Archive for the ‘TV’ Category

To Quote Sondheim (or is it Shirley MacLaine?), “I’m Still Here!” No, Really! Honest!

January 20, 2007

Okay, I wish I had no excuse for not posting for the past couple of months, but I do the dog ate my homework.  In fact I have several of them, and hopefully, some jokes that I haven’t used before.  Think of this as “Shut Up, Rob!: Extra-Super Beta Pre-Release Preview Version 2.0.6.9”

While I was gone from blogging, I found out that:

1) I’m hopelessly addicted to the Huffington Post and Crooks & Liars blogs, which I won’t hyperlink here lest you become addicted and stop blogging for months at a time, too.

2) My old computer was dying and making it a bee-yatch to even sign in here.  When I lost that one post that I took, like, three hours to write, because the fershlugginer computer froze, the writing was on the wall and thus the endless agonizing over what computer to buy began.  And was made worse by being so close to Christmas time and yet so far away from Christmas sales that I decided I had to wait to blog again until I had a new computer.  In the meantime, yes, I swore a lot and otherwise mouthed off on Usenet, but that’s because, well, the Agent newsreader is pretty darn hard to not be able to use even when the computer is misbehaving.  But I have a new computer now thanks to computer sales and a ginchy online rebate from one of the major computer sellers that have a box store (that’s just to tell you that it’s an HP Media Center again, not a P.O.S. Dell) and everything’s hunky dory electronically now.

3) I was always continuing to collect notes on and grade all the various shows I’ve been watching.  And I noticed two trends.  First, my notes kept getting longer and longer, almost turning into beat sheets for every show.  That just takes too much time and was starting to burn me out.  Second, I started to notice that except for every other episode of CSI: Miami, and a terrible episode of BSG’s New Caprica arc, I wasn’t giving anything a grade below a B-.  I still suspect that I am guilty of grade inflation, but on the other hand, I do believe that when any story works on its own terms, when it achieves what it set out to do in the story it chose to tell, it generally deserves at least a B-.  So I’m still very conflicted.

4)  And slightly burnt out.  I do NOT know how Ausiello and Veitch do it other than that I remember that Kristin once told us in the old E! Chat Room after one chat that she has, like, 2 or 3 TiVos and still can’t watch everything on a daily basis and still do her day job.  So after watching up to 35 or so shows a week for the past two years I simply realized that I just can’t review ALL of the shows I watch as constantly and with as much intensity as I review Gilmore Girls here and on atgg.  (I confess, some of my few posts here started as atgg posts and vice-versa.)  And to be perfectly honest, Cold Case isn’t worth it.  So while I’m still going to go for the Bullet Point format in reviews, I don’t know yet whether I’m still going to include grades — at least, in the short term, as I intend to develop a grading system that satisfies me and doesn’t misrepresent to skimmers “Oh, that Rob, he likes everything and takes 100 words to say, ‘I like everything’ when only three will do.”  And I don’t know yet how often I’ll touch on every show besides Gilmore Girls — which I will get back to reviewing every week a new episode is on starting this next week (on Wednesday or Thursday, once I’ve let the episode infect my brain).  Maybe I’ll have 10 or so shows that I’ll review every week, touching on the rest that are in my categories box once or twice a month.  I don’t know yet.  I’m a Gemini, so I’m flighty and indecisive.   And into wacky Irish Pisces(es?)   I’m one of those Perfect Storms of Caffeine and Genetics that Lorelai warned you about.

So there you have it.  No promises about anything other than to write about Gilmore Girls and to continue to make it up as I go along about everything else.

