Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Decade According to an Idiot Box Addict


One decade ago I was a mere ten year old who found joy in the simple heart and humor of after school television. “Full House” and “Boy Meets World” were staples in my pre-adolescent stage. Seventh heaven was still considered not only acceptable but a must watch for school discussion. Life was different, very different.

Then, around 2004, life changed. Grudgingly and most reluctantly, I let my Dad talk me into watching a teen drama about a girl who solved mysteries. I did not realize then that I had just become a slave to the idiot box. More after the jump.

“Veronica Mars” had me instantly hooked. The search for Lily Kane’s murderer kept me on the edge of my seat through the final episode of the first season. Logan Echolls, the misunderstood and winner of most in need of therapy “obligatory psychotic jackass,” completely won my heart. Veronica herself, the edgy, street-smart, too good for everyone else yet still somewhat vulnerable, outcast of Neptune High School was instantly a winner in my book. Rob Thomas’ witty and masterful dialogue created a world written in such a delicious way that I wanted to devour it immediately (and have done numerous times on DVD since). “Veronica Mars” and the mysteries and scandals surrounding Neptune provided my first true television obsession, and definitely not my last.

Over the past month or so the many lists of the best shows of the decade infiltrated my twitter feed and took over the blogosphere, providing many hours of much appreciated procrastination throughout finals. But when it came to writing my own lists, I didn’t really believe I was quite qualified. Over the past several years I have educated myself as best possible (with the help of my Dad’s unmatched DVD collection) on the television of the decade that I missed throughout the early teenage years. I have tried to catch up on the shows that I was too young to understand or care about when they originally aired.

I caught up on the Joss Whedon’s masterpieces of “Buffy” and “Firefly.” I marathon watched the addictive work of J.J. Abrams in “Alias.” “Wonderfalls,” gave me a little bit of the Bryan Fuller world I was missing upon the cancellation of “Pushing Daisies.” After school television changed from the hours spent with Cory, Sean, and Mr. Feeny to twenty-four hours spent alongside Jack Bauer and Chloe. Damon Lindelhof and Carleton Cuse took obsession to a whole new level upon my discovery of the mythology-entangled stories of the survivors of Oceanic Flight 815. The numbers 4, 8, 15, 16, 23, 42, would never be the same again. “Mad Men” taught me what true dramatic television had the potential to become with smart dialogue and characters we love despite their many faults. Action, comedy, and romance were all wrapped into one with Josh Schwartz and Chris Fedak’s creation of “Chuck;” it was as if they knew my life had been incomplete without Chuck, Sarah, Casey, and the Buy More, even though I had been unaware.

The list is clearly quite long, and I plan for it to continue its growth. I know I still have several Picasso sized wholes in that education, “Battlestar Gallactica,” “The West Wing,” and “The Wire” to name a few. Hell if I care. I’m ready to take on anything you send through my brand new blu-ray DVD player.

The talent and brilliance that erupted in television throughout the years between 2000 and 2010, presented a new stage of this incredible medium. In a New York Magazine Article, Emily Nussbaum speaks about how this was a decade in which television transformed into an art form and I could not agree more. The shows that are broadcasted on that idiot box in living rooms across the country are no longer solely mindless entertainment. Don’t get me wrong; I am aware that there is an unsettling amount of reality television that gets worse by the day (“Conveyor Belt of Love?” “Jersey Shore?”). But if you look for the good stuff, it can be brilliant. I can’t help but believe that the thought provoking and entertaining masterpieces of this decade can and will be matched and exceeded over the next decade. With the dominance of Internet encroaching upon television networks, there is no doubt that the business of television will change.

However, politics aside, I am looking forward to another decade of brilliant work on one of the most influential mediums of art. Here’s to a new decade and a new era of television. May the Tivo gods smile down on us and grant us many more years of side-aching-laughter comedy, finger-nail-biting action, swoon-inducing romance, and jaw-dropping drama. Happy New Year!

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Tuesday, December 15, 2009

CT, The Idiot Box Awards


With finals taking over my life I seem to have fallen quite behind on updating the blog. However, here is my final column of the year, the one, the only, Idiot Box Awards. I award what I have deemed Fall's best shows. Assuming I finish all my work in a timely fashion I have quite the To Do List of writing for the blog including but not limited to: Nice/Naughty Lists for 2009, the Decade's Best, TV New Years Resolutions, and oh so much more. But, for now, enjoy the last Campus Times column of the year by clicking through the links.

Click here to read the column online.
Or click here to read the PDF version. (Scroll to page 15)

For full post and comments follow this link

Thursday, November 19, 2009

CT, Mad Men: Wake Up Call for Don Draper


In this week's column I review the absolutely stunning season 3 finale of "Mad Men." It took all my effort to keep it under 1000 words for the paper, and I achieved that with 999 words. Score. I caught up a bit late on the "Mad Men" bandwagon but it has become a favorite with the unbelievably smart scripts and the beautiful sets and costumes. I wish I had Betty's wardrobe, seriously. For some serious spoilers on the final episode of the season, follow the links.

Click here to read the column online.
Or click here to read the PDF version. Scroll to page 12.

For full post and comments follow this link

Friday, November 13, 2009

CT, V: The Visitors Definitely Do Not Come in Peace


In this week's column, I review ABC's revival of the 1980's show "V" starring Elizabeth Mitchell (Lost, Juliet *tear*). My sci-fi quota by this point has been far surpassed and seems to keep growing. Thank you Dad. Follow the links to read my thoughts on "V."

Click here to read the article online.
Or click here to read the PDF version. Scroll to page 9.

For full post and comments follow this link

Thursday, November 5, 2009

CT, Catch "White Collar" If You Can


In this week's column I welcome USA's newest characters to the network and to my DVR rotation. Matthew Bomber and Tim DeKay star in "White Collar," a crime procedural with a "Catch Me If You Can"-esque twist. Follow the links to read my thoughts.

Click here to read the article online.
Or click here to read the PDF version. Scroll to page 9.

