Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Tuesday Night Lineup

Last night I watched the new Fox show New Girl and also watched the second episode of the show I mentioned last week, Sarah Michelle Geller's Ringer. I expected to watch the season premiere of Glee, but my DVR settings were not cooperating with me, so I missed it.

And that's a shame, because it would have been the one show of the night that I was most likely to enjoy. For all its off season summer turmoil, Glee is a fun show to watch and the songs are surprisingly infectious. (Believe me that I am still surprised to find myself enjoying the show as much as I do.) The second watching of a Ringer's episode puts me still on the fence. I am still a bit intrigued by the mystery but something about the show just doesn't grab my attention. Maybe I'm seeing SMG, expecting to hear Whedon-speak come out of her mouth, and ending up with a feeling of blandness. Or maybe that is the way the characters are supposed to be.

All I know is that in last night's episode, Bridget (still pretending to be Siobhan) was preoccupied with what to do with the body of the hired killer she fought off and killed at the end of last week's episode. Instead of turning the show into a Weekend At Bernie's style farce, there was lots of anxious looks, with camera cuts to where the body was hidden under a construction tarp, to thoughts of cutting the body up with a circular saw, to (apparently but not shown) stuffing the body into a steamer trunk that was serving as decoration for a party.

Oh . . . did I mention that the dead body was being hidden in an under-construction loft space and that said loft space was (unbeknownst to the planning husband) also being used as the location for a high society fund raiser that Bridget/Siobhan was pressured into preparing with only hours notice? Thus the reason for the anxious looks and ill-advised thoughts for how to hid the body.

Throughout it all, I kept thinking how implausible it was for tiny SMG to be dragging around the steadily corpsifying remains of the killer and or picking it up and bodily shoving it into a trunk. (When she was supernatural Buffy, such disbelief could be suspended, but when she plays mere mortals, it gets harder to consider.)

All in all . . . the jury is still out but I think the clock may be ticking louder.


New Girl is a sitcom comedy vehicle for Zooey Deschanel. And that may be all that some of you need to know about the show, because (as other reviewers have noted) your opinion of the show by necessity hangs on your acceptance of Ms. Deschanel. If you like her attitude, then you can give the show a chance. I put myself in this camp. I've liked her in other movies and there were some moments of the show--which is about a girl that moves into a 3-guy apartment to escape the horror of a bad breakup--that were funny. (Chief among these was a Lord of the Rings/Smeagol reference that I can't recreate here.)

But Deschanel's character Jess is presented as such a bundle of nonstop quirks, she's a bit like a cross between Cosmo Kramer's little sister and Lucille Ball. (It's probably not that bad . . . but I hope you get the point.) And, though this is a bit crass . . . her all-over-the-place hair is like a fifth character on the show. Overall the show is funny, and probably things will get better once Pilot jitters are gone.

Other Shows to Watch on Monday:
Actually, there is nothing else that I plan to watch on Tuesdays and not even anything that I think worth talking about on Tuesday. If you're a fan of The Biggest Loser, the NCIS franchise, Dancing With the Stars, or the (new) 90210, I'm sorry. But I'll probably be spending my remaining TV hours on this night watching the DVR episode of Top Gear or something else.

Glee: Fox, premiered 9/20 @ 8 pm.

Ringer: The CW, premiered 9/13 @ 10 pm. 

New Girl: Fox, premiered 9/20 @ 9 pm.

From the WWYG Archives: R.E.M.: Simply Amazing

Back in October 2004, Lynda and I saw R.E.M. perform in Cincinnati. This was the last time I saw them live. Today, they announced their end as a band. And so I re-post my memories of my last encounter with them below.

R.E.M. has meant as much (or probably more) to me as any musical act of my life time. I'm not surprised to see this news, but a bit of me is sad. It's been great fun all these years.



The last time I saw REM live was in the Atlanta Omni and later in Macon, both in 1988 at the beginning and end of the GREEN tour. The band was still a foursome and they were just beginning to enter the mega-star, arena phase of their careers.

They were good, as best I can remember (it was 15 years ago and I was only 18). But as Lynda said on our way home from the Cincinnati concert last night "There is something to be said for seeing a group that has been around a while and has lots of songs to play."

Absolutely! REM was awesome last night. Chalk it up to their recent tour preparation in the Move swing state. Chalk it up to one of America's most political frontmen playing a swing-state less than a week before an election. Make up any excuse you want, but these guys were rockin' last night.