One more thing:  such a great scene between George and Burke on Grey’s Anatomy this week.  Why did Isaiah Washington have to go and screw that up?  (resigned sigh)  Humiliating not just TR again, which would have been bad enough, but also the entire cast and Shonda — in public, no less — on what was supposed to be their eve of triumph and critical success.  While I wish that Burke could stay and Washington go, recasting the role is unacceptable, period.  So, as a straight male viewer of the show, he’s poisoning his scenes for me but even moreso, as a (straight, not that it matters and) forever-student stage manager whose first and fierce instinct is to protect any cast from danger, even when it’s internal discord, I’m so deeply offended on a professional level that I think that Washington’s got to go.  After the original incident last October, he got the second chance that Gibson got and Richards got.  The Golden Globes incident was his second and third chances — he blew his second chance with TR and he blew his third chance by humiliating the entire cast in public.  That’s three strikes, you’re out.  That’s extinguish the tiki torch and have Jeff Probst send you home.  That’s . . . career suicide.

Rob’s Bullet Reviews #2a — The Search For Intelligent TV Progamming in the Universe (This Time For Sure)

October 18, 2006

Okay, okay, I’ve learned my lesson — so I’m typing this into Word (actually, WordPad) and then cutting and pasting so that I don’t go and lose the whole thing just as I’m posting it again. So here’s seven — count ’em, SEVEN — Bullet Reviews:

Grey’s Anatomy — “What I Am” (Original Air date: 10-12-06): The show demonstrates why Ellen Pompeo is its *real* secret weapon by giving her great comedic material with Meredith’s appendicitis storyline. The episode loses two steps of a grade (1 step = a +, straight-letter or – ) for having Meredith chose Derek for any reason. Derek’s 10 years older than Meredith — even if he weren’t one of the attending doctors, they’d still be creepy together. Grade: A-.

Heroes — “One Giant Leap” (OAD: 10-09-06 — told you I’m playing catch-up): The show’s main flaw is that so far, it’s slow-moving, with too much plot and not nearly as much characterization as it thinks it has. However, this episode is redeemed by its autopsy-slab twist ending. I bet Clare’s guidance counsellor told her she needed to be open to new experiences! Grade: A-.

Battlestar Galactica — “Exodus, Part 1” (OAD: 10-13-06): The episode starts out on a low-note by copping out on the shock cliffhanger ending of the previous episode and letting everybody significant survive. But the main prison-camp storyline, part Great Escape, part Stalag 17, while slow and somewhat baroque, ultimately redeems the episode. Grade: B.

ER — “Parenthood” (OAD: 10-12-06): Grey’s has definitely forced ER to find its sense of humor in all the right ways — Morris is now bonafide comic relief; they’re now starting to remember that, hey, that Maura Tierney chick was on NewsRadio — and aren’t they going full-on Meta by writing Sara Gilbert’s ability to pop in and out of the show between bad-sitcom gigs in as Jane’s mysterious and Radar-O’Reilly-like ability to appear a half-second before you want her? And speaking of MASH connections, doesn’t Gates remind one of Trapper John, M.D.’s “Gonzo” Gates? Grade: A-.

Law & Order — “Fear America” (OAD: 10-13-06): Terrorist murders informant, makes it look like white supremacist did it. Yawn. Reliable but unspectacular comfort food procedural storyline. The show’s going to have to do better than that if it wants to stick out among the 8600 other police procedurals on television right now. The new cast members, particular Milena Govich, are a good start, but geez, the somnambulant Sam Waterston’s still got to go. Grade: B-.

Smallville — “Wither” (OAD: 10-12-06): Is it just me or is the show trying to get even with the movie division’s restrictions on the use of the entire Batman mythos and certain parts of the Superman mythos by giving us such a lame and blatant rip-off of Poison Ivy? On the other hand, I’d like to see this Green Arrow spun off into his own show, preferrably not under the helm of the tone deaf Millar and Gough. Grade: B-.

Supernatural — “Bloodlust” (OAD: 10-12-06): Amber Benson is a real sweetheart in real life (she spends time with every person in her line at Comic-Con), so it was quite amusing to see “Tara” reincarnated as a good vampire in this episode. The moral dilemma that her clan of vampires puts the boys in upends the entire premise of the show in a very good way. Grade: A+. So if you’re not watching this show already, what’s your lame excuse?

