Tuesday, September 26, 2006

GG and SS

I don't know if it was just because I was predisposed to be disappointed, but I felt like tonight's season premiere of "Gilmore Girls" was definitely missing its usual spark. Frequently, the timing seemed slightly off, the dialogue seemed a little too heavy, and the direction seemed a bit flat — but always just by one degree. Of course, this didn't prevent me from tearing up as I watched the final scene between Luke and Lorelai. Even with my favorite shows, it's not often that I physically ache out of empathy for the characters. That's a credit to Amy Sherman-Palladino, Lauren Graham, Scott Patterson, and the newbies now at the helm. Plus, there were a handful of bright comic moments to soothe my critical side (Miss Patty signalling to Kirk to drive through the red light? Brilliant!). Guess I'll just have to wait and see how the season pans out.

In other judgemental news: I'm now starting to warm up to "Studio 60." Since last week's post consisting of my initial reaction, I've watched the pilot one and a half more times and the second episode twice (except for the opening musical number, which I've seen thrice).

I decided to re-watch the pilot because I thought that perhaps I had given it short shrift the first time around and wanted to give it a second chance. And it turns out that I did enjoy the episode more upon a second viewing. Deliberately opening my mind and also free of having to figure out who all the characters were and to piece together their relationships to one another, I was able to let myself get absorbed in the narrative. And I liked it.

Of course, "Studio 60" is still nowhere close to "The West Wing" in my heart, but I would not be one bit surprised if it made its way up there in time. The early evidence? You read the part where I said I had watched the second episode twice, right? It only aired for the first time last night, so I think that's really saying something. Already, the "Studio 60" world is becoming a safe, comforting haven. Good job, Aaron Sorkin. How could I have doubted you?

Btw, Aaron, while I'm having a one-sided conversation with you, can you tell me why you're so obsessed with Gilbert and Sullivan? Don't think I don't remember your use of their music on "The West Wing." That reminds me — I've got "Topsy-Turvy" saved on my DVR...

Monday, September 25, 2006

A Definite Hair Don't

What is up with Scott Bakula's hair?!

I don't get it. Is he supposed to look attractive? Either I'm way off base or the stylist for "The New Adventures of Old Christine" needs to be fired. Right?

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Two Thumbs Up (both from me) for "Handy Manny"

After quickly exhausting all the new episodes of "Wonder Pets" back in the spring, I've been too consumed with other TV to watch any children's shows. But this morning I discovered "Handy Manny" on Playhouse Disney, and I'm loving it.

Before tuning in, all I knew was that Wilmer Valderrama was somehow involved. Although I of course loved him as Fez on "That '70s Show," his celebrity party antics didn't exactly engender confidence in what he would bring to an offering for kids. But he's actually really adorable as the voice of Manny, the go-to fix-it guy in a small, friendly town. Although at first I found his husky, grown-up voice to be jarring — particularly for a children's show, which normally features clear, announcer-like voices — I quickly came to appreciate the warm, avuncular tone that he used for communicating with his pack of unruly tools.

Unruly tools, you ask? Sure! You wouldn't expect the tools on a show like this to be inanimate, would you? As described by a Disney press release, the tools are "Pat, the bumbling hammer, Turner, a grumpy screwdriver, Felipe, a very ambitious screwdriver, Dusty, the not-so-dainty hand saw, Stretch, the nearly perfect tape measure, Squeeze, a curious pair of pliers and Rusty, a fearful monkey wrench." So far, my favorites are Rusty and Felipe, both of whom feature some of that New York neurosis we can all identify with.

Overall, "Handy Manny" doesn't seem as sharp and quirky as "Wonder Pets," so there's less for an adult to enjoy. But I can definitely appreciate how appealing the show would be for kids, and that makes it a pleasure to watch. Plus, you haven't lived until you've watched a bunch of CG tools chasing escaped bunnies around a pet store.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Will I ever ABC these shows again? Only time will tell.

