Friday, January 27, 2012

Son...people can SEE you!

I realized this morning that, after my last post, some of you may have worried that my subsequent absence from the blogosphere may have meant that I may have actually died from my massive headache. Never fear, dear readers...still alive and well, watching entirely too much television, and back ready to bend your ear for a while.

First things first...I do think I want to do a more long-form writeup of Justified episodes. I just need to figure out a schedule, and see what (if any) online resources there are for transcripts, which is what I used to do my old LOST recaps.

As for this week's episode, I thought it was good but not great. I sincerely hope that there is more Carla Gugino in the future, as she was obviously perfect in her old "Karen Sisco" role. In fact, that was probably my only issue with this episode...not enough of Raylan and Karen (although they never actually CALLED her Karen).

But, honestly, the rest of the episode was good enough that I can understand why something had to get the shaft. Some of the things I loved:

 - Art being a bada**, and possibly letting us in on why he has such a complicated relationship with Raylan. On one hand, Raylan has to be an absolute nightmare as an employee, and Art has made no bones about how fed up he is with constantly having to clean up Raylan's mess. On the other hand, Art probably sees a younger version of himself in Raylan, which is why he continues to clean up the mess no matter how fed up he gets.

 - Everything about the Boyd/Dicky scenes. Obviously, Walton Goggins is phenomenal as Boyd, but I think Jeremy Davies is a little underrated by people who talk about the acting on this show. There are so many "versions" of Dicky (each one as true and believable as another), and we got a good example of that here...look at the difference between how Dicky is acting when he thinks he's talking to a guard, vs. when he realizes that it is actually Boyd coming to visit. There is a version of Dicky that he projects when he thinks he has the upper hand, and another very different one when he knows he is in a position of weakness...both versions are at the same time very real, but also very much an affectation. I don't think he is ever as strong as he likes to pretend he is sometimes, but you better not underestimate him and think he's as weak as he projects at times either. Just great, great stuff from both guys.

 - Always fun to see Band of Brothers alumni pop up on other shows, and this is not the first time we've seen one here.

 - We didn't get any more of Neal McDonough's character (currently only known as "The Carpetbagger"), but we were introduced to another of this seasons Big Bads. Mykel T. Williamson was terrifying as Limehouse. And also a big fan of Fight Club, which automatically makes it hard for me to root against him.

It's also really disconcerting to see Bubba be such a psychopath. Forrest would be SO disappointed.

Overall, another really good episode, albeit one that I still feel like is doing a lot of foundation work. We haven't even really gotten into what the "Big" story is going to be this season, but that's not unusual for this show...they like to establish the world and its players early on, and then start moving the pieces around.

 - I also watched the pilot of Touch, the new Tim Kring joint that stars Kiefer Sutherland. I thought it was a really good concepts, Kiefer is really good, etc. I'm going to stick around, but it's hard not to compare this project with the LAST one that Tim Kring put out, which was Heroes. This pilot reminded me so much of the Heroes pilot...the global scope, the "everybody is connected" themes, even the overly pretentious voiceovers and long subtitled scenes. I loved the Heroes pilot and most of the first season, but then that show went off the rails in a HUGE way as it collapsed under the weight of its own mythology. This is obviously a different show...I'm hoping that Kring learned the right lessons from Heroes and fixes some of the issues here.

I don't think the show comes back until sometime in March, so you have plenty of time to catch the pilot between now and then...I'll be watching with cautious optimism when it makes its return.

 - Last night's Parks and Recreation was tremendous, and I would actually suggest that this could be an "Emmy submission" episode...there was so much good stuff for almost every character:

Ron - FANTASTIC Ron episode...from the snack bar in the bowling alley being his "favorite restaurant" to his horror at Tom's bowling mechanics ("Son...people can SEE you!"), to his subsequent anonymous testing of Tom's "technique" ("I was never here..").

Tom - Another great Tom list, with all of his possible bowling nicknames (forgot that in the Ron section earlier...he went with BOWLER, GIRL, and TOM). And his whining about his "fingy" was Tom at his pathetic best. All that was missing from his storyline was Jean-Ralphio.

Jerry - "Well, I don't really think you need MY social security number...but I guess it wouldn't hurt to give it out. It's 2-1-0.."

Andy - Every single thing Chris Pratt says and does cracks me up. "Why are we laughing?" "Champion really doesn't like awkward situations..."

April - I really think Aubrey Plaza was the MVP of this episode. Her annoyance with Chris leading to her wanting to win the contest in order to make his happiness "go away", that tremendous scene of her affecting different accents and personas in order to wring donations out of people, and of course her heart growing three sizes after she realizes Chris is heartbroken (and it may be her fault: "I might be a wizard"). April showing actual human feelings always gets me.

Obviously, that list could keep going...the only problem I had with this episode was that it wasn't a great one for Leslie. I thought her reaction to that one guy in the focus group saying he couldn't see himself going bowling with her was too over the top, even for her. But A) the show acknowledged it (through Ben's reactions), and B) she got to redeem herself at the end with her refusal to apologize for the fact that her boyfriend stood up for her to this repulsive jerk, and in fact she found it pretty hot.

So, yeah...this is still the best comedy on TV.

 - Archer. usual, there are a lot of jokes that I can't re-create here, either in order to keep the blog family friendly or because they don't translate as well in writing. But even though Parks and Rec is the best comedy on TV, I didn't laugh harder at anything last night than I did at "Did you hear we met a TIGER? But...then, he was....murdered", with the possibility of "I'm gonna die in a toilet stall! Just like the gypsy said!". Or Ray Gillette as a Decepticon.

As usual, Blutarsky says what I want to say, just much better...great post from him today on the dangers of a college football playoff, specifically my biggest problem with a tournament-style system. And extra points for using a reference from The Wire in the title of the post.

