Thursday, April 27, 2006

It's a wonder I even had time to watch "Wonder Pets"!

Wow, it's been a while since I've posted on this thing. I know that blogs are supposed to be updated regularly, but it's not my fault that I've been on hiatus: I had out-of-town visitors for about a week, so I was actually doing things in my free time other than watching TV and wasting time online. Imagine that!

However, my addition to TV being what it is, I could not abandon the tube altogether. I was actually able to introduce a couple of my visitors to the joy of "Wonder Pets"! And, of course, they loved it! Well, as least one of them did. But she loved it so much, she even made her boyfriend watch it when she got home. Think I'm making it up? Read her email below:

By the way, I watched Wonder Pets this morning. It was the one about the dinosuar. Too cute! I made Danny watch with me, and he agreed that it's a great show. Thanks for introducing me to it. I've had the songs stuck in my head all day.

Take that, o ye of little faith. Granted, this particular friend is studying early education, but I was also able to get the theme song stuck in the head of another friend who's in financial consulting. So there.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Animated historical fiction? Fellow dorks rejoice!

If you love Joseph Ellis' Founding Brothers, then you'll love the cartoon show "Liberty's Kids." Well, I don't know if you'll love it since it's not the most innovative or well-written cartoon ever. But you'll definitely want to check it out because the conceit is fascinating.

The show is described on the web site as "an animated adventure television series for children ages 8-14, about three kids who, by working as reporters for Ben Franklin, bring to life the american revolution." For a fuller description of the show, you can visit the "About the Show" page of their web site.

And check out the cast list, which is awesome. Some highlights: Walter Cronkite as Ben Franklin, Billy Crystal as John Adams, and ... wait for it ... Sylvester Stallone as Paul Revere! You know, maybe I should take back what I said about the show not being that innovative. I mean, Rambo as revolutionary — that's pure genius!

Check out your local WB schedule for times. Looks like it's a regular Sunday morning thing on WB11 in New York. One can only hope that's true across the country.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

It goes there — and so do your friends!

I'm incredibly pleased that more and more of my friends are getting hooked on "Degrassi." Last Thursday, a friend who is trying to get caught up on old episodes invited me over to watch a marathon in preparation for the premiere. Although I'm sure she enjoys my company in general, I think at least part of her motivation was to get me there so that I could fill in holes in past plotlines. Unfortunately for both of us, I couldn't make it that night. (If you're a loyal reader of this blog — assuming I actually have readers, which is not a smart bet — then you may remember that I went to a play reading that night, but did enjoy some "Degrassi Minis" afterwards.) Anyway, I did go over to my friend's place the next night to watch the premiere with her and her boyfriend... who is also into the show! And the next day, I hung out with another friend who also watches "Degrassi" regularly with her boyfriend. I love that "Degrassi" can bring couples closer together.

Not to mention that it's an endless source of conversation. Tonight, another friend and I spent an entire half-hour subway ride discussing old storylines because she has only watched more recent episodes (one right after another, on YouTube). The people sitting next to us must have thought we were still in high school. But as I've said before, I make no apologies for my TV-watching habits. I had to get my friend ready for tonight's new episode, didn't I?

(Which was very enjoyable, btw. I love the Craig-Manny-Ellie thing. Not enough of the Ellie-Jimmy angle in tonight's episode, but I guess I can wait. Well, I mean, I don't really have any choice, do I? Oh, "Degrassi," how you tease.)

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Seth & Summer: Falstaff to Ryan and Marissa's Hal? Discuss.

Tonight's episode of "The OC" was extremely enjoyable. I feel like the series has been languishing a bit this season, but if last week's and this week's shows are any indication, then things are promising to pick up. Perhaps I'm just biased because I enjoy the Seth/Summer storylines more than all the ridiculous Ryan/Marissa drama, and now they're finally getting their due. For a while now, Seth and Summer have been nothing more than comic relief and it's good to see that their characters are getting a meaty plotline of their own. And it has the added benefit of actually being realistic. Imagine that!

And to top it all off, next week's episode looks like it's going to be awesome. When I saw Teresa and the baby, I was so moved that I couldn't help crying out, "Oh, yeah!" In my apartment. By myself. The power of good TV, eh?

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Gonna take pollution down to zero!

