Saturday, November 15, 2014

Football Counter-Programming #11

Today's Football Counter-Programming is (non-intuitively) actually about football.

Well, it's specifically about Big Ten football rivalries, so some of you might argue that it is only football-ish.

Anyway, before the last decade or so ruined all of our lives with Alabama and Auburn and SEC, SEC, SEC hegemony, the Big Ten was the bastion of footballness. It was Midwestern and it was the keeper of sacred tradition.

And fewer things illustrate that better than the Big Ten rivalries that are tied to Trophies. If you aren't familiar with these things-as I wasn't before I moved up here, most Big Ten (or as we must now call them, B1G rivalries are centered around which winning team gets to lay claim to some object or trophy or (frankly) made up thing that is the central totem upon which hatreds are laid year after year.

The best things about these rivalries is that many, if not most of them stretch back for more than a century now. And these trophies were devised in frontier times or in days when radio was the most exciting thing that anyone had ever thought to experience. And so it made perfect sense to devise a sporting contest around who would get to hoist the Old Oaken Bucket over the recently vanquished team while basking in gridiron glory. (The Old Oaken Bucket, by the way, is the rivalry trophy between Purdue and Indiana.)

Other examples? Well, there is the Old Brass Spittoon that focuses the rivalry between Indiana and Michigan State. And the Little Brown Jug that is the goal of the game between Minnesota and Michigan.

But one of my favorites is the Illibuck--a trophy featuring a mythical creature that is the focal point of the Illinois/Ohio State game. What is an Illibuck? The trophy is a wooden turtle, but it was once an actual turtle.(Can you imagine handing over the care of a live turtle to a bunch of rowdy college football players year after year? I know that turtles are hearty creatures that are long-lived, but I wonder how much continuity there was between one year and the next. How many turtles survived on a yearly basis?) And according to my (brief) research, this Illinois/Ohio State rivalry also used to feature the smoking of a peace pipe as part of the pregame ceremonies?!!! (Can you imagine how such things might be viewed now? Traditions are good, but it is also good to know when traditions needs to be modified.)

Surprisingly, one of the oldest, most storied rivalries in the B1G has no trophy associated with it. The Ohio State/Michigan game is hyped every year, regardless of the relative strengths of the two teams meeting for that contest. And there is no trophy as stake--which is even more surprising in that this is also a border contest. Both teams have terrible songs to sing about the other (such as Ohio State's "We Don't Give a Damn for the Whole State of Michigan".) And, even more recent--and maybe most infamously, given the Terrelle Pryor debacle, there are the Gold Pants which are given to tOSU teams that best the Michiganders.

But, don't forget that even century old traditions have room for expansion. As the conferences change and grow, traditions change and grow as well. When the B1G added Maryland and Rutgers recently, not to mention adding Nebraska prior to that, the opportunity for new hatred appeared.

But how do you create traditions like the Floyd of Rosedale when you have only been blood rivals for three years? And within what vessel do you pour all of your bile and your despair?

These were the issues considered when Nebraska and Wisconsin decided to inaugurate their new conference rivalry. Even though they first played back in 1891, they were not part of the same conferences for almost all of that time and so rivalries are diluted and not as intense. But now . . . now they are regular combatants. And to celebrate that disdain, they have created the FREEDOM TROPHY!

Yes, in this new era, new trophies are forged. But is this the best totem? Might it not have been better for Nebraska and Wisconsin to fight over the CheeseHusker--which is maybe a trophy in the shape of cheddar flavored popcorn? Or maybe they could have fought over the Internet Dial Up Modem? This would simultaneously give the appearance of battling to win a hoary old thing, while also reminding us of the cyberspace world within which we live? No matter what, I think we can agree that the Freedom Trophy is exactly what we would expect to come out of a focus-group session on creating some new rivalry trophy.

The Illibuck is NOT impressed.


Saturday, November 08, 2014

Football Counter-Programming #10

If they are still playing with the ole pigskin, then I'm still writing something to keep your mind off of football and keep you from noticing how pathetic the Big Ten actually is. (But I'm sure you are already quite aware how pathetic the Big Ten is. You've got ears and a television, don't you?)

Anyway, here is this week's edition of Football Counter-Programming!

Today's topic . . . clothing.

If you have followed this blog now and then over the years, you know that I sometimes write about my clothes, the history behind them, maybe a story or two. I call it The Clothing Project.

And so today I am wondering what do clothes mean to you? Are they simply something you put on to cover yourself and keep you warm? Do you look for clothes that are cheapest and utilitarian? Or must you have the recognizable name brands and align yourself in some way with what those clothes "say"about yourself or others who wear them.

I have been all of these things at various times, and I suspect that you have as well. Defining oneself through our outerwear is one of the easiest and fastest ways to create an identify and to find others who seem to have that same sort of personal view. I know that I did this kind of thing a lot in high school and (to some degree) in college as well. Back in high school, I wanted to have the Coca-Cola rugby shirts and the right sort of shoes. I wanted a Members Only jacket or later a band letter man jacket. And in college I wanted to right sort of t-shirt, concert shirt, stupid-looking woven poncho, or other kind of nonsensical flannel shirt to look like I really enjoyed Nirvana all the time.

I had boxer shorts when those were popular. Now I wear a variety of thematic t-shirts that place me in the subset of the culture that I wish to identify with most strongly. And now I work in a Doctor Who-inspired bow tie from time to time.

In fact, thought, there was a time when I shifted my routine a bit. I once tried to move away from a reliance upon t-shirts and wanted to wear more buttoned shirts and polo shirts. And that held for a good few years. But even within that effort I had specific likes and dislikes. I didn't (and still don't) like to have polo and dress shirts that have brands and logos emblazoned on them. (I save that sort of obviousness for my t-shirt collection.) And I tend to like solid colors in my polo shirts and I'm cautious about how dynamic my dress shirt patterns get. I'd rather the tie carry the emphasis. BUT I don't want buttoned shirts to be purely plain either.

When I did wear lots of boxer shorts, I rather enjoyed brash patterns and bright colors. Not that anyone was enjoying that--unless they did my laundry. Heck . . . once upon a time I wore argyle socks all the time (especially in high school). But I don't do that at all anymore.

It is absolutely true that I still use clothes to define and align myself. And I'm not even subtle about it. What about you?

Saturday, November 01, 2014

Football Counter-Programming #9

This may start out kinda deep in today's Football Counter-Programming. But don't worry. It won't stay that way for long.

I have to stay here. This is my homeland. I have no where else to go.

 I heard a Crimean say this on the radio Tuesday morning, describing his desire to avoid being forced into Russian citizenship and his desire to live in his ancestral homeland and for the Ukraine to become independent again someday.

Hearing this made me think about my own life--so much nicer than his. And I thought that I don't have that strong a sense of place. I don't have such an overwhelming desire to maintain historic roots. This is clear, because I left my home(land) and show no sign of preparing to go back. Certainly I am not moving heaven and earth to go back to it. And it's not just the politics of the situation either. If a foreign nation, like say Mexico, took over Georgia next month, I would be EVEN LESS inclined to move my family back into that mess. (Though I hope I would try to provide a refuge for my family members living down there who wanted to try and get out.)

