Sunday, December 20, 2009

Brittany Murphy Dies at Age 32.

Though we never truly know the people we see on television or the silver screen we do become fond of them. Maybe because as much as we hate to admit it we feel attachments to other people when we find something good in them. Brittany Murphy was always enjoyable to watch in what ever role she played. She played many different characters but for the most part she played the sweet and caring girl who was often underestimated.

I once heard that a good actor is not able to portray that which they cannot feel. I think that Brittany Murphy was as nice and caring as those people who attest to knowing her say she was. With that in mind it is a sad day to see someone so young pass away. Now that she has passed on I think we will feel that we underestimated the impact one person on television or the movie screen can have on each and every one of us. I hope we remember her for the joy she brought those that watched her and remember that beside the characters she portrayed, there was a woman here. This woman had a husband and a family and right now I pray they receive the dignity and sympathy they deserve in this most awful of times.

I think many feel the same when I say, Brittany Murphy you will be missed.


Friday, December 18, 2009

Monk Summed Up In Two Episodes.

With storm clouds hovering somberly above me, floating by slowly to the east, I sat watching what would be the final two episodes of a staunch eight season run. Under the eves of my porch I sat puffing on my cigar and sipping a bottle of beer, an expensive import I had been saving for just the right occasion. As I thought about what I was going to write I knew for certain that I did not want the review of the last two episodes to sound like a eulogy, rather I wanted to write about the ending of a show that has consistently brought an hour of some of the best written shows produced in over 60 years of television.

Though like all television shows, it’s not for everyone, it has brought to life vivid characters that it’s fans have looked forward to seeing every week. It will be a hard task for any network to bring a show that has been as successful on so many levels as Monk has.

That success can be attributed to the producers ability to take great actors and talented writers and combine them together to bring about some of the highest quality television. This is a show that will be looked back on and remembered. Monk deserves to be referred to with the same reverence as M.A.S.H and Seinfeld, because it has done what only the highest caliber of television does successfully, taken characters that by all rights should irritate and disturb us, and stir in us this profound affection for them because of their faults. There are no better than normal protagonists here, these are people with faults and idiosyncrasies’ who manage to over come the roadblocks set in front of them and persevere.

The final two-parter of Monk was the shining example of what made the show so great. Though many were not happy with the abrupt conclusion to a twelve year mystery haunting Adriene Monk (Tony Shalhoub), in many ways it held true to the shows most wonderful attribute, the ability to bring a show every week that you could sit down and watch, yet not fret because you didn’t get to see the previous episode. Almost every show of Monk has managed to tell a compelling, emotion evoking story in just one hour.

The character of Monk with his uncanny ability to notice the simplest oddity, as Captain Leland states, it is his ability to see more and feel more than everyone around him that makes him more human than most people. It is his idiosyncrasies that make Monk the detective he is, his foibles are what has made this character so enjoyable to watch and his often aloof yet sincere nature that made him still lovable after eight years. Tony Shalhoub has managed to bring a character to life that someone watching season eight, can enjoy even if he never saw the pilot episode. We don’t need to know what caused Monk to become the way he is because what he is, is complex yet simple overall. The fact that Monk finds out who killed his beloved wife after 12 years doesn’t need to be dragged on over a whole series of episodes because in fact it’s always been about who and what the character is. It’s not just Monk either that makes this show great.

The supporting cast on this show are all excellent actors in their own right, whether it be Natalie (Traylor Howard), Captain Leland Stottlemeyer (Ted Levine) or Lt. Randall Disher (Jason Grey-Stanford) all of them have done a great job of helping bring balance to a show that revolves around a neurotic savant ex-detective who manages to bring meaning to his life by giving the closure to others that he was never able to find, until these last two episodes.

In my opinion the final two episodes did some great things in that it did wrap up some major character subplots that have hung on over the past eight years. It brought closure to the great supporting cast that has managed to balance out the often bizarre character that Monk breaks down into. Seeing the remaining characters of Monk get their own sense of closure is another thing that made these last two episodes great. Even if you never watched an episode of Monk before these two, take the time and sit down and watch television as it should be done, bright and colorful, with just the right touch of melancholy. It is a sad day when we bid adieu to a friend, yet it is the joy of having known them that makes the memories bitter sweet.


Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Why I Loved 2009: TV in Retrospect Part 2

Following up on my previous post, which centered around sitcoms for the most part, I wanted to finish up on that then continue by going over some of the dramas/action shows that were my favorites last season. I know that I might not mention a show you like but I don't watch all the shows on the air, so please let me know if you think I missed something that was memorable.

