Sunday, March 31, 2013

Show Excursions for This Week

Some good stuff to catch on the tube this week ...



This terrific series starring the ruggedly handsome, devilishly charming Nathan Fillion hits Episode 100 tonight and promises to deliver everything to love about this show:  humor, mystery, intrigue, witty banter, and a little romance between lead characters Castle (Fillion) and Beckett (Stana Katic) - the works.  The ep is also paying homage to Hitchcock's classic Rear Window.  Castle airs at 10 p.m. on ABC.


This daring series wraps up its latest season tonight as Raylan Givens (played to perfection by Timothy Olyphant) takes on the Chicago mob, having to answer for his actions in getting Drew Thompson (my dear Jim Beaver) out of town.  I do like this series and the acting is phenomenal.  This was just not my favorite season, but it's definitely a show to keep up with (or catch up with, as the case may be). Justified airs at 10 p.m. of FX.


The Silence of the Lambs is one of the greatest psychological thrillers of all time, with the character of Hannibal "The Cannibal" Lecter played to chilling perfection by Sir Anthony Hopkins.  Also tensely entertaining were Manhunter and (less so) the Silence sequel Hannibal.  Now NBC is bringing to the airwaves its new drama Hannibal, with Mads Mikkelsen filling the good (or bad) doctor's shoes.  I am damn curious to see how such a dark story can be told on main network prime time - just how much will they show/do?  It's not like we're talking AMC or HBO here.  But it's a bold choice by the net, and let's face it,NBC needs to shake things up.  So I'll give it a watch.  Hannibal premieres at 10 p.m. on NBC.


Melissa McCarthy returns for a second turn as host on the late night sketch show.  Need I say more? Saturday Night Live airs at 11:30 p.m. on NBC.


Times, they are a' changing on this addictive, seductive series set in the turbulent 60s.  How will our ad men adapt to the boldness of the latter part of the decade?  Did Don Draper (Jon Hamm), notorious philanderer, stay faithful to wife Megan (Jessica Pare)?  How is Peggy (Elisabeth Moss) fairing at her new firm, away from mentor Draper? Can. Not. Wait.  Mad Men returns at 9 p.m. on AMC.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Yes, I Watched ...

I'm not proud, so don't hate.  Maybe I'm just lost without my Pretty Little Liars in the 8 p.m. time slot on Tuesdays.  Whatever the reason, I watched this new ABC reality/game show series featuring *ahem* celebrities who have been training for six weeks to perform high dives on national, prime time television.  Yes, FOX did this a few months ago with Stars in Danger: The High Dive.  Hey, at least ABC has named their spectacle better.

I don't know why diving has become the new fascination by those trying to find the next Dancing With the Stars (remember Skating With the Stars? Yeah, didn't think so.)  Anyway, last week's premiere featured the first five of ten contestants - including Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Drake Bell (Drake & Josh), Nicole Eggert (Baywatch), Keisha Knight-Pulliam (The Cosby Show), Chuy Bravo (Chelsea Lately), Ndammukong Suh (football player), Kendra Wilkinson (Bad Girls Club), Louis Anderson and more - *cough* performing one dive.  Yep, ONE dive (unless they end up in the final "dive off," where two of the five do a second dive to see who moves on.

ABC's description is MUCH more dramatic:

Splash marks the first time 10 celebrities will train and compete in regulation platform and springboard diving at dizzying heights in front of a weekly poolside audience. Each week the celebrities will look fear in the face as they leap off the 10-meter high dive, pair off to complete synchronized stunts, and flip, twist and spin into the depths of the pool below. Leading up to the competition, the world's most decorated and medaled diving legend, Greg Louganis, will give each celebrity weeks of training. 

Hosted by Joey Lawrence (Blossom) and Charissa Thompson (who?) and judged by London Olympic U.S. Gold medalist David Boudia and Australian Olympic athlete and USA Dive Team director Steve Foley, this show is clearly not about the quality of the dives, but about the personal *giggle* struggles each contestant has been facing during their training:  fear of heights (Wilkinson), scrutiny by the public about weight (Eggert), taking on something so physically challenging at a later age (Jabbar is 66).  There have been injuries (Bravo actually never got to dive on the live show ... he was replaced by alternate Brandi Chastain (soccer) and OMG moments (Anderson, at over 400 pounds, couldn;t get out of the training pool without the help of four of the others).