 - Chuck has its series finale tonight. If you haven't been watching so far, I guess it's a little late to jump in now...but for those of us who have been along from the beginning, what a ride. And I'm still shocked and happy that we got five seasons of this show, and that they are being allowed to go out pretty much on their own terms. Hooray for NBC suckiness! If they actually had done a better job of developing shows over the last four years, there is no way we would have made it to this point...Chuck kept getting renewed because NBC had absolutely nothing with which to replace it.

Alan Sepinwall has been one of the biggest online Chuck supporters since season one, so of course he is going to have some excellent finale-related material. HERE is part five of his week-long interview with showrunners Josh Schwarz and Chris Fedak, and HERE is a fantastic post listing all of his favorite moments from the series.

As for me, I'm really going to miss this show...but I think I will miss Sarah most of all.

 - Also this weekend is the "beginning" of HBO's Luck. I put "beginning" in quotation marks because HBO actually ran the pilot a while back. I watched it then and thoroughly enjoyed it, even though I had to watch it in standard def vs. hi-def (the HORROR!!!).

I'm a HUGE fan of Deadwood, which is also from creator David Milch. That one was set in a "western" type setting, but it was so much more than just a "western". It was a story about community, the greater good, how the truly awful things in life can sometimes open our eyes to the beautiful things....all with some of the most beautifully profane dialogue ever written. So I'm sure this one won't be for some of you...if you're easily offended by certain words, don't bother tuning in.

But I admire Milch's vision and style, and this one has the added bonus of a visionary director (Michael Mann) and a ridiculously talented cast (Dustin Hoffman, Nick Nolte, Dennis Farina, Jason Gedric, Richard Kind, just to name a few). So I'm in, 100%.

Oh, and by the way, speaking of Deadwood...AV club has a great piece today about the first season that is co-written by a first-time viewer and a long time fan. Good stuff from them, as usual.

Have a great weekend!

EDITED TO ADD: Didn't want to make a whole post out of this, but Grantland agrees with me with regards to what Jericho is doing since his return (the part in bold is my favorite part):
The shtick was nothing short of brilliant. To play with the crowd's instincts — turning their welcome-back applause against them — was the most effective way for a star like Jericho to "turn heel" in short order. In fact, he was turning heel in perhaps the most meta way possible: Average fans were largely left perplexed by Jericho's act, but the "smart" fans on the Internet felt most strongly aggrieved. Many of them knew what Jericho was doing, yet they were still disgusted by the inanity of it. When CM Punk went off-script, those fans swooned; when Jericho deliberately undermined the whole edifice, that was a step too far. Punk assaulted the fourth wall over the summer; Jericho went out and found a fifth wall to address. Jericho and Punk are expected to clash, and when that happens "reality" may take the biggest beating.

The most obvious precedent for Jericho's audience-taunting is Andy Kaufman's "I'm from Hollywood" routine in the early 1980s, but what Jericho did in those few silent appearances actually has more in common with another Kaufman stunt: reading The Great Gatsby in its entirety to stupefied audiences. It was performance art under the guise of a blunt assault on fans' expectations, or vice versa.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

As I Lay Dying...

OK, that's probably a bit melodramatic. I don't really think I'm dying. But I DO have a massive headache that makes it feel like my left eyeball is about to pop out of my skull.

So this will be short and sweet, but I am enjoying being back in the blogging groove and don't want to lose it.

I lied yesterday...I actually DID manage to squeeze in a little television last night. My very very abbreviated thoughts:

 - Downton Abbey: Best episode of this season (or series, as the Brits say) so far. It got a bit dusty in the room during the Crawley Sister duet, that's for sure.

 - Alcatrazzzz: I have so many problems with this show, even outside the extremely procedural structure. The biggest one is the apparent absolute lack of culture shock that any of the escaped prisoners have upon transporting from 1963 to 2012. There are others, that I will likely go into when I feel like writing more, but for now this show is skating on thin ice for me. I'm giving it the benefit of the doubt because I remember how "procedural" Fringe was in the early going before the writers finally said, "Screw it...let's just be weird".

Other quick thoughts:
 - Hoop Dawgs play #1 Kentucky tonight. In the words of the great Lt. Daniel Caffey: "You need to prepare yourself for the fact that we are going to lose....and we are going to lose HUGE".

 - Part two of Sepinwall's interview with the Chuck showrunners is HERE. In this installment, they discuss the second season, which is universally recognized as the creative peak of the show's run.

 - In other showrunner interview news, Todd VanderWerff has another edition of his always tremendous in-depth walkthroughs starting today with Alex Gansa of Homeland. Great insight into what was one of my favorite shows of 2011.

Well, Justified, duh. I think this may be the show that I start doing weekly LOST style recaps of, if time permits. Tonight includes the introduction of Carla Gugino's character, who the show has said repeatedly is NOT Karen Sisco. I think her name is Maren Misco.

Also...Southland is a show that I really enjoyed when it began airing on NBC and then sort of lost track of after it moved to TNT. I watched the season premiere of the new season last week, and found that A) the show is just as good as I remember it being; and, B) you can jump right in and not be lost, as far as the plot goes. Only thing you really need to know is that these are cops and detectives working South LA. The rest you can pretty much fill in the blanks. Check it out if you like gritty realism in your police shows rather than homogenized cliches.'s hard to type one handed while clamping the other one over your eyeball to make sure it doesn't pop out. So that will have to do for today.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Weekend wrapup: Answering my own question, and Y2J is a genius

So, last week I asked for some of you Hoop Dawg experts to help me understand why the team fell so far so fast. I got NO help from any of you, but since then I've watched a couple of games and I think I have it figured out: absolutely zero inside presence, and inconsistent scoring outside of KCP, who is certainly extremely talented offensively but has a LONG way to go defensively.

Does that about cover it?

