Sunday, October 31, 2010

Top 10 Films to Watch on Halloween


For today, I'd like to share my top 10 (really 12, but whatever) films to watch on Halloween. Not all of them take place on Halloween and/or scary. In fact I'm actually not a huge scary movie fan and even if I really like a scary/horror film, it still doesn't mean I would want to watch it on Halloween. I tend to lean toward fun/nostalgic films that I can watch with friends and have a good ol' time.

And so without further a due:

1. Shaun of the Dead (2004) - Not only is this my favorite zombie film, but it's also one of my favorite films of all time. I'm already Anglophilic, but this movie made me a Simon Pegg-Edgar Wright fanboy for life. I literally will watch this whenever I can.

2. The Addams Family (1991) and Addams Family Values (1993) - I find it almost a necessity to watch this kooky, spooky, ooky family during Halloween/Thanksgiving. Everyone is, of course, great, but Christina Ricci's Wednesday is effin' Oscar-worthy. If only for her performance in that Thanksgiving play alone.

3. Hocus Pocus (1993) - This is probably the one and only film on my list that's actually Halloween-centric and damn right it is since it's pretty much a childhood classic. I don't know anyone my age group that doesn't love this film.

4. Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975) - Great to watch at home by yourself or with friends, but AMAZING to see with a theater full of people. I also think this is the best role Tim Curry has ever done. Just brilliant throughout.

5. Clue (1985) - Probably the least "Halloween-y" movie in the list, but one can always find a reason to see this gem of a film. I mean we have a "scary" mansion with a bunch of people in "costume." There. Also, Tim Curry's 2nd best role.

6. Ghost Busters (1984) and Ghostbusters II (1989) - Who else are you going to call when ghosts and goblins are running amok Manhattan? [cue song]. And other than enabling everyone to mock all of the 80s hair/fashion, it's still really fun.

7. Scream (1996) - Bringing the "slasher flick" back to modern audiences, the original and still the best is a modern classic in its own right. That plus great iconic mask!

8. Zombieland (2009) - Surprisingly entertaining and hilarious to boot. The energy of the film is quite addicting and wholly engrossing.

9. Dawn of the Dead (2004) - Equal parts terrifying and funny, a wonderful film to either see with friends or by yourself. It's a film that will give you zombie nightmares!

10. Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1992) - Even though it's totally cheesy (and kind of bad), it still the movie that begat my favorite show of all time. Plus Luke Perry! And one of the best vampire death scenes on film!

Honorable Mentions: Donnie Darko, 28 Days Later, Beetle Juice, Witches of Eastwick, Alien, The Craft, and Twilight. Only see the latter with friends, preferably while everyone is intoxicated.

WTA YEC: Wozniacki & Clijsters Win, To Meet in Finals

Though higher seeded than their opponents, both Caroline Wozniacki and Kim Clijsters were actually seen as slight underdogs against their opponents who both had impressive weeks. Wozniacki's opponent, Vera Zvonareva went undefeated in the round-robin matches while Samantha Stosur took the top spot in her group losing only two sets in three matches. But in the end, the higher seeds prevailed in shockingly similar fashion during the semifinals.

Both Wozniacki and Clijsters lost three straight games in the first set (Wozniacki actually lost four straight) and both had to save set points. Once they won the tight first set, however, it was cruise control for both of them, dominantly losing only one game between themselves. Wozniacki and Clijsters have only played once before, during the 2009 US Open finals where Wozniacki reached her very first Grand Slam finals and Clijsters put an exclamation on her comeback by winning her second Grand Slam title.

Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear

The picture says it all really. The accompanying article has a little bit more detail.

Totally jealous of everyone who actually made the trek to Washington, D.C. this weekend for this event. One can only hope that this has energized people to vote on Tuesday. I mean I know it's Halloween and all right now but things can get really fucking scary Wednesday morning when all is said and done.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Depp in Costume

Has there been an actor who has put on more memorable costumes for a film role than Johnny Depp? Probably, but when I saw this image (forgot where it's from! if it's yours let me know so I can credit and/or remove it) I really was astounded. You have Edward Scissorhands, Captain Jack Sparrow, Willy Wonka, the Mad Hatter, Sweeney Todd, John Dillinger, Don Juan, etc.

So of course news broke out just a few days ago that he's in talks to play the lead in Snow White and The Huntsman which will allegedly also star Charlize Theron. Now I'm sure they'll update the hunstman costume to make it cool and probably iconic, but if you want Johnny in "normal" clothes, maybe check out his next film, The Tourist, with Angelina Jolie. Wait, scratch that. Did I just say if you want to see Johnny Depp IN clothes? Silly me.

Friday, October 29, 2010

WTA: YEC Semifinals Set; Dementieva Retires

After twelve round-robin matches, four ladies moved through to the semifinal stages at the WTA Championships. Along the way a player clinched the year-end #1 ranking while another said goodbye to professional tennis.

By winning at least two matches, top seed Caroline Wozniacki secured her first ever year-end #1 ranking. The only round-robin match she lost was against Samantha Stosur who took the top spot in the Maroon Group heading into the semifinals. In the White Group, Vera Zvonerava went undefeated taking the top spot while Kim Clijsters, only losing to Zvonareva, took the last semis berth. Zvonareva will now face Wozniacki while Stosur will take on Clijsters. The winners will face each other in the finals for the last big title of the year.

Among those left behind, only Jelena Jankovic was unable to win a match. In fact she failed to even win a set in three matches! Victoria Azarenka and Francesca Schiavone managed to get a win on the last day of the round-robin matches.

