Category Archives: tvdm picks

reflections and projections: fall 2014/spring 2015

Without including all of the shows that premiered in the spring and summer, it’s still safe to say that 2014 was a really exciting time to be a TV addict. We loved and lost (due to cancelation or just general lack of interest) quite a few good/”good” shows: Gotham, Gracepoint, Utopia, Red Band Society, Marry Me, A to Z, Manhattan Love Story and Selfie. Networks offered everything from comedies with quasi-incestuous undertones (Happyland) to He Said, She Said-style dramas that ensure Pacey Witter and Jimmy McNulty fans continue to get their weekly fix (The Affair.) Suffice it to say, all that variety throughout the year made the usual lull during midseason and summer breaks pretty much nonexistent.

This new year will bring a spin-off of TV royalty (Better Call Saul) a new offering by FX’s slightly cooler younger brother FXX (Man Seeking Woman), and a show for anyone that saw Starz’s Power and yearned for a similar drug-dealer turned mogul premise minus any nudity with higher profile actors (Empire). HBO, which has become increasingly all about the half-hour series, gives the Duplass’ a chance to show off their dry, mumblecore aesthetic (Togetherness) while ABC tries its hand at yet another potentially offensive/possibly mediocre culturally-themed show (Fresh Off the Boat). We’ll have the Colbert Report-sized hole in our hearts filled (The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore), watch Dwight Schrute’s transform into crime-solving House (Backstrom), and maybe not only watch but enjoy seeing what Victoria Justice can do without Nickelodeon’s PG-13 shackles (Eye Candy).

All of these new and shiny toys make us no less excited for the return of others. Jane the Virgin and How To Get Away With Murder, two shows that are at opposite ends of the colorful comedy to dark-ish drama spectrum, couldn’t be more alike in how great their first seasons are so far. Both work checking out when they return from midseason break. Broad City, smartly paired with Workaholics, is also back (Call it conceit or just a savvy money-saving technique, but Comedy Central really doesn’t make a big hoopla about advertising its shows.)

Remember that mention of variety a few paragraphs back? We haven’t even discussed all of the other shows that have already passed their sophomore mark. The Good Wife, Scandal, Once Upon a Time, Mindy Project, Cougar Town, Parenthood and It’s Always Sunny are just a few more returning shows on a ridiculously long and hard to keep up with list that we watch with true TV junkie dedication.

Need to know what’s coming back and when? Check out this handy-dandy calendar, lovingly put together by the always-helpful folks at TVLine.

 

 

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summer shows you (probably) aren’t watching, but should*

There was a time when summer TV meant tons of reruns, holiday specials and movies. These days, a lot of new shows are premiering, while a few others have come back for another new season. If you don’t already spend your time glued to the television, you probably haven’t/won’t see the commercials for some of this season’s best new (and returning) shows. I’m a TV-purist, so I believe all shows are best viewed on a screen, but there’s always the option of finding and watching these shows online.

Whatever your preference, you can reap the benefits of finding the good without forcing yourself to sit through the bad (i.e., the painful moments I spent watching Bristol Palin’s foray into reality television). You may already be an episode or two (or four) behind, since most of these shows have already started, but it’s worth the few hours it’ll take for you to catch up. This is when my refusal to leave the house before the sun sets because I don’t feel like it it’s too hot and uncomfortable to do so comes in handy. You’re welcome.

Episodes (Sundays) – Matt LeBlanc more than makes up for Joey and being on Showtime means the lines are a little bit raunchier than anything that ever happened on Friends.

Comedy Bang! Bang! (Fridays) – It’s based on a podcast, so watching this show will automatically boost your hipster street cred. Reggie Watts as the Andy Richter to Scott Aukerman’s Conan O’Brien is weird and hilarious, as good comedy should be.

Weeds (Sundays) – This is the show’s eighth and final season, which means there’s potential for things to get really bad (in a good way) or really bad (in a “they really should have cancelled this years ago” way). Regardless, they went back to the original “Little Boxes” theme song and you have to appreciate a show that remembers its earlier years.

The Newsroom (Sundays) – Aaron Sorkin’s Sunday night drama has the potential to be really good, like The West Wing good.

Awkward (Tuesdays) – Teen angst is best enjoyed when you’ve long since left those years behind and you can watch as an impartial observer. The fact that this show comes on MTV should in no way deter you from watching.