So, is this "lack of place" a failing of mine? Or am I reflecting the privilege of my economic status and my national freedoms? Because I have the opportunity and the luxury and the freedom to go wherever I can manage to go, do I have no urgency to be anywhere in particular?

Do I simply care more about me and what is happening to me now than I care about where I have been and what brought me to this place and this time? And if that is true . . . is that a personality flaw?

What do you think? Are you drawn to a certain place? Do you feel less than yourself in a new environment or do you make adjustments and settle easily anywhere? Am I missing out on a fundamental part of my heritage? Leave me scathing--but honest--opinions in the comments below.

Maybe I don't have an answer to these questions. But I do have some connections to the past, as evidenced by this item that I found today.

I was helping Lynda in the basement this morning, sorting through old saved kids clothes, looking for some new (old) seasonal stuff for Hannah.

And lo and behold, look at what I found! The Boaz onesie that my coworkers gave me when Hannah was born!

Certainly it is one of the weirdest kid gifts you may ever see--it features fluorescent pink wording of one of the Old Testament's most famous people. And of course, it is accompanied by everyone's favorite lettuce-eater, the gentle manatee. Sadly none of my kids are small enough to fit into it anymore. It should have been a cherished heirloom that would have been proudly handed down from generation to generation. But now it is a flash-in-the-pan oddity that future generations can't hope to understand.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Football Counter-Programming: Bye Week

There will be no Football Counter-Programming post today. I consider this my bye week.
I have several other things scheduled to do this Saturday and so I won't have time to write something to help distract you from the gridiron-based tyranny of Facebook on this Saturday.

To help you in my textual absence, here is an appropriately-themed photograph.
(This photo is not any sort of endorsement or prediction for this evening's Penn State/tOhio State football meet up.)

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Football Counter-Programming #8

It's another week of Football Counter-Programming here on WWYG?! (Sorry I was a bit later than normal in getting this out there, but I was having some fun with Grace and also spending some overdue time in the yard earlier in the morning.

But that doesn't matter now. Now I've got to get my thoughts out there on the internets and try to get you to think about something other than University football and whether or not State will beat College. And maybe you'll read this instead of taunting your alumni friend who bet you that Ole Miss was better than Georgia Tech. Or whatever. . .

I know it's a losing battle. But its a battle I'm determined to keep fighting.

This week, we're fighting against the tyranny of Saturday football with an examination of dualities.

I was taking a shower a few days ago and was thinking about how dual characters who are often flip sides of the same coins are often presented in movies and books. And so I started to list some of them in my head. For example, Han Solo and Luke Skywalker demonstrate this pretty well. Luke was the fair-haired naive kid that you would not be afraid to bring home to mom and dad.

But Han? Well, he's the dashing rogue that is a bit dangerous (though maybe with a heart of gold). He's the guy that give you that little thrill that you're transgressing.

You know what I mean.

How about Veronica and Betty? The two girls from the Archie comics? Betty is the "sweet" blonde (the Luke) and Veronica is the "dangerous"brunette" (the Han). Archie is always in conflict over which of the two he is going to choose and the two girls are constantly in conflict with each other over him. I think this may be the first duality set of this type that I was introduced to when I was young. (Though, of course, I didn't really understand what I was looking at during that time.)

There was, however, another option from my childhood that is cut from the very same sort of dual nature and you are most likely already yelling at me because I didn't start the examples with this one. It is, of course those two desert island girls from Gilligan's Island--the farm girl versus the Hollywood sexpot. The girl next door versus the dreamboat.
It's Ginger versus Mary-Anne.
Now, most guys have sat around (probably in college) and had this discussion. And I'm pretty sure that I always chosen Mary-Anne. Because she seemed nicest and most interested in Gilligan as a person. Ginger was always in the middle of some scheme and you always felt that what SHE really wanted was the get something for herself and eventually get off of the island and back to her career in Hollywood. She didn't really care about Gilligan at all.

Heck, she never even made him a coconut pie. Mary-Anne was making pies for Gilligan all the time!

Do you want some other examples?

Let us go more modern this time. But we're still going to stick to the good GIRL/bad GIRL scenario. But we'll cross titles rather than stick within one universe. What better example than Hermione Granger versus Bella Swan.

If you look up "Hermione versus Bella"on the Internet, you'll find plenty of fan-generated evidence to prove why Our Ms. Granger is so much better than Bella Swann. Heck, you can probably type the phrase in the search field on Why Won't You Grow?! and find several instances where I've ranted on this this topic over the years. I know I've said before which type I'd want my own girls to grow up to be like.


But let's move away from the girls. How about some guys (other than Luke and Han) that might fit the bill? The first one's that came to my mind were John Locke and Jack Shepherd--two of the main leading men of one of my favorite shows, LOST. Dr. Jack Shepherd was often shown on the program as the Man of Science. Jack believed in Reason and how effort would lead to results. That through logic and choice you could fix your problems.Sometimes this worked and sometimes it very definitely did not.

John on the other hand? Well, he was the Man of Faith. He believed in  (and fell victim to) leaps of belief and mysticism. He let him emotions and his hunches guide him through many, many decisions. John fought his way through many problems in his life and he felt that his belief and his innate "specialness" was what gave him the rewards provided by the Island. But it also made him vulnerable to the manipulations of others (and Others).

Jack, I think, relied on his emphasis on reason and logic because deep inside he didn't think he was special at all. And some of that was due to his father's difficult upbringing methods. Since Jack had not strong faith within himself, for himself, he has to rely on outside forces and choices to guide his decisions.

There was also on LOST the other famous dual choice between Jack and Sawyer. This was a more classic example of the Good Guy/Bad Guy option. Or . .  at least it appeared that way in the beginning. Jack the Doctor versus Sawyer the crooked con artist. But as the show progressed, we certainly got to see that both men had character flaws big enough to drive a Dharma minibus through. And neither one was a cut-and-dried as they seemed to be in the beginning.

And isn't that the point with these kids of characters? It helps quickly set up a visual short-hand for the viewer when introducing a new show and finding ways to signal intent without lots of verbal expeditionary word salad. It relies on what we know, what we've seen. It's the modern day William Campbell stereotypes for the pop culturalist. Through time, these characters might be allowed to change, to grow, to deepen and embiggen themselves into more than just a collection of ticks and wardrobe clues. (At least, with good writers and enough time, you hope this might happen.)

But . . . what about your thoughts? Can you think of other examples that fit? Men and women dual pairs? Something from a genre other than television and movies? How about religious figures? Leave your thoughts.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Football Counter-Programming #7

I'm going to be out of town on Saturday, so earlier this week I asked the digiverse for suggestions on which direction I should jump for the Saturday Football Counter-Programming post.

And, as I should have expected . . . absolutely NO ONE responded with any opinion at all. (My efforts as crowd-sourcing my paltry digital efforts are going nowhere.)

So, I'm forced to avoid ALL of those topics and come up with something else half-assed and poorly considered. Business as usual . . .


But what is there to talk about? I'm frankly at a loss. All I've done in the last week is work, come home, keep up with the kids a bit in the evening, watch some TV, then go to bed. Nothing exciting happened at all this week. At least nothing exciting happened to me.