Finally, veteran Elena Dementieva announced her retirement from competitive tennis after losing to Schiavone earlier today. The 29-year-old Olympic gold medalist made the semifinals or better in all the Grand Slam tournaments including two finals. She was the epitome of hard work and class as she stayed in the upper echelons of tennis for the better part of the decade (top 20 for 524 of last 529 weeks). It was so easy to root for her and unfortunately part of her legacy will consist of the title "Best Player to Never Have Won a Grand Slam Title," but I hope that's not all she would be remembered for. In any case, she will be greatly missed and hope we see her in some tennis capacity in the very near future.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Tuesday/Wednesday TV Report

Most of the shows brought out their best (or tried to) Halloween-inspired episodes. For the most part, they all succeeded.

Tuesday, 10/26

Glee - I kept my expectations in check for this special episode where the show pays homage to ultimate cult hit Rocky Horror Picture Show. First thing first, the cast did a phoenomenal job on the songs. Special kudos to Curt, Mercedes, Finn, and Emma. But man I never clicked with Will Shuester in the first season, but I just can't stand him now. Poor Morrison. He probably deserves better. I'm still not a HUGE fan of theme episodes, but this was definitely better than the earlier Britney fail of an episode. Plus lots of shirtless guys here. I approve.

Raising Hope - Don't know when it happened, but I suddenly love this show. It helped that the two episodes they aired this week were the best so far this season. Love the little touch of sentimentality with Burt wanting Jimmy to hug him. And too bad Hope's mom is dead, because her videos were HIGHlarious.

The Good Wife - Could this show get any better? I mean the episode was about four hours and took place in two locations and it was so riveting. Can't even really talk about it as it's leaving me speechless still. The pacing, the case, the characters... why aren't more people watching this show?

I usually watch No Ordinary Family live, but I had to see Glee's RHPS episode along with everyone else. Unfortunately, I haven't had time to watch the former show but I'm hoping it's better than the first few episodes.

Wednesday, 10/27

Modern Family - If you were to ask me to tell you my favorite line or moment or scene, I'd probably just tell you to watch the whole damn episode, because the show was firing on all cylinders. Mitchell hiding his Spidey suit? Funny. Gloria speaking "proper" English. Funny. Claire treating Halloween the same way Phil treats iPad's debut? Priceless.

Cougar Town - Good emotional episode for Jules (dealing with her father) and Bobby (dealing with being Stan's guardian). Love the costumes (Ellie and Laurie dressing as the other one with Travis playing an assist as Andy, Grayson as Prince, Bobby as Windy). Really happy to see the show finding its footing.

Undercovers - Sigh. More of the same and that's not good. Again, this show seems to be just doing things I've seen better executed elsewhere. The leads are great and I do hope they get snatched up quickly by another show when (not if) this show gets canceled.

The Whole Truth - Another solid episode. Too bad the show has been canceled. Not sure if I'll continue watching the rest of the produced episodes, but kudos to the cast who couldn't really have done anything differently.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Looking Forward To...

127 Hours
Release: November 5, 2010
Distributor: Fox Searchlight
Director: Danny Boyle
Starring: James Franco, Kate Mara, Amber Tamblyn, Kate Burton, Treat Williams, Clémence Poésy, and Lizzy Caplan

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

TV Report Catching Up

Birthday festivities got in the way on my regular TV postings (and frankly) watching. Still catching up so here's a few quick thoughts on TV shows from 10/21 - 10/25

Thursday, 10/21

Community - So yet another comedy series does a religion episode. I rolled my eyes, but with this cast, they made it work. The non-religious end tag was frickin' hilarious.

30 Rock - Didn't think much about this episode. In fact I can barely remember what happened. Something about Liz being a prude and Jack on a hot streak. Suffice it to say, I just thought it was... whatever.

Big Bang Theory - It's sad knowing that Penny will be MIA for a few episode due to injury, but the cast (aka Sheldon) seem to be doing just fine picking up the slack. His relationship with Amy is still comedy gold.

Grey's Anatomy - I liked it. I find myself saying that more and more often about this show. That's good. I thought the Chief picked the right guy to "win" the $1 million (aka Owen) but Derek's plea re: Meredith's possible Alzheimer's future is intriguing. Wonder if the show has the balls to go there. Also Owen making Christina smile finally is one of the best moments of the season.

Fringe was not shown because of baseball. Damn you baseball.

Friday, 10/22

Supernatural - Even though Castiel was nowhere to be found, I actually enjoyed the episode. We don't get much in terms of new answers, but seeing Sam slyly smike as he looks on at his brother getting turned into a vampire was chilling. Also anything to mock Twilight is A-OK by me.

Saturday, 10/23

Saturday Night Live - Was hoping to get tickets for this on my birthday because I LOVE Emma Stone. I thought she did a great job for what she was asked to do... which unfortunately wasn't a lot. What is UP with SNL squandering perfectly great hosts with craptastic material this season?

Sunday, 10/24

- This modern re-telling of Sherlock Holmes is just as brilliant as its title character. A few sentences can't possibly do this show justice, but I love the chemistry between Sherlock and Watson and adapting this old school tale to the modern world has never looked better.

The Amazing Race - Volleyball teammates Katie/Rachel just couldn't catch up from the previous leg while Nat/Kat took the fast forward and increased their lead. All my favorites are still around and the locations/challenges have been top-notch as per usual. LOVE this show.

Brothers & Sisters - I've decided I only really care about what's happening with Kevin/Scotty and so OF COURSE they begin the episode with Kevin neglecting Scotty only to end the episode with Scotty confessing about having an affair recently. WTF!!!!!!!!!!!

Monday, 10/25

The Event
- Finally some backstory for hottie Simon who is one of the more intriguing characters in this show for me. His scene with his long lost loved was heartbreaking. Looking forward to seeing the kind of division these aliens have within their ranks and WHY ARE THEY HERE?

How I Met Your Mother - Really enjoyed last night's episode with Marshall and Lily trying to deal with names and gender of their babies while we get a touch of Barney/Robin which is always ALWAYS welcome.

