Friday, July 28, 2006

A "Degrassi" gift from the gods

Best. News. Ever.

Over the next five weekends, the N is showing every episode of "Degrassi" in existence in order! Of course, I've already seen every episode of "Degrassi" in existence, but I'm so excited for all of the people out there who will be able to enjoy these marathons. Especially a couple friends of mine (I believe I've mentioned them before) who are just getting into "Degrassi" now and are often coming to me for back stories that they need in order to fully make sense of current plotlines.

AND, as if that weren't enough to bring tears of joy to any true "Degrassi" fan's eye, I believe they're also going to be showing the episode where Manny has an abortion, which has never been aired in the United States before. Gasp!

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Hello, my lost love!

When I got home from work today with a full-on gross cold, I just wanted to sack out on my futon and watch something totally comforting on TV. Unfortunately, I had exhausted the arsenal of Food Network shows that I had recorded over the weekend, and none of the movies fit the bill (a representative sampling of the serious fare I had to choose from: "The Secret Lives of Dentists," "Frida," and "Hoop Dreams"). I briefly flirted with watching a Harry Potter film on DVD, but even that seemed like it might be too gripping for illness viewing. All seemed lost. But then, I stumbled upon the perfect solution!

I noticed that Bravo was showing none other than "The West Wing," my favorite show in the world! (And since I obviously watch a lot of TV, you know that it's saying something for me to single out one show.)

It's been a long time since I've seen "The West Wing" because there are no more new episodes (alas, not just summer hiatus but a permanent loss). And since I've already seen pretty much every episode that exists at least once, I haven't felt any urge to keep up with Bravo's repeats. But seeing it again tonight — even just the partial episode that I caught — reminded me of just how fantastic it is. Granted, I haven't seen every show in the universe, but I truly believe that there is not one that is smarter and more enthralling than "The West Wing." Even when you're sniffling, coughing, and fighting off a fever.

Viva Bartlett forever!

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Well done, Bobby Flay -- and I'm not talking about steak

Food Network junkie that I am, I really love some of the new additions to their line-up. One such new show is "Throwdown with Bobby Flay," in which the famous chef challenges relative unknowns to cooking competitions on their own turf. The episodes that I've seen so far have pitted Bobby Flay against a wedding cake maker, a guy who owns a chowder restaurant, and a military man who cooks steak in 100-degree desert heat.

One aspect of the show that I really like is seeing Bobby Flay as a real person. Ever since watching his pompous performance on "The Iron Chef" (original Japanese version) a few years ago, I've been decidedly anti-Flay. Even Bobby Flay's brief appearance in a delightful Disney Channel movie (about a kid who is torn between cooking and playing baseball, in case you were wondering) did nothing to improve my negative opinion. But, though I am stubborn as all get-out, I think the tide is starting to turn in Bobby's favor these days, thanks to "Throwdown." Maybe it's just because he's going up against people who specialize in areas of cooking that are not his strengths, but "Throwdown" shows a humble side of Bobby Flay that was totally missing when he did his stand-on-the-cutting-board stunt on "The Iron Chef." It's nice to see. (For a description of this event and a full screed against the man, check out this lovely article.)

I also enjoy seeing how excited the other chefs get when Bobby Flay appears out of the blue. But at the same time, I always feel bad for them because I know that they're about to go up against a chef who has much more professional experience than they do. See, these poor people think that the Food Network is filming them for their own TV specials; they don't realize that they're really pawns in the "Throwdown" producers' game and that Bobby Flay is the true star of the show. It just makes me a little sad because if I were in their position, I would feel disappointed upon the reveal. Of course, they are all very gracious and seem to view Bobby Flay's mere presence as an honor, so maybe I'm off base here.

Also, it strikes me as kind of bizarre that the premise of the show has the viewer rooting against the star. Again, maybe it's just me, but I would think that everyone would cheer for the underdog, in this case, the chef being challenged by Bobby Flay. Especially since, in addition to the surprise element, Bobby Flay also has the advantage of being able to bring his own ingredients. (In my opinion, this was especially critical in the steak challenge against the military guy who had a much more limited "pantry," so to speak, to work with.)

Oh, well. Despite these weird aspects of the viewing experience, "Throwdown" somehow works. So, way to go, Bobby Flay. Keep it up, and maybe you'll win me over yet.

