Sunday, September 30, 2012

TV Report: Premiere Week

How's Premiere Week treating everyone? I myself have watched roughly 12 hours worth of TV shows, which is par for the course for me. I've already made my thoughts known on the new pilots. I already can't wait to see more of what Mindy Project or Last Resort have to offer. On the other hand, I practically have to force myself to watch the second episode of Revolutions, which I haven't even done yet! Of course there's one more day left to Premiere Week and it's packed. There's approximately 7 shows I want to watch tonight. Yes, that's not a typo! But that's tonight. For now just a few very brief thoughts on the returning shows this week I've seen, but haven't yet talked about...

- Steven Weber is Caroline's dad on 2 Broke Girls? I didn't see that coming. I really was expecting some older dude or perhaps keeping his character unseen by the audience. The show itself? Not much to recommend sadly.

- Castle is much better at the funny stuff than at the serious stuff so I was pleased by all the bedroom hijinks and less so at more Kate's mother's murder drama. Though making HRG the Big Bad? Nicely done.

- I recognized that New Girl got way better throughout last season, but was it just me or did the 2-episode premiere kind of started off a wee bit slow? Future Nick was funny, but everything else just sort of happened.

- My thoughts on Modern Family winning the Emmys has been noted, but I still can admit a good premiere episode when I see it and I think they knocked it out of the park. That said, still not sure how I feel about the time jump.

- Is it just me or is it hard to care about Big Bang Theory? Stuart and Raj's scene at the end was nice, but everything else was pretty meh. Kind of over Amy's unhealthy fixation on Sheldon.

- Yes, I still watch Glee, but I actually thought its premiere episode a couple weeks ago was quite good. Unfortunately these last two have not. This week's especially started off with a Blaine solo and ended with Finn returning. DO. NOT. WANT.

- I loved, loved last week's Parks & Recreation premiere with Leslie visiting Washington D.C. This week's episode was more of a mixed bag with three storylines that didn't really gel with each other. Still the best comedy out there though.

- Last, but not least, the Fringe premiere was fantastic. Edge of my seats kind of stuff with the requisite heartbreakingly emotional scenes. The mother/daughter reunion was everything.

I've decided for this new season that instead of doing daily or even weekly updates on every show I watch (which would be ridiculous since I watch EVERYTHING), I'm just going to update when I have actual things to say and comment on. Or at least that's what I'll be trying to do!

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Doctor Who: Goodbye to the Ponds & S7 Thoughts

It's perhaps TV's worst kept secret at the moment, but the departure of Amy Pond and Rory Williams will still be a heartbreaking moment when it happens in tonight's Doctor Who fall finale episode "The Angels Take Manhattan." They are, of course, the longest running Who companion of the modern era so no matter how it's done it will be a big change for the show, which luckily is not afraid of changes. In fact, the audience has already met the new companion, played by Jenna Louise Coleman, in shocking fashion during the season premiere and will officially replace the Ponds during the Christmas episode.

As for the Ponds, played exquisitely by the bubbly Karen Gillan and the adorkable Arthur Darvill, it will be tough not seeing them go on adventures with Matt Smith weekly, but it is the nature of the show. I just wish that Steven Moffat and company have penned the best way for their exit. I fear, however, that death will be part of it and I'm already feeling sick to my stomach. It was why I was of two minds when I heard last year they would be back this season for a few episodes. On one hand, it would be fun to see them again, but on the other, their happily ever after ending last season would be inevitably threatened and from what we've seen these past last few episodes, it's just not looking good. For one, the other worst kept secret is that their final episode also happens to have the terrifying Weeping Angels, which has also been foreshadowed a few ways this season (the progressively darkening of the opening and the various light bulb problems).

In my mind, I've made peace with the fact that it will be a heartbreaking, emotional, and potentially tragic goodbye to the Girl and Boy Who Waited. I may not have love every single beat of their story arcs (not being able to raise Melody, almost getting a divorce), but it's certainly been an incredible journey. From our first glimpse of her as a small child entranced by the mad man with the blue box to his first "death" in a dream world where he turns into dust. Rory the Roman would "die" a few more times throughout his tenure with the Eleventh Doctor, but could that really be his ultimate fate in the end. Likewise, Amy's time hasn't been all teas and scones either. She gets stuck in the Pandorica for 2000 years, is kidnapped while being pregnant, and gets left behind for two decades fighting for her life. All through it all though they've had each other, even with the few bumps about which one of them loved the other more. In the end, I just want them to be together, dead or alive. Is that asking too much?