Chuck - Don't get me wrong, loved that we (and the characters) finally get to meet Chuck's mom, but it all felt inorganic to me. The Halloween bent was nice though especially with Freddy Krueger on their midst. Poor, poor Ellie.

Castle - Not Halloween-centric, but it certainly kept me on the edge of my seat and creeped me out sufficiently. The last ten minutes were harrowing as I actually thought they were going to kill Ryan. The whole case kept me guessing until the end as well. This show is just on fire.

Still have not caught up with last week's Hawaii Five-0 so had to skip last night's episode because I'm OCD like that.

WTA: Year-End Championships

Seven of the eight players entered into the WTA Championships
pose in Doha alongside the brand-new logo for the WTA.

Even though there are three former (and current) no. 1s and two 2010 Grand Slam winners in the mix, the field at the WTA Championships still seems to be somewhat lacking star power especially with the absences of Serena Williams, Venus Williams, and Justine Henin. Also not in the mix are fan-favorites such as Maria Sharapova, Ana Ivanovic and Svetlana Kuznetsova.

In any case, the following top-10 women who make up the elite eight are not too shabby in their own right and deserve the spot for a chance to win the final tournament of the year. And they are...

1. Caroline Wozniacki - While she didn't reach a Grand Slam final this year, she topped the tour in number of titles and became the 20th woman to be ranked #1.

Grand Slam Results: 4r, QF, 4r, SF
Titles: Tokyo, Beijing, Montreal, New Haven, Ponte Vedra Beach, Copenhagen
Runner-Up: Indian Wells

2. Vera Zvonareva - Now at career-high ranking of #2, she reached her first and second Grand Slam finals this year, but was unable to close the deal both times.

Grand Slam Results: 4r, 2r, F, F
Titles: Pattaya City
Runner-Up: Wimbledon, US Open, Montreal, Beijing, Charleston

3. Kim Clijsters - Made lots of noise in her first full year of her comeback by getting some nice hardcourt titles including her third US Open title.

Grand Slam Results: 3r, -, QF, W
Titles: US Open, Miami, Cincinnati, Brisbane
Runner-Up: N/A

4. Francesca Schiavone - Oldest player in the draw won her first Grand Slam title at the French Open, but took awhile to recover from win.

Grand Slam Results: 4r, W, 1r, QF
Titles: Roland Garros, Barcelona
Runner-Up: N/A

5. Samantha Stosur - Strong year for the Australian, who dominated at the French Open until losing in her very first Grand Slam final.

Grand Slam Results: 4r, F, 1r, QF
Titles: Charleston
Runner-Up: Roland Garros, Stuttgart

6. Jelena Jankovic - Relatively quiet and subdued year for the former no. 1, though posted good enough results to make her fourth consecutive year-end appearance.

Grand Slam Results: 3r, SF, 4r, 3r
Titles: Indian Wells
Runner-Up: Rome

7. Elena Dementieva - Veteran whose best years may be behind her, but with solid results, made her 10th showing at the year-end tournament, more than any player in the draw.

Grand Slam Results: 2r, SF, -, 4r
Titles: Paris, Sydney
Runner-Up: Tokyo, Kuala Lampur

8. Victoria Azarenka - Recovered fully from the freak concussion incident at this year's US Open, she became the last player entered after winning in Moscow.

Grand Slam Results: QF, 1r, 3r, 2r
Titles: Moscow, Stanford
Runner-Up: Dubai, Eastbourne

Injuries have plagued the tour for the whole year and it was even more troubling the second half of the year sidelining many top players. Even heading into this tournament, at least half of the eight players entered are nursing recent injuries which is why Li Na and Shahar Peer, who are both in Doha as alternates, shouldn't be too surprised if they're called to play this week.

Fun Fact #1: Caroline Wozniacki and Vera Zvonareva both have a chance to end the year as the #1 ranked player in the world.

Fun Fact #2: Kim Clijsters is the only player to have a winning record against the rest of the field.

Fun Fact #3: Victoria Azarenka is the only player to not reach a Grand Slam final in her career. She is also the only player this year to not reach a SF or better at a Grand Slam tournament.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Going to Serendipity

Tomorrow is my birthday so I took a personal day today to have a nice 3-day weekend. Not sure what my plans are yet for today, but it will surely consist of going to Serendipity 3 for some frozen hot chocolates ala John Cusack and Kate Beckinsale in Serendipity.

Aren't they cute?

Now what are the chances I'll bump into a complete stranger, have a wonderful time with them, only for us to separate leaving it only to chance to orchestrate our reunion signaling that we were meant to be? Yeah, or maybe I'll also order one of their epic sundaes.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

That is so fetch...

This post is part of Nathaniel's "Hit Me With Your Best Shot" series in which the participants must post a single image from a movie he or she deems as the "best shot" for any particular reason.

Today's movie is Mean Girls starring Lindsay Lohan and Rachel McAdams. The film came out April of 2004, still a few years away from Lohan's eventual train-wreck, but only two months away from McAdams' starring vehicle The Notebook. The one-two punch of playing bitchy Regina George and then opposite future fiancé Ryan Gosling made 2004 McAdams' unofficial coming out party to Hollywood. This whole thing is a bit tangential to my "best shot" post, but I'm still amazed at how much would change for these two actresses in the next six years.

With many shots/scenes to pick from, I decided to focus on two people not named Lohan or McAdams. Instead I picked a shot from a scene that not only succinctly showed the rampant cliquishness of high school, but also highlighted two very fine comedic actors. The scene involves Janis, played by Lizzy Caplan, along with Damien, played by Daniel Franzese, taking Cady (Lohan) under their wings. First lesson? How to navigate the cafeteria, complete with a fantastically-drawn map:

Here. This map is gonna be your guide to North Shore. Now, where you sit in the cafeteria is crucial, because you got everybody there.

