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Friday, February 18, 2011

The Week's Grades for unreviewed episodes...Except for Fringe, which Neither of Us Has Seen Yet

A
-Being Human (lots of twists. We're really enjoying this show.)
-Grey's Anatomy (finally, Meredith center-stage in a touching episode. Also, Teddy wasn't desperate, like she usually is.)
-The Vampire Diaries (return of Katherine and Alaric in danger. Also, Elena is back in the game.)
-Community (We are still laughing AND singing the Reading Rainbow song.)


A-
-Shameless
-The Office (Though the movie was obviously filmed this season, it was great to have a callback to the better years of this once-amazing show)


B+
-Episodes
-How I Met Your Mother
-Pretty Little Liars (Leeard disagrees and thinks it deserves at least an A-)(Ern would like to point out that the shows Glee, The Vampire Diaries, and Pretty Little Liars would always get an A from Leeard, but Ern whittles it down to a reasonable score.)
-Parks and Recreation
-The Good Wife

B
-Off the Map
-V
-Southland
-30 Rock


C+
-Bones (kind of a bore this week)

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Modern Family- Princess Party review

Call us crazy, but the last two weeks of Modern Family have been bad. The Valentine’s Day episode was disappointing, and this week’s episode was extremely repetitive. Does the show have any new material? There was a lot of potential. A competitive ex-boyfriend of Claire’s sounded promising but didn’t deliver.

DeDe, played by Shelley Long, returned and was less funny than her first appearance. Also returning was Shrill Claire, with DeDe bringing the bad side out of the character. Matt Dillon was also there as Claire’s old high school boyfriend, and to give the episode SOME credit, at least it didn’t totally revolve around his guest spot. Fizbo almost made an appearance. The jokes and the plot felt old. It was a lot like most Modern Family episodes. There wasn’t enough Phil and there wasn’t enough Luke. Luke’s attempt at cuteness wasn’t funny. We also didn’t like Gloria having a problem leaving an answering machine message. The episode just wasn’t as funny as we are used to from this show. It was all too big. By the time we saw a drunk, pilled-out Gloria falling down, we were yawning at the screen. Modern Family shouldn’t reach for over-the-top. Modern Family is a witty comedy. Usually.

What we liked: The British version of Fizbo, the court jester. Alex playing the jaws theme on her cello. Gloria’s bear voice and Jay’s response (“What kind of voice is that? A Bear? I was going to get a crucifix”). Also, this line by Gloria: “I want to be there for Alex’s graduation and ALL of Haley’s weddings.”

We still love the show, and we are hard on it because it is almost always good.

Episode grade: C-

American Idol- Hollywood Week 2 thoughts

WOW, some of those groups were bad. Are these really the best singers in the country? Did the great singers not try out? Did they not have the “full package” American Idol is always looking for? We aren’t blown away by anyone yet. We hope that there are some people we haven’t heard a lot from that will give us chills once the real competition gets underway. These people remind us of a line from old Simon Cowell, “You could get that quality of performance at any theme park in America.” Too true.

THE HAPPY
We are elated that bipolar Ashley Sullivan made it through, because she actually has a good voice. Robbie, the kid who looks like Aladdin, surprised us by bringing it this week too. We’re glad Jaycee made it, even though he must be the last person on earth who hasn’t heard, “Mercy.” The group that took him in needs a free pass through Hollywood week too. We need celebrities who are actual nice people. We guess Lauren Alaina really is going to win this. She’s the best right now. A group of 15 and 16-year old performing “Somebody to Love” showed a lot of promise though, and their moms were hilarious. And we are still liking Hollie Cavanaugh and that Casey guy.

