an awkward one-night stand made more awkward when he drives her to the hospital and pretends to be her boyfriend for her family.  I don’t know if it was the performances or the writing, but the whole vignette felt very insincere, even when it was supposed to be sincere and it was pretty much based on latin stereotypes and “women are from venus, men are from mars” style misunderstandings.  In the end, Tommy realizes that it’s time to grow up, stop painting his face for football games, and actually get a girl’s phone number for once.  ”Dale & Audrey”, the last vignette, had the most recognizable actors – Christopher Gorham (currently on Covert Affairs) played Dale and Izabella Miko (who was in the straight to DVD Save the Last Dance 2 ) played Audrey.  But oh man, this one was so bad.  Gorham played Annie’s (Becki Newton) brother-in-law Dale, who is getting ready to be a father to the baby Annie is carrying.  Aubrey is the new sexy french receptionist who flirts with him.  It’s all one giant male fantasy – she has the same taste in music, they go out to lunch and she teaches him the right way to light a woman’s cigarette, she has to buy a new shirt and uses the opportunity to flash him – until he spots the giraffe wearing a top hat (which was in the second vignette as well) he’s been searching for and realizes that he is really excited to be a dad and doesn’t want to have sex with the pretty receptionist.  It was pretty groan-inducing.  However, Annie going into labor at the end meant we finally got some time with her again.  Best line of the night: “It’s cool.  I give you a baby, you leave me at the curb.” – Annie.  If we don’t get more Becki Newton next week I’m gonna be pissed.  Her 2 minutes at the very end was the best part of this whole episode. Continue reading

Quick Take: White Collar & Pretty Little Liars

Selena, the black widow, attempts to seduce Peter (Madchen Amick & Tim DeKay)

White Collar (USA) – I love it when the White Collar team goes undercover – it always brings out the fun, goofy, playful side in Peter and actually brings out a more serious, down to business side in Neal (because undercover essentially IS his business).  While the episode this week was the complete opposite of subtle (in one scene, Selena, the black widow the FBI is after, stabs some ice with a knife then stirs Peter’s drink with it and tries to seduce him while still holding it; basically screaming “I’m dangerous.  WATCH OUT!” while doing all of this), it had a nice, fluffy feel to it that I loved.  I really liked that Tiffani Thiessen was given more to do as Peter’s wife Ellie and found her scenes totally charming and I got a chance to appreciate Hilary Burton and Matt Bomer’s chemistry which was fun as well.  I am happiest to report that the episode held no new movement in the stolen U-Boat treasure story line.  I don’t mind that Mozzie and Neal stole the treasure, but the idea that they would ever leave New York is not only ludicrous, it’s depressing.  It has become clear that Neal is far too invested in the people he works with and the relationships he’s built to really give it up, even for the greatest score ever, and seeing him struggle with that choice is too much of a downer for this show.  By taking the focus off of the treasure, White Collar was able to highlight what makes it great: the chemistry between the actors, the slight of hand wheeling and dealing and creative ways that they get the bad guys.  Also, dancing, discovery that Neal’s apartment used to be a back room speakeasy and Mozzie as Peter’s “man”!  More episodes like last night’s please.  Line of the night goes to Mozzie (performing Peter & Ellie’s second wedding ceremony): “Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to celebrate the marriage between Suit and Mrs. Suit.”

C'mon girls! Lighten up for a minute. Ashley Benson, Lucy Hale, Troian Bellisario, & Shay Mitchell (clockwise from bottom left)