Janis then lists the different groups on the map as the camera swoops into the drawing as it transforms into the actual cafeteria. The audience is then showed each group as she narrates quickly panning from one group to the next.

You got your freshmen, ROTC guys, preps, JV jocks, Asian nerds, cool Asians, varsity jocks, unfriendly black hotties, girls who eat their feelings, girls who don't eat anything, desperate wannabes, burnouts, sexually active band geeks...

And without missing a beat, she slips in one of my favorite moments (and shot!) in the entire film:

...the greatest people you will ever meet...

I remember when I first saw the film, I had to actually rewind it because I was taken aback by this shot. It was such a blink-and-you-miss moment in the film, but I just found it absolutely hilarious. Most of that can probably be attributed to Caplan's expert delivery, but how do you not smile when you see those faces? Franzese is blowing a kiss while Caplan looks on goofily. The camera quickly pans to the next, and final, group.

...and the worst. Beware of The Plastics.

A beautifully done sequence with a funny and unexpected shot thrown near the end. And as I end this post, just want to give props to the characters Janis "Dyke" Ian and "Too Gay To Function" Damien. In a movie with many more well-known names, they managed to steal the show quite a few times. It was a pleasant surprise for me when I saw both actors just this summer reuniting on screen for one episode of the shortly-lived show Party Down. Unfortunately, the two didn't share an actual scene together, but I swear, it was totally fetch.

Wednesday TV Report

A few thoughts on Wednesday TV shows:

Undercovers - To be honest, I didn't really feel the episode. Maybe it was because I was missing Leo a little bit, or maybe it was because for half of the episode I was on the phone. The thing is, I usually don't answer my phone when I'm watching something I like. Hmm, so what does that say about this show? From the looks of it though, I didn't really miss much in terms of important arcs. Unless I did, but oh well. I have to stress, that it's not the cast. The story is just lacking SOMETHING for me. I'm not asking for Rambaldi or a time-traveling island, but something to hold on to, you know?

Modern Family - While the three story lines didn't overlap, this show somehow still makes it work. It helped that the three story lines were genuinely funny and unlike some weeks, they were all fully realized ideas. Seeing Jay and Manny freak out about Gloria possibly killing that dog was hysterical as was seeing the Dunphys fall all over themselves without a little bit of technology. Finally, we get Cam and Mitchell trying to get Lily into daycare after they found out everyone else was doing so. Had my first LOL moment early on when Mitchell reacted Lily potentially getting behind with this quote, "Leave it to the gays to raise the only under-achieving Asian in America." The episode ended with Cam then delivering a hysterically inappropriate impression of a Cherokee Indian.

Cougar Town - What a pleasant surprise to see Smith (and his dad!). I thought after last weeks break-up session, he'd be a goner. Wonder if they'll actually keep his character and work through this relationship with Laurie. Like every week, this show is like a breath of fresh air. Maybe it's because I oddly relate to every single character. From Bobby's Peter Pan complex to Travis' dorkiness to Ellie's snootiness to all of their alcoholic problems! But really, how about that moment right after Laurie breaks down to Grayson and Andy when they all then put their hands together and cheered "Cul-De-Sac Crew." Hm, new title perhaps? Nah, I'm loving their now weekly jab at their original ill-conceived title.

The Whole Truth - This show is most likely not long for this world with the ratings its been getting, but so far I'm still enjoying it. It's not the most complicated show even with the novel structure it has, but the two leads are great to watch playing off one another. Tonight's case was a kid who may or may have not killed his parents and the actor they got to play the kid was top notch. One of the things I do like about this show is that they tell us whether or not the jury got it right. [SPOILER] In this case, the jury found the kid guilty. As the audience start feeling bad for the kid, we get that final scene where the kid goes from stoic to PURE EVIL. Kind of awesome to see.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

It Gets Better: Spirit Day Edition

Today is Spirit Day initiated as a sort of rallying cry against anti-gay bullying in response to the rash of teenage suicides the past few weeks. People are asked to wear purple to participate. Purple symbolizes 'spirit' on the rainbow flag, a symbol for LGBT Pride.

A few days ago, I posted a few videos of celebrities taking part of the now huge "It Gets Better Project." For today, here are some every day people and their words of wisdom and inspiration:

And finally, this is the video that started it all:

If you or someone you know are in trouble, check out The Trevor Project or call 866-488-7386.

Looking Forward To...

Wild Target
Release: October 29, 2010
Distributor: Freestyle Releasing
Director: Jonathan Lynn
Starring: Eileen Atkins, Martin Freeman, Rupert Grint, Emily Blunt, Bill Nighy, and Rupert Everett

Monday/Tuesday TV Report

Just a few thoughts on the TV shows I saw on Monday and Tuesday.

How I Met Your Mother - To follow up with last week's great episode, this week saw the introduction of Zoey, a possible paramour for Ted played by House's Jennifer Morrison. They find each other bonded by their shared passion for architecture, more specifically for the hotel Arcadia which is also the hotel that Ted would bulldoze over to make room for a Mosby-designed GNB building. So while Ted thinks he might have found "The One" she finds out he's on the other side while he finds out she's married. Do I think she's the mother? No, but looking forward to seeing how this relationship (again she's married) develops. Insert obligatory joke here about smaller penis and how bigger is better to pay homage to the B-plot of the episode.

Chuck - I admit, I thought I wasn't going to like this episode, but what shocked me the most about this episode, and this season actually, is how much I'm loving Morgan and his evolution as a character. I wasn't really a big Grimes fan in the beginning, but when Chuck finally told him his big secret in the middle of last season, Grimes went from annoying best friend to kick-ass sidekick. Another inspired decision by the writers is to give Morgan and Casey lots and lots of scenes together. They just work. Of course there's this new wrinkle that he's dating his daughter, but in the end all it did was extend this unconventional family they've all developed into. Nice moment before Mommy Bartowski crashes the party next week.

