Saturday, April 30, 2011

TV Report: 4/25-4/29

Insanely busy week + Being sick all week + Absolutely no time this morning = A very shorted TV Report even though there were SO MANY things I want to talk about. Oh well.

GLEE - Overall it was good, but a bit bloated. Was generally wary about the Santata/Karofsky pairing, but I love that the writer's get how similar their journeys are. Plus the Karofsky/Kurt conversation reassured me a bit. Jayma Mays was particular good in this episode as well and the songs were great.

COUGAR TOWN - Remembered enjoying it, but not much else. I know Bobby went to a golf tournament and he crashed out. Laurie tweeted and worked with Travis to beat Ellie/Grayson. Why don't I remember what Jules did in this episode?

HAPPY ENDINGS - The Wayans part of the story needed something more, but I did like the running gag of the father almost dying whenever his son said I love you. The whole "fluent in Italian while drunk" was well done and the whole Nerf gun plotline just made me want to go and get some.

COMMUNITY - Not as AMAHZING as last week's episode, but still pretty good and again Dean Pelton stole the show for me. I like the general resolution to the whole "Shelly is pregnant maybe with Chang's baby." Naming the baby after him was a nice touch. Britta for the win.

THE OFFICE - Oh was there an episode this week? I couldn't remember FROM ALL OF THE CRYING THAT I DID. Was it perfect? No. The whole Andy/Will Ferrell thing always pulled me out, but in terms of Steve Carrell's and Michael Scott's exit? It was almost perfect... and damn tearjerking. My one small complaint was the Pam situation. I totally expected her to already know Michael's plans to leave early and that was why she stayed away all day and he was going to be surprised to see her (with the baby) in the airport ready to say goodbye. Minor thing, but sir you will be missed.

PARKS & RECREATION - Perfect show is perfect. Putting Ben with Andy/April was a stroke of genius and while I hate waiting waiting waiting, I'm fine with what they are doing with Ben/Leslie. Slow burn, but I'm expecting FIREWORKS later, y'hear?

30 ROCK - By the time I got to this I was cried and laughed out so I probably didn't register the episode as it should. Tracy's back and recreates an inside joke, Liz has a fight with a plastic bag, and Elizabeth Banks is captured by North Korea thereby opening her up to do Hunger Games movie.

FRINGE - Perfect show is perfect. Yes, it was a setup episode, but such a good one with a HELL of an ending. I don't even know where they are going with this. Time travel? WHAT?! Every scene with Anna Torv and John Noble (especially together) were brilliant and while the whole "box/key/crowbar/destiny" thing was a bit rushed, I'll accept it.

Didn't have time to watch Grey's Anatomy and Supernatural this week.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Hugo Awards & BAFTA TV Nominations

Didn't awards season end when James Franco and Anne Hathaway sang "Over the Rainbow" with a bunch of kids a couple of months ago? Of course that's never the case since there's always awards for this thing and that. Just this week, nominations for the Hugo Awards and the BAFTA TV Awards were released and since I watch tons of sci-fi/fantasy and British TV shows, let's take a quick look!

Started in 1953 the Hugo Awards, according to their website, are given out annually to honor "excellence in the field of science fiction and fantasy." The categories (click here to see the complete list) range from best novels to best editor to best short story and to best fanzine, but I just want to highlight their picks on movies and TV episodes:

Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1
  • How to Train Your Dragon
  • Inception
  • Scott Pilgrim vs. the World
  • Toy Story 3

A damn good list if I do say so. Three of the five films made my own personal top 10 list (including my favorite film of the year) and the other two were also favorites of mine. I guess if I had to pick another film for them to consider I'd say Never Let Me Go. Also is Toy Story 3 really a "sci-fi/fantasy" film?

Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form
  • Doctor Who: “A Christmas Carol”
  • Doctor Who: “The Pandorica Opens/The Big Bang”
  • Doctor Who: “Vincent and the Doctor”
  • Fuck Me, Ray Bradbury
  • The Lost Thing

Now as much as I love Doctor Who (and its episodes that have nominated), this is ridiculous. There really should be a rule of one nomination per show especially in a year that has given us Misfits, Being Human, and Fringe. With this said, I'm rooting for "Vincent and the Doctor." A beautiful piece of writing that episode was.

And speaking of Doctor Who, let's segue to the BAFTA TV Awards which is just like the normal BAFTAs except for TV. That was pretty straightforward wasn't it?

Drama Series
  • Being Human
  • Downton Abbey
  • Misfits
  • Sherlock

It's astonishing that I have seen every single show nominated in this category and truthfully I love them all. If I had to absolutely pick a favorite, it'd be Being Human for an excruciatingly heart-wrenching and mind-blowing season. But the rest? Highly recommended. I am shocked that Doctor Who wasn't nominated, but then again...

Leading Actor
  • Jim Broadbent, Any Human Heart
  • Benedict Cumberbatch, Sherlock
  • Daniel Rigby, Eric and Ernie
  • Matt Smith, Doctor Who

Matt Smith becomes the first actor to play the Doctor to be nominated for a BAFTA TV Award! When I heard this, I was shocked seeing as how the show is SUCH a cultural institution in Britain. Still, huge honor for Matt who is winning people left and right. Only other performance I've seen is that of Benedict Cumberbatch and he, too, is brilliant. Both actors, BTW, playing characters written by Steven Moffat.