You may be surprised to learn that I somehow managed to avoid being drawn into "Grey's Anatomy." Despite all the hype, I was never interested. I even watched part of one random episode and felt absolutely no draw. But all of that changed tonight. Or did it?

Ingenious ABC put together an hour of clips from last season, and when a show consists entirely of highlights, how can you resist that? Of course, I got dragged into watching the season premiere over the next hour. A woman grieving over the sudden death of her fiance. The famed romance between Meredith and McDreamy. What more could I ask for?

Well, I could ask for a hospital drama not to devolve into ridiculous storylines like, say, the plague. And I could ask for a show about serious issues to be complex and textured and finely acted, directed, and written rather than melodramatic all the way around. But I guess that would be asking too much, if the success of "Grey's Anatomy" is any indication. I know Sandra Oh is terrific, but surely the few moments that she is on screen are not enough to justify the massive following that this show has.

Oh, well. Guess I'll have to tune in next week to find out! Because, yes, I can feel it — I'm on the verge of being hooked. I'm not there quite yet, not willing to program the DVR for this stuff. But if my gradual loyalty to the terrible but delightful "Windfall" has taught me anything, it's that I can't write off a show just because its low quality makes it painful to watch. Apparently, I have bad taste just like the rest of the population.

And as if to prove it, now I'm getting almost hooked on "Six Degrees" too! Whoever put this thing after "Grey's Anatomy" is a programming genius. Even though I'm aware that I've been tricked into watching it, I still can't turn it off. We really are prisoners of human nature, huh?

On a lighter note, here's a fun game to play with "Six Degrees": try to connect the lead actors to one another in six degrees or fewer. With ads for the show splashed all over the subway these days, it's a nice way to pass the time during your commute. The easiest link is Hope Davis to Campbell Scott, as they were in the movie "The Secret Lives of Dentists" together. For this reason, if you can connect any of the other actors to one of them, you get an automatic connection to the other. But I would encourage you not to use this cheat. Makes it more challenging that way. (By the way, if you can play this game with a friend, you get the added pleasure of being surprised by the films and shows she chooses for her connections. For example, my friend utilized the movie "Dying Young" for the Campbell Scott-Julia Roberts connection. How's that for an oldie but goodie?)

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Say It Ain't So, Jon!

I love "The Daily Show" as much as anyone — in fact, it's often the reliably pleasant high point of my day — but does anyone else feel that it's gone a bit downhill lately?

At first, I thought maybe it was just a temporary slump, but as time goes on and the episodes come and go, I'm beginning to worry that my beloved show is going the way of "SNL" when it lost all its star comedians. I mean, these new correspondents are just not that funny.

On the other hand, I'm happy to see that "The Colbert Report" seems to be getting better and better. In my opinion, it got off to a shaky start, but now it seems to have found its TV legs. Maybe now I'll actually start sticking around after "The Word" on a regular basis. (Or maybe I spoke too soon. Tonight's high school segment is kind of disturbing.)

Of course, the best part of this Comedy Central double-header in my opinion is the banter between Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert at the end of "The Daily Show." Someone force these guys to do a reunion special, please!

Holy cow, I have readers!

I just want to take a moment to thank barry and lace for leaving comments on my blog. I honestly believed that no one was reading this drivel except for a select few TV-loving friends of mine, so it's nice to know that I've given at least two strangers an opportunity to waste their time. Stay tuned for even more horse poop in the future! Love, Karen

Monday, September 18, 2006

Yes and No

Tonight's season premiere of "How I Met Your Mother" = awesome. Not the full-on powerhouse that it was last season (except for the unfortunate episode where Barney tricked Ted into thinking his date was a hooker), but still awesome.