The Event - I've already gone on record saying this show went from crap to great after a few episodes, but I still do have some issues with it. Most of it is from this "war" that's being fought between the rogue members of this alien race and our government which is probably just me tired of this similar plot line from other shows. I'm still a huge fan of "Sean rescuing Leila" story line and lots of things sure did happen on that front. Even with Sean and Leila reunited, there's still lots more to be told. Another character I want more of? Simon Lee. He's working as a double agent and I'm hoping we meet more people like him i.e. aliens pretending to work for the government. Overall, lots of promise and story to tell still.

Castle - Was wondering how much of Grey's Anatomy they were going to spoof and they didn't hold back... talking about doctors having sex with each other, labeling people McDreamy/McSteamy, and then naming one of the doctors Rhonda Chimes? Wonderful. With that said, thankfully that didn't really dominated the episode. Like most Castle episodes the case had twists, turns, and, to me, a shocking resolution. Can't really ask more from a "procedural show" than that except Castle also gives us fun characters. Oh and hello again, Mrs. Castle! One issue with the show though... Taylor Swift? Really? REALLY?

No Ordinary Family - I honestly want to head over heels fall in love with this show, but something, I'm not sure what, isn't really letting me. I think it's because all of the main characters are kind of isolated from one another and I suppose that is the point, but as a cast (hell as a family) I'm not really buying them. That plus I actually don't find Jim's vigilante act interesting. At all and sadly that has been a HUGE plot since the pilot. I'm intrigued most by the kids' journeys and I liked the "realism" that they're both handling this probably like normal hormonal crazy teenagers would, but I'd appreciate a tad less angst. I mean did we need JJ to lie to his parents about this and/or have such a comically villainous teacher? Finally, Julie Benz seems to be wasted a bit.

The Good Wife - The episode had so much good, I don't even know where to begin. Every single character had their moment from Alicia going toe to toe with the prosecutor then the judge then her co-counsel to Kalinda going batshit crazy all over Blake's rented car to Peter and Childs actually having a man-to-man talk to Diane gleefully telling the judge to back off running for state office to finally having that shock twist ending. And there were so many more I didn't even list. It was the type of episode where you seriously wonder how in the hell they managed to fit all of that in an hour show. Just magnificent.

Programming Note: FOX has decided to show encore episodes of Glee and Raising Hope, holding back their Halloween-themed episode until next week. I also haven't had the chance to catch Hawaii Five-0 yet.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Sunday TV Report

There are only two shows I watch on Sundays, not including those on cable which I usually try to catch during the following week. First up is The Amazing Race, which always gets delayed this time of year because of football. I've gotten so used to it, it doesn't even faze me anymore. Just know I have to keep an eye out.

Anyways, after four legs, the races have already traveled to England, Ghana, and, in last night's episode, Sweden! My thoughts on each team in the order they came in:

1. Nat & Kat - After two disappointing finishes, they finally get back on top this week. I already declared them my favorite team and I hope they keep this up since I really do want to see the first all-female team to win.

2. Gary & Mallory - They BARELY escaped elimination in the second episode, but I'm glad they did, because this father/daughter duo is such a delight. Their fun spirit is infectious.

3. Brook & Claire - This team is also a very gleeful team. Totally supportive of one another and other than their penchant to get a kiss in every leg, they're great. They certainly recovered from the freak watermelon incident.

4. Michael & Kevin - They came in last place last week, but it was luckily a non-elimination. Using some quick thinking, they were able to jump ahead this leg of the race and keep their hopes alive. Love this father/son team also, but they won't win due to Michael's health problems.

These first four teams were smart enough to get an earlier flight this episode and I'm very happy since these are coincidentally my four favorite teams. It's also cool that they seem to have developed alliances with one another (Nat/Kat & Brook Claire for the all-girl alliance with Gary/Mallory & Michael/Kevin for the father/child alliance).

5. Jill & Thomas - They get lost. A lot. Like a lot. They are very lucky they got the Express Pass from the first episode which enabled them to bypass the Detour. Now that that's gone, they both really need to step up their games.

6. Nick & Vicki - They snipe at one another, but usually because collectively, they are dumb as rocks. Again, they're likable enough so I don't root against them, but how they are still here surprise me. Though both ROCKED at the sledding part.

7. Chad & Stephanie - While both are better managing the race, I still don't really like this team. For a second there, I thought they'd be eliminated but alas no.

8. Katie & Rachel - It's kind of hilarious how little this team registers with me. I know who they are, but I just don't pay attention to them.

9. Connor & Jonathan - Team Glee is no more. Didn't find them annoying per se, but still a bit relieved their gone and the Race is again song-free.

Then we have Brothers & Sisters. Even though I knew about it a couple weeks back, I still wanted to see how exactly they were going to write off Rebecca's character from the show. Holly's failing mental health afforded an appropriate way for Rebecca to go to New York and start a new life there as well as reconnecting with Justin and both realizing that while both still loved each other, it just isn't the same anymore. This latter part, I only half-buy since I still would've liked to have seen Justin fight a bit harder. Why couldn't he have gone to New York with her? As for the rest of the episode, it was fine. Best part was probably Saul's apprehension in telling his "friend" Charlie his HIV status and Ron Rifkin's masterful acting in the scene where Charlie pretty much rejects him. Beautiful and heartbreaking. In other "who cares" tidbit, Kitty stroked some wood while Sarah kissed then kicked ass on a bunch of Mean Mommies.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Tennis' Sleepy Season Recap

Did you know that the tennis season didn't end after the US Open? There are still a few tournaments, mostly on the indoor hard courts, leading up to the Tour Finals being held in London for the men and Doha for the women where the top 8 men and women will battle it out for the last major title before the all-too-brief off-season.

