Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The Television Doldrums

The holidays are a great time for family and friends ... but it's a terrible time for TV! Sunday, I actually watched several episodes of Conspiracy Theory with Jesse Ventura. I was that desperate. I get it, a lot of people are out and about and networks don't want to showcase a lot of new shows if the audience isn't at home to watch them but still ... can we at least get a decent marathon (and dear God not another Conspiracy Theory marathon) or some decent movies to watch?

Unable to endure another moment of Jesse Ventura, I turned off the TV and read a book. Who does that?

And it will at least be another week of wading through a vast wasteland of reruns and ... football. Heaven help me...

Monday, December 20, 2010

In Case You Were Wondering

Yes, Halle Berry got a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actress for her performance in Frankie and Alice. Never heard of it? Well, it only opened in one theater in Los Angeles in December, so it could be considered for Awads season. It doesn't go into wide release until February 4, 2011. Berry plays a woman with a multiple personality in the 1970s (notice the cool afro in the trailer). Rounding out the cast are Swedish actor Stellan Skarsgård (Frankie's psychiatrist), Phylicia Rashad (Frankie's mom), and Grey's Anatomy's Chandra Wilson (Frankie's sister).

Take a look at the trailer.

Does the trailer pique your interest?

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Movie Review: Black Swan

Black Swan chronicles a prima ballerina’s descent into madness and it is both beautiful and horrific. The story of Swan Lake starts out as if it’s destined for the animated Disney treatment. An evil sorcerer casts a spell on a beautiful princess turning her into a beautiful swan. Only a confession of true love can break the spell and as fate would have it, a young prince becomes smitten with her. However, this is where the story takes a dark and unDisney-like turn. The sorcerer tricks the prince into falling for the seductive Black Swan, who impersonates our pure princess and gets the prince to declare his love to her. When the deception is revealed, the star-crossed lovers realize that they can only be united in death.

I can tell you the story of Swan Lake because it is a backdrop for Black Swan and it isn’t the story of Black Swan. Black Swan is about Nina Sayers (Natalie Portman), a sweet ballerina with a doting former ballerina mother (Barbara Hershey). For several years, Nina has danced with a major New Your City dance company, with aging prima ballerina Beth McIntyre (Winona Ryder), when she is offered the opportunity of a lifetime. Thomas Leroy (Vincent Cassell) picks Nina for the lead in the company’s new production of Swan Lake. Although he appreciates her technical perfection and has no doubt she can master the role of the White Swan, he doubts she has the ability to let loose and become the seductress needed to master the Black Swan role.

As we get to know Nina, we can see his reservations. She and her mother live in a happy bubble that consists of Nina’s ballet and her mother’s artwork. The décor of Nina’s bedroom gives us a glimpse into her world — complete with teddy bears in tutus and its 14-year old girl motif. Her innocence is painfully obvious when she’s with the other girls in the troupe. She doesn’t fit in with the catty, Mean Girls atmosphere. In fact, you question if Nina has what it takes to make it in the competitive, cutthroat world of dance.

Then a new girl joins the company. Lily (Mila Kunis) effortlessly embodies the essence of the Black Swan. She’s seductive. She takes chances. She’s even a little dangerous. Nina is immediately intrigued but keeps her at an arm’s length, at least initially. However, as her obsession with nailing the Black Swan takes over, she and Lily get closer.

Director Darren Aronofsky has crafted a psychological thriller that uses the demanding and all-consuming world of ballet to show one woman’s descent into madness. It’s beautiful and graceful and at the same time brutal. Aronofsky shows the physical sacrifices that dancers must endure for their art. He also uses a growing rash on Nina’s back to mirror Nina’s psychological change.

As she begins to embody the Black Swan, we see Nina actually grow up before our eyes. She questions her mother. She allows herself to experience her sexuality, first timidly and then boldly. As she puts her innocence aside, her interpretation and performance of the Black Swan improves.

The kudos and acclaim Portman has received is well-deserved and an Oscar could very well be in her future. While I enjoyed Kunis as the catalyst, Lily, her part was not as big as I thought it would be. The person who surprised me the most in her supporting role was Winona Ryder as the aging ballerina forced into retirement. At turns bitchy, bitter and needy, I think her performance as good as it was, is being largely overlooked.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Are You a DivaSoulMama or a DivaSoulBrotha?

If you are a mom or a guy or just someone who has opinions about movies and TV, I'd love to give you a forum (that's about all I can give)! Specifically, I'd love to have a DivaSoulMom who can review kid's movies and give a mom's perspective. It's just too weird for me to go to a kid flick on my own. It makes me feel kind of sleezy.

Also, a male perspective is always welcomed and appreciated! If you're a guy who wants to offer his two sense on all things television and music, I'd love to hear from you too. (you don't have to be the 'DivaSoulBrotha' if you don't want to!)

What if you have something to say and you're not a mom or a dude, I would love to hear from you too. I'm always looking for ways to expand the DivaSoul Family

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

I Hate to Say It but ... I'm Excited!

I know, I know, I said I wouldn’t … but … I’m getting excited about this Simon-less season of American Idol. I used to think of Steven Tyler, Jennifer Lopez and Randy Jackson as an unholy triumvirate of terror … but, now I’m interested in seeing how it actually plays out. I’m actually looking forward to three judges without the obligatory acerbic Brit on the panel. Hey, it works on The Sing-Off so maybe it can work here.

Plus there are a few other changes I’m looking forward to.
  • No more top 24. They will move straight to the top 12.
  • The contestants will have to make a music video, learn how to deal with a backup band and dancers as well as promote themselves (I guess they’re trying to steal some thunder from the upcoming X-Factor).
  • Instead of having theme weeks based on artists (Elvis, Beatles) … the themes will focus on decades giving the contestants more to chose from.
Now, if only they’d gotten rid of Ryan Seacrest!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

And the Nominees Are ...

The nominees for the Golden Globes have been announced. Of course, the Golden Globes kick off the awards season and are also a precursor to the Academy Awards.

Confession Time: I am not a fan of award shows. I find them painfully boring and prefer to get the recaps of the show the next day. With the advent of YouTube, I can watch all of the good parts in a manner of minutes, as opposed to hours.

What I like about the Golden Globes is that they don't always mimic critical favorites. Movies like Burlesque, The Tourist and Love and Other Drugs get the nod even though the critics didn't appreciate them. Having said that, here are some of the Golden Globes nominations.