Web Therapy (Mondays) – Lisa Kudrow plays a therapist who sees her patients over the video sessions, hence the show’s title. The guest stars (Jane Lynch, for example) are hilarious and the format is pretty unique. You’d benefit from watching all the episodes in order, but it’s not required, which is a bonus.

 

*Based on a very small and potentially biased sample of people who answered, “What the heck is that?” or “Oh, that’s back on already?”, when asked about the shows included on this list.

Nicole is a TV junkie and TVDM helps her feed a lifelong addiction. She can be found here, providing biased commentary (sprinkled with a few Pop Up Video-esque insights) on her favorite shows, every week.

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revenge recapping: infamy

Previously on Revenge: Duress

Book Reading

After weeks of no Revenge on Revenge we have a new target: Mason Treadwill (the one with the atrociously dorky suits on), the lying biographer of David Clarke who originally set out to expose the truth and promised child Amanda he would. He failed, just like every other adult in Amanda’s life, and child Amanda was left to believe her father was actually guilty. You can see how this would upset child Amanda. And why Emily, knowing the truth, would want to seek revenge.  Nolan and Emily attend a biography reading of Mason Treadwill’s. Nolan gets Treadwill’s attention, and Treadwill offers to be his biographer. From Emily’s pleased look, I’d say this is all part of the plan. Queen Victoria’s attendance at the reading, promise to throw a private reading at her house, and request that Treadwill join her for lunch, suggests that, long ago, Treadwill made a deal with the devil.

Amanda Kiss

Daniel acting as his father’s worker bee and his mother’s devoted spy, agrees to make a deal with his father (also the devil) to get his inheritance and company shares released to him, which could give him and his mother control of Grayson Global. His Dad changes the terms of his inheritance, so Daniel must be thirty or get married before he is allowed his shares (his large inheritance, meanwhile, is his for the taking). This is a curveball, but Daniel already has a solution: he’ll marry Emily. Did you see Queen Victoria’s face? OH THE HORROR?!?!?  Meanwhile, Amanda is stirring things up over at Jack’s. In an attempt to make Jack impulsive, she tries to steal him away to Atlantic City, he says he can’t. So, like the teenager that she is, she acts out. Channeling her inner coyote she climbs on the bar, gives out free shots, and makes out with a girl right in front of Jack. Declan later tells Jack he should loosen up, so Jack dresses in a tux and whisks Amanda away to AC.

Emily and Amanda

Emily’s scheme against Mason, seems to be a bit more intricate than the others. She starts with an interview between Mason and Amanda, where she lets him know that Amanda remembers everything. Mason is obviously upset by this and is worried about being exposed as a fraud. When he conveys his fears to Queen Victoria, she insists that exposing the truth now would be more damaging, because he would no longer be under her protection. This works and Treadwill exposes nothing. The second part of her plan involves Nolan taking Treadwill out to dinner to discuss a possible biography. While he’s out Emily steals the tapes from her father’s interview, and, knowing that Treadwill prefers to write on a typewriter and saves nothing to a computer, lights his house on fire with a cigarette. He smokes, so you can see how this would work out. All of Treadwill’s unpublished but completed manuscripts are nothing but ash by the time he gets home. Sad for Treadwill. Happy for Emily. After seducing Daniel, who is now back at the Grayson compound so Victoria will feel safer, Emily returns to her house to watch the tapes she stole from Mason. The footage throws Emily a curveball when David Clarke professes that Charlotte may be, and most likely is, his daughter.  Duhn! Duhn! Duhnnnnnnn!

Thoughts/Theories

  • Emily is going to warm up to Charlotte, whether she likes it or not.
  • Queen Victoria will not end her quest to keep Daniel from marrying Emily, but her efforts will be fruitless.
  • My favorite moment of this episode was when Nolan, Emily, and Daniel are at the shooting range. First off, Nolan’s shooting range outfit was as laughable as his shooting style. Mostly, though, I love Emily faking out Daniel, by hitting the marks he hits, and then, once he’s left, hitting the bulls eye every time. Girl’s got skills.

Quotes

Nolan: “You know I haven’t been this disappointed since Phantom Menace.”

Emily: “Infamy can be a sentence more damning than any prison term.”

