Category Archives: TV Land

A trip down coach potato lane

Treasures From Across The Pond: The Best of British TV (Part One)

Happy New Year everybody! How did you all enjoy the holidays, did you have fun with the family or are you glad it’s over? I didn’t get to enjoy the holidays because I caught the flu and I was sick the entire time, which is a bummer. But I suppose it could be worse. At least it’s just the flu, right? 🙂

Of course being sick during the holidays is definitely not fun, mostly because it’s also winter hiatus for my favorite TV shows (in the exception of Chuck this year, but that’s only because it’s the final season and NBC is just anxious to get it out of the way, I suspect) and I have nothing to watch. At first I busy myself with the Binky International Film Festival, but then the series was over and I still had nothing to watch. So I did what I always do in times like this, I turn to the internet for research on great shows I haven’t had the chance to watch for various reasons (mostly because my TV schedule is already insane to begin with). I’m still not interested to give Game of Thrones a try (apologies, fans, but somehow I find epic tales like this hard to get into. I’m the only nerd who’s not into Lord of The Rings, after all), so instead I decided to try two British series that the internet have been raving about but I haven’t had time to try: Downton Abbey and Sherlock. And am I glad that I did, because even though Hollywood has churned out some of the best TV shows of all time – the Brits sure know how to make quality series. Their seasons are shorter, their lifespans are often shorter – mostly three or four seasons, only a few really popular ones get more than five – but they are often excellent series, and their quality usually remains consistent to the end.

Today and tomorrow, I want to talk about these two excellent British shows that I managed to watch during the Winter Hiatus, both of which have become my newest obsession. I’ll start with Downton Abbey, which will air its second season in the US this Sunday. If you haven’t seen this charming show, do catch up on its first season this weekend (it’s doable, there are only 7 episodes) so you can get right into the second season when it airs on Sunday. Trust me, you won’t regret it.

I have heard about the charms of hit British drama Downton Abbey for some time now, it has been talked about quite frequently on NY Magazine’s Vulture blog and twitter is quite chattery about this show as well (Patton Oswalt, Gillian Jacobs and Yvette Nicole Brown from Community even did a hilarious twitter reenactment once). But I already had a hard time trying to watch all the American shows I’m watching, I decided to just wait for the DVDs to come out. On the last week of December, while I was still coughing and sniveling non-stop, I decided to devour the first and second season in the space of a weekend, and now I’m jonesing for the new season to start. Why does British TV take such long breaks anyway? I’m sure there are Brits who watch TV as obsessively as I do?

The appeal of Downton Abbey is simple, it’s a period or “genre” drama, it’s set in the late Edwardian era, and it follows the lives of the aristocratic Crawley family, of the Earl and Countess of Grantham and their three grown daughters, as well as their servants (which includes a butler, valet — not the kind that parks cars–, housekeepers, footmen, housemaids, cook, kitchen maids, chauffer, etc). It’s a well-written, well-acted “upstairs/downstairs” soap opera, and it’s addictive as hell. Created by Gosford Park’s Julian Fellowes, this series was an instant hit on both sides of the Atlantic, averaging 10 million viewers in the UK (which is massive for UK TV standard, by the way) and a cool 6 million viewers in the US, which means this show – airing on PBS – has higher ratings than anything in the CW, including its hit shows like The Vampire Diaries or America’s Next Top Model. I mean, PBS isn’t exactly the cool kids channel. I don’t think people even watch PBS until Downton Abbey comes along, you know, except for the Ken Burns documentary.

After watching a few episodes of Season 1 (or Series 1, as the Brits would have it), I tweeted that this show is like Gossip Girl, if it were very well-written and steered clear of ridiculous plots. At the heart of it, Downton Abbey is very much a soap opera, something that even Hugh Bonneville, who plays the Earl of Grantham, concurs – but unlike most soap operas that tend to be way too dramatic to a fault, Downton Abbey chooses to be more grounded, opting for historical accuracies instead of wildly unbelievable plots that most soaps are known for. Even their slightly unbelievable plot, the one where a Turkish diplomat dies while having sex with Lady Mary, turns out to be a true story, according to its creator and writer Julian Fellowes. A soap opera that show self-restrained in the ridiculous department is very, very rare, and that’s why Downton Abbey is as popular as it is both in the UK and US: this is what we TV viewers have been craving for all this time.

Of course another appeal of this show is that it’s also very, very entertaining. My favorite character is Lady Violet, the Dowager Countess of Grantham, played by the one and only Dame Maggie Smith, naturally. Not only does she have the best lines (her infamous one is of course, “What is a weekend?”), she’s also hysterical without trying too hard. No wonder Maggie Smith nabbed the Best Supporting Actress in A Mini Series last year, she is definitely the best thing about this show that’s already full of so many wonderful things.

The second season was criticized in the UK for being too soap-y and overly dramatic but seriously, in my opinion, it’s still excellent. Don’t listen to them haters. Yes, it is a bit more dramatic and soap-y than the first season. And there are several plots that veered a little too much on the dramatic side, but so what? Even when Grey’s Anatomy was still good (first and second season), it’s way more soap-y and dramatic than this show ever could be. And the second season was worth the watch if only for the romances! From the angst-y “will you two just get together already?” entanglement of Lady Mary and Matthew Crawley to the sweet but problematic romance of Mr. Bates and Anna, there is no shortage of squee worthy moments in season two, and let’s face it, those moments are the reason why we love television in the first place, right?

UK viewers and those of us who don’t live in the UK but have gotten hold of the second season through wildly nefarious means will have to wait with bated breath for the third (and possibly final) season set to premiere some time in October (or is it November? Not sure) this year, which means we have to suffer withdrawal for at least ten months before we get our fix again. But if you live in the US, I highly recommend you turn on PBS this Sunday night and watch the second season. Better yet, follow comedian Patton Oswalt on twitter (@pattonoswalt) and watch it with him. He promises to live-tweet the episode this Sunday. I guarantee you won’t be disappointed.

I’ll see you back here tomorrow for my review of another delightful (and popular) British series, Sherlock. Until then!

xoxo

Binky Bee

Golden Globes Nominations: Stars In Their Eyes

The Golden Globes nominations are in, and it’s a doozy, you guys. On one hand, there are some categories that are so great, I can’t even choose my favorite. On the other, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association continues to be crazy by snubbing the greats such as Breaking Bad, Parks and Recreation and Melissa McCarthy and continuing to nominate Glee (do they even watch this season, or are they stuck in season 1?) and nominating Ryan Gosling twice but neither for Drive. Not to mention, they’re continuing the tradition of what NY Magazine’s Vulture blog calls “Random Piper Perabo Nomination”, in which a random actress starring in a new USA Network show somehow gets a Best Actress Drama nod. This year the honor goes to Callie Thorne. I’m guessing Gabrielle Anwar’s agent forgot to get on that?

But despite the doozy-ness of this year’s nominations, the HFPA does assure us of two things: it’ll be an interesting red carpet what with the hottest stars in Hollywood all getting nominated (Clooney, Gosling, Pitt, Jolie, Theron, DiCaprio…) and we’ll have an even more interesting ceremony what with Ricky Gervais hosting (again!) and ready to insult and offend those glittering A-listers. So in a way, I can’t hate on them for their glaring snubs. Good job, HFPA!

Alright. Now let’s get straight to the nominees. This year, I’ll only be picking My Favorites (see the SAG Nominations post below) instead of the usual “Who I Think Will Win” and “Who I Want To Win” because the old format is just too much work. 🙂 Besides, my predictions tend to be wrong anyway. I’d make the worst psychic in the world.

Well let’s not waste any more time and dive in!

MOTION PICTURE

Best Picture, Comedy/Musical:

The Artist
Bridesmaids
Midnight in Paris

My Week with Marilyn
50/50

My Favorite: Now this is one of those categories that I mentioned above, that almost all the nominees are so great and so well deserving of the nods that I can’t choose a favorite! I haven’t seen The Artist and My Week With Marilyn (that’s a “Comedy”?) but Bridesmaids, Midnight In Paris and 50/50 were all so amazing in different ways and choosing between them is like choosing which one of my imaginary children is my favorite. It’s impossible! So I’m not going to choose, and instead just hope that The Artist isn’t going to beat them all (though it probably will).

Winner: The Artist

Best Picture, Drama:

The Help
The Descendants
Hugo
The Ides of March
Moneyball
Warhorse

My Favorite: Okay, this is hard because out of all the movies nominated, I’ve only seen The Help and The Ides of March. So I can’t really make an objective assessment. And I know a lot of people hate The Ides of March, but I actually like it. Maybe it’s the Clooney/Gosling of it all, or maybe it’s because of my lack of understanding of politics in general, but I enjoyed that movie very much. Since I’m not sure which to choose, I decided to go with the movie I haven’t seen but critics raved about and written by the Dean of my favorite fictional Community college Dean Pelton Jim Rash, The Descendants. And if it wins, Clooney will get up on stage too, so win-win, right?