Female Performance in a Comedy Role
  • Jo Brand, Getting On
  • Dawn French, Roger and Val Have Just Got In
  • Miranda Hart, Miranda
  • Katherine Parkinson, The IT Crowd

I recognized most of these names, but really it's all about Miranda Hart who is a hoot in her show that I, along with everyone it seems like, discovered this year.

Supporting Actor
  • Brendan Coyle, Downton Abbey
  • Martin Freeman, Sherlock
  • Johnny Harris, This Is England ’86
  • Robert Sheehan, Misfits

Other that Johnny Harris, I've seen all of the other performances and no complaints from me. Sheehan IS the show-stealer in his show, but my vote would've gone to castmate Iwan Rheon especially playing his dual role this season. Freeman was perfect as Watson and his chemistry with Cumberbatch was brilliant. Finally, Coyle played one of my favorite characters. I'm just shocked he managed to get picked out from such a huge ensemble.

Supporting Actress
  • Gillian Anderson, Any Human Heart
  • Lynda Baron, The Road to Coronation Street
  • Lauren Socha, Misfits
  • Jessie Wallace, The Road to Coronation Street

Nothing to say except to congratulate Lauren, because she's awesome. But no Karen Gillan or Lenora Crichlow? Or would they go to lead? Even then, they weren't nominated there either!

  • Boardwalk Empire
  • Glee
  • The Killing
  • Mad Men

Don't really have much to add except to say "oh okay." I'd probably have more to contribute if I actually knew what shows were in the running.

As you can tell, I didn't include every category, since as much British TV I do watch, I don't watch them all and most categories I'm actually clueless about. But if you want to see the complete list of nominations, click here.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Looking Forward To...

Release: May 6, 2011
Distributor: Paramount
Director: Kenneth Branagh
Starring: Anthony Hopkins, Idris Elba, Ray Stevenson, Chris Hemsworth, Kat Dennings, Rene Russo, Stellan Skarsgard, Tom Hiddleston, Clark Gregg, Colm Feore, Adriana Barraza, and Natalie Portman

Must See: The Normal Heart

This past Saturday, I saw The Normal Heart, one of the most powerful and important plays I have ever seen on Broadway. When I first heard about the play, the only things I knew about it were that it dealt with the AIDS crisis in New York City back in the early 80s and that a few of my favorite actors have been cast. Seeing Larry Kramer's play in person though was really an unforgettable experience. Let's just say that if you do end up seeing this, and I highly recommend that you do, bring lots of tissues.

Joe Mantello plays the main character Ned Weeks. I knew nothing about the actor before this play and he simply blew me away. Ellen Barkin plays the doctor that convinces Ned to take action by informing the gay community about this new disease killing everyone. While Barkin was solid, I felt she overacted a lot of her scenes, which actually worked out well in the second act as her frustrations and anger become much more palpable and justified.

Lee Pace, Jim Parsons, and Patrick Breen play Ned's associates who help him form an organization to take lead in this battle. Their disagreements with one another and especially with Ned's aggressive way of dealing with others form the backbone of the play.

Pace looks ridiculously handsome even with his 80s porntache and he and Mantello get a few great scenes to duke it out while Parsons' is left with the bulk of the play's comic relief referring himself as the "Southern Bitch" and flirting with most of the cast. It really is a sight to behold. Breen gets the least flashy role, but one of the best monologues/scenes in the play when he breaks down in front of his friends after being fed up by this seemingly hopeless fight. It is one of the many times I was openly sobbing. Luke McFarlane plays two bit roles, but it looks like he had a great time for his Broadway debut.

Finally we have Mark Harelik who plays Ned's brother and John Benjamin Hickey who play's Ned's lover. The relationships they both have with Ned are important parts to the play as wells as to Ned's formation as a character. While Harelik seemed a bit too reserved for my liking, Hickey was phenomenally open making most of his scenes all the more heart-wrenching and real.

So in summary, go see this play. It is not only beautiful and heartbreaking, but it is also an important part of gay history. It is only running for a limited 12-week run, but I hope it stays on longer even with a different cast, because I truly believe that everyone should see (or read) this play at least once.

Read a similarly positive review over at

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

TV Report: 4/18 - 4/22

Still trying to get over being sick the past few days, but nothing like posting about TV to give me much needed energy and as I said already last week was pretty good, especially the sitcoms.

HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER - You knew it was going to be a good night when they changed up the opening theme to feature the cast as a real-life band. It was one of Barney's lies that he told his father even though we find out in the end that the older man also had a few tricks up his sleeves. I really find the chemistry between NPH and John Lithgow quite lovely and I do hope we get more. The rest of the episode was also enjoyable as the gang tries to live up to Barney's lies about them. Two more things (1) Michael Trucco! and (2) that opening "Who's on First" dialogue about NYC club should automatically be nominated for an Emmy or something. Just brilliant.