Told you I had seven Bullet Reviews this time.

Coming up next: Studio 60 (possibly even a longer review), Doctor Who, HIMYM, Veronica Mars and why I’m giving up on The Nine after two episodes when I hardly ever give up on anything.

— Rob

Rob’s Bullet Reviews — Episode 2: The Search For Intelligent TV Programming in the Universe

October 18, 2006

. . . is forthcoming.  Crap.  The dog ate my homework.  I had SEVEN reviews all typed out and somehow, the software didn’t save it to publish, so it’s lost.  Will rewrite the whole darn thing in a text document and then cut-and-paste to here when my headache has gone away.

  — Rob

PS:  To torture tease you, the categories below list the shows I was reviewing.  Okay, from last week, not this week, but still . . . that’s why it’s known as playing catch-up.

Rob’s Bullet Reviews: Episode 1: A New Thang

October 16, 2006

Okay, if you’ve been reading this here blog for a while, you know that I’m sick a lot (for a variety of reasons).  That doesn’t mean that my committment to the blog has gone down — it just means that I’m a perfectionist and if I start writing before I’m, like, recovered, that may mean that I start entertaining you with stream of (altered, by, like, not feeling so good) states of consciousness.  And since I want this to be a TV Blog rather than a Rob Talks About Whatever the Hell Is On His Mind Blog, I’m not going to go to THAT wellstream too often.

But one of the great things that being sick allowed me to do was think more about the type of reviews that I’m going to do.  And I came up with, “Hey, I’m gonna do reviews in three sizes:  Small, Medium and Large.”  No, I didn’t make that up.  That was exactly what I was thinking, treating reviews like they were McDonald’s Freedom French Fries.  (Mmmmm.  French Fries.) 

 So here’s my first installment of Rob’s Bullet Reviews.  Rob’s Bullet Reviews are my court of desperation expediency.  It means that I’ve seen the episode, I’ve decided on a grade, but I prefer to talk more at length about the show at some other time if ever.  So you’ll see the episode title, Original Air Date (I’m kinda giving up on episode numbers for this season for everything but Gilmore Girls — that’s the real casualty of being sick a lot.  But I digress . . .), Grade and perhaps a one-liner, either a joke or some brief comment about an actor/character/story point I liked/hated.  Bullet Reviews will come in bunches of about 3, 4 or 5 and I’d like you to consider them as starting points for the comments section for that post, where, of course, I’m likely to join in the conversation and inadverantly tell you what I really think about the suckitude of Desperate Housewives (Oh, god, I think I just accidentally committed myself to watching at least one full episode this season if I can stomach it.  I’ll put it off until Spring, when the show’s been given the maximum chance to Not Suck before I watch a full episode again.) about the given episode.

So thus commences the first installment of Rob’s Bullet Reviews:

Lost — “The Glass Ballerina” (Original Air Date:  10-11-06):  I’m giving this one a grade of A- even though I’m a Jaterboi.  (Robspeak:  “Jaterboi = fan of Jack-and-Kate-without-being-a-Shipper of said Ship.”)

Ugly Betty — “The Box and the Bunny” (OAD: 10-05-06, and I told you I was sick for a while):  This is the simultaneous spoof of and embracement of soap opera that Desperate Housewives desperately wants to be, but can never be because Marc Cherry lacks Salma Hayek’s taste and judgment.  Grade:  A+

My Name Is Earl — “Larceny of a Kitty Cat” (OAD: 10-12-06):  I have a cat, I like Amy Sedaris.  Grade:  A-.

The Office — “Grief Counseling” (OAD:  10-12-06):  Relatively underwhelming.  I think they killed the one joke of Michael’s aversion to death early in the episode.  Grade:  B+.