Winner: The Descendants

Best Actress, Comedy:

Michelle Williams, My Week With Marilyn
Charlize Theron, Young Adult
Kristen Wiig, Bridesmaids
Kate Winslet, Carnage
Jodie Foster, Carnage

My Favorite: This category is the worst for me because I’ve only seen Bridesmaids and thus can only choose Kristen Wiig because I don’t know how good everyone else was in their respective movies. I have a feeling that it’ll go to Charlize Theron though, she’s always been a go-to choice for HFPA.

Winner: Michelle Williams, My Week With Marilyn

Best Actor, Comedy

Jean Dujardin, The Artist
Owen Wilson, Midnight in Paris
Joseph Gordon-Levitt, 50/50
Brendan Gleeson, The Guard
Ryan Gosling, Crazy, Stupid, Love

My Favorite: The HFPA is so cruel for making me choose between Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Ryan Gosling. They’re my imaginary boyfriends, I love them equally! However, despite enjoying Gosling’s performance in Crazy, Stupid, Love (and that glorious, glorious abs), I was crying and laughing the whole time during 50/50, and it’s all because of Joseph Gordon Levitt’s heartbreaking performance, so I’m sorry, Gosling, but I’m going to give it to Gordon-Levitt. Hey, it rhymes! (Also, Jean Dujardin will probably best them both)

Winner: Jean Dujardin, The Artist

Best Actress, Drama:

Meryl Streep, The Iron Lady
Glenn Close, Albert Nobbs
Viola Davis, The Help
Rooney Mara, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
Tilda Swinton, We Need to Talk About Kevin

My Favorite: Well, this is easy. I’ve chosen  Viola Davis as my favorite to win the SAG Awards, so I guess now I’m going to choose Tilda Swinton. Though seeing that both are up against Merryl Streep, I’m guessing it wouldn’t matter. That woman almost never loses, the HFPA LOVES them some Streep!

Winner: Merryl Streep, The Iron Lady

Best Actor, Drama:

George Clooney, The Descendants
Leonardo DiCaprio, J. Edgar
Brad Pitt, Moneyball
Ryan Gosling, The Ides of March
Michael Fassbender, Shame

My Favorite: Okay, this is also the category that leaves me torn because you know my love and devotion to both George Clooney and Ryan Gosling. I can’t choose between them. I want to be wedged between them. And add some Michael Fassbender in that sexy man-sandwich while I’m at it. No, seriously though, I heard Clooney was all shades of amazing in The Descendants, I thought Ryan Gosling was great in The Ides of March and practically every critic I know raved about Fassbender’s raw and naked (both figuratively and literally) performance in Shame. So really. How can a girl choose? I’ll be happy if it goes to either one of them. Sorry Pitt and Leo!

Winner: My perennial fantasy boyfriend George Clooney for The Descendants, of course!

Best Director:

Alexander Payne, The Descendants
Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist
George Clooney, Ides of March
Martin Scorsese, Hugo
Woody Allen, Midnight in Paris

My Favorite: I’ve been a huge fan of Woody Allen movies since I first saw Annie Hall a million years ago so despite the incredible lineup, he’s my favorite to win. And that is all.

Winner: Martin Scorsese, Hugo

Best Supporting Actress:

Octavia Spencer, The Help
Bérénice Bejo, The Artist
Shailene Woodley, The Descendants
Jessica Chastain, The Help
Janet McTeer, Albert Nobbs

My Favorite: I really need to see The Descendants one of these days because that girl from that awfulsome ABC Family show Secret Life Of An American Teenager, Shailene Woodley, actually got nominated here and from what I read in various blogs and publications, it was well-deserved. It really makes me curious because she wasn’t at all impressive in American Teenager, but I guess it’s because the materials she had to work with weren’t all that great to begin with. Anyway! The only movie I’ve seen in this category is The Help so I guess Octavia Spencer is my favorite. Chastain was great too, but Spencer is pretty amazing!

Winner: Octavia Spencer, The Help

Best Supporting Actor:

Christopher Plummer, Beginners
Kenneth Branagh, My Week With Marilyn
Albert Brooks, Drive
Jonah Hill, Moneyball
Viggo Mortensen, A Dangerous Method

My Favorite: Duh, Albert Brooks, simply because Drive is my favorite movie of 2011. And he was pretty awesome in it!

WINNER: Christopher Plummer, Beginners

TELEVISION

TV Series, Drama:

American Horror Story
Boardwalk Empire
Boss
Game of Thrones
Homeland

My Favorite: No doubt, Homeland. I love American Horror Story like Tate Langdon loves his gimp suit, but Homeland has all the makings of an award-winning show. It is so well-written and brilliantly acted, it’s the best new show this year.

Winner: Homeland

TV Series, Comedy:

Enlightened
Episodes
Glee
Modern Family
New Girl

My Favorite: Despite not loving the fact that Glee is nominated again even though they so don’t deserve it this year, I have to praise the HFPA for nominating the brilliant but highly underrated Laura Dern comedy Enlightened. It’s about time that little show gets some love! And so, even though it may probably lose to Modern Family, or even worse, Glee, it’s still my favorite to win.

Winner: Modern Family

TV Actress, Comedy:

Laura Dern, Enlightened
Zooey Deschanel, New Girl
Tina Fey, 30 Rock
Laura Linney, The Big C
Amy Poehler, Parks and Recreation

My Favorite: I’m like so in love with Amy Poehler right now and ecstatic that even though Parks and Recreation got snubbed again, she got the nomination she so rightly deserved. So yeah, Poehler FTW! However, considering the mass (but polarizing, I admit) appeal of Zooey Deschanel, she may actually take home the Globe this year!

WINNER: Laura Dern, Enlightened

TV Actress, Drama:

Claire Danes, Homeland
Mireille Enos, The Killing
Julianna Margulies, The Good Wife
Madeleine Stowe, Revenge
Callie Thorne, Necessary Roughness

My Favorite: Claire Danes, of course! She’s just phenomenal as Bipolar but brilliant CIA analyst Carrie Mathison and she deserves all the accolades she can get her hands on!

Winner: Claire Danes, Homeland

TV Actor, Drama:

Steve Buscemi, Boardwalk Empire
Bryan Cranston, Breaking Bad
Kelsey Grammar, Boss
Jeremy Irons, The Borgias
Damian Lewis, Homeland

My Favorite: Oooh I want to say Bryan Cranston so bad because he is amazing in Breaking Bad and the show was so unjustly snubbed, I feel like he needs to win to make it alright. However, at the end of the day my heart is with Damian Lewis, whose portrayal of Sgt. Nicholas Brody, returning POW turned terrorist, gave a whole new meaning to the word brilliant. But if either of them wins, I’m a happy camper.

Winner: Kelsey Grammar, Boss

TV Actor, Comedy

Alec Baldwin, 30 Rock
David Duchovny, Californication
Johnny Galecki, The Big Bang Theory
Thomas Jane, Hung
Matt LeBlanc, Episodes

My Favorite: Matt LeBlanc. He was really funny in Episodes, his character is like Joey Tribbiani playing Matt LeBlanc. And I always love actors who are game at making fun of themselves, so I say give him the award!

Winner: Matt LeBlanc, Episodes

Best Supporting Actor, TV

Peter Dinklage, Game of Thrones
Paul Giamatti, Too Big to Fail
Guy Pearce, Mildred Pierce
Tim Robbins, Cinema Verite
Eric Stonestreet, Modern Family

My Favorite: Eric Stonestreet. It’s not like I watch the others in the list. Though seeing that Guy Pierce won the Emmys last September for Mildred Pierce, he may actually win this one.

Winner: Peter Dinklage, Game of Thrones

Best Supporting Actress, TV

Jessica Lange, American Horror Story
Kelly Macdonald, Boardwalk Empire
Maggie Smith, Downton Abbey
Sofia Vergara, Modern Family
Evan Rachel Wood, Mildred Pierce

My Favorite: Jessica Lange, no question about it. Especially after last Wednesday night’s episode. Who knew that a Ryan Murphy horror show would actually boast some of the most incredible acting that I’ve ever seen on television? It’s not just Lange who is excellent, even the relative newcomers like Evan Peters and Taissa Farmiga (who’s only ever acted in one movie prior to this show) are incredible. And that goes for the slew of guest stars too such as the incomparable Zachary Quinto, Frances Conroy, Kate Mara and Lily Rabe. Mark my words, American Horror Story will be the one to watch at next year’s Emmys!

Winner: Jessica Lange, American Horror Story

And there you have it, this year’s Golden Globes nominees. Who do you think will bring home the top honors? Whose nominations are you most excited about? Whose snubs are you most bummed about? I’ll be updating this list next month after the Awards Show telecast so check back in then!

