Monday, September 22, 2008

the tribe has spoken

The highlights of last night's Primetime Emmy Awards for me were Josh Groban's medley of TV theme songs and Jimmy Kimmel's presentation of the award for best reality host. Groban showed a sense of humor about himself that was only hinted at in Jimmy's infamous Ben Affleck video. He used his operatic voice to sing "The Simpsons" and comedic voices to sing lyrics from "South Park" and other shows. Thankfully in this day and age, the video clip is only a click away.

I so wanted the five nominees for Outstanding Host for a Reality or Reality-Competition Program to be eliminated one by one. Jimmy made a joke along those lines by saying that they were each "in the bottom two." I thought I was going to wake my wife with my laughter when Jimmy said that the winner would be revealed "after the break." And then really did go to commercial. Because "Survivor" is the granddaddy of the genre, it made sense that Jeff Probst would win. Over the years, his questions during Tribal Council have become a more and more important part of the show. However it's still a little weird that he always says the exact same things when "immunity is back up for grabs" or when he'll "go tally the vote." Phil Keoghan deserved a nomination for "The Amazing Race," which has won the Emmy for Outstanding Reality-Competition Program six years in a row. Of the five nominees, I would have voted for Tom Bergeron. He consistently exhibits grace and wit under the pressure of a live show.

It sounded like they almost muted the sound of the audience during the "In Memoriam" segment. So often the photo montage of the deceased at awards shows becomes a referendum on their popularity based on the amount of applause they get. They probably should have eliminated the laughter and applause from the original clips too. Just play the sappy music while showing the faces and names of the departed. Do you think they showed George Carlin twice on purpose or by accident? He was both the first and last person in the montage.

Tina Fey, Alec Baldwin and "30 Rock" all deserved their awards. Although as Fey pointed out, the wrong episode won the writing award. The voters chose to honor a script that mocked the government rather than a funnier script that poked fun at a '60s-era comedy writer. I guess they couldn't honor Tommy Smothers and drag out some "Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In" cast members and then give an award to an episode with Carrie Fisher as an out-of-it writer of a show just like those. By the way, how uncomfortable were you during the "tribute" to "Laugh In"? That should have been prerecorded and edited. And rewritten. Or omitted. There were enough other stars who griped about their bits being cut due to time. They should have cut that awkward moment instead.

As much as I like "Dexter," I was still delighted to see Bryan Cranston win for "Breaking Bad." His victory was a mostly unexpected surprise. As I wrote back in January, his performance is riveting.

I'll admit that the Emmys were mostly forgettable. Perhaps a better show would be the Tubey Awards from Television Without Pity. It's fun to see who they pick as their favorite and least favorite characters. They hit the nail on the head by saying that Maya from "Heroes" is both the most unwelcome new character and the character most in need of being killed off. I guess we'll see if that happens when "Heroes" returns to the NBC schedule tonight.

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Tuesday, November 27, 2007


Monday nights bring a plethora of TV choices. On my upstairs TiVo I record "How I Met Your Mother" and "Aliens in America." I have a large backlog of episodes of both series that will help tide me over during the writers strike.

On the HD DVR, I record four other series. My wife and I watch "Dancing With the Stars" together and sometimes vote for our favorites. To do that, we make sure to watch it on Monday nights as soon as she gets home from the weekly Knoxville Choral Society rehearsal. It's funny to see random celebrities in the audience. Florence Henderson has been there a lot. On tonight's final show, I saw Gloria Allred sitting in the front row. You don't think they'll turn up as dancers on a future season, do you?

My wife and son watch "Chuck" and "Heroes" with me. We try to stay current with both shows, meaning we usually watch them within seven days. "Chuck" has been consistently enjoyable while "Heroes" has gotten better, except when Maya and her brother are on screen. When the others are out of the room, I get to watch "Journeyman," which I have previously described as a guilty pleasure.

During the past few episodes, I felt like I missed something on "Journeyman." It's as if they left out scenes in which Dan explains his time travel to his brother. I looked online for reviews that would explain the episodes and ended up finding yet another guilty pleasure. The reviewer on a site called "The Recapist" hates "Journeyman." Absolutely hates it. But that's why M. Wilson Burdorff's reviews are so much fun to read. He eviscerates the show, pointing out all the plot holes and timeline inconsistencies. The negative reviews give me all the more reason to tune in. I don't want to miss a single reference in the recap. On last night's show, Dan traveled back to 1980 after being shot. The emergency room doctor was intrigued by Dan's iPhone. The Recapist posted a photo of that scene with the clever caption: "Steven! It's your cousin, Marvin! Marvin Jobs!"