THE SAD
We were sad to see little Emma Henry tossed out because she faded into the background of a terrible group, because she was pretty good. We can’t believe tone deaf, loud Jacqueline got through (she is the pretty blonde whose boyfriend was given the axe last week.) She was a heck of a lot worse than Paris, who got the boot despite her adorable special-needs baby and perfectly serviceable vocals. Other people we feel bad for? The little blonde, Jessica Yantz, who decided to partner with Tiffany and who got thrown out. First of all, she was on-key and had a really sweet voice, and second of all, “Irreplaceable” by Beyonce is a hard song. It doesn’t flow right if you aren’t Beyonce. Try singing it. It just doesn’t work out well. She partnered with Tiffany because she felt bad for Tiffany. The blonde didn’t like to see her partner-less, even though Tiffany’s arrogant comment last week is the reason she couldn’t find a group. Tiffany was the blonde’s downfall, making the blonde sound really bad by being off key and hollering to overpower her. The blonde took it well and without argument. Be careful who you befriend, guys. We can’t believe we ever rooted for Tiffany! We were fooled by her too, Jessica. We wish the girl who put noodles through her face had made it too. Noodle Nose, we barely knew ye!

THE DESPICABLE
The ex-boyfriend, Rob Bolin, had a stank attitude and an even worse performance. He deserved to go home. Being around his ex was breaking him, and she sings better than he does anyway. The group that kicked out poor little Jaycee was stellar, and we hated them for it. We can forgive arrogance, but we can’t forgive disloyalty and stomping on others for your career. Everyone in that group is going straight to hell.

Did they sing enough Bruno Mars on that show?

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Glee - The Comeback review

For the most part, season 2 of Glee spent most of its time making theme episodes, tributes, and trying to have things be as BIG as possible. It also spent a lot of time worshipping its favorite celebrities and trying to get attention. The past two episodes have not been like that. They’ve been back to form. The Valentine’s Day episode was amazing, and this one was good as well.

Granted, the episode was very weird. But awesomely so. Still, it felt a little off. We can't decide. It was like the show’s writers wrote it while they were a little drunk, but still having a good time. We can see how some people might think this episode was a dud. But we think the songs and Finn’s lines to Rachel at the end of the episode upped the grade to at least a B. It left us feeling happy and satisfied and still into the show.

One of us was cringing at the idea of a Justin Bieber tribute, but what happened was less of a tribute and more of a nod that actually served the story. We were especially amused by Sam wearing the purple hoodie for the whole episode. One of us thought the Glee versions of the Bieber songs were better than the originals, because Sam actually sounds like a man old enough to be singing about love. The other blogger vehemently disagrees.

The songs were diverse and good. We thought there was no reason for Glee to cover Rent’s “Take Me or Leave Me” after the movie version of the song (the best version, in our opinions). But then Lea Michele and Amber Riley brought the house down. We don’t think they’ve ever had a duet before, and it’s about time. Also, as to who won, we’ve never seen a bigger tie. They have such different soprano voices, yet they went together well. They need to start a band. We also enjoyed the My Chemical Romance cover, but we strongly agree with Rachel and Finn that it’s not Regionals material. We wonder what sort of song the show is going to write for the kids to sing. We’re sure it’s going to be saccharine-sweet and sunshine-y. Hopefully it shows off the cast’s voices. Hopefully it isn’t as unbearably hopeful and lame as most of the songs written for American Idol finales, because that’s what we’re expecting.

The Sam/Santana/Quinn/Finn plotline was also a success. One of us doesn’t think Sam is dumb. He’s just na├»ve, young, and dorky! And his James Earl Jones impression, while creepy, was actually pretty good. The other blogger thinks he is, as Santana put it, “As dumb as a bag of wet hair.” He made a smart decision at the end though. Quinn is a horrible person for cheating on two of her boyfriends in just a couple of years.

What didn’t work for us was the Sue plotline. Unfortunately, this took up a lot of the episode. Did she discover the healing power of music and helping cancer kids? Yes. But she also took the dark side when she betrayed Will in the end. Showing Sue’s soft side so strongly makes her inconsistent, rather than well-rounded, like the show is trying for. There was no reason to have her and Will in the hospital singing to kids. It wasn’t funny, it wasn’t entertaining, and most kids who watch Glee can’t just waltz into a hospital and start singing, because they were inspired by the show. We felt manipulated, not touched. Sue didn’t even look like Sue. She looked like the kindly older woman next door who gives you candy and lets you play with her dog. She looked like Jane Lynch (who is reportedly the nicest person ever in real life). It wasn’t a grudging softening with a reluctant smile; it was a complete break from character. The only cool thing about this scene was that it was filmed in a real hospital children’s ward, and the kids got to play with the actors and be on Glee. Ok, we guess that might be worth the dud of a scene.