The first 20 minutes alone was just about worth the price of admission and I couldn't believe what I heard. If you ever want to hear some classic REM, catch them on tour when they are thinking election thoughts. The first song was "Around the Sun," title track from the new album and then they quickly swung into a great rendition of one of their mid-career best, "Finest Worksong." Then "Begin the Begin" which led quickly to "Exhuming McCarthy." Some great songs from Document. Truly amazing. I don't know if releasing a greatest hits album made them appreciate their older stuff more or if they are trying to really do some political preaching in late October, but they never would have played those songs in 1988.

The rest of the show is more impressions and the song order is not precise certainly. Lynda and I tried to remember and write them down as we drove home.

They played several songs from Around the Sun and usually the crowd mellowed more then (and appropriately so). "High Speed Train," "Final Straw," "Leaving New Your," "Boy in the Well," the live debut on one of my new favorites "Electron Blue."

[KM] I know that this latest album hasn't really wowed you and I agree, but it is a shame they didn't release these things as live versions. The emotion, power, and thudding of the drum beats are so much better live than the studio version of Around the Sun.

Stipe didn't do much talking, except for twice. The first was when he was introducing "I Wanted to Be Wrong" claiming it had more autobiographic "chunks" than any other song he has ever written. Before it was clear, I was convinced they were going to play "World Leader Pretend" but that, alas, didn't happen.

Because it was Ohio they played a great version of "Cuyahoga" (!!) and introduced one great one as "Here is a song you might have heard before" . . . then "The One I Love." Beautiful.

Some other great ones--"Drive," "Losing My Religion," "Bad Day," and "Animal" (from the recent Greatest Hits release), "Imitation of Life" and "Beat a Drum."

The first song of the short encore set was "What's the Frequency Kenneth?" Stipe came back out with no shirt and they performed that one great. Then Stipe put on a Kerry t-shirt to mostly cheers and the band played on. (There were a good number of Republican boo-ers in the audience, but I swear they were all sitting in the top corner of the theater's upper balcony, stage left.) When everything was over, Stipe mugged a bit with his Kerry t-shirt to the crowd--again generating some booing amidst the cheers, but other than that and a short plea to everyone "no matter what side you're on" to go and vote, he was very focused on the music.

The band did a version of "Walk Unafraid" another of my biggest favorites that sounded like it could have fit perfectly on Monster. Raw and driving and very, very good. Near the end of the encore they played "Permanent Vacation" identified as the first song the group ever wrote. It sounded exactly like something four guys would were influenced by the Ramones would write in 1981. The very last song of the night was "Man on the Moon." Not one of their best, but it is better live and the crowd was up and rockin' at this point.

Just awesome, really. I don't think I'll wait 15 more years to see these guys live again. They played an incredible set of old and new and just handle themselves like they've been doing it for so long. Just great.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Monday Night Lineups

Last night I submerged in the new Fall TV schedule with the first two new episodes of How I Met Your Mother and Castle. Both of these shows were on my rotation the last few years and will remain so this season.

It was a good beginning for HIMYM after what was a disappointing overall effort last year. It was announced months ago that there are two more seasons of the series to go and so fans are not likely to find out who the Mother is anytime soon. But I do like the return of first season's Victoria at the end of last night's second episode. I did like her character before. I'd like her to end up as the Mother, but clues and summer statements seem to make clear that won't happen.

Another good development for HIMYM is the increased activity of Marshall so far this year. He was underutilized last year, which probably had as much to do with Jason Segal being busy as anything else. But a fun Marshall makes for a fun show.

Lastly, I'll ask HIMYM to lay off of the Ohio bashing. It's too easy a target to make fun of the goofy Midwesterners that are too fat and too devoted to their inept football teams. Be more creative writing team.

The second show of the night for me was Castle, the crime/mystery drama featuring Nathan Fillion. I first started watching the show because I liked Firefly and Dr. Horrible and so I wanted to get more Fillion in my life. But I've come to enjoy the show as much as anyone who enjoys a typical cop procedural, such as Law and Order. And the Castle writers always manage to work in some funny lines as well.

The ongoing plots of seasons past continue as Det. Beckett tries to unravel the long-unknown mystery of her mother's death and the resulting conspiracy that seems to be behind it all. And there is the ever-present Will They/Won't They dynamic between Castle and Beckett. It should always be Won't They until the series wrap up. So far that Won't They direction seems firmly in place for now.