With all of that said, just a few quick words on the season so far. I've liked it so far generally. The production values have never been better and I've been intrigued by many of the recurring themes of the flickering lights (aka the Weeping Angels are coming), Christmas, and eggs. What those latter two means, I've no earthly idea, but it's keeping fandom very busy with theories. As I mentioned in my pre-review of the premiere, I was in love with the episode with the exception of one thing, the half-baked idea of Rory serving Amy divorce papers. The Daleks forgetting about the Doctor and us meeting the new companion as a Dalek was all brilliant. The second episode, "Dinosaurs on a Spaceship," was super fun (um, dinosaurs ON A SPACESHIP) with just the right amount of darkness (Silurian genocide, Doctor killing the bad guy) and gave us an introduction to Rory's dad played by Arthur freaking Weasley! The western-themed third episode "A Town Called Mercy" had potential, but I wasn't a huge fan. Though the knowledge that the third episode actually happened within the fourth episode, "The Power of Three," was a great discovery. That episode in fact was my favorite episode of the season giving us a wonderful glimpse of the home life of the Ponds and what it would be like if the Doctor settled down a bit.

The episode also showed us both the Doctor and the Ponds slowly realizing that this grand adventure with the three of them traveling around on the TARDIS cannot go on and yet none of them fully committing to stop. The entire season has more or less been about this very realization so it really will be quite interesting to see how it all wraps up. All in all, a solid season so far that I'm thinking will end of a very high note. I can't wait. Though I'll have tissues handy just in case.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Pilot Thoughts: Last Resort and Elementary

Every year there always seems to be a new show that would come out of left field and pleasantly surprise me. Last year it was Revenge. A few years ago it was The Good Wife. I guess this year that show for me is Last Resort. I knew very little about the show before I saw the pilot episode yesterday, but praise from critics piqued my interest. And I'm really glad I checked it out, because it's hands down the best pilot I've seen so far this new season. Last Resort revolves around a submarine crew who goes rogue after refusing to follow suspicious orders that would've started a war and who now find themselves stranded on an exotic island with very little options and answers. It's a fantastic concept, but also one that sounds more like something one would see on a movie or a miniseries instead of a weekly TV show. Certainly keeping up the kind of adrenaline rush the pilot episode delivered would be nearly impossible in the long run. And as great and thrilling as the pilot was, there were already some worrying aspects such as the show's ability to jump back and forth different locations (submarine to exotic island to Washington D.C.) and balancing out its huge cast. But amidst all of that, I was still hooked on the action happening on the screen. It helped that the casting of Andre Baugher was quite perfect as the tough and eloquent captain as was his second in command played by Scott Speedman. The rest of the cast needs to prove themselves, but I see the potential. Will the show suffer once the action is inevitable revved down? Possibly. But I still think this show did a lot of things right and people should give it more than a chance. Definitely worth anyone's time. A-

There's a point early on in the Elementary pilot episode when Joan Watson, played by the impossibly beautiful Lucy Liu, asks Sherlock Holmes, played by the very British (thank God!) Johnny Lee Miller, why he does the things he does. His response was simple because he was bored. Unfortunately, that's pretty much how I felt watching the show. Perhaps it was my expectations which were severely heightened by many things--I had just see Last Resort which I loved, I'm a big fan of the two lead actors, the British show Sherlock was brilliant, etc.--or perhaps it just reminded me of so many other procedural shows on the air right now, most of them on CBS, which weren't bad per se, but still very much "been there done that." In fact the backbone of Elementary is solid enough mostly due to the chemistry already evident between Liu and Miller and Miller does his best in infusing his Holmes with a different, almost melancholy air that's somewhat refreshing. So there are very brief moments of wonder hidden in this so far generic drama. Then again, I have watched worse shows starring people I like less to the point of no return, so this show will get a long, long leash from me. I just hope the show takes better advantage of Holmes and his legacy instead of just plopping the character down in the usual middle-brow CBS procedural. C+

