Former Bunnies reflect on The Playboy Club

Amber Heard and Laura Benanti as bunny and bunny mother.

This is a pretty eye-opening article about what some former Playboy Club Bunnies had to say about last night’s premiere.  I don’t expect the show to get all the details right, but it’s a little sad how much they got wrong.  I think (and hope) that as the series moves forward it will address these strict rules (we saw some of that starting towards the end of the pilot) but I recognize that this is a TV show and everyone knows that sex sells so the idea that the bunnies will stop having sex in bathrooms or dancing with the patrons of the club in order to be a more accurate portrayal of the club’s history is pretty hilarious.  This is a fictionalized account after all.  Got to make it shiny somehow. [XOJane]

Monday Night Premieres: How I Met Your Mother, Two and a Half Men, 2 Broke Girls, & The Playboy Club

The How I Met Your Mother Gang do their best to ruin Punchy's wedding.

Uh oh.  The official start of the fall TV season has gotten off to a pretty meh start for me.  While I was really looking forward to the return of How I Met Your Mother, the two episodes that aired felt a bit slow and not quite as energetic as I would have liked (although I really enjoyed meeting “Beercules”).  The fact that Ted, the narrator, reminded us several times that he is not even close to the end of his story doesn’t seem to be a very good sign that we’re going to have a conclusion to the mother question any time soon and sort of got the show off to a plodding start.  I really want to feel like we’re going to have some forward momentum in the overarching story line and while I loved Victoria and thought she was a pretty good match for Ted, bringing her back makes it feel like a step backwards instead of forwards.  However, I think that the fact that Ted has refocussed his mission to fall in love (rather than just mess around with girls who like that he’s on the cover of a magazine) is a positive as was Barney’s trick of staying in a diner until Nora took him back.  I must add that if Robin doesn’t do something with her hair, and quick, we are going to have issues.  It was just awful.  Line of the night: “The only person who loves Ted Mosby more than Marshall is drunk Marshall.” – Marshall

Two and a Half Men is the ver definition of mediocrity.

Perhaps part of the reason that I’m feeling a little down about the start of the season is that I sat through an entire episode of Two and a Half Men for the first time.  I wanted to see if Ashton Kutcher (who I loved on That 70’s Show) could make this show bearable, but he did not.  The laugh track is just completely suffocating, the premiere was dripping with guest stars (including Jenna Elfman and Thomas Gibson from Chuck Lorre’s former show Dharma and Greg), and the whole thing just felt phoned in by everyone involved.  I am embarrassed to admit that I giggled a couple of times, but mostly because the jokes I giggled at were the crassest of the show.  Overall, Two and a Half Men is still not at all funny to me and not even Ashton Kutcher could earn it more than one full viewing.

I have extremely high hopes for both 2 Broke Girls and their horse.

I think I’ve been looking forward to 2 Broke Girls more than any other new show this season and while the pilot wasn’t perfect (they never are), there was a lot of potential and I’m really excited to see it grow into itself.  My biggest complaint is how sitcom-y the joke delivery is.  Not all sitcoms, even the one with laugh tracks, have to be “set up, punchline, set up, punchline” and I think that Kat Dennings would really benefit from a loosening of the reigns and a freedom to just be dry and sarcastic and not follow typical sitcom rhythms.  I thought I would be much more annoyed by Beth Behrs’ Caroline, but I found her to be pretty sweet actually.  I wish the writers hadn’t filled the diner with ethnic stereotypes (the hipster stereotypes were fine – and funny – because hipsters take themselves so seriously they deserve to be made fun of). First of all, ethnic stereotypes aren’t funny, they’re lazy.  Secondly, these particular stereotypes (the immigrant uptight Asian, the smooth cat older African American, and the horndog Russian) feel done to death.  I am choosing to give the show the benefit of the doubt because I want to and because I know that it’s hard to cram in more than stereotypes in a pilot, but it’s on notice.  I will give a shout out to Brooke Lyons who plays Max’s boss at her second job.  Yes, the character is a bit of a stereotype of the rich mother who uses her children as accessories, however they pushed it so far that it verged on the ridiculous which made it pretty funny (I mean, she calls her twins “Brangelina” instead of Brad and Angelina).  Overall, the show has a lot of positives – the fact that the two leads are women who have goals outside of marriage (they want to open a bake shop), the general crassness of the jokes (one about a stain on Caroline’s uniform had me chuckling) and the modernity of the protagonists (they seem like real girls with real problems who aren’t going to wallow in them which I love) – and I’m still pretty excited about its prospects.  I also think the end tag showing Max and Caroline’s current total towards their goal of opening their bakery is kind of fun and gives the show some focus beyond its Odd Couple set up.

I'm a little appalled by how cute I think the bunny outfits are.

Finally, I watched The Playboy Club which felt claustrophobic, trite, and like it was cashing in on all the 60’s era nostalgia that Mad Men has created.  I kind of hated everything about the show from its insistence that Playboy Bunnies were progressive for the women’s movement to the overcooked mob storyline.  I won’t deny that the costumes had me enthralled and I’m a bit intrigued by Amber Heard as an actress, but overall, I just didn’t like the show.  I’ll probably give the show one more outing to win me over, but it’s really going to need to open up its world outside of the club and deepen all of the characters (the one character I found really great is Alice who has just joined a club for closeted homosexuals) in order to get me to stick with it.

Mondays This Fall: Light on Watchable Shows

I love the chess game that is my TV schedule.  Now that we know what shows the networks are airing and when (although nothing is set in stone) I thought I’d size up the competition.  Here is the schedule for Monday starting this fall.