A lot of people watching the show in the beginning complained that Sue was too mean. Then the show started softening her. First, they had Sue showing kindness and a good relationship with her mentally retarded sister. That was the most believable softening of Sue and showed us another side that didn’t negate her bad (and hilarious) traits. They should have stopped there. Since then, they’ve showed her having a truce with Will, saving the Glee club at the end of season one (which one of us actually liked), and now SINGING WITH CHILDREN AND THE GLEE CLUB? It was funnier when she was pure evil and calling people out based on physical traits. Now she’s just schizo. There’s no need for the character to commit Sue-icide. The writers may have already ruined her. Remember that ghastly wedding to herself? We DID like when she ripped the hat off of a kid’s head and screamed, “You know how I feel about hats!” That’s the Sue we find amusing.

Right now, the funniest characters may be Lauren and Santana. Santana’s mean little speech to Sam had us chuckling many times (“I wants on them froggy lips.”) The thing the two girls have in common? Cutting honesty. We were upset when we first learned that Sam and Quinn were breaking up, because they had mad chemistry, but after she cheated on him, we are ready for him to get his hot Latina revenge. We know better than to get attached to Glee couples.

Now, we are off to buy some leg warmers to wear on our arms. That had a cute 80s vibe, no?

Episode Grade: B+

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Teacher/Student Question

This week’s Pretty Little Liars had Aria’s dad jealous of Mr. Fitz because of how much Mrs. Montgomery admires him. Aria’s dad was mean to Mr. Fitz and defamed him as shallow to his daughter. Aria passionately defended him and seemed really upset. Where has Aria’s dad been? Such an attachment to a teacher is rare (most of our teachers elicit a nice “meh” from us). And has Aria’s dad forgotten that one scene where Aria’s brother talked about how Mr. Fitz was rumored to be having an affair with a student? That would be our first memory the next time the name “Ezra Fitz” came up. Doi. No wonder Aria is so dumb. She got it from her father’s dumb seed.

Anyway, thinking about Aria and Mr. Fitz made us wonder…have these two actually slept together? She’s at her apartment a lot, but we’ve never gotten confirmation. Cue Google. This is what we found: The actor who plays Mr. Fitz, Ian Harding, thinks that Aria and Mr. Fitz have a “once in a lifetime relationship” (barf). He went on to say, “"I feel like if that [sex] were to come about, if their relationship were to progress in a physical manner, it would have to be under certain circumstances. I feel like it was implied at one point....I remember there was a phone call Aria made to say she was sleeping over at Spencer’s, and she wasn’t. So I think they slept in the same apartment, yes...their relationship isn’t completely puppy love, but it isn’t something we would see on True Blood." (Source: TV Fanatic) So, is that a maybe? Leaning more toward maybe not? Implied, but maybe it has already happened off screen?

Better information comes from Executive Producer Marlene King who said that they’ve left it ambiguous on purpose so the fans can decide if they’ve had sex or not. Like the spinning top in Inception! So clever! (sarcasm). She added that their romance is more romantic than physical.

This is why we are disappointed with Pretty Little Liars. It wants its cake and to eat it too. It wants to have girls fall in love with this perfect little romance, but it wants to avoid the hard questions. It wants to avoid having young girls see how inappropriate the relationship is. It’s a sensitive subject, and the show doesn’t want to go there. It wants to stay in the realm of romantic fantasy.