Xoxo

Binky Bee

SAG Awards Nominations: The Actors Have Spoken

The Screen Actors Guild nominations were just announced on Wednesday morning and I feel like it’s my duty as a pop culture junkie to weigh in on the list, because it’s almost the holidays and I’m getting bored. So humor me, will ya? 🙂 This is also the first year that I’ve actually weighed in on the Screen Actors Guild nominations, so instead of my usual award nominations blog template of “Who I Think Will Win” and “Who I Want To Win”, I’m not going to attempt to predict the winners this time around and just pick my favorites out of the lot. Who knows? Maybe this time I’ll get lucky.

Alright, without any delay, let’s get straight to the nominations!

MOTION PICTURE

Best ensemble cast

The Artist
Bridesmaids
The Descendants
The Help
Midnight in Paris

My Favorite: Kind of a toss-up between Bridesmaids and Midnight In Paris, simply because both have such amazing ensemble cast. But ultimately I pick Midnight In Paris because duh, Hemingway and Dali. However, please note I haven’t seen The Descendants yet and might change my mind after I finally see it.

Biggest Snub: Drive. Sure, some people think it’s overrated. Some even try to sue the producers. But let’s face it, it’s the movie that got everyone talking and it deserves some love.

Best actor

Demián Bichir, A Better Life
George Clooney, The Descendants
Leonardo DiCaprio, J. Edgar
Jean Dujardin, The Artist
Brad Pitt, Moneyball

My Favorite: George Clooney, even though I haven’t seen The Descendants yet. He’s Clooney! Of course I’m gonna pick him. And if the SAG voters think the way I do, he’ll probably actually win this.

Biggest Snub: Ryan Gosling. As most women on this planet, I am madly in love with him. It’s bad enough Bradley Cooper beat him as Sexiest Man Alive! Also, Michael Fassbender. I haven’t seen Shame, but critics were blown away by his raw, intense performance and I tend to believe them.

Best actress

Glenn Close, Albert Nobbs
Viola Davis, The Help
Meryl Streep, The Iron Lady
Tilda Swinton, We Need to Talk About Kevin
Michelle Williams, My Week With Marilyn

My Favorite: This is also a toss-up between Viola Davis and Tilda Swinton. Seriously, I can’t choose! Okay since Swinton has won an Oscar before and everything, I think I’ll go with Davis.

Biggest Snub: I thought Ellen Barkin was all kinds of fantastic in Another Happy Day, and everyone raved about Carey Mulligan’s performance in Shame (which I haven’t seen). Would have liked to see either of these amazing ladies nominated. Also, I have just seen Martha Marcy May Marlene and Elizabeth Olsen definitely deserves a nomination too. Finally, an Olsen sister who can act!

Best supporting actor

Kenneth Branagh, My Week With Marilyn
Armie Hammer, J. Edgar
Jonah Hill, Moneyball
Nick Nolte, Warrior
Christopher Plummer, Beginners

My Favorite: Nick Nolte was surprisingly amazing on Warrior, probably the most underrated movie of 2011. But then again Armie Hammer is… Armie Hammer. No. Must stay strong. Nick Nolte it is!

Biggest Snub: Hmm. Would have liked to see Ezra Miller up there for his chilling performance in We Need To Talk About Kevin, but I suppose he just didn’t get enough screen time in that movie. But, I think the true crime is passing on Seth Rogen who was all shades of amazeballs on 50/50. Sure he still plays a version of himself, but this is the best version of him I’ve seen in years!

Best supporting actress

Berenice Bejo, The Artist
Jessica Chastain, The Help
Melissa McCarthy, Bridesmaids
Janet McTeer, Albert Nobbs
Octavia Spencer, The Help

My Favorite: Even though both Jessica Chastain and Octavia Spencer gave amazing performances in The Help, I gotta give this one to Melissa McCarthy, simply because she made me laugh so hard I nearly peed a few times during Bridesmaids. True story.

Biggest Snub: Bryce Dallas Howard. Her portrayal of Hilly Holbrook in The Help was just so dead on. I read the book before I watched the movie, and she was just pitch perfect. I wanted to set her on fire, she was such a nightmare in that movie! Considering that she seems to be a lovely person in real life, that is some great acting right there!

TELEVISION

Best ensemble cast in a comedy

30 Rock
The Big Bang Theory
Glee
Modern Family
The Office

My Favorite: Okay, let’s talk about how BORING this list is. Like NY Mag’s Vulture noted in their SAG Nominations post, it looks like a list from two years ago. The Office hasn’t had a particularly strong season post-Carell and I’m not even sure what The Big Bang Theory is doing there. I would’ve loved to see some of the newer, better comedies get the nod; like the very excellent Happy Endings, or, if it’s just a tad too kooky, how ’bout the always heartwarming Parks and Recreation? And Glee doesn’t even deserve to be nominated. I’m sorry. This year that show has been on a fast decline, culminating in last Tuesday’s insufferable Christmas episode. I’d be happier if it were New Girl that got the nod. So my favorite? Uhm… I guess that just leaves Modern Family?

Biggest Snub: Parks and Recreation, without question. Season 3 was perfection and 4 has been amazing so far, and they chose Glee? Seriously??

Best ensemble cast in a drama

Boardwalk Empire
Breaking Bad
Dexter
Game of Thrones
The Good Wife

My Favorite: Breaking Bad, without question. I don’t watch The Good Wife and Game of Thrones. Boardwalk Empire’s second season isn’t half as good as anyone thinks it is (think about it!) and Dexter is a goner.

Biggest Snub: Homeland. I mean, hands down, best new drama. It’s so good that even President Obama is a fan. Is it because it only just premiered last October? I don’t get it. Also, Sons of Anarchy has had a hell of a season, who does Kurt Sutter have to blow to get a nomination around here, like seriously?

Best actress in a comedy

Julie Bowen, Modern Family
Edie Falco, Nurse Jackie
Tina Fey, 30 Rock
Sofia Vergara, Modern Family
Betty White, Hot in Cleveland

My Favorite: Sofia Vergara, still. But if the Emmys were any indication, Julie Bowen would end up the big winner.

Biggest Snub: Where is Amy Poehler? Martha Plimpton? I mean, come on now!

Best actor in a comedy

Alec Baldwin, 30 Rock
Ty Burrell, Modern Family
Steve Carell, The Office
Jon Cryer, Two and a Half Men
Eric Stonestreet, Modern Family

My Favorite: Ty Burrell, but wouldn’t it be cool if Steve Carell wins it for The Office? Maybe he’ll decide to return and we can get rid of awful Robert California forever!

Biggest Snub: I was surprised that Jim Parsons wasn’t nominated, especially after winning back-to-back Emmys.

Best actress in a drama

Kathy Bates, Harry’s Law
Glenn Close, Damages
Jessica Lange, American Horror Story
Julianna Margulies, The Good Wife
Kyra Sedgwick, The Closer

My Favorite: Jessica Lange, obviously. Crazy Constance is the best thing about American Horror Story, I think.

Biggest Snub: Claire Danes. I mean, after last Sunday’s episode she should’ve had this in the bag. I really don’t get the Homeland snub, I thought actors love this show! Oh and Connie Britton. If you nominate her TV husband (sorry, Dylan McDermott, but she’ll always be Mrs Coach to me), you better nominate her too!

Best actor in a drama

Patrick J. Adams, Suits
Steve Buscemi, Boardwalk Empire
Kyle Chandler, Friday Night Lights
Bryan Cranston, Breaking Bad
Michael C. Hall, Dexter

My Favorite: First, I just wanna talk about how cool it is that Patrick J. Adams got nominated for Suits. I mean, USA Network shows are usually ignored come awards season, no matter how good the acting or the material can be. It’s almost like the CW in a way. Sure there are exceptions. Sharon Gless got an Emmy nomination for Burn Notice once, and Piper Perabo last year got a nomination for Covert Affairs at the Golden Globes (though the latter felt so random and weird because she wasn’t even that impressive!), but both actresses are pretty established, Gless was in Cagney & Lacey and Perabo was in Coyote Ugly. Adams on the other hand, despite having an extensive resume, hasn’t quite hit the big time yet. He mostly starred in little-seen indie flicks and Suits was his first successful TV show. So for the SAG voters to take notice of this relative unknown who starred in a USA Network show and gave him a nomination is a big deal. Especially since he gets to see his name alongside giants like Brian Cranston, Steve Buscemi and Michael C. Hall. I’ve liked this guy since I saw him in the sweet indie Weather Girl, so I’m really happy for his nomination. My favorite to win remains Kyle Chandler, because it’d just be bittersweet now that Friday Night Lights has ended, the show FINALLY gets the recognition and love it deserves, but a part of me wants Patrick J. Adams to win, not only because it’s a long shot, but because he truly is talented and needs more exposure.