Did anything noteworthy happen to you this week/ What are your weekly routines like? Do you prefer comfortable routine or do we yearn for the unexpected? Some of you carve out time to exercise each week, I know. So how do you do that? Do you prefer to exercise early in the morning or do you do it in the evening once your responsibilities are finished? Do you go to a gym or do you just do it yourself at home? These are the things that I'm asking YOU, since I don't have any ideas of my own this week (and I can't spend another blog post just writing about television, thought I still have LOTS of television to write about.)

Have you watched Gone Girl? What about "New Girl"? Or maybe you're just waiting around for regular "Girls"? Or do you like to read books? Have you read the Gone Girl book? (I haven't yet but I feel I should before I watch the movie.)

I've have Gravity sitting on my DVR for the past few weeks and haven't yet carved out the time to watch it. What was the last movie you saw? Or maybe the last movie you put off watching like me? Once you saw that movie (whatever it was) did you like it or were you disappointed? The last movie I saw in theater was Guardians of the Galaxy and it was pretty good, but there was some disappointment there as well. It's just not as good as everyone NEEDED it to be, you know?

What else do you know? Do you watch Jeopardy! a lot? I used to watch that show but never on a predictable basis. Speaking of predictable, I've never watched Saturday Nigh Live that much either. (Did you know it is now in its 40th season?) I've just never made the time to watch it. Have you? What was the last great cast that the show had? (Do you think Jan Hooks was killed by Tom Cruise?)

These are the thoughts that I have this week? Leave me some comments with answers to my questions, why don't you?

Saturday, October 04, 2014

Football Counter-Programming #6

Welcome to Week 6 of WWYG?!'s Football Counter-Programming. Each week I try to provide a counterstrike to the unrelenting swarm of football-related posts that fill up your Facebook feed each Saturday during the fall season.


To be fair, I've had some issues trying to figure out the best topic for this week's offensive. Each week prior to this one, I've had a quick idea going in and I was ready to go. But this week, I've been busy with other things and didn't devote any specific time to early preparation or thought.

One thing I can say, however, is that the part of the post-writing task that I am increasingly enjoying less and less is finding a suitable image to visualize these posts. As you can see by scrolling back through these posts, I've tried to find something football-related but inflected with a nerdy/geeky/non-sports-related twist. (To be fair, I think the one that I used in week 1 was my overall favorite--Adam West's Batman doing a Heisman against a stormtrooper.) But the last few weeks, I've been trying to find some other images . . . and the pickings are disturbing.

The problem is that for the last few week's I've been using "fantasy football" as a search term, in part because of the image that I found and used in Week 3. As you might guess, I've found several different sorts of images that take "football" and combine it with the "fantasy" angle in very disappointing ways. Imagine "babes" in every manner of undress--but wearing shoulder pads! or holding a football! or whatever SPORTS!-related nonsense someone can think of.

None of this is surprising certainly, though admitting that is as disappointing as anything else. It makes me think of the various stories that have been in the regular and digital media in the last few weeks--a rolling series of sexual abuse problems within the YouTube community, the problems of sexual harassment covered most recently by the Daily Show (please watch out for salty language in this one), GamerGate, the annual nonsense surrounding female Halloweek costumes, or whatever else you want to point to.

I guess what I'm talking myself into writing here is that it is hard to be female, even in this most free and liberal country. It is hard to be female and I won't try to go further than that, since I'm NOT female so I shouldn't presume to be able to speak to the issue with real meaning.

But I want to acknowledge it. And I'm going to try to pay attention to it since I've got three young ladies of my own to guide and raise and worry about during the rest of my life. And I hope that they will arm themselves with a strong sense of self that protects them from the nonsense of the world's expectations placed UPON them.

So . . . I guess that is it for today. Not the most uplifting of topics, I guess. But it was what came out of my fingers as I sat down to type. What's YOUR opinion about the topics I linked to above? What examples of problems do you know of? What are your concerns? Put your thoughts into comments.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Football Counter-Programming #5

Who was a bigger 80s icon? Alex P. Keaton (as portrayed by Michael J. Fox on the NBC sitcom Family Ties or Milo Bloom, the 10-year-old policy wonk/newspaper reporter in Berkeley Breathed's seminal newspaper strip Bloom County?


That is today's question in this newest edition of Why Won't You Grow?!'s ongoing series "Football Counter-Programming."

Most of you are probably going to say Alex Keaton, because he was the mass market TV star of the decade. If you watched TV during the Reagan years, you know who Alex Keaton was--feathered hair, sweater vest and tie, penny loafers, Conservative social and fiscal values. Michael J. Fox's portrayal of this Reagan acolyte made him a star and jump started him into other vehicles--such as a certain time-travelling DeLorean. There is no denying that Keaton earned his status as an 80s icon. (Heck, he even lived in that most swingy of political swing states--Ohio. And you know that 's got to be a good thing.)

credit: Berkeley Breathed
But what about Milo Bloom? He wore the other fashion choice of the decade--chinos and suspenders. (Sometimes he even mixed it up with a bow tie. And he was definitely not afraid to wear a tie with those suspenders--no matter how long it might end up being.)He was also plugged into the politics of the 80s--he just might have been a bit more on the moderate (or even liberal) side of the spectrum. Milo's mound of blonde hair put Keaton's sensible cut to shame. But Milo's problem was that he wasn't a megastar like Alex's alter ego. And he held some controversial beliefs that probably didn't resonate with the people as the culture was really started to heat up.


Well, I liked them both. But as the 80s wore on and the 90s came, I became more of a Milo sort of guy. In the end, he's more my style . . . and the subversive nature of Bloom County helped shape me more--at least I WANT that to have been the case. Truthfully, I'm probably a lot more Alex P. Keaton than I'd like to be sometimes and not enough of a rabble-rouser like Milo Bloom.

But I'm not done growing and changing. I can STILL be whomever I want to be. And this version of me is hoping to be more and more like Milo as I get older.

What about you? Who do you like more? Who better defined the 1980s?

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

2014 Fall TV Preview: What I'll be Watching

So, we've gone through the main networks and the cable offerings for this Fall television season.
Before we wrap it up finally for another year, I'll summarize the shows that I plan on watching.


MONDAY is a day in which I honor every network.
Gotham on Fox will kick the week of superhero watching off with a slow burn of dourness.
I can counteract that with a bit of comedy on The Big Bang Theory, on CBS. And that will be followed by the insanity of Sleepy Hollow (also on Fox).
For something that is even remotely realistic in nature, I'm also watching Castle (ABC).
I'm also DVRing Star Wars Rebels (Disney XD) and watching that during odd moments throughout the week.

TUESDAY is superhero double-feature night.
There is a slight chance that I may give Marry Me (on NBC) a try. I guess I will let Dean try to convince me in the coming weeks. And speaking of giving things a try, I promised that I would do that with Selfie (ABC).
Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (ABC) is already on my list from last year and it ticks off another slot on my superhero BINGO card. But don't forget about The Flash (The CW). And then there is New Girl (Fox). I hope it regains the funny groove that slipped a bit last season.

WEDNESDAY is a day when I should really catch up on my blogging.
Day 3 of superhero central stars Arrow (The CW). And I've decided to give black-ish (ABC) at least a few shots before I dismiss it out-of-hand. Other than that, there's nothing of interest to me on this night.