For full post and comments follow this link

Thursday, October 29, 2009

CT, Greek: More than just a Guilty Pleasure


In this week's column I review the best guilty pleasure show out there, ABC Family's "Greek." I got caught in the obsession several years ago and since then, in the shows 4th (or is it 3rd, they break up the seasons very oddly) season "Greek" has really hit a stride. It knows how to hit it's mark and when to do it. Follow the links for more "Greek" loves.

Click here to read the column online.
Click here to read the PDF version. Scroll to page 14.

For full post and comments follow this link

Thursday, October 22, 2009

CT, Addicted to the Idiot Box Goes to Campus


The little blog that could has now achieved the only real honor there is within our small Campus Times at the University of Rochester. My television reviews are now officially a part of a column renamed, The Idiot Box Addict (in honor of this blog). In this weeks very first column article, I reworked my first blog post to explain where my television addiction comes from (thanks Mom & Dad) and what to expect in the column from now on. So what are you waiting for? Go read it!

Click here to read the article online.
Or click here to read the PDF version. Scroll to page 16. (You get to see the cool logo for the column if you look at the PDF)

For full post and comments follow this link

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

HIMYM; Remind me, why haven't I written about this show yet?


Have you ever heard the story of how your parents met? I have, many times, probably more than others because they met here at Rochester. It’s a practiced two-minute presentation that my sister loves to tell.

The son and daughter of Ted Mosby on the CBS sitcom “How I Met Your Mother” (hence forth known as HIMYM) are probably not as partial to their father’s rendition of the tale, or should I say saga, of how their parents met. They have now been listening to their father (narrated by the voice of Bob Saget) for five years. As Ted told them in the pilot episode “it’s a long story.” Follow the link for more suiting up, freeze-frame high fives, and waves of psychatude.

HIMYM is not your typical sitcom. Yes, there’s a group of friends. Sure, they live in New York City. And all right, they are trying to find love and success during their late 20’s.

But I promise you, this isn’t “Friends”. They hang out a bar. Not a coffee shop.

Ted, Marshall, Lily, Robin, and Barney returned back to McLaren’s bar for their fifth season with a strong audience and even stronger stories. The momentum this small show has gained over the past several years in a rough time slot is impressive to say the least.

Despite the show’s title, the majority of the fans that tune in each week really aren’t watching the show for the big mother reveal. While that is the premise upon which the show operates, HIMYM is a sitcom about five best friends.

It’s about Marshall (Jason Segal) and Lily’s (Alyson Hannigan) college romance that turned into one of the sweetest and most sincere marriages on television.

It’s about Canadian Robin Sherbatsky (Cobie Smulders) dealing with her commitment issues while trying to become a successful newscaster despite her current 2am time slot.

It’s about Barney (Neil Patrick Harris) and his legend—wait for it, I hope you’re not lactose in-tolerant because the second half of this word is—dary catch phrases.

And of course, it’s about architect turned teacher Ted Mosby (Josh Radnor) trying to construct his life from the ground up.

For the record, I could care les about the ever-elusive mother. I am much more content to watch stories that have little or nothing to do with how Ted meets the woman who will be his wife. Creators Carter Bays and Craig Thomas have proven again and again throughout the past four years that this show is told at it’s best when the writers don’t get bogged down in the “mythology” of the sitcom.

The show really hit its stride when Ted was in a relationship with Robin, who we knew would not be the mother. Some of the most creative and original episodes aired during the period when there was no pressure for Ted because he had a girlfriend.

On the opposite end, HIMYM displayed it’s worst when Ted introduced us to Stella, an actual potential candidate for the mother role, who failed to live up to any expectations the audience had. She was wrong for him, and apparently the writers realized this. Ted and Stella broke up on their wedding day in the fourth season.

The mythical creature that the mother has become, has turned into what I can only equate to Disney’s Space Mountain roller coaster. You wait hours and hours on a line for a 2 minute ride that is not nearly as good as you expected. In the end what you remember the most is the wait, the build up, the anxiety and the excitement. And then you remember the inevitable let down.
So I’ve chosen to forget about the ride itself, and enjoy the wait.

I would be perfectly happy, nay, ecstatic, if in the final episode of the series (hopefully a long, long time from now), the last shot we see is Ted smiling at some girl across the room with the voice over from Bob Saget saying “And that kids, is how I met your mother.”

There would be no let down, no way for us to criticize the casting, or the chemistry. We would be left with the memory of a show we love, the way it really is.

Not a show driven by Ted’s search for his wife, but a show driven by five great characters and the ridiculous stories they have to tell. The pineapple incident; the discovery that one of their best friend’s was a Canadian teenage pop star; the wedding of a college roommate; the search for each gang member’s doppelganger.

HIMYM’s unique sitcom story-telling style gives it an edge when people just call it a “Friends” copycat. The show is marked by freeze frames, flash backs, flash forwards, time jumps, stories within stories within stories, and much more.

When the writers embrace their anecdotal capabilities and put the overarching narrative aside, HIMYM is, to borrow a phrase, legendary.

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Friday, October 2, 2009

CT, Community: The Fine Art of Getting By in College


In my first article of October, I reviewed the hilarious new comedy "Community." The Breakfast Club-esque premise makes for a great show with a gold mine of funny. Click on to enjoy!

Click here to read the article online.
Or click here to read the PDF file. Scroll to page 12.

For full post and comments follow this link

Saturday, September 26, 2009

CT, NPH Brings Classy back to the Emmys


In this past weeks Campus Times I reviewed the Emmy Awards hosted by the one, the only, Neil Patrick Harris. Enjoy and share your thoughts!

Click here to read the article online.
Or click here to read the PDF version. Scroll to page 15.

For full post and comments follow this link

Thursday, September 17, 2009

CT, Television Sucks the Life Out of the Vampire Obsession


In this weeks Campus Times I talk about the overwhelming amount of Vampire love that has burst from the seams over the past year or so. "Twilight", "True Blood", and now "Vampire Diaries." I'm not sure how much more I can handle.

Except of course for "Buffy". I can never get enough of "Buffy". And for that reason I should probably try "Angel" again. My only issue with "Angel" was that there was no Buffy, Willow, Xander, or Giles. Anyone got a good argument to watch? Please win me over. Meanwhile, enjoy my Twilight hate-fest (although I think I was pretty nice.)

