Sad News from HBO’s “Luck” Set

When I started this post I started by saying that I’m not a “crazy animal lover” but as I wrote more, I realized that that’s just not true.  I have a deep and abiding respect for animals and absolutely hate to see them mistreated (don’t get me started on dogfights.  I might start to cry).  So, it’s no wonder that I’m so unsettled by the news that two horses had to be put down on the Luck set.  I just don’t see where pushing those horses to that point is necessary for a television show.  I like it when my entertainment looks realistic as much as the next guy, but not at the expense of another being’s life.  [EW]

Will HBO’s “Luck” be a Lady?

Nick Nolte exuded a natural warmth that was really compelling to watch.

I am an unabashed David Milch fan.  Deadwood is one of my favorite TV shows of all time. Hell, I even watched all of John From Cincinnati though I still couldn’t tell you what it was about.  The chances of me not watching Luck are nil.  On top of my loyalty to Milch, there is also my love of horses and my excitement of exploring a world I know nothing about (horse racing) to add to this show’s appeal.  But after the first episode, I am a little unsure whether it will lean more towards the entertainment of Deadwood or the confusion of Cincinnati.   Continue reading

Sunday Night Quick Takes: Falling Skies & True Blood

Hal (Drew Roy) talks to Anne (Moon Bloodgood) about his concerns since Ben's return

Falling Skies (TNT) – I’m really enjoying all the twists and turns that this show is taking, but I’m a little worried that they’re going to run out of stories to tell because of the quick pace.  It feels like everything is being put in motion, but there isn’t really a whole lot of follow through – just when we learned that the skitters can talk through the harnessed kids, Anne killed the one the resistance had, Dr. Harris died before he was done being useful as a character (in my opinion), and it only took what, 4 episodes, to get Ben back?  I just feel like the writers are running through a whole lot of story without really playing them out all the way.  Last night felt more like set up for what’s to come than an actual episode during which things happened (which makes sense since this was part 1 of a two part episode).  Some guy from a different resistance arm (his name is Clayton) got all of the Massachusetts 2 parents to let him take their kids to get away from an imminent skitter attack.  It was brilliantly played by him – he told a very convincing story about almost being wiped out, the Mech and skitter attacked at just the right time to convince Tom that the kids were too much of a target and should be sent ahead, and then he slyly took a different route to the safe house.  Of course we knew that this warning was too good to be true and it turns out that he is basically collecting kids for the aliens, though we don’t yet know what he’s getting in return.  It’s certainly not a life of peace as it seems that he has to deliver more kids every 2 days which can’t be very restful.  To no one’s surprise, Pope tipped the guy off about the school full of children just begging to be harnessed, although to be fair, it did appear that he was under some duress chained up in the basement of the safe house.  I’m still a bit nervous about Margaret and her motives – she’s just ingratiating herself to all the right people at all the right moments with all the right props (last night it was Annie, after she was attacked, with a gun and shooting lessons) and that gives me an uneasy feeling.  But I think she’s rad so I very much hope that I’m wrong about her.  My favorite part of the show right now is the relationship between Tom and his three sons.  I find the push/pull of Tom wanting to protect his kids and spare them from growing up too fast but also knowing that they are in a war now and there’s only so much he can protect them from interesting and think that Noah Wyle (Tom), Drew Roy (Hal), Connor Jessup (Ben) and Maxim Knight (Matt) are starting to feel like a family.  I just wish they wouldn’t spend so much time reminiscing about things we’re never going to see.  Because all those memories are exposition, it doesn’t have the emotional impact that the writers want it to.  I’d rather see them create new memories. Continue reading

EMMY NOMINATIONS!!!

How adorable is Melissa McCarthy reacting to the news that she was nominated for an Emmy? (with Joshua Jackson and Television Academy Chairman John Shaffner)

No joke, I had a dream about the Emmy nominations last night.  Mostly it was about me being at the nomination announcement, but I woke up with a giddy anticipation which was kind of fun.  Part of me was a little reluctant to find out the full list of nominees, because until I did that, I still had hope for some of my favorites.  But most of me was just super excited to see who was nominated.  I taped the announcement this morning (as much as I love TV, no way am I waking up at 5:30am to watch these things live) and was rewarded with seeing Melissa McCarthy’s stunned reaction to hearing herself nominated for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy.  I kind of like that the nomination announcements for these award shows have become a thing.  It’s kind of weird, but kind of fun at the same time.  Plus, a little Joshua Jackson first thing in the morning never hurt anyone.