GLEE - I found this episode such a chore to get through. Sue is at her cartoonish worse while Will is his usual douchey self (audacity to call Brittany stupid right after he posted a math formula that was clearly wrong). Plus as much as I like Gwyneth, she never really gelled with Will as much as she did with the kids so suffice to say I'm glad she's gone for a bit. The songs were mostly forgettable even though kudos to Mike Chang for his awesome moves. And speaking of, how about Santana defending Kurt/Blaine by fighting off Karofsky. I have high hopes when it comes to this particular convergence of gay storylines. I fear Glee is going to massively mess it up.

MODERN FAMILY - Definitely one of the better episodes of the season as the whole cast was able to be featured and be funny with all the storylines working together. My favorite part has got to be Gloria being over-the-top excited at the possible demise of Cam/Mitchell just so she can take care of baby Lily. Some nice developments on the kids as well as Haley/Alex bond as sisters, Luke shows that he's resilient, and Manny learns to take physical risks.

COUGAR TOWN - I'm so happy this show is back and ABC too since it aired TWO episodes, one on Monday and another in in regular Wednesday time-slot. The first episode dealt with Jules penchant to be overly clingy to Travis so when she discovers that her son is possibly thinking about proposing to his girlfriend, well hilarity ensues. Also the episode contained lots and lots of Penny Can plus the debut of the No-No dance! The second episode was a bit more subdued as Laurie and Jules realize that they've grown somewhat (not totally though!). Overall, just glad to have this show back.

HAPPY ENDINGS - I still find this show absolutely riotous, but I'm trying not to get too attached since its ratings say it'll get canceled. With that said, I plan on enjoying it until it does. And if you asked me a couple months ago whether I would love a mid-season sitcom that starred Elisha Cuthbert over sitcoms that starred Matthew Perry and Allison Janney (Mr. Sunshine) or Sarah Chalke and Judy Greer (Mad Love), I'd have called you crazy. I mean really now a coming out story that felt original in the same episode as an actually funny Hitler/Nazi plot. Not a lot of shows can do that. Also yay for the 24 shout out!

COMMUNITY - I think this episode will be one of the ones people will remember and cherish about this season along with possibly the paintball-inspired finale, the bottle episode, and the claymation Christmas episode. Skewering the tired clip-show episode that was so famous a decade or two ago by shooting many new scenes that supposedly happened throughout the year was genius. It's definitely their most ambitious episode yet as they really had to think about structure and content like never before and the cast and writers did a phenomenal job putting it all together.

THE OFFICE - After this, Steve Carrell only has one episode left. So it's only fitting that his penultimate episode revolved around The Dundies which Michael Scott loves so much. While there were some good moments though, I felt they missed a few beats here and there and Dwight's feeling of betrayal seemed under-developed. I'm sure it'll factor into the next episode though. But with all of that said, who could've stopped from tearing up as the whole office (minus Dwight and Toby obviously) serenaded Michael with their own version of Rent's Season of Love. Wished this moment was built up better in the last two episodes, but it was nice nonetheless.

PARKS & RECREATION - What was NOT to love about this episode? First of all, it was a great episode for Aziz Ansari as we see the height of Tom's doucheyness AND charms. He made me laugh every time he opened his mouth. The burger cook-off between Ron and Chris was predictable, but it was still nice to see the mentor/mentee relationship of Chris/Andy and Ron/April. But finally the reason I'm loving the show right now... BEN/LESLIE. Her asking him out then him awkwardly saying no then her finding out that Chris forbade interoffice relations and then finally that moment when they're eating in front of the field mural they both love? SOULMATES. I can't take it anymore.

30 ROCK - Their 100th episode was probably half an hour too long, but it was still pretty okay. About 25% of the show relied on old clips and with Community skewering the genre only a couple hours before made this show look positively antiquated and out of touch. Michael Keaton's appearance was more a distraction than a plus. But there were still things I liked such as the multiple versions of Jack, anything done by Jane Krakowski and her "hysterical pregnancy," and even a few of Tracy's antics were fun.

SUPERNATURAL - Why isn't this show more Castiel-centric? Every little glimpse we get of the war in heaven is far more interesting than the current happenings with the brothers. I mean I think Rachel's death at the hands of Castiel would've been much more powerful if we actually SEE how it led to that point. But no, let's see the brothers dressed up as hot cowboys, kissing with prostitues, and conversing with Samuel Colt instead. I mean, yes, this was fun, but I miss when this show actually had a sense of urgency.

FRINGE - Another brilliant episode where we see what's happening in both universes. When they do this, it's much easier to see how amazing John Noble and Anna Torv have been this season. We see how completely different their characters are and the way those characters interact with one another. Just think about the beginning scene with a naked Walter shocking Olivia and then compare that to any scene with Fauxlivia/Walternate filled with tension and malice. Other than that, this episode felt a bit like a setup episode to the thrilling last few episodes. Our world seems to be undergoing apocalyptic changes, Sam Weiss makes his comeback, Peter is in a coma due to the machine, and Fauxlivia is being held captive. I CANNOT WAIT to see how this season ends. I'm sure it'll be glorious nonetheless.

Monday, April 25, 2011

How I'm Feeling At the Moment...