Best Motion Picture, Drama
Black Swan
The Fighter
The King’s Speech
The Social Network

Best Motion Picture, Comedy or Musical
Alice in Wonderland
The Kids Are All Right
The Tourist

Best Director - Motion Picture
Darren Aronofsky, Black Swan
David Fincher, The Social Network
Tom Hooper, The King's Speech
Christopher Nolan, Inception
David O. Russell , The Fighter

Best Actor in a Motion Picture, Drama
Jesse Eisenberg, The Social Network
Colin Firth, The King's Speech
James Franco, 127 Hours
Ryan Gosling, Blue Valentine
Mark Wahlberg, The Fighter

Best Actress in a Motion Picture, Drama
Halle Berry, Frankie and Alice (opens in wide release 2/4)
Nicole Kidman, Rabbit Hole
Jennifer Lawrence, Winter's Bone
Natalie Portman, Black Swan
Michelle Williams, Blue Valentine

Best Actor in a Motion Picture, Comedy
Johnny Depp, Alice in Wonderland
Johnny Depp, The Tourist
Paul Giamatti, Barney's Version
Jake Gyllenhaal , Love and Other Drugs
Kevin Spacey, Casino Jack

Best Actress in a Motion Picture, Comedy
Anne Hathaway, Love and Other Drugs
Julianne Moore, The Kids Are All Right
Annette Bening, The Kids Are All Right
Emma Stone, Easy A
Angelina Jolie, The Tourist

Best Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture
Christian Bale, The Fighter
Michael Douglas, Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps
Andrew Garfield, The Social Network
Jeremy Renner, The Town
Geoffrey Rush, The King's Speech

Best Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture
Amy Adams, The Fighter
Helena Bonham Carter, The King's Speech
Mila Kunis, Black Swan
Melissa Leo, The Fighter
Jacki Weaver, Animal Kingdom

Best Animated Feature Film
Despicable Me
How to Train Your Dragon
The Illusionist
Toy Story 3

Best Television Series, Drama
Boardwalk Empire
The Good Wife
Mad Men
The Walking Dead

Best Televison Series, Comedy or Musical
30 Rock
The Big Bang Theory
The Big C
Modern Family
Nurse Jackie

Best Actor in a Television Series, Drama
Steve Buscemi, Boardwalk Empire
Bryan Cranston, Breaking Bad
Michael C. Hall, Dexter
Jon Hamm, Mad Men
Hugh Laurie, House

Best Actress in a Television Series, Drama
Julianna Margulies, The Good Wife
Elisabeth Moss, Mad Men
Piper Perabo, Covert Affairs
Katey Sagal, Sons of Anarchy
Kyra Sedgwick, The Closer

Best Actor in a Television Series, Comedy or Musical
Alec Baldwin, 30 Rock
Steve Carell, The Office
Thomas Jane, Hung
Matthew Morrison, Glee
Jim Parsons, Big Bang Theory

Best Supporting Actress in a Series, Miniseries or Motion Picture Made for Television
Hope Davis, Special Relationship
Jane Lynch, Glee
Kelly McDonald, Boardwalk Empire
Julia Stiles, Dexter
Sofia Vergara, Modern Family

Best Supporting Actor in a Series, Miniseries or Motion Picture Made for Television
Scott Caan, Hawaii Five-0
Chris Noth, The Good Wife
David Straithairn, Temple Grandin
Eric Stonestreet, Modern Family
Chris Colfer, Glee

Best Actress in a Television Series, Comedy or Musical
Toni Collette, United States of Tara
Edie Falco, Nurse Jackie
Tina Fey, 30 Rock
Laura Linney, The Big C
Lea Michelle, Glee

Sunday, December 12, 2010

The Biggest Loser Losing Its Biggest Star

Trainer Jillian Michaels announced, via Twitter, that this upcoming season will be her last on The Biggest Loser. She is leaving the show to, among other things, concentrate on starting a family. The 36-year old was diagnosed with endometriosis and Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome as a teenager is unable to have children but is considering adoption.

Jillian will be replaced by two new trainers who will be announced next week.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The Sing-Off

I’ve been a bad, bad blogger! I haven’t updated this site since Thanksgiving weekend! I promise faithful readers that I will be a better blogger. Hopefully, it’s not too late to move from Santa’s naughty list to the nice one!

Anyway, I am writing quickly because I am about to watch the second installment of a show I fell in love with this time last year, The Sing-Off. A cappella music groups from around the country compete for a cash prize and a recording contract.

The ten acts cover all of the bases starting with a high school group and several singing collegiate groups. One act features a father-daughter team. There’s also a gospel group and even an old school doo-wop group with over 30 years of performing behind them.

The format is pretty standard. We get a little back story about each group, they perform and then get feedback from a trio of judges. Ben Folds of the Ben Folds Five is the main judge, followed by Nicole Scherzinger of The Pussy Cat Dolls and Shawn Stockman of Boys to Men. Unlike other shows, these judges offer both effusive praise and constructive criticism.

What I love about this show is that these are people who genuinely love to sing. Their passion and their energy make them fun to watch. And as television grinds to a halt around the holidays, it’s good to have something fun to watch!

Monday night’s show took the 10 groups down to eight. Tonight, we’ll lose two more groups. If you can’t catch it tonight, it will air Monday and Wednesday nights next week as well.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Movie Review: Burlesque

 My friend KJ and I spent part of our Thanksgiving Day in the cineplex. We wanted a fun, light movie and most of the holiday releases didn’t fit the bill. Faster is an action-packed, angry revenge pic, and we wanted laughter not a pissed off Rock. Thanks to reading a spoiler-laden review of Love and Other Drugs, I got the feeling that it might be a bit of a downer. And who wants to feel down before stuffing themselves with stuffing, turkey and all of the rest of the fixings? Tangled was light and fun, but we weren’t in the mood to be surrounded by the kiddies on Thanksgiving. Since KJ and I both liked musicals, we settled on Burlesque. We got what we were looking for a fun light movie. We enjoyed ourselves.

Now, Burlesque isn’t Chicago. It won’t be winning a bunch of Academy Awards … which is probably why the critics, for the most part, have hated it. However, I’m not judging the movie on some lofty set of standards that it wasn’t aiming for in the first place, which is probably why I enjoyed it so much. I went to see some great singing and dancing an awesome set design and costumes, and I got exactly what I was looking for.

The plot was straightforward enough. Small town Iowa girl Ali (Christina Aguilera) heads for the bright lights of Los Angeles. She stumbles on the Burlesque club, with its fabulous owner Tess (Cher) and has to be a part of it. She starts off as a waitress and moves up to show girl, where she clashes with headlining diva, Nikki. Of course, once Tess and company hear The Voice, Ali becomes the new HDIC (Head Diva in Charge).

Clichés abound. There is the obligatory love triangle. Ali must choose between the wealthy Marcus (Eric Dane) and bartender/songwriter/roommate Jack (Cam Gigandet). Then, there is the club-in-jeopardy angle. Marcus wants to buy the club from the cash-strapped Tess who is facing a huge balloon payment on the club that she can’t possibly pay.

Aguilera will never be accused of being a great actress (and the wig she wore for most of the movie was bad to the point of distraction), but she is passable here. What she lacks in acting chops, she more than makes up for on the stage. The musical numbers are what everyone seeing Burlesque is coming to see and they were awesome. Great costumes. Catchy tunes. Christina Aguilera and Cher on vocals. It was a good time.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Get Your Turkey Fix ... Then See a Flick!

If you are like me, you like a little movie along with your turkey and stuffing. While the boys settle down for an evening of football, me and the girlfriends often choose to spend our turkey-induced tryptophan haze in a darkened theatre. This year, five movies are being released for the long-weekend and there is a little something for everyone.