Pretty Little Liars (ABC Family) – I feel weird saying this, but I found last night’s episode totally exhausting to watch.  While I understand that there are dark things going on and Emily, Spencer, Aria and Hanna have every reason in the world to be constantly paranoid, but I’d really like to see the girls have some good happening to balance out all the bad.  Especially Spencer.  I feel like you could bounce a quarter off her aura, she’s so tightly wound.  It makes me tense to watch her sneaking around after her sister (who is the worst character on the show in my opinion).  I feel like the tension was more equally spread among the girls during the first season – they all had moments where they were the most interested in figuring out who “A” is and who killed their friend Alison.  But this season, Spencer seems like the driving force in all of that.  The other girls have an air of wanting to just let it all go and stop worrying about “A” and live their lives.  Just like I’d like to see some balance between the good and the dark in their lives, I’d like to see the girls sharing the drive to figure out who “A” is and how to get a step ahead.  Maybe Spencer has been the focus early in the season because of her connection to her now-deceased/former murder suspect/brother-in-law Ian.  Hopefully now that he’s dead of an apparent suicide (which clearly wasn’t a suicide since “A” pawned the horse shoe from the barn he was found in, in place of Spencer’s sister’s wedding ring) one of the other girls will have a reason to get more into the mystery.  Scratch that.  Hopefully, the writers will give us a reprieve from all the tension and let the girls have some fun for a second before “A” comes crashing down on them again.

Covert Affairs & The Nine Lives of Chloe King: Two New Ways to Spend Your Summer

This is not a good look for a supposedly good CIA agent.

I think it’s pretty clear that I’m totally buying what ABC Family and USA are selling.  While none of their shows could technically be called “good” they are all exceedingly entertaining and easy to watch – in other words, perfect summer fare.  Last week marked the return of USA’s Covert Affairs starring Piper Perabo as a CIA secret agent and this week ABC Family’s new summer series The Nine Lives of Chloe King premiered.  Neither one of these series have great dialogue, plots or acting, but it’s the summer time.  Time to throw all of my serious judgement out the window and just relax and enjoy the fluff that TV is offering me.  Time to turn off my brain and accept that someone as helpless as Annie would be chosen to be a secret agent without any back up.  Time to just go with the idea of the existence of a race of cat-like gods and believe that Chloe is their leader.  But come fall, I expect my TV to get much more serious. Continue reading

White Collar goes on a treasure hunt and Pretty Little Liars returns

Neal (Matt Bomer) gets the treasure hunt started.

White Collar (USA) – While the set up for last night’s episode of White Collar didn’t make much sense (why the hell would the FBI be called in to authenticate a will?) it sure was a lot of fun.  Two sons of a very wealthy (played by real life brothers Danny and Chris Masterson), quirky dead guy were fighting over whose version of his will was authentic.  Neal determined that they were both fakes and in the process found a treasure map.  At first the brothers were completely uninterested in following the map, but after the daughter of one was kidnapped by their father’s head of security (they sure did figure that out quickly, didn’t they?), they agree to cooperate.  I always love seeing Peter’s zeal for figuring out puzzles and the scene of him directing Neal, Mozzie and Ellie to change the sun dial’s time was pretty fun.  (Just before that scene, Peter was trying to ignore Neal’s pleas to go on the treasure hunt with him and Ellie’s line “Honey, do you want to grab some mirrors and go play with Neal?” was awesome.)  They very cooly manipulated the sundial so that it reflects the times of day written on the will as well as the season indicated by a flower or whatever.  I don’t really know what they did, it was neat.

Mozzie and Satchmo execute the "Blind Man's Bluff"

The sun dial led them to some ancient astronomer whose book just happened to have been donated by quirky wealthy dad to the planetarium.  When they get there, Neal and Peter discover that it is programed to turn one page per hour and as they only have five hours left on the kidnapped daughter’s clock, Mozzie and Neal decide to run a con to speed it up.  They throw out the idea of the Cannonball or Lazy Susan (which they deemed too risky due to the sprinklers involved) and land on Blind Man’s Bluff (Hoo-Ha!) which involved borrowing Peter’s dog Satchmo and spying on the head of security at the planetarium while he input his alarm code.  But Neal wasn’t able to get the book to land on the right page by manipulating the computer controlling it so he and Mozzie drill a hole into its glass casing.  The air immediately causes the book to disentigrate leaving only a bookmark with some symbols from the granddaughter’s anklet (a gift from quirky wealthy dad).  The rest of the symbols lead to photographs of the two sons which are placed on opposite sides of a bookshelf (the symbols were of Christmas gifts they got in the same year and a camera; pretty nifty clue sniffing).  The sons crack open the bookshelf and find the astronomers actual notebooks as well as the real will.  Plus Peter and the rest of the team find the kidnapped granddaughter so all is well with the world.  I am now convinced that everything would be better if a treasure hunt was involved.