For the most part, last week's TV offerings ranged from good to great with only 1-2 exceptions and this past weekend I celebrated my half-birthday with some good friends, a phenomenal Broadway show, and the Doctor Who S6 premiere. But right now I'm feeling under the weather like Mal did in the Firefly episode "Out of Gas" so my posts on those will be delayed.

And okay, probably not exactly like Mal. He was impaled and trying to survive with very little oxygen. I am simply bedridden with a terrible cold. Tomato, to-mah-to.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Doctor Who Premiere Pre-Review

"Amazing. Epic. Beautiful. Heartbreaking. Just OMG."

The above was my immediate reaction (i.e. what I tweeted) after watching the first two episodes of the new season of Doctor Who a couple of weeks ago at an advance screening. With the premiere just a few hours away, I just want to unwrap my feelings a bit more in a brief, non-spoilery way...

Amazing. After the months of waiting, Moffat and company didn't hold back in creating another stellar set of episodes that really evoked every kind of emotion. But since it's Moffat FEAR is the main emotion and let me tell you, the main bad guys in this two-parter make the Weeping Angels look cuddly by comparison. In other news though, Matt Smith as the Doctor has never been better and the rest of the cast are all doing impressive work.

Epic. The Doctor is in America and President Nixon is involved in the plot! PLus there's something about an astronaut and a little girl and a cool trick the TARDIS can do that we didn't know before. And there's also the moon landing, a mysterious invitation, a stupid face, an impenetrable prison, a familiar but ominous place, and OMG don't look behind you. And just in case I didn't mention it... the Doctor is in America!

Beautiful. Speaking of shooting in America, they really took advantage of the grand Utah landscape. And while that was expectantly gorgeous, allow me to take a moment to comment on the attractiveness of this cast. Just... yeah.

Heartbreaking. Expect plenty of moments that will make you supremely depressed as the characters are forced to sort of take stock their personal situations. River and Rory actually do the heavy lifting in the "heart" department in these two episodes which filled me with much glee even as much as I love the main duo of Eleven and Amy. What can I say? I'm a sucker for under-appreciated characters. But basically, if you weren't big fans of River or Rory before then get ready to change your mind.

Just OMG. The story never loses momentum, and additionally the cliffhangers to end both episodes will leave fans screaming at their TV screen. I was lucky to see the second episode right after the first, but the bombshell that is revealed at the end of the second episode will render you catatonic. I'm still reeling to be honest. And this doesn't even include the deaths in these two episodes. Yes, deaths. More than one. Wait, what?

So there you go. I think the best way for me to tell you how much I loved these episodes is to express my sincere excitement to see them again with everyone else. With that said, if you haven't seen Doctor Who before I would urge you to at least watch last season first before diving into this one. But if you already have, then tune in to BBC America at 9PM EST and enjoy the ride. Based on these first two episodes, this season is going to be absolutely delightful and torturous in the best way possible.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

The 2011 Time 100

The 2011 Time 100 list is officially out and as expected, it's full of politicians, activists, newsmakers, and artists. Since I talk about TV and movies a lot, let's quickly take a look at those TV/movie people who made the list this year and briefly talk about why they were chosen.

It's obvious why Oscar winner Colin Firth made the shortlist as he reaped awards and rave reviews for his portrayal of King George IV in the Best Picture winner The King's Speech. What's more interesting to note is that his presumably more popular fellow Oscar winners Natalie Portman and Christian Bale didn't make the list. My guess? Everyone loves Firth, probably even the Queen herself while not the same could be said about the other two. So then we get to Mark Wahlberg who seems out of place in a list like this, but many forget that not only is he an actor, but he is also an accomplished producer. In fact he was recently Oscar nominated as part of the producing team of The Fighter when it was nominated for Best Picture. Matt Damon is also on the list, but less about his work as an actor and more about his partnership with Gary White to create The last film person on the list is newcomer Mia Wasikowska who starred in one of the biggest film's last year (Alice in Wonderland) as well as one of the best film's last year (The Kids Are All Right). I don't particularly disagree with this choice, but I wonder why she was chosen over Hailee Steinfeld, Jennifer Lawrence, and Emma Stone who all made a far biggest splash last year.

In the TV side of things, Oprah Winfrey is of course on the list and it's pretty much a no-brainer seeing as her show is ending AND she is already one of the biggest names not only in TV, but in the world in general. There's also Amy Poehler who is absolutely delightful in Parks & Recreation, probably the best sitcom out right now and since I watch way too much TV, that's actually saying something. And though she's appeared in this list before, why not include Poehler's one-time SNL cast mate Tina Fey who just released a bestseller book as well as receive the Mark Twain Prize for Humor only a few months ago? Breakout teen star and Golden Globe winner Chris Colfer is another person on the list and you know what I'm so very happy for him. His show, or even his character Kurt, may not be everyone's cup of tea, but Chris as a young and proud gay actor playing a young and proud gay character on TV is an inspiration to many especially in light of the increasing spotlight on gay teen suicides and bullying. Finally, we have Blake Lively, star of Gossip Girl and this summer's Green Lantern. I have no idea why she is on this list. I could probably name a dozen or more young actors and actresses deserving of a spot on this list. Someone please explain this choice for me.

Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner, Pixar grandmaster John Lasseter, superstar producer Scott Rudin, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings, and PBS Masterpiece producer Rebecca Eaton round out the list of TV/movie industry folk.

Finally, since I also talk about tennis from time to time, I want to give a shout out to 4-time Grand Slam champion Kim Clijsters who also makes the list. While I personally think someone like Rafael Nadal (achieved career Grand Slam last year) or even Novak Djokovic (undefeated so far this year) would've made a better choice, I can't complain about her inclusion especially from all of what she's achieved since she came back to the game.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Looking Forward To...

Water for Elephants
Release: April 22, 2011
Distributor: Fox
Director: Francis Lawrence
Starring: Reese Witherspoon, Hal Holbrook, Christoph Waltz, James Frain, Paul Schneider, and Robert Pattinson

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Link Roundup

Attempting to do my first link roundup. It's these people's fault really since they post some quality stuff and I need to find a way to share them with you all. Of course, there's some sad news as well towards the bottom.

Rob Will Review Rob eloquently writes a non-spoilery essay on why you should be watching Fringe. It's what I've been telling everyone, except coherent and well-written.

Encore Entertainment Andrew fondly revisits the scrumptious Pushing Daisies' pilot. I miss that show more every day.

Flix Chatter Ruth lists her 15 favorite period drama heroes and asks her reader to vote for their favorite. I surprised myself when I realized I hadn't seen most of these. I chose Mr. Darcy by the way.

Entertainment Weekly recaps the first episode of Game of Thrones and for someone who has had no prior knowledge of the great world that George R.R. Martin created, this was both informative and funny.

Edgar Wright posts a video of how his film Shaun of the Dead would look like in the style of his other film Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. As a fan of both films, I saw this about ten times.

Peter Jackson shares the first videoblog on the set of The Hobbit. It's long, but I was flailing the whole time. I can't wait!

Hide Your Arms has compiled a list of more than 100 Doctor Who T-shirts. The fact that I don't own a single Doctor Who shirt should be grounds for immediate expulsion from fandom. Sigh.

Speaking of Doctor Who, some sad news today as Elisabeth Sladen passed away due to her until-now secret battle with cancer. Lis played Sarah Jane, one of the Doctor's treasured companions, and she did so for a long time spanning decades. She was so beloved that she went on to lead a successful children show spin-off The Sarah Jane Adventures. She will truly be missed.

- The official Doctor Who page pays Lis Slader a lovely tribute
- Maureen Ryan over at TV Squad compiles some reactions to Lis' death
- Finally, io9 looks at the legacy that Lis leaves behind

Monday, April 18, 2011

Birthday Boy: David Tennant

A little late in the day, but just wanted to wish David Tennant a happy 40th birthday. He's done quite a few roles from Barty Crouch in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire to Hamlet. Of course his greatest role is probably his most popular and that is playing the Tenth Doctor in Doctor Who. He left the role very early last year and was replaced by Matt Smith. The second season of Smith's Doctor starts up again this weekend.

Tennant for his part kept himself busy post-Doctor Who. He did a pilot for an NBC show that was unfortunately not picked up and played the lead in the British mini-series Single Father. Speaking of, he did become a first-time father only a few weeks ago when he and girlfriend Georgia Moffett welcome to the world a beautiful girl they named Olive.

Next up for him will be a West End stint with former Doctor Who castmate Catherine Tate in Much Ado About Nothing. He is also rumored to be involved in The Hobbit.

TV Report: 4/11-4/15

Some thoughts on last week's TV offerings. It's been awhile since we got more than a handful of shows to talk about and it's clear than most of the shows are gearing up for an incredible May sweeps period.

HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER - Not sure what to think about this episode. Definitely a bit of a mixed bag that felt like a filler episode. The whole meatball sub plot could've been good if it really was about Barney sublimating his feelings regarding his dad, but they undercut that with the "10 years later" tag which was a bit unnecessary. Hopefully this is the last time we get a Marshall-job-conflict story since they aren't that interesting and there's not much to say about the inevitably doomed relationship between Zoe/Ted.

CASTLE - The takeaway from this episode, like a lot of episodes this season, is how clearly infatuated both Beckett and Castle are with one another. Neither one is even being subtle about it anymore as Beckett was clearly using Castle' mentee Conrad to make him jealous. For his part, Castle's no-nonsense admittance that he was jealous forced Beckett to declare herself as a "one-writer girl." Sweet.

THE GOOD WIFE - The whole Hugo Chavez/Fred Thompson part of the episode was just so tonally different from the usual that it felt like I was watching a completely different (lesser quality) show. Alan Cumming, with his scenes with both Julianna Marguilies and America Ferrera, rescued the episode as well as Alicia finding out about Peter's affair with Kalinda. I'm both excited and afraid of what the next episode has to bring.

MODERN FAMILY - Hilarious joke on the car ad and everything about that particular storyline. I especially loved Phil's phone call with a potential client. But other than that and the punchline of "We Love the F Word" at the end of the play, the episode was a tad flat. Although now that I remember, I also loved Luke's half-boy, half-dinosaur character.