We did finally get an SEC win last week, but I honestly don't see very many more in our future...I hope I'm wrong. Maybe Marcus Thornton can work himself back into shape and provide some strength inside, maybe Gerald Robinson and Dustin Ware can recapture some past magic, maybe KCP will learn quickly what it takes to play defense at an SEC level....but that's a lot to ask in a very short period of time. And then Robinson and Ware are both seniors...I'm starting to get depressed.

Moving on...

 - Finished up the last couple of comedies from the Wednesday/Thursday Comedy DVR Extravaganza.

First the bad news...The Office continues to demonstrate that the writing staff has gone completely off the rails since the departure of Michael Scott. I don't think I laughed a single time at this last episode, and I don't know what the point of the episode was. I'm all for the uncomfortable darker humor that the show sometimes goes for..."Dinner Party" (in which Jim, Pam, Andy, Angela, Dwight, and Dwight's former nanny have a remarkably uncomfortable dinner at Michael and Jan's condo) is probably my favorite Office episode ever. The difference between then and now is that the reason that episode worked so well is that the writing staff had such a firm grasp of who these characters were and how they worked. Now...I don't think anybody has any idea of what the thread is.

For example...I feel like they are trying to make Andy and Erin the new Jim and Pam (since they have completely murdered the Jim/Pam characters, who used to be the heart and soul of the show). But the whole storyline feels rushed, especially this other woman whom Andy is not only dating all of a sudden, but is apparently ready to marry. I can't for the life of me even tell you this woman's NAME, much less anything about her or her relationship with Andy. Why should I care?

And the problem isn't just with that storyline...Dwight, Kevin, Ryan, Stanley, seems that every single character, with the possible exception of Creed, has become problematic in their inconsistent characterization. Kevin, in particular, is barely recognizable as the guy who could conceivably win a World Series of Poker bracelet.

None of that would be as big a problem if the show was actually still funny....sadly, they can't even pull that off anymore.

On the other hand, Up All Night continues to just be a really fun half hour every week. Will Arnett and Christina Applegate have created a couple that just feels EXTREMELY realistic to me....almost every story that they do feels really familiar. This week's story about trying to watch a TV series together, and how it becomes this "project" that you are working on together, and going to sleep every time you try to start it, etc...I've LIVED that. And I am perfectly happy with Megan Mulally fulfilling her destiny of guest starring on every single comedy I watch...she was fantastic, as usual.

Anyway, it's not super ambitious (like Community), and it's not as polished and at the top of its game (like Parks and Rec), but it's certainly a show that I look forward to every week.

 - Two other shows I watched this weekend are both heading towards the end of their runs (I think) of them for sure, and one of them increasingly likely.

Chuck aired its penultimate episode last week, with only the two hour finale left on the docket. As usual with this show, I am thoroughly enjoying the ride. We all know where the Chuck and Sarah story is most likely headed...I don't think this is the type of show that is going to pull the rug out from under their viewers with anything less than a happy ending for those two. But they are doing a fairly decent job putting up believable roadblocks in their path...although I'm not COMPLETELY happy with Sarah being in "damsel in distress" mode the way she was this week. Hopefully this week will see her back to her butt-kicking ways, with or without the Intersect. In fact, I was sort of hoping that last week's episode was going to involve more of her doing all of these Intersect-aided amazing things, only for Chuck to just assume that it was just her being awesome as usual.

And if that was the last hurrah of Jeffster, what a great way for them to go out. Great stuff all around.

Also...Alan Sepinwall is running a five part interview with Josh Schwarz and Chris Fedak, the co-creators and show runners. Part one is HERE, and if you're a fan of the show I encourage you to go check out the rest as the week goes on. It's a typical great interview from Alan, and a fitting farewell to the show. It's also funny to see the pictures of Chuck and Sarah from the early days of the show...we've come a long way, baby.

As for Fringe, my feelings about this season continue to be mixed. I'm enjoying many of the things the show is doing this season...last week was another strong episode in a series of them, from a storytelling perspective, and the acting is always top notch. But I'm really struggling with the idea that these are not really the characters we have been watching for the life of the show to this point. Whether they exist in a different universe/timeline, or they are in the same universe that we have been watching but "changed" due to what happened with Peter, they don't feel like "our" Olivia, Walter, etc.

And it could be that all of that will be resolved by where the writers are taking wouldn't surprise me if by the end of this season, everything has been put "right" somehow. And if this wasn't probably the last season of the show, that wouldn't be so bad. But, based on the ratings and the high cost of the show, I think it probably IS the last season...which means that we will have spent much of the last season of the show with someone OTHER than the characters we have been watching from the beginning. And that is very frustrating and sad to me.

Still one of the best shows on television...I just hope we don't look back on this as a wasted last season.

 - As long time readers of the blog (or long time knowers of me) know, I have been a wrestling fan almost my entire life. I am not a rabid fan at all fandom at this point just consists of me occasionally checking out some of the wrestling websites/blogs and checking out what is going on with the shows, which will sometime lead to me checking out a particular storyline/match if it piques my interest. I got caught up in the Summer of Punk last summer, for instance, and I was intrigued to start reading rumors that Chris Jericho (one of my all time favorites) may be making a comeback.

Well, he did...and, seriously, the guy is a genius when it comes to this business. What he has done since he came back is some truly Kauffman level stuff.

First, there was this...his big comeback on Raw three weeks ago, in which he somehow had the crowd chanting his name and going crazy when he first made his appearance, and then making a COMPLETE heel turn 5-6 minutes later...without ever saying a word.

And then, the next week, he returns...only he is so "overcome" that he once again leaves without saying a word...

And then LAST week, he finally gets into the ring, as part of a big 6-man tag main event....only to pull THIS:

I love it, and I will be checking out Raw every week for the foreseeable future to see what comes next.


Well, I'm not watching anything...instead, we spent the evening welcoming the latest member of the Grantham family. Introducing, my new nephew...Jackson Reagan Grantham (or, as his uncle will be calling him, Jax)

Friday, January 20, 2012

So...what are some of the things that Leslie Knope is "pro"?