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Birthday Girl: Anna Camp

Quick birthday shout out to now 30 year old, but still fresh-faced Anna Camp. She's the kind of actress who I think I've seen in more things than I really have. In fact, her first screen credits were just five years ago! Perhaps I think I've seen her in a lot, because she always just seems so delightful. I first saw her on True Blood and then Mad Men and in both instance she plays a sort of trophy wife with some sass. She also did movies such as her memorable bit in The Help. She was then cast in The Good Wife last season as a first-year associate at the law firm and made her mark there. I was truly saddened when her character left. Fortunately, she's currently starring in both the small and big screens. First, she's in the new show The Mindy Project, which I quite liked. And second, she is in Pitch Perfect which is coming out this weekend and which I'm very much looking forward to.

Pilot Thoughts: The Mindy Project

I've seen the pilot episode of The Mindy Project twice, once over the summer when they previewed it online and this past week when it had its actual premiere. Not surprisingly then, it's probably my favorite pilot of the season so far (though I know that's not saying much). I think most of that has to do with the show's confidence on its concept and main character that the other pilots I've seen don't quite have yet. I suppose it helps that creator/writer Mindy Kaling is also playing the main character, Mindy Lahiri, an OB/GYN doctor who is obsessed with romantic comedies and finding The One so her singular vision is carried through throughout. For example, I'm thinking about that scene with her character crying in the pool after a talking doll puts her down. It's one of my favorite scenes in the pilot and I'm just not sure that scene would've made it in if the higher-ups didn't trust Kaling's judgment. Of course if you're not a fan of Kaling and her brand of comedy, this will not be a show for you. Fortunately for me, it is and thus I'll be tuning in weekly. It's also a great opportunity to see Anna Camp and Chris Messina weekly with the former playing her best friend and the latter playing The One who right now though is playing The One Jerk Who Antagonizes The Main Character But Deep Down Respects and Loves Her. It's a well-worn trope, but let's see what Kaling does with it. B+

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Looking Forward To...

There are two films coming out this weekend which I have been dying to see since I heard about them. When I first hear Joseph Gordon-Levitt was teaming up yet again with Brick and Brothers Bloom director Rian Johnson for a time-travel assassin film, I certainly wished I could've jumped to the future for its opening release. Alas, I had to wait months and months, but finally Looper is here and apparently it is also very awesome. As I write this, Looper is currently at 93% at Rotten Tomatoes, but even if it was a few percentage lower, I would be first in line. I hear the film is quite original in its concept so I'm also hoping the film does big box office business. We need more films like this one. The film also stars Bruce Willis, Emily Blunt, and Piper Perabo.

The other film coming out this weekend that I'm very excited for is Pitch Perfect. I've heard the film described as Bring It On except with acapella singers and from the hilarious trailers I've seen all summer, that pretty much is how it's being advertised. It stars the super likable Anna Kendrick who plays the new girl with the great voice. Brittany Snow, Anna Camp, Rebel Wilson, Adam Devine, and Elizabeth Banks are also in this seemingly talented ensemble. From the few reviews that are in, it seems as if this film was exactly what I was hoping for--wonderfully fun. This film will be in limited release this weekend, but it expands wide the following weekend. I know I haven't seen it yet, but I already know I'm going to be recommending it to everyone I know.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Pilot Thoughts: Partners and Ben and Kate

Partners is a show about two childhood best friends, one is gay and the other is straight, who also happen to be business partners. The thing about Partners is that it was a pretty groundbreaking show back in 1998 when it was called Will & Grace. Not shockingly the creators of both shows are one and the same and unfortunately they really didn't give us something we haven't seen before making the pilot feel stale at points and dated. The cast is solid enough, but, like most pilot episodes, the actors and the writers are clearly still trying to figure these characters out. What they needed was to quickly establish the strong bond between the two leads played by Michael Urie (gay Louis) and David Krumholtz (straight Joe) and I'm not sure they did. I think for me it's because both actors are bringing two different energies to their role and it's coming off a little "James Franco and Anne Hathaway at the Oscars." That's the point of course with these two friends who are so different from each other who still love one another like they're brothers, but it all just came off a bit forced. Perhaps in time both will be able to gel together more. The show also has a problem with the side characters (aka their significant others) in that they are a bit bland. They're certainly no Jack or Karen. Overall, I really wanted to like the show, but it was a bit underwhelming. C