HAPPY ENDINGS - Shocker of all shockers: I really liked the first two episodes of this show. Granted, it'll probably get cancelled, but for now I'm in. Love how the characters all talk like my friends and I and the gay guy is not the typical gay guy you see on shows. The pilot was a bit scattered and rushed, but it's definitely in a better footing than other recent sitcom debuts (Mr. Sunshine, Mad Love, etc.).

COMMUNITY - This is a bit of a low-key episode for the series since there were no episode-wide homage nor any experimental type of narration. Instead it was just the gang taking some electives and the hilarity that ensues. Not goor or bad per se, but just nothing too worthy to talk about.

THE OFFICE - The cold open with Carrell and Ferrell doing their almost ad-libbed scene was good as was the Erin-phone-call stand-off that actually had me at stitches, but at this point it's all about saying goodbye to Michael Scott and we're slowly getting there.

PARKS & RECREATION - Sigh. Beautiful episode is beautiful. I can't picture a more perfect way Andy/April to get married. They literally did it their own way and it was fabulous. I also greatly enjoyed all of the Ben/Leslie stuff. I've resigned myself to the fact that Ben/Leslie WILL be the death of me. More awesome things: Rob Lowe breaking it down and the burgeoning Anne/Donna friendship. Yes, please!

FRINGE - Where to begin? How about FRINGECEPTION in which the show went into Olivia's mind to rescue her. The scenes in her head, especially the animated ones, were inspired. But really the best part has got to be Joshua Jackson and Lance Reddick's acting as if they were on LSD. THIS SHOW IS ON FIRE and everything it does is golden. No doubt the last episodes this season is going to blow everything else away.

SUPERNATURAL - A better episode compared to a lot of what they've offered this season. Probably one of its best actually. It was a hoot seeing the alternative reality of a world where the Titanic didn't sink (though I think Celine would still be a big deal without the song). Seeing Jo alive and what it meant broke my heart a bit as was the revelation that Castiel pretty much orchestrated this whole thing as a desperate act to win the still unseen War in Heaven.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Birthday Girl: Anna Torv

Let's get this out of the way first. Fringe is one of the best TV shows on the air right now. Not only does it consistently challenge our notions of family, identity, and humanity but it's also a ridiculously thrilling piece of science fiction complete with alternate universes, doubles, and seemingly omniscient beings. And in the center of this wonderful show is Anna Torv who celebrates her birthday today, the same day Fringe comes back after a brief hiatus.

One of my favorite developments this season, and even in the latter parts of last season, was the show giving Anna Torv more challenging roles and storylines to tackle. The general fandom and even some critics were down on her when the show debut, with her character seemingly stuck in the rote role of "tough but reserve FBI agent" which wasn't exactly sexy or flashy especially when comparing to Peter's mysterious past or Walter's eccentricities. Now, most agree that she has been the MVP of the main cast even over the consistently effective work of John Noble.

But it's no susprised because this season Anna Torv have had to juggle an insane amount of characters and doing so quite proficiently. As the Olivia from the other universe (Faulivia), she had to be less reserved, but the genius of it all wasn't fully realized until Fauxlivia had to pretend to be Olivia at the same time that Olivia had to take on Fauxlivia's role. Confusing? Probably, but on screen not at all and most of that was due to Torv's mastery of the subtle differences between these two Olivia characters. Even after that whole riveting storyline ended, the emotions she was asked to play once Olivia figured it all out (her reaction to Fauxlivia sleeping with Peter being the most salient) was moving and heartbreaking.

And even with the last new episode that aired a few weeks ago, Torv was asked to play another character as an old man had taken possession of her body and she was fantastic. With the show miraculously renewed for a third season, I know the network is probably going to be cutting their budget. How about they just cast Anna Torv to play every single character? I'd watch it. But you, you should watch the show which airs Fridays at 9PM. Do it tonight to celebrate Torv's birthday!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Tale as old as time...

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.

This week's film is the Disney classic Beauty & the Beast which will be celebrating its 20th anniversary later this year. I must have seen this film dozens of times when I was younger which was quite evident when I was re-watching the film today and I was mouthing every single dialogue and song lyric as they happened. Sadly, it has been awhile since I last saw the film and so I felt I needed to watch it again in order to make a more informed decision regarding my "best shot." That backfired.

From the moment the film opened with those exquisitely beautiful stained glass windows explaining the Beast's backstory, it was like I was a little boy again. I then proceeded to yell "Bonjour!" during the first song, to cower the first time we see the Beast, to sing-along at "Be Our Guest," to swoon at the majestic ballroom dance sequence, to hold my breath as Belle declares her love to her dying prince... and then before I knew it, the film was over and I honestly forgot to pick a "best shot." And really with a film as visually decadent as this, it's not a surprise that I can't pick one scene, because they're all good.

So I'm going to just go with the obvious and pick a scene from that ballroom sequence:

For me, this scene/shot is all about the grand windows and the unbelievably clear and starry night acting as the backdrop to one of the best scenes in all of cinema. And really I have nothing else to add, because look at that shot again. Just breathtaking.

Looking Forward To...