CSI:  Original Recipe — “Fannysmackin'” (OAD: 10-12-06):  Despite the unforgivable presence of K-Fed, this episode is so clever, featuring great performances by the main cast, especially Greg, and is capped with so brilliant a closing monologue from Grissom that I give the episode an A+.  Despite the unforgivable presence of K-Fed.  (Did I mention that I despise no-talent tabloid fodder like K-Fed?)

Okay.  Discuss.  Release the Hounds.  Say Something.

— Rob

PS:  This one’s dedicated to the Row 1 Regulars of the now-defunct Watch With Kristin chats at E!Online, in particular, to thursdaymorning, who now has something to read on mondaymorning.

My Two-Word Review of “Jericho” 1.1-to-1.3

October 6, 2006

Battlefarm Kansactica.

Okay.  Six more words:  But I kinda liked it anyway.  Three more words:  Especially Sprague Grayden.  Six more and out:  Despite the presence of Ashley Scott.

Overall grade, Episodes 1.1-1.3:  B-

Review: Lost 3.1 — “A Tale of Two Cities”

October 5, 2006

Vague-ish Recap:  Is almost beside the point.  It’s a remake of any random episode of The Prisoner.

Comments:  I liked Elizabeth Mitchell as Juliet, but what the hell is going on?

Episode Grade:  a Fish.[1]

  — Rob

[1]  Yes, that goes back to the old joke, “How many surrealists does it take to screw in a lightbulb?  The answer:  a fish.”

ER 13.2 — “Graduation Day”

September 30, 2006

Vague-ish Recap:  In an episode that takes place over several months, Abby and Luke struggle to keep faith that their premature baby, Joe, can survive the critical last ten weeks that he couldn’t spend in the womb.  They’re helped by the timely (but initially thought untimely) arrival of Abby’s Type 1 Bipolar mom, Maggie (Sally Field, in great, fussy form) who rallies kinda like their own Dr. Bombay (because Endora was eeevil and none of Samantha’s other relatives were as heartfelt).  Neela starts to drink too much in the wake of Gallant’s death, but Pratt, Ray, and Tony Gates (new regular The Stamos), each help her in their own way.  Weaver falls on her sword for Luka when he’s about to be fired for the Clemente situation from last season happening on his watch and she does it because she takes responsibility for being the one who hired him.  Morris, who’s now bored stiff pushing experimental drug trials and realizing how much he misses the ER, begs practically everybody at the hospital to take him back.  Sam gets help from her connected lawyer friend to quickly deal with the situation in which she, like, shot and killed her ex-husband in what she doesn’t think was (but actually was) self-defense.

Comments:  I repeat:  ER is back.  I mean, I’m still decompressing the newest episode of Gilmore Girls in my head and not even my desire to write a review for Studio 60, my new #2 show, could shake my concentration on Gg.  And then ER went and did just about everything right.  Morris’s subplot in which he begs to get his job back was classic comic relief that worked in merry counterpoint to both Abby & Luka’s struggle to keep what will be their only biological baby alive and to Sam’s internal struggle to find out if she belongs in jail for killing her ex-husband.  Also bringing welcome bounce to the episode was — and I love calling her this — the Great Sally Field.  With her Maggie (Abby’s Bipolar Mom) in a much better place due to her meds working, she proves to be a warm, funny, strong woman who finally gets the chance to return the help she got from Abby that she was never able to give her before.  Plus, in a great psych-out, the show keeps us in the dark about the fate of Joseph for just about the last fifteen minutes, talking ambiguously about Abby and Luke dealing with the situation and needing time to themselves, even panning over an empty crib in a dark room, prepping us to think, “Oh, shit, it’s another Carter and Kem, the show is done, the show can’t bounce back no matter how good The Stamos is,” until they pan up and over to Abby and they still psych us out by her sitting in a chair with her back to the camera and thenthey pan around to show Abby cradling a healthy baby.  And I cheered.  Blatant manipulation like that is fun when you realize that the show-makers were deliberately tweaking you.  This touching final scene, which ends with Maggie saying bye-for-now and Abby standing to rock Joseph to sleep, works metatextually as an apology from the show specifically for the Carter-Kem storyline and more generally for the depressing, turgid nature of the series between the disintegration and death of Dr. Mark Greene and the departure of Carter from full-time status on the show two years ago.  The show’s been back in great form since the beginning of last year (season frickin’ 12), so be sure to tell your friends that if they haven’t seen ER in a while, they haven’t seen ER return to greatness.