If you think that the one thing missing from a big boisterous musical is the genius of … Cher, then your prayers have been answered. Or, maybe, you’ve been waiting patiently for Christina Aguilera and her big dramatic voice to make a big screen debut, your guardian angel has a surprise! Burlesque, a small town girl (Aguilera) comes to Los Angeles and dreams of making it big in a burlesque club. Since we’re all hankering for flashy costumes, audacious set designs and over-the-top singing, this is what me and my girls will be seeing Thursday night.

Love and Other Drugs
If you are yearning for a side of romance to go with your yams, then may I suggest Love and Other Drugs. Jake Gyllenhaal plays a pharmaceutical rep and unrepentant playboy who unexpectantly meets his match in the bubbly Anne Hathaway.

If you’re hitting the Cineplex with the kiddie table set, Tangled might be more to your liking. It’s a retelling of Rapuntzel’s tale, the girl with all that hair and of course, her prince charming.

If you wait until the football games are over, your guy will probably go for the testosterone fest that is Faster. The Rock, fast cars, lots of ass-kicking, need I say more?

The Nutcracker
The classic ballet is being brought to life in 3-D no less. Starring Elle Fanning, John Turturro and Nathan Lane, rest assured, it won’t be just dancing.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Really. It's True. I'm Not Joking.

In maybe the least presidential move EVER, Bill Clinton is appearing in The Hangover 2. Yes, the former President of the United States and Leader of the Free World stepped in for a disgraced Mel Gibson.

While his wife is meeting with heads of state as the Secretary of State, Bill will be appearing along side the pot-smoking Zach Galifianakis in a sequel to a movie that featured blow-job giving senior citizens, Mike Tyson, hookers, tigers and drunken tooth extrations.

Unstoppable? Not Quite.

Unstoppable failed to live up to its name. The Denzel Washington film about a runaway train was stopped in its tracks from taking the number one spot at the box office this weekend. Standing in it's way? Will Ferrell's animated Megamind.which retained the number one spot for the second week in a row and made off with $30 million. Unstoppable came in second with $23 million. However, the film is said to have cost over $100 million to make so it might have to wait until DVD sales to recoup the investment.

The real story is how Harrison Ford's workplace comedy Morning Glory barely managed to make the top five with under $10 million (9.6 to be exact) in ticket sales. Could this mean that Ford is possibly past his prime? Maybe it means that people don't like him as much in comedies. Although they didn't like him in drama either if Extraordinary Measures, released earlier this year is any indication. Maybe he should stick to action as the last Indiana Jones flick did reasonably well (amidst horrible reviews).

23 Years Young!

D'oh! The Simpsons will be back next year for Season 23! At the end of that season, they will have approximately 515 episodes. The Simpsons are the longest running comedy in television history. Law & Order would have beat out Gunsmoke, the longest running drama, if NBC had renewed it for one more season (I'm still mad about that).

But one show beats them all isn't a comedy or a drama ... it's news. Meet the Press has been aired consistently for 62 years with over 4850 episodes. Just one year behind it is the CBS Evening News. Holding the records for both the longest running drama and the longest running daytime drama is Guiding Light at 57 years.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Raising Hope: Check It Out

I’ve been underwhelmed and unimpressed with this year’s Fall TV choices. The shows I really enjoyed like Lone Star and Undercovers didn’t last. The shows I had high hopes for The Event and Running Wilde failed to connect with me. Yet, there is one new show that has delivered: Raising Hope.

This show was barely on my register. The premise: teen dad raising a baby with his quirky middle class family didn’t create pique my interest. In fact, more than anything else, I watched it because it came on after Glee and before Running Wilde, which, as a huge Arrested Development fan, I was eagerly anticipating (what a huge letdown!).

Raising Hope is consistently funny. Newcomer Lucas Neff is Jimmy Chance whose one-night stand with a serial killer leaves him a single dad to infant Hope after the baby’s mother is executed. This was the pilot and while serial killers and execution don’t seem like a comedic gold mine, trust me, it was funny.

While the show might revolve around Neff, it’s the supporting cast that makes Raising Hope such fun to watch. I’ve seen Martha Plimpton for years, mainly as a guest star on dramatic series like Law & Order, Medium, and The Good Wife. Never in a million years did I see her as a comedic actress; but her timing and reactions as Jimmy’s mother Virginia are dead-on. She gets to play of Garret Dillahunt, as Jimmy's dad, another actor mainly known through dramatic guest roles on Criminal Minds, CSI and Damages with a surprising flair for comedy.

Bringing the entire cast together is comedy legend Cloris Leachman as great-grandma Maw Maw. She’s senile with scattered moments of lucidity and she steals every scene she’s in. Whether she’s thinking she’s in labor or running after some teens that tried to steal her candy on Halloween (while wearing a cat costume), she’s hysterical.

Leachman, Plimpton, Dillahunt and Neff are able to make it work because the writers have given them some great material to work with.

If you haven’t seen it yet, watch it tonight and turn the channel before Running Wilde.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Cat Fights and Train Wrecks! At Least A Girl Can Hope!

Over a year after Michael Jackson’s death, the King of Pop can still cause controversy. His first posthumous album, Michael, is set to be released and over the weekend the first single was released (or was it leaked?). Devoted fans aren’t sure it’s Michael on the vocals.

But DivaSoulSista isn’t about music; we’re about movies and television. So all this talk about MJ got me thinking about LJ. Yes, that’s LaToya Jackson if you’re nasty! She’s going to be on one of my guiltiest of guilty pleasures, Celebrity Apprentice. She’ll be joining celebrity attorney and talk show host, Star Jones, former soap star Lisa Rinna, singer Dionne Warwick (where’d they find her), former super model Niki Taylor, Oscar-winning actress Marlee Matlin and … wait for it … NeNe from the Real Housewives of Atlanta.

Maybe LaToya will surprise us with her astute business acumen and sales savvy. Sure, that would be great. But, am I wrong for hoping that she ends up being a train wreck of Cindy Lauper proportions? Now, that would make some good guilty television watching! You know the teams start off with the men versus the women, so she, Star and NeNe will be on the same team. Can you say catfight????

In case you’re wondering, the men’s team includes rapper Lil’ John, singer Meatloaf, singer and talk show host Mark McGrath, Survivor’s first winner, Richard Hatch, baseball player, Jose Conseco, 70’s teen heartthrob David Cassidy and actor Gary Busey.

With a cast like this, I’m expecting the worst … which means this season could be one of the best!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Movie Review: Due Date

 In 1987, Planes, Trains and Automobiles followed straight-laced Steve Martin as he gets stuck traveling with kooky John Candy (who is still mourning the death of his beloved wife) across the country, to make it home for Thanksgiving dinner. In 2010, Due Date follows straight-laced (and in need of anger management) Robert Downey Jr. as he gets stuck traveling cross country with kooky Zach Galifianakis (who is mourning the recent death of his beloved father).

It’s easy to see how the producers pitched this film to the studios, It’s Planes, Trains and Automobiles for a new generation (i.e. – it includes pot smoking, immigration gags, masturbation and an inappropriate use of someone’s ashes).