The Conspirator
Release: April 15, 2011
Distributor: Roadside Attractions
Director: Robert Redford
Starring: James McAvoy, Robin Wright, Alexbis Bledel, Justin Long, Evan Rachel Wood, Norman Reedus, Kevin Kline, Tom Wilkinson, Danny Huston, Jonathan Groff, Johnny Simmons, Stephen Root, and James Badge Dale

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Doctor Who in New York City

There are 11 days until the Eleventh Doctor makes his reappearance on TV with the premiere of Doctor Who slated to air both in Britain and in the United States on April 23rd. A few hundred fans though were treated to an advanced screening of the first two episodes of the new season and get to see the cast yesterday in New York City. I was one of those very lucky fans.

I heard about the screening a week before and I was determined to go. For a second, I thought I could leave work early and still have enough time, but I saw online that the demand was fierce and so I decided to take a personal day to get in line early. By the time I got there at 8am Monday morning, the line already contained 325+ people with some getting in line as early as 4pm the day before. This is even crazier when you think about how the screening wasn't set to begin until 7pm, 11 hours after I got there. Thankfully, my friends and I were prepared with food, drinks, books, chairs, and blankets to help us last through the wait. It was also great seeing like-minded geeks totally, well, geek out from drawing Daleks on the wall to dressing up as Amy or the Doctor. The weather also helped. It was cloudy/chilly in the morning, but by the time it was afternoon the clouds opened up and the temperatures reached summer-levels of awesomeness.

The only minor exciting thing that happened during the wait was the cast giving us donuts, but only the lucky few people in the front got to see them. The rest of us still got donuts. At 3pm, we were given wristbands to confirm we were most definitely going to be seeing the screening. Unfortunately, we didn't get to go to the main theater where the cast would be, but we were just happy to be able to watch at all. The demand was so great though that they had to provide two more overflow theater to handle it all and still had to turn people away. From unofficial reports, about 700-800 people were able to see the screening. By around 5pm, it was clear everyone was getting antsier as we were slowly told to gather up our things and get into a more condensed line. The cast (Matt Smith, Karen Gillan, Arthur Darvill, and Alex Kingston) as well as writer Steven Moffat got there around 6pm dressed to the nines and riding in a blue convertible. By 6:30pm, we were all slowly herded in. They gave us complimentary Doctor Who hats as we entered our theater. My friends and I grabbed the front row with a great view of the screen. What then followed was two and a half hours of PURE AWESOMENESS.

I'll probably do another post with my NON-SPOILERY review of the first two episodes but suffice it to say, they promised epic and they delivered epic. The cliffhanger to end the first episode was brutal and I feel for everyone forced to wait a week to see the second episode.

The screening was then followed by a panel hosted by Chris Hardwick containing the producers, the director, Moffat, and the cast. Most of the questions were actually directed at Moffat who was the MVP of the panel as he showed off his brilliance and sense of humor with every answer and joke. The takeaway though was his absolute delight at the thought of how much pain and torment the fans will go through this season as well as his request to keep SPOILERS at bay. With both Karen and Matt a bit under the water, Arthur Darvill actually fielded a good chunk of the questions. In fact what I noticed last night was how everyone can't seem to get enough of him and his character, Rory. For example, his name on the credits prompted the biggest applause from the audience. Still, the whole thing was just pure excellence, give or take 1-2 awful fan questions that were probably inevitable. Then, we were told to leave.

Of course this meant all of us pretty much waiting outside the theater for one last glimpse of the cast. I was able to take a few snapshots of Matt, Alex, and Arthur. And then it was all over. My friends and I shared a few minutes together as we both went home and couldn't stop talking about the experience and the episodes. It was a great, great day and I really just can't wait to watch those episodes again and the new ones to come very soon.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

TV Report: 4/4-4/8

So weird to only have three shows to watch this past week, but there it is. And I realize that most of my regular shows really only have a handful of episodes left until they go on summer hiatus so I guess time to get excited/savor these last few!

CASTLE - I actually hated the promos for this episode focusing on the silliness that is the Pizza Wars, but within the episode it worked well and by the third and fourth confusion of who all the Nick's were (Authentic Famous Amazing) I just went with it and laughed. That whole thing, of course, was a front to the bigger crime that was drug trading and murder which weaved quite deliciously into the story. By the end though all I wanted was a pizza. I do have to say the whole Alexis storyline didn't quite work for me, but they really have been putting Castle into moments where he pretty much treats Beckett as his "better half" when it comes to Alexis. Very subtle, guys.

THE GOOD WIFE - First things first, that talking lion scene was absolutely brilliant. I was dying from laughter. Like most episodes of this great show, many things happened. We get Julianna Marguilies going up against Michael J. Fox again which is always a blast. We also get Cary finding out about Kalinda/Peter which broke my heart, but that really only leaves one more person to find out (Alicia). I'm not looking forward to that at all. Then there's Alan Cumming and his absolute magnificense as Eli Gold. Once this election ends, I hope we don't see less of him. He just makes every scene/episode better.