The Monday schedule seems a little all over the map competition wise.  Other than The Sing-Off and Dancing With The Stars (both reality competitions) and Castle and Hawaii Five-O (both procedurals), there’s some pretty great counter-programming going on across the board.  For comedies, turn to CBS from 8 – 10, for dramas Fox, for teen fare, The CW.  While none of those genres holds their audience exclusively (meaning there’s plenty of cross-over viewing), it just sort of feels like the audience for each show is going to seek out that particular brand of programming.  I predict big numbers for Terra Nova right out of the gate with Dancing with the Stars eventually winning the night.

Rachel Bilson from "Hart of Dixie"

There are quite a few new shows to work into my schedule, but Mondays actually look relatively calm.  Thanks to AT&T U-Verse (I swear, they don’t pay me) I can record 4 programs at a time which will be necessary in the 8 o’clock hour as I plan to watch The Sing Off, How I Met Your Mother, 2 Broke Girls, Terra Nova and Gossip Girl.  9pm will be relatively light with just Hart of Dixie to contend with and at 10pm I’ll continue watching Castle and give The Playboy Club a shot at season pass-dom.  Here’s the thing: I readily expect to get sick of The Sing-Off (which made for excellent holiday viewing but could get really old really quick when viewed against new episodes of my favorite shows) and The Playboy Club (which has a great look, but didn’t interest me substance-wise) fairly quickly.  And while I have high expectations for 2 Broke Girls, it could very well not be funny which will get it deleted faster than you can say “not funny”.  The only new shows I can see myself sticking with through thick and thin are Terra Nova (because it’s from Steven Spielberg and also looks awesome) and Hart of Dixie (because it stars Rachel Bilson).  This is actually a fairly light TV viewing schedule for me (as you will see when I post the rest of the week’s comparisons) which is kind of a relief.  As much as I love television and writing this blog, there are days when it can be exhausting to keep up with everything that’s out there and I really won’t be sad if most of the new shows fail to hold my interest.

NBC Reveals Its Fall & Mid-Season Schedules – Updated

Get ready for a busy week: Upfronts start today!  NBC started the week off with six new shows in the fall and two new additions mid-season.  Perhaps the biggest news of the schedule is NBC’s decision to bring The Sing-Off into the fall rather than holding it for the two weeks during the holiday hiatus.  Very interesting (more later).  Without further ado, NBC’s schedule!

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Pilot Pickups & Cancellations – Did any of your favorites get cut?

The news of pilot pickups has been coming fast and furiously this week leading up to the network upfronts next week.  Earlier this week, Fox announced the cancellation of 4 shows and the pick up of 2 comedies and 2 dramas. Today, CBS announced it would be picking up JJ Abrams’ Person of Interest (that makes two pick ups for Mr. Abrams for those of you playing along at home), the comedy Two Broke Girls starring Kat Dennings.  They’ve been a bit slow to get out of the gate and haven’t announced any big cancellations as of yet.  However,  in a shocking turn of events, they passed on the Sarah Michelle Gellar drama The Ringer, but gave it to their sister network, The CW, so all is once again right with the world now that Buffy will be back on TV.

ABC announced that it is cancelling Brothers & Sisters, Off The Map, V, Detroit 187, No Ordinary Family, Better with You (BOO!) and Mr. Sunshine while picking up 12 new shows: Last Man Standing starring Tim Allen, Apt. 23 (formerly The Bitch in Apt. 23 starring James Van Der Beek as himself – awesome), Work It (which sounds like an updated Bosom Buddies), the sitcom Suburgatory, Man Up, Charlie’s Angels, Pan Am (about flight attendants in the 60’s), Good Christian Belles (formerly Good Christian Bitches from Darren Starr), Once Upon A Time (a fairytale drama), Revenge (a Hamptons-set take on the Count of Monte Cristo), Scandal (from Shonda Rhimes), and thriller The River.  They also announced second seasons of Happy Endings and Body of Proof.

Meanwhile over at NBC, we have seen the last of The Event, Outsourced (definitely not a surprise) and Law & Order: LA.  The peacock network renewed Parenthood, Harry’s Law and Chuck (for a final season) as well as greenlit Are You There, Vodka? It’s Me, Chelsea (based on Chelsea Handler’s book), Bent starring Amanda Peet as a divorced single mom, Free Agents about PR execs, BFFs (which sounds stupid already), The Playboy Club, Awake (described as Inception for TV), Grimm (a fairytale cop drama), the Prime Suspect remake, and Smash (a musical drama from Steven Spielberg).  Also, despite all the fanfare, NBC did not pick up the Wonder Woman pilot from David E. Kelley (after seeing the costume and stills, I can’t say I’m surprised).

There’s a lot of blood in the streets of Hollywood this week, but I’m particularly disappointed about any of these decisions (except for Better with You.  BOO! ABC, BOO!!).  I’m excited by almost all of the pilots and other than Off The Map (which I only want to continue because I adore Zach Gilford) and Better with You (which, who knew I was so involved with?) I’m not upset about any of the cancellations.  I’m a little disappointed that the networks made all of these announcements ahead of next week’s upfronts.  It will certainly detract from the drama of the week, but I’m sure there will be much more to come and this is all very exhausting.  As it stands, I feel like there is some real potential in these new shows (and I’m sure there are going to be some fantastic bombs as well).  Next week each network will get the chance to trot out all of their stars, new and old, when they present next seasons shows to advertisers, and hopefully I’ll have a chance to really dig my teeth into their new schedules.  Let’s hope the networks still have some scheduling surprises in store to reveal next week, otherwise it’s going to be kind of a let down.   [Vulture] and [EW.com]