The Biggest Loser (NBC) – I have not been a big fan of this season. I don’t know why, but I’ve found all of the drama to be pretty mild and none of the weight loss journeys are really touching me or connecting with me. Except for one: Courtney’s. I adore Courtney. I find her to be passionate, articulate, confident and wholly deserving of the weight loss she’s achieved after all of the work she’s put in. For the last few weeks, Courtney has been battling a monster of a plateau and last night it finally beat her. It was so sad watching her go last night and it was also a clear demonstrator of how The Biggest Loser doesn’t necessarily work as an elimination competition. There have been a couple of eliminations this season that have been hard to swallow (Arthur’s especially) because the people being eliminated were still so sick that it felt wrong to send them home. This show, unlike Survivor, saves lives and it just feels so unfair when the game gets in the way of that. One of the things that has made this season great, but also a little boring, has been watching the older contestants, the moms and dads, sacrificing their journey for the younger contestants. They sort of took the game into their own hands for a while and dictated who would be going home not based on game play as much as on heart. I appreciate that, but I also found it to be a little predictable. On the other hand, when people get too conniving and deceptive in the game, I’m turned off too. I guess there’s not really a happy medium for me. Regardless, I really believe that Courtney, who lost over 100 pounds on her own before even going on the show, will be able to finish her weight loss on her own. Anyone want to place bets that she’ll be the at home winner? (Oh, Brett got sent packing too because he didn’t have anyone else to train, but I never really felt connected to him so I don’t think I’ll really miss him.) Continue reading
TV sometimes feels like it is edited within an inch of its life and in the scripted format there is very little room for spontaneity to be felt by the audience (whether or not things that were spontaneous on set actually make it on the screen is never really known to the audience). An episode of Family Ties aired last week (“Basic Training”) in which somehow, a little of that energy made it to air. In the episode, Skippy joins the army and has so much trouble in basic training that he goes AWOL. Before he does, he sends the Keatons a letter. If you look closely Michael J. Fox totally starts to break (and Michael Gross seems close to following him) after a great line reading by Justine Bateman (“How do you know Jennifer? Did you take Spanish?” and then she gives a little shake of her head and mouths “No” – perfection). The section starts at about 5:54. It’s awesome.
I’m a big softie at heart and my favorite television shows definitely have a gooey romantic center. Entertainment Weekly has a slide show of TV’s greatest “I Love You” moments and it’s pretty great. My favorite from this list is definitely Carol’s speech to Luka about how much she loved Doug on ER. Carol and Doug might be my favorite couple of all time and the end of their story (or beginning, depending on how you look at it) is perhaps the most romantic of all time. I would also add the following. They might not all include the words “I Love You”, but they certainly convey that message.
Alex P. Keaton’s (Michael J. Fox) confession to Ellen Reed (Tracy Pollan) on Family Ties in the episode “The Real Thing”. What started out as a love-hate relationship turned into a love-love relationship after Alex and Ellen shared a dance to “At This Moment”.
Alex: “Yeah, I love you, ok? I said it. I mean, after all Ellen, if I’m going to go this far I might as well go all the way. I love you, alright? IloveyouIloveyouIloveyou. I’m crazy about you. I’d give anything to be with you. I can’t live without you. Ok? Gotta go, see ya.” Continue reading
Glee (Fox) – After an overblown post-Super Bowl episode, Glee brought things a bit back down to earth with this pre-Valentine’s Day Valentine’s Day episode. I sometimes have problems with the unrealistic way that the Glee writers deal with sensitive topics like homosexuality and feeling like an outcast, but this episode felt like everyone was on a level playing field. Everyone wants to be loved for who they are, even girls like Lauren (Ashley Fink) who are bigger than the rest or guys like Blaine (Darren Criss) who may be out and proud, but still don’t know how to woo without going over the top. Despite the fact that Puck’s love for Lauren seemingly came out of nowhere her response was awesome. No, Puck. Singing a curvy girl “Fat Bottomed Girls” is not sweet or romantic. Good try though. I was glad that she made him come to her and had enough self respect to doubt his intentions but enough hope to give him a shot. Finn’s kissing booth seemed a little desperate, but it was nice to see him smiling again and I’m glad that he’s still so supportive of Rachel. I also think the Finn/Quinn separation allowed Cory Monteith and Dianna Agron to get some of their chemistry and sparkle back. Best song of the night: Tina’s rendition of “My Funny Valentine”: sobbing and collapsing and generally losing her sh*t over her love for Mike – Awesome.