Tonight's series premiere of "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip" = not awesome. It was smart, of course, but felt cold and empty. I'm sure that my disappointment was inevitable because of the sheer height of my expectations. I don't know, maybe it's just too soon to ask me to let go of "The West Wing." With that in mind, I'll withhold judgment for now. Perhaps, like Marshall, I simply need some time to heal, move on, and make some pancakes.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

A reminder from your friends at "I Love TV"

Don't forget to set your DVR to record "Studio 60" tomorrow night! Or, you know, you could watch it live. But then you'd have to deal with commercials, and with so many season and series premieres this week, who has time for that? Not me!

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

"Six Feet Under" Lives!

Given that I'm a TV junkie, you may be surprised to learn that I don't have premium cable. With all the other shows that I have to keep me busy, I haven't been able to justify the additional cost since living on my own. But when I had roommates, we did spring for the extra channels, including HBO. And like any good HBO consumers, the four of us were always eager to get our weekly fix of "Six Feet Under."

In giving up HBO, I had to forsake "Six Feet Under," but I've now learned that Bravo is going to be syndicating it starting October 2. AWESOME! Now if only Bravo could find a way to actually revive both "Six Feet Under" and "The West Wing" instead of just showing re-runs...

(Btw, yes, you did read that correctly — I was in fact living with three other people at one point. You can guess why I'm living alone now.)

"The Hill" Gives 'em Hell

If you read my earlier post on the Sundance Channel's reality series "The Hill," then you know that I was hesitant to commit to watching regularly because of the emotional trauma that I experienced as I watched the pilot's coverage of the 2004 presidential election. But since then, I've tuned in for a few more episodes, and now I'm a full fan.

It's actually really fascinating the way that the show has been structured. Rather than the entire thing centering around a continuing narrative, each episode focuses on revealing the machinations of one Congress member's office in response to relatively recent major political events. Episode 2 covers social security reform and the CIA leak, Episode 3 covers the nomination of John Roberts for Supreme Court justice, and Episode 4 (which aired tonight), covers Hurricane Katrina. I'm disappointed that there will be only six episodes, what with all the wacky shit that this universe — not to mention this administration — comes up with.

As you can imagine, it's really interesting to see what was going on behind the scenes when those issues were big in the news cycle. But even better than the sneak peek aspect is the fact that you learn things that were never part of the media reports — in some cases, information that seems so critical I wonder why no one made a big deal of making the public aware of it. Unfortunately, I can't think of an example to share because I watched Episodes 2 and 3 around 2:00 a.m. Saturday night/Sunday morning.

Why the night owl viewing? A friend of mine who goes to law school in DC and has interned on the Hill herself was in town over the weekend. Because she doesn't have the Sundance Channel, she can't partake in the pleasure of "The Hill" the show, so I saved up a couple of episodes on my DVR for us to watch together. Because of our busy schedule, we didn't get around to watching them until after a long day of shopping, sushi, and swigs (at a bar — so I wanted to go with the alliteration, so sue me!). Surprisingly, even when exhausted, I was completely engaged by "The Hill." Of course, our ability to concentrate on the show might have also had something to do with the sugar in the two pints of Ben & Jerry's that we downed while watching... Regardless, truly excellent TV.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

NBC Fall Preview = Snoozefest

Maybe I shouldn't make such a sweeping generalization as to say that the entire NBC Fall Preview Show tonight was a snoozefest; truth be told, I didn't really pay attention to most of it. Really, I just tuned in because of my excitement about Aaron Sorkin's "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip."

Unfortunately, NBC didn't seem to think that their Fall Preview Show merited true previews, instead showing a series of slick advertisements. Yawn.

Of course, I know I could always find real previews online, from clips to scripts. In fact, this fantastic blog dedicated entirely to "Studio 60" has some great leads on where to find such tidbits. But now I think I'm just going to tough it out until the show makes its official debut. I'm constantly being disappointed when I allow my expectations to creep too high, so I think it's best not to feed my anticipation of "Studio 60." Btw, if you think I was being facetious in my word choice ("tough it out"), you're only half-right. Hey, when you're a TV junkie with no life or interests other than the tube, two weeks is a long time to wait for the follow-up to your favorite show!