Fall 2015 Pilot Tests

When I start hearing buzz about a new fall drama or comedy, I usually wait before diving right in. It needs to reel in some great reviews and ratings first, maybe an article here and there in Entertainment Weekly. After I read up on it and watch a trailer or two, I give it the ol’ pilot test. If the pilot episode hooks me, I stay with it for a while. If it doesn’t keep me interested, I try to rough it for a few episodes, given that some shows just take longer to really get underway, which I get. And even though I usually have a full fall roster every year ready to jam up my TiVo, I still try a couple new ones, just because. So this year, here’s what’s new to my ever-growing line-up and whether or not I think I’ll keep them …

Best Time Ever
Tuesdays at 10 on NBC

Best Time EverAs mentioned in my last PSA, I’m a huge Neil Patrick Harris fan so imagine my surprise when his hugely touted variety show, new to NBC this season, appeared to flop miserably. I found myself with a puzzled look on my face throughout much of the first episode, even fast-forwarding entire segments. The second episode did not fare much better. It’s as though he’s trying to cram much too much into every second and the pressure of performing it all live puts a strain on the easy-going, natural charmer that we know NPH to be. The audience participation in the first episode leaned more toward stalking and the second—an on-air proposal—seemed odd and out of place. His celebrity guest announcers falter awkwardly and “The End of the Show Show” runs the gamut from chaotic to sloppy. The only parts worth sitting through are the pranks and the physical obstacle course, which changes from show to show. But even so, after two episodes, I removed this from my TiVo to-do list. Sorry Neil, it just didn’t live up to its name. Continue reading

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Summer Series Snapshot: The Strain | America’s Got Talent

It’s sometimes really hard to pick just one topic to write about, especially given how absorbed I can get into pop culture on a daily basis. The thing about entertainment is that it’s always evolving and changing and flowing; what was big news an hour ago is old news in even less time. So it’s time to do a little round-up of my current obsessions, specifically, summer television since options are limited but nonetheless entertaining. Here’s a couple items from my TiVo list that keep me occupied during the long dog days (and nights) of summer …

The Strain | Season 2 | Sundays at 10 on FX

The Strain

Basically a vampire version of The Walking Dead, I gave this a shot purely to have something to watch on Sunday nights. Here, we got to see the start of the apocalypse (though they’re not actually calling it that yet) and in some ways, it’s far more gruesome than Dead. These aren’t your teenage daughter’s vampires; no sparkling skin or brooding eyes. These guys dispel snake-length tongues that latch on and bleed you dry. If you manage to scrape by with just a scratch, you’ll likely find yourself with worms wriggling under your skin, spreading the infection. And when you turn, my, do you get ugly. Ugliest of all is The Master, king of the vamps, who has a mysterious tie to one of the main characters, played by David Bradley. He’s joined by a CDC scientist (Corey Stoll) and a small band of determined New Yorkers dead set on killing all the bloodsuckers and keeping the strain contained to the five boroughs. It’s incredibly slow-moving, but when the action does pop up, it’s disgusting. It’s sub-par television horror; I personally prefer zombies. Continue reading

2014 Emmy Award Nominations

Emmys

Technically award season never ends, what with obscure music awards scattered throughout the summer months and the ever-dreadful VMAs in August, but I always look to the Emmys to kick off another year. They’re not my favorite award show, but they’re more official than even the Golden Globes (think EGOT).

I’m a severe television addict, which should mean I get excited for this particular golden statue, but I’ve admittedly grown very tired of seeing the same names year after year. Shows that aren’t even funny anymore continue to win Best Comedy (I’m lookin’ at you, “Modern Family”) and phenomenal performances are overlooked in favor of more famous faces (Monica Potter was so painfully snubbed last year for her ugly-sob inducing work on NBC’s “Parenthood.”)

So imagine my surprise this year when some new talent was finally recognized on July 10 with the announcement of the 2014 Emmy noms. Continue reading

Like A Supermodel’s Vagina*

Globes

I. Love. Award season. I gobble up award shows like Jordan Belfort does Quaaludes. (Have you all seen “The Wolf of Wall Street” yet? Excellent film.) I’m not sure what sparked the interest, but it’s been an addiction for the past ten years or so. When each new season rolls around, I giddily strategize my DVR for best red carpet viewing and commercial fast-forwarding. The only red carpet coverage I’ll watch is E! and their 25 cameras, even though Giuliana Rancic annoys the you-know-what out of me. As corny as he is, I still like Ryan Seacrest. Kelly Osbourne is tolerable and I think Ross Matthews is hilarious. When I watch them, I want to be them. It’s always been one of my dreams to report from a red carpet. I’m obsessed with stars, not because they’re famous but because of how they became famous. It fascinates me how some come from backgrounds like trailer parks and drug addiction and somehow wind up on the A-list. Plus, I can’t cry on command and I’m intensely intrigued by anyone who can. Character quirk. Anyway, to interview a celebrity is very high on my bucket list.

Technically, award season is ongoing, but the good stuff doesn’t roll around until after the new year. It usually kicks off with some lighter fare—the People’s Choice Awards, for example, which aired Jan. 8—but things start to heat up with the Golden Globes, quickly followed by the Grammys, then the Oscars. It’s an exciting couple months for an entertainment geek like myself. Continue reading

How do you solve a problem like …

♫ MAAAARIAAAA? ♪

The Sound of Music - Season 2013

This looks downright delightful!

The fourth season Idol and country superstar will take center stage as our fave fraulein for a three-hour live adaptation modeled after the 1959 Broadway show, not the 1965 film classic we all know and love—although the poster does bring to mind a certain iconic scene. And even though Ms. Underwood won’t exactly be stepping into her shoes, Dame Andrews still wishes it well. Sidebar: The fact that 78-year-old Julie can’t sing like this anymore makes me want to cry. End of sidebar. The production also stars Stephen Moyer as Captain Georg von Trapp, plus appearances from Smash’s Christian Borle with fellow Great White Way vets Audra McDonald and Laura Benanti.

The musical airs live December 5 at 8 (ET) on NBC.

Are you ready for sitcom season?

tv-network-logos-updateFor TV junkies, as summer winds down, the anticipation of fall sweeps starts to feel like the mid-December countdown to Christmas: it’s pilot season. Each September, all the new shows trying to solidify their spot in the primetime line-up get ready to battle it out. Some will make it. Others will not. Let the record show that I do try to give a few a try each season. Last year, I chose Go On, The New Normal, and Partners. I stopped watching all three long before they were each cancelled. Sitcoms especially have a rough go of it. I have to really laugh or love the characters to stick with a sitcom (New Girl) and it has to be consistent—I will not be watching Modern Family this year because the last time I laughed until I cried was when Phil got tased and destroyed the Joe DiMaggio baseball card in “Express Christmas.” That episode aired in December of 2011.

All the major networks rolled out their pilot trailers a couple months ago and I’ve compiled a list of five shows that I’ll likely try out. I chose them based on actors, showrunners, and whether or not I laughed in the 3-5 minute sneak peek. See what you make of them:
Continue reading