For sitcoms, CBS held it's own by renewing some strong series, How I Met Your Mother, Two and a Half Men and The Big Bang Theory. What can I say, other than they were all good but seriously, none of them were the best seasons so far. How I Met Your Mother did what it always does, it seems that each show develops a character, even though moving into the third season, I think a show based on five characters would have pretty much done that. Still HIMYM is a good show and well worth watching every week I just want to see an evolving story. Two and a Half Men still runs strong in my opinion, though another season of Charlie realizing, that he wants to get married but he might not be ready for it, seemed to be a lame excuse for a lack of story ideas. The Big Bang Theory is still one of the top five funniest shows on television but they should have never put Penny and Johny into a romantic relationship. Though it resolved a lot of the questions in the prior season it really removed one of the best aspects of the show, the question of whether superficial attraction could be beaten by real emotion, which I guess it was and rather easily I might add. Over all the biggest thing with CBS is, why have they still not put their old episodes on the web? It's like they are 10 years behind every other network out their. I think in the long run this will hurt them more than help them.

Fox had one of my favorite shows of all, Glee! This show is not even close to what I expected it to be. It's one of the few (if not the only) shows that manages to balance humor and drama while putting on some fantastic musical numbers. I'm not embarrassed to say I'm a sucker for a good musical but even if you don't like them, this show manages to deliver. There is gonna be at least one character in this show you'll root for, whether it's the misfits or the jocks. In the end Glee does a fine job of bringing the often unpalatable high school genre into it's own. If you haven't watched it you need to get on Hulu and check it out.

As for dramas, ABC came out with the biggest, V and Flash Forward were the true winners for new shows. I think both were worth renewing due to their relatively short runs. On top of that, the current ABC success story, Lost, had the best season to date. I think they managed to answer the question of what is up with the island very well. The final season of Lost starts next year and if it is half as good as this year, then it will be a phenomenal season. Desperate Housewives had another good season, I have to admit the show is hard sometimes for a guy to watch, but it has some of the best dialog written for television. It also takes what would be a bland concept, suburbia, and continually provides some stellar cinematography. This show, though not for everyone, deserves some kudos if only for the quality put into it's production.

CBS had the same line up pretty much, the CSI Franchise, NCIS, NCIS: Los Angeles, and finally the Mentalist. All of the shows were good though none of them were phenomenal. I was disappointed with NCIS: Los Angeles, I expected maybe to much but the show was bland to me and seemed to steer a little to far away from what made NCIS so enjoyable to watch, synergy. Since the first season, NCIS has brought a great group of characters together that complemented each other in terms of the show. NCIS: Los Angeles overwhelmed us with characters, that no one really got to know and on top that, seemed less like an police drama and more like Mission Impossible. The Saving grace for CBS is The Mentalist, it is a great show and it's worth catching next season, though the story got a bit sketchy this season. I have high hopes they will go back to what made the first season great, good chemistry between the characters and solid storytelling. The CSI franchise was the same as it's always been, which is great, but with some cast changes it's had to fight to retain it's ratings. I still watch it though in my opinion, losing Dr. Grissom was a hard blow to the show. In my opinion CSI: New York and Miami are so so, something I'll watch when the reruns are on.

Again Fox drops a show with a lot of promise, Doll House. This was one of my favorites, even though I even admit the premise is borderline. Writing a drama about people being brainwashed and then prostituted, really makes this show a difficult one to wrap your head around. Especially when you consider that Josh Whedon is one of the few, producer/writer/directors, out their that consistently appeals to both sexes. Turning women into mindless prostitute/assassins kind of seems demeaning to women (though the show doesn't exclusively brainwash women, men are "wiped" too.) The thing that makes this show great, is the realization that the main character, Echo, becomes a whole person no matter how hard the Doll House try's to wipe her personality. There's still that whole icky prostitution thing that's hard to really empathize with. I wish someone else had picked it up to follow through with the story line but oh well.

The other Fox drama, Fringe, was again stellar, it is the one show that can pick up the mantle laid down by X-Files. I am very interested in seeing next season, even though I'm not sure the season is over for Fringe. If this last week was the finale it fell short of my expectations, especially after last seasons great one. Along with Fringe, Fox had House, which was again great but not the most stellar season ever. They knocked House (the character) down a few pegs but in my opinion it did little to build upon what makes the show great, House's abrasive and often overbearing demeanor. Overall House (the show) does something few medical dramas do, it evolves every season, which is what I think keeps people coming back. On top of that Fox had Lie to Me, the series got better in its sophomore season than it was in it's freshman season. If you haven't watched it lately, try it out, they have made strides with this show.