For the men the first major tournaments after the US Open were the 500-level tournaments in China and Japan held last week. Top seeds Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal respectively won their 2nd and 7th titles of the season with those wins. This past week, Roger Federer and Andy Murray, as well as most of the other top 20 players, joined Nadal and Djokovic in Shanghai for the first time since the US Open. Obviously tired after a long season of winning, Nadal crashed out in the third round against Jurgen Melzer. Federer, Djokovic, Murray, and Juan Monaco comprised of the last four. Federer, on the heels of spanking Robin Soderling, excised revenge against Djokovic to reach the finals. It was, however, Murray who came out on top when he then went on to defeat Federer for the second time this year at the finals of a Masters tournament to clinch only his second title of the year.

While Nadal is locked to end the year at #1 with his tour-high seven tournament wins including three Grand Slam championships, the picture is a bit murkier for that second spot. With his win over Djokovic this week, Federer moves back into that runner-up spot. Boosted by his recent win here, Murray will challenge both Federer and Djokovic for that 2nd spot. There are three big tournaments (Valencia, Basel, Paris Masters) before the Tour Finals where these three guys can add major points in this "Race to #2." Note that for the last five years, those top two spots were occupied by Federer and Nadal.

As for the women, it's been mostly quiet on the tennis front, but loud on the injury front. Justine Henin already ended her season even before the US Open while Venus Williams followed suit a few weeks ago. Her sister Serena Williams and recent US Open champion Kim Clijsters are questionable for the year-end tournament as both are nursing injuries at the moment. With this said, Caroline Wozniacki took advantage of this and went on to win the two premier events right after the US Open, the Toray Pan Pacific Open and the China Open. On the heels of those wins, she grabbed the #1 ranking from Serena becoming the 20th player to ever do so (but joins Dinara Safina and Jelena Jankovic as being #1 and not having a Grand Slam title to her name).

Other players who had respectable showing at one or both of those tournaments include Vera Zvonareva, Elena Dementieva, Victoria Azarenka, Francescha Schiavone, Na Li, and Shahar Peer. Finally, huge shout out to Tamarine Tanasugarn and Kimiko Date Krumm for making history in Osaka, Japan this past week playing the oldest known final ever with a combined age of 73. Date Krumm was trying to be the first 40-something to win a title especially after taking out top seed Samantha Stosur. Tanasugarn, however, halted that fairy tale ending with one of her own as she claimed only her 4th career title beating 2nd seed Marion Bartoli on the way. Age is just a number.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Taking Stock of Supernatural

I would've done a "Friday TV Report" but I only saw one thing, which was Supernatural. So it gets its own special post!

Now, there have been four episodes of Supernatural and series regular, I repeat, series regular Misha Collins has appeared in one episode. I know it's a silly thing and it's not like the show falls aparts without him or even particularly need him to churn out interesting stories, but I've gotten to that point with the show where I NEED MY CASTIEL FIX to fully enjoy the show.

With that said, I'm starting to warm up to this season after the general meh feeling that the first two episodes gave me. Castiel did appear in the third episode and we finally hear what's going up in heaven. Too bad that episode focused way too much on the gore and too little time giving us scenes with the angels (Castiel, Joshua, and Balthazar).

Now Castiel wasn't in last night's episode, but oddly enough the two other main characters (Sam and Dean) were also given little screentime. Instead we got a "in the life" sort of episode for Bobby, which I actually quite liked. It helped that a few old faces made reappearances, most enjoyably Mark Sheppard as Crowley. The episode enabled us to focus on a severely under-utilized major character as well as add a few extra layers to what's really going on this season aka monsters from other lands are finding themselves in the good ol' USA.

Speaking of that, what IS going on? I'm not sure I'm liking being kept in the dark with so many possible threads unspooling. We have the mysterious reason why Sam and their grandfather were both resurrected. We have the Campbell's unexplained agenda of capturing monsters. We have heaven (and hell) in utter chaos with both Lucifer and Michael (and God still) MIA. We have "weapons from heaven" loose in the world. And now we have all of these "foreign" monsters. I'm sure all of it is connected somehow and they'll stretch it out for as long as they can, but argh I want answers now.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Thursday TV Report

The big story last night was 30 Rock's live show (aka a super duper special SNL episode), which they gamely performed twice, once for the East coast and once for the West coast. I saw them both and both were pretty equal in terms of quality. The "commercials" in the West coast were better, but some of the line delivery were better paced in the East coast. With that said, the whole thing was... interesting. It was always going to be a tough sell, but as a one-off experiment, I think everyone involve should be proud of themselves and I quite enjoyed the cameos from Cheyenne Jackson, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Matt Damon, Jon Hamm, and Rachel Dratch. I just hope they never ever do it again. You can see both versions on Hulu or

Community delivered one of its weaker episodes (which translates to still being a great episode relative to many other shows) especially when compared to last year's brilliant episode "Modern Warfare." And it's hard not to compare the two as both were non-subtlely paying homages to popular film genres. "Warfare" took on action films while "Basic Rocket Science" took on space films. The sum of its parts was actually fine, but when you get down to the parts (Annie wanting to transfer? Abed's subdued reaction to being left behind?) you see where the show could've done a better job.

On the other hand, Big Bang Theory, which I've more and more become frustrated with since there always seems to be a B-plot that I find not at all amusing (usually the non-Sheldon/Penny plots), was actually great last night. I usually cringe at Howard-centric episodes, but maybe it's because they wisely used their guest stars (Katee Sackhoff, George Takei, and Melissa Rauch), but the biggest laughs came from non-Sheldon moments, which frankly is refreshing. Not to say I didn't not like Sheldon-Koothrappali waging war at one another. In fact I also appreciated more screentime for Kunal Nayyar. Overall, very good episode.