But since they posed the question to the viewer and the level of sexuality the viewer is comfortable with imagining, we will ponder it. We think that, in the real world, a pair like this would have had sex. As much as we hate them, they are both pretty hot and a physical relationship would be hard to resist. Also, what would an adult teacher be doing spending so much time dating a student, eschewing other women, when there wasn’t at least the future hope of sex. We think they would go there in real life. In the show? Yeah, they probably haven’t had sex, because on TV, people can be perfect and responsible like that.

Do you think they’ve done it?

Gossip Girl - It-Girl Happened One Night recap

Oh, Gossip Girl. The last couple of weeks left us bored and ready to give up the show for good. Then one of us caved and was pleasantly surprised. This week, all of the dancing around with the Thorpes and Damian finally came to a head and we got to see a glimpse of some endgames and reasons for, at least, Damian’s existence.

What happened? Chuck and Raina are over, because Chuck betrayed Lily, and Raina doesn’t think that reflects well on his character. Blair found out that Chuck has real feelings for Raina (which even we find hard to believe, so no wonder she missed it for so long). Blair is thriving at work, and her friendship with Dan is closer than ever. Blair gave one of Dan’s short stories to Vanity Fair. Blair thought Serena screwed her over, so she screwed Serena over with Ben, but that got patched up by the end of the episode. Russell Thorpe led Chuck on and then tossed him on his rear end. Thorpe fired Nate’s dad, but the Captain managed to secure a bunch of Thorpe’s office passwords for Chuck to use to get information. Damian has some master plan that involves Eric. Eric has to do what he says, or Damian will tell everyone about Lily’s perjury, possibly sending her to jail.

The fashion was great, the music was good, the party of the week was fun. There were twists, cliffhangers galore, and enough darkness to make any Valentine’s Day episode palatable. Dan and Blair aren’t moving too fast and feeling like a gimmick. They have enough in common that they might make a good couple, if Chuck and Blair weren’t meant to be (and they are). For now, we are enjoying “Dair.” But we are NOT enjoying Serena and Ben. He is not hot, the two have no chemistry, he’s pathetic, and now that all of his secrets are unearthed, he’s boring as well. She passed on Dan for NO REASON for this? Nate needs a storyline right now. How about having him steal Serena away from Ben for a while?

Anyway, we are going to keep watching. There are only two episodes left until a hiatus anyway. Then the show will return in April. So we can hang on for two more weeks and pretend that good business skills means the ability to throw a dimly lit party or follow your best friend around with a camera. We can continue to pretend that Chuck would whisper everything he says in real life or that Serena never, ever does anything wrong, or that cute, rich, gay little Eric would ever be alone in New York City. We will also pretend that this show will make all its lagging/time-wasting up to us by delivering in the finale. Gossip Girl finales are usually eventful.

Episode Grade: A-

Monday, February 14, 2011

Shows You Can Watch Again and Again

Some shows, while good, do not lend themselves to a marathon of episodes you have already seen. These shows include LOST and Gossip Girl (hey, seasons 1 and 2 of that show WERE good). Once you knows the twists and drama of those shows, seeing the rare, “Wow, oh snap” moments can’t carry you through hours of something you’ve already seen.

Here is our list of shows one or both of us can watch hundreds of times:
-Scrubs (possibly Ern’s most re-watchable show. You forget just enough to have it feel fresh, and the individual scenes are enjoyable and funny. That’s one of the keys to a re-watchable show. It needs to have many good moments per episode, rather than a bunch of boring moments building tension to one big moment at the end.)
-Frasier (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MwSQz1XQxDA&playnext=1&list=PLBE056D5940003B54)
-Sex and the City (the speedy scenes and snappy writing keep this one from getting old)
-The Office
-Arrested Development
-Glee (with the musical performances that we replay enough times on our ipods anyway, plus the zingers and zany characters, this makes for a surprisingly re-watchable show)
-24 (this might be the biggest surprise for you of the list, since this show relies on a “what’s gonna happen?”-driven tension. But the show is so intense that you are scared for the characters even when you know what’s going to happen.)
-Breaking Bad (we love this show, but we often forget specific things that happen. That’s ok, because that makes it re-watchable.)
-Weeds
-Gilmore Girls
-Veronica Mars
-The West Wing
-Buffy the Vampire Slayer
-Sabrina the Teenage Witch

Shows that are surprisingly hard to watch multiple times:
-South Park (except for select favorite episodes, but Leeard disagrees)
-Bones
-Community
-Modern Family
-Intervention. Actually, most reality shows.

