Archive for October, 2007

Recently I was skimming through the 500s on my living room TV and I came across the last twenty minutes of a show called “Tell Me You Love Me” on HBO8 or HBO45 or whatever. I clicked on the show and watched for two reasons. I needed a study break and the scene was an awkward dinner party.

Let me just say I LOVE awkward scenes that move along only by dialogue. I love dialogue. I crave witty dialogue. Once I took a screenwriting class and was crushed to hear that dialogue is only an added bonus to the action of the scene, that a writer must lead with action and then add dialogue. WHAT? I want dialogue! I’d take well written dialogue over any well thought action in any form of TV or film. Silence is deadly to me.

So I come across this awkward dinner scene between four attractive young adults in their mid 20s. This was probably another reason I was drawn in… hmm, this could be me in five years! How thrilling! So I watched the remaining twenty minutes of the show. The final fade to black with music and the menacing neon-royal blue “TELL ME (drop a line space) YOU LOVE ME” appeared.

Alright, I think. What is this? It wasn’t a movie, that was certainly no final scene; that was the end of an episode. So I go to OnDemand and find that “Tell Me You Love Me” is a new HBO Series. I then go to IMDb, duh, and find out everything about everyone who is in the show. Interesting.

Then over the next week I ended up catching up with every episode of the new drama series and for some reason finding myself invested in the characters and the problems. The dialogue between the two youngest female leads, Jamie and Mason could not be more accurate, honest, and seductive. As I watched each character develop episode to episode I found myself really drawn to their stories and their lives. I felt invasive, but at the same time I could relate. Well done HBO, well done.

I haven’t felt this way about a drama in a long time. “Tell Me You Love Me” is our decades “Thirtysomething” only a little more raunchy, hip, and definitely more sex obsessed. The show actually only revolves around sex. Which is kind of a shameful thing for me to say after admitting that I’m hooked. But either way, the characters are different and raw and all decently well played. I think this is my new guilty pleasure.

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Last night, Robert Goulet died while waiting for a lung transplant He was 73-years-old.

What does most of our generation know about Goulet? Will Ferrel doing a bad-ass impression of him on SNL. Or that Emerald Nuts commerical where the man himself is sneaking around an office, messing with people’s stuff.

But he was a lot more than that. Ed Sullivan once called Goulet, ” The American Baritone from Canada.” He was the last of the great crooners; suave, debonaire and hansome. He had a TV, thatere resume a mile long. And if I were alive 50 years ago, or if I were suddenly 70, I wouldn’t kick him out of bed.

He was classy all the way through. According to CNN, the last words he said before the doctor’s put in his breathing tube were, ” Just watch my vocal cords.”

Goulet. Badass. Now and forever.

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Too soon!

For the most part, the readers of this blog know the two of us personally. This means you know our collective favorite show is of course, “The Office.”

For me, it’s more than a fun thing to watch. This show is one of the reasons I majored in Com Arts, it’s the reason my jokes got a little funnier in college, and it’s the reason I have to wake up on Thursday mornings. This show is not just my favorite, for the most part, it’s the best.

And then, I take a break from work, to discover this. That’s right. NBC is planning to make a Spin-Off of The Office. My first reaction? “Noooooooooo.”

Why the nervousness? This could go horribley awry. Supposedly, the new show doesn’t siphon away one of the main characters ( like Private Practice) but it does infringe on the good name this show has.
And I think part of my reaction is simple jealousy. I’ve been with the Office from the beginning. I watched it turn from a BBC copycat to a gem that unites everyone in the mediocrity and humor of work-life. Watching it grow-up and get poached for a spinoff is near heartbreaking.
However, I am holding out for hope. I have enjoyed spin-offs in the past. Here’s a short list of my favorites.
  • Just the Ten Of Us (Growing Pains)
  • Family Matters (Perfect Strangers)
  • Good Times (Maude)

I could look back on this post a year from now and consider myself the biggest idiot of all time. But right now, I am just waiting with bated breath. Don’t fuck this up NBC. I saw what you did to Joey.

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Coolio’s Not-So-Fantastic Voyage

File this under: “Things That Make Me Embarrased to Say I Love TV.” I may have to get bigger folders.