This is one of those I-can't-believe-I'm-actually-watching-this-but here-I-am-actually-watching-this shows.  I guess, like the way you listen to Howard Stern to see what he'll say next, I want to see what will happen next.  Emotions are high, tears are shed, gasps are often, but it's good eye-roll fodder.  And it actually has some really cool filler segments, like some 30-odd professional divers going off the high platform in crazy-rapid succession and stunning synchronized swimming.  They have cameras just about everywhere capturing all the action from every angle above and below the water, which is kinda cool, too.

Look, shows are starting to end their seasons and soon shows like this are going to fill the viewing landscape.  It's mildly amusing, a true spectacle that screams to be watched.  And hey, it's my job as your Guide, right?

Bottom Line:  Oh, go ahead ... dive in.  You know you want to ...

Splash! airs on ABC Tuesdays at 8 p.m. on ABC.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Show Excursions for This Week

Here's what I'll be watching ... care to join me?



I saw a clip from this week's episode and I laughed my butt off:  McGarrett (Alex O'Loughlin), Danny (Scott Caan), Max (Masi Oka) and Kamekona (Taylor Wily) are flying in a helicopter when Max starts singing the Magnum P.I. theme song and soon all are joining in.  For fans of that classic detective show from the 80s, it also took place in Hawaii and featured many shots of a chopper flying along the coastline to the kick-ass theme.  Nice nostalgic nod, H50!  Hawaii Five-0 airs ay 10 p.m. on CBS.



I haven't enjoyed this show as much as the CW's America's Next Top Model (though this does have ANTM veteran Nigel Barker hosting), but it's been mildly entertaining.  I couldn't name a single contestant and I don't think any of the finalists - from which the winner is chosen tonight - are someone you'll be seeing in the modeling long-run.  Mostly the show is worth watching just to see if Naomi Campbell will blow a gasket or abide by her anger management training.  She has come pretty damn close to losing her s**t several times throughout the competition.  If her girl(s) lose tonight, WWND?  The Face season finale airs at 9 p.m. on Oxygen.


On tonight's Supernatural, the Winchesters (Jared Padalecki, Jensen Ackles) encounter a group of lethal teen orphans who are being trained at a secret school-for-hunters.  One of the teens is someone the boys have encountered before:  Krissy (Madeline McLaughlin), who was last scene in the season 7 episode "Adventures in Babysitting).  I'm interested to see how her character has progressed.  Supernatural airs at 9 p.m. on the CW.



Why am I watching tonight's episode?  Uh, cause it's The Walking Dead!  And it's the season finale.  And there are zombies!  And did I mention it's The friggin' Walking Dead??  The Walking Dead season finale airs at 9 p.m. on AMC.


I HATE that I gave up my HBO recently - it was a budgetary sacrifice - because there is nothing I'm anticipating more than the return of this phenomenal series.  It took a few episodes in the beginning to get all the characters straight in my head but now that I have them, there are my clear favorites:  Daenerys (Emilia Clarke), a.k.a. Khaleesi, and her dragons; Tyrion (Peter Dinklage), the cunning dwarf heir; and Joffrey (Jack Gleeson), the despicable, laothsome boy king who you just relish to despise.  I WILL find a way to watch this thrilling, gripping stunning series ... I bet my Iron Throne on it!  If you have the means, DO!  Game of Thrones returns at 9 p.m. on HBO.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Show Excursions for the Week

Lots of great television is on the itinerary for the week!


This night boasts a highly competitive 10 p.m. time slot!