Click here to read the article online.
Or click here to read the PDF version. Scroll to page 17.

For full post and comments follow this link

Sunday, September 13, 2009

CT, Torchwood: The Little TV Series that Could


With the first Campus Times article of the year, I, the idiot box addict, have officially returned from the dead. This week marks the glorious beginning of the fall TV season and I couldn't be more excited. But more on that later.

In my first CT article this semester I discuss the awesomeness that is "Torchwood: Children of Earth," the five episode British mini-series with more courage that almost any TV I have seen to date. Enjoy, discuss, and welcome back!

Click here to read the article online.
Or click here to read the PDF version. Scroll to page 23.

*BTW, the Campus Times made a typo and said Ianto was a she rather than a he. Just thought I'd clarify.

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Thursday, July 9, 2009

Wonderfalls, "I Wonder Why the Wonder Falls on Me."


I have always found comfort in my toys. Yes, I’m 19, and yes many of my childhood playthings have been casted to the shelves, sold in garage sales, or given to Good Will over the years, but there are those few that always have a place in my room. As a child stuffed animals can be your entire world. You spend your days being a princess locked away in a tower surrounded by fuzzy crocodiles or braving the rough waters with rubber ducks as your companions. The rubber and furry toys of our lives as children are both the enemies and the protectors. They protect us in a way that only a Teddy bear can do.

Bryan Fuller’s unique, imaginative, and short lived series “Wonderfalls” takes a teddy bear’s protection and turns it into the manifestation of G-d’s instructions to protect others. Instead of a child seeking guidance in her day-to-day activities, a 24-year-old underachieving college graduate becomes the victim of endless instructions given through the toys in a retail store. Spoilers for "Wonderfalls" after the jump.

What drew me to the story so quickly was that Jaye Tyler (Caroline Dhavernas) epitomized my so-called summer this year. She spends day after day in a job she clearly despises with a boss whom she dubs Mouthbreather. That should give you an idea about how much she respects him.

Despite the degree in philosophy from Brown and the supportive family Jaye has at her disposal, she lives in a trailer park and works as a sales clerk in a souvenir shop at Niagara Falls. A place where people are just visiting, never long enough for a sales clerk to get tangled in the lives of the people passing through. She achieved her goal of “over educated and unemployable,” just like she wrote in her high school yearbook.

That is, until one day a little Wax Lion warns her not give an angry customer money back. Then a Barrel Bear convinces her to help a writer get her words out, and Wind-Up Penguin leads Jaye down a path to reuniting a young girl with her father. Pink Flamingos convince Jaye to confront her past at a high school reunion where she unsuspectingly shows a past nemesis that the love of her life is not in fact the love of her life. Dogs on signs, embroidered buffalos, singing trout on walls, lovesick stuffed donkeys, plastic birds, and totem poles all enlist Jaye to unwillingly and resentfully take part in tasks to help the lives of others.

Are these voices a manifestation of Jaye’s internal thoughts? Do the toys represent the voice of G-d? Is she just plain crazy? I am inclined to believe that the toys are an inspiration from a higher being, whether it be destiny, G-d, or whatever you believe in. The fact that Jaye’s brother, a theologian, showed such interest in the speaking figures seemed to demonstrate that religion played a significant (while not overwhelming) role. However, I also believe that her decision to listen to these inanimate objects shows that despite her reluctance and displeasure at being chosen, she knows their instructions are for the better.

What I really found refreshing about this show was that it was completely original. I have never seen anything else with a similar premise yet so many aspects of the plot were relatable. Bryan Fuller and Todd Holland gave a little magic to the life of an underachiever living at the heart of one of the seven wonders of the natural world. The setting was different yet recognizable. The dialogue was fresh, fast, and clever. The actors had chemistry and charisma.

Jaye’s sarcasm and wit is portrayed brilliantly by Dhavernas alongside a talented cast. Lee Pace plays the over protective older brother whose theology major seems to make him the only one capable of buying Jaye’s experience as real as opposed to crazy. Mahandra McGinty (Tracie Thoms) provides the ever important best friend figure who supports Jaye without fault. Sharon Tyler (Katie Finneran), the lesbian-lawyer older sister, protects her family even in face of the law and wasn’t given enough time to develop what could have been an extremely interesting character. Jaye’s parents Darrin (William Sadler) and Karen (Diana Scarwid) embody parents who love yet misunderstand their children. Despite all of their differences, the Tyler family truly is a supportive unit. They may fight and misinterpret one another, but at the end of the day they are there for each other and that is what family is for.

At the heart of this little tale lies the romance between Jaye and Eric Gotts (Tyron Leitso), the adorably handsome bartender whose wife cheated on him the first night of their honeymoon in Niagra Falls. He’s damaged goods and she takes orders from toys. Perfect match. Usually in television a budding romance is indicated by a swell in music, a slow motion entrance, a close up of the two in a single frame, or a lingering look in the character’s eyes. “Wonderfalls” however used the ideal imagery of fireworks lighting up in Eric’s eyes after Jaye told his cheating wife that Eric was predisposed “pleasuring her sexually.” Young love at it’s best.

Wonderfalls was able to portray very complex ideas in a childish manner. Should we all surrender to destiny like the legendary maid of the mist? Or do we ignore the voices and signs and fight back? Can love conquer all? Or does logic and law take precedent? Should we be actively seeking out acts of kindness? Or does no good deed go unpunished? All this from a bunch of souvenir toys. I only wish that “Wonderfalls” had been given more than 14 episodes to more deeply explore these questions and the many more that may have arisen.

As a young girl I would take out my teddy bears and begin my adventures for the day. I never knew where they would take me whether it be to a magical palace or a rainforest in the jungle. But I did know that the journey with my furry friends would bring surprise and adventure. The toys of the Wonderfalls gift shop brought just this to Jaye Tyler. While her 24-year-old mind may have logically forgotten what it was like to willingly and happily accept the instruction of seemingly lifeless objects, subconsciously she knew that the steps she was taking would be for the better. In the end Jaye was able to understand that the pain she suffered due to a talking wax lion, was a necessary journey to reach her happily ever after.