 

Kristen is a confused young adult who sometimes thinks TV shows are actually her life Wouldn’t that be cool? Unless she was a victim on Dexter, or a deranged privileged teenager on gossip girl, or a wolf on teen wolf, or Liz Lemon! Never mind. It wouldn’t be cool. Kristen is a young adult. Follow her @kris10_Alyse or read frustrateddreamer.com

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karloff vs. carrey–which “grinch” is best?

Theodor Seuss Geisel (aka Dr. Seuss) wrote How the Grinch Stole Christmas in 1957. Nine years later, it was adapted into a half-hour, animated special for television and it’s been running ever since. In 2000, Ron Howard teamed up with Jim Carrey to create a live-action version of the story, a big, colorful, noisy adaptation that ran for 104 minutes and made nearly $350 million worldwide. It was a huge success and yet… I prefer the original.

Here are five reasons why:

  1. Boris Karloff. Not only was he the voice of the animated Grinch, he also provided the narration. It was like having your grandfather read the story to you, a grandfather who was gifted at doing voices and whose own deep and resonant voice belied his age. (Karloff would die three years later at 81.) All due respect to Carrey, but an awful lot of the time, his Grinch sounded like Richard Nixon.
  2. The songs. Dr. Seuss wrote the lyrics for the songs and they were in rhyme, just like the rest of the tale. In the original animated adaptation, nothing was added to Seuss’ words because nothing needed to be added. And who can forget the signature song, “You’re a mean one, Mr. Grinch?” sung by Thurl Ravenscroft.
  3. Thurl Ravenscroft is not credited on Grinch, a mistake that horrified Seuss and co-producer/director Chuck Jones, who took out an ad in Variety to publicize his performance. Thurl did a lot of work for Disney but he’s probably best known for being the voice of Tony the Tiger in Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes commercials. His voice was as indelibly imprinted on the material as Karloff’s.
  4. The simplicity. Ron Howard created his own version of Seuss’ classic story but it was very much his version and not Seuss’ version. Everything about the original version had to do with the meaning of Christmas and the simplicity of the message that Christmas is in our hearts and not about the presents. Howard’s version has the same message but it’s overblown and overdone and not simple.
  5. The subtlety and sweetness. In the animated version, little Cindy Lou Who is an adorable two-year-old with wide blue eyes. In the Howard version, she’s an annoying sitcom moppet played by Taylor Momsen, who would make a splash as Jenny in Gossip Girl seven years later. It was a whole different vibe.

Animated or live action—no Christmas season is complete without a viewing of one or the other. My choice is the original.

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max headroom–the future is now

For awhile there in the 80s, you could not get away from Max Headroom, an animated talking head created by George Stone, Annabel Jankel, and Rocky Morton and sold as the first computer-generated artificial intelligence. Max, portrayed and voiced by a then-unknown actor named Matt Frewer, became a cultural phenomenon, going viral in a way unprecedented in the pre-Internet age. His image and his stuttering delivery of one-liners made him one of the most instantly recognizable icons of the era.

Max segued from doing interstitials on a music video show to being an uber-pitchman and finally, he got his own television movie in England, a pilot called “Twenty minutes into the future.” The show was then retooled for American television and premiered on ABC in 1987.

The show was set in the kind of dystopian world familiar to readers of modern YA fiction; a world run and ruled by television networks where technology is omnipresent and often sinister and ratings wars were deadly.

Stories revolved around crusading reporter Edison Carter (Frewer) and his digital doppelganger Max, created when young genius Bryce Lynch rebooted Carter’s consciousness inside a computer in the aftermath of an accident that left the reporter in a coma. (The last thing Carter saw before blacking out was a barrier that said “max. headroom.”)

Max Headroom was a cult hit for the network but couldn’t get traction against its competition (Dallas on CBS; Miami Vice on NBC) and it only ran for 14 episodes. The series was unavailable for years, although several episodes eventually showed up on YouTube.

Last August, a dvd (with extras) finally appeared. It’s not cheap, but it’s filled with the kind of behind-the-scenes goodies fans love.

What stands out when watching the show again is how much it’s held up. The trenchant observations on media and celebrity culture feel even more relevant today than they did 20-some years ago.

The look of the show is contemporary as well. Sure some of the computer stuff is a little old school, but everything from the low-rez bits on the credit sequences to the timeless wardrobe would look perfectly fine on a show produced today. Not many shows from the 80s can say that. (Or even the 90s. Check out those massive mobile phones in any Friends rerun.) Continue reading

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