Thursday, April 26, 2012

Season Finales & Summer Premieres

Alas, tis' that sorrowful time of year when our favorite shows end their season runs, leaving us with a vast summer hiatus to mull over the shocking, how-dare-you!?! character deaths and aching how-do-I-wait-til-fall? cliffhangers while mourning of programs that will not return (will miss you, dear Wisteria Laners).

But have no fear, fellow CPs, for television will supplement us with its rather satisfying summer fare to tide us over.

So turn your eyes to the column on the left to see your shows' season finales and summer premieres are and check back here often for lots of boob-tube goodness!

Better yet, "Follow" me on Twitter (click the link to the right or @TV_Tour_Guide) and on Facebook (!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Review - The L.A. Complex

Ah, Melrose Place, how I've missed you!

Okay, so it's not that show, but The L.A. Complex is definitely a very close relative.  How could it not be, what with an impossibly incredible Los Angeles apartment complex full of beautiful young people who all know each other ... some biblically ... whose lives we can't help but get sucked into?  Okay, I can't help.  What can I say ... I dig shows like this.

In this new CW show, the six main players are all pursuing their various showbiz dreams.  There's Abby Vargas (Cassie Steele, Degrassi: The Next Generation) a Canadian transplant whose life is the messiest - completely broke, can't work (illegal immigrant), lives out of her crappy car, long-distance boyfriend who just doesn't understand her dream - yet she manages to look great, be clean and, thanks to her small-time manager, get auditions.  Unfortunately, she often messes up her opportunities as well:  moments after doing "actually not that bad" at a big one for her favorite director, she pukes all over the place (it's not nerves, just a side effect, but more on that later).  Great impression.  As the director puts it, "once there's vomit on the piano, the audition's over."

Then we have our other actress, Raquel Westbrook (Jewel Staite, Firefly, Stargate: Atlantis).  To say this gal is a bitch is the understatement of the year.  Our new Amanda Woodward.  OK, let's be fair:  she's a former TV star who now can't get arrested.  Her contacts have nothing for her, she's considered too old (at 30!  Well, it is Hollywood) and no one will let her read for anything (hey, at least she's willing to read!).  But seeing as how she's extremely role-choosy, full of excuses, bitter as hell and thinks Tinseltown should be kissing her assets, she ain't helping her cause much.  Interesting to see Staite in this shrewish role ... still think of her as sweet Kaylee on Firefly.  Huh.  Guess I'm doing the same thing to her as is being done to Raquel.  Interesting ...

Moving on, there's Connor Lake (Jonathan Patrick Moore, All Saints, Neighbours), the hottie Australian who seems to be the most successful, having had his medical show pilot just picked up for series.  He moves out of The Lux (the nickname for the L.A. building centerpiece) to a home he just bought (guess no one told him to maybe wait a season or two before committing to property) but seems quite lonely.  I'm guessing he'll be back at the Lux very soon.

Nick Wagner (Joe Dinicol, Life With Derek) is a coffee barista-by-day, struggling stand-up comic-by-night.  Very struggling ... he's not funny.  Adorable, sweet, always there for his friends, but not funny.  As he is harshly told after a tanking his big break at the Improv,  he has no point of view and should quit.  You know you want to root for him to find his voice and c'mon, you know he will!  That's how these shows work, people!

Tariq Muhammad (Benjamin Charles Watson, Soul) is an aspiring rap artist who currently works for a big recording star.  He's the typical lowly intern who fetches food and sustains monumental abuse from those around him.  When he sneaks one of his own tracks in to an email, he thinks it's curtains for him when he gets busted.  But turns out, the artist liked his beat.  Of course, Tariq won't get the credit, but in his heart he knows he's done good and needs to just suck it up and stick with it.

Lastly there's Alicia Lowe (Chelan Simmons, Kyle XY), the dancer.  She goes to dance class, works out for hours to keep in shape and does well at auditions.  But she never seems to book the job (after an audition for an upcoming Usher tour, she tells Nick "I wish I would have heard by now," to which Nick matter-of-factly replies "We all should have heard by now.").  Why do we love this horrible business??  At least she's got steady work.  Can you guess what she does?  Yep.  Stripper.  Excuse me ... exotic dancer.  The stereotype to the max.  But hey, looks like she's the answer to Abby's prayers:  she can get her new friend a job at the club under the table, so who needs that silly little work Visa thing!

Now to the good stuff.  Of course there was one-night-stand sex.  Roof sex, no less, between Connor (who funded an elaborate complex party complete with live band,  alcohol and ecstasy - did I mention the building has the most amazing central pool lit by blacklight at night?) and Abby.  Shockingly current conversation the next morning:  Abby asks if Connor wore a condom, he replies no and couldn't she tell, feel that it was just skin (yep, actual dialogue)?  Of course not, she declares! She was high on X and that EVERYTHING felt like skin.  He says he's clean, was just tested, she says she's clean, not actually tested but she has a boyfriend.  He asks if they should get one of those "morning after" pills and offers to pay for the pill and breakfast, showing her that there's at least one good guy in L.A.