THURSDAY is surprisingly realistic in its show's settings.
I hope that Gracepoint (Fox) turns into an engaging show. Because by now even I am concerned about the amount of comic book stuff I've watched already this week. But if A to Z (NBC) turns into something fun, it'll help provide some roughage to my otherwise juvenile television diet. Not that Elementary (CBS) cares. Sherlock Holmes is something of a comic-book hero on his own. But I'll watch it anyway.

FRIDAY is a day when I get home from work and watch movies with my family.
Or if I'm lucky I might have a date with Lynda. No series television for me on this night.

SATURDAYis even more of a nonscheduled day.
Maybe I'll do lots of push ups and sit ups on this day?

SUNDAY is AMC day.
Starting next month I'll be watching The Walking Dead. And that's it. Later on, of course, I'll watch Games of Thrones. I'm doing my best to boycott any viewing of NFL games. (Though, to be obvious, I wasn't the biggest football viewer in my neighborhood. But I did watch some games at times on these days.)

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

2014 Fall TV Preview: NBC

And so, we come to the end of the network examinations with the last of our alphabetical listing--the National Broadcasting Company. Most people don't know, however, that for the last decade or so, NBC has actually stood for Never Becoming Cosby Again. (That last A is silent.)

It's no surprise that the Peacock network hasn't had a run of good shows: be they comedy or drama for a while. And even the ones that WERE good, like 30 Rock or Community just never generated enough consistent numbers to help pull the network out of the ratings swoon it has suffered in recent years. But enough about the past. What shows does the network have for us THIS fall?

State of Affairs (premieres Nov. 17): This show is an odd parallel to the CBS show Madam Secretary. Katherine Heigl makes her return to TV as a CIA analyst that assembles the White House's daily threat briefing. So this show is a drama. But won't it have a hard time walking in the last White House drama that was shepherded by NBC--The West Wing? It's just never going to be that and so it somehow seems diminished before it starts. But I'm just being critical for the sake of being critical, I guess.

Marry Me (premieres Oct. 14): It this show is lucky it won't be compared to The Michael J. Fox Show and if is REALLY lucky it might end up being good like Mad About You. The two main actors "meet cute" but Annie (Casey Wilson) scuttles the burgeoning relationship right before Jake (Wilson's real life husband Ken Marino) is to propose. You see . . . he didn't do it as fast as she wanted him to and yada yada yada. This is the kind of show that most likely will start slow and feel artificial and awkward. But if given the chance for decent acting and providing the writing staff time to work out the kinks, it could turn into something worth watching. Sure, its formula TV. But NBC needs some predictable success.

The Mysteries of Laura (just recently premiered): This is another show based on a Spanish TV premise (Jane the Virgin, Ugly Betty, Killer Women) but that is not what you need to take away from this show. The show is being blasted by critics because of its unfortunate premise that Debra Messing's ("Hi Grace! Where have YOU been?") character is noteworthy for trying to be a professional cop AND a mom! How can she handle BOTH?!!! It's even in the tag line promotional for the program:

I don't really care whether this show is good or not, but I DO care about this parody theme for it that was created by NPR writer and blogger Linda Holmes. Click on this link to learn more about and listen to the wonderful song "copmom momcop".

Bad Judge (premieres Oct. 2): Because this post is full of NBC nostalgia. I wish that this show was something of a recurrence of Night Court. But it's not.

Speaking of NBC nostalgia . . . twenty years ago this week, the first episode of Friends premiered. Those were good days for this network. But back to the shows on tap for THIS year.

A to Z (premieres Oct. 2): First . . . what is going on at NBC that all of theie shows are premiering in October? Are they so used to being last that they want to premiere last as well? Anyway . . . this show features The Mother Criatin Miloti (the best thing about the last season of HIMYM) Änd it also has the tag line "Destiny has a funny way of finding you." So maybe this show might offer the thrills of the first few seasons of How I Met Your Mother. And so, on blind faith alone I think I will make this the one new NBC show that I will give a shot this year. Huzzah!

But wait, you're thinking right now. We must be nearing the end of this post and we haven't encountered ANY comic book-based shows? What is NBC thinking? Well, it turns out that NBC is thinking exactly what ABC, The CW, Fox, and even CBS is thinking . . . comic books are where its AT! And NBC's offering in this vein is Constantine (premieres Oct. 24). You might remember this story from the Keanu Reeves movie of recent years. I don't as I didn't see that movie.

And well, that is it I guess. (Except for the holiday event Peter Pan LIVE!)  As I said, I think that I'll give A to Z a try and  . . . maybe Marry Me? But probably that is it. Will any of these shows help NBC begin to pull things around? Have they built up enough good will (and ratings) with "established" shows such as The Biggest Loser, Blacklist, About a Boy, Grimm, Chicago P.D., or Law and Order: SVU to give cover to the fledgling shows? Only time will tell, but I imagine most people are skeptical of NBC.

What do you think? Have you seen anything on NBC that catches your eye? Sound off in the comments if you like.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

2014 Fall TV Preview: Fox

It seems that this year many of the networks are not going all out for the Fall season. I guess you can understand how a mini-network like The CW is barely offering anything new. But even the big boys who have been producing and broadcasting new shows for decades are seeming to skimp a bit for the end of 2014. And maybe that is a reflection of the shift toward an emphasis on new shows in Winter and even in Summer. The new show budget is being spread more and more across the year, rather than being concentrated in a big launch of new shows at the Fall only. And maybe this is a reflection of the simple fact that broadcast TV sucks and Cable is totally eating Mainstream's lunch.

But . . . even with all that said, Fox is out there putting out some fun shows. And it started LAST year with Sleepy Hollow. It was a bananas concept and it did well. I mean, just look at this promotional image for the start of season 2.

You've got Ichabod trying to grab hold of his fellow "Witness"Abbie as she is getting sucked into the netherworld. (Just trust me that this is what is being represented here.) Add the weird vines pulling at them and the echoes of the Sistine Chapel and you get the beginnings of what makes this show so insane.

And so, even though Sleepy Hollow (premieres 9/22) is not a NEW show, I had to start my Fox coverage with it. Any show that makes the Headless Horseman seem anticlimactic is fully committed to its own level of weirdness.

As for new shows? The most high profile is definitely Gotham (premieres 9/22). It is set in Batman's city and is set during his childhood. We don't really get to see how Bruce Wayne trains to take on the cowl, but rather we get lots of focus on the backstory behind the greatest armada of villains in the business: Catwoman, the Riddler, the Penguin, and others. Plus policeman Jim Gordan. The critical buzz for this show has been pretty high so I'm definitely planning to tune in tomorrow night and see how this show does. (Heck, I watched every single minute of Smallville back in the day, so there is no doubt that I'll be tuning into this show for a while.)

 Gracepoint (premieres Oct. 2): If you are a fan of BBC America, you may have already watched this show. But it was called Broadchurch then. And it still starred David Tennant. But watching this show is probably a better use of your time than trying to reconnect with The Following, so I'm recommending it.