Biggest Snub: Would have loved to see Damian Lewis in the list, his performance in Homeland is just sublime. Seriously, why is this show snubbed? I mean, it premiered earlier than American Horror Story and Jessica Lange got nominated!

And there you go. My take on the Screen Actors Guild nominations. Who do you think will be the big winner? Who are your favorites to win? I guess we’ll see come January whether the SAG voters agree with us. Until then, stay tuned – my Golden Globes Nominations post will be ready soon (tomorrow)!

Xoxo

Binky Bee

Fall 2011 Television Report Card: Returning Shows

Hello! As promised, I am still here to bring you the Report Card for this Fall 2011 Television season. It’s not an easy task, watching all this TV, but someone’s got to do it. No, I’m kidding, I do this because I want to give more meaning to spending hours and hours of vegging out in front of the television and devouring more TV shows than your average network executive. 😉

We have reached November and the sweeps have officially begun. Some shows have even had their Fall finales, and some networks have released their mid-season schedule (No Community, NBC?? WTF?). Anyway, as infuriating as NBC’s decision to bench Community can be, I still have to make good on my promise to report to you how our returning Fall shows are faring this season. So without further ado, let’s just take a look at our Fall 2011 television season so far and see how they’re doing so far. Is this a great TV season, or is it the worst in years? Let’s take a look, shall we?

SUNDAYS:

Truthfully, the only returning show that I still watch on Sundays is HBO’s Boardwalk Empire. I don’t watch The Good Wife (please don’t make me explain why again, I’ve done it so many times in this blog), I have given up hope on Dexter after the disappointing season 4 and I don’t watch The Walking Dead (serious zombies are not my thing. I prefer my zombies hilarious, a la Zombieland and Shaun of The Dead). And I’m so not into How To Make It In America (which is basically Entourage, with a smaller budget). Which means I’m going to have to compare Boardwalk Empire with last season to be able to judge it fairly. And so far, this season is not much of an improvement. I love that we get more Richard Harrow, Rothstein, Capone and Chalky White – who are all great characters played by amazing actors, but I think the show could benefit from some character developments. Last season the female characters suffer from lack of developments, and this season, it seems the writers don’t really know what they want to do with Jimmy Darmody, which is a shame since Michael Pitt is definitely a great actor who can deliver perfection every week. Now that the season’s inching closer to the end and the stakes are raised, I’m hoping they’ll finally get it together and give us a truly satisfying finale that will make us forget about the frustrating early episodes.

Sunday Night Grade:

Boardwalk Empire: B- (It definitely got better midway through, and Richard Harrow alone made the show deserving of this grade)

MONDAYS:

Like I said in my previous post, Monday night is definitely a pretty crowded night of television for me, so if a show is lacking in quality on a night like this, I usually give it up pretty quickly (goodbye, Hawaii Five-0!). But one show I know I won’t ever give up even if it gets 8 seasons like Entourage (which I highly doubt because nobody seems to be watching it except for me and a few people in Brooklyn), is HBO’s Bored To Death. Now in its third season, this Jason Schwartzman, Ted Danson and Zach Galifianakis screwball comedy continues to be hysterically funny and wonderfully odd. As one commenter in NY Magazine’s Vulture blog once said, “Bored To Death is Entourage for people who hate Entourage.” – a fitting description for a show that is light, funny, a tad insane and a whole lot of fun.

Of course in terms of ratings, Monday nights belong to CBS’ How I Met Your Mother, now in its 7th season (and we still haven’t met the mother yet! Do we even still want to?) and ABC’s Castle, now in its 4th season. How I Met Your Mother may not be as “cool” as Bored To Death in terms of comedy, but surprisingly, this season is not half-bad. It was flailing in the beginning of the season but now I’m enjoying it more, and not just because they seem to be revisiting the Barney and Robin romance once again. I’m not too crazy about Kal Penn as Robin’s boyfriend because she seems to have more chemistry with a stick of butter than with him, but eh, at least he helps drive the plot forward. Meanwhile, Castle benefited from having a strong season opener and even though the show focuses more on the cases of the week instead of the Castle-Beckett sexual tension, it actually works in their favor. Who knows, maybe they’ll just pull a Bones next season and have Beckett pregnant with Castle’s baby all of a sudden. That’s one way to beat the Moonlighting curse!

Speaking of pregnancy, The CW’s Gossip Girl is going through with the Blair Waldorf pregnancy plot, though now almost halfway in the fifth season, she still looks as thin as ever (seriously, stick a pillow under there or something!). However, despite the ridiculousness of every single plot, I think this season is actually an improvement, or maybe the last two were just so bad that anything can be seen as an improvement. Two things I would want to be rid off in this show though: Dan Humphrey’s floppy hair and Elizabeth Hurley. As Jessica Pressler of NY Magazine’s Daily Intel blog notes, “She’s the only British who can make her real British accent sound fake.” Too bad it doesn’t seem like her (and Dan’s Jeff Buckley hair) are going anywhere soon. Across the (Canadian) border, the addictive CBC drama Being Erica is now in its fourth and final season, and sadly the season has been underwhelming so far. I like that Kai is back, but I was kind of expecting Erica to have finally resolved her issues with men already by now, and yet she seems to still be as damaged as ever. I just hope that it’ll improve fast, since we all deserve a satisfying series finale and conclusion to this journey.

Monday Night Grades:

Bored To Death: A (I just can’t find anything bad to say about this show!)

How I Met Your Mother: C+ (Still in a continued decline from the early seasons, but there’s hope of a turnaround)

Castle: B (The quality remains consistent)

Gossip Girl: C- (We still need to suspend our disbelief every week, but at least some plots are quite enjoyable)

Being Erica: B- (Come on, Erica, get your shit together, girl!)

TUESDAYS:

Tuesday night television used to be the most exciting night for me, mostly because of Glee. But that show burns out so fast (more on that later) that I’m not even that excited about it anymore. But Tuesday night continues to be a great night for television simply because of the little show that could on NBC called Parenthood. Honestly, I don’t know why people aren’t watching this show. It’s honest-to-goodness that amazing. Emily Nussbaum of (now) The New York Times once said that Parenthood is the television equivalent of a nice, warm, bubble bath. You just want to soak in the goodness, preferably with a glass of red wine in your hand.

When Parenthood continues to warm our hearts in its third season, I can’t say the same about Glee, which saddens me because it was only two years ago when the show stole my heart and made me a devotee. But Glee, much like its characters’ relationships, turns out to be just another puppy love – it burns hot, it burns bright and then it fizzles away. Out of the six episodes that have aired so far this season, only two were actually great and reminiscent of the early episodes of season one. Ryan Murphy can’t seem to figure out what to do with half the cast, and he’s got to write in parts for winners of The Glee Project too. I still hold out hope that this show will return to its former glory before this season’s over but from the looks of things, we may have to bow out just as soon as the New Direction seniors graduate. However, another Fox comedy Raising Hope seems to be faring a lot better than Glee, if only in terms of quality. It may not have as many viewers, but now in its sophomore season, Raising Hope is still as funny, crazy and irreverent as its freshman year. If Glee continues to dwindle in quality, I wouldn’t be surprised if New Girl and Raising Hope end up replacing it as Fox’s favorite.

On to the good ol’ cop procedural, Canadian drama Flashpoint has just moved from CBS to Ion TV and yet continues to churn out solid episodes. It’s edge-of-your-seat thrilling while still tugging at your heartstrings at the same time. I will even go so far as to call this show the “Parenthood of cop procedural“. It doesn’t disappoint even after four seasons and two cast changes. Over on ABC, Body of Proof seems to be finding its footings in its second season, and Dana Delany’s character is a lot more sympathetic now, but it still has room to grow. Let’s hope for their sake they find their groove soon, because I don’t think ABC has given it a back-nine order yet.

Tuesday Night Grades:

Parenthood: A (It makes me laugh, it makes me cry, it’s perfect)

Glee: C+ (there are two solid episodes this season but the rest are still meh)

Raising Hope: B (It’s still hilarious and such a fun show to watch)

Flashpoint: B+ (it does get heavy-handed sometimes but overall it’s damn good television)

Body Of Proof: C- (still not that great but it has its moments)

WEDNESDAYS:

When it comes to Wednesday nights, it’s pretty clear who dominates in terms of ratings: Modern Family. This ABC comedy won big at the Emmys and people are still loving this big, crazy, slightly dysfunctional family show. And don’t get me wrong, I still love this show very much, but I think in its third season, Modern Family is starting to enter The Big Bang Theory-like state: it’s still funny and the masses love it, but it doesn’t really go beyond that. We’re not attached to the characters or even the plots anymore, we just watch every week for the laughs and that’s it. I’m not saying it has come to that, but if it’s not careful, it can very well be in the next one or two seasons, because so far none of the season three episodes that have aired was particularly memorable. They’re all funny, but I somehow just don’t connect with them – unlike in seasons 1 and 2. On the other hand, ABC’s sophomore comedy Happy Endings seems to hit all the right notes lately. Sure, it had a rough start last season but it quickly turned around and made us fall in love with its quirkiness. Ever since Cougar Town is banished to mid-season (or maybe even longer, DAMN YOU ABC!), Happy Endings is the only ABC show that makes me feel like I’m hangin’ with the coolest people on earth when I watch it. And that feeling is – as Penny would say – amahzing.