I have come a little late to this riotous party, which is both online and now playing on E!  If you've ever seen ABC's The Bachelor, you will totally get the humor and brilliance of this show (Ben Stiller is one of the executive producers), which spoofs the reality program to perfection, heightening all the elements to hilarious absurdity: making the women beyond-desperate, some past-the-border crazy; making the bachelor, fireman Mark Orlando (Ken Marino) a complete tool; absurd dates, awkward professions of affection ... trust me, you'll laugh your butt off.  It even has cameos by some big stars, including Jennifer Aniston, Kristen Bell and Adam ScottBurning Love is on E! at 10 p.m.


A&E is premiering its prequel series to Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho, Bates Motel, which tells the origin story of Norman Bates (Freddie Highmore), here a shy teenager, and his single, widowed mother Norma (Vera Farmiga), who are seeking a fresh start in a coastal town filled with secrets.  Bates Motel is on A&E at 10 p.m.

Hawaii Five-0 returns after a long break with an episode featuring roller derby and a guest star appearance by Dog the Bounty Hunter and his team.  Catch the wave on CBS at 10 p.m.


Wes Craven guest stars in an episode that is paying homage to the horror classic The RingCastle airs on ABC at 10 p.m.


Red Hoodie is revealed!  Has Spencer (Troian Bellisario) switched sides?  What twists and cliffhanger will we be left with ... and will all survive?  The addictive series (which personally I think isn't just for the tween set) concludes its latest season tonight!  Don't miss Pretty Little Liars on ABC Family at 8 p.m.



Supernatural returns after a (too-long in my book) break and its bringing with them the return of what the show is calling the Unholy Trinity:  Castiel (Misha Collins), the angel who is unconsciously up to no good; Crowley (Mark A. Sheppard), the King of Hell ever a thorn in the Winchesters' sides; and demon Meg (Rachel Miner), who has been MIA this season but who may be the key to the boys closing the gates of hell forever.  Catch Supernatural on the CW at 9 p.m.



What's a newly emotionless, too-poised-to-kill vampire girl (Nina Dobrev) to do?  Take a road trip to the Big Apple with her bad boy love interest (Ian Somerhalder) to let off a little steam, have a little fun and get a makeover and new wardrobe to boot, of course!  Catch The Vampire Diaries on the CW at 8 p.m.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Show Excursions for This Week

Welcome back, tourists!

Starting a new feature:  each week I'll be highlighting what I deem is worth watching.  Let me know if you like it (or have a better name)!



Join cast members old (including Joan Van Ark, Ted Shakelford, Charlene Tilton and Ken Kercheval) and new as they gather together to bid farewell to the iconic J. R Ewing - and we bid farewell to the iconic Larry Hagman - on Dallas,  Monday night at 9 p.m. on TNT.



Thanks to Damon (Ian Somerhalder) and his sire bond, newly emotionally-shut-down vampire Elena (Nina Dobrev) - who is back on the Mystic Falls cheerleading squad - is about to unleash and embrace her dark side on some unsuspecting visiting cheer competition.  The Vampire Diaries airs at 8 p.m. on the CW.



Nikita (Maggie Q), Michael (Shane West) and Division must mount a daring rescue to save Alex (Lyndsy Forseca)  from the clutches of the truly evil - and torture-happy - Amanda (Mindy Clarke).  Nikita airs at 8 p.m. on the CW.

Happy watching!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Community at PaleyFest

Hello, Tourists!  Just returned from the PaleyFest 2013 panel for NBC's Community, which was an absolute, riotous blast!

Cast members in attendance included Joel McHale (Jeff Winger), Gillian Jacobs (Britta Perry), Danny Pudi (Abed Nadir), Alison Brie (Annie Edison), Yvette Nicole Brown (Shirley Bennett) and Jim Rash (Dean Pelton).  Fred Ward made a special appearance, Donald Glover (Troy Barnes) was missed and Chevy Chase's (Pierce Hawthorne) absence was no surprise, given his recent departure from the show.

You can tell this is a cast that genuinely gets along and likes each other, given how much they riffed with and teased each other throughout the panel, presented to a standing-room-only crowd of hundreds of loyal fans.  These are some really funny, quirky people - right on par with the tone of the show, now amid it fourth season.  There was much talk of - and hopes for - a potential fifth season, ever on par with the goal to reach "six seasons and a movie" (inside Community joke).