What? Do all blondes look the same to you?

So, I was watching "E! News," and they had a segment on LC, formerly from "Laguna Beach," currently from "The Hills." During the segment, the voiceover declared that Lauren and Kristin (nemeses from "Laguna Beach" days) don't always see eye to eye. But then they showed a clip of Lauren scolding Heidi, her roommate on "The Hills"! Yes, both Kristin and Heidi have short, blonde hair and a viewer cannot make out Heidi's face in the clip, but come on, E! For a network purportedly all about the entertainment industry, shouldn't someone have caught that Kristin and Heidi are not in fact the same person?

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Jeffrey = already my least favorite "Project Runway" contestant

Oh my God, I hate Jeffrey on "Project Runway." He just said of Angela, "I have one word for you to sum her up: feminazi."

What. The. Hell.

First of all, hearing a man whom I already consider to be an ass say that that really makes me angry because it is just another reminder of the number of ignorant people out there who think it's okay to make gender the focus of a put-down. I can't quite articulate why it makes me so furious. It brings to mind people who said that women can't be world leaders because they get hormonal when they menstruate. Or the concept of the hysterical female. Ooh, it just outrages me!

But secondly — and even more annoyingly — once again, Jeffrey's insult makes no sense. Yes, Angela seems like a truly aggravating character from what I can tell, but it has nothing to do with being a rabid feminist. Jeffrey, you're an idiot.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Nerdiest use of a DVR ever

Because I am perhaps the biggest dork in the universe, I just experienced what I consider to be a very exciting double feature, thanks to my DVR. Through what I imagine to be serendipitous programming, two different versions of "The Importance of Being Earnest" were on TV this morning, one on TCM and one on IFC. I recorded them both, then settled down this evening for a fun four hours of compare and contrast. (What? I already admitted that I'm the biggest dork in the universe.)

In my experiment watching the 1952 and 2002 movies back-to-back, I thought one would stand out as better than the other — given my fondness for old movies, I put my odds on the 1952. However, my final verdict is that there is no clear overall winner. BUT there were clear strengths and weaknesses in each film. Not that you care, but here is a list of some of what I deem to be the highlights:

-1952's Dorothy Tutin is hands down the superior Cecily. Sorry, Reese Witherspoon. I know you won the Oscar for your performance in "Walk the Line" (which was very good), but you can't hold a candle to Dorothy Tutin in this role. Whereas you just seem like you, she comes across as natural and appealing — and perhaps most importantly for the story, a sparkling young girl.

-2002's Anna Massey as Miss Prism. Whoever came up with the hilarious walk that she exhibits is a comic genius. I still remember that watching her run away from Lady Bracknell was the highlight of my experience seeing the movie on the big screen when it first came out.

-2002's Judi Dench as Lady Bracknell, of course. 1952's Edith Evans was good, but Judi Dench — come on, now.

-1952's tea scene between Cecily and Gwendolen. The subtle verbal catfight between the two ladies should be required watching for all actresses.

-2002's tea scene tussle between Jack and Algy. And that's a high compliment from me because when I think back on reading the play well before seeing either movie, my delight over this scene's exchange about muffins still stands out.

-2002's Colin Firth. That's all I have to say on this subject. I just love Colin Firth.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

The "Project Runway" Diaries: The End

Well, that about does it for my first — and I'm sure my last — (almost) real-time "Project Runway" commentary. If even a single fellow "Project Runway" fan enjoys it, then all my frenzied typing will have been worth it. Of course, in order for that to happen, my readership would have to increase from absolutely zip to at least one. Maybe someday.

Btw, in case you somehow failed to gather this, I live on the East Coast. The Blogger default timestamp seems to be set to Pacific Time. There's probably some way to change that, but in case you couldn't guess by the massive amount of time I spend parked on my futon, I'm incredibly lazy, so I haven't tried to figure it out. I say all this because I want to make it clear that I was not somehow using my psychic powers to comment on TV that hadn't aired yet. Just add three hours to the post times, you numbskulls.

(Yes, this is how I plan to win over potential regular readers: by calling them names. A sound marketing plan, if I ever saw one.)

The "Project Runway" Diaries, #14

Tim Gunn was wrong? How is this possible?