Aspiring actor Ethan Tremblay (Zach Galifianakis) literally runs into Peter Highman (Downey) (or at least his car) as he’s trying to catch a flight out of Atlanta’s Hartfield Airport. In the process, their bags get switched which causes a problem when TSA agents find Ethan’s glaucoma medicine (read: pot) in what appears to be Peter’s bag. It gets worst from there when Ethan ends up in first class where Highman’s Blackberry and Ethan’s repeated use of the words “terrorist” and “bomb” not only get the pair kicked off of the plane but also added to the federal government’s “No Fly” list.

When Highman realizes that he has lost his wallet in the ruckus, he has no choice but to drive with Ethan and his dog, Sonny, to Los Angeles.

I enjoyed this movie and went in expecting lots of laughs. While there were definitely some laugh out loud moments, there weren’t as many as I was expecting – which is often the case with ‘sweet’ comedies. What made the movie work was the undeniable chemistry between Downey and Galifianakis. This movie would have completely fallen flat without their connection.

Jamie Foxx as Highman’s best friend and Juliette Lewis as a pot dealer in Birmingham are good in their extended cameos but, make no mistake, it’s up to the two stars to carry this. They carried it as far as they can, but to go the distance, they needed funnier material to work with.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Movie Review: For Colored Girls

I fell in love with Ntozake Shange’s play, For Colored Girls Who Considered Suicide when the Rainbow Wasn’t Enuf (which she referred to as a choreopoem) way back in high school when I was a bit of a thespian (that's a lover of acting, not to be confused with a lover of other women – not that there is anything wrong with that). I read and reread the play. I loved it. I even used several of the monologues as audition pieces.  For those unfamiliar with the play, For Colored Girls, for short, it is a collection of poems told by eight different women only known by their colors: Red, Orange, Green, Yellow, Brown, Purple, White and Blue.

When I found out Tyler Perry was turning it into a film, I had concerns and I had questions. How do you take a collection of monologues by characters that have little interaction and turn it into a film? Do you add men, because as they were the inspiration for most of the poems, there were none in the play? So, I went into this film very reluctant. I came out very pleased.

Perry had to start by creating relationships between the women. Yasmine/Yellow (Anika Noni Rose) was a dance instructor and Nyla/Purple (Tessa Thompson) was one of her students, looking forward to starting college. Nyla was the sister of the beautiful and promiscuous Tangie/Orange (Thandie Newton) who was estranged from their mother, the very religious Alice/White (Whoopi Goldberg). Tangie and her landlord Gilda (Phylicia Rashad) shared the fifth floor of their walk-up apartment building with the hardworking and abused Crystal/Brown (Kimberly Elise), who worked for the high-powered Jo/Red (Janet Jackson). Rounding out the cast were Kelly/Blue (Kerry Washington) a social worker and Juanita/Green (Loretta Devine) a nurse, starting a non-profit health center for women.

Men play pivotal, if not central roles: Michael Ealy, Richard Lawson, Omari Hardwick and Khalil Khan have the thankless task of bringing these men, who have collectively caused so much pain, to life. Hill Harper stars as a character of Perry’s own creation, a good guy, who's sole purpose seems to be to show women that all men aren't bad.

The performances were spot-on, with the women, and the men, bringing the intensity necessary to not just bring these women to life but to flesh them out as full characters. I don’t normally give Perry a lot of props in the writing department but he did a great job of creating the world and the relationships in which these characters could exist.

He also didn’t shy away from the brutality of some of the subject matter: abuse, rape and murder are all handled and handled well. In fact, the most powerful poem in the play becomes a pivot turning point in the film and it is brought to horrifying life. I had half expected the Hollywood happy ending but Perry stayed true to the play.

However, in staying true to the play and some of the monologues, the film sometimes came across as stilted and disjointed. He keeps many of the lines from the original play intact. As a fan of the play, I appreciated that (and even after all these years was able to quote lines right along with the actresses). If you aren’t familiar with the play, many of the lines will seem to go on too long or just seem slightly out-of-place.

As a result, this is a film that sometimes feels more like theater. To me that isn’t a bad thing, but it isn’t necessarily everyone’s cup of tea. Having said that, I highly recommend this film, not just for Colored Girls but for all girls (and some sensitive guys too).

Underperforming Undercovers Canceled

They tried but it didn’t work. The J.J. Abrams produced Undercovers just didn’t catch on. Thirteen episodes were ordered and that will be all. Abrams, the producer of Lost, Alias and Fringe. The show will air its final three episodes over the next few weeks.

Personally, I think Abrams fans didn’t want what Abrams had to offer. Fans of Lost, Fringe and even Alias like the intricacy and the complexity of Abrams shows. However, this time around he was offering light and breezy and Abrams fans weren’t looking for light and breezy. Unfortunately, neither was anyone else.

I had held out hope that the series might catch on about a month ago when NBC ordered four more episodes. However, 13 proved to be an unlucky number and that’s a shame. The show was gorgeous, like its two leads Boris Kodjoe and Gugu-Mbatha Raw. The script was getting better and the show had a fun Hart to Hart feel that I appreciated.

Too bad more people didn’t tune in.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

The Sweeps are Upon Us!

Wow! Time flies! I looked up and realized it was November 4th. Sweeps month has already started, a fact I was reminded of when a good friend of mine reminded me that tonight is the raw post-rape episode of Private Practice. So, we’re in for four weeks of all new programming chock-full of grittiness, guest starts and plot changes.

Tonight, in addition to PP, Mad Men’s John Slatterly will boldly go where co-star Jon Hamm has already gone before and guest star on 30 Rock as a candidate for the House of Representatives.

On Bones this month, Wayne Knight (the infamous Newman from Seinfeld) guest stars and before the month is over, someone will be shot!

Lyle Lovett plays an X-Files-like FBI agent on the November 15th episode of Castle where he interferes with a murder investigation/possible alien abduction.

Cougartown celebrates Jules (Courtney Cox) 42nd birthday and later in the month, she tries to put a romantic twist on Thanksgiving dinner.

Dancing with the Stars comes to an end but before you have the chance to miss it, you’ll have Skating with the Stars to look forward to!

On Glee, Puck is sprung from the juvenile pokie. We get to see more of football coach Beastie and we get Gwyneth Paltrow guess starring as a substitute teacher who covers Cee-Lo Green’s F**k You. Plus, love could be in the air for Kurt.

Get scoop on more shows, like, Dexter, Chuck, Hellcats, Gossip Girl and more at Zap2It.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

It's Baaccckkk! ... Well, Almost

I will be the first to admit when I heard the rumors that Jennifer Lopez and then Steven Tyler were being considered for the coveted judge positions on American Idol, I laughed and kept it moving. Lopez? Really? Isn’t there a romantic comedy, or two or three that she should be starring in or maybe another CD she needs to run off to the studio to make? And Aerosmith frontman, Tyler, a real rock-n-roll Skeletor (seriously, I look at him and it’s Halloween every day). Really? I chuckled and said, “Dream On.”

When I found out that these were really the judges, for the first time since the show began I considered boycotting it. In fact, part of me is still contemplating an American Idol blackout. But then, I saw this promo for the new season and I remembered why I’m such an Idol fan.