Pleasant. That was a word that kept bouncing around my head when I was watching the pilot episode of Ben and Kate. Pleasant, to me, says that I have positive feelings about the show, but no real strong reaction to it, and I think that's pretty accurate. Nat Faxon and Dakota Johnson play the titular siblings who impressively from the get go made me believe they are brother and sister which is a big plus. Kate is a single mother with a super adorable daughter while Ben plays the free-spirited big brother who jumps back into their lives to help them out or create some much-need chaos. The chemistry between these three are great and it's reason enough to tune into the show, but they need better jokes. I'm also looking forward to a less frenzied-feeling episode, which in their defense, they needed to do to setup all of the characters. It's a work in progress and again, it's pleasant enough... but is it enough to keep me tuning in? Here's an idea... more Lucy Punch! B

HIMYM: Less Than Sixty Seconds

One of my favorite parts of last night's season premiere of How I Met Your Mother was the way Barney summarized the entire show (at least regarding Ted's and his relationship with Robin) in under a minute. It's just one of those TV moments that seem like a perfect meld of show, screenwriter, and actor. See the clip below:

While the rest of the premiere wasn't as successful as that little clip, I still found myself cautiously optimistic about this "possibly final" season. But then again I have always been an apologist when it comes to this show. It helps that the episode contains two things I really love: Robin/Barney and the yellow umbrella. The former is an important season arc since they eventually walk down the aisle and the latter never fails to tug my heart strings. Yes, I'm sick of the titular mother still hanging over all our heads, faceless and unknown as she has been since the beginning of the series, but no matter what kind of insane delay tactics the show still has in store of the audience, every episode still brings us closer to hopefully another TV moment and I can't wait. B

Monday, September 24, 2012

My 2012 Fall TV Schedule

Even though many shows have had their premieres already, today marks the first day of the official Premiere Week for the new Fall TV Season. So with the Emmy Awards already given out, leaves starting to change colors, and Christmas decorations already on sale, it's time to preview my own personal TV schedule for the next few months barring any last-minute change-of-heart and/or cancellations!


While the show is not as awesome as it once was, there's still precious little to keep me occupied at 8PM to dissuade me to keep watching the possibly last season of How I Met Your Mother (CBS). Similarly, even with mixed word-of-mouth from critics, I'm still going to check out Partners (CBS) right after that. Rinse and repeat with 2 Broke Girls (CBS) in its new time at 9PM whose first season was a mixed bag, but I've grown attached to the two pleasant leads to give them up now. Finally at 10PM it'll be Castle (ABC) versus Revolution (NBC) and if the latter keeps disappointing this fight for my attention will be short-lived.


Part of me realizes that there comes a time when I don't have to keep watching more TV shows. If I gave in to that said then maybe I won't end up watching Raising Hope (FOX) and new show Ben and Kate (FOX) at the 8PM hour. I probably should, because the 9PM hour is already too much for me to handle starting off with two shows that found their funny voice after rocky starts Happy Endings (ABC) and New Girl (FOX). It actually gets more complicated at 9:30PM with three shows I'm interested in watching: Don't Trust the B- in Apartment 23 (ABC), The Mindy Project (FOX), and The New Normal (NBC). Something is going to give way. It's just a matter of figuring out which. It'll probably turn out to be my sanity.


There are a lot of unknowns here for me. I think I've decided to check out the first few episodes of Arrow (CW) at 8PM considering there's nothing else I really watch in that time slot despite me getting lured back (probably) to Survivor (CBS). I'll still watch Emmy-juggernaut Modern Family (ABC) and last year's charming surprise Suburgatory (ABC) in the 9PM hour which also contains Supernatural (CW) which I'm still severely behind on. At 10PM, critics are telling me I should check out Nashville (ABC) which isn't too terrible of a request since I get to watch the beautiful Connie Britton.