Apparently, lady-friendly network Oxygen just greenlight a series starring former 90’s rap star and wacky hair-guy Coolio. The show, titled Coolio and the Gang, follows the OG on the trials and tribulations of being a single parent raising half a dozen teenagers, while trying to start his own clothing line.

If you aren’t cringing already, just wait. Oxygen’s President of Programming likened Coolio And The Gang a modern-day, real-life My Three Sons.

No flippin’ way. I was an avid fan and supporter of Coolio. Then, he had to go and do this to me. If not done correctly, CATG could be an estrogenized,  version of Run’s House...but worse. I didn’t think it could get any worse. 

Too his credit, reality shows about families can go either way. I didn’t like The Osbournes, but House of Carters was a hidden gem. The Coolio family (does he have a last name?) could be dynamic and witty. The show could be groundbreaking….or it could be the remains of Growing Up Gotti rising up like an urban phoenix.

Coolio, if you’re reading this, do what you can to get out now. Just remember what you said to a 10-year-old me in your hottest jam to date ” Gangsta’s Paradise.”

“Too much television watching, got me chasing dreams”

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DVR Dangerzone

I am back from a week-long trip to my folks’ house and I have a week of TV to catch up on. It is a daunting task to say the least. Those of you without DVRs may not know of the regret and sour feelings accompanying backed up shows, but let me tell you, it is only rivaled by the sting of Netflix guilt.

I don’t really know how to go about this. Do I watch the shows in order? Do I watch the shows by the day they were on (Last week’s Prison Break followed by tonight’s Prison Break)? Or do I just settle in after work today and watch all of my favorities?

It’s almost too much. It is too much. But this is the type of challenge I have been cross-training for.

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I’m Just Catching Up: Weeds

I don’t have Showtime, but thanks to an extended stay at Chateau Mom & Dad’s, I’ve been catching up on my favorites.

Season 3 of Weeds is off to a refreshing start. Nancy and company were in quite a jumble at the end of season 2. Unlike “24” she spent upwards of two episodes trying to get out of the quagmire. For those of you who missed the beginning of 24 this season, we didn’t get a chance to see just how Jack survived the slow boat to China. I like it when season premiere’s take place two seconds after the season finale ends. It’s like they never left.

My only beef with Weeds is that Nancy is never just okay. I know that might make for boring television, but it would also humanize her and make her seem realistic. The show is taking on an out of this world quality. It needs to settle down before it becomes Pushing Daisies.

I am one episode into Dexter as well. So far, all I can confirm is that Michael C. Hall’s voice is devastatingtly hansome.

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Last night I went to see Frank Warren, creater of PostSecret, speak at a local bookstore. He was reverent, funny and passionate about the project. I felt a sense of warmth and community just sitting in the room. Sitting in a room of fans, at a concert, bookreading, speech, etc. is a one of a kind feeling. It’s hard to duplicate that overwhelming sense of commonality.

I bought Warren’s newest compilation, “A Lifetime of Secrets.” I thumbed through the pages and searched through the artwork. I was reminded that if I ever turned in one of these postcards, I would be more self-conscious about my chubby-fingered artwork than the secret itself. A few pages in, I saw one that caught my eye. Not the piecemeal collage, or the faded type. The secret itself yelled into my face.

“TV lied to me about how life would be.”

Cut out pictures of the cast of Saved By The Bell and Buffy the Vampire Slayer graced the card. Saved By The Bell (and a jillion other teen shows), lied to me too. I think it decieved a lot of small children. We wanted to befriend the principal, play 8 different sports, have a friend group we could constantly pluck romantic interests from, be the class clown. They neglected to talk about the awful parts of high school. Rejection, depression, loneliness. I was ill prepared for that part.

But who is to blame? The good people at SBTB, who just wanted to make money shilling neon green tank tops and giant cellular phones? Me, for believing it was all too real? My folks for setting my brother and I in front of the TV on Saturday mornings while they made breakfast? All of us? I’ve spent the last 24 hours wondering. Who am I and what have I become, what have I experienced as a result of a lifetime of televison misconceptions? All of this may be crazy, but it made me think.

Mission accomplished PostSecret.

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Why am I not surprised?

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Because it’s hard to keep up with a 24 hour medium, just ask CNN.