It isn’t about the judges. It isn’t about the practically insufferable Ryan Secrest. It’s about the contestants. It’s about finding a favorite and seeing how far they can go. This promo wisely sidesteps the judge drama and goes back to what made Idol, Idol.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Zach G Smokes a Jay

Okay, let me start by saying this, I am one of the few members of Generation X who has never been high. Sure I've been drunk (hey, I did graduate from a notorious party school) but I've never been high. I never wanted anything up my nose. I, for damn sure, would never stick myself with a needle. Basically, I never understood the logic of buying an illicit drug from some guy I wouldn't trust to valet park my car.
Smoking, of any sort, has always seemed nasty to me, especially smoking some wet joint that a whole bunch of people have already slobbered on. Eeeewww. I think I'll pass. Besides stoners just lay around laughing about nothing and eating a bunch of junk food ... it just never seemed appealing to me.

So the whole "Let's legalize it!" mantra escapes me. Why is it so important to be able to get high? What's so great about it.

Well, a lot of people obviously diagree with me, including star of The Hangover and Due Date (out this Friday), Zach Galifianakis. In an appearance on Real Time with Bill Maher, while discussing Proposition 19, a California proposal to legalize marijuana, he appeared to light up a doobie and smoked it on-air. Some are now saying that it might not have been the real deal.

Despite high-profile proponents like Galifianakis, Proposition 19 is expected to be defeated in tomorrow's election.

Check it out for yourself.

Rocky Horror - Glee Style

My apologies... I thought I posted this last week!

Glee’s Rocky Horror episode last night reminded me of why I love this show so much. Glee can be, at times, a victim of its own success – indulging in all the celebrity fanfare. You can’t really blame the producers for the Madonna, Britney and even Gaga-based episodes. After all, it’s an honor to have so many megastars honored to have their music featured on your little show. But, I think Glee is best when it focuses on the characters and the music.

The Rocky Horror Picture Show is all about fun (it definitely isn’t about plot!) and this episode captured that spirit and enthusiasm. Everyone was in on the act. We got to hear John Stamos sing, Emma (Jayma Mays) rip Will’s (Matthew Morrison) shirt off. And of course, we got a couple of nice ab shots from new comer Chord Overstreet! Mercedes (Amber Riley) stepped into the spotlight and put her own spin on Dr. Frankenfurter (the sweet transvestite from Transsexual Transylvania). Granted, the original was played deliciously by Tim Curry who killed it in a leather corset, hose and heels but she did something different with it and I respect that.

The guest casting that has become such an issue of late was perfect with Rocky Horror originals Barry Bostwick (Brad) and Meatloaf (Eddie) playing TV executives who were against a school production of the adult-themed musical. We got to see more of Sue too (the recent episodes have been a little Sue-light). And a little Sue is always a good thing!

If there was a major drawback for me, it was the bizarre way the Rocky Horror songs were censored. Frankenfurter’s Sweet Transvestite didn’t come from Transsexual Transylvania but from Sensational Transylvania. When Emma sang Touch Me, she didn’t fear getting into heavy petting but heavy sweating. Huh? This from a show that just a week before showed two cheerleaders making out on a bed and discussing a lesbian sex act – not to mention plots about pregnant teenagers and teen boys who get a little too excited too quickly. The changes seemed random and unnecessary.

Next week is all about baseball so it will be a Glee free week but in two weeks, the show will be back and by the promo it looks to be pretty good.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

I Guess We Couldn't Handle the Truth!

ABC has cancelled the struggling legal drama, The Whole Truth, starring Maura Tierney and Rob Morrow. The show which attempted to show a court case from both the prosecution and defense sides, revealing the 'truth' at the end, just didn't make it. It isn't clear how many of the remaining 13 episodes will air.

An original episode will air tomorrow night but no telling what will happen after that. The following week, an ABC Special In the Spotlight with Robin Roberts: All Access Nashville will take the Wednesday at 10:00 slot. Country music will be the focal point the week after that when all of ABC's Wednesday night programming will be pre-empted for the Country Music Awards.

On a brighter note, ABC ordered a full season of the family superhero drama, No Ordinary Family and the rom-com, sit-com Better with You. They have also ordered extra episodes of the police drama Detroit 1-8-7.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Gibson is no Tyson!

Sequels to good movies always seem like a good idea, at least they do to studios, after all, the first one made a crapload of money! Rarely do they live up to the expectation though. So it’s with some trepidation that I report, The Hangover 2, is in production. I loved the first one. But, the thought of a second one? Meh, I don’t know if lightning can strike twice.

Of course, Mel Gibson is a lightning rod of another sort. He been able to attract boatloads of negative attention over the years. Many people objected to his portrayal of Jews in The Passion of the Christ. Then there was his anti-Semetic and sexist rant when he was pulled over and arrested for drunk driving. His Christian fan base (who loved The Passion of the Christ) took a hit when the long-time Catholic left his wife and all of their kids, for a Russian hottie, Oksana Grigorieva, who was pregnant with his child at the time. And most recently, Oksana released a series of recording of a seething, ranting Mel who at one point, wished that she’d get raped.

Just as people were wondering if Mel would ever work in Hollywood again, he got an offer to make a cameo in The Hangover 2. However, apparently the cast (and especially Zach Galifianakis, if the reports are true) wasn’t too fond of the idea and Gibson has been replaced by Liam Neeson. Reports say Gibson is livid.

A lot of people, Gibson included, thought it was hypocritical of the Hangover cast to object to Gibson when Mike Tyson, a convicted rapist played a critical role in The Hangover. I don’t think those are exactly the same, and I’ll tell you why.

Mike Tyson was convicted of his rape and served three years. After he came out of prison, his fighting career was pretty much over. It was definitely in decline when he bit off part of the ear of Evander Holyfield. Over the years, Tyson has become a parody of himself. Basically, way before The Hangover came around, he’d already become a joke, a tired punch line (no pun intended).

Gibson and all of his behavior is still fresh in our minds (especially the tapes). As far as I know, he did no jail time for his DUI and his apology for his anti-Semitic ranting didn’t satisfy many people. The Oksana situation is on-going. Right now, Gibson is a villain. He’s someone we love to hate. And I don’t think anyone is ready to laugh at him or with him right now.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Likin' LOLA a Little More

Last night’s LOLA felt more like Law & Order. A lot of the cosmetic touches were back. My voiceover at the beginning (“In the criminal justice system…”), the dum-dum and the black screens introducing each segment. So, I was a little bit happier that LOLA is making more of an effort to be and L&O show.

Corey Stoll is growing on me but I am still missing the gritty darkness of NYC. I also liked last night’s case more than the previous week’s. It seemed more relevant overall and not so 'unique;y LA (which translated to annoying for me).

It was Terrence Howard’s turn last night as ADA and I’m still not impressed with either him or Alfred Molina nor Peter Coyote as the DA. Right now, they all seem pretty interchangeable, I need to start seeing more personality because the Law side is definitely lagging behind the Order. All three actors are great and I know they can breathe some life into these very standard characters.

However, NBC has ordered a full season, so they’ll have some time to work out the kinks and create something that is uniquely their own.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Did You Know? I Didn't Either!

