Sorting through the DVR: Animal Practice, Emily Owens M.D. bite the dust; Last Resort & Nashville get a season pass

Why can’t you be on a GOOD show? (Jordana Spiro & Zach Gilford)

Today NBC officially cancelled Animal Practice, but I cut it out of my DVR schedule two weeks ago.  Not only was it painfully not funny, but it was making me start to dislike two actors whom I normally like very much: JoAnna Garcia Swisher and Justin Kirk.  They deserve better.  Over the years I’ve learned the difference between giving new shows a chance and watching them despite the fact that I hate them.  So, after one episode Made in Jersey got the boot (both on my personal DVR and the CBS schedule) because it was just atrocious.  I tried to stick with Mob Doctor (another show that I was watching mostly due to the likability of Jordana Spiro and Zach Gilford) but after three episodes of crappy mob stories combined with even crappier cases of the week, I just couldn’t anymore.  Other shows that were swings and misses for me: 666 Park Avenue (which I found SO boring and slow), Emily Owens M.D. (which makes me so sad because Mamie Gummer is so great whenever she guests on The Good Wife but this show is no good), Revolution (which may have suffered for not having ANY actors that I wanted to watch and definitely suffered under the weight of Tracy Spiridakos’ bad acting) and (though I’m still watching because I’m pretty convinced it’s going to be canceled sooner rather than later and I want to get all the man-candy in while I can) Chicago Fire is just a glorified rip off of Third Watch which wasn’t great to begin with. Continue reading

Returning Shows Quick Takes: Parks and Recreation, Castle, Bones, How I Met Your Mother

The list of returning shows that I watch is astronomically long.  It’s a serious problem and depending on how the new crop of shows do, I may have to make some cuts.  While most of the shows that I’m really looking forward to haven’t premiered yet – shows like The Vampire Diaries, Fringe, Revenge and Homeland – a few of my favorites are back.  But are they better than ever?

Parks & Recreation: Still my favorite sitcom I think.  I just adore the characters so much.  On last week’s premiere I felt like a few of them were a bit too much like caricatures than actual people (especially Ron and Tom) but hopefully things will even out a little bit.  I really liked Leslie’s realization that outside of Pawnee, IN she doesn’t have much of an influence and that she used that realization to have more of an influence in Pawnee.  The big fish/little pond story has been done before, but never with such an optimistic fish.  Regardless, this show still cracks me up. Continue reading

New Show Reviews: Go On, The New Normal, Revolution, Last Resort, The Mob Doctor

I guess that the official start of the Fall TV season has come and gone since both NBC and Fox have premiered both new and returning shows over the past couple of weeks.  Although, I think it would be epic if no premieres occurred until after the Emmys (which are this Sunday 9/23 – mark your calendars).  I mean, what a great kick off to the season that would be!  Anyway, that’s not the case.  On top of the fact that NBC used the summer Olympics to give a sneak peak at Go On and Animal Practice, multiple premieres have been available online for a few weeks and I have watched them all.

Last Resort: Technically, Last Resort doesn’t premiere until next Thursday, but I caught it online earlier this week (on Hulu – love that site!) and I loved every second.  That doesn’t mean it’s perfect – far from it – but I am totally hooked.  I am so glad to see Scott Speedman back on TV and in a character who is far different from those I’ve seen him play before.  While, like Revolution, there are a lot of characters and different threads being set up in the pilot, I am interested in where these stories are going and intrigued about who these characters will turn out to be.  I think one thing that really separates the handling of such large casts of characters is that on Last Resort they are compartmentalized very definitively and separately – there is the submarine crew (headed by Andre Braugher), the island inhabitants, the NATO workers, and the people in DC.  I’m excited to see all of these threads weave together and split apart.  But, I’ll be honest, like with the beginning of Fringe which I basically stuck with simply because I am a big fan of Joshua Jackson, I watched Last Resort mostly for the Scott Speedman factor and that will probably keep me coming back until the show itself finds its legs and grabs me. 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

DVR Overload – House of Lies, The Voice, The Amazing Race, The Ringer, Fringe, Justified

I have a total backlog of new episodes on my DVR.  I was away for a few weekends and try to actually live my life during the week instead of worrying about catching up on my favorite TV shows (oh the horror!) and there are a few shows that I let sit there, collecting dust.  Here’s what I was dealing with and how I handled it:

Don Cheadle and Kristen Bell from House of Lies

House of Lies - last 2 episodes.  They’re still there.  I know it’s a little weird to DVR a show that is available On Demand almost immediately, but it reminds me to watch.  Honestly, I wouldn’t watch this show except I love Kristen Bell.  I kind of find the show itself gross and not in a good/funny/interesting way.  Just in a “I feel gross after I watch it way.”  I’ll probably watch the last two and if nothing really sinks in, give up the show entirely. Continue reading

Quick Take: Up All Night and Free Agents

So far Christina Applegate and Will Arnett are not letting me down.