Meanwhile over on USA, Psych has finally returned for its sixth season, after being bumped to Fall to make room for Suits last Summer, and I’m happy to report that even in its sixth season, the show is still as fresh and fun as ever. I like how they handle the Shawn and Juliet relationship, which is really to shove it in the background. But it works! It’s always tricky when a will-they-won’t-they couple finally get together and the only way they can sustain it Jim and Pam style is to push it to the background a little bit, until they make big life decisions such as getting engaged, married, having babies etc. And since Shawn and Juliet aren’t ready for that kind of leap, it’s best to only get glimpses of their blossoming romance for now. Finally, on to CBS’ Criminal Minds. Not much to say, except that it’s good to have the gang back together again. Last season felt a bit off with both AJ Cook and Paget Brewster getting the cut, but luckily CBS realized its mistakes and rectified the situation by bringing both actresses back. And now we can finally focus on the serial killers – and Matthew Gray Gubler’s fabulous hair.

Wednesday Night Grades:

Modern Family: B- (It’s still good but it’s not as great as it used to be)

Happy Endings: A (It’s seriously amahzing, you guys)

Psych: B (It’s still funny but sometimes it does get a bit “been there done that”)

Criminal Minds: C+ (Still comfortingly watchable, but it’s already in season 7)

THURSDAYS:

First, I just want to take a moment to mourn the darkest timeline of all: NBC benching my favorite show Community for mid-season, which means there will be no Community come January. Let us all put on our black goatee and plot the destruction of the world. Okay. Moment over. I don’t want to dwell on it, especially since the thought of no Community can trigger a breakdown, Abed-style. I’m just praying that the powers that be will let this little show gets what it deserves: six seasons and a movie. Especially since this season, the show continues to deliver amazeballs episodes. Yes, I said it. Amazeballs. Why NBC chooses to bench this show (and cancel Prime Suspect while they’re at it) and let the insipid Whitney live on to annoy the masses is beyond me. Obviously, this is the darkest timeline. I’m just waiting for someone to right the wrong. I’m talking to you, Bob Greenblatt! Anyway, moving right along, my second favorite show ever, Parks and Recreation, also has not disappointed me yet this season, despite their decision to break up my favorite sitcom pairing since Jim and Pam: Ben and Leslie. What used to be romance was replaced by angst and blossomed into romance again and oh! It’s just so good, it deserves a place in Ron Swanson’s Pyramid of Greatness.

The Office post-Steve Carell isn’t doing too great, however, which is a shame because I had always seen that show as more of an ensemble instead of a Steve Carell show. But I guess he left some big shoes to fill and somehow both James Spader and Ed Helms haven’t managed to do that just yet. The dynamic feels off somehow, and I’m still not getting why Spader needs to be there all the time. I’m still hoping they’ll finally get it right but it’s looking less and less likely now. Something tells me The Office should’ve just ended when Carell left. Over on CBS, The Big Bang Theory still gets monster ratings, and yes it’s still enjoyable to watch, but it’s getting less and less memorable now that it’s in its fifth season. I just simply can’t care about the characters anymore and I watch it with about as much enthusiasm as when I watch 2 Broke Girls. This show will live on forever, probably (hey, Two and A Half Men still exists, right?) but I’m not so sure I’m sticking around for the long haul.

Moving on from comedy to drama, Bones on Fox has just premiered its seventh season a couple of weeks ago with a pregnant Brennan and I have to say, they have managed to avoid the Moonlighting curse pretty cleverly with this plot, that happened mostly because of actress Emily Deschanel’s real life pregnancy. Brennan being pregnant help gives the show something else to focus on besides the Booth/Brennan relationship. We still get to see them as a couple but the shift in dynamic is a lot smoother this way, and they’re still just as interesting to watch as before they got together. Another upside: Sweets gets more to do, and I always love it when I get to see more of John Francis Daley (see my 10 Hottest Men of Fall list for clarification). Over on The CW, my favorite supernatural show this side of the millennium, The Vampire Diaries, also isn’t showing signs of a decline now in its third season. The plots remain interesting, the twists continue to surprise, the guest stars are added delight, and the relationships that are formed and broken continue to be exciting. Last season we had Jeremy and Bonnie hooking up, this season we had them breaking up thanks to Jeremy’s ghost vampire ex (don’t ask). Last season we had Matt walking out on Caroline because he couldn’t deal with her being a vampire, this season we had Caroline hooking up with werewolf Tyler who was later on turned into a hybrid and sired by Klaus, which ruined their ongoing romance (again, don’t ask). There’s always so many things going on, so many interesting characters at play in this show. The only downside? The producers are not shy about killing off beloved characters, so I’m always anxious that someone awesome is going to die in every episode. I don’t need that kind of anxiety in my life!

Thursday Night Grades:

Community: A+ (I’m biased, I know.)

Parks and Recreation: A+ (Again, totally bias. Don’t protest, it’s my blog!)

The Office: C (It’s really getting frustrating to watch)

The Big Bang Theory: C- (I just can’t care about the characters anymore)

Bones: B (Overachieving Brennan would probably not be happy with this grade)

The Vampire Diaries: B+ (It still gets a little too cheesy at times, but overall it’s still awesome)

Fridays:

Friday night television is usually the night when good television comes to die, or what we die-hard TV fans call “Programming Siberia”. And while it’s true that high ratings for Friday night shows are not easy to come by, it doesn’t mean that there isn’t any quality show on Friday night, because it just so happens that Friday night is also “Geek Night”, with Chuck on NBC airing at 8 pm and Fringe on Fox airing at 9 pm. With those two shows on any given Friday night, do you even question why I never leave the house? 😉 And so far, both shows totally deliver in terms of awesomeness. Chuck is in its fifth and final season and it’s still as entertaining as ever. I like that the stakes are raised and they keep giving us something to look forward to every episode, as well as the fact that I still have NO CLUE how they’re going to end the series. It’s going to be epic, for sure, but they’re clever enough not to give away the ending from the beginning. Fringe doesn’t disappoint either, after introducing a new timeline (Abed will LOVE this) at the beginning of season 4 that complicates things and at the same time makes them even more interesting. Plus they upgraded Seth Gabel to series regular, and he’s been pretty awesome so far. The only downside? With dismal ratings, I have a feeling this show will not make it to season 5, unless by some miracle. So internet! You know what to do, start a crazy fan campaign so huge Fox just has to give it one more season – or at least 13-episodes final season like Chuck.

Friday Night Grades:

Chuck: B+ (They did downgrade Beckmanand there’s just not enough of Jeffster this season)

Fringe: A (It deserves an A for Agent Lincoln Lee alone!)

And there you have it, my Report Card of the Fall 2011 Returning TV shows. What’s your favorite show of this season? Do you think NBC is crazy for benching Community? (The answer is yes) How ’bout that Ben and Leslie kiss? I will be back soon with my annual Christmas lists – so be on the lookout for that. For now, I bid you adieu and until next time!

Xoxo

Binky Bee

Ten Hottest Men of Fall 2011

It’s the first week of November and you know what that means; Fall TV season is well underway and we are getting ready for November sweeps, all the new and returning Fall shows have premiered and in just a few short weeks, this season will officially wind down to make room for the holidays. But before we start putting the turkey in the oven or decorating the Christmas tree, let’s do what we do best here and continue with tradition: it’s time for another TV Hottest Men list!

When it comes to television, Fall is a really important season. Successful Fall shows usually get a full season pick up some time between their premieres and Christmas break. Failed shows will then get replaced by mid-season replacements come January or Spring. And sometimes a contributing factor to a show’s success can be as easy as a charismatic (and hot) leading man. Call us a superficial society all you want, but there is no denying that we like watching beautiful people on screen. And the ten men in this list definitely helps draw viewers every week.

So sit back, relax and feast your eyes on these beauties! 😉

DISCLAIMER: This list does not contain any man under the age of 25. Because ew. I’m in my early thirties and it feels wrong to objectify men who are way younger than me. :-p Also the list is for “hot men” not boys.