So I'll wrap up part two with this, I'll finish up my next blog on some of the shows you might not have watched (White Collar, Monk's Final Season and In Plain Sight, to name a few.) If you have anything you think I should watch let me know. Leave a comment and please let your friends know about my blog!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Why I Loved 2009: TV in Retrospect Part 1

So as we start to wind down on 2009 I'm looking back a bit misty eyed about a couple shows leaving the air, yet happy at the same time that we saw some solid additions to the airwaves. It's hard to lay a finger on which show was my favorite though a couple are definitely at the top of the list. I'm going to right a few blogs and try to touch on what was good this season and what is worth watching next season.

With Community joining the already strong list of comedies on NBC, it was the only new show NBC aired that I found entertaining. Taking a comedic look at community college, the show takes the antics of a group of freshman brought together by a common goal, passing spanish 101. This show is a solid addition to the Thursday night line-up.

I think I'm one of the few bloggers that likes Parks and Recreation. In my opinion Amy Poehler brought a fresh comedy that I think NBC is wise to continue with. The show is one of many office comedies but this one revolves around a quirky bunch of unlikely coworkers at the Parks and Recreation in Pawnee, Indiana. After a rocky start, Parks and Recreation has gotten funnier and funnier as the season progressed. The shows promises to have a strong third season.

With the best line up of this season, ABC has come along with some huge sitcoms. Modern Family, a show based on the interpersonal relations of three different households of an extended family, is a great example of the fresh new comedies ABC aired. Modern Family follows the extended Pritchet family, the sister is in your average modern family, the brother is one half of a gay couple with a newly adopted baby and the then there is the divorced patriarch father restarting with a young immigrant wife and her nine year old son. The show follows three distinct families and their differing, yet often parallel, concerns. It has one of the strongest casts of the season and has resonated with a wide audience. It is in many ways similar to the Office but it reaches out to a crowd that might not tune into the quirkiness of that show.

Also brought to ABC was Better Off Ted, in my opinion the best sitcom of the season. The show follows the life of Edward "Ted" Crisp as a project manager for the morally questionable Veridian Dynamics Corporation. It is definitely an office comedy but not like The Office. Better Off Ted embraces the absurd and in doing so brings to life a variety of wacky off-beat characters that click. Already receiving a nomination for best new show from the Ewwy's (Comedy version of the Emmy's) it promises to continue bringing a simple but pure concept to what has become a stale genre, the office comedy.

Also on ABC is Cougar Town, a hilarious comedy staring Courtney Cox as a 40 year old divorced mother, Jules Cobbs, trying to cope with life as a newly single lady. Never having experienced single life after getting pregnant and married too young she eagerly, if tentatively, embraces her new status. The comedy here is fresh and original (how many shows celebrate older woman dating younger men?) It too is among one of my favorite shows of the season.

The Middle was also one of the long list I mentioned of ABC Sitcoms, this show did not score well in the ratings but it's getting renewed. I think the problem is that the show lacked decent promotion. The cast is top notch, Patricia Heaton (Raymond), Neil Flynn (Scrubs) are the parents of the Heck family. The story deals with a family scraping by from day to day and how they adapt to what life throws at them. The entire cast is wonderful in this show and the strongest argument for renewing it, is that it is one of the few shows appropriate for the entire family.

Check back for part two of 2009 in retrospect. Make sure you are subscribed to make sure you know when the new blogs are out.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

News of the Day Dec. 8th, 2009

So the internet seems a buzz over Tiger Woods scandalous affairs. Now up to 10 reported, though unconfirmed mistresses, some of whom he has also been reported having tried to pay off. I guess no one can believe that Tiger Woods had it in him. Continuously touted as the boy next door, all-american husband, he has now become in reality the real all-american husband since we do have one of the highest rates of adultery in the world. I'm just going to say that when thisstory becomes old news I'll be much more intent on perusing the internet for more substantial gossip news.

In other news, Bryant Gumble discussed for the first time that he had surgery to remove a tumor from his lung two months ago. He let the news out while hosting Live! With Regis and Kelly during December 8th's showing, where he's been filling in for Regis.

CBS has cancelled As the World Turns, which adds to the pile of already canceled soaps. The show, in it's 54th year, has begun shopping around for new venues but it's hard to optimistic after seeing how well Guiding Light did using the same approach. The final episode will air in September.

Tune in tonight for the return of Better off Ted, in my opinion one of the best comedies this season. Nominated for "Best Comedy" in the Ewwy's (Comedy equivalent of the Emmy's), the show, with Modern Family and Cougars, has helped place ABC at the top of the list for Sitcoms. If you like the Office I think you'll find the quirky humor of Better off Ted a nice change of pace. Check it out on ABC tonight at 9:30 est/pst, 8:30 cen pm.