Mulaney (premieres Oct. 5): This is a show about an up-and-coming star trying to make it work on his developing talk show. There promises to be behind-the-scenes jokes, a cast of quirky characters, and . . . gulp . . . Martin Short. I'm no fan of Martin Short, so that won't be helping me watch. And this seems like Larry Sanders did this show so much better over a decade ago.

Red Band Society (premiered Sept. 24--last week): This drama (and probably sometimes comedy) takes place in a cancer ward of a hospital. The cast is full of patients struggling with disease and terminal diagnoses. It is also featuring doctors who struggle to maintain their optimism and bring the kids to accept their lot in life. As with many hospital shows, lessons will be learned and Very Special Episodes will be experienced. (NOTE: This all sounds very cynical and the show is probably pretty good. So, if this show is your thing, you'll probably like it.)

As for shows that have to be "that sort of thing" then there is Utopia (already airing). This is very much a reality show and so it is definitely NOT my sort of show. But it is pretty aggressive in its concept--putting people together in a compound and filming them as they try to organize and run a "society".  And it adds a social component by swapping out cast members once a month (if the show lasts that long) and bringing in new people that apply from the viewership. But someone over on Grantland has already said quite enough about this show, so I'll just link you over there. (Hint: They are NOT fans.)

Shows I'm not certain about?

Backstrom (coming soon?) and starring Rainn Wilson. It is a police procedural with a comic element and set in the Pacific Northwest. I think the comedy comes from Wilson's oddities and so it makes me think a bit of Monk or maybe a bit of Columbo? Maybe we'll see?

The Last Man on Earth (coming soon?): This is from the writing of and stars SNL alumni Will Forte. So it has the potential to be funny. But the gag of him being the last person alive can't last long, right? And if it tries to last any amount of time, then the hard cold reality of trying to keep the modern world running with (literally) NO ONE to help you is so unrealistic that it seems a HUGE stumbling block to overcome. And how funny can the show be if there aren't any other people? I'm tentative on this one.

Wayward Pines (coming soon?): I was interested in this show and its Twin Peaks, Blue Velvet vibe. And then I read in the description that it is connected to M. Night Shyamalan. Oof. This show may NOT be coming soon to my television.

So . . . that is a quick look at Fox's slate of new shows. And while not all of them are getting ready to launch this Fall, at least this network is thinking and trying to do something new. (Except for Utopia, I guess.) I'll be giving Gotham a try for sure and hoping that Sleepy Hollow maintains its insane edge for its second season. And I might give Gracepoint a try as well.

What Fox shows are you interested in? Anything that you are looking forward to? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Football Counter-Programming #4

The last few weeks, I've been re-examining my (slight) collection of comic books--ahem, GRAPHIC NOVELS. I've got all the one's you would expect a dilettante to have: The Dark Knight Returns, Watchmen, Batman: Year One, The Killing Joke, and a few others that I won't bore you with.

They are all Batman titles (well, except for Watchmen). When I collected these stories, back in the 1990s during my college years, I was much more interested in Batman than I was any other comic book hero. He had been getting all the movie-related press back in those days (the days before Marvel's series of tentpole movies and fifteen year to colonize Hollywood had not yet begun). I had been an unabashed fan of the original Tim Burton/Michael Keaton Batman movie and experienced a steady decline in satisfaction as the subsequent sequels came out.

But I watched Batman The Animated Series on television and I watched its cousin spinoff about Superman. And later, Lynda and I even watched Batman Beyond and found that pretty good as well.

But I really enjoyed The Dark Knight Returns for all the same reasons that everyone else did. It helped revive the idea of Batman and re-established his hard-boiled credentials in the time that many people just enjoyed the campiness of Adam West. (Oddly enough, in the on-going "New 52" reboot of DC Comics, the "Batman 66" comic title that is heavily influenced by that Adam West television style is enjoying a lot of popularity, I think.)

Anyway, I'm no expert, so don't expect lots of insight from me. I'm just a fan that has been dabbling here and there.

And my latest dabbling is centered around the new "Batgirl" comic title that I think is launching next month. The new creators of the title have generated tons of interest in the work (as is evidenced by ME getting involved) because of the style they bring both to the character of Barbara Gordon and how that style is reflected in the book itself. Outwardly, there is a great deal of fan love for the new costume design--which is almost always the first and most polarizing part of any fan argument about a superhero. You start with the outward appearance and begin tunneling inward IF you remain interested.

So far as I can tell, fans are responding to the DIY-nature of Gordon's new Batgirl outfit, which gives the impression that you could knock it together in a weekend of careful shopping and a bit of home-ec driven customization. (Leather jacket, sewn on bat symbol, snap-on cape, Doc Marten boots, etc.) And the fact that this version of Barbara Gordon's outfit is still tied into the history of the character--both in other "Batgirl" books as well as in the 1966 Adam West show . . . well, these are all good things.

So . . . the interest generated is also driven by the obvious modern-ness of this twenty-something Barbara Gordon. And, since the new title has yet begun it's publishing run, it is almost ENTIRELY centered on the first promotional image of Batgirl, in new costume, taking a selfie with her camera phone while involved in her derring-do. (Check out that first Comics Alliance link again and you'll see what I mean.)

The selfie image also inspired a bit of time-travelling weirdness that I ran across recently as well. And that is just fun.

What will it all mean? Does this start me down a path of comics purchasing and reading that I never would have guessed? And what does it say that I'm starting this road with Batgirl? Is that wrong? (And there are so many things wrong with women depicted in comics. I GET that. The costuming is RIDICULOUS for sure and insane in most cases.)

So, I guess I'm opening myself up for TONS of criticism here. Let me have it. What are your thoughts?

Monday, September 15, 2014

2014 Fall TV Preview: Dean's Cable Essay

It’s been a running tradition for David to write up a Fall preview for the various broadcast shows. In the last few years, I've provided a corresponding preview for cable (and streaming, but henceforth I’ll just say cable)[1], because I watch too much TV, and want all of you out there to watch what I watch.  But this year, I must do something different.

In part because cable doesn't respect the traditional Fall/Spring release date of the broadcast networks, and in part because the Fall shows I’ve either pitched to you before look kind of terrible. So instead, I will give a general overview of the state of cable television today, which will surely go on too long and represent way more thought than anyone should give to something that appears on a glowing screen in your living room.[2]

I’ve divided my thoughts up into Drama, Comedy, and Animation, so you know, skip whatever doesn't interest you. Or skip the whole thing, it’s not my blog. I won’t be offended. I won’t even know.[3]


Cable drama is in trouble, mostly. Its critical darlings are winding down or gone (Breaking Bad, Mad Men) and those that are rising up to replace them (True Detective, Fargo, the Leftovers), I find tiring. These shows all revel in being grim and mostly humorless. This holds true for the less critically acclaimed series as well [Sons of Anarchy has mistaken shock value for solid storytelling for at least 3 seasons. It learned the wrong lessons from The Shield, which was never shy about going for shock value, but always (well, OK, mostly) in the service of a larger story. Game of Thrones, a show I unabashedly love, has never met a situation that couldn’t get worse.  There is not a single happy character on Masters of Sex. I’m told the funniest parts of The Walking Dead tend to be unintentional (but that it’s gotten better?  I don’t watch it, so take my grumbling here with at least a grain of salt.)][4]

It’s not that I need or want happy, happy, happy all the time, but there needs to be some light in the darkness. Some reason to hope things will get better, rather than progressively worse until everything breaks. I’d love to see a drama on one of the bigger cable networks with a sense of fun and humor. Something like what Leverage used to do, or Castle (if I may intrude on David’s turf for a moment[5]) does now (maybe Monk is the originator of this specific style?). Even then the creators often forget what makes their shows tick and turn down the farce and up the grim.