One more thing:  I hope that Sally Field gets a Guest Actress nomination for this episode.  I’m so hopeful, in fact, that I feel kinda guilty wishing her new show Brothers and Sisters would fail just so that ER could bring her back more regularly as her now-stable fussbudget character.  On the other hand, the episode did make a great coda for Maggie’s time on the show, making her struggle with Bipolar Type 1 (the mood-swingy type) ultimately one of the few storylines from the show’s Great Depression worthwhile, even before the happy ending.

Episode Grade:  A+

******

Maintenance:  No, I haven’t forgotten to post my full-review of this week’s Gg (and no, the commentary below doesn’t count).  The show almost always takes me longer to process than most other shows.

Initial Reactions: Gilmore Girls 7.1 — “The Long ‘Morrow”

September 27, 2006

I’m still mulling over the fantastic Palladino-less season premiere of Gilmore Girls, which to me exceeded expectations immensely and proved that Amy was right, the show can not just survive, but thrive without her.  But before I do an in-depth analysis (give me a day or three — I have four pages of notes), here are my initial ratings post from alt.tv.gilmore-girls and then my email to Hercules at AICN for her massively wrongheaded review of the episode.

First, my ratings post to atgg:

 5 out of 5, a perfect episode.

These are just my initial reactions as I’m still decompressing it in my head, but here’s a few of my initial thoughts:

1)  I read Ausiello’s misreading of the finer points of the episode at http://community.tvguide.com/thread.jspa?threadID=800005298#comments absolutely correctly.  Lauren was deliberately and marvelously underplaying.  Lorelai’s in a post-breakup depression, after all.

2)  Any accusations that the show has lost its zip are false.  The
show is still zippy.  Lorelai is not in a zippy place.  The zip comes
elsewhere until she has a zipless fuck one of these days.

3)  Loved that the crash wasn’t really Kirk’s fault, it was Taylor’s.  (PS:  Damn fool didn’t know that these cameras normally don’t come with flashbulbs for this very reason.)

4)  The car crashed into the very spot where Lor and Rory usually ate.  Had Lor and Luke not broken up and Lor just watched from the Diner, she would have died.  Also, way to make the metaphor about their breakup blatant.

5)  At the end, Luke learns the lesson of “Too little, too late.” It’s totally his fault.

Waaaaaaay more to come.   Blog-long.

  — Rob

 And then there was Herc’s insulting, totally off-base post at AICN http://www.aintitcool.com/node/30198 .  Totally pissed me off.

Subject:  Gilmore Girls and the Geek (Herc) Who Cried Shark

Date: 9-27-2006

To:  Herculesaicn@yahoo.com

From:  ShutUpRob@aol.com

Herc — you blew it. 

Gilmore Girls is *far* from over.  In fact, EW, Michael Ausiello, Kristin Veitch, a begrudging Matt Roush, and others got it right.  The show has sounded more like itself in the season premiere than it has in a couple of years.  The problem is that Lorelai is in a major depression after breaking up with the person she thought was the love of her life.  Lorelai justifiably has no zip.  Yes, she’s *supposed* to be the source of most of the zip of the show most of the time, but this was clearly, deliberately, NOT one of those times where she could be zippy and funny and Ambush Bug in drag.  Because of the nature of her story, she couldn’t possibly be the clown and Lauren played her part brilliantly and with profound, moving and very necessary sadness.  But Lorelai’s depression should not be mistaken for the show having no zip or verve, as so many critics who baldly misread the show have done in their terrible, nonsensical, even misleading reviews.