In all seriousness, I'm really surprised that the winning garment was one that Tim had criticized so strongly. I hope he speaks to this on his blog later.

Also, poor Stacey. I really liked her piece! I do understand what the judges were saying about it seeming like she just ran out of time; if only she had been able to put a nice lining in, not only would she have avoided that particular comment, but she probably could have added another facet to the design. Not that I know that I'm talking about at all. And yet, that won't stop me from saying that I disagree with Michael Kors' disapproval of the fit on top. Are you listening to me, celebrated fashion designer? Although I am totally unqualified to do so, I have a bone to pick with you!

The "Project Runway" Diaries, #13

These early fashion shows are the best. There are just so many pieces to look at! Obviously, I wouldn't change the competition premise of the show, but I wish there were a way to see lots of garments every time. Maybe the producers could force eliminated contestants to continue creating clothes for all the challenges and post the results on the web site. They could even invite visitors to the site to vote on whether they like any of the eliminated contestants' offerings better than the garments by the designers still in the running. They're already doing such great things with their site and with cell phones (ring tones, text messages) — I seriously think this feature would be a great addition. I'm a genius.

The "Project Runway" Diaries, #12

Jeffrey just called everyone else's work "remedial, intermediate bullshit."

How can anything be both "remedial" and "intermediate"? If you're going to be a cocky jerk, at least try to construct your insults so that they make sense.

The "Project Runway" Diaries, #11

Wow, this season's contestants got off pretty lucky compared to last season's. I'd prefer ripping apart material from Atlas Studios over ripping apart my own clothes any day. Not that I have any really valuable items in my wardrobe; I'm just a covetous person. Buddha would be very disappointed in me.

The "Project Runway" Diaries, #10

Love this Robert character. Though it may be too soon to say, I think he may be my favorite from this season. (Noticing a trend in my picks? I think I neglected to mention that Nick vied with Dan for the top spot in my heart last time around.)

Be warned: I'm envisioning future posts with "Robert Best is the best!" as the title.

The "Project Runway" Diaries, #9

Oh, God, Laura just rhymed "fashion" and "passion." She deserves to be kicked off just for that.

The "Project Runway" Diaries, #8

Oh, it's Jay! Hi, Jay! Forget Danny V — you'll always be my first "Project Runway" love!

The "Project Runway" Diaries, #7

Good job, editors! I LOVE montages, and NOTHING beats a montage of quick rejections. America is all about the schadenfreude, no?

Although I must say that one reason I really love "Project Runway" is that it's one of the few competitive reality shows that isn't focused on people making fools of themselves. Supposedly, this season they have even more talented designers, which I take as a sign that the show will not forsake its roots anytime soon.

(Btw, I hope everyone is giving me due props for working a German word into my commentary. I think Heidi would be pleased.)

The "Project Runway" Diaries, #6

Oh, how I love Danny V! I actually saw him in Central Park a few months ago. As luck would have it, I was with a friend who is also obsessed with "Project Runway," and she's actually the one who spotted him first. Then, of course, we proceeded to stare at the poor guy in order to figure out if perhaps it was just our eyes deceiving us. Fortunately for us, he and his companions settled down in a spot not too far from us. Even more fortunately, the sun shifted not too much later, and my friend and I jumped at the opportunity to use that as an excuse as we repositioned ourselves in a location that allowed for improved viewing (much to my friend's boyfriend's chagrin).

Of course, I tried to stop myself from being obvious when I looked at the fellow, but I got in enough surreptitious (I hope!) peeks so that when my friend asked how certain I was that it was the adorable Danny V before us, I could say that l was 97% sure. Moments later, however, I changed my answer to 100% when he was joined by his model from the show, Rebecca. Hello! Total joy for me and my friend upon her arrival!

The only disappointing aspect of this episode was that Dan didn't have his hair in a half-ponytail, which had always caused me to gleefully exclaim, "I love his half-ponytail!" — annoying the above-mentioned friend to no end when we watched together. However, I was somewhat mollified by the fact that when Rebecca arrived, she was with a guy who had his hair in a half-ponytail. Maybe they travel in packs.