Up All Night: I have so many good feelings about this show!  I have been looking forward to it because of the actors – Christina Applegate, Maya Rudolph and Will Arnett – and they did not disappoint.  The main thing that struck me was just how normal Applegate and Arnett’s first time parents, Reagan and Chris, seem.  They interact in a loving and supportive way, but also with a sense of realness.  Rudolph’s Ava is a little out there, but not as annoyingly arrogant as I assumed she would be.  I laughed quite a bit and love the pacing of the show and how it crammed in a bunch of plot (Reagan’s first day back to work, Chris’ first day alone with the baby, a cleanse at the office, trying to have an anniversary celebration on par with what they’ve done in the past) without feeling cramped.  Everything moved really quickly and yet nothing received short shrift.  I really hope that they keep the show’s observational tone throughout the series and don’t throw too many contrived twists into the narrative.  Seinfeld was able to be a show about nothing and I think if this show takes that model it could be something really new and different. Continue reading

Quick Take: The Hour premieres on BBC America

The cast of BBC America's "The Hour"

To be honest, I wasn’t all that interested in watching The Hour until I was reminded that Mad Men would be off the air for another whole year.  I know it’s extremely unfair, but I already have a 1950′s/1960′s set drama that I can go to to see lots of cigarette smoke and beautiful costumes.  But, after reading some of the reviews, I gave it a shot and I think I’m glad I did.  At the start, it seems to be a combination of Mad Men’s era and Rubicon’s cloak and dagger plot which has a lot of potential.  Best friends and BBC reporters, Freddie (Ben Whishaw of Bright Star), and Bel (Romola Garai of Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights) join anchorman Hector (Dominic West of The Wire) in launching a new current events news hour.  Though Freddie was hoping to be in front of the camera, a chance encounter with a childhood friend sweeps him into a murder mystery and softens the blow of Bel’s promotion to producer.  So far, it’s a great look inside the beginning of television news with a lot of intrigue thrown in.  Here’s what I liked, and what I didn’t. Continue reading

Quick Take: The Closer

Kyra Sedgwick and Mary McDonnell of The Closer

The Closer is still bringing energy and character to a very tired format plus, it has the best intros on TV.  The switches between the search for a missing child and Detective Raydor’s interrogation of Brenda, in this week’s intro, were tense and powerful.  And when the Major Crimes Unit found the child floating in the pool, the team’s reactions brought tears to my eyes.  The case was actually really suspenseful and the toggling between the parents pleas and Raydor’s confrontation of Brenda over the “Shootin’ Newton” case was expertly done.  I just can’t get over the tension that was created throughout the episode and the sheer forcefulness of Brenda’s determination to both find the kid and deal with her guilt over leaving the “Shootin’ Newton” killer to be murdered by a rival gang.  This episode hit all of the right notes – the love of a little boy presented in contrast to Tao’s love of his teenaged son (who was a counselor at the camp the kid was supposed to be at), the righteous anger of the kid’s father as he bragged about leaving his wife without a son and without his money, Brenda’s inability to comprehend that Raydor is actually trying to help her avoid prosecution for her part in the death of a murderer – and I was on the edge of my seat the whole time.  I cannot express enough how impressed I am that a show that is seven years old.  The Closer hasn’t always been nuanced (and I don’t know that I would say that this episode was nuanced either) but it has always been a pretty great portrayal of a strong female detective trying to do her job.

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

Thursday Night Quick Takes: Love Bites, Expedition Impossible & Suits

Cheryl Hines & Jay Harrington guest star on this week's episode of "Love Bites".

Love Bites (NBC) – This show continues to impress me with its range of guest stars.  They come from all different networks and all different types of shows and every one of them seems to be having a good time just dropping in for a bit.  While I missed Becki Newton (again!) last night, I liked the fact that all three vignettes were connected by the same people.  Ashley Williams (Good Morning, Miami), James Roday (Psych), and Jay Harrington (Better Off Ted) starred in “Fetishes” about a couple, Jeff & Bridget (played by James and Ashley) who move in together and learn things like he owns a signed copy of Cher’s “Believe” and she likes porn with men in uniforms.  Then, in “Becky’s Situation”, Cheryl Hines (Curb Your Enthusiasm) played Judd’s (Greg Grunberg) sister who’s daughter Becky (played by Switched At Birth star Vanessa Marano) thinks she has an STD.  And finally, in “Creepy Dad”, Jay Harrington returns as single dad/Bridget’s brother to date Cheryl’s character whose younger daughter goes to school with Jay’s.  There were a few other actors that I recognized (specifically Bridget’s friend Alexis, Becky’s school nurse and one of the moms at the class parent meeting), but that’s a whole lot of random right there.  I love that part about this show.  All in all, I thought the three vignettes last night worked pretty well.  I found myself laughing out loud during Jeff’s first attempt at role play, the scene when Becky talks to the nurse about her fear that she has an STD (Apparently the school system has become so worried about getting sued for supporting students when they get into these kinds of situations that they have become totally neutered in their ability to help), when Judd discovers that Becky has had sex, and pretty much the entirety of “Creepy Dad”.  Harrington was hysterical as a divorced father trying to participate in his daughter’s life and date at the same time.  He went from a terribly awkward date with Hines, to baking phallic cookies for his daughter’s class, to sending her entire class’ parents an email at 4am with a picture attached, to grabbing a mom’s boobs while trying to break his fall after attempting to clear the air with everyone.   A great showing overall this week. Continue reading