Neal pulls a "travelling salesman" on the unsuspecting DC art investigator (played by Anna Chlumsky).

While all of this is going on, Peter is still trying to decide if Neal stole the art from the U-boat.  He brings in an art investigator from DC and shows her the one page of the manifest that managed to survive the warehouse explosion.  Neal cons her using “The Travelling Salesman”.  Posing as an interpol agent who was also called into the FBI about the U-boat art, he gets DC art agent drunk and gets her to divulge why she was in Peter’s office.  Neal gets the big clue that he needed – one page of the manifest was found and if anyone tries to sell anything on the list, they’re going down.  It was actually pretty smooth of Neal.  But it might be too late as Mozzie is currently trying to sell one of the paintings in order to finance their next escape attempt.  If Mozzie doesn’t get Neal’s message in time, there’s a chance that the Degas they’re trying to sell will be on the manifest and alert Peter to the fact that Neal has the art.  Dun Dun DUUUUUUUN!

As creepy as Ezra and Aria's affair is at times, a shirtless Ian Harding is much appreciated.

Pretty Little Liars (ABC Family) - Pretty Little Liars is a perfect guilty pleasure.  It is an over-wrought drama, has cheesy dialogue, and pretty crap acting.  But throughout it all, it is utterly entertaining.  And at its core is the friendship between four girls who are dealing with the every day problems of being teenagers: boys, weight, sexuality, family stresses.  I read an interview with creator Marlene King yesterday in which she said that she doesn’t plan to reveal “A’s” identity until the series finale which she’s hoping won’t be until season 5.  That’s a long time to wait for the core mystery to be solved, but she sounds like she has a long-term plan for the show and I appreciate that.

Spencer (Troian Bellisario), Aria (Lucy Hale), Emily (Shay Mitchell) and Hannah (Ashley Benson) endure a therapy session.

The second season premiere found the girls struggling to hold it together after Spencer’s brother-in-law Ian’s “dead” body went missing at the end of the first season finale.  Their parents are extremely concerned about them and get them to go see a therapist (played by Annabeth Gish who will always be Kat from Mystic Pizza to me) as a group.  The girls decide to tell her all about “A” and the mystery surrounding Allison’s death, but just as their about to show her the video of Jenna manipulating her step-brother Toby (in perhaps the grossest way possible), they spot Aria’s boyfriend/teacher Ezra’s college diploma sitting on her bookshelf indicating that “A” knows they’re in therapy and can get to them at any time.  The incident leads Dr. Anne to call the girls’ parents and tell them she thinks it would be best for them to have individual therapy sessions as well as spend some time apart and at the end of the episode, the girls are reeling from their separation.  Unfortunately, the girls don’t only have to deal with “A”.  Hannah’s boyfriend Caleb tries to get her to forgive him for leaving without saying goodbye (Sample cheesy dialogue: “Most of my life, I have felt alone even when I was with people.  That was, until I met you.”); Spencer’s parents are trying to keep her away from Toby; Emily’s mother has brought in a blunt real estate agent to lease their house when they move to Texas to join her father; and Aria is dealing with the fallout of learning about Ezra’s ex-fiancé.  So many troubles, so little time.  Despite the fact that the girls all believe that Ian is dead, Spencer’s sister Melissa receives a text from him telling her he can’t tell her what’s going on because it’s not safe and at the very end of the episode we see “A” deleting Emily’s copy of the Jenna/Toby video from her hard drive.