I kid you not.  That's this show.  And I love it!!  There were SO many cringing moments:  the sad Improv show, the puking at the audition (the side effect I mentioned earlier - the morning after pill makes you incredibly nauseous), the utter bitchiness - and racist-ness - of Raquel.  But these are the elements of a guilty pleasure and I'm hooked.  Not proud, but definitely hooked.

Can't say the show does Hollywood any justice.  I know there are a lot of nasty, mean, ugly people in  the business, but I've had a lot of pleasant encounters in my pursuit of the acting dream.  I wonder if L.A. Complex will ever show any warmth within the industry or just make Tinseltown a horrible wasteland of bitterness, beat downs and dream killers, making us root for our sextet that much more (well, except maybe Raquel.  Did I mention what a bitch she is?).  Probably the latter.  As I said, nothing really new or ground-breaking here.

Bottom  line:  Get a complex for this guilty pleasure!

The L.A. Complex airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. on the CW (the network was actually mentioned within the pilot episode ... shameless!).

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Firefly Reunion on Castle!

Boy, do I love it when television makes me giddy!  I admittedly - and regretfully - was late to the awesome party that was Firefly ... didn't become a fan till it was long off the air, but now I am a dedicated and enthusiastic Browncoat.  I was also a fan of the NBC series Chuck starring Adam Baldwin and am currently a big fan of ABC's Castle starring Nathan Fillion

Last night, all worlds gleefully collided as Baldwin made a hilarious guest appearance on the hit show.

Baldwin played Detective Ethan Slaughter - rightfully named, being the kind of cop he was - dangerous, prone to violence and recklessness, doing any means to achieve his end.  Problem was, Fillion's (Rick) Castle, still hurting after learning the truth that (Kate) Beckett, his partner and woman he loves has been lying to him for months about knowing his true feelings for her, opted to shadow Slaughter as his new muse, allowing himself to be put in harm's way repeatedly.

I confess, I wasn't really paying much attention to the case of the week - a father killed his son and tried to frame a local gang for the deed.  I was too busy enjoying the onscreen reunion and looking for any nods to  Firefly - "easter eggs," I guess you'd call them - and they were there ... or maybe I just saw what I wanted to see.  Eh, who cares?  I wasn't disappointed!
  • In Castle's first scene, he is caught playing with dolls ... sorry, action figures ... saying he was working out a scene for his new book.  This was just like Wash (Alan Tudyk) in the Firefly pilot episode "Serenity," playing with the dinosaur figures he kept on his console ("taking over this land which they would then call ... This Land.").
  • Baldwin had a line during his interrogation of the father, saying the son's activities were his "boy's brand of stupid."  In the Firefly episode "Heart of Gold," Fillion had a similar line, when deciding to take on the local bad guy rather than run, he told his charge "You're my kind of stupid."
  • To get Slaughter to let him tag along, Castle trades his leather coat.  The color?  Brown, of course! (Browncoats were what the rebels wore in Firefly).
  • Mid-episode, Slaughter made Castle believe that the former had killed someone, later having a good laugh about it.  In the Firefly pilot, Mal (Fillion) made Simon (Sean Maher) believe he'd killed Kaylee (Jewel Staite), then the crew had a hearty guffaw at Simon's expense.
  • Later, Slaughter throws a gang member into a garbage truck to "question" him about the murder, threatening to kill him by turning on the crusher.  In the Firefly episode "Ariel," after Jayne (Baldwin) had betrayed the crew, Mal looked him the airlock and opened the door as they were heading off into space, threatening certain death.
There may have been more, but those were the ones I happened to catch.  Clearly the boys had a blast working together again and the shift of power - Castle tried to be a badass to keep up but ultimately needed to be bailed out by his team, while Mal was a natural badass who confidently led his team -was a cool dynamic.  Stana Katic (Beckett) took a backseat in this episode, but toward the end we were brought back to the magic connection her character shares with Castle, and both seemed on the road to healing.  Castle knows who his true partner is and so the will-they-or-won't-they continues.

Baldwin's Slaughter was very much a marriage of his Jayne character - lots of gun play, raw violence and lusting after women - and his Chuck character John  Casey - tough-as-nails spy, also with a penchant for violence, clearly in charge.  He looked more like the former, scruffy, unshaven, but with much more unruly hair. 

Slaughter, with Castle and Beckett's help, got the bad guy in the end and maybe learned that his methods don't always yield the right results.  But I don't see him changing his ways so easily.  Hope he returns.

I know it's a mission of Fillion's to have a bigger Firefly reunion on his show.  Unfortunately, this guest star appearance may not allow for Baldwin to join in that fun (as another character, that is), but you never know.  Castle is going strong and Fillion might get his way (fingers crossed!).