Michael Pitt, Boardwalk Empire

From the very beginning, the hit HBO show Boardwalk Empire has benefited from a stellar cast. There is no mediocre actor in this show, not even the guest stars. From Steve Buscemi to recently promoted Jack Huston, everyone brings their A-game week after week, which makes the first hottie in this list even more impressive because he not only sizzles as gangster-in-training Jimmy Darmody, he also consistently wows us with his range. Michael Pitt has given depths and nuance to ambitious and often violent Darmody, making us believe that deep down he must be a lovely man, even as he tortures and kills in cold blood. And let’s face it, who’s not going to love those deep blue eyes and pouty lips? Even his on-screen mother can’t resist to kiss him on the lips (ew) sometimes!

Dylan McDermott, American Horror Story

Speaking of irresistible men, just as soon as American Horror Story premiered on FX last October, everyone, ghosts and humans alike have found Dylan McDermott and his man-ass utterly irresistible, which explains why his on-screen wife Tami Taylor Connie Britton always has a frown on her face, now five episodes in. Can you blame her? I’d be frowning too if all living and dead things want a piece of my hot husband. And the great thing about this show is that we can so understand why everyone wants to do McDermott’s character Ben Harmon: look at him! Have you ever seen a finer man? I’m tempted to haunt that murder house myself if it means I get to indulge on all that. 😉

Gale Harold, The Secret Circle

The Secret Circle on The CW is really a show about teenage witches but that doesn’t mean it’s lacking in eye candy for anyone over 25, because those teen witches have parents and one of them happens to be the delicious Gale Harold, who has charmed our pants off for years in Queer As Folk, followed by a stint in Desperate Housewives and Hellcats. Sure, it’s a little weird (and it makes us feel old) to see him as a parent of a teenage daughter but it doesn’t make him any less desirable somehow. Whether he’s playing doting dad or power-hungry witch, he still makes us want to call him “Daddy” (and then see a shrink about our daddy-issue).

Josh Charles, The Good Wife

I have admitted a few times in this blog that I don’t watch The Good Wife. I know it’s a quality show but for some reason I just can’t get into it. I think it’s the genre, I’ve never been a fan of a legal procedural. But I also have to admit I sometimes would catch an episode or two of this CBS drama just so I can get my Josh Charles fix, because this man is so, so fine! If I were Alicia, I wouldn’t have been so torn between Will and Peter because hey Mr Big is only attractive in Sex and The City. And even then he’s kind of an asshole. But Mr Josh Charles (who I suspect must be a vampire because he doesn’t seem to age) is the total package and I’d choose him over anybody. Too bad he seems very attached to his ballerina. Sigh.

Follow him on Twitter: @MrJoshCharles

Adam Scott, Parks and Recreation

I often say that if I could date one fictional character from one of my favorite TV shows, it would be Ben Wyatt from Parks and Recreation. Sure he’s not what you’d call smoldering, but I don’t need a six-pack and all the muscles, I’m not Kim Kardashian. I need a man who is smart, sensitive, a little nerdy and oh so sweet. And Ben Wyatt, is all that and more. What bums me out is that his real life counterpart, Adam Scott seems to be exactly like him, only he’s not single. Damn, why are all the good ones taken? 😉 Adam Scott is not only funny, he’s also smart, a little nerdy and oh so sweet. He probably wouldn’t appear shirtless in Men’s Health magazine any time soon, but he’s just the type of guy you can proudly bring home to mama. And that is a rare thing this day and age.

Follow him on Twitter: @mradamscott


Paul Wesley, The Vampire Diaries

Speaking of good husband material, this next hottie falls into the same category, even if his Vampire Diaries character has gone off the deep end and is now all evil all the time. This brooding handsome gentleman always manages to stay off the gossip sites radar, and he is involved in a number of charities with his wife Pretty Little Liars actress Torrey DeVito in his spare time. In fact, he’s so low-key that most people didn’t even realize that he and DeVito got married earlier this year. A hot young actor who knows how to lead a low-key normal life outside the public eye? Can we clone him?

Follow him on Twitter: @paulwesley

Seth Gabel, Fringe

While we’re still on the subject of married men, here’s another one on this list and he’s not only married, he’s also a father of two even though he still looks too young to be pushing a stroller around. Bryce Dallas Howard, Ron Howard’s daughter and movie star in her own right, has long made an honest man out of him and let me just say, she’s a lucky bitch. He may not be a movie star yet like his wife but ever since he was cast as Agent Lincoln Lee in Fringe at the end of season 2, he has quickly been a fan favorite and an episode without him just feels a little empty. That naughty grin! Those gorgeous eyes! We love both universes Lincoln Lee and we can only hope that other universe’s Seth Gabel is single and ready to mingle – just as soon as we figure out a way to cross over and bring him back with us. 😉

Wilson Bethel, Hart of Dixie

Everyone loves a good Southern gentleman, at least that’s what people who live in fictional Bluebell, Alabama would say. And guess what? After seeing this one Southern gentleman all wet and shirtless, I think we can all agree that a good Southern gentleman like Wilson Bethel, aka Wade the bartender/temptingly hot neighbor to Dr. Zoe Hart in Hart of Dixie, who can fix us mojitos shirtless while we enjoy the hot southern sun together is pretty easy to love. I know, I keep saying shirtless. I’m not trying to sound redundant, I just want to remind you that this gorgeous creature once made a PSA encouraging all hot men everywhere to go shirtless… for the environment. Now that is a cause I can totally get behind!

John Francis Daley, Bones

Bones has just returned for its seventh season last Thursday night, and all anyone can talk about is how Booth and Brennan are together now. While that is definitely something worthy to talk about, I myself care more for the young, wide-eyed and impressionable FBI psychologist Dr. Lance Sweets, who thanks to Brennan’s pregnancy, gets a lot more screen time now (thank you Emily Deschanel!). Sweets’ alter ego John Francis Daley has been acting since before his voice changed, and we’ve seen him transformed from a tiny, dorky, pasty 15-year-old in Freaks and Geeks to a dashing, charming 26-year-old in Bones. Add the fact that he’s also multi-talented (he’s the lead singer/keyboardist for the indie band Dayplayer and he also wrote this Summer’s hit comedy Horrible Bosses), I think it’s pretty clear that Bones has itself a brand new heartthrob, now that Booth is uhm, taken.

Follow him on Twitter: @JohnFDaley

Zachary Levi, Chuck

First, let us take a moment to properly grieve over the fact that this is Chuck’s fifth and final season. After thirteen episodes, we won’t get any more Chuck ever again. 😦 But if it’s any consolation, at least we get a proper farewell from our friends at Carmichael Industries and Buy More. Still, it’d be hard to say goodbye to these lovable lunatics, especially the star of the show Zachary Levi, who’s just every bit as nerdy and lovely as his alter ego Chuck Bartowski. He may not be a spy-for-hire in real life but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t know how to charm our pants off. He’s hot, funny, smart and a total nerd who can serenade us with love songs (remember that duet with Mandy Moore at the Oscars? Squee!). Now we just need him to be hired in a new mid-season show (maybe NBC’s upcoming musical Smash?) so we’ll always have him to drool over for a very long time.

Follow him on Twitter: @ZacharyLevi

And there you have it, the Ten Hottest Men of Fall 2011. Check back in next week for my Fall 2011 Television Report Card, where we’ll be taking a look at how our returning shows are doing.

Until then!

xoxo

Binky Bee

Fall 2011 TV Report Card: Freshman Shows

Hello! As promised in my last post, I am here to bring you the Report Card for this Fall 2011 Television season. It’s not an easy task, watching all this TV, but someone’s got to do it. No, I’m kidding, I do this because I want to give more meaning to spending hours and hours of vegging out in front of the television and devouring more TV shows than your average network executive. 😉

This week is the last week of October and very soon the networks will pull out all the stops to get viewers to tune in to their November Sweeps episodes (expect stunt casting, major twists and the whole shebang in the next few weeks) so before the whole insanity begins, let’s just take a look at our Fall 2011 television season so far and see how they’re doing so far. Is this a great TV season, or is it the worst in years? Let’s take a look, shall we?

NOTE: As you can see in the title, this week I’ll be dedicating this post for the Freshman shows that have just debuted over the last six weeks. Returning shows will follow in the coming weeks.

SUNDAYS:

When it comes to Freshman shows, Sunday nights belong to Showtime’s Homeland. Sure, Once Upon A Time debuted big last Sunday night on ABC, but it doesn’t make it quality television. Homeland on the other hand, is not only a hit for the premium cable network, it is also really, really good. Domestic terrorism has proven to be a difficult genre to sustain, but so far, Homeland has hit it out of the park with every episode. Of course, there is no guarantee this show won’t turn out to be another The Killing (I am still pissed at Veena Sud, by the way!) but considering the show runners used to work on 24, I hope they know better. Look for Homeland to do well at next year’s Emmy’s too, at least scoring nominations for Claire Danes and Damian Lewis, and maybe even Best Drama.