TOTALLY ripped this off from Guess I'm one of those Internet pirates that the feds are aiming to take down.

Here is the text of Leslie's "positive" campaign ad from last night's ep, including the ENTIRE list of things that she is "pro" that scrolled by at breakneck speed.

Hi, I'm Leslie Knope, I'm pro parks, pro public safety, and I'm pro clean water. I'm also pro environmental regulation, and I'm very, very pro local propositions 45, 86, and 102F. But most of all, I'm pro Pawnee. Here are some other things that I'm pro:

More dog parks

Senior citizens' rights

Safe streets

Safe sidewalks

Better schools

Lower taxes

Better parks

Better business climate

Better Better Business Bureau

Cleaner streets

Improve greenways

More snow plows

Protecting Pawneeans

Improving tourism

More trash cans

Energy-efficient street lights

Westside Detoxification and Revitalization Project

Repaving Grand Avenue

More teachers

Fewer libraries

Improve intergovernmental agency communication

Clean-up Barefoot Lake

Passing Pawnee Jobs Bill P-129.4

Playgrounds in every park

Playgrounds in every schoolyard

Playgrounds in every residential block

Clean energy

One police officer for every 5 citizens

One park ranger for every 10,000 raccoons

Resodding Hilltop Cemetery

Start talking to Cuba again

Emergency Evacuation Drills

Plow for Charity

Forming an Ad Hoc Sub-Committee Oversight Committee

Challenging the norm

Pawnee Corn Subsidies

Finally Passing PR-61, formally recognizing South Korea

Official peace treaty with the Wamapoke Tribe

Four-way stops at every intersection

Unionizing ice cream trucks

Get Europe out of debt

Free trade with Illinois

Enact RRP - Raccoon Relocation Project

Pawnee Community College tuition in exchange for 4 years of public service

Doubling Pawnee Hospital's emergency room nurse staff

Legalize Korean

Lower the obesity level

Stop global terrorism

Re-open the toucan exhibit at Pawnee Zoo

Find Gabe the Toucan

More community gardens

Ordinance 11F: To Re-pave city Sidewalks

Budget Reform

Updated Technologies for Local Schools

Better retirement benefits for city employees

Edward Phillips Senior Center Remodeling

Speed bumps in front of elementary schools

Unemployment Benefits

Re-instating the Main St. Farmers Market

No turtles as pets

New uniforms for youth sports programs

Free Public Wi-Fi

Updated childcare facilities

Shutting down the Child Left Behind program

Handicap parking placards for the obese


Cleaner drinking water

Regulate heights of trampolines

Memorial for those lost in the trampoline "incident"

Control the floods

Funding for public art commission

Fencing in correctional facilities

New police patrol cars

Funding overtime hours for police

Rebuilding the PTA

Prosecuting former PTA president Linda Trifle

Profitable government organizations

Shutting down underground shooting ranges

Making sure city contracts employ local workers

Providing more economic development grants and micro-loans to small businesses

Foster partnerships with sister cities

More buses to speed up morning commutes

More streets to accommodate additional buses

Require all city employees check and respond to email

Working sewers

More parades

Grants for scientists to discover new forms of energy

Leave a lasting impression on all visitors

Challenge the norm

Finish the statue of Burt Bacharach

No more conflict diamonds

Bulletproof glass everywhere

Free cookies at every street corner

On school for every student

Require flattering mirrors in public restrooms

Develop a municipal composting operation

Enforce existing speeding and noise ordinances

Upgrade existing parks

Create an anti-graffiti, youth outreach program

Free cake when it's your birthday

Reevaluate NAFTA

Rickshaw Wednesdays

Making it illegal to refuse a hug

Make downtown more people-friendly

Sell candy in government buildings to pay down the debt

Get Pawnee a licensed pharmacy

Better screening processes at local adoption agencies

Finding homes for the abused children of Day Labor Corp.

Prop 6A: To Recognize All Five Food Groups

Replacing all glass with plastic at Pawnee Psychiatric Clinic

KNOPE 2012!!!

"Oh, yeah, laugh it up, Burt!!" "I AM!!"

Scheduling conflicts kept me from watching much on Wednesday night, but it did allow me to come up with an acceptable way to watch the American Idol audition shows...I can wait until it goes off at 10, then and follow along with Dan Feinberg's live blog, fast forwarding past the parts I don't care about. Doing that, I was able to watch the whole 2 hour show in about 20 minutes.

Have I mentioned lately how much I hate the audition episodes? Last night's episode didn't record because of too many conflicts (as you are about to see), and I certainly don't feel like I missed anything. I am out until at least Hollywood week...then we'll see if there's anybody that actually grabs my attention.

So, anyway, I had the house and TV to myself last night and ended up basically overdosing on comedies...Modern Family, Happy Endings, Parks and Rec, 30 Rock, Raising Hope, Big Bang Theory, and Archer. On one hand, that made for a VERY enjoyable three hours...on the other hand, watching them all in a block like that kind of causes it all to run together, to the point where I'm struggling to remember specifics about any of them. So let's knock them out...and for the sake of my addled brain, we'll do it in the order that I watched. Maybe that will help...

Modern Family - The "Claire is unlikeable" storyline was by far the best part of this episode, both because of the meta commentary (since Julie Bowen often gets the same type of criticism), and also because it led to the two best scenes of the episode...the mock debate where Phil and the kids "buzz" her every time she pulls one of her "unlikeable" tics or shows the "bad side" of her face (which Phil and Haley disagreed on which side that was), and then the ACTUAL debate, which was best encapsulated by the viral video that resulted from it.

But if those two scenes were Modern Family at its best (which they were), the other two were the show at, if not its worst, at least its laziest. Absolutely nothing stood out to me in either of those storylines, except how telegraphed and unfunny the jokes were.

In other words, a typical Modern Family episode for that had me pausing and rewinding so that I could catch my breath (usually involving Phil and the kids), and parts that had me having to fight the temptation to fast forward.