Meanwhile in the drama front, it was a solid episode from both Grey's Anatomy and Fringe. Of course it's been too long since I've actually been excited over a Grey's Anatomy episode, but at the very least so far this season, I haven't hated anyone or anything outright which is progress. In fact I'm very much intrigue but what they are trying to do with Cristina. I'm also glad that I'm finally starting to get a handle on all of the characters again, their motivations and their behaviors. For so long, it seemed to me the writers just didn't really know what to do with their obviously talented cast.

Fringe continues to astound one episode after another. I am completely loving the alternating focus of the episodes from our world to the alternate world. Anna Torv continues to do a magnificent job portraying the two very different Olivias and I am not looking forward to the day when this plot line will end. The past two episodes have also just been great if we only focus on the plots. Last week we got an uber genius who was able to predict/manipulate impossible accidents while this week we get a shapeshifter! This show has just been on fire and I wished it was doing better in the ratings.

Speaking of ratings, yes, Fringe is not doing so great. It's not an outright failure especially considering the competition it has on that time-slot, but it's been a definite uphill climb. The same could be said about Community actually. Grey's Anatomy and Big Bang Theory are both usually in the ratings penthouse so no one needs to worry about their numbers. 30 Rock, while no blockbuster, is doing okay and in fact went way up due to the live show gimmick this week.

American 'Being Human' Cast Pic

A couple months ago, I talked about the then recent casting news of the three principal players to head up the American version of British genre show Being Human.

Well now we have our first picture of the three actors--Sam Huntington, Sam Witwer, and Meaghan Rath--on the set, seemingly dressed as their characters. Huntington is wearing scrubs as per his job while Rath is wearing a very similar outfit that her British counterpart wears. Witwer has the tight dark clothes down, but no fingerless gloves? A pity.

The American remake will premiere on SyFy sometime in January while the original British version will air its third season early next year.

Twilight & Batman Casting News

Someone give Lee Pace another TV show or a leading role in a movie worthy of him, because the poor boy is slumming it by being cast in the fourth Twilight film! Now I realize that actors need to work and this is a very successful series that is sure to make tons of money. But Twilight? Seriously? I guess it wouldn't be so bad if he didn't JUST star in two of 2010's most eye-rollingly awful movies, When in Rome and Marmaduke. I mean, really? Only a few years back he was nominated for an Emmy for his lead role as Ned on Pushing Daisies as well as getting raves for his leading performance in The Fall. He even showed off his singing chops against Amy Adams in the utterly delightful Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day.

Granted he's not the only one. Dakota Fanning, Golden Globe nominee Bryce Dallas Howard, and BAFTA-nominee Michael Sheen also couldn't resist the lure of Twilight. Plus Pace is not the only newcomer on board for the fourth film. A ton of people were recently cast including Maggie Grace (Lost), Mia Maestro (Alias), Rami Malek (The Pacific), and Joe Anderson (Across the Universe). So for all of their sake, I'm hoping the quality of the book (and thus the movie) goes up drastically from earlier ones. Doubtful, but after all, the film will also be directed by Academy Award winner Bill Condon. Then again the problem(s) for this series has never really been its direction.

In other casting news for a likelier better film, Tom Hardy has apparently been cast in the third Christopher Nolan-helmed untitled Batman film. First time I ever saw Hardy was this summer in Inception and was duly impressed so I'm glad he's getting this opportunity again to flex his stuff for a big audience. Of course now begins all of the guesswork as to which character he will actually play. Since I'm not really familiar with the extended list of characters in the Batman universe, I won't join in the conversation, but I trust Nolan. The choice will be inspired and hopefully a tad unexpected.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Wednesday TV Report

Who else was caught completely off-guard by the sudden somber turn that Cougar Town took last night?

I mean there we were going through the episode with the shows signature slapstick humor and suddenly things get real with Smith and Laurie breaking up. What hit the moment home was Busy Phillips crying and Courtney Cox (who weirdly enough announced her separation with her long-time husband a few days earlier) comforting her. It was a nice heartfelt moment in a show that usually goes wacky for most of its laughs. The first few episodes so far has shown that this show knows exactly what it is now, a kooky and hilarious ensemble show, and they're delivering it week after week.

The other half of ABC comedy power hour is of course Modern Family and it was yet another great episode. I had three favorite moments. The first is the meeting of the siblings at the gym where in the midst of Mitchell doing "troga" (treadmill + yoga) they decide to help each other with their respective problems with their partners. The second moment is the hilarious freak out by Alex during her final phone call with the "popular" girl from her class. Finally, the third moment was the touching and organic way the show sneaked in a Mitchell/Cam foamy kiss. The rest of the episode was also solid and the first few episodes have more or less confirmed why this show is one of the best comedies out there right now.

Even though it was preempted last night, just want to quickly give The Whole Truth a positive shout-out. It's a show I shouldn't find interesting, but week after week I tell myself I'll only see the first five minutes and before you know it I've seen the whole episode. Most of it I think has to do with Rob Morrow and Maura Tierney. Unfortunately I wish I was as thrilled with NBC's Undercovers as I am with the three shows I just wrote about. The two main leads are gorgeous and I do like their chemistry. I'm also warming up to the supporting players, but I just can't help thinking that I've seen this type of show already and it was done better (think Alias, Chuck, Covert Affairs). I like the overarching mystery of their secretive past as well as the "real" reason they were both activated, but I need more to keep me interested.