Everyone's favorite eco-hero is back! According to an industry newsletter, in celebration of Earth Day, Boomerang is going to show a marathon of 13 previously unseen"Captain Planet" episodes on April 22, 7:30-11:30 a.m. Awesome! I can't wait to see the Planeteers use their crazy rings to conjure Captain Planet so he can fight 13 new evil polluters.

Okay, truth be told, I'm probably not going to watch. Earth Day is a Saturday, and I have friends visiting from out of town. Yes, theoretically, I could record the marathon on my beloved DVR, but I don't have that kind of space! Still, I'm glad to hear this news; I used to love "Captain Planet," and I hope that a new generation of kids will discover the power behind Earth, Fire, Water, Wind, and Heart.

Although, while we're being honest, I didn't even know Boomerang existed. But I'm guessing that cartoon-loving kids probably do. It's a shame I didn't learn about this channel earlier, though, because in addition to "Captain Planet," they also show "The Snorks"!

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Mrs. Kim Strikes Back!

I'm glad to see that "Gilmore Girls" has hit its stride once again. Recently, I've been feeling like the storylines have been on the contrived side and the characters' actions haven't been ringing true. But in tonight's episode, I think the show got back to its roots: Everybody acted completely in character, there were lots of bizarrely hilarious and hilariously bizarre moments, and — most importantly — Mrs. Kim made funny faces! Welcome back, my Stars Hollow friends. I've missed you.

Monday, April 10, 2006


The recent election-focused episodes of "West Wing" have been purely exhilarating. My friend and I have been watching together in spurts — saving up episodes so we can watch two at a time — and afterwards we always have to take a few moments to gather ourselves. It's like: Whoa, what just happened, roll over and have a cigarette.

Of course, tonight's episode was the ultimate emotional rollercoaster. I actually went to see a concert and didn't get home until after midnight. Normally, I would just hold off on watching because as much as I love "The West Wing," I also like getting a full night's sleep before starting the workweek. Tonight, however, I couldn't resist. I had asked my friend to text my cell during the concert and let me know whether the election was called in this episode. As soon as I got his text message, I knew I'd be up late. So here I am, completely exhausted — and totally cried out from those Leo scenes — and 100% satisfied.

I can't believe they're canceling this show.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

My one true love: DVR

As I think is patently obvious, I love watching TV. So I absolutely adore my DVR. For those not familiar with the term, that stands for Digital Video Recorder. It's like Tivo, but it's available through Time Warner Cable, so it's part of my cable box.

Earlier today I had some friends over, and of course we hunkered down in front of the tube. Now, I've had DVR for about a year now, so it's not exactly a novelty. But such is the irrepressible spirit of the DVR: I will never get over the joy of what it offers. So with my friends as a captive audience, I couldn't resist demonstrating the beauty of my DVR for the umpteenth time. As I did so, one of them said, "Wow, you must spend a lot of time planning your TV watching." If you're familiar with DVR, then you know that this comment totally misses the point. One of the major advantages of having DVR is that it greatly cuts down on effort while simultaneously increasing your TV watching returns.

I honestly don't know how I survived without DVR. Thank goodness those days are over. No more Sophie's choices between two simultaneous shows (for example, that one horrible season when "The West Wing" and "The OC" were on at the same time). No more video tape labels with scribbles and cross-outs that I can't understand even though I'm the one who wrote them. No more rushing through dinner prep to get the food ready in time for prime time. No more planning bathroom trips and assorted chores around commercials breaks. Those of you with DVR or Tivo — which I'm thinking is most of you in this day and age — know what I'm talking about.

In the days before I got DVR, someone was singing the praises of his, and he said something that I'll never forget: "You plan your schedule around TV shows? Don't worry, it's nothing to be ashamed of. I did it too. Then I got DVR."

Or as a friend artfully described it today as he watched me gleefully refer to my list of upcoming recordings, "It's like an infomercial: Set it and forget it."

Saturday, April 08, 2006

You know it's almost Passover/Easter when "The Ten Commandments" is on!

Although I am not a fan of epic films by any means, I really enjoy watching Cecil B. DeMille's classic "The Ten Commandments" every year on ABC. I just learned that this year, the network is doubling the dogma drama with a new "Ten Commandments" mini-series.

This evening I watched a portion of ABC's special on the making of the new mini-series, and I have to say that it does not pique my interest at all. Why not? Well, one actress described it as a "down and dirty" version of "The Ten Commandments." Some people might be interested in that, but I don't want any part of it. What makes the classic version so delightful is its stylized grandeur. Don't take that away from me!