Overall, there were some shoe-ins and some great surprises (Cat Deeley!  Matt LeBlanc!  FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS!!!), but the supporting actor categories were supremely disappointing to me.  The biggest snub is definitely Nick Offerman’s exclusion from the supporting actor in a comedy category as well as the total shut out of Fringe (especially the lack of nomination for John Noble and Anna Torv).  But I think we have to be excited about the surprises we did get and keep our fingers crossed that there aren’t any sweeps or repeat winners this year.  HBO leads the nominations with 104 with the next highest number of nominations going to CBS who received 50 nominations in total.  Mildred Pierce was the most nominated of all programs with 21, Mad Men wins in the drama category with 19 nominations, Modern Family topped the comedies with 17, and in reality American Idol came out ahead with 10 nominations (I am happy to report that So You Think You Can Dance came in second with 8 nominations – 4 of those in the Outstanding Choreography category).

The full list of nominees (including all of the technical awards that I don’t really understand) can be found on the Emmy website, after the jump a list of the main categories and my gut reactions. Continue reading

True Blood: An innocent Eric makes for the best episode in years.

The new relationship between Eric and Sookie (Alexander Skarsgard & Anna Paquin) has brought some much needed levity to the show.

Last night’s episode of True Bloodwas the most charming, fun and grounded episode in a very long time.  Without his memory of who he is, Eric is like a newborn baby and his reliance on Sookie for pretty much everything has added a really great element to their relationship and brought out the best in her which I really wasn’t expecting.  I am loving the dynamic between Hoyt and Jessica and was grateful that we got to see her go to Bill for advice – I love their father/daughter-like relationship and have really missed it since she was first turned.  I also appreciate how cautious Tara has been about her return to Bon Temps and I’m really enjoying her new take-no-prisoners attitude towards the vampires.

Arlene's baby with the doll Hoyt and Jessica have thrown away on several occasions. This is leading nowhere good.

However, I could care less about Marnie and the witches.  I want to know more about why Marnie is so desperate for the dead witch lady to imbue her with powers – where does that desire come from?  Because right now, Marnie just comes off as totally off her rocker.  I also feel like I need more explanation about what’s going on in were-panther land and why they are so disgusting.  I get the reason why they’re keeping Jason hostage and trying to turn them (it appears that years of in-breeding has made it so the women aren’t getting pregnant and when they are the babies aren’t surviving so Crystal is hoping by making a were-panther out of Jason from scratch, he’ll be able to help her continue their bloodline) but I am so bored of watching him tied to a bed.  And everything happening at Merlotte’s (Tommy wanting to steal Mrs. Fortenberry’s house from her, Arlene freaked out by her demon baby) could go away and I don’t think I’d even notice at this point.  But overall, I found this episode so fun and entertaining.  I found myself giggling throughout.  Alexander Skarsgard is doing an excellent job of changing Eric’s energy – instead of being intense and brooding, he’s now this open, vulnerable, innocent thing and I don’t think I’ve enjoyed anything about this show more.  How much did I love this episode of True Blood?  Let me count the ways. Continue reading

Treme: A Finale Full of Poetry

Delmond (Rob Brown) and his father Albert (Clarke Peters) try to create a new jazz sound.

Television shows spend a lot of time trying to prove that they’re different from anything that has come before it.  Sometimes, like with Lost, they succeed in not only claiming that they’re different, but in actually being different.  Other times, like The Killing, they spend so much time claiming to be new and fresh that they forget to actually be good.  Every time one of these experiments work, networks are quick to jump on the bandwagon and create a bunch of imitation shows that are destined to fail in the wake of the first show’s wake.  That’s the beauty of television to me.  You never know what’s going to hit, what’s going to miss and what’s going to completely change the face of television as we know it.  More often than not, these experiments burn brightly for a few seasons but eventually end up succumbing to their own success and just can’t sustain that level of ingenuity.

Davis (Steve Zahn) proves he's got the funk one last time.

Treme is an odd example of this kind of experiment in my opinion.  It isn’t flashy or doing anything completely out of the box.  It is far more subtle than that.  But this season really showed how very different Treme is from what we are used to.  On its surface, it seems like a typical drama about New Orleans in the wake of hurricane Katrina.  A slice of life tale following about 10 characters as they put the pieces of their lives back together or take on new lives entirely.  There have been a few major events that affect more than one character, although the ripples are felt by everyone in some way or another – whether its simply by walking past a memorial on the corner for a fallen musician or hearing a band led by one of our main characters over the radio – but I like it that way.  I like the simplicity of the concept.  It’s not about creating a false sense of drama, it’s just about following these characters and letting them live lives not so different from our own. Continue reading

True Blood: Clearing Memories and Exploding Queens

This bite will prove to be Eric's undoing. (Alexander Skarsgard & Fiona Shaw)