This night is always full. I may or may not check out Last Resort (ABC) at 8PM depending on word-of-mouth, but Big Bang Theory (CBS) and the final season of 30 Rock (NBC) will make me unlikely to branch out for a new show. Up All Night (NBC) at 8:30PM is also a likely candidate to be cut off. For 9PM, I'm going to endure one more season of The Office (NBC), but mostly because the Emmy-snubbed Parks and Recreation (NBC) comes right after it. And while I do still watch Glee (FOX) masochistically, I did manage to stop watching Grey's Anatomy finally. Finally, at 10PM I'm very much looking forward to Sherlock Holmes in New York aka Elementary (CBS).


This day may not mean much to broadcasters or mass audiences, but it does contain two of my favorite shows this season. First would be Community (NBC) at 8:30 followed by Fringe (FOX) at 9PM. For the latter, it's definitely its final season. For the first, it very well could be as well.


I would need a second me to watch all the shows I want to watch on this day. 8PM has Once Upon A Time (ABC) facing off against The Amazing Race (CBS) while the 9PM hour pits Julianna Margulies against Emily VanCamp... or Archie Panjabi against Madeleine Stowe... either way, it's going to be fierce with The Good Wife (CBS) and Revenge (ABC) on at the same time. I'm crying with indecision already. At 10PM, I may check out 666 Park Avenue (ABC) if I'm not burnt out by TV by then. And yes, I didn't even mention cable favorites like Dexter (SHO), Homeland (SHO), and The Walking Dead (AMC) on this night as well.

Returning Shows I'm Most Excited About: Parks and Recreation, Community, Fringe, The Good Wife, and Homeland

Returning Shows in Danger of Getting Cut:
Up All Night, Glee, Raising Hope, Supernatural, and 2 Broke Girls

The Emmys: The Winners

I wouldn't exactly call these Emmy Awards the worse in recent history, but it was tough to get through early on with some winners that were at best boring (Modern Family) and at worst utterly disappointing (Jon Cryer?!). Most of that was relegated to the comedy categories which were subpar to begin with, but it set the tone for a night filled with many repeat winners and thus very little surprises. It also didn't help that towards the middle and end of the ceremony, the producers started getting really serious about keeping the show on time cutting off many of the major winners' speeches. Of course they still felt the need to insert in as many inane skits as they could like making fun of the In Memoriam segment or a initiating a social media prank about Tracy Morgan fainting. Jimmy Kimmel was actually pretty game for most of the night, with his opening sketch and monologue making the highlights.

As for the actual winners, as I said above, repeat winners were the big winners as 8 of the 12 acting awards given out tonight went to actors who have won an Emmy previously. Three of those first time winners came in the TV Movie/Miniseries categories with Kevin Costner and Tom Berenger winning for their performances in Hatfields & McCoys and Julianne Moore taking home Best Actress for playing Sarah Palin in Game Change. Speaking of Game Change, it also took home Director, Writing, and Best TV Movie/Miniseries. Its writer, I have to point out, is Danny Strong who is an alum of Joss Whedon's Buffy the Vampire Slayer and also guest starred on Mad Men, which technically means at least one actor from that show has now won an Emmy. But it really was a night to forget for Mad Men.

Of course, Mad Men was the slight favorite to win Best Drama tonight and many had hoped someone from its main cast would finally win as well. Unfortunately, not only did they lose out on all of that, but they also got an unprecedented 0 out of 17 nominations this year. Homeland broke the winning streak of Mad Men this year winning Best Drama Series and three other awards including double Actor/Actress wins for Damian Lewis and Claire Danes. Aaron Paul and Maggie Smith picked up Supporting awards, which made me happy despite my heart wanting to give it to Giancarlo Esposito and Christina Hendricks respectively.