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Monday, June 22, 2009

Alias, The Marathon of TV Marathons


Shows with strong willed, smart, kick ass girls seem to get the thumbs up from me. Veronica Mars. Buffy Summers. Rory Gilmore. Temperance Brennan. Carrie Bradshaw. All different, but all intelligent women who make great, yet sometimes flawed, role models. After my two weeks of non-stop television marathoning, Sydney Bristow has been added to the list. Spoilers for all five seasons after the jump...

Now as you may realize, I spend quite a bit of time in front of the TV. I’ve been known to watch 3 seasons of Lost and The Office in the course of several months, 10 seasons of Friends in less than a year, 7 seasons of Buffy over half a year…well you get the picture. But the free time I was presented with upon returning home from school along with catching a cold from my sister offered me ample time to hunker down with Alias, a show I had always had my eye on but never had the time for. Two and a half weeks (yes, weeks) after watching the, dare I say, awesome, pilot episode I had completed viewing the (slightly less awesome) series finale of a 5 season show. Hold for applause. Or shocked silence.

Not all 5 seasons were incredible. The villains could be convoluted and the reboots didn’t offer the same excitement as the initial premise. Nevertheless, something kept me going for two weeks. I’m gonna say the shows ability to end nearly every episode in a cliffhanger is what kept me hanging by a thread at the end of each hour. Add a great cast and charged plot lines and you’ve got 105 action packed episodes of goodness.

Favorite story line? Not even a question about it, the initial story of the show. Season 1 through midway season 2. Sydney’s role as a double agent was without a doubt the most interesting and exciting plot throughout the series. And that ending. “Phase One” must be one of the greatest hours of action television out there. Ok, yes I haven’t seen enough action TV to be a great judge on that. But it goes right up there with the episode of 24 where nerve gas was released into CTU. Not sure which episode “Phase One” is? If you watched the Superbowl in 2002 and stayed tuned afterwards, you would’ve seen Jennifer Garner in some pretty racy lingerie. Remembering now? If you continued to watch you would’ve seen an episode of TV that covered more ground in the first 20 minutes than the show did throughout almost all of season 4. By the end of the episode I thought I had watched a feature length film complete with action, romance, drama, and even a little bit of comedy. I watched that episode twice.

By season 5, I’m going to be honest I still don’t really know what Prophet 5 was all about. What I do know is that it was bad, had to do with Rambaldi, and was brought down in the end. Just for fun, let’s name all the bad groups I can remember from the series. Obviously SD-6. Then there’s the Alliance, the Covenant, the Trust, Prophet 5... I’m drawing a blank. Anyway, Rambaldi is the unlikely key that brings all these evil groups together. The elusive fifteenth century genius brings his own set of names: page 47, the Prophecy, the Passenger, the Circumference. The list goes on and on. In spite of the confusion caused by the numerous groups and the somewhat let down build up of the Rambaldi artifacts, I was constantly intrigued by this world that J.J. Abrams created.

Alias gave me a new kind of show unlike anything else I’m watching, unless you count 24 or Chuck. But 24 relies more on explosions and politics to keep the action and drama heated and Chuck is truly a comedy at heart. Alias is exactly what it sounds like, a spy thriller with an unmatched cast.

Ron Rifkin will henceforth be known as once of the biggest baddies in TV as Arvin Sloane. What bugged me throughout season’s 3, 4, and 5 is that they really tried to make you believe that he had changed. And just when they had you believing that maybe he really was good, he went and killed someone he cared about. In the back of my mind, I always knew he was evil. But there were points in the show where it seemed as if even the writers didn’t know if he was good or bad (particularly seasons 3 and 4). By the end Sloane got what he deserved, eternity under rubble. It’s almost poetic.

Michael Vartan provided the man candy, and not to mention tears during both of his apparent deaths as Michael Vaughn. As Sydney’s CIA handler, I could tell from episode 1 there would be sparks flying in a world where they couldn’t be together for the sake of the country. He was always the good guy. The one that Sydney could depend on no matter how tough her SD-6 situation was. Basically, he had us at hello.

Kevin Weisman played the man who was consistently one of my favorites throughout all five seasons, Mr. Marshall Flinkman, the neurotic, socially awkward, technology genius. Essentially, he was Sydney’s very own Q. Why a favorite? First off, he always had the cool gadgets. Lip stick with cameras or security sensors, credit cards with micro-chips, compact cases that really decrypt vault passwords, you think of it, he probably made it.

Victor Garber provided one of the most roller coaster father daughter relationships I’ve seen on television. (That doesn’t include Nadia and Sloane.) Garber’s deadpan delivery as Jack Bristow made his apparently evil dad character one of the show’s most intriguing subjects, particularly when mommy dearest, also known as traitor Irina Derevko (Lena Olin), showed up.

Carl Lumbly as Marcus Dixon who was just always great. Funny, serious, tough, he played the perfect partner for Sydney. Greg Grunberg, as Agent Eric Weiss, (a J.J. Abrams favorite), always gave a good laugh. And we round up the crew with Julian Sark (David Anders)—the manipulative evil asshole, Francie Calfo (Merrin Dungey)—the best friend gone bad, Will Tippin (Bradley Cooper, in the Hangover, go see it now)—the lovesick journalist who got in way over his head, Nadia Santos (Mia Maestro)—the long lost sister, Lauren Reed (Melissa George)—most hated character on the show (Vaughn’s traitor wife), Director Kendall (Terry O’Quinn)—could only see him as Locke the whole time he was on screen, Agent Thomas Grace (Balthazar Getty)—the brooding quiet one, and Rachel Gibson (Rachel Nichols)-the newbie with a lot of unfulfilled potential.