Maybe I'm being too hard on the new mini-series. Maybe they can make a "down and dirty" version and still maintain the weighty pomp that I love. But I'm not optimistic. Dougray Scott, who plays Moses, calls him "a famous character." Doesn't bode well, does it?

Friday, April 07, 2006

Fighting Fowl from Aardman: What's not to love?

Holy cow! Or if I'm going to refer to a barnyard animal, perhaps I should say, "Holy chicken!"

I just learned about a new TV show from Aardman Animations, the studio behind the consistently delightful duo of Wallace & Gromit. The show, entitled "Chop Socky Chooks," is described in one industry newsletter as "a 3D animated series targeted at K7-11 that follows a team of kung fu chickens working undercover in Wasabi World, a shopping mall run by their arch-enemy Dr. Wasabi."

Holy poultry, I'm looking forward to watching these adventures on Cartoon Network. Apparently, it's set to premiere sometime during the 2006-2007 broadcast season.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Whatever it takes... I'm gonna watch me some "Degrassi" tomorrow

I went to a play reading after work today, leaving very little time for TV-watching. Thank goodness for "Degrassi Minis"! Normally I find them maddenly short, but tonight the truncated suckers were just perfect.

Not that I understood the latest episode at all. The teaser on the site says, "What if Paige and Liberty got all 'Vice Versa' on us?" Um, what the hell is that supposed to mean? Is there a purpose to this episode?

Even so, I loved it, just as I love everying "Degrassi." Can't wait for what I'm sure will be a "go-there-y" season premiere tomorrow!

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Yes, I have a problem: I watch "One Tree Hill"

I'm a little ashamed to admit that I watch "One Tree Hill" religiously. I'm not sure why, since usually I proudly espouse the virtues of shows that others deride (e.g. "Degrassi: The Next Generation," "What I Like About You"). Maybe it has something to do with how patently trashy and ridiculous all the adult storylines are (i.e. any plot involving Dan and/or Deb). Contrived intrigue involving teenage characters is one thing — kids are idiots, everyone knows that — but am I actually supposed to believe half the atrocities that Dan commits?

Luckily for me, there was very little adult drama in tonight's episode. However, that meant more screen time for Chad Michael Murray, which apparently is unfortunate for some viewers. It turns out that there's been some kind of backlash against CMM (as he's been dubbed) since his split with co-star Sophia Bush. I had read in Entertainment Weekly that she cited fraud in her petition for annulment, which definitely piqued my curiosity. Sadly, I haven't been able to find any details on CMM's fraudulent offense. But I did locate news about one of CMM's more recent tresspasses, reported with delightful antogonism on this blog. Now that's the kind of drama I like to see!

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Gimme More "Gilmore"

Thank goodness "Gilmore Girls" is back! The lack of new episodes these past few weeks has really left a hole in my heart. And not a negligible hole either — more of a Miss Patty-sized hole.

Unfortunately, I wasn't wowed by tonight's episode. The biggest disappointment was the tame interaction between Zach and Mrs. Kim. What happened to the combustion we witnessed back in Season 5 when Mrs. Kim discovered Zach and Lane's relationship and confronted Zach in the street? In case you missed that hilarious tirade, the transcript is below, care of

You! You dirty, filthy devil boy! You will pay for this. You will burn in hellfire for this! You will swim in the sludge with Satan's hell-dogs, and feed them your innards for eternity! ... She's an innocent girl. And you are a wild pig of filth! I know! I know all you do! You think you can hide from me? That you can carry on your dirty, filthy schemes without me finding out? ... I heard about it! Kyon told me. She told me about your hands on Lane. You put your hands on Lane! My Lane! And before God, I swear that you will be punished. Because that is what happens to all swine that walk up tall!

I know the above harangue doesn't have quite the same effect on the page as it did on the screen, but you'll just have to take my word for it: comic perfection.

Thanks, Palladinos, for bequeathing your genius on TV watchers everywhere. A grateful (subset of) the nation is extremely happy to have "fresh" episodes once again. Although the preview for next week's episode is not purely thrilling. I mean, seriously, how many times are you going to trot out Jess as a plot twist? Enough already!

Monday, April 03, 2006

How I Miss "Your Mother"

Mondays are hard. The first Monday after spring Daylight Saving Time is especially difficult. To help me get through the day, I kept in mind that when I was done with work, I would be able to relax at home with a loved one. You may be able to relate. Of course, in your case, that loved one is probably a person. I, on the other hand, am referring to my DVR.