Fun fact: I've only ever seen three reality show celebs in real reality. In order, they are:

-CT from "The Real World: Paris," spotted outside a bar in SoHo

-Danny V from "Project Runway," spotted as described above

-Funnily enough, Kara Janx also from "Project Runway," spotted walking down Prince St., I believe between Mott and Mulberry, or maybe it was between Mott and Elizabeth...

The "Project Runway" Diaries, #5

I wish they had let the viewer know when Heidi was wearing one of Kara Saun's designs on Season 2. Did they not think we'd want to know?

The "Project Runway" Diaries, #4

Interesting, I never knew that black was one of the most challenging colors to work with. I would have thought the opposite, but I guess that goes to show you how very little I know about clothing design.

Still, it's curious to me because I always think of black as a wardrobe staple. That's not just me, right? Granted, on several occasions when I've gone shopping with one of my friends she has scolded me, saying, "If I see something black hanging on the rack, I just know you're going to look at it." But black is a basic for everyone, isn't it? If only Tim Gunn were here to set me straight.

The "Project Runway" Diaries, #3

Michael Kors is absolutely tittering at Bradley's sketches! I hope this is a sign of giggles yet to come on Season 3!

The "Project Runway" Diaries, #2

These bio videos are awesome! In particular, I hope someone posts this Barbie ventriloquism act on YouTube. I would love to see it in its wacky entirety.

The "Project Runway" Diaries, #1

If Entertainment Weekly doesn't include this in their next issue's TV Sound Bites, you'll know that they've fallen down on the job:

"If Vincent Van Gogh had my personality, he might not have had to cut off his ear."
—the ever so modest Santino Rice

At least he had the humility to laugh after saying it.

The "Project Runway" Diaries

I love love love "Project Runway" and have been looking forward to tonight's casting special and season premiere ever since I first spied the posters in the subway station. Although, given my fervor for this show, it might actually be more accurate to say that I've been looking forward to tonight's casting special and season premiere since the end of Season 2.

To celebrate, I thought I'd try my hand at blog commentary in almost real-time as I watch. Let's see how it goes, shall we?

Sunday, July 09, 2006

OMG -- I have the TV-watching habits of a high schooler!

Normally, I avoid watching MTV's "My Super Sweet 16" because the whining of those spoiled kids makes me really furious. However, for some reason, I ended up watching an episode earlier today; I guess I was intrigued by the Cirque du Soleil type acts that this particular girl, Nicole, was planning to have at her party. They almost lost me when Nicole forced her two closest friends to try on various dresses so that she could dictate what they would wear to the event, but I held on — and boy, am I glad that I did. Because what did I see just a few minutes later? A familiar face that brought me much, much joy.

Nicole and her aforementioned friends were auditioning models to be part of Nicole's grand entrance to the party, and I noticed that one of them looked a lot like Ryder from the Puerto Rico season of The N's reality show "Girls v. Boys." At first, I thought I must be mistaken, but then Nicole said, "Ryder's not hot enough to be at my party." That's when I knew it really was him — and how delighted I was!

Since I'm sure you never watched the Puerto Rico season of "Girls v. Boys" (as it was, like, the third season of what I'm sure was a struggling show anyway), I have to give you the 411, as the kids say. (Btw, do the kids actually still say "the 411"? I guess I should know since I seem to watch the same TV shows as teenagers, but I really have no idea.) Poor Ryder did not fare well on "G v B." It wasn't that he was incompetent; rather, it was his personality that was the problem. His team voted him off even though he was the best athlete, and they did not hold back when insulting him during their confessionals. So for me to hear Nicole rejecting Ryder as not hot enough for her party, well, my heart went out to the kid. Actually, no it didn't. I mean, I did feel bad for him because I'm sure he's going to watch "My Super Sweet 16" and be hurt to hear that and it will surely be embarrassing that everyone else who watches the episode will hear it as well. However, mostly I found the whole thing hilarious.

Even funnier is the fact that people are talking about this on The N's message boards. To be accurate, I should actually say that kids are talking about this on The N's message boards. And that's really what's at the core of what tickles me about this whole thing. Only high schoolers should have had this experience. And yet, there I was, a supposed adult scooting to the edge of my futon and wondering, "Wait! Was that who I think it was?" then giggling when I realized that indeed it was. If I were ever to go undercover as a high school student a la Drew Barrymore's character in "Never Been Kissed," I would surely succeed like no one's business.