And finally, the actress who provides the reason to watch the show in the first place, Jennifer Garner. She really shows her true colors throughout the 5 seasons of this show. I’ve really only seen her in chick flicks, which don’t get me wrong she’s very good in (particularly 13 Going on 30). I had absolutely no idea that she could stunt like that, and yes, she does do almost all her own stunts. Sydney is a character who lost the love of her life to her perilous work and despite a broken heart chooses to fight back in the most dangerous way possible, as a double agent. Strong willed, genius smart, and drop dead gorgeous, Garner plays Bristow with grace and confidence. She stands up for what she believes in and doesn’t let anyone get in her way. That is what makes her the woman that gets girls like me to think “wow, wouldn’t it be sick if I could be like that.”

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Thursday, June 4, 2009

Friends: 10 Seasons in 1 Year.


So, I realize I've been completely neglecting my blog here for quite awhile. But, now summer is here and my boredom has taken flight so it's time to get back on track. I have a few summer projects underway including "Mad Men" season 1, "True Blood" season 1, "Sports Night" to follow along with Sepinwall who is reviewing them every Wednesday, and whatever else the TV Gods throw my way. I have also signed up for a TV writing class this summer to pursue my dream of writing for the idiot box. Updates on that to come.

But to get back into the swing of things, I thought I'd share with you my thoughts after finishing a series that all of you have heard of and may be shocked to hear that I did not watch until this year. Follow the link for some coffee and F.R.I.E.N.D.S.

A television show’s life span is a precious thing. There’s the coveted 100th episode mark that every show desires to reach. The 100th is usually somewhere in the 5th season of a show. So, 5 seasons equals successful show. Seven seasons is the mark of the long lasting hit show, i.e. Gilmore Girls. Anything beyond that can lead into questionable territory, *cough* Smallville *cough* (Should have ended long ago, yet I still inconceivably tune in every week, huh.) However, once in a while a show comes along that manages to make it past seven seasons with high praise, and an effect on society unlike any other. No I’m not talking about The Simpsons. I’m talking about Rachel, Monica, Phoebe, Ross, Chandler, and Joey. The six friends that defined a decade.

Now, let me be clear. I was not a “Friends” fanatic. I did not follow the show starting in 1994 and drag my heart along until 2004 rooting for Ross and Rachel. No, I kind of missed that. But, as an obsessive idiot box addict, when I arrived at college this past fall with a roommate who brought all 10 seasons with her, it was clear that Friends was about to come marching into my life.

I read in a book once, that movies are like one night stands, while television shows are like long-term relationships. “Friends” was one heck of a relationship.
238 episodes later I sat by myself, tears streaming down my face, watching the purple door and gold picture frame fade out on my computer screen as the final episode came to a close. Just to emphasize, that was 10 seasons, or 119 hours of Monica’s OCD and Chandler’s not-so-funny-but-still-hilarious jokes, completed in a mere seven months, also known as freshman year. (I somehow still managed to maintain a life while keeping up with all my TV, don’t ask how.)

What is it that makes us fall in love with these characters? It’s what every show strives for. A premise that’s relatable, that’s funny, and that speaks to everyone whether or not you’ve had the same experiences. Ross and Monica exemplify a brother-sister relationship that I have not seen paralleled on TV. Monica probably had the most quirks of the entire group from fighting for her parent’s attention to her OCD about organization, and her loud (somewhat obnoxious) “oh my god!”. Ross’s unwavering romantic personality was complimented by his bi-polar-ness when it came to his best friend and his sister getting together. His best friend and his sister?? His best friend and his sister! There’s Phoebe whose quirkiness is only matched by how much love she has for each and every one of her friends. Joey’s determination as an actor and naivety as a friend only adds to the group dynamic. Chandler, the college roommate and my personal favorite character, with his never-ending sarcastic remarks, knew how to make an uncomfortable situation even more uncomfortable. And finally, there’s Rachel Greene; the girl who learned how to make it without the help of her parents, while still maintaining fabulous hair the whole time.

Now I’m not saying there weren’t some rough patches. Ross did get on my nerves. But he always redeemed it with the whole “we were on a break” longstanding joke. Chandler’s job never made any sense. But if it had made sense he and Joey would have never gotten the apartment. And then the finale couldn’t have included that poignant line Monica made about how they had all lived in that apartment at one point or another.

Like any group of friends, not every story is going to be a great one. Every night out isn’t going to be epic just like every episode wasn’t perfect. But, every moment with your true friends are moments that you won’t forget. Which is exactly what “Friends” was about. How the insignificant can be significant. How, once you’re an adult, the people you spend every day with, they are the ones who become family and are there for you through thick and thin.

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Thursday, April 23, 2009

CT, In Plain Sight: In "Sight" of Greatness


In the final issue of the Campus Times for this year I wrote about the return of USA's show "In Plain Sight." I also had the privilege of getting to interview of the writers/supervising producers of the show, Lynne Litt. Follow the links to read more.

Click here to read the online version.
Or click here to read the PDF version. Scroll to page 16.

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Monday, April 20, 2009

Firefly, Joss Whedon You're Kind of a Genius


Beware of spoilers for “Firefly” and “Serenity.”

I’ve made my love for all things Whedonesque clear by now. I fell in love with Angel from the moment he stepped out of the dark in his mysterious leather jacket. I think that Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along-Blog is a stroke of pure genius. And I have stuck with Dollhouse from the beginning because of my pure faith in Joss to write a damn good hour of television. So obviously when I heard I had missed the critically acclaimed series “Firefly” I knew I had to fix that. “What’s it about?” I asked naively. “It’s a science-fiction-western,” my Dad told me in a matter a fact kind of way.

Excuse me, a what? Continued after the jump.

Yes, I admit it. I was thrown. A science-fiction-western sounded far from my interest. How on earth could space ships mix with horses and tumbleweed? Well, I sincerely apologize for questioning you Joss. Once again, you hit the bulls eye.

After only fifteen episodes I found myself caring for each and every crew member of Serenity just as much as I cared about the scoobies in Sunnyville after seven seasons.

I found myself enamored by Captain Malcom Reynolds’ (Nathan Fillion) sarcastic yet heroic demeanor as leader of the ship he put his whole heart and soul into. This was beautifully shown in “Out of Gas,” where an explosion leaves Serenity crippled and Mal reflects on finding his crew and the piece of metal he calls home. Sure, he’s a thief and a criminal who steals, trespasses, and houses fugitives. But hell, he is a thief and criminal with heart and one that you can’t help rooting for in the end.