Happy Endings - This is one that especially suffers when I gorge like this...I vividly remember laughing at this one at least as much, if not more, as I did at my other favorites (Parks and Rec and Archer). But because the plots are so thin, usually just acting as joke delivery systems, that I sometimes have a hard time recalling all the jokes the next day. But I know that Elisha Cuthbert continues to impress (in more ways than one, right? HEY NOW!!). I don't know if it's her or the writers, but they have really nailed her character (stop it), settling on a variation of a "dumb blond" without it being too cliched. "I think my baker is ripping me off" and "Four V's? That's almost FIVE!" both had me cracking up.

And, of course, the Black Wee Man...hilarious.

Parks and Recreation - First of all, I was completely unspoiled on the appearance of Paul Rudd, and I loved his character...Bobby Newport (said in the most over the top "scary" voice you can think of).

Chris Pratt continues to bring it every week. He had three moments of physical comedy in this episode that I am cracking up right now just thinking about....the initial "sneezing his head into the wall" incident that set the whole story line up, him hitting himself in the eye with a tennis ball in the background of April's talking head, and of course, him running full speed into a parked ambulance. "Call an ambulance! A different ambulance from this one that I just ran into!"

The Andy-April storyline was definitely my favorite this week ("Brain helmet", "You DROVE us here!", "Some of that is just being a human"), but the other two were typical goodness as well. The Chris/Ron plot may have been the weakest, but it still gave us the scene where Chris is laughing at Ron's refusal of his lunch offer, immediately cutting to him laughing at the diner and Ron's confusion as to how exactly that happened. "Did he drug me?"

Best comedy on television. And yeah, I'll probably be saying that every week for a while.

30 Rock - Admittedly, I kind of zoned out on this one (hey, I do have other stuff to do, believe it or not!). But two things stood out....A) the fact that this show may be the only one on TV (besides maybe South Park) that would take a controversy like Tracy Morgan's anti-gay comments and not only ADDRESS it, but actually mimic it on the show; and B) the Idiot protest, including the Frat Boys, Parrot Heads, Anti-vaccine Activists, Guy Who Won't Shut Up About Scuba Diving, and of course...celebrity spokesperson Denise Richards. ("Yeah, I'm an idiot...surprised?" "Ehh").

Raising Hope - Not much to say about this one, either, except that this show continues to be Greg Garcia at his best. I loved the early seasons of My Name is Earl, and that one eventually ran out of steam. I expect that to happen with Raising Hope, too, but for now it is consistently funny. And this week, I laughed out loud several times, especially EVERY time Garrett Dillahunt had to crash through his red Solo cup fort in order to look up something else on the internet for Jimmy. ("Why does one word have two definitions?? JUST MAKE MORE WORDS!!!).

Big Bang Theory - Meh. It is what it is, much like any other Chuck Lorre show. I laughed a couple of times, I cringed several times (all of the scenes where Howard and Raj cracked up at the word "wood"), and I continue to think that I might rather watch a show in which the female characters were the leads and the guys were ancillary. The show is sort of close to that now at times already...and I think Amy and Bernadette steal the show many weeks the same way Sheldon did early on.

As for me, I am 100% Team Bernadette. Just the right mix of good looks and insanity.

Archer - What a fantastic return episode that was, even if it was not one of my all time favorite episodes of the show. It was just great to fall back into the tremendous comic rhythms that this show has that I don't think any other show on TV can match.

The show didn't have enough Pam and Cheryl for it to be one of the top ones for me, but pretty much everything to do with mega guest star Burt Reynolds was gold. Woodhouse constantly confusing him for Clark Gable...the amazing chase scene (including the meta commentary on the same footage being used for two separate crashes and the shoutout to stuntman extraordinaire Hal Needham (more on that in a minute))... and, especially the scene with Archer and Burt riding the elevator discussing Archer's battles with the co-op board over installing a Batpole in the garbage chute. That scene was some Tarantino level stuff.

The parts that DID include Pam and Cheryl, of course, included most of the stuff that I can't print here and keep it family friendly...but that's what I love about the show: the fact that when it wants to get raunchy it can push the envelope as much as anybody, but it's not content just being that show. It's also smart enough that there are usually 2-3 jokes every week that require me to hit up Google in order to fully appreciate them (like the Hal Needham reference).

So this show certainly isn't for all of you...if you are easily offended, STAY AWAY. But I'm certainly glad to have it back.

Chuck is winding down its final season for sure, and Fringe may be doing the same. I didn't do writeups for Fringe and Chuck last week, although I thoroughly enjoyed both of them. I'll try to get some thoughts up over the weekend if the schedule allows.

Portlandia is another show that I would recommend and will be watching, though I'm not sure what all I'll be writing about it on the blog. It's on IFC at 10, and it is a sketch show from Fred Armisen (from SNL) and Carrie Brownstein. If you are like me and came of age in the 90's, or if you just like Fred Armisen's style of humor, I definitely suggest checking it out.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

You understand why I'm not paying for that pizza, right?

Warning...spoilers ahead for last night's Justified.

And also, last night's New Girl, and Glee, if you care. And maybe Monday Night's Alcatrazzzzzzz.

Sweet fancy Moses, it was good to be back in Harlan, KY. Some stray observations on last night's triumphant return of Justified:

 - I am still going to miss Mags terribly, but I think I'm really going to enjoy the new villains that are filling her sizable void. Neal McDonough plays icy cool extremely well, and he was ice COLD in this episode. I'm always a big fan of the soft-spoken, matter of fact, pragmatic/psychopathic bad guy, and that looks to be what they are going for here.

Plus , I can pretend that he is the same guy who had to leave the San Diego area because a certain low-rent PI and his partner put a stop to his underhanded real estate deal (RIP, Terriers).