I think I’ve figured out my problem with True Blood and it’s not just my intense dislike of Anna Paquin (although that seems to be dissipating a bit).  The show is completely ungrounded in reality and it didn’t start out that way.  When the show first started, there was an interaction between the vampires and other supernatural beings of Bon Temps and the human population of the rest of the world.  There was a parallel between the discrimination against the vampires that felt true to things we’ve dealt with in our actual world that made it easy to relate to what was going on.  That element has been almost completely done away with and it has thrown me off the show.  This was most evident in the scene when the coven put their spell on Eric.  The entire room grew dark and stormy and everyone in it seemed to find it odd.  Here’s the thing, if the show was following its own rules, everyone should know about these supernatural goings on and a dark and stormy room would not shock them quite so much.  Everyone in Bon Temps is acting like nothing freaky has ever happened there and I just don’t buy it.  However, there were some promising turns of events in the latest episode that have helped me deal with the lack of relate-ability.   Continue reading

True Blood returns and no one is on the same page

Sookie (Anna Paquin) returns from fairy land to find a whole year has gone by during which friends like Lafayette (Nelsan Ellis) have been searching for her.

I don’t actually like True Blood all that much.  The only reason I continue to watch is that it is so popular that I would feel out of the loop if I didn’t (kind of like what I felt when I gave up on Game of Thrones early on only to be sucked back in by the promise of a big twist.  Only in that case, it paid off to go back and re-watch.)  I really enjoyed the first season, but since then, it has felt as if all of the characters were floating around in some mystical other world rather than being grounded in ours.  Everything is so heightened that I feel like I can’t relate to any of the characters and it really takes me out of the story.  Plus I find Anna Paquin to be an obnoxious performer which really distracts me.  There are plenty of things to enjoy about the show and I am going to do my best to look at it from an objective perspective, but don’t be surprised if I complain of boredom over the course of the season.  For the most part, it feels as though the writers just throw whatever story points they think of at the wall and see what sticks. Continue reading

Red Rover, Red Rover, Send Scott Foley On Over

J'adore.

There are a few actors and actresses who have my undying love thanks to one or two early performances that have stuck with me.  Joshua Jackson, who was a part of my early TV loving years as Pacey on Dawson’s Creek, is basically the only reason I started watching Fringe (a decision that I couldn’t be happier about).  Busy Philipps, also a Dawson’s Creek alum, really won my devotion with Freaks and Geeks and is frequently the best thing about Cougar Town which is a great show anyway.  Mandy Moore because she’s Mandy Moore and she is awesome (also because of her ridiculous MTV talk show/music video show the summer of 2001 – FHM Intern Posse, What What!).  Michael Vartan for being so amazingly sexy and adorable on Alias.  I won’t watch them in everything they do (not even Michael Vartan can make HawthoRNe an entertaining show), but I will give everything they do a shot.  Another performer to add to that list: Scott Foley.  As Noel on Felicity, he was the R.A. of my dreams.  I swear to god, that guy has a soft focus lens and romantic lighting on him at all times.  He makes everything he’s in instantly better.  He was even able to make Grey’s Anatomy exciting for me again this past season.  So the latest news that he has joined the cast of True Blood for its fifth season (the fourth season begins airing this Sunday on HBO) has me all atwitter.  Truth be told, I’m not the biggest True Blood fan, but I watch it because I want to know what all the internet buzz is about on Monday mornings.  However, the addition of Scott Foley to the cast is a definite check in True Blood’s plus column. [tvline.com]

Game Of Thrones: Better When Viewed As A Whole

Joffrey leads Sansa to view her father's head on a stick (Sophie Turner & Jack Gleeson)

As I mentioned last week, I started watching Game of Thrones when it was originally airing, but lost my concentration and gave up about three episodes in.  After the internet went up in flames over a shocking turn during last week’s episode, I decided to give it another shot over the weekend and was mightily rewarded for doing so.  Game of Thronesis a series that benefits greatly when viewed back to back rather than as singular episodes.  I definitely made a conscious effort to stay focused when the back story started to get a little thick, but seeing all the episodes at once made the action feel much more swift and made keeping up with the many characters much easier.  I was able to really dive into the world presented and connect more fully with all of the characters because I didn’t have a week’s worth of distractions invading my viewing of the series.

Peter Dinklage as Tyrion has definitely been a highlight of the series.

There were definitely story lines that felt more important the second time around (most specifically Arya and Jon Snow’s) and others that I wish had a bit more breathing room (Daenerys rise from meek sister to strong queen was great, but definitely could have used one or two more episodes).  Actually, if I have one complaint it’s that the series was probably 2 or 3 episodes too short.  I think the last 3 episodes had huge events that felt a little muddled and rushed through (specifically the revelation of Cersei and Jaime’s affair, Tyrion’s back story and Robb’s rise to leader). Continue reading