Zoe (Gina Torres) is Whedon’s trademark badass girl. She can put up a fight, she knows how to handle her a gun, and she does it with style. Sometimes it may seem like Zoe follows Mal blindly, but in “War Stories” we really learn that this is just her pure respect and trust in the man who helped her survive through the war. Zoe is a role model for women; she is beautiful, knows how to stand up for herself, and doesn’t take shit from anyone. Not even her husband.

(SERIOUSLY-SERENITY SPOILERS AHEAD)


Now, I have to say that when Wash (Alan Tudyk) was killed in “Serenity,” after his brilliant effort to land Serenity safely, tears poured down my cheeks. Tudyk’s portrayal of this light-hearted and passionate pilot and husband served as great comic relief throughout the show. The marriage that Tudyk and Torres portrayed was a real, healthy relationship that is too often ruined in television interpretations. Their chemistry was a perfect balance of couples banter, ardent love, and respected co-workers.

If you know me at all, or read this blog at all, then you are aware of my obsession with “Chuck.” That obsession extend to all of it’s characters and the actors that portray those characters. So you can imagine my excitement when I realized Adam Baldwin (Casey on “Chuck”) was featured in a Whedon show. As one of my favorite characters on “Firefly,” Baldwin plays Jayne, the muscle of the ship. He is a true pirate; in the job for the treasure and reward. Jayne is the one who looks for a fight. The one who blatantly states what other won’t. He is simultaneously the core of the comedy and the action throughout the adventures of this crew. Despite his selfish motivations, he still has a good heart, which is apparent in “Serenity.”

Then there’s Kaylee (Jewel Staite). Like the engine of a ship is its heart that keeps it running, Kaylee is the heart of the crew. She is the one who cares about what happens to each person and won’t her crewmates forget it. Her innocent, childlike personality is balanced by her complete brilliance when it comes to all things mechanical.

I am still mad that after 15 episodes, and one beautiful feature film, Inara (Morena Baccarin) and Mal did not get together. Their bickering relationship was one of the details of this show that made it so overwhelmingly loveable. You wanted to see them fight. You wanted to see Mal’s reaction to her next client. And subsequently you wanted to see her reaction to his reaction. Inara in herself is a beautiful, strong woman who cares for the crew of the ship that takes her to her business probably too much.

If Mal is the soul of the ship, Kaylee the heart, and Jayne the muscle, then Sheppard (Ron Glass) is the head. He keeps things in perspective. He reminds everyone what their purpose is and how to act like rational beings in irrational situations. He is also a character that has a past, but a past that audience is not privileged enough to know about. Sure, if there had been a few more seasons, maybe we would have gotten to learn more about this so called “Reverend’s” past. But we were not given that luxury. We will never know why the Alliance so willingly cleared him and listened to him. He clearly had a story to tell and I for one am truly disappointed that we will never get to hear it.

Then we come to the Doctor (Sean Maher) and his sister, River. They hold the true mystery of this show. Their story is interesting and compelling that I really don’t understand how anyone could not be invested in it. Summer Glau exemplifies acting at its best as she portrays a tortured, innocent young girl who has been through too much for someone of her age. Her brother, Simon, is the epitome of the protective older sibling. Every action he takes is in an effort to help his sister. Their brother-sister relationship is one of the best I’ve seen done on television.

Firefly is clearly an example of a show that is far too smart for it’s own good. In this day and age, it depressingly seems that any show with imagination and creativity might as well be thrown out the window from the start. It catches brief flight, and for a moment you think you’re about to witness something amazing, like Superman flying. And then the network works it’s inevitable gravity causing the beautiful work to fall, crashing to the ground.

Whedon tried to do something original. He attempted to create a show that blended cultures and genres. A show with characters that can speak fluent Chinese as if it were an integral part of their lives. A world in which “companionship” (prostitution) is a respected profession. Not to mention the brilliant way that this short lived series was filmed. The camera work was done in a way that made the audience feel as if we were flying alongside the crew. The abrupt movements, zooming of the lenses, and fluidity of tracking shots was a completely different style than anything I’ve ever seen on television. Firefly combined two of the most innovative genres into one beautiful short lived series. Joss Whedon, you truly know how to create a masterpiece, bravo.

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Thursday, April 16, 2009

CT, Fringe: The Sole Survivor of Fall's Pilots


In this week's Campus Times I reviewed J.J. Abrams' newest television show "Fringe." This show has gotten better and better throughout the year and finally won a place in the CT. Read on for my thoughts.

Click here to read my article online.
Or click here to read the PDF version. Scroll to page 9.

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Saturday, April 11, 2009

CT, Cupid: Can ABC's Remake Strike the Hearts of an Audience?


In this past weeks Campus Times I reviewed ABC's revival of Rob Thomas' show "Cupid." 

Click here to read the article online.
Or click here to read the PDF version. Scroll to page 9.

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Sunday, April 5, 2009

"Chuck", Don't Freak Out...Too Late


For weeks, no months, I have ignored all of the signs. I overlooked the ratings charts. I disregarded the response, “what show is that?” I even bypassed the all of the petitions forming online to save my favorite show.

Follow the link to see what happened when I stopped ignoring.

After reading tv.com’s Top Ten Shows in Danger, and seeing my beloved “Chuck” at not 10, not 5, not even 3, but the number 1 spot, I can say that I have officially begun to freak out. So now that I am in crisis mode, I think rather than panic it’s time to take action. I absolutely refuse to accept that my Monday nights could be sans Awesome’s abs, Jeff’s prison comments, Casey’s tranq darts, Sarah’s slow motion entrances, Chuck’s eyes rolling into the back of his head…well you get the point.

This is my proposal. In the past, endangered shows have sent the networks something relating to the show (Jericho-peanuts, Pushing Daisies-daisies). I propose that we, the Chuck fans, send sunglasses (cheap ones from your local drugstore) or watches (same deal) to the NBC. Why sunglasses and watches?