And the Ice Pick Extremely charismatic performance, and gave the line of the night (which happens to be the title of this post). I sincerely hope that he's not dead, and I don't think he is...that shot seemed to hit shoulder, right?

Hopefully, we will also get a lot of Jere Burns this season as well, as I really enjoy the chemistry between him and Olyphant.

 - A random thing I love about this show...the gunshots are LOUD. Television guns are rarely as loud as real-life guns are, but the ones on this show make your ears ring.

 - You know how sometimes you get two characters who just make you sit up and really take notice every time they have a scene together (think Ben Linus and John Locke, as a good example)? Well, as usual, the screen just crackles every time Boyd and Raylan are on it together. Olyphant and Goggins are at the top of their game.

 - Just like my entire Twitter feed, I was counting the seconds from the time the attractive secretary showed up until her inevitable demise. She should have been wearing a red shirt.

 - So are you Team Winona or Team Ava? I have to admit a pre-existing affection for Natalie Zea, from her work on Dirty Sexy Money, but um....Ava looked REALLY good in those boots.

And a nice callback to her fried chicken expertise (referring to the events surrounding the death of her husband), right before she brained Devil with a frying pan, which was of course fantastic.

So...I'm torn, I guess. Team Winava?

 - I'm a moron, I guess, but I didn't pick up on the fact that Boyd got himself arrested on purpose in order to get at Dickey until I read it in a review this morning.

 - Really not too many hints as to what the overarching plot is going to be this season, unless I just missed it. Instead, this was just the show's way of re-immersing us into this world that they have built, and felt good to be back there.

Good grief, what a convoluted mess that was. As per most episodes, there was some stuff I really liked, some stuff that was just weird/annoying/out of nowhere (or, as I call it, Just Glee Bein' Glee), and some stuff that was just unspeakably horrible.

Breakdown for last night is as follows:

Stuff I really liked: The Artie and Becky storyline (especially Becky's inner monologue being voiced by Helen Mirren...personally, mine is voiced by Ed Norton's character from Fight Club), The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face, the synchronized swimming coach.

The scene between Kurt, Finn, and Rachel at Breadstix hit on one thing that Glee has done well this season, which is the whole concept that this time in their life is a very specific and finite one, and it's going to end soon, and what happens after that? That theme has actually interwoven through a lot of episodes this season, which I give them credit the past, it often seemed as though the writers didn't even bother to remember what happened last week, much less make an effort to worry about THEMES.

And, as always...every time Santana was on the screen. Naya Rivera is amazingawesomesauce, I don't care if her brother DOES play for the Hillbillies.

Just Glee Bein' Glee: Finn's dad is an overdosing loser, not a war hero, apparently. Sue Sylvester will NOT just pick a personality and stick with it (seriously...why was she involved in the little "rose walk" at the proposal...doesn't she hate ALL of these people?). This school is supposedly in a perpetual budget crisis, but they not only have a fully equipped Olympic regulation swimming pool, but....a synchronized swimming team?

Oh yeah...and Coach Bieste got married. Let's just mention that in passing, since that's really all the show did.

Unspeakably Horrible Stuff: Well, this week that was pretty much anything that had to do with one Will Schuester.

How was Will a creepy, horrible douchenozzle? Oh, let us count the ways...

 - He apparently no longer has any friends that aren't teenagers. He comes to them for advice, help on coming up with a proposal, really anything. OH, and even worse...his proposal is actually for their "assignment" for the week. Extremely professional.

 - To continue that theme...he asks his 18 year old student to be his Best Man, and puts him in charge of keeping him under control at his bachelor party (which I'm sure we will get to see at some point, and which I'm double sure will include only underage participants). Dude...that is CREEPY.

 - His apparent best friend confides in him that he is thinking about joining the Army after high school (a noble notion, by the way). So...Will immediately runs and tattles to Finn's parents, and joined with them to stage an Intervention, because God forbid we let that happen since Finn has SO MANY other more respectable options. (That whole thing ticked me off, would think that he had decided to join a kitten strangling gang).

 - Emma's Ginger Supremacist parents tell him that Emma is too coo-coo for cocoa puffs for him to actually think about MARRYING her....and not only does he AGREE with them, he TELLS EMMA THAT SHE IS TOO CRAZY FOR HIM TO MARRY. Jayma Mays actually does a fantastic job in taking what could be this cartoon character and turning her into an actual human being with actual damage, which made the whole thing even worse. How are we supposed to think that Will is anything but a fantastically horrible person? Why should I root for these people to get together? He actually ABUSES her emotionally in one scene, and then because he dresses up in a ridiculous white tuxedo and swims through a bunch of synchronized swimming prodigies (seriously...when did they PRACTICE?), I'm supposed to be happy that she accepts his proposal?

GAH....Will really pisses me off.

And the really sad part about is that when the show started, he was the character I related to the most. I was in a very active and well-recognized (locally) show choir when I was in high school, and I could relate to this guy's story of looking back on those years as some of the best of his life and trying to recapture that feeling somehow. But he's just a creepy, pathetic, whiny, cruel, self absorbed person. Who, apparently, we are supposed to be rooting for.

Take Will out, and that's a B+ episode...but then it's only about 20 minutes long. That's about right, I think.

New Girl - Lizzy Caplan! Matt Besser! Rachael Harris! An episode focused on Schmidt, including the triumphant return of the Douchebag Jar! What else could you ask for? It's like they made an episode just for me!

Alcatrazzzzzz - Yeah, I'm going to keep making that joke. This....was....boring. I'm going to give it a few more weeks, because of the folks involved (a lot of the LOST team, including Hurley) and also because my Monday nights aren't as full of shows to DVR as some other nights. But if it's just CSI: Alcatraz, I'm going to be out pretty quickly.

Well, Idol is back, so there's that. I'm usually super stoked at this point, but this year I'm debating whether I'm even going to bother watching the audition episodes. Are any of you who have been around the blog for a while still interested in me doing recaps once the performance episodes start back up?