Over on ABC, the retro-sweet Pan Am isn’t doing too well on ratings, but oh I wish it would. I actually like it. No, it’s not brilliant television. And it’s clearly, clearly, not Mad Men. It’s not even ABC’s answer to Mad Men. It’s just a fun Love Boat-esque nostalgia soapy little show with beautiful people and gorgeous 60s costumes. That’s all. You can watch this show while doing the laundry or checking your emails. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing. So do me a favor, and watch this show so it will at least get a full season?

Sunday Night Grades:

Homeland:  A- (I only give it a preemptive minus just in case it decides to pull a “Killing”)

Pan Am: C+ (Not quality television but definitely a fun Sunday night watch)

Once Upon A Time: D (Like I wrote in my review: meh)

MONDAYS:

Monday night is always a crowded television night for me, mostly because there are about five to six shows to watch on any given Monday. Even though I hate that NBC shifts Chuck to Fridays on its fifth and final season, I was a little relieved that I didn’t have to cram in eight shows in one night. Out of the six shows that I watch on Monday nights, to my surprise, Hart of Dixie came out on top, something I did not expect at all. After all, the show is from Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage’s Fake Empire – and both The OC and Gossip Girl, though deliciously perfect guilty pleasure shows aren’t exactly what I call “quality television” (I’m not counting Chuck in this list though Schwartz serves as co-creator because the show came from his partnership with Chris Fedak and not Savage) but Hart of Dixie is not only a charming little show, it’s actually pretty good, you guys! It’s like the perfect mixture of Gilmore Girls and Everwood and Rachel Bilson gets more and more convincing as a doctor as the season progresses. It’s not going to win any Emmys, but it’s still a great show to wind down to on a hectic Monday  night.

If Hart of Dixie has enough sweetness and sincerity to charm your pants off, CBS’ 2 Broke Girls has the exact opposite effect – it’s not going to charm your pants off at all, unless you’re a self-loathing weirdo who is into meanness and crass. The problem with 2 Broke Girls is not in its lame jokes or the laugh track or the somewhat old-fashioned multi-camera approach. The problem with 2 Broke Girls is that it relies way too heavily on mean comedy, and mean comedy just feels grating after a while. Take the whole Asian jokes that many viewers consider racist. I wasn’t offended even though I’m Asian so I don’t think they’re that blatantly racist, but still. Race jokes are tricky and best avoided, and they are even more offensive when they sound mean-spirited. I love me some Kat Dennings so I’m sticking around but if the show doesn’t tone down its meanness soon, I may have to check out sooner than later. Meanwhile, HBO’s Enlightened, despite centering on a woman unhinged, turns out to be a lot more charming that 2 Broke Girls can ever hope to be. It’s still not funny ha-ha, but it gets better as the season progresses and doesn’t disturb your inner peace with every episode, something 2 Broke Girls’ writers should learn from.

Monday Night Grades:

Hart of Dixie: B+ (It’s not good enough for an A but it’s the kind of sweet little show I’d love for years so definitely a B+)

2 Broke Girls: C- (I’m still holding out hope that it will improve before the season’s over)

Enlightened: B (It’s a great show, but it takes a while to get used to)

TUESDAYS:

Without a doubt, when it comes to Tuesday night on Fox, Zooey Deschanel’s New Girl totally rules. Not only does it generate bigger ratings than its lead-in Glee (something that even Fox doesn’t expect at all), it is also one of the new shows that get the most buzz online, mostly because Zooey Deschanel has a huge and I mean huge following on the world wide web. For a so-called indie darling, she definitely has mass appeal. Sure she has a polarizing effect, some people (myself included) LOVE her and some people just can’t stand her. But the majority rules, and the majority loves Deschanel and her new comedy. It is sometimes a little much (it’s like the writers are trying to kill us with twee), but at the end of the day, it’s genuinely funny and a great addition to Fox’s Tuesday night comedy block. Plus, the massive success of this show has somewhat boosted Raising Hope’s ratings so I just cannot hate on Deschanel. I can’t. I don’t have it in me.

The CW’s Ringer can only dream of getting a fraction of New Girl’s success but for a show with a truly terrible pilot (I’m not the only one who gave it a bad review), it has actually improved into something not at all terrible. It’s not suddenly good, but it’s definitely watchable and yes, absolutely fun to watch, something I did not expect would happen. I guess the writers learned from the atrocious pilot and began shaping the show into something of a guilty pleasure. It’s total soap and melodrama, and sometimes I still think Sarah Michelle Gellar deserves better but I can totally get on board now. No more ridiculous boat scenes, instead, they choose to go the Gossip Girl route with scandals, blackmail, betrayals and juicy little schemes. Plus, Veronica Mars’ Jason Dohring (Logan!) has scored a recurring role and it’s a good sign the show can only get better.

 

Tuesday Night Grades:

New Girl:  B (The twee-ness can be a problem sometimes in this show)

Ringer: C+ (It’s getting better but it’s still not good enough to score higher)

WEDNESDAYS:

Ryan Murphy picked the right time to debut a new show, because FX’s American Horror Story kind of makes me love him again. I’ve gotten tired of Glee these days, especially since season 3 has yet to return to the awesomeness of the first 13-episodes of season 1, but I don’t mind it so much now that I just have to wait a day after Glee to be thoroughly entertained by the Murphy-helmed horror show that is American Horror Story. Sure, the pilot wasn’t that strong – just frenetic and crazy – but the subsequent episodes turn out to be a lot more solid than the pilot, especially these last two weeks, largely due to the writers’ decision to tone down the “shock-and-awe” and focus more on subtle creepy revelations a la The Sixth Sense. it’s still crazy (at this point I won’t even be surprised if the whole Harmon family turns out to be ghosts as well) but it’s the good kind of crazy and Murphy’s penchant for the outrageous kind of works well in this genre. His decision to actually have a writing team is also a contributing factor why this FX show may just be this Fall’s surprise hit. That, and Dylan McDermott’s man-ass. 🙂

Another guilty pleasure drama worth mentioning this television season is ABC’s Revenge, that appeals to most viewers and critics for its unabashed and straight up melodrama. I never thought I would actually enjoy this show this much but I really do. The protagonist in this show, Emily Thorne is so hell-bent on revenge that she always wears the same crazy-eyed “vengeful” expression on her face that I’m starting to wonder if maybe she really is crazy. TV critic Emily Nussbaum (now on New York Times) mused on her Twitter once that maybe Emily Thorne is just insane and the people she exacted revenge on never really did anything to her. All those videos she watches on her laptop that justify her need for vengeance turn out to not exist and in the finale it’s revealed that she had been staring at a blank screen all along, a la John Nash in Beautiful Mind.  Don’t worry, the show is not sophisticated enough to come up with that twist, which is exactly the reason why it’s so appealing.

On the comedy front, NBC’s Up All Night and ABC’s Suburgatory seem to both be enjoying a quite successful run. Up All Night may not be ratings gold, but it scores high on the coveted 18-49 demo and without a doubt NBC’s most successful Wednesday comedy series this side of the millennium. Sure it’s still trying to figure out what it wants to be but it’s always funny and it even makes Nick Cannon bearable (I didn’t think it was possible). Suburgatory also takes a while to find its footing but as the season progresses, the show starts to grow on me, even though I do wish for more screen time for Alan Tudyk. He’s just so criminally underused!

Wednesday Night Grades:

American Horror Story: B (I’m cautious, just in case “the Ryan Murphy curse” rears its ugly head)

Revenge: C+ (C for the quality and a + for its “peach melba-esque” appeal)

Up All Night: B (It’s really funny, but it’s still not that solid)

Suburgatory: B- (The minus is for underusing The Great and Mightily Awesome Alan Tudyk)

THURSDAYS

Thursday night is another crowded night for me, mostly because NBC has a pretty awesome comedy block (well, except for the fact that the insipid Whitney is in the coveted spot after The Office, that should be reserved for one of the better shows – Parks and Recreation or Community while 30 Rock is on a long hiatus) so I’m very hesitant about adding new shows in the schedule, knowing that I won’t be able to get through them all and they’ll spill over to the weekend. But Person of Interest on CBS and Prime Suspect on NBC are two shows I’m glad I added to the already crowded schedule, because they are both really good procedural in different ways, and the kind of shows I can watch for many, many seasons (if they’re lucky to get more than one or two seasons). Ratings weren’t impressive for both shows, but I hope the networks are patience with them and give them time to build at least a cult following. They are really that good. Person of Interest is more high-concept and Prime Suspect is more down-to-earth but both consistently churn out solid episodes, with good writing and brilliant acting. Sure, Maria Bello’s abrasiveness is a lot more appealing than Jim Caviezel’s brooding stare (for some reason) but they’re both great shows to commit to, and I hope more people will because I’m just tired of being heartbroken every season when they cancel my new favorite shows.