BIG BANG THEORY - That was a pretty epic episode, wasn't it? I've said in the past that BBT, especially this season, has worked best when they take advantage of its ensemble and not just rely on Sheldon for most of the jokes. They did this in this episode as the group spread the gossip of Bernadette wanting to break up with Howard amongst themselves which also led Amy/Sheldon to do their own hilarious gossip experiment that they've consummated their relationship. Then to end the episode with Howard proposing to Bernadette and her accepting was just... unexpected and yet somehow perfect. I've criticized this show before for not really make leaps in story/development, but this... this is big. Let's see how they handle it next time.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Tennis: Post-Australian Open Storylines

The early part of the tennis calendar has come and gone and now everyone is gearing up for red clay season leading up to the second Grand Slam tournament at Roland Garros in a couple of months. But before that happens, let's touch on a few storylines that happened post-Australian Open.

Novak Djokovic's Undefeated Run

Fresh off winning his second slam title at Melbourne, Novak Djokovic went on to win all three events he entered (Dubai, Indian Wells, and Miami) compiling a 24-0 record, one of the best starts in tennis. Even more spectacular, he went 4-0 in matches with Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer and took over the #2 ranking of the latter. If he can keep this up on the red surface, he'll be a force to be reckoned with all year.

Not All Doom and Gloom for Nadal and Federer

Yes, between the two of them they've only won 1 title for the year, but people writing their obituaries are shortsighted. Nadal is still the #1 player in the world holding THREE slam titles. He reached the finals at both Masters tournament which is great for him and his favorite part of the season is still ahead. He is well poised to steal Djokovic's thunder in the next few months. As for Federer, people forget that the LAST person to defeat Djokovic was the Swiss at the tail-end of last year. And while he's no longer the "best player" out there, he has only been defeated by either Djokovic or Nadal this year. Both combined have 27 major titles. They are proven champions. Don't count them out. Ever. That Fed-Nadal match though in Miami? Let's just forget that happened.

What's Happening in the Women's Game?

Good question. With Justine Henin gone and Serena/Venus in the injured list, the WTA has been lacking its stars. Yes, Kim Clijsters claimed the Australian Open and even claimed the #1 ranking for a week, but lack of play and injuries are not letting her dominate the field as many expected her to. World no. #1 Caroline Wozniacki plays a lot and won in Dubai and Indian Wells so her ranking is secure, but respect that comes from slam wins still isn't there. Maria Sharapova did well to reach the finals at Miami and re-enter the top 10, but she lost to Victoria Azarenka who claimed her 2nd Miami title. The Serbians (Jelena Jankovic and Ana Ivanovic) are still in play, but just aren't winning enough matches and with clay season everyone should watch out for defending French Open champion Francescha Schiavone even though she hasn't done much since then.

Losing Australian Open Finalists Still Losing

What the hell happened to Andy Murray and Li Na? Yes, they both lost at their chance to win their first Grand Slam title a couple months back, but the fact that neither player have won ONE SINGLE match since then is inexcusable. In Li's defense, some of her matches were actually quite close and competitive and most of her opponents were ranked within the top 40. Murray's last two losses however were in straight sets from guys outside the top 100. Just... wow.

Americans Keep Falling Behind

As noted above, injuries have forced the Williams sisters out of the game for now and their rankings are falling. Serena (ranked #10) is the lone top ten American in either the men or women's tour and Venus is #15. Bethanie Mattek-Sands is the next best American woman at #41. For the men, Mardy Fish is the highest ranked at #11. Let that sink in. I mean, that's all you really need to know about the state of American tennis. Once top-ranked Andy Roddick is now at #14 while Sam Querrey and John Isner are next up, both top 30. Relative to other countries, this collection and rankings aren't THAT bad, but Americans and especially its media certainly have higher expectations.

And A Few More Storylines...

Buoyed by his SF showing at Indian Wells and win against 4th seed Robin Soderling in Miami, Juan Martin Del Potro seems to be on his way back... Mediocre results in Indian Wells and Miami for Milos Raonic, but he went on a tear post-Australian boosting his rankings and giving many a new player to watch... Nine of the top 10 singles players played doubles at Indian Wells and team Federer/Wawrinka made it into the finals after beating Nadal/Lopez... Once again the tennis community came together to raise money for disaster relief, this time for the victims of the Japan earthquake/tsunami... And finally, so long, farewell to Mario Ancic who officially retired from professional tennis at the age of 26.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Looking Forward To...

Meek's Cutoff
Release: April 8, 2011
Distributor: Oscilloscope Pictures
Director: Kelly Reichardt
Starring: Paul Dano, Zoe Kazan, Bruce Greenwood, Will Patton, Shirley Henderson, and Michelle Williams

Monday, April 4, 2011

Cross-Dressing Streep Celebrates Alma Mater

Vassar College's most popular alumni dressed up as the college's eponymous founder Matthew Vassar for the cover of a very special Sesquicentennial Issue of the Vassar Quarterly.

Meryl Streep, class of 1971, recreates the painting "Matthew Vassar, 1861," executed by artist Charles Loring Elliot, upon the founding of the college. Photographer Brigitte Lacombe shot the two-time Academy Award winner for the cover.

As a fellow Vassar College alum and a huge Streep fan, it was a treat seeing this in the mail this morning. I bet she had lots of fun doing this.