Unlike other PaleyFest panels, which usually provide a clip or two from the featured show, we were blessed with a true gem: a live table read by the cast of an episode from this season (the season premiere, actually).  It was amazing!  Throughout the reading the cast ad-libbed, cracked each other up, gave tidbits from when the episode was actually filmed and even re-enacted certain moments - some pimped for directly by the audience - including a hilarious tango by McHale and Rash.

Afterwards, we were treated to a discussion with the cast and the executive producers, where they covered such topics as story ideas past, present and future, Dan Harmon's departure, gratitude for fans' support throughout the years, the effort to tell stories and be referential (i.e. nods to pop culture) at the same time, and more.  

A Q&A with the audience led to a re-enactment of Britta's "pizza dance"; a question as to whether - because James Brolin is playing Jeff's father in this week's episode and recently played Rick Castle's father on ABC's Castle - Jeff Winger and Rick Castle are half-brothers (McHale responded "yes, and in season five we'll all end up on Serenity." - way to please the fans, sir!); the return - albeit short - return of paintball; and whether the gang is going to graduate this year ("stay tuned," we were told).

Then, for icing on the cake, we were given a sneak peek of an upcoming plot element.  One word:  Muppets.

After a clip, the muppet counterparts of the cast were brought out and it became playtime with puppets.  It was awesome and ... a little naughty.  There may have been a little puppet molestation ... but all in good fun.

It was a fantastic event with a terrific group of wonderfully comedic misfits.  But hey, that's Community!

Catch Community Thursdays at 8 p.m. on NBC.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Drop Dead Diva Lives!

Will wonders never cease...

Having found new financing, Lifetime Television has reversed it's decision to cancel the series Drop Dead Diva and instead renew it for a fifth season.

This is a terrific series.  Starring Broadway vet Brooke Elliott - who is excellent, charming and positively delightful in the lead role - DDD is about a model, Deb, who is killed in a car accident.  En route to Heaven, her soul is instead dropped back down into the body of super-smart lawyer, Jane.  So now Jane (henceforth new-Jane) lives her life and tries her cases with Deb's enthusiasm, playful perspective and out-of-the-box thinking and ingenuity. 


When we left off at the end of Season 4, the real Jane (henceforth old-Jane) - who had died from being shot at the exact time as Deb, therefore enabling the switch to occur - was able to beam herself back into her old body, evicting Deb.  This will inevitably cause problems, since everyone in new-Jane's life is used to her, not to old-Jane, who was kind of a cold-hearted, very ambitiuous bitch.

It's not as confusing as it sounds, and SO worth jumping on board with.  It has a great supporting cast, including Jackson Hurst as Grayson, Deb's former fiancee and new-Jane's co-worker; Margaret Cho as Teri, new-Jane's assistant; April Bowlby as Stacy, Deb's best friend; and Ben Feldman as Fred, Deb/new-Jane's guardian angel.

If you like legal shows with a twist - think Ally McBeal and Eli Stone - this is a show for you.  Catch up before Season 5 arrives!

Friday, March 1, 2013

Rest in Peace - Bonnie Franklin

Bonnie Franklin passed away today.  She was 69.


I remember watching One Day at a Time as a kid.  Back then I didn't realize how edgy, poignant and modern it was as far as sitcoms go ... a Norman Lear trademark (All in the Family, Maude).  I just remember it was a funny show with a sharp-tongued mom (Franklin), a cute, funny girl-next door (Valerie Bertinelli) and a funny handyman (Pat Harrington).  Mackenzie Phillips also co-starred.

Now, of course, I realize how important and forward-thinking the show was, portraying a realistic family dealing with realistic, sometimes taboo issues that many network shows were afraid to cover back then.  And how great a role model Franklin's Ann Romano was - a divorced mother raising her two teenage daughters, talking to them about sex, birth control and many socially relevant subjects and conflicts.

Franklin had a long career in entertainment, both on stage and screen, but it was One Day at a Time that made her a star.  Too bad it's not currently playing in syndication.  It was a great show.

Rest well, Ms. Franklin.