The Next Iron Chef
Food Network’s newest competition reality show pits 8 nationally renowned chefs against each other to see who can stand Alton Brown the longest. (Seriously that guy made a living on being everyone’s annoying third wheel friend.) It’s fun to watch because the people are dynamic, funny and genuinely amazing artists. I prefer it to Top Chef because there are few if any poor dishes. Nothing is disgusting, it’s just not as delicious.

Two Dudes Catering
Another Food Network show. I ran out of groceries this week and it shows. This one is exactly what it sounds like. A documentary reality show about two scruffy California guys running their own catering outfit. Their food is classic, clean, comforting. I wanted to eat the crab bake off the screen.

The Next Great American Band
I understand that when something works, you should follow a formula. If American Idol features a critical musician judge, an adorable female judge and a blunt foreign judge, then other shows will follow suit. NGAB takes the imitation to the next level, and it’s starting to show. The “tough” Australian record producer judge Ian Dickson (pictured) is abrasive, annoying and generally unhelpful. And Goo Goo Dolls frontman Johnny Rzeznick is apparently only good for flicking the whisps of hair out of his eyes.

The hack judges aside, the music is actually good. The very young (a metal band comprised of 13-year-olds made it through to the next round) the old & jaded, and the obscure came out in full force. The diversity is refreshing. I’m concerned Simon Fuller (same producer as Idol) will stifle this creativity and make the qualifying bands perform Whitney Houston songs, or something as lame and crack-laden. Here’s to hoping.

What’s coming next week? Season finale of Tori & Dean: Inn Love, finding the next creepy pale guy on Phenomenon, and the Scrubs final season premiere. Set your Tivos to stun!

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I am traveling back to my homeland tomorrow. Sweet Home Wisconsin.

In anticipation of my arrival and to celebrate the Badgers total domination of NIU today, I am blogging about my favorite shows which took place in the Dairy State. There are more than you’d think.

  • Step By Step : It’s not critically acclaimed…in fact, it’s hard to sit through more than one episode. But that opening sequence with the roller coaster almost made Port Washington look cool.
  • Laverne & Shirley: Before my time, but always funny. That Squiggy was outrageous. If only Shirley never married the doctor. Wishful thinking.
  • Happy Days: My first TV character crush was Potsie Weber. (I’m pretty sure I turned in my “Rights to Blackness” with that one.) Regardless, Potsie, Ralph Malph and Richie had so many awesome misadventures. Things really started heating up when they started trekking to Madison.
  • A Minute With Stan Hooper: Did anyone else watch this show? It was classic Norm MacDonald, (dry, sarcastic, etc). His character Stan moved in to a small wacky fictional town in Wisconsin. Funnier than it looked. Too bad it didn’t last.

You may notice a glaring omission from the list. I flippin’ hate That 70’s Show. Not everyone in Wisconsin is a hippie stoner…just Dane County.

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CBS’ new musical-drama Viva Laughlin, starring Hugh Jackman, premiered last night. If you’ve never heard of it, it’s like Cop Rock meets Las Vegas. The best part? The whole is worse than the sum of its parts. No seriously, I’d rather eat my weight in the lukewarm, fuzzy pasta gracing every buffet in Laughlin than ever watch this show again.

A few reasons why:

  • I’m 24 minutes in and I have no clue what’s going on.
  • The characters sing. This wouldn’t be bad except the original vocals are heard loud and clear. It’s like an awful duet, or listening to someone sing with the radio.
  • The acting is worse than…well anything else on TV. High School Musical 2 was more compelling.
  • Melanie Griffith. Yikes.
  • Viva Loughlin, a variety show starring Lori Loughlin, (Aunt Becky from Full House) would have blown this show out of the water.

I like musicals and Hugh Jackman. The combination of the two is unstoppable. This was just executed poorly. In case we didn’t learn from Coupling, not every BBC show can make the leap across the pond.

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Maybe it’s because I’m 3 beers in now. Or maybe it’s because the rest of my week has been lackluster. But I am going to say something and I don’t care who knows it.

I am falling out of love with The Office.

Last night was charming. It wasn’t particularly funny. Or witty. It wasn’t quick, it wasn’t subtle. It was just…okay. To be honest, the whole thing reminded me of one deleted scene after another.

It’s still my favorite show, so I guess you could say I still like it. I just want the old Office back. No sad Dwight, no sappy Jim, no sensitive Andy. Just back to basics.

I love you Dunder-Mifflin. I’m just not in love with you.

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