That's not to say other Firefly alums are busy with their own work!  Check out:

Gina Torres (Zoe) on USA's Suits, returning in June.
Alan Tudyk (Wash) on ABC's Suburgatory, airing now.
Sean Maher (Simon) on ABC Family's Make It or Break It, airing now.
Jewel Staite (Kaylee) on the CW's The L.A. Complex, premiering next Tuesday, April 24.
Summer Glau (River) has been most recently on ABC's Grey's Anatomy.
Morena Baccarin (Inara)on Showtime's Homeland, returning later this year.

Bonus:  sweet promo after the credits for May 4th's The Avengers featuring fun, playful, one-upmanship banter between Fillion and Robert Downey, Jr. (Iron Man)

Hope you got to enjoy the mini-reunion!  Catch Castle Mondays at 10 p.m. on ABC.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Review - Don't Trust the B---- in Apartment 23

I greatly anticipated seeing this new sitcom, having read good things about it and being a current fan of shows with a similar premise (2 Broke Girls) and similar pacing and bite (Suburgatory).

The series stars Krysten Ritter (Breaking Bad, Gilmore Girls) as Chloe, a seemingly black-hearted con artist who cycles through roommates, moving them in, charging them falsely higher rent and keeping the extra cash for herself, then becoming a horrible presence and doing unspeakably horrid things to drive them out, enabling her to keep their security deposit as a bonus. 

Enter her latest "victim" June (Dreama Walker, The Good Wife, Gossip Girl), a doe-eyed, overly optimistic, sunshiny gal from the mid west who, when we meet her, has her life plan on full steam ahead:  great new job, gorgeous new apartment, loving fiancé.  But within moments, it all goes to hell and she is forced to lift up her chin, put on a grin and start anew. 

First up - moving in with Chloe. Chloe seems like a great person to live with - she's fun, worldly and she's besties with with James Van Der Beek (Dawson's Creek), playing/paroding (one hopes) himself here with subtle, self-involved bravado and an all-about-me attitude (to get laid, he often appeases fans by wearing flannel and blasting the Dawson's theme song).  It's not until June receives fair warning from neighbor (and roommate #4) Robin (Liza Lapira, Dollhouse, NCIS) that all may not be as it seems.  Quite simply, Robin says "don't trust the bitch in apartment 23!" BAM!  Got there in just over five minutes in.  A good thing when setting up a new show - get right to the point.

Among Chloe's many shenanigans:  she walks around naked, eats food that is not her own, has men over for sexual trysts at all hours (though it's all for show - she's not really so promiscuous), serves alcohol to minors and invades private bathroom time.  But she is perhaps too quick to underestimate June, who manages to fight back with surprising gusto (for example, to get even for the hiked up rent, June sells all of Chloe's furniture).  It's a character trait you don't outwardly expect given her Pollyanna-like personality, but it's a nice twist.  And one Chloe is surprised and even impressed by.  Not such a pushover after all.  Could this be - of all things - the beginning of her very first female friendship?

Later, when she discovers June's fiancé is cheating on her, Chloe does the unthinkable - she seduces him.  On June's birthday.  On June's birthday cake.  But what normally would have been just another antic in Chloe's usual scheme is actually meant to help, showing June (who walks in on them) what a mistake it would be to marry the scumbag.  It's Chloe's first selfless act ... and the start of that aforementioned friendship.

So where am I at with this show?  Like I said, the premise is a bit like 2 Broke Girls - two ladies from different worlds - one hardened and cynical, the other optimistic and trusting - coming together to form an unlikely friendship.  It's a show I'm a big fan of, and Don't Trust the B---- isn't quite there yet for me.  

Apt. 23 is also a great match for the Wednesday ABC lineup it has joined, fitting in great with Modern Family, Suburgatory (another favorite of mine), The Middle and Happy Endings, which all have quick pacing and a plethora of imperfect, charmingly flawed characters.  It's definitely a good match.

Van Der Beek is a highlight.  It's going to be fun to see snippets of his past - nods to the Creek and Varsity Blues in the pilot alone - worked in.  Plus, it's capitalizing on a popular trend right now:  celebs playing, often self-depricating themselves (see Matt LeBlanc in Episodes, Neil Patrick Harris in the Harold and Kumar films, Bob Saget among others on Entourage). 

Ritter has Chloe's point-of view well in hand and she may be the newest person you'll love to hate.  But you can also see that the writers are going to play around with her discovering what it's like to actually be friends with the person she's living with rather that sabotaging them at every turn.  That does seems to go against the very premise of the show it was touted to be, set up quite clearly in early promos (a montage of "former roommates" reviled the many horrible things Chloe did to them to drive them out).  So where will the show go from here if it's to deviate from that right off the bat?  

I'm going to stick with Apt. 23 for at least a couple more episodes to see exactly where we're going to go.  Didn't love it outright like I thought I would, but I see snippets of promise.  And who can possibly resist "The Beek from the Creek?"  

Bottom line:  give a little trust to the gals in Apt. 23 ... for now.

Don't Trust the B---- in Apartment 23 airs Wednesdays at 9:30 p.m. on ABC.