Top re-watchable movies: Fight Club (a movie that gets better and better the more you watch it), Finding Nemo, Enchanted, She's The Man and Mean Girls.

When you want to buy a DVD set of a show you’ve seen, what do you reach for?

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Yep, We Are Still Watching Off the Map

Off the Map is not nearly as good as Grey’s Anatomy was in its first couple of episodes (but it's a heck of a lot better than Private Practice was). It’s too light and it has yet to decide whether it’s more of a serial or a procedural. But the episodes don’t drag. It’s easy to watch, mindless entertainment. But it doesn’t sink to the level of superficiality and debauchery as most mindless entertainment shows involving romance (Jersey Shore, soap operas, etc.) Also, it is slowly but surely getting better. It’s easy to top the self-conscious, dumb pilot with potential that it churned out at first, but still. We think the dialogue is getting less schmaltzy too, as the characters’ redemption storylines have already been introduced. We can move past that a little now.

The latest episode featured an ex-law student (Mateo) on the run from the local, corrupt cops who is into Lily. He was on the show before too. This shows that Off the Map is starting to have the doctors forge connections with the locals that could turn into decent story arcs. We found out that Ben has a comatose wife whose funds support the clinic. This is a great surprise, and it shows us that the show is not afraid to go to a sort of creepy place and make the characters imperfect. Tommy is already starting to grow as a person and has stopped sleeping with every tourist who lands in the jungle. The show is moving in the right direction. We liked the giant snake, the ex-Nazi, and the father/daughter amputee plots. There are moments that are good, along with the cheesy, Grey’s-rip off moments. We are also enjoying Meryl Streep’s daughter, who plays Mina. She has an interesting look and enough charisma to pull of the character, even though we can see that she needs a little more acting experience. We actually like most of the cast. The scenery is gorgeous.

Zee and Cole were boring at first, but now we know that Cole used to be a drug addict and Zee has a hot Scottish guy after her. We really like that some of the natives are recurring and some stories are about to be set up. One of us likes the character of Dr. Ryan Clark. She’s cool, compassionate, and competent. We just wish she wasn’t sleeping with Ben. We’re glad Lily and Ben haven’t gotten together yet.

This show’s weakness is that it is relying too much on the big emergencies of the week, rather than focusing on a coherent, season-long plot arc for its main characters. This show would not work as a procedural. While patient stories are necessary, it’s the ongoing plots that keep people hooked on a show like this. Big patient stories each week are too unbelievable for a show that already has an out-there, fancy premise.

We want Ben’s wife to die, the clinic to conflict more with local corrupt law enforcement, and for Mina to get a love interest. We want the show’s messages to start being more subtle and we want the show to take more chances to break out of its “seen it, and it was Grey’s Anatomy” vibe. With so many good shows ending lately, we don’t feel like we should be too picky on a Wednesday night, packed only with American Idol, Cougar Town (on hiatus until April - or Mr. Sunshine is cancelled, which is unlikely because ratings are good), and Modern Family. Off the Map has yet to find its way, voice, and story. There’s room for it on our schedule, so we are going to really give it a chance to get good. If, by the end of the season, it isn’t, it’s gone. But we are giving it Season 1.

Grades for the Other Show Episodes We Watched This Week

V--> C

Southland --> B

Off the Map --> B

Bones --> B

Community--> C+

The Office--> B-

Parks and Recreation--> B

Grey's Anatomy--> C+

The Vampire Diaries--> B+

Shameless--> B-

Episodes--> B

Being Human--> B-

Gossip Girl--> D+

Mr. Sunshine--> D

Modern Family--> B-

30 Rock--> C

Degrassi--> B