Southland (TNT) – There are no happy endings on this show. Every time we think the detectives are going to get one up on the criminals and solve something, this show just shows us how grey our legal system is. Last night’s episode brought Sammy back to the force after six weeks off to grieve the death of his partner. Clearly, he was not quite ready for the emotional impact of being out on the streets without Nate and I’m sure the fact that he is still living with Nate’s wife and kids (who are clearly becoming dependent on Sammy) isn’t helping him at all. This story is still crushing and I have a feeling it’s only going to get worse. Continue reading
One Tree Hill (The CW) – This show. Oy. I have been watching this show since I got the flu a few years ago at the same time that season 1 showed up from Netflix. I was just so curious about what the appeal was. I’m still sort of looking for it, but last night’s episode in which Brooke married Julian may have made it a little more clear. Despite being created by a man, it is a female fantasy world in which men keep half of a carnival token they got when they were 8 to remind them that their other half is out there; a couple can get married as sophomores in high school, have a baby as seniors, and still have successful music and NBA careers; and a donor heart can be eaten by a dog. It is ridiculous and ridiculously idealistic. Even the bad things that happen (a random attack and robbery, getting stuck in a car at the bottom of a river in the middle of a storm, crazy nannies who kidnap children) are so over the top that they lack even an ounce of credibility or threat. It is the king of my guilty pleasures and I’m sure as long as The CW continues to renew it, I’ll keep watching.
The Good Wife (CBS) – There are so many plot threads to follow on this show that I’m starting to get a bit dizzy. I had almost completely forgotten about drug-pin Bishop and the State’s Attorney’s investigation, but it looks like that thread is about to ramp up with Lockhart Gardner possibly taking him on as a client. While I enjoy the repartee between Kalinda and Burke (how great is Scott Porter on this show?) I’m ready to start getting some solid answers rather than innuendo. It seems like last night’s episode may have put the nail in the coffin of Peter’s campaign, and, in the process, put the focus back on his marriage to Alicia (the open door at the end of the episode was a great final note. Was she inviting him back into their shared bedroom for good, for now, not at all? WHAT DOES IT MEAN!?!?) but I’m worried that Peter might become too sidelined and if the end of the campaign means an end to Alan Cumming, that makes me sad. In fact, there are so many personal side-plots going on, that the cases are starting to become less compelling. Thankfully, Matt Czuchry’s Cary is starting to dig into his knowledge of Lockhart Gardner and Alicia while arguing against them and seeing him bringing his A-game to court has been really fun. Next week Michael J. Fox is back as an opposing council and I can’t wait! Outside of Martha Plimpton, Fox is one of the best guest stars this show has. Continue reading
Death isn’t an easy topic in real life, so why should it be handled any differently on a sitcom. Sitcoms are, by definition, funny. Death is not. On a good sitcom, the writing and characters are so believable that even when they are encountering devastating circumstances the viewer understands that their humor comes from a place of pain and can still relate to the emotions while laughing.
Last week on How I Met Your Mother, Marshall’s dad/best friend died suddenly in a pretty controversial episode. I consider myself lucky to have not been distracted by the countdown while I was watching the episode because I was able to really engage with the characters and felt the same shock they did upon news of the death. This week the writers had to deal with the ramifications of that death which I felt they did with equal parts humor and empathy. They had a couple of things going for them: a week of distance from the shock of Marshall’s loss and Marshall himself, who is the most emotionally raw character on this show. I think the writers did a great job of making a touching “very special” episode that didn’t forget it’s core value: humor. Robin’s “Mary Poppins” bag of tricks and the ever growing list of inane last words from Marshall’s dad kept reminding me that part of losing someone is appreciating the life we have.
Despite having a pretty uneven couple of seasons, the thing that keeps me coming back to How I Met Your Mother is its sweetness which was on great display last night. I was so glad to see the characters rally around Marshall and seek out a specific, character-based way to help him through this really big thing. It’s knowing who these characters are and understanding how they would react to news this big that allows the viewer to believe the humor. It didn’t feel false or forced. OF COURSE, Robin would have a bag filled with drugs, alcohol, cell phone chargers and firecrackers (or whatever else you might need in your time of need). OF COURSE, Ted and Barney would try to get Marshall to laugh by showing him inane videos of people getting hit in the nuts. OF COURSE, Lily would selflessly accept Marshall’s mother’s berating in order to help her sleep and eat. And OF COURSE, Marshall would rail at God for taking away his hero and leaving him with the parting words: “Go rent Crocodile Dundee III; it really holds up”. Continue reading