Other Shows to Watch on Mondays:

2 Broke Girls: It was described in one article I saw a kind of modern day Laverne & Shirley. For some people I know that is like a shot across the bow. It might be good . . . but then again, its on CBS. The only think that makes me consider watching it is the presence of Kat Dennings, who played opposite Michael Cera in Nick & Nora's Infinite Playlist. CBS, premiered 9/19 @ 9:30.

Two-and-a-Half Men: I've never watched the show and its already into its ninth (9th?!!) season. But the turbulence of the Sheen departure and the Kutcher arrival surely made lots of people take notice during last nights premiere. CBS, premiered 9/19 @ 9.

The Playboy Club: Sure, sure. It's about Hugh Hefner's club where the girls wear bunny outfits. And it's going to get compared to Mad Men, but for all the wrong reasons. I'm just not interested. NBC, premiered 9/19 @ 10.

Terra Nova: Did you like Jurassic Park twenty years ago? Have you ever wanted to see that turned into a TV show? Did you like Wall*E but thought they didn't do enough to highlight the environmental catastrophe that drove that plot in the first place? Then maybe this Steven Spielberg-produced show is up your alley. It reported costs $4 million an episode. (Hey, at least the creative types in Hollywood are employed during this tough economic period.) NBC, premieres 9/26 @ 8.

How I Met Your Mother: CBS, premiered 9/19 @ 8.

Castle: ABC, premiered 9/19 @ 10.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Fall TV Preview: Up All Night

Will Arnett, Christine Applegate; source: TV

Another new show launched tonight on NBC called Up All Night. Starring Christina Applegate, Will Arnett, and Maya Rudolph, the show is about how new parents Applegate and Arnett are dealing with their new daughter while Applegate is also adjusting to working again and Arnett is a stay-at-home dad.

There is a lot of typical parental humor here, the sort of thing that was done for a long time with Mad About You. And I was a big fan of Mad About You. The character here aren't as distinctive (yet?) as Paul and Jaimie Buchman but it might be good given time. Naturally, I've got some experience with the scenario of the show, so I am sympathetic with the possibilities that might come through in future episodes.

The largest potential for comedy outside of the frazzled parents and screaming baby stuff is the role of Maya Rudolph. Her character (Ava) is Applegate's boss. Ava is clearly meant to be an Oprah clone--a domineering and slightly unhinged talk show host who relies on Applegate to book shows and keep the office chaos (which Ava usually instigates) under control. Think the dynamic between 30 Rock's Tracy Jordan and Liz Lemon and you know what I'm talking about.

The show is on NBC and plays off some of the same 30 Rock elements that I like there. While they aren't wandering around 30 Rockefeller Center, Applegate's character did imagine that the Today Show's Matt Lauer was giving her advice through the television set as she got ready for work her first day back. (I love how Brian Williams is always a goad in the side of the TGS crew on 30 Rock and maybe (if we're lucky) Lauer can play a similar role in Applegate's sleep deprived mind?

Will Arnett isn't playing crazy Gob Bluth in this role, which is probably a good thing as he needs to be a bit more normal to be successful? His character is a former lawyer who gave up his job to be the stay at home dad. (If only he was as famous as John Lennon?) There is sure to be plenty of episodes where that resentment rears up in future Emmy bait episodes, but for now his funniest scene was desperately calling his wife from the grocery store because he (and the baby) couldn't find the "normal cheese" even though he was told it was right next to the eggs. In the end he failed and came home with the "fancy cheese" near the salad bar.

While I'm not nearly so inept, I understood at least a bit of the frustration of wandering around in the grocery store, trying to locate that one thing that you just can't see. Layer on some baby-induced exhaustion and I get what is going on.

So, I think Up All Night has some potential to be occasionally funny. I'll keep watching for a bit.

Channel: NBC
Night: Wednesday, debuted September 14th
Time: 8-8:30

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

RINGER: impressions written LIVE

The opening scene is very dark and probably intended to invoke BtVS . . . but will anyone buy it?