The zip — all of the amount of zip and life that the show normally has and the show has normally embodied in Lorelai, was indeed still in the show tonight — just elsewhere.  In Rory, with Bledel more energized than she’s been since the last time she understood her part in the show — which was season 3 — in Kirk and Babette, Luke whining that he can’t handle pressure.  It was an hilarious, bittersweet episode that was *better* than most episodes the Palladinos wrote last year (except for their sublime Partings and I Get a Sidekick Out of You), but that should be no surprise to anyone who actually watched season 6’s instant classic, Super Cool Party People, which was also written by tonight’s writer and the show’s new showrunner, David Rosenthal.  He has the patter down pat. 

And how about that hole in the side of the Diner being the metaphorical hole of Lor and Luke’s smashed relationship?  Shades of the structure of last season’s hole in the side of the Crap Shack.  Rosenthal has his sense of Gilmore structure, too — especially if one considers that if Lorelai had been watching the proceedings of the traffic light from her normal spot in the Diner because she was too busy making googly eyes with Luke, she would have *died.*  So breaking up with him saved her, metaphorically and literally.  Rosenthal *is* the show now, every bit as much and every bit as good at it as the Palladinos.

Herc, you’re the Geek Who Cried Shark — not to be believed on this subject.  You’re wrong about the continuing state of the best show on television and you owe the show a deep apology for bailing on it after just *one* episode that you clearly didn’t give a snowball’s chance in hell.

  Best,

  Rob Jensen,

  Straight Guy Who Loves Gilmore Girls

  shutuprob.wordpress.com

  (Also, I’m the shutuprob in Kristin’s E! Chats, but please don’t hold that against me.  😉  )

Review: Without a Trace 5.1 — “Stolen”

September 26, 2006

Vague-ish Recap:  It’s the Steven Stayner kidnapping story from two decades ago.

Comments:  I started watching the show this summer, preparing myself for when there was nothing on NBC but football.  I’m liking what I see, but there are too many main cast members.  Poppy Montgomery is the best actor on the show as the whimsically named Sam Spade, but at times co-stars Enrique Murciano and Eric Close seem superfluous, specifically to make room for the unnecessary Roselyn Sanchez.  What I like about the show is that it’s an antidote to the all-Death all-the-time procedurals, with most cases here ending up with the victim being found alive.  It’s a wistful, hopeful show.  But Poppy needs to stay away from the Fake Tanning booths as her tan this episode looked bad.

Episode Grade:  B.

Review: Law & Order 17.1 — “Fame” (aka “Popo Zao Gets His Revenge”)

September 25, 2006

Vague-ish Recap:  Basically, K-Fed Marty from Gilmore Girlskills an off-duty cop while scoring some dope.  (They say you are what you put up your wife’s nose.)  It’s also Detective Nina Cassidy’s first day on the job as Green’s junior partner (Fontana has retired) and nobody trusts her judgment because she got her Detective’s shield by foiling a high-profile beauty shop robbery rather than pay her dues for umpty-zillion years.  Oh, and McCoy has a new ADA, Eric Delko’s sister Mare-ee-sole, who apparently lost a lot of hair when Riaz shot her on CSI: Horatio!

Comments:  Forget the cases.  They’re pretty much solid comfort food at this stage.  Martin and Govich’s chemistry is fantastic and Alana de la Garza Delko Caine makes a good ADA so far.  Nina’s greenhorn status creates great friction and story/character opportunities (and it helps that she’s nice to look at).  Now all they gotta do is get rid of the tired Waterston and it’s a rejuvenated show again.  It’s gone from being one of the worst police procedurals to one of the best just through the cast turmoil. 

Episode Grade:  A-