Also, the ABC comedy block: Suburgatory, Modern Family, Happy Endings. (that's my personal priority order, it's Happy Endings, Suburgatory, Modern Family)

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Crowdsourcing UGA basketball, Monday TV thoughts, more stuff

OK, it's that time of year is winding down, tournaments start up in around six weeks or's time for me to actually start paying attention to basketball. So, Dawg fans...what do I need to know in order to get caught up? I mean, other than that we apparently stink like last week's garbage. I want to know WHY we stink like last week's garbage. Were Trey and Travis THAT vital, that we go from a tournament team to one that may not win a conference game? And what happened to Gerald Robinson? I remember him at least being able to score pretty consistently last year, but during the limited time I've watched this year he seems to just be randomly hurling himself into the lane at breakneck speed, with no real intentions or ideas as to what comes next. Is Kentavious Caldwell-Pope living up to expectations, or is he (hopefully) really good but not good enough to be one-and-done?

So...educate me, Hoop Dawg fans!

 I watched the first 15 minutes of Alcatraz, before realizing that it was a two hour premiere and was going to keep me up WELL past my bedtime. It looks OK...I'm hearing from various critics (including Sepinwall) that it is mostly a police procedural, with a different "bad guy" every week, and only a cursory attempt at an overarching story. If that's the case, I will probably be out pretty quickly, but I will at least give it a shot due to its very strong LOST ties (JJ, Elizabeth Sarnoff, Bryan Burke, and of course Jorge Garcia (Hurley)).

Which reminds me...I think I am about ready for a LOST rewatch.

So, once I decided to put off Alcatraz, I watched the usual Monday night comedies instead.

First up was an episode of How I Met Your Mother that I enjoyed TONS more than anything else they have done all season. I was a late comer to this show, so I am not as emotionally invested as many fans are...I just want them to be FUNNY. And last night was definitely that ("We built Chip City...we built Chip City on ALL YOUR DOUGH...").

And then there was 2 Broke Girls. Like I said last week, I'm resigned to the fact that this is as good as the show will ever's just a joke delivery system that delivers good jokes about 30% of the time and horribly unfunny and offensive jokes about 70% of the time. By that very low standard, last night was a pretty good episode...I think the jokes were actually funny about half the time, so...



I don't know...I think I watch it more because I am interested in the online reaction to it now, rather than because I actually think it's worth watching. But,'s only 22 minutes when you don't watch commercials, and I don't have a whole lot else to watch on Monday. And Kat Dennings is hot, stays.

 Well....Glee, New Girl, and Raising Hope are all back from hiatus. That is prime Daddy-daughter time, so I will be watching those with the girls.


I just re-watched the last four episodes of last season again, and holy mackerel...I'd forgotten how TENSE those episodes were. I was still banging my head on the ceiling fan and screaming at the television, and I KNEW how everything was going to turn out.

Can't wait to hang out with Raylan, Boyd, Ava (hopefully), Winona, and the rest. I'll again point you to Sepinwall for his thoughts on the season...based on his description, I am really looking forward to what's coming up, even if I will truly miss Mags Bennett.

RIP, Mags...I tip my glass of Apple Pie to you.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Thursday night TV report, other stuff

Last night's big winner? Parks and Rec, of course. But I'll be honest...I don't think I laughed harder at anything than I did at Amy Farrah Fowler's reaction to receiving her tiara on Big Bang Theory.

But a close second was the entrance of the Leslie Knope campaign team: GET ON YOUR FEET!

(you're not going crazy...yes, it's backwards. Copyright infringement, and all that. On second thought, who am I to say whether you're could be. But not because that video looks backwards to you. )

Adam Scott is brilliant, and extremely underrated....his excitement over both "Low-Cal Calzone Zone" and his foray into the world of claymation, followed by his awareness that he was slowly going insane was hilarious. "That can't be all there is!"

 - Also watched last night...Wednesday's episode of Top Chef. I LOVE the Restaurant Wars episodes, and this was another fun one.

Grayson is my favorite, and I can't stand Lindsey or Sarah (The Mean Girls). I mean, Beverly is annoying, but I would have already gone Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon on those girls if I was her. I'm looking forward to the season finale, when Beverly hits Lindsey over the head with a mixing bowl and when Sarah tries to come to her rescue, Grayson steps in front of her and throws boiling water in her face, while Jim Ross screams in the background, "MY GAWD!!! THAT'S GRAYSON'S MUSIC!! WHAT IS SHE DOING HERE??"

 - As for's the return of Fringe! And here is a great video to catch you up on what is going on in Season 4 so far...

And, apparently, we need to enjoy Fringe while we can. Kevin Reilly (Fox president) was, at best, non-committal regarding the future of the show at press tour. The show is very expensive, and loses money every single week. It's not realistic to expect the network to continue to do that. They gave us four seasons of the show, which is likely four more than they would have gotten on ANY other network.

 - I've also finished my Justified season 2 rewatch...I had forgotten just how intense those last two episodes were. Can't wait for Tuesday...I'll likely talk more about it then.

 - More good news for the Dawgs today...another big running back commitment from Todd Gurley (let's see how fast Crowell grows up with both Gurley and Marshall pushing him), and then the announcement that Orson Charles is in fact the only junior that is jumping to the NFL. It's gonna be a LONG offseason...

Thursday, January 12, 2012

What I'm thinking about today...

Going forward, this place is probably going to be a lot more stream-of-consciousness...if some repeatable patterns start popping up, I may do some more structured posting, but for now it's going to be just the stuff that I am thinking about, or talking my coworkers' ears off about.

 - Still can't get over how dominant Alabama was in the national title game Monday night. They were one late penalty away from basically pitching a perfect points allowed, no turnovers, and no penalties. And not against Coastal Carolina, either...this was against the undisputed number one team in the country, who had beaten three top 5 teams already this year, and was basically ripping their way through everybody. Add that to the fact that they really outplayed LSU the first time they played them (they just couldn't hit a field goal), and there is no doubt in my mind who deserves to be the national champion.