So, now I know that SMG plays twin sisters Siobhan (pronounced SHOW-vahn) and Bridget. Bridget is a witness in an FBI murder investigation of a local crime lord and she's also a stripper & recovering addict. Siobhan is a wealthy socialite that, apparently lives in the beachside mansion that Julia Roberts escaped from in the hit thriller Sleeping With The Enemy. (Update: That beach house is a Hamptons get away and not the main dwelling, which is in NYC. But I saw that any echoes to Sleeping With The Enemy was a presage of what would come next.)

I also know that Nestor Carbonelle (Don't-accuse-me-of-wearing-eyeliner "Richard Alpert" from LOST) is the agent responsible for keeping Bridget safe before the trial.

Oh my goodness . . . the boat scene in the first act has graphic quality from approximately 1984. TERRIBLE! SMG has a history with working on the CW network and not always having the best quality Fx, but that was mostly in the first season of BtVS and things were better after that. Not at all acceptable in 2011, no matter the television network.

The boat scene set up the mysterious disappearance/death (?) of Siobahn and allowed Bridget to then assume her socialite twin's identity. This will allow her to escape even further from the reach of the crime lord she is supposed to testify against.

And the transitions between scenes is-- how shall I say? Nonexistent?!

(But things got better after a decidedly rough first 12 minutes. I wonder how than an episodic 52 minutes because there is the need for character introduction and plot exposition. And this show definitely needed that to set up the differences between the twins and all of those twists that got glossed over quickly in a regular hour of drama.)

It seems that mirrors will play a strong role in the visual clues of this show. (You know, because there are twins and all.) But the last season of LOST taught me to think that mirror images are clues of parallel worlds
and possible purgatorial side plots. Will THAT play a role in Ringer as the season progresses?


And then I started watching and trying to follow the plot twists. There were some definite rough spots in this first episode, but nothing terrible. And the story provided enough interesting drama and upcoming mystery to keep me come back for a few more episodes.

Channel: The CW
Night: Tuesday, debuted September 13th
Time: 9-10

Ringer season premiere: live blog edition

I've never been good at the live blogging thing. When do you hit publish so that the people who are desperately waiting to read your words can get their fix?!!!

But I promised yesterday that I would publish something tonight about the new SMG show Ringer and so I am going to jot down thought about the show and themes as I watch and then post a cleaned ip and edited version of things later tonight.

So now you know what to look out for. And don't be afraid to shoot me a reaction to something on Twitter. I can try to monitor on my phone at the same time.

(Hey, it's new Fall TV season time. That's when I've got to throw things into high gear and pull out all of the stops!)

Monday, September 12, 2011

Preparing for the Fall Preview

It is mid September and I haven't even really started thinking about what I need to do to write this year's series of Fall TV preview posts.

This is, sadly, par for the course right now. I am really lagging behind on many things digital and I've got to find a way to get back into the routine. And perhaps nothing fits that bill better than the Fall TV Preview posts that I've faithfully produced each year that I've been blogging.

I'm not going to suggest that you can't approach the new slate of shows without my guidance. I wouldn't dare be so foolish. But here's hoping I can find something interesting and entertaining to say about some of the shows that will be impeding your time in the next few months. And maybe I can highlight one show that you might not watch . . . but maybe I can convince you?

I won't try to examine everything--and don't be deceived into thinking that I have access to actual shows any sooner than you do. I'm no professional. I'm just giving you my impressions of network Web sites and magazine write ups, plus throwing in my two cents for shows I've been watching for a while and why I think you should watch them to. So I'm going to be picking and choosing in whatever way suits my fancy when I sit down to write.

Normally I try to get the shows all written up before they begin to air. I may miss a few of those this year. I think, in light of this late start and struggle for motivation, that I will kick things off in semi-real time tomorrow night with a review of the new show Ringer, which premieres tomorrow night at 9 pm, I believe. It stars Sarah Michelle Geller (of Buffy the Vampire Slayer) fame, which is 75% of why I am deciding to give this show a try at all. But it does have an interesting murder/twins/mystery plot that might capture the imagination. I won't say much more here and try to save some thoughts and descriptions for tomorrow night after it airs live.

After that is up and running, we'll see. I think most shows still don't premiere until next week, so I'll use Ringer to get my butt in gear and try to have things up on a rolling basis as other schedules and activities allow.

At the very least, I can try to tweet out my impressions of things and keep in touch that way. (You REALLY should follow me on Twitter anyway.)

So, keep an eye out for my Ringer review tomorrow.

Until then . . .