Well, my brilliant idea is to write on the sunglass lenses saying “Intersect Update, Chuck Renewal for Season 3 Complete,” and on the watches (maybe on a note) “Where’s Chuck now?” (GPS tracking system, get it?). Or any other clever phrase you can think of. Attached to either product, I suggest you attach a note that says “Buy More Seasons of Chuck,” (maybe in the shape of a Buy More t-shirt?).

And to spread more “Chuck” love I will soon be posting an Ultimate-Chuck update with mini-reviews of all the episodes I have missed. I know, you can hardly wait.

In the mean time tell EVERYONE you know to watch “Chuck” on Monday nights at 8pm.

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CT, Kings: The Political Soap Opera


NBC's newest show, "Kings," began several weeks ago and as the TV addict that I am, I added it to my DVR list (seeing as I've got room on Sundays.)

To read my take on the new show check out my Campus Times article.
Click here to read it online.
Or click here to read the PDF version. Scroll to page 19.

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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Idiot Box Addict MIA?


You may have noticed that my messages have been sparse and few lately. Well, I just returned from spring break and after I get through my exam on Thursday I am hoping to get back on track with more weekly reviews of shows I've been watching. I've been ridiculously busy with getting caught up with schoolwork but I'm hoping to get back to writing about the shows I live for. 

Especially Lost because I have not adequately expressed my love for that show. And Chuck. And HIMYM (which has been fantastic). And 24 (which after my complaints did a 180 and is now edge of my seat awesomeness). So yea....I've got my work cut out for me.


In other news, I am slowly becoming a twitterholic...so follow me on twitter!
I will post when I update this blog in addition to my other random thoughts.

In the mean time, keep watching that idiot box!

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Monday, March 2, 2009

CT, Dollhouse: Hit or Miss?


Joss Whedon's (creator of cult hits Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Firefly and the critically acclaimed Doctor Horrible's Sing-A-Long Blog) new show, Dollhouse, is in full swing now. And as a follower of Whedon's fabulous past shows, of course I am watching. Have I decided if I should add it to the list of favorites yet? Read my article in the Campus Times to find out.

Click here for my article online.
Or click here to read my article in PDF version. Scroll to page 13. 

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Monday, February 23, 2009

CT, Bones: What Makes it Different from Every Other Formulaic Show?


So if you read my blog a few weeks ago then you know that Bones is basically my new obsession. I decided to share that fact with the rest of my campus in last weeks Campus Times. 

Click here to read the article online.
Or click here to read the PDF version. Scroll to page 13. (It says it's continued on page 16, but it means page 15)

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Sunday, February 8, 2009

CT, Lost: The Ultimate Cult Favorite

In this past week's Campus Times I wrote a review of Lost so far this season. I mean it's only the best show on TV right now, so I thought it deserved a place in the spotlight. Enjoy and let me know what you think!
Click here to read the article online.
Or click here to read the PDF version. Scroll to page 15.

Had to do the picture that featured Sawyer without his shirt on. What a great hour.

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Monday, February 2, 2009

24, "2:00-3:00pm" Am I Missing Something?


I like 24. I do. I even wrote a nice review of it earlier that I never got around to putting up here. I was pumped by the prospect of Tony’s return. Allison Taylor as president intrigued me. Agent Walker was a welcome addition. Loved the idea of Bill, Chloe, and Jack working together in secret against the corrupt government to save the country. But after this episode I have a few problems with the way things are running over in the world of 24. Follow the jump to hear me out.

1) Correct me if I’m wrong. Dubaku is a known terrorist. Madame President knows this man is the one behind the attacks. The FBI knows he is the one behind the attacks. They have definitely heard his voice. From the point when Jack and Walker were about to infiltrate Dubaku’s headquarters and Jack said “I don’t see Dubaku” followed by “there he is” with a clear image on the screen, it can be assumed that they do know what he looks like. Right? Ok, so, if the FBI knows what he looks like, and they know what he sounds like, why on earth can this man walk into broad daylight surrounded by a crowd of people and not be recognized? And in what conceivable universe can this terrorist have (what appears to be) a nice, every day ordinary girlfriend? Doesn’t anyone read papers? If the situation in Sangala is as dier as President Taylor plays it out to be, you would think this man would plastered all over the international section of whatever fictional paper these people are reading. Which brings me to my next point of complaint.

2) How, I ask you, how is the country not storming the White House the planes that just barely collided on a runway, the two planes that fell from the sky resulting in hundreds of deaths, AND a gas leak in a chemical plant? If I were in that world I would be wondering what the hell is going on. The President has yet to deliver a public statement reacting to any of these attacks. There has been no indication that they have announced to the public that there is even a terrorist threat that is imminent. I mean really, are the people of the country really that ignorant? Are the writers trying to say that Americans don’t pay enough attention? Because even I don’t pay as much attention as I should to politics but hell, I would notice if two planes collided in DC. And then I would be pissed if within the next two hours an evacuation were called for in a random town in Ohio with no attention from the President. And wait, that’s not all. The attack in Ohio was solved for no apparent reason with zero explanation to the public. And that brings me to yes, another problem.

3) What exactly is the national crisis Bauer and company are trying to resolve at this point? In the past the country has been at Jack’s mercy. Which is the reason he stays up for 24 hours at a time to save the nation, wonderful super agent that he is. But really. The CPI device has, for all intensive purposes, been destroyed. Next weeks episode looks like its about…saving the First Gentleman? Sure a noble cause. But what makes it dire? Why is it important for Jack to save him? How does it have an audience on the edge of their seats? Personally I wasn’t even that interested in Mr. Taylor’s subplot. So unless his son was up to some seriously nationally threatening business that we learn about next week, I’m not gonna be too happy. I mean like season changing business. Like the episode in season 4 when the nerve gas canisters were reveled in the airport, or when we realized CTU was being targeted. I want excitement! I want danger! I want Jack Bauer to save the country!