Idris Elba, who came to prominence for American audiences with his portrayal of drug king pin Stringer Bell, in HBO's The Wire. Since then, he's worked steadily in a variety of roles. He was a leading man in Obsessed with Beyonce. He appeared in several episodes of The Office as Charles Miner, one of Michael Scott's (Steve Carell) bosses. He did the horror thing in 28 Days Later. And, off screen, he deejays at clubs in The States and back home in Great Britian.
So, imagine my surprise when I came across a little article about a BBC America series called Luther. Idris stars as a morally conflicted detective in this six part series. It just started, so it's not too late to check it out. Click here for the schedule.

Monday, October 18, 2010

NBC Pick-Ups

Fans of The Event can breathe a sigh of relief, the show, along with Outsourced and Law and Order: Los Angeles (LOLA) have been picked up for the entire season. None of the three have become break-out hits but The Event and LOLA have attracted more viewers over the past few weeks. Outsourced is doing well with the coveted young adult viewers.

What's Wrong with LOLA?

I've been a die-hard Law & Order fan from the beginning. Law & Order, Law & Order: SVU, Law & Order: Criminal Intent and even the short-lived Law & Order: Trial By Jury - I've watched them all. In fact, my weekend ritual involves laying in bed and watching an episode or two of L&O (or whatever variation) before getting out of bed. You can almost always find an episode of L&O on some channel, just about all of the time.

I guess because I do see so much L&O that I find the latest version, Law & Order: Los Angeles, so disconcerting. I have been watching it, but to be honest, I'm not really connecting with it. As I thought about it, there are several reasons.

Los Angeles ain't New York. NYC has a character all its own. In fact, the city was a character in L&O, CI and SVU. It provided more than a location. It created its own ambiance, its own mood. Los Angeles just doesn't have the same kind of character. To me, it feels off.

It could be that LOLA, and Los Angeles in general, are just too damn bright. I have to squint just watching it! Maybe part of the New York appeal is that the city itself is just darker, literally and figuratively, and it lends itself effortlessly to a crime drama. Los Angeles is just too sunny!

Then there are the actors. Skeet Ulrich falls in line as an L&O detective, but his partner? Played by actor Corey Stoll, he's got the Kojack head and the Magnum P.I. stache. His whole persona is distracting to me. I know it takes a while for a partnership to gel (and I'm giving this one time) but I miss the legendary banter of Briscoe (Jerry Orbach) and Greene (Jesse L. Martin), or even Bernard (Anthony Anderson) and Lupo (Jermey Sisto) which had hit its stride when the flagship series was yanked last year.

And no one on the Law side: Regina Hall, Alfred Molina or Terrence Howard is really working for me either. None have the world-weariness of a Jack McCoy (Sam Waterson) or the tenacity of a Michael Cutter (Linus Roache).

The stories they have chosen to tell while still 'ripped from the headlines' from the Manson-inspired cult killing to the ring of thieves ripping of a bunch of celebutantes just haven't resonated with me. I think they are trying too hard to be Hollywood stories when they need to just be good crime stories.

Lastly, the hallmarks of a Law & Order opening are gone. There is no voiceover telling me that "In the criminal justice system, the people are represented by two separate yet equally important groups: the police, who investigate crime, and the district attorneys, who prosecute the offenders. These are their stories." Or something similar in the cases of CI, SVU and Trial by Jury. There is no theme song. There is no 'dum-dum' between acts. It seems as if LOLA is a Law & Order show that doesn't want to be a Law & Order show and for me that is not a good thing.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Outlaw Is Just Plain Out!

Last week it was placed on ‘hiatus’. This week, it’s canceled. The show about a Supreme Court Justice who quits the bench to be a trail lawyer was found guilty – guilty of not finding an audience. So what’s a network to do? In NBC’s case, add another hour of Dateline.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Let Me In

Most of the time, I go to the movies alone. I like it that way. However, when I go with friends, I often end up seeing something I would not have normally seen, usually ‘horror’. Last time around the boyfriend picked The Last Exorcism. We both hated it (but it bought me rights to pick all of our movies through the end of the year). This time around, one of my girlfriends and I saw Let Me In. I was pleasantly surprised.

Let Me In is a variation of the classic tale – Boy meets girl. Boy lose girl. Boy gets girl back. This time around, it’s boy meets girl, then boy finds out girl is a violent blood-sucking vampire and finally boy deals with the consequences. The boy in question is 12-year old Owen (Kodi Smit-McPhee). He’s introverted and painfully shy. His parents are divorcing and he’s also the victim of a pack of merciless bullies at school. He could really use a friend.

When Abby (Chloë Grace Moretz), another 12-year old and her ‘father’ (Richard Jenkins) move into to Owen’s depressing apartment complex, he finds a friend, despite her insistence when they first meet that they can’t be friends. Yet, their friendship and even love blossoms. When the truth of who Abby really is is revealed, Owen has to do more thinking than most boys his age, thinking about the nature of evil and of love.

Let Me In is set in northern New Mexico in 1983. So Owen and Abby don’t live in a world of desensitized video violence or in the Twilight/Harry Potter era of romanticized vampires and dark arts. This doesn’t mean that Owen isn’t familiar with vampire lore. Of course he is but it would have been a different film had it had a modern setting.

As it is, Let Me In manages to be both sweet and unsettling and at times downright scary. Abby gives Owen the friend he desperately needs and the strength to stand up for himself. He gives her the safety and acceptance to be exactly who she is, in all of its gory excess. But even stories of young love work best when there is a triangle. Richard Jenkins is the man that loves Abby and takes on the grim task of getting her the blood she needs. It’s a horrific job but one he’s gladly done for her over the years. He rightly sees Owen as a threat. A tender scene between Abby and Jenkin’s character hint at the nature of their relationship and it did sort of creep me out.

However, Let Me In is a tale of love and acceptance interspersed with moments of true horror and violence. As it ended, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of sadness at what was inevitably to come.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

On the Bubble?

Earlier I did a post about this being a lackluster year for movies (Inception and The Social Network being the exceptions). I’m having that same feeling about this year’s crop of television shows. My favorite newbie, Lone Star, was the first to leave the party. ABC’s My Generation quickly followed. So the big question is which show will be next?

If ratings are any indication, new shows that joined Lone Star and My Generation in the bottom of the ratings pool included: Running Wilde (FOX), The Whole Truth (ABC), and Outlaw (NBC). FOX gave The Good Guys a second shot on Fridays but it still hasn’t made much of an impression. As far as other returning shows, The Apprentice is down there too, along with NBC shows Community and Parenthood. Surprisingly, Fringe rounded out the bottom 10.

Having seen both Running Wilde and The Whole Truth, I can’t say I’m surprised. Running Wilde was painfully unfunny and the fact that it came after the much funnier Raising Hope made it that much worse. The Whole Truth was just average even though I liked the premise. I didn’t even bother to watch Outlaw because it just didn’t seem that interesting. I guess most of the viewing audience felt the same way.

If I had to encourage anyone to watch any of these shows, I would have enthusiastically have thrown my support behind Lone Star. Alas, it was canceled, so I’ll make a few other less passionate pleas.

The Good Guys: I like this show. Let me be more specific. I like Bradley Whitford as 80’s throwback detective Dan Stark. He, and he alone, make this show not just watchable but enjoyable.