These episodes are always the worst. I know I could turn on TNT or USA for an episode of Suits or something, but I’m not even sure if I have that programmed into my cable box. (Someone somewhere is yelling at me that I only have myself to blame for not tuning into these shows, but I also blame the AV Club. I set my schedule by their “What’s on Tonight,” and if it’s not there I won’t remember to DVR it.)

Of course this all ignores the glorious exception to the above: Orange is the New Black. How is a show about people with the least amount of control over their lives and the fewest options  the most optimistic, the most likely to find an unexpected laugh instead of finding another way to punch you in the gut (although it’s certainly not going to pull a punch if it comes to it)? Rectify is another show that breaks this pattern to an extent. It’s not going to make you laugh…ever. But its characters at least act human, and although their circumstances aren’t pleasant, they’re all working toward making what they’ve got better instead of tearing everything around them down (except in the episode Daniel tears down his mother’s kitchen, but that is not the point and stop pointing out flaws in my arguments).[6]

Another show that is good at mixing jokes with the more serious business is Justified (Just watch it David. It’s the final season. It won’t hurt you.) If you don’t believe me, tell anyone who watches it that Dewey Crowe has four kidneys and see how they react.[7] Also it managed to make Patton Oswalt hilarious and believably badass. (There is no way to describe his character without using that word, all other synonyms are inapt.)

And no essay would be complete without a final reversal. Sometimes adding lightness can go wrong. Levity is good, silliness is not. Which is why I finish this segment of the essay with Doctor Who. Steven Moffet is a very funny man. He brought the world the sock gap and the giggle loop. But the weakest parts of these shows are when they go too broad and veer into the silly (I’m looking at you first half hour of Capaladi’s premiere).[8] I could also throw in True Blood into this, but that’s maybe not silly so much as dumb. So in summation: Lighten up cable dramas, just, you know, not too much.


Whereas I’m down on cable when it comes to the overall state of its dramas, I have no such hesitation when it comes to the comedies. In fact I’m just going to list all the comedies I can think of that I’ve watched this year (that haven’t been canceled, although for some of them there is no news about yet) and then tell you something good about them, with one (quite notable) exception.

Archer: “This is how you get ants. “
Broad City: [Ed. note: Click this link to learn whatever it is Dean wants you to learn. And no, I haven't previewed it.]
Children’s Hospital: Clowns are a race on this show. So if you find them unsettling that makes you a racist.
Community: It’s on cable now! It’s been fixed from season 4! Donald Glover is gone! (Wait, that last one is bad. Come back Donald Glover, we love you!)
Cougar Town: RIP Big Carl
Girls: The latest season of Girls fixed some of the issues of the previous season, and also made me laugh.
Ground Floor: I think this one might be dead, but Briga Heelan is an absolute delight and John C. McGinley is an absolute pro when it comes to yelling at people.
Inside Amy Schumer: I find Amy’s willingness to make herself the butt of every joke endearing, especially since the jokes are so funny.
It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia: Dee looks like a bird.
Key and Peele: I hope they don’t bring back Luther the Anger Translator. I do hope they bring back A-a-ron.
Kroll Show: Nick Kroll specializes in parodying the exact type of show I do not watch. I still find his parodies to be hilarious.
Louie: I might be done with Louie. As it’s gone on it’s gone from side splitting comedy with occasional dramatic moments to a drama with all too fleeting comedic moments. I might quit this show and it makes me sad.[9]
The League: Batman Chalupa
Nathan For You: Dumb Starbucks: it’s exactly like Starbucks, but everything has dumb in front of it so parody law protects it.
NTSF:SD:SUV: I love that we got to see under Kove’s eye patch.   
Portlandia: Portland is a city ripe for gentle, loving, skewering and this show delivers. They need to fluoridate their water though. Also, they probably don’t vaccinate their kids as much as they should there. Get your vaccinations folks. Herd immunity is important.
Red Oaks: Technically this is not a show yet, it’s only an Amazon pilot. You should watch it and rate it on Amazon. I thought it was hilarious. It’s kind of Caddyshack the TV show (plus it’s got Paul Reiser who is making a welcome comeback to our TVs. )
Review: Pancakes, Divorce, Pancakes was the funniest single episode of TV I’ve seen all year.
Rick and Morty: “Look at me, I’m Mr. Meseeks!”
Silicon Valley: While Review had my favorite overall episode, this show had the single funniest set piece I’ve seen all year. I would describe it, but it’s a) incredibly profane and b) half of the joy in it comes from the visuals. I will say a scientific paper by actual scientists was published on this scene. (Warning: Both math and profane topics at this link.)
Sirens: I couldn’t tell you why this show made me as consistently happy as it did, but I was always excited to watch an episode. It has a special sort of charm to it.
South Park: You know what you’re going to get with South Park, so I’m not going to waste my time thinking of something clever to say about it.
Veep: In Dean-runs-the-Emmy’s world, Veep won Best Comedy (Orange is the New Black was runner-up for Best Drama after Breaking Bad because it’s a dramedy, and dramadies go in the drama category under my iron-fisted rule).
You’re the Worst: “They’re everyone’s stars.” This line made me tear up a little. It was the saddest line. This show will probably not come back--no one is watching even though it’s by far the funniest thing on TV right now and it’s not even close--but its last episode is Thursday so there’s still time to catch up. It’s hilarious and also somehow makes you care about some awful people. Also there was a really emotional moment involving a food processor of all things. Really this show is the best.

ANIMATION (or rather kid-focused animation)
Cable is a gold mine for quality animation. Between The Legend of Korra, Adventure Time, Regular Show, and Gravity Falls there are four cartoons adults can watch with their kids and still be entertained. (Be forewarned all the shows contain scenes that may be too scary for younger viewers.)  These shows are all great and I recommend each without reservation. The only issue with cable animation is that the people who schedule these shows are some sort of madmen who schedule these shows on some sort of time table known only to them. Gravity Falls just began its season and has taken a random break after only three episodes. Nick stopped airing The Legend of Korra halfway through the season and began placing them online only.[10] You’d have to be a haruspex[11] to keep track of when new episodes air (or trust your DVR to sort new from old, which is beyond my DVR’s capabilities and wouldn’t work for Korra either way).

So, to sum up for those who saw a wall of text and just skipped to the bottom: Dramas: too dark, not enough light; Comedies: a cornucopia of riches. If you’re not watching any, pick one from my list and give it a shot; Animation: Great, but frustrating in its own right.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

2014 Fall TV Preview: The CW

We're going in alphabetical order with the networks this year, so after CBS comes The CW. What shows does this mini-network have in store for the Fall TV season?