Over on The CW, The Secret Circle‘s not-so-merry band of witches have done quite well on the ratings, building on its lead-in Vampire Diaries nicely but for some reason, even though it’s from the same team that made Vampire Diaries a truly awesome show that is so not just another Twilight clone, the show hasn’t really won me over quite yet the way Vampire Diaries did around the same time in season one. These witches just aren’t quite as interesting as the vampires, most probably because no one is truly psychotic yet, and we’re still hazy as to who’s the big bad in this show really is. I also would appreciate their ballsy move to kill off a regular character more if they hadn’t done the exact same thing with Vampire Diaries back in the day. However, I still hold out hope that Kevin Williamson and team will finally get this show out of its funk and make it just as awesome as its predecessor, so I won’t give up until this season ends.

Thursday Night Grades:

Person of Interest: B+ (The procedural part of the show tends to overpower to longer arcs and it gets predictable at times)

Prime Suspect: B (Now that they’ve toned down on the sexism, they could at least make Maria Bello’s character just a smidge more likeable)

The Secret Circle: C- (So far, I still find the season pretty much meh, but I’m still hoping for a turnaround)

FRIDAYS:

I can’t technically grade this show just yet because technically it hasn’t premiered just yet and I have only seen the pilot and it wouldn’t be fair to judge only from one episode. Some shows have strong pilots and lousy season, while some others have weak pilots but awesome season. But still, I actually really enjoyed NBC’s Grimm, even though I had really low expectations so I think it’d be safe to say that I would still be enjoying the show as it goes into its subsequent episodes. After all, it got a later premiere date than the others, so it should have more time to make the necessary improvements. I’m looking forward to episode two, and I hope I won’t be disappointed.

Friday Night Grade:

Grimm: C (It was not the strongest pilot, but it actually has potential)

There you have it, the Fall 2011 TV Report Card for all the freshman shows that I watch. Don’t worry, I will also do the same with the returning Fall favorites as well, but it will have to wait until late November/early December to include the returning favorites that get a later premiere dates (Chuck, Bones, etc). Check back in next week, though, because I will post my Ten Hottest Men of Fall list. You know you want to! 😉

Till then,

Binky Bee

 

 

 

Pilot Watch, Week Five: The Fairy Princess and The Big Bad Wolf

"I'm on TV" By Patrick J. Adams

Hello and welcome back to pilot watch, where I watch the new shows that have just premiered this Fall season and report back to you. I know I promised you all that I would review Once Upon A Time this coming weekend but since the pilot for the show has been released on the web by ABC, I can actually post this earlier than expected. So yeay for that. I love this whole early release on the web/iTunes strategy. Makes my job a whole lot easier. 🙂

Okay, this week instead of just reviewing Once Upon A Time as promised, I figured I’d throw in a bonus and review another new show that’s about to premiere, Grimm on NBC since the pilot has also hit the web a week earlier than the scheduled premiere date. With Once Upon A Time and Grimm, ABC and NBC both try to take on the fairy tale/supernatural genre. I don’t know what it is about these two networks lately. They both tried to cash in on Mad Men 60s revival with Pan Am and The Playboy Club (and failed – The Playboy Club was canceled after three episodes and Pan Am’s ratings continue to decline after the premiere episode that I don’t think the show is long for this world. A shame though because unlike Playboy Club, I actually like it), and now they both are trying to take on the same fairy tale genre. Will both shows succeed, or will one or both die a quick death? Only time will tell. For now I can only tell you what I think of both shows. Which do I think deserve to succeed and which do I think needs to die quickly? Read on and find out!

1/ Once Upon A Time, airs on ABC, Sundays, 8/7c.

When I was contemplating on which show of this fairytale genre to put in the Ten New Shows To Watch This Fall, I picked ABC’s Once Upon A Time over Grimm simply because I did not hear good things about Grimm from the Upfronts in May. Journalists and TV reviewers that got the chance to watch both pilots seem to choose this show over Grimm even though they didn’t exactly give either great reviews. Let’s just say, Once Upon A Time was supposedly the lesser of two evils, and that’s why I chose this one to put in the list. And boy was I wrong about that.

Don’t get me wrong, Grimm isn’t exactly groundbreaking television either nor is it particularly good (more on that later) but Once Upon A Time made me groan and roll my eyes so much that my sister thought I was having a seizure. In all fairness maybe I am the wrong person to review this particular show because I was never big on fairy tales to begin with. My parents didn’t teach me to believe in fairy tales growing up, and so even though I knew all about Cinderella, Snow White and the citizens of the Enchanted Forest or whatever, I wasn’t particularly sold on the idea. And it could just be that I don’t like this show because I think fairy tales are stupid, but I’ve watched enough television to be able to make this assessment: it’s just not good. You’ve got Snow White with atrocious hair, Prince Charming who looks like Chris Martin from Coldplay, Jennifer Morrison trying to act like a tough chick but doesn’t quite cut it, a creepy precocious 10-year-old that used to be Bobby Draper, and a flimsy premise that I’m sure sounded awesome during the pitch but totally lame in execution. Fairytale characters being cursed to live in our world, our reality where “there is no happy endings” – sounds good in a pitch right? Totally pathetic in execution. Snow White ends up as a third grade teacher. Ookay. Prince Charming’s in a coma. Dunno where the seven dwarfs are but Rumpelstiltskin gets to run an inn and the Evil Queen gets to be a mayor of a sleepy, forgotten small town of Storybrook, Maine. Now if you were an Evil Queen and you cursed everyone you’ve ever known to live in a world where only you can get a happy ending, why would you settle being a mayor in a sleepy small town in Maine? Couldn’t she dream bigger, if not White House,  at least the mayor of NYC?

Like I said, maybe I’m unfairly judging this show because I think fairy tales in general are laughable, sexist and some of them are kind of racist, but Once Upon A Time is not worth your DVR space, especially when there’s great shows on cable (Homeland! The Walking Dead! Dexter! Boardwalk Empire!) on Sunday night. How bout waiting till 10 and tune in to Pan Am instead, it’s such a fun show and I kind of want it to last. 😉

Verdict: Not Worth Your Time.

2/ Grimm, airs on NBC, Fridays, at 9/8c.

Like I’ve mentioned above, when the pilot for this show was first screened during the May Upfronts, I did not hear good things about it. In fact, journalists seemed to be so turned off by it that I decided to choose Once Upon A Time to be the fairytale show worth mentioning in my Ten New Shows To Watch This Fall list. And yes, now I admit it. I was wrong. So so wrong. Mostly because of how much I disliked Once Upon A Time, but also because the pilot for Grimm is actually, all things considered, not that bad.

No, it’s not great, and no it’s not even that good. There were a few moments that – just like Once Upon A Time – made me roll my eyes and mutter, “Oh come on. Really?” at the TV. But when it comes to actual storytelling, Grimm does not frustrate me as much as Once Upon A Time. Maybe because we all know that the Grimm Brothers’ “fairy tales” were all pretty dark, so the concept of this show was easy to accept (almost all Grimm Brothers’ stories have a “serial killer-y” quality to it and some are downright disturbing), and maybe because they try to balance the supernatural nature of the show with some good ol’ police procedural, but despite the plot holes and the blatant disregard to “real police work”, it was pretty enjoyable. It reminds me of Warehouse 13 a little bit, with less humor. It’s Supernatural meets Law and Order: SVU – again, with less humor. And considering how low my expectation was, I was actually pleasantly surprised.

Again, Grimm is not groundbreaking television and it’s not the right companion for fun, sexy, hilarious and nerd-tastic Chuck but I think if the writers are careful, it has the potential to be a pretty enjoyable Friday night show. Sure, out of the two shows I’ve reviewed in this post, I have a feeling this one will die quicker, mostly because I don’t think the network even has that much faith in it (scheduling it for Friday night aka Programming Siberia pretty much shows how little faith NBC has for this show) but if you can only watch one fairytale shows, I actually think this one is the lesser of two evils. And it’s not just because David Giuntoli, the lead character, kind of has that Gale Harold circa Queer As Folk quality about him.

Verdict: Not For Everyone, But If This Sort of Thing Interests You, Give It A Watch.

And there you have it, my reviews of the pilots I’ve seen in the past week, and my last “Pilot Watch” post. My work here in done, friends, now it’s your turn to decide which ones you want to commit to.  In the coming weeks I will be posting my Fall 2011 TV Report Card, where I’ll be giving you my thoughts on how Fall TV is doing so far. I’ll also be posting my Ten Hottest Men of Fall list, so keep a lookout for that. You know you want to. 😉

Until then, I shall bid you adieu! Till next time!

Xoxo

Binky Bee