Look, this show can’t really be called “good”, but it is highly entertaining and makes for a fun summer series.  More than any other network, ABC Family has embraced the summer as a time to air hot new shows and Pretty Little Liars is a great addition to their schedule.  Also, there is some crazy-ass fashion on this show which is always amusing.

Upcoming Summer TV Premieres: White Collar, Pretty Little Liars and more!

Even in a suit and tie, Matt Bomer looks laid back and relaxed. Perfect for summer viewing.

Happy June everyone!  Now that the regular TV season has officially ended, it’s time for the summer season to start.  What used to be a dumping ground for lame game shows, reruns and burning off episodes of previously cancelled shows, is now a time for lighthearted capers, silly tween dramas, and well, lame game shows.  I actually look forward to summer TV these days which wasn’t the case while I was growing up (thank god.  Lord knows I probably wouldn’t have seen the outdoors as much as I did).  It is a nice respite after all of the serious dramas and the comedies that require me to use my brain most of the time in order to get the jokes.  Give me White Collar and Pretty Little Liars, shows I can float through.  There is nothing too demanding about a summer TV show, and that’s a good thing.  Here are the shows (new and old) I’m most looking forward to this summer. Continue reading

Make It or Break It Season Finale

The girls of the Rock.

The season finale of Make It or Break It was full of drama with a side helping of cheese.  The girls (minus Emily) were busy getting ready for the World Championships, Kaylie was busy trying to hide her anorexia again, Payson was busy trying to save her family from financial ruin, Lauren was busy trying to get Max into bed and gain Summer and Sasha’s forgiveness for leaking the video of Payson kissing Sasha last year, and Kelly Parker was busy trying not to be a total bitch.  There was a major car accident with minor injuries, Ellen Beals’ (evil, evil woman) return, and lots of confessions all around.  During the first round of World’s (which included canned commentary from Nadia Comanici and Bart Connor) the girls were tense and basically fell apart, but they got themselves together for the second round and ended up winning gold.  A lot happened, but none of it felt particularly consequential.  It was all tied up in a nice neat bow by the end of the episode.  Except for Emily.  The last couple of weeks, Emily has been missing, but I was left with the impression that she would be back before the end of the season.  I was wrong.  Is Emily gone for good?  I really hope not.  She was our entrée into The Rock and my favorite girl on the team (despite how whiny she could be, her comeback story was always the most interesting to me) and it feels like something is missing without her – especially in the last scene of Payson, Lauren and Kaylie holding hands and looking at the leader board.   Continue reading

Save the Drama for your Mama: 90210 and Make It Or Break It

Naomi and Max are super cute at the prom (AnnaLynne McCord & Josh Zuckerman)

90210 (The CW): Well, the writers slipped the after effects of not taking bipolar medication into the conversation.  The doctor pointed out to Silver that she might have some hallucinations after being off of her medication (because Adrianna is evil and switched out her meds).  Pretty impressive actually.  And then Adrianna did it again!  (Although she stole the medicine rather than switching it out this time)  Are you kidding me?  Repercusions better be coming her way.  Despite the fact that this story line has felt a little rushed (Silver went from normal to manic to depressed to hospitalized in the span of 2 episodes), I give the writers credit for at least attempting to shed some light on bipolar disorder and trying to do so responsibly (methods for getting there not withstanding).  I did not have faith that they would be able to do this story justice and I’m glad that they proved me wrong (within the confines of a television show).  Now, onto other stories.  While Naomi and Max are totally adorable together, their story last night was basically a mash-up of the original Beverly Hills, 90210 “Donna Martin Graduates” story and the first season episode of Felicity wherein Felicity “edited” the hell out of Ben’s paper and caused him to be accused of cheating.  I understand that it’s difficult to come up with story ideas after a certain number of years, but the thing with Naomi staying up all night to write a paper that Max then “edits” only to be accused of cheating by an evil teacher who doesn’t believe in her and have her graduation status threatened is just too close to home.  There’s just no way 90210can do either story justice considering there’s only one episode left in the season and it feels like an unnecessary roadblock in the Naomi/Max relationship.   Continue reading