Now it's time to talk about ratings. Modern Family, like Glee, is a bonafide hit and will be a staple in the schedule for years to come. Cougar Town, probably helped by a great lead-in is also locked for renewal. The new shows, however, I'll be surprised if they survived the season. Both Undercovers and The Whole Truth are pretty much dead in the water with Undercovers in a slightly better position since NO SHOWS are doing well on NBC. But if you're a fan of either show, try not to get too attached.

Is that a phaser in your pocket?

Chris Pine, who played Captain Kirk in last year's hit Star Trek, appears on the cover of the November 2010 issue of Details magazine. Apparently he's taking Hollywood by storm. Frankly, who cares? He's so pretty. See more pictures from the upcoming issue here.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Tuesday TV Report

Last night's episode of Glee was probably the best episode of Glee I have seen and that's counting the Joss Whedon-directed Neil Patrick Harris episode which was my favorite episode last season. And I say, it's about damn time. As much as I liked the first episode of the season, the two follow-up episodes left a bad taste in my mouth with the obvious exceptions of Heather Morris' and Chris Colfer's tour de force performances as Brittany S. Pierce and Kurt Hummel respectively. But last night's episode really was a rare specimen in that I could find no fault in it whatsoever.

Let me list the reasons why I thought it was a great episode:

1. They managed to spread the wealth around giving all of the kids (save for the missing Puck) ample screentime to not only sing songs and actually speak with more than just one-liners, but to be able to flesh out their characters more.

2. The assignment for the week aka "duets" also enabled the show to mix and match a few characters who don't get much screentime together such as Artie/Brittany, Mercedes/Santana, Sam/Quinn, and in the end Rachel/Kurt.

3. The song performances were quite inspired, from the rousing rendition of "River Deep, Mountain High" from Santana/Mercedes to Kurt's fierce "Le Jazz Hot" number to Sam/Quinn's adorable take on "Lucky" as well as Rachel/Finn's hilariously inappropriate "Born Again" performance. There was also the fun Chorus Line number from Tina/Mike and the wonderful "Happy Days" from Rachel/Kurt.

4. Rachel was likable in this episode! Her super competitive nature worked in the first season, but her personality has more recently started to grate on me. She was finally given another dimension in this episode as she and Finn tried to let Sam win. Plus her touching and sincere scene with Kurt (as well as their final number) was a long time coming.

5. The adults were nowhere to be found. Okay so Will Shuester was there, but I think he may have said 3-4 lines tops (keep this up!). Of course, Sue Sylvester is brilliant and she was missed, but the choice to focus on the kids was great. More of this PLEASE.

6. They actually put some closure on the Kurt/Finn drama last season. I was one of the few that thought Finn was too harshly punished for what he did while Kurt got off scot-free. Glad Kurt was knocked down a peg or two regarding that and I thought they handled the whole thing quite well.

7. New kid Sam is a great addition. Great singing voice? Check. Lots of shirtless scenes? Check. Total dork who knows the N'avi language? Check. Yeah, he's a keeper.

8. This is related to #1 but seriously fleshing out the "minor" characters! We got to explore Brittany's feelings towards Santana and Artie (that solitary meatball nudge was so poignant). We got to see Tina/Mike date Asian-style (heh) as well as Artie realizing his feelings on that whole relationship. Plus Kurt feeling lonely, Quinn's resolve to do "whatever she wants," and so much more. Great stuff.

So I'll forgive them on that hot mess of a Britney episode and Finn praying to a grilled cheezus, because last night's episode was just so very excellent.

Right after that was Raising Hope and I'm still not exactly sure what I think about this show. I do know that I love love love Martha Plimpton and last night's episode pretty much focused on her character which probably made it my favorite episode to date. Don't get me wrong, the show is funny/quirky and the cast is great, but I'm just not 100% sold on it yet.

Two shows I haven't talked about AT ALL since they dared to premiere a week after the official premiere week are The Good Wife and No Ordinary Family. Now last season, I was completely taken by surprise when it came to The Good Wife. I thought it was going to be yet another one of those lawyer type shows, but I ended up checking it out because of great buzz/reviews and I loved it ever since. This season it's been more of the same with a little extra drama to spice up this usually cut-and-dried genre. Really enjoying the silent and not so silent rivalries going on (Florrick vs. Childs, Alicia vs. Cary, Will vs. Diane, Kalinda vs. Blake, Eli vs. the world). It's all just so good.

No Ordinary Family
is... okay. I mean that's pretty much the extent of what I feel about the show. I truly love Julie Benz and like Michael Chiklis and this was certainly one of the shows I was highly anticipating. It's fun, I guess, but I feel like they're not really taking advantage of this whole concept of a family with superpowers. I mean last night part of the storyline was Chiklis' character getting dance lessons. WHY? The kids also need to be developed a bit better and last night they tried to address this. I do like the overarching storyline of there being more of "them" out there and the mystery of exactly how they got their powers. But I want more from this series.

As for the ratings, Glee is a powerhouse delivering blockbuster-type of ratings equal to its hype and buzz. The rest are doing okay, but could be doing much MUCH better. No Ordinary Family started out strong, but has fallen a bit while The Good Wife will test CBS's mettle as the show is doing okay, but not pulling in the demo numbers worthy of this Emmy-winning show. Finally, Raising Hope just got a full season order and relative to other new shows, FOX should be just fine with its performance.

Mad Men Theme w/ Words

I love this "mash-up" of Mad Men's theme music with lyrics from Nat King Cole's "Nature Boy" though of course made popular (to me) by Moulin Rouge. I wonder what Don or Peggy would think of this song.

Looking Forward To...

Release: October 15, 2010
Distributor: Summit Entertainment
Director: Robert Schwentke
Starring: Helen Mirren, Morgan Freeman, Mary-Louise Parker, John Malkovich, Brian Cox, Ernest Borgnine, Julian McMahon, Karl Urban, Richard Dreyfuss, & Bruce Willis