Modern Family won a handful of awards tonight as they have done the past three years winning Series, Supporting Actor, Supporting Actress, and Directing. I like the show, but their Emmy dominance harbors real resentment. More depressingly, Cryer picked up Actor while Julia Louis-Dreyfus won for Actress, which was one of the more pleasant comedy wins tonight even if Amy Poehler should've won instead. Poehler, by the way, saves the Emmy Awards yet again by seemingly swapping acceptance speeches with Louis-Dreyfus to expected hilarious results. Louis C.K. winning Writing was also pretty cool, but I really wanted Community's "Remedial Chaos Theory" to win.

Here is a complete list of winners from tonight...

SERIES: Homeland (SHO)
ACTOR: Damian Lewis, Homeland (SHO)
ACTRESS: Claire Danes, Homeland (SHO)
SUPP. ACTOR: Aaron Paul, Breaking Bad (AMC)
SUPP. ACTRESS: Maggie Smith, Downton Abbey (PBS)
DIRECTING: Tim Van Patten, Boardwalk Empire (HBO)
WRITING: Alez Ganza, Howard Gordon, Gideon Raff, Homeland (SHO)
GUEST ACTOR: Jeremy Davis, Justified (FX)
GUEST ACTRESS: Martha Plimpton, The Good Wife (CBS)

SERIES: Modern Family (ABC)
ACTOR: Jon Cryer, Two and a Half Men (CBS)
ACTRESS: Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Veep (HBO)
SUPP. ACTOR: Eric Stonestreet, Modern Family (ABC)
SUPP. ACTRESS: Julie Bowen, Modern Family (ABC)
DIRECTING: Steve Levitan, Modern Family (ABC)
WRITING: Louis C.K., Louie (FX)
GUEST ACTOR: Jimmy Fallon, Saturday Night Live (NBC)
GUEST ACTRESS: Kathy Bates, Two and a Half Men (FOX)

ACTOR: Kevin Costner, Hatfields & McCoys (HISTORY)
ACTRESS: Julianne Moore, Game Change (HBO)
SUPP. ACTOR: Tom Berenger, Hatfields & McCoys (HISTORY)
SUPP. ACTRESS: Jessica Lange, American Horror Story (FX)
DIRECTING: Jay Roach, Game Change (HBO)
WRITING: Danny Strong, Game Change (HBO)

SERIES: The Daily Show with Jon Stewart (Comedy Central)
DIRECTING: Saturday Night Live (NBC)
WRITING: The Daily Show with Jon Stewart (Comedy Central)

PROGRAM: Undercover Boss (CBS)
HOST: Tom Bergeron, Dancing With the Stars (ABC)

Prediction-wise, I did only slightly better than last year getting 9 out of 19, but still pretty damn dreadful. I pretty much nailed the drama categories, but was woefully wrong on the comedy ones.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Pilot Thoughts: The New Normal and Revolution

At this point, getting into a Ryan Murphy show seems futile at best and masochistic at worst. And yet I tuned into The New Normal because I quite loved the cast from the super adorable Justin Bartha to the hilarious Andrew Rannells. Plus one can't really go wrong with Ellen Barkin as a sharp talking grandmother, right? Oh how wrong was I about the latter part. Yes, the show itself about two gay men trying to have a baby through a surrogate has been solid to even good. At worst, that part of the show might sometimes veer into treacly or preachy, but overall Bartha and Rannells have good chemistry with each other as well as with the surrogate mother played earnestly by newcomer Georgia King. But the Barkin part of the show is much less successful. With her constant racist and homophobic remarks, she's Sue Sylvester on steroids and it's cringe inducing. I get her purpose on the show, but Murphy has been unable to give her character any kind of shading. Maybe in time, but I'm not holding my breath. Right now the show is more about the message than the characters and that's disappointing for all. I would give the pilot episode a solid B grade, but it's been going down each subsequent episode. B/B-/C