The Apprentice: I like the fact that we don’t have a bunch of has-been celebrities in the board room every week. These are real people – real unemployed people. They aren’t just hungry, they are starved. To me, it makes for some real, reality TV (well, as real as reality TV gets anyway).

Parenthood: This is a good show. It is. Well-written, well-acted, well-done and well worth your time.

Fringe: This show should not be in the bottom at all … ever. If you are scared that you can’t pick up the twisty alternating universe plots, check out Entertainment Weekly’s primer that should catch you up to the beginning of this season. Then visit the FOX site and get caught up on the first few episodes of the season.

My Picks for Cancellation (in order): Running Wilde, The Whole Truth and then Outlaw.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

The Social Network

I am one of the 500 million who have a page on Facebook – along with my dad, former bosses, countless co-workers and just about everyone I ever went to school with. Yet, I wasn’t eager to see The Social Network. I envisioned sitting there watching people stare at computer screens and talk endlessly about computer stuff and to me that didn’t sound interesting. Director David Fincher (Se7en and Fight Club) and writer Aaron Sorkin (The West Wing) took the action away from the PC and focused on the people and that made all the difference.

The film follows Facebook founder (or rather co-founder) Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg) as he came up with (or stole) the idea for Facebook. After getting dumped by his girlfriend, he goes home, blogs about it and hacks into a bunch of Harvard computers to create “FaceMash” where people get to vote on which Harvard girls are hottest.

This attracts the attention of twin rowing crew members Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss (Armie Hamer Jr. and Josh Pence). They have an idea for a social networking site for Harvard undergrads and they want Mark to create it; but, Mark has other ideas. He and his best friend Eduardo Saverin (Andrew Garfield) start Facebook. Mark has the mind and Eduardo has the money … that is until the site really starts taking off and draws the attention of former Napster co-founder Sean Parker (Justin Timberlake).

The movie volleys back and forth between flashbacks and two lawsuits that Zuckerberg is fighting, one from the Winklevoss boys and the other from his former best friend, Eduardo.

I wonder how the real Mark Zuckerberg feels about his portrayal by Jesse Eisenberg. He comes off like a condescending, insecure jerk most of the time, someone who had no problem screwing over a friend. However, the film does a good job of chronicling how quickly the site grew and how the principals really weren’t prepared for it.

This movie relies heavily on dialogue and what elevates it is that the dialogue is crisp and it works. It’s at times funny and even sad but it is always revealing, especially when it comes to Zuckerberg. His hurt, his rejection, his resentment come through often in a throw-away line. He doesn’t mean to be giving so much away and even if he isn’t aware of it, those around him (particularly his ex and Saverin) are.

Timberlake’s Sean Parker appears to be the personification of excess and temptation who played a critical role in breaking up the initial Zuckerberg/Saverin partnership. By painting a flawed and insecure Zuckerberg and focusing on his relationships and how they run their course, Fincher has created a compelling film.

Do I think it’s “the best film of the year”? No, but if you are one of the Facebook family, it might be worth checking out.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

A Fallen Star! - Lone Star Canceled

After being hailed as one of the most critically acclaimed shows of the season, Lone Star, after two episodes, has the dubious honor of being the first cancellation of the season.

This makes no sense to me. It was placed on Monday at 9:00 going up against the most hyped show of the season, NBC's The Event and against one of the most highly rated shows ABC's Dancing with the Stars. So instead of putting it on hiatus and bring it back later in the season, or instead of trying to find a less competitive spot for it, it's canceled?

At least a handful of episodes will remain unaired, what a loss! What ever happened to giving a show a chance to find an audience? They didn't have to give it a full 22 episode commitment, but the axe after two episodes? That's idiotic.

So next week, Lie to Me will start its third season early.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps

It’s called Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps … but I did, for a good couple of minutes. Oliver Stone is always trying to say something with is films. This time around he’s trying to make a statement about how we got into this financial mess. There is enough blame to go around, according to Stone. Yet, he is saying too much and not doing enough. I’m sorry but watching a bunch of old white guys around a conference table is not exciting.

Wall Street picks up where we think it would. The embodiment of 80’s greed, Gordon Gekko (Michael Douglass) is getting out of prison. A look at the old ‘mobile’ phone he brought in with him is a vivid reminder of how long he’s been away (it’s huge!). He’s out in a different world … one tettering on the edge of financial collapse.

Meanwhile, his estranged daughter, Winnie (Carey Mulligan), is the antithesis of dear old dad; she’s a idealistic do-gooder who runs a politically liberal website. Clearly, she’s got some unresolved issues with Daddy because she’s living with Jacob Moore (Shia LeBeouf) who is an up-and-coming Wall Street trader with his own daddy issues. His surrogate dad is Louis Zabel (Frank Langella), who owns and runs a major brokerage company.

When the markets begin to crash, it’s Zabel’s firm (like Goldman Sachs) that is sacrificed. A despondent Zabel steps in front a subway car, another casualty of the economic disaster. However, there to pick up the pieces is Bretton James (Josh Brolin) an investment banker who is what Gordon Gekko used to be (and maybe still is).

Stone gives Gekko a monologue that updates his Greed is Good speech from the first film. This time around, the speech is Greed Is Legal and ALL of Us Are Guilty of Being Greedy. Basically, I could have left after that speech (several women in my audience did leave well before the end) because it just kept droning on and on and never really took off.

I wasn’t invested in these characters. I was bored. Susan Sarandon as Jacob’s over-extended real estate agent mom is under-used and I never really connected with Mulligan’s Winnie either. Shia LeBeouf was serviceable but not much more. And although this is billed as Michael Douglass’s movie, he was surprisingly absent from about the first 20 minutes. Make no mistake about it, this movie is not Gekko’s story. In his defense, the first film wasn’t about him either. It was about Bud Fox (Charlie Sheen) and his dad (Emilio Estevez). This movie is about Jacob Moore (LeBeouf). The difference is that the story this time around isn’t nearly as compelling or engaging.

Having said that, Sheen makes a cameo as Fox which, for me, was the most entertaining scene in the film. Otherwise, sleep on Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps.

Thursday, September 23, 2010


Outsourced (NBC)
Thursday, 9:30 PM
What it’s about: After completing the management training program, a new manager is asked to manage a call center in India.

What I thought about it: Like The Office and 30 Rock, Outsourced is another workplace comedy; but instead of New York or New Jersey this one takes place 10 time zones away in India. I wish I could say it was worth the trip. The elements are there ... fish out of water, culture clashes, and basic workplace drudgery. There is a lot that could be funny ... but it wasn't.

$#*! My Dad Says

$#*! My Dad Says (CBS)
Thursday, 8:30 PM

What it’s about: Based on a Twitter account by Justin Halpern called Shit My Dad Says, it's about exactly what you'd think it'd be about ... funny and inappropriate things a crotchety old man says.

What I thought about it: First off, it's pronounced BLEEP My Dad Says (remember this is CBS and not HBO). The great thing about Twitter is that it's short and sweet and to the point. And on Twitter, Shit My Dad Says is funny. Yet when stretched to a half hour and shaped into common sit-com, it loses some of its zing. I enjoyed William Shatner as the Dad but the rest of the cast was cardboard, formulaic and just not funny.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Whole Truth

The Whole Truth (ABC)
Wednesday, 10:00 PM

What it's about: A defense attorney and a prosecutor face-off each week on a different case. We get to see both sides and then the whole truth.