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Monday, May 21, 2007

attention deficit

Tonight's television is all a mishmash in my brain. I've been flipping between "24," "Dancing With the Stars" and "Heroes." Doyle, don't open that box! Great. Now you're blind. Laila Ali's dance costume looks like something she should wear in the ring, not in the ballroom. Uh oh. Molly says there's somebody out there worse than Sylar. What is that disgusting muck on the front of Manny Ramirez' helmet? Oops, wrong channel. I gave the phone to my wife so she could vote for Apollo and Julianne but she couldn't get through. "24" petered out around 23 and a half. What happened to the big surprise ending we were expecting? At least "Heroes" was really good. I hope they bring back Peter from outer space or wherever Nathan took him to blow up.

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Friday, April 27, 2007

Odessa, Texas... hello...

The cast of "Heroes" finally turned up on "Larry King Live" tonight. They got bumped two months ago due to the glut of Anna Nicole Smith coverage. With each question, Larry made it more obvious that he has never seen the show and probably never will. He kept trying to get one of the cast members to agree that they thought "Heroes" was a crazy idea for a show when they read the pilot script. Like James Lipton, Larry mostly asked about the audition process and the craft of acting. I would have liked to hear more discussion on the issues the show raises about people with different abilities who must work together for the greater good.

A couple named Mark & Rhonda sent me an email asking if this would be the only season for "Heroes." They wondered what would be left for the characters to do after they save the world. Besides, shows that good have a habit of getting canceled too soon. The good news is that the series has already been renewed for a second season. Each season is like a book with a beginning, middle and end with each episode its own chapter. I prefer the one season story arcs on "Heroes" and "24" to the multi-year plan for "Lost." It's easier to kill off old characters and bring in new ones without the negative backlash that "Lost" got for doing the same thing. Of those three shows, I'm most excited about seeing the season finale for "Heroes."

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Monday, February 26, 2007

holding out

The cast of "Heroes" was supposed to be interviewed on "Larry King Live" on Friday night. I set the TiVo only to discover on Saturday morning that the "Heroes" cast had been bumped for more coverage of Anna Nicole Smith. I'll try to remember to periodically check the CNN listings to see if they get rescheduled. Tonight's episode of "Heroes" was another good one. I liked the way Claire used her superpower to deal with the situation at her house. Twice.

I can't remember the last time I watched "Larry King Live." Radio host Laura Ingraham does a funny segment that makes me want to watch Larry more often but there's almost always something else on that I want to watch and/or record instead. The feature on Laura's show is called "Guess the Guest." She plays sound clips of King's questions and lets her listeners guess who Larry was interviewing. Unfortunately our local affiliate airs only two hours of Laura's three hour show so I usually miss it.

The topic of superheroes turns up in the most unusual places. A friend remembered my post about religious affiliations of superheroes and sent along a link to a podcast for me to share. On February 15, Monsignor Bill Parent spoke about superhero films to the Catholic Campus Ministries group at George Mason University. He points out the Christ-like figures in "The Matrix," "Spider-Man," "Superman Returns" and "Batman Begins." I'm listening to it as I type this. Holy Christological analogies, Batman!

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Monday, January 22, 2007

the access number is on the back

Mondays are almost the new Thursdays at our house. I recorded five hours of primetime programming tonight, of which I was able to watch three so far. I had to choose which shows to watch in high definition (but in real time) and which shows to watch in medium quality on the TiVo (but with the ability to rewind and fast-forward). I am reluctant to spend the $300 that the satellite company wants for an HD DVR. Of course, I'm spoiled from getting the HDTV setup as part of an endorsement deal.

My son and I watched "Prison Break" and "24" in HD. I also recorded those shows on the upstairs TiVo as a backup in case my wife wanted to see them when she returned from choir practice. After "24" we all went to another room to watch "Heroes" on the TiVo. Next week my son and I may choose to watch "Heroes" in HD and save the "24" for TiVo replay. Although having "Heroes" on TiVo was helpful because there were scenes that we rewound to watch again. At one point we paused the show and I called the toll free phone number displayed on the Primatech Paper business card. Oh yeah, NBC sent out a press release today about the extra features available to fans online and over the phone. I just hope they don't go overboard with the extra stuff like "Lost" has.

What are the shows I recorded but haven't watched yet? "How I Met Your Mother," "The Class" and "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip." I'm not sure how much longer I will continue watching "Studio 60." Yet I say that while realizing that I am a completist when it comes to TV shows. If I decide to watch a series, I want to see every episode starting from the pilot through its eventual cancellation. "Studio 60" started out pretty good but got too "West Wing-y" too soon. Meanwhile, "30 Rock" gets better each week, giving me everything I would want in a behind-the-scenes at an SNL-type-show show.

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