Leading up to its premiere, people already started asking whether or not Revolution was more Lost or if it was more like Terra Nova. Unfortunately for this show, it's neither as its pilot episode paled in comparison even to the now-cancelled Terra Nova. The concept of a world without any kind of electricity is definitely cool, but the execution is less than ideal. Of course this is a mainstream network attempt at a dystopian future so I can hand-wave the pretty, healthy actors wearing the latest fashionable clothes even after 15 years of no electricity. The bigger crime of the pilot is eliciting no real excitement from me to know more about this new scary world and most of that has to do with the bland characters on display. My favorite actor, Elizabeth Mitchell, was relegated mostly to flashback early on. The two teen characters already seem insufferable and the adults are mostly grim-faced. The "Monroe" and the power locket double reveals at the end were gasp-worthy surely and should keep me watching for a few more episodes, but they need to quickly make me care about the characters or, pardon the pun, it's lights out. C

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Emmy Nominations and Predictions

I've been so remiss in talking about the Emmy Awards this year to the point that I didn't even blog about my instant reaction to the nominations a couple months ago. Suffice to say, my feelings have largely stabilized and so I am now able to calmly discuss this year's nominations and give my predictions just in time for this year's ceremony which airs tomorrow. And so my thoughts...


Boardwalk Empire
Breaking Bad
Downton Abbey
Game of Thrones
Mad Men

Can someone stop Mad Men from a winning a record fifth time? If there was ever a year, this would be it. Breaking Bad has built up so much buzz and goodwill that it may be seen as timely to give it the big win, but it'd also be foolish to underestimate new show Homeland and everyone's obsession Downton Abbey. I was shocked that The Good Wife didn't make it in, but it's not as if these nominees aren't worthy. I'm thinking Mad Men's streak ends this year.

Prediction: Homeland
Alternate: Breaking Bad
Should Win: Breaking Bad
Should've Been Nominated: The Good Wife

Hugh Bonneville, Downton Abbey
Steve Buscemi, Boardwalk Empire
Bryan Cranston, Breaking Bad
Michael C. Hall, Dexter
Jon Hamm, Mad Men
Damian Lewis, Homeland

Jon Hamm had his chance last year, but it wasn't meant to be and it is even harder this year with 3-time winner Bryan Cranston back in the line up as well as newcomer Damian Lewis. I'm pretty sure one of those men will get the prize, as I predicted before they even got nominated, but which one is anybody's guess. No one really got robbed of a nomination here, but I wished another leading man from Downton Abbey made it in. Or even Jason Isaacs for his under-appreciated show Awake.

Prediction: Damian Lewis
Alternate: Bryan Cranston
Should Win: Damian Lewis
Should've Been Nominated: Dan Stevens, Jason Isaacs

Kathy Bates, Harry's Law
Glenn Close, Damages
Claire Danes, Homeland
Michelle Dockery, Downton Abbey
Julianna Margulies, The Good Wife
Elisabeth Moss, Mad Men

I'd complain about a few snubs like Emmy Rossum or Madeleine Stowe, but this category is stacked like whoa with very talented ladies. I honestly can say I'm equally rooting for about four of them to win so I think my chances are good for the big night. The frontrunners are obviously past Emmy winners Claire Danes and Julianna Margulies, but anything can happen. I'd say they'd randomly give it to Bates, but she finally won her first Emmy last weekend for Guest Actress. I also want to take this moment to FREAK OUT over Dockery's nomination. I seriously thought it was a long shot!

Prediction: Claire Danes
Alternate: Elisabeth Moss
Should Win: Michelle Dockery
Should've Been Nominated: Emmy Rossum, Madeline Stowe

Jim Carter, Downton Abbey
Brendan Coyle, Downton Abbey
Peter Dinklage, Game of Thrones
Giancarlo Esposito, Breaking Bad
Jared Harris, Mad Men
Aaron Paul, Breaking Bad

Definitely didn't expect the Emmy voters to go Downton crazy this year, at least to this extent, but it's quite evident in this category. Their nominations are their reward though while the other four men will duke it out. Initially I really thought this category was going to pit last year's winner Dinklage against 2010's winner Paul, but perhaps another Breaking Bad actor will take it all. In my heart, I think Esposito could upset, but I still think I will predict Paul or Dinklage to win.

Prediction: Aaron Paul
Alternate: Peter Dinklage
Should Win: Aaron Paul
Should've Been Nominated: Gabriel Mann, John Noble

Christine Baranski, The Good Wife
Joanne Froggatt, Downton Abbey
Anna Gunn, Breaking Bad
Christina