What I thought about it: I like the premise: we get to see t he case come together from both sides (prosecution and defense), then after it’s all said and done and the final gavel has been pounded, we get to see a little something that lets us know what really happened. I like the chemistry between the two principals Maura Tierney (ER) and Rob Morrow (Northern Exposure and Numb3rs). Yet, I didn’t really care for the show.

This is a Jerry Bruckheimer production and his trademark fast-pace and fast editing don’t really lend themselves to a legal drama. At some points it was even hard to follow. As a result, I lost interest.

The Defenders

The Defenders (CBS)
Wednesday, 10:00 PM

Where it’s about: Two lawyers in Las Vegas take on the cases that the big law firms won't touch.

What I thought about it: If all we had was television to go on, it would be easy to think that everyone in this country was a cop, a doctor or a lawyer. The Defenders is one of the latest in the long line of lawyer shows. It’s different because it’s set in Vegas … and the new associate (Jurnee Smollett) stripped her way through law school. Jerry O’Connell and James Belushi do a good job playing off of one and you can tell they are having fun. Ultimately though, this show just isn’t memorable or compelling. By this time next week, I’ll have forgotten that it’s still on.


Undercovers (NBC)
Wednesday, 8:00 PM

Where it’s about: A married pair of former CIA agents return to work to beat the bad guys and spice up their marriage.

What I thought about it: J.J. Abrams, the guy who brought us Alias, Lost and Fringe is going down a different path with Undercovers. I honestly don’t think many of his faithful fans will be coming along for the ride. Gone are the intricate plots, the mind-bending twists and turns and all of the mysteries and mythologies. This time around J.J. Abrams just wants to have fun!

I enjoyed Undercovers. It’s fun and entertaining. Boris Kodjoe and Gugu Mbatha-Raw are Steven and Samantha Bloom , a happily married couple who retired from the CIA and are running a successful catering business. Of course they get lured back for one final score and realize that espionage gives their marriage an added boost. The chemistry between Kodjoe and Mbatha-Raw is amazing. I hope the writing picks up in future episodes however. It was a little flat and cliched. I'd like to see a little more wit. So far though, I’m along for the ride.

The Town

Ben Affleck loves his hometown. In his second directorial effort, he goes back to Boston (like he did the first time around for Gone Baby Gone). Specifically, The Town is set in Charlestown, which has the dubious distinction of producing more bank robbers than any other city in the world.

Doug (Ben Affleck) and his crew including his hot-headed friend James (Jeremy Renner) have got robbing banks down to a science — dousing the bank with bleach to mess up fingerprints and DNA and torching their getaway cars to destroy evidence. Yet James is a liability. He’s not content with just robbing the bank. He’s got a penchant for violence and you know that’s going to get him into real trouble at some point.

In the opening heist, they briefly hold a bank manager, Claire (Rebecca Hall) hostage before letting her go — but not before taking her license so they can find her if she talks to the police. The F.B.I. comes a-calling in the form of Special Agent Adam Frawley (Jon Hamm), but Claire isn’t much help as she didn’t see their faces.

After looking at her license and realizing that she lives in the neighborhood, James wants to ‘get rid of’ her. Doug however, has another plan. He wants to know what she knows first, and before he knows it, he’s falling for her.

Ben knows his way around Boston and has managed to make a movie with an authentic look and feel. He knows the streets and he knows these characters. The Town draws you into it. You feel the hopelessness of a group of guys who inherit the family business, bank robbing. You feel for James because you know that someone living that close to the edge will eventually fall off of it. And, you feel for Doug because he does dare to want something different for himself even if he doesn’t really know how he’s going to get it.

Well-written and well-acted, The Town gave Jeremy Renner, who starred in last year’s Best Picture, The Hurt Locker, another opportunity to showcase an intense and explosive performance. Affleck and Rebecca Hall also craft a believable romance. Even Gossip Girl’s Blake Lively gave a solid performance as James’s sister and Doug’s part-time girlfriend. I only wish Jon Hamm had been given a little more to do.

To turn a Bostonian phrase: “The Town is one wicked cops and robbas tale!”

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Detroit 1-8-7

Detroit 1-8-7 (ABC)
Tuesday 10:00 PM

What it’s about: Gritty series about homicide cops in The Motor City (that’s Detroit, y’all)

What I thought about it: I haven’t seen James McDaniel since NYPD Blue. He shows up here on yet another police procedural. This one just didn’t keep my attention. Besides its cool retro soundtrack there wasn’t much to keep me engaged. Detroit 1-8-7 is a very by the numbers show. There is nothing unique about it. The characters didn’t really draw me in and neither did the case they were working on. 1-8-7 is cop code for murder. I predict a similar fate for this show.

Running Wilde

Running Wilde (FOX)
Tuesday 9:30 PM

What it’s about: From the creators of Arrested Development, two long lost lovers reconnect as opposites (she’s a humanitarian and philanthropist) he’s still a spoiled rich kid.

What I thought about it: There were two really big problems with this show. Big Problem #1, it’s a comedy but it wasn't very funny. One attempt at comedy involved a miniature horse and it seemed to just drag on. But oh, this isn’t just a comedy, it’s a romantic comedy, which brings me to Big Problem #2.There was absolutely no chemistry between Will Arnett and Keri Rusell. I’ve seen more chemistry between a business woman and a homeless guy forced to sit next to each other on the subway. Running Wilde should be running off the FOX schedule very quickly.

Raising Hope

Raising Hope (Fox)
Tuesday, 9:00 PM

What it’s about: From the creators of My Name is Earl a quirky ‘white trash’ (their words not mine!) family decide to raise a baby.

What I thought about it: I found myself laughing out loud a few times. Of course, if sophisticated and witty comedy is your thing, by all means skip this one. But if you are a fan of silly, physical comedy, watch this. I had reservations about Martha Plimpton doing comedy but she pulls it off. And then there is Cloris Leachman who has a habit of stealing every scene. I’ll be watching this one again.


Chase (NBC)
Monday 10:00 PM

What it's about: A team of bad ass U.S. Marshalls hunt down some of America’s most wanted deep in the heart of Texas.

What I thought about it: Well, I think producer Jerry Bruckheimer might have made a misstep with this one. I can see it being 'chased' right off the fall schedule. Hopefully, The Event will do well and it will retain most of that audience. If not, this show is in trouble.

Poor writing lead to a lot of cringe-worthy lines ... lines that really good actors might have had a problem with which made it even worse when this crew (lead by Kelli Giddish and Cole Hauser) tried to tackle them. Plus, it practically beat us over the head with the fact that it's shot in and takes place in Texas. It practically screamed, "Look we're shooting this in Texas and we've got more Texas flavor than a cowboy in a ten-gallon hat wearing his Levi's and chompin' down on a big juicy Texas-sized steak. It's big because everything's big in Texas and we ARE in Texas. Really we are!"

Action is great and there was some action in Chase. The problem is action alone can't carry a series, not for an hour and definitely not for a season.