In particular, I spent my low moments today reminding myself that I had a new episode of "How I Met Your Mother" to look forward to tonight. But when I got home, what did I see? "The New Adventures of Old Christine" in the slot usually reserved for Ted, Marshall, Lily, Barney, and Robin! And though it was an extremely pleasant surprise to see Hamish Linklater (an old friend from the short-lived hospital drama "Gideon's Crossing"), even he could not help me overcome my disappointment.

"How I Met Your Mother" really is a near-perfect sitcom — at least for me. The ensemble cast interacts naturally, and the breezy dialogue is somehow both fresh and familiar. Of course, the scenarios are sometimes ridiculous, but the show manages to be funny without feeling over the top. And their use of musical punctuation has been impeccable so far. The sweet opening strains of Pavement's "Spit on a Stranger" when Ted sought out Victoria at her bakery: emotional jackpot.

The only thing about the show that I just can't fathom: How is it possible that the actress who plays Robin never felt the need to adopt a stage name? Her name is Cobie Smulders, for heaven's sake!

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Wonderful Pets!

I love "Wonder Pets"!

Have you seen this show? Probably not, as you are not in preschool and are also not me. It's a series of operettas about classroom pets who save animals in trouble through teamwork.

I actually saw a commercial for the show a little while back and I didn't quite understand what it was. All I knew was that I laughed out loud in joy at the absurdity of the clip that they showed. So fans of absurdist theater — especially absurdist musical theater — this is a show for you.

And before you start to scoff, check this out, from the NYTimes:

The "Wonder Pets" music does not feature the tinny, saccharine melodies that often infect children's television shows. Rather, each episode uses an original score recorded by a live orchestra overseen by Jeffrey Lesser, the Grammy-winning record producer who is the show's music supervisor and who has worked with Barbra Streisand, Sinead O'Connor and Lyle Lovett. Larry Hochman, a veteran composer who received Tony nominations for his orchestrations for "Spamalot" and the revival of "Fiddler on the Roof," serves as the lead composer, and a host of other theater and film composers and arrangers have worked on the show, including Jason Robert Brown, who won a Tony in 1999 for best original score for "Parade," and Robert Lopez, who shared a Tony for best score with Jeff Marx for "Avenue Q" in 2004.

That said, I haven't been super impressed with the score. But you can see that, as Ming-Ming the duckling (pictured above) would say, "This is serious!"

Now, unlike Lisa Loeb's "Number 1 Single," I'm not advocating this show for everyone. But if you are at all inclined, you should check it out. Especially if you've been smoking pot.

"Wonder Pets" shows on Nickelodeon, weekdays at 11:30 a.m.

You say... stay tuned for a rockin' show!

As you might have gleaned by the fact that my #1 pastime is watching TV, I'm incredibly lazy. So instead of coming up with a thoughtful and witty maiden post, I'm actually going to kick things off by adapting something that I wrote a while back for a different purpose: a post extolling the awesomeness of "#1 Single" on E!

Unfortunately, it looks like the first season is already over, but luckily there are re-runs, thank goodness! (Btw, is it just me or did the show's narrative arc end really abruptly? Did they actually plan it that way? Or was the show perhaps unexpectedly cut short?)

Anyway, here's my take on "#1 Single," doctored slightly for this blog so that I don't seem completely behind-the-times:

Everybody should watch "#1 Single" on E!. They repeat it, like, a hundred times every week, so there's really no excuse. Unless you don't have cable. But if you don't have cable, then you don't deserve the enjoyment that comes with watching this wonderful show anyway.

It's a reality show about Lisa Loeb looking for love in New York, and in the first episode she goes on a blind date involving karaoke and the guy sings "Stay" to her — very, very badly. She also introduces the audience to AirTroductions, a site where you create a profile for yourself and put in your flight number, and then you get matched with someone on your flight and you have the date on the plane. That could be a whole reality show right there, I think. Especially for international flights: Can you imagine the hilarity that would ensue from observing people trapped in a bad date for 6-13 hours?

But anyway, back to the reality of this reality show: In the second episode, we observe Lisa's plane date (it goes well but ultimately has negative ramifications), and the series continues its fabulousness from there.

Just like any red-blooded working stiff, I really hate Sunday nights. But thanks to "#1 Single," at least I've had something consistently wonderful to mitigate that pre-workweek sense of dread. Goodness, I hope there's a season two.