If I am totally missing something, please (I beg you) fill me in. I would love to find out that I’m just forgetting a huge plot point that makes all of what I just wrote irrelevant. If not, I’m praying that the writers of 24 have some wonderful tricks up their sleeves to turn the tables this season. So here’s to hoping they know what their doing over there. Cheers!

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Thursday, January 22, 2009

CT, What to Watch this Semester


Classes are back in full swing, books have been bought, snow is consistently purging from the sky, and television scheduling has never been more of a head ache. Must be second semester. In the first Campus Times of the semester I write a very brief overview of the various shows I will be watching this semester. Click here to read the article.

Or click here to read the PDF. Scroll to pages 13-14.

On my to do list of reviews:
1) Lost (which will be an article next week as well as an in depth analysis of the episode)
2) Smallville-the Legion
3) HIMYM
and more....wow, I've got my work cut out for me.

Enjoy and let me know what you think!

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Wednesday, January 14, 2009

What I Did Over My Winter Vacation


To most people the holidays are a time for family bonding, maybe a trip somewhere warm, an excuse to eat lots of food, and most importantly a week or so of pure relaxation. Well, in the Rosenberg household relaxation means a time to binge watch television. Yes, I got to see lots of family at the various holiday and new years events filled with endless amounts of desserts. And yes, I even got to go down to the Sunshine State to catch some rays. But, a rather embarrassingly large portion of my winter break was committed to watching three and a half seasons of Bones. Beware of minor spoilers after the cut.

Three and a half seasons? Sixty-eight episodes? That would be correct. I had not even intended to have a television marathon, let alone with Bones. My Mom bought the DVDs and we decided to watch the pilot as a family (because that’s what we do). To be honest, I didn’t even think the pilot was that great. The basis of forensic anthropology was unlike anything else I was watching on TV (in a good way), but in the pilot episode it was clear the show had not found its voice yet. Despite the fact that the pilot wasn’t super impressive I decided to try out a second episode, and then a third, and then a fourth. Before I knew it, I was hooked.

In case you don’t already know, Bones is about a forensic anthropologist who teams up with the FBI to solve murderers. The television show is based on the life and works of Kathy Reichs, a best selling author and forensic anthropologist. The idea that this line of work, the study of skeletons and bones, can actually lead to the discovery of how a murderer went down is fascinating. Although sometimes there is so much “techno-speak” that I have no clue what the squints are talking about, it really doesn’t bother me because the characters and their relationships are what make Bones a winning television show.

Emily Deschanel’s portrayal of the unbelievably na├»ve Temperance Brennan (aka Bones) when it comes to all things pop culture related makes for hilarious dialogue. I mean really, who doesn’t know Scully and Mulder? I didn’t watch X-Files and even I know the dynamic crime-fighting duo. However Brennan’s unique beauty and immense IQ make up for her lack of social skills. Not to mention that she can totally kick ass and pull off holding a gun without looking like she doesn’t have a clue. Gotta love a show with some good girl power.

When Brennan isn’t wasting away the hours in the lab at the Jeffersonian, she is teaming up with the adorably handsome Special Agent Seeley Booth, played by David Boreanaz, or as I like to call him Angel. Now I have to say, as a huge Buffy fan I had a little trouble at first envisioning Boreanaz as anyone but the mysterious vampire who stole Buffy’s heart. However, after several episodes (let alone sixty-eight) Booth’s weird sock choices, self-confident manner, and large heart won me over.

Now, what happens when you take a beautiful, socially awkward forensic anthropologist and partner her up with a handsome, somewhat cocky yet loveable FBI agent? Sexual tension. That’s what happens. And it happens in immense quantities in the best possible way. Deschanel and Boreanaz’s chemistry is undeniable in each and every one of their scenes together Whether they are bickering in the car about the use of psychology versus scientific fact or taking shots in Booth’s office after hours, Bones and Booth clearly have more than a professional relationship beneath the surface. Not to mention the occasional exchange of a long, meaningful stare, or their wonderfully awkward sex conversations. Purely platonic relationship my ass. But I gotta say, any show that can keep the tension up for three and a half seasons without ruining the integrity of the show or pissing off the audience too much gets a thumbs up from me.

What else do I love? Dr. Jack Hodgins (T.J. Thyne) and his conspiracy theories along with his ridiculous love for all things gross: bugs, dirt, even animal crap. The team would not be complete without Zack Addy (Eric Millegan) and his ability to be even more socially awkward than Brennan. Speaking of social awkwardness, Angela Montenegro (Michaela Conlin) brings exactly the opposite to the team. She is pretty, smart, and normal and makes for one of the best TV best friends out there, bringing Brennan back to earth when she gets too caught up in her world of skeletons and bones. Dr. Camille Saroyan brings a similar quality to the forensics lab using her people skills to go between “the man” (whoever that may be, whether it’s lawyers, bosses, etc.) and the squints in the lab. While I did harbor a little hate for her at first due to a certain relationship with an out of bounds agent, at this point I definitely don’t think the team would function without her.

And my favorite latest addition to the show is Dr. Lance Sweets (Freeks and Geeks alum John Francis Daley). As the psychiatrist of partners Booth and Bones, Sweets’ character gets to divulge into the psychology of their relationship while they constantly try to keep him out of the loop. Some of the best moments between the three of them are the ones when Booth and Bones completely ignore Sweets as he attempts to get them talking about their feelings. Even though everyone rips on him for looking so young (constantly driving him to list his credentials) as well as repeatedly insisting that his techniques of psychology are not crucial, Sweets has definitely proven himself. He understands the relationships of the characters and has proven to be pretty useful throughout the investigative work in the FBI. As Angela would say, he really is quite good.

Despite the fact that Bones is one of those shows that follows a formulaic format, (Booth finds some bones where they shouldn’t be, him and Brennan work together to solve the case, tension ensues, etc.) the character relationships and interesting story lines the writers have explored throughout the several past seasons have proven to hold my attention thus far. I am pretty confident that the writers can continue to write compelling stories while delving into the character’s backgrounds and relationships in a way that will keep the audience just as entertained as the past few seasons. There are always more skeletons hidden in the closets of the characters. Personally, I can’t wait to find out the stories hidden in those bones.

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