Check back for updates. Thanks again for reading.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

News of the Day Dec. 4th, 2009

So the buzz on all the sites is the Tiger Woods story. I think that something as tired as the cheating husband would have gotten old by now but somehow when it happens to a celebrity it's new. New's and new are not necessarily one and the same in my book. There's not much to say other than he has admitted to his affair(s) and gone public. We have people all over the board casting accusations and judgement but in the end it's just one man doing what statistics say is not all that rare an occurrence. I don't have to send you to any sites to read up on Tiger Woods you can find one easy enough. I would add that just because one becomes famous it doesn't make them infallible. Politicians, celebrities, professional athletes, they all have the same crisis of conscience that all people can fall prey too. On the same note they all have to pay for their mistakes, the same as the rest of society, though they do it much more visibly than most.

In other news, Alice is set to air on Syfy on Dec. 6th and 7th. Directed and written by Nick Willings, it is meeting with mixed reviews. If you don't know Nick Willings, he was the creator of Tin Man, another Syfy original that met with critical success. Either way Alice does still seem well worth watching. Based off the classic, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewiss Carroll, it at least will offer a fresh look to an intriguing story. Tune in and let me know what you think.

ABC is looking to put Goerge Stephanopoulus on Good Morning America. You might know Goerge from his tenure as a Bill Clintons advisor in the White House. He's made a name for himself as a political analyst and commentator since then and I'm guessing ABC is hoping to bring a little of that magic to their morning show. Read more about it here.

Susan Boyles, 'I dreamed a dream,' has hit number one, surprising many in the music industry. If you don't know who Susan Boyles is I'm disappointed in you. She shot to fame after appearing on Britians Got Talent, and losing, and then having a nervous break down. It appears she's come back in flying colors. I have to admit, I admire this lady for not only being a phenomenal singer but also making it through the vultures that have picked at her every step of the way. She breaks the mold that we often see in popular music today, where appearance is often more important than actual talent. Maybe the music industry will realize that music is about the talent and not the image behind it. I doubt it though. Read more about it here.

That wraps it up for today, check back again. Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

News of the Day Dec. 2, 2009

Big news for today was kind of scarce and nothing overly dramatic.

First, Merdith Baxter came out to say that she is a lesbian. She said that she didn't realize it till later in her life. She has been in a relationship for the past four years with building contractor Nancy Locke. She went on to add that she had lead a pretty openly gay lifestyle but only recently decided to come out to set things straight. Read more about it here.

Kylie Busutti of Simi Valley, CA. has been selected as the next Victoria Secret Model, at 19 years of age she is the youngest to enter into such an austere sorority. The decision to select her as the next model was done online by voters from a list of 10,000 contestants. Apparently she handled the job like a veteran, in her first appearance on Wednesday nights showing of the Victoria Secrets Fashion Show on CBS. If you want to read more check it out here. I haven't had a chance to check it out yet.

The Catholic Church has become a touch irate at a recent add featuring Joanna Krupa for peta, if you are curious about all the fuss, I think pictures tell the story better than words, check it out here.

The Muppets are back again with a cover of Bohmian Rhapsody , made famous by Queen, it's already attracted 8 million viewers, not bad for a bunch puppets from the 70's. The video posted on Youtube via the Muppet channel is not the first video released, seven other videos have been released, the most popular, Ode to Joy, was released last year and has over 7 million viewers to date. If you would like to check it out you can go here.

The best news of the day, saved for last, is that FX has ordered 13 episodes of The Sons of Anarchy, guaranteeing a third season. This is one of the best written shows out there even if it doesn't hit home with a lot of people. Give it a watch if you think drama and biker gangs are up your alley.

That covers it. Check back again for more.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Fox's 24 Back on January 17th and 18th!

Kiefer Sutherland (Jack Bauer) is back for season 8 of Fox's hit series 24, running back to back two hour episodes on Jan. 17th and 18th. Included this season are some well known faces from previous seasons as well as some fresh faces, namely Katee Sackhoff (Battlestar Galactica) and Freddie Prinze Jr. Critically acclaimed, the show, will be airing concurrently with Lie to Me on Tuesday nights.

American Idol back for 9th Season

American Idol will return on January 12th, 2010 for it's 9th season. The season premiere will run two nights back to back. With new Host Ellen DeGeneres taking over for Paula Abdul we can expect some humor in this seasons show. It hard to predict whether the show will stand up to previous seasons but at least having Ellen in the mix this season will hopefully revive a show that has been accused of growing stale over the past few seasons.