Which brings me to a subject that I am likely only to post on once (or at least not more than once a year)...the BCS vs. playoffs debate. I am almost 100% anti-playoff. I feel like that puts me in an increasingly small minority, but I do have my reasons...

First of all, I love that the college football regular season is the most meaningful in all of sports. EVERY week really does matter. People dispute that, because teams lose and still get in almost every year, but I look at it this least with the current setup, if you are serious about playing for a national title you better at least APPROACH every week as if it is a must win, because you never know what game is going to be the one that costs you. When Alabama lost to LSU on November 5, for all they knew their hopes at a national title were over. And they would have been, too, if Oklahoma State, Stanford, Oregon, and Boise State had not all lost games that they should have won. If we go to a playoff, then that sense of urgency is lessened....we can argue about how MUCH it's lessened, but I don't want it lessened at ALL.

Because of that, the only playoff system that I can get behind is one that includes NO MORE than four teams....if you're not in the top 4, there's a reason, and you are not elite. And the playoff system that will most likely be implemented at some point probably will be only four (or even a plus one)...but I've watched the NCAA long enough to know that mission creep is not a's an inevitability. One thing the NCAA can't resist is the siren song of cash, and if four teams makes them a gazillion dollars, they are just going to want to make TWO gazillion, so why not go to EIGHT teams, etc..

The other reason I like the BCS is that it is a system that rewards an entire body of work...too often, playoffs and tournaments are won by teams that just got hot at the right time. I like to see excellence rewarded, and I think that almost 100% of the time the two teams that are matched up in the BCS championship are the two teams that most deserve to be there based on their entire body of work. The teams that don't make it are USUALLY not there for a very good reason...either they lost to somebody they shouldn't have, or they didn't beat anybody of note. I don't like the idea of one of those teams sneaking in to the playoffs and then riding a late season hot streak to a championship.

So that's just one man's opinion...we can debate in the comments, but this is a subject that I think gets beat to death in the blogosphere, so I doubt I will post on it too often.

 - Good news out of the Georgia Bulldog front yesterday...Orson is leaving (as expected), but virtually the entire defense is returning, as well as our defensive coordinator (after a pretty silly report that he may be flirting with the Falcons). That defense should be an absolute blast to watch next year...let's just hope the offensive line gels, a running back steps up, Aaron Murray continues to develop, year could be special.

(note: "special" = running through a fairly weak regular season schedule, inching our way in to the Top 5, losing to the Alabama juggernaut in the SECCG, and then winning a Sugar Bowl, setting ourselves up for a similar season in 2013. VERY early predictions there.)

 - There are MANY times that I wish I was a TV critic, and seeing reports from the 2 Broke Girls panel at press tour yesterday was certainly one of those times. Jut deliciously awkward and hostile. Excellent writeups are HERE and HERE, from Alan Sepinwall and Todd VanderWerff, respectively. The VanderWerff writeup is particularly interesting, because Todd has been one of the more outspoken defenders of the show online...don't think that's going to be the case anymore.

Todd's opinion of the show has been much like mine: that there is a really good show in there, particularly in the performances of Kat Dennings and Beth Behrs....but that show is being buried under an avalanche of bad puns, racial stereotypes, and raunchiness for raunchiness sake. There is a way to do racial stereotypes and off color humor WELL (see Happy Endings "rotary dial" joke last night for an example of the second thing), but Michael Patrick King is WAY too arrogant and tone deaf to ever be able to pull that off successfully.

It's a shame...I will probably keep watching the show, because I do enjoy the two leads, but I no longer hold out hope that it will turn in to the show that I had hoped it would be.

 - The winner of the ABC comedy block last night...Happy Endings. I laughed so much I missed some of the jokes...I'm going to have to start keeping the show on my DVR so that I can go back and rewatch, to get the full experience. They just throw 50 jokes a minute at you...they might not all hit, but there are so many of them that I'm usually laughing nonstop. Favorite part last night? Anything involving the racist, slightly homophobic, parrot that Alex bought on Craigslist from Aryan420. "You trippin, bird..."

Pretty solid outings from Suburgatory and Modern Family, as well....but Happy Endings is the big winner from last night.

 - As for tonight...Community may not be back (::sob::), but the rest of the NBC Thursday lineup is, including the return of Parks and Rec (my #3 show of 2011), and 30 Rock.

Also, if you have HBO and have never seen the Paradise Lost documentaries that detail the case of the West Memphis 3, I highly recommend checking your listings for tonight and the next couple days...they are replaying the first two parts and then premiering part 3...if you want to be really furious, and then sad, and then sort of happy but still sad/mad at the same time, you should check it out.

OK! Glad to be back in the blogsosphere...please excuse my rust as I try to get back in the swing of this thing!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

New directions (not a Glee reference)

OK...I am REALLY ready to start blogging again. I know I've said that before, but I promise, will be different this time.

I have NO idea what kind of structure this blog will have going forward (if any), but I expect that it will be VERY different from what it has been before. I may even change the name...but I will still post updates to Twitter and Facebook, which is where a lot of you get this anyway, so you should still be able to find it.

OH....and if any of the Dawgbone folks are reading this, now would probably be the time to take me off your blogroll. I will probably still talk about the Dawgs here at times, but they will certainly not be the main focus of the blog (not that they have been for a while now).

Excited about the future, and ready to write!

EDIT: That Dawgbone part sounded more snarky than I meant it to. I love the folks at Dawgbone, I visit their site several times a day, and I am sincerely grateful for the traffic they have sent my way over the years. But I feel bad every time one of my posts shows up on their list of links, because I know most of the people who get here from there are looking for Dawg content and they likely won't get that here anymore. I still love the Dawgs, and will still be writing about them sometimes, but there are a LOT of Dawg blogs already...I'm ready to do something different.