The Flash (premieres Oct. 7): You're probably not surprised that this is my most anticipated show of this network's new season. I've been watch Arrow for a few years now on The CW and this is a spin-off of that show from a character introduced in the course of last year's episodes. And surprise, surprise, this is one of Entertainment Weekly's best shows of the season. (But that may be due to the fact that nerds and superhero fare drives so much of mainstream programming these days?) Anyway, I'm hopeful that this can be a decent show--and importantly, a more bright and cheerful superhero story than Arrow tends to be.

Jane the Virgin (premieres Oct. 13): This show tells the tale of what happens when an "inexperienced" young lady who loves telenovellas mistakenly gets artificially inseminated during a visit with her doctor. Now her views on life are thrown out of whack and the conflicting views of her mother and grandmother pull her in different directions. I'm not sure why this show feels less racially insensitive than some of the other shows offered on other networks. Maybe this is because this is an Americanized version of a show that has already been run in another country?

And . . . can that really be all the NEW shows that The CW is launching this Fall? That seems amazingly slight, even for this networks. I mean, last year they had Reign and The Tomorrow People  and The 100 and, maybe The Carrie Diaries? Was that new last season? Ah well, I guess I shouldn't act too surprised. I tried The Tomorrow People for a while last year and just gave up. It never gained any traction with me and I just couldn't keep it going. And in the past few years, the only show that I've liked and stuck with was Arrow. (So, I guess you can now see why I'm hoping that The Flash turns out to be something to watch.)

The CW does list some show called iZombie (premiere "Coming Soon") but I shudder to even speculate what THAT show might be about and I definitely won't be watching it.

Oh . . . alright . . . I looked to see what the show was all about. And, oddly enough, it seems a bit like the premise of Jane the Virgin. Well, if you swap out the TV-show loving Latina good girl for a driven, pre-med student named Olivia Moore. (Liv Moore . . . right? OH PLEASE TELL ME YOU GET IT!!!!!) And you flip the "accidentally got impregnated through medical mistake" with "unfortunately got bitten by a zombie hoard at a med school weekend party". Well, then you can see the parallels, right?

Anyway, Zombie Liv is somehow not totes a zombie yet, so she can somehow still "pass" as a breather, so . . .  um . . . wait is THIS ANOTHER WEIRD RACIAL SHOW?!!!

No . . . calm down. I've already put WAY too much thought into this show that doesn't even have a premiere date. I just went down this road because I wanted to help fill out the post length because the number of shows to consider was so slight. (And, apparently it is based off of an existing comic book story.)

So . . . yeah. That's it for the CW. And I've already stated that the only other show I'll be tuning into on this network is Arrow, which premieres on October 8.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Football Counter-Programming #3

For week three of the Football Counter-Programming offensive, I'm going back to my roots a bit. Nothing directly new in the sense that I'm creating something off of the cuff today. But rather, I'm falling back on two common themes throughout this blog from its beginning just over ten years ago.

Anyone who takes a look at my tag cloud to the right of the screen will see that my two most written-about topics are FAMILY and TELEVISION. And that is what the source of today's post is all about.

First, we took a trip down the road to Lynd's Fruit Farm. We've gone there most falls to get some apples and spend the morning wandering around. This time Grace and I wandered around in the corn maze which was cut with an LotR theme. The map led you through various mazes paths shaped to evoke The Shire, Mordor, Lorien, Gondor, Rohan, and the rest. Grace and I were down in the maze for quite a while and didn't make it through the whole thing. But it was fun. Now we've got LOTS of Honeycrisp apples to eat and enjoy for weeks to come.

The OTHER theme for you today is that of Television. And if its Fall, that means I (and some of my willing friends) are writing posts for the Fall slate of new TV shows. In the last couple of days I've written some thoughts on ABC and CBS.  And if those items don't interest you, I've also added a new entry to my LOST Rewatch thread. (I'm still working to finish up season two. I've VERY far behind.)

So, why not ignore the football for a little while today and read about some other television programming.

2014 Fall TV Preview: CBS

The Fall TV Preview is underway for 2014. You can find the other 2014 posts here, along with the other posts I've written on the subject in past years.

In this post, we're going to take a look at CBS.

Wait . . . hold on. Am I reading this right? Are there only three new shows in this Fall season for CBS? Can that possibly be right? If so, then these three new shows are NCIS: New Orleans, The McCarthys, Scorpion, and Stalker. Oh, hold on. That is four shows. That's better . . . I guess? Or am I just not finding the correct listing of shows for CBS?

But why would that be hard? Is the trend for broadcast TV so downward that they can't even be bothered to promote their shows? Or is CBS so confident in their #1 mainstream status that they didn't green light lots of new shows because their old shows are relatively strong?

So many questions.

Well, let's take a look at these discovered new shows and then maybe I can find something else as I dig around.

NCIS: New Orleans (premieres Sept. 23): Police procedurals are the gifts that keep on giving year after year. They are the Swiss Army knife of television shows because they can fit anywhere and you came make them "fresh" by moving them to a new city and throwing together a new cast. This cast is centered around Scott Bacula. I can't think of anything witty to say about this show because it is not interested in being witty or flashy or different. Much like this paragraph, NCIS: New Orleans is content to simply take up space.


The McCarthys (premieres Oct. 30): Now, what do you think this show is about? I haven't done any research on it yet, so I know as much as you might. Let's make some guesses based on the photo that the Web site provided. Obviously . . . the dude standing up is the main focal point of the show. Let's suppose that his name is Ian McCarthy. And from the looks of it he and his dad, his (long-suffering) wife, his boorish (younger?) brother--and his wife, and their . . . um . . . work neighbor that lives nearby? Well, they all like to get together and watch . . . college football every weekend. And judging from the green shamrock (not pictures in the screen cap) to the left on the main page . . . they are Irish? Notre Dame fans? Living in Boston?

Let's see if I got ANY of that remotely close.
Well, I guess wrong about who was the main character and I didn't anticipate the homosexual angle. And I mixed up the mother by identifying her as a wife (I guess I misinterpreted older for long-suffering. AND . . . I got the relationship of the brother and sister wrong by making them husband and wife. BUT I did guess Boston and gathering for sports periodically correct! So . . . 30 imaginary points go to me.

Now . . . I'm not going to watch this show because ethnic humor is usually as tired and stereotypical as the semi-racist humor that was backed-away from in my ABC Preview. But, I'm wondering why this show is not premiering until late October? Is CBS broadcasting the World Series this year and I'm not aware of it? Anyway, let's not spend more time worrying about it.

Scorpion (premieres Sept. 22): Before you really start reading through this write up, click on the link to this show's page and take a hard look at the main photo. I recognize that trying to sum up a brand new show concept in a static image like this is challenging--as was proven by my previous exercise with The McCarthys. But WHAT is that lady in the background doing with the sparking electrical extension cords? Is she an electrician? A magician? WHY would you choose that pose as her defining moment to an unfamiliar public?

As to what the show is about? Well, as the chalkboard full of equations may suggest, the show collects several people of high IQ together to work for the government solving difficult cases. Maybe the government doesn't know how to fix their electrical problems? So, yeah .. . CBS is locking DOWN the police procedural corner of broadcast television.

Stalker (premieres Oct. 1): If you like one-word, S-construction names for you TV shows then CBS is for you! But if you like feel-good shows with uplifting messages this show is most-likely NOT for you, as the main image on the show page is a hoodied figure with no visible face. (Honestly, given the image resonance this has with Trayvon Martin I'm a bit surprised by that. But I guess that was a few years ago. Maybe I'm too sensitive.)

Based on some simple one-line statements on the show site, Stalker seems to be like a watered down version of an Arkham Asylum breakout or an amped up police procedural show. There are detectives (Dylan McDermott and Maggie Q) facing off against criminals. But the criminals seems more elaborate than just the sort of guys that get jailed on Castle each week. There is a definite horror element to the show. Maybe CBS learned something from FOX's Sleepy Hollow success last year?Speaking of learning from other success . . . hey CBS, do you like female-themed political shows?

Madam Secretary (premieres Sept. 21): Tea Leone is not Julia Louis Dreyfus. But Leone has been around the TV block several times like JLD and even has some experience in the television comedy. But I don't get the vibe that Madam Secretary is trying to be funny. If it were, the cover image would show a cast of wacky aides with ties askew, perhaps trying to prevent a tourist from spilling a soft drink on the Declaration of Independence. Rather, Madam Secretary looks more like CBS' version of The West Wing, a character-driven platform to allow the creators to speak about American foreign policy and such. And my supposition is definitely made more solid by the fact that the show is scheduled to be on Sunday nights--America's most serious night of television.

And so, I think that may be it for new Fall Shows. Another smallish bunch. But CBS has lots of solid stuff to keep its numbers up. There is Football on the weekend--both college and professional. And they've got critical favorites like The Good Wife and Revenge and Scandal coming back. And of course they've got The Big Bang Theory chugging along and racking up numbers and nominations every season.

As for me? On this network, I'll be looking forward to the return of Elementary and The Big Bang Theory. But what are your favorite shows on the Tiffany Network? Do any of these new shows look good to you? Do you think Stalker might become some sort of hit mid week? And how do actors like Dylan McDermott keep getting shows like clockwork year after year after year? Let me know down in the comments.

Friday, September 12, 2014

2014 Fall TV Preview: ABC

Do you feel that bite in the air? Summer is going and Fall is returning and that can only mean that I am going to rapidly type up some hasty thoughts about this year's Fall TV lineup for the major broadcast networks.

I've been doing this since my blog began back in 2004--and I even forgot to commemorate my tenth year anniversary back on August 12, so very bad job by me. But I've realized that mistake now and have updated my header tag accordingly:
. . . but that is not why you  are here. You are here because I have actually  already started the posts for 2014 back at the start of the calendar year. Back when Dean guest blogged about the winter season shows worth caring about. And then Angie chimed in with her own thoughts on which returning post-Christmas shows you should continue watching.

But I'm here to talk about the NEW shows on broadcast. Are there any that are worth your time this year? Have you given up on mainstream TV as much as the major networks have? Is cable and Hulu and Netflix and Amazon Prime the only places to get quality entertainment beamed at you? Most critics have been saying yes for many years. And since I'm no professional, who am I to argue against people who are paid to watch TV for a living?


Let's get things started with ABC--because it comes first in alphabetical order!

Selfie (premiere Sept. 30): I want this show to be funny and watchable mostly because I really like Karen Gillan. She played my favorite Companion on Doctor Who (Amy Pond) and I really like her beautiful red hair. (I HOPE that is the most shallow and useless thing that I mention on this series of posts.) Also, Karen is Scottish and that is great as well. But she won't be using her natural accent in the show--which is strike 1.

She plays Eliza Dooley (get it?) who has lots (less than 300,000 is lots?) of social media followers and decided that she is shallow and needs to change herself into a more well rounded person (are you getting it?). So she hires John Cho--of Harold and Kumar & Star Trek fame--to help her remake herself (really, honestly . . . are you GETTING IT?)

Can't I just enjoy watching Karen Gillan again?!!!!

Sigh . . . probably NOT.

Manhattan Love Story (premiere Sept. 30): The conceit of this show is that you are experiencing the unfiltered thoughts of people as they go through their days and knowing what they know . . . but won't say. You remember the other times this premise was done with overwhelming success, right? [Really, please . . . click on the first link. And if you are too young to know what that is, click here. I find it unfathomable that it lasted for four years?]

But, more about Manhattan Love Story. It just seems very cliched and stereotypical. It's lazy writing hung on a tired concept.

What's next? Well, if you were a fan of Ringer from a few years ago. And if you thought The Fantastic Four was a better comic book movie than everyone says it is. And . . . . if you thought what the world needs now is some sort of mash up between Dexter and The Vampire Diaries, then this next show is maybe for you? Fair warning, though . . .  there may only be ONE of you out there.

Forever (premieres Sept. 22 AND Sept. 23): Taking the concept of inexplicable immortality to new heights, this new show will premiere on two back-to-back nights. Ioan Gruffudd brings his many vowels to ABC to depict a doctor with a secret. He.Can't.Die. Which makes him so dedicated to his craft, as he tries to figure out what makes him different.

Perhaps the best thing about this show will be the character of Abe, portrayed by Judd Hirsch. He looks exactly the same as he did when portraying Jeff Goldblum's dad in Independence Day waaay back in the 1990s. Same rumpled hair, graying beard, slouchy clothes. Maybe, HE'S the immortal one?

And I love that his character is only identified with one name. Its like ABC is saying: "Let's see . . . clothes, hair, yeah. We know exactly who this dude is. No one needs to think much about him. So he only needs one name."

And speaking of not putting lots of thought into things . . .

Now I'm going to back away from these shows very quickly and try to forget that they are there.

How to Get Away with Murder (premieres Sept. 25): seems like a much better show. It's certainly a much more familiar show, so that is probably a good thing.Viola Davis is a reliable actor and Shonda Rhimes knows how to put together a reliable show. So . . . I guess this is the Ole Reliable of this season for ABC. And why not? It's a crime procedural, involving murder, and lots of dialogue. Feels like Castle to me.

And that is ALL for new shows with a hard premiere date. Other new ABC shows such as American Crime, Astronaut Wives Club, MARVEL's Agent Carter, Secrets and Lies, and The Whispers are all Coming Soon. Maybe they will premiere after Christmas, when some of these shows have been dropped? Or maybe they just aren't ready yet. Without looking at them any further and going by title and image card alone, I might further investigate Astronaut Wives Club, MARVEL's Agent Carter (a definite Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D spin-off that I would put on a very short leash), and Secrets and Lies 

(I have no evidence of this but the imagery of this just makes me hope it is atmospheric and weird like Twin Peaks. But that is probably only wishful thinking.)

As for returning shows that I am interested in . . .  there isn't much on ABC. I only regularly watch Castle and MARVEL's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. But some people might want to see how new seasons of The Goldbergs or The Middle or Modern Family are progressing. Or--heaven forbid--you are still watching Grey's Anatomy. I know people that enjoy watching Revenge and Scandal so maybe you might want to check those out? But they aren't for me. And if you really are watching The Neighbors, I don't have much to say to you.

For further investigation on your own for all the shows I have mentioned and many others I completely ignored, you can visit the ABC Web page and click around on your own.

So, now  . . . talk back to me? Which shows are you interested in that ABC has to offer? Anything look good? What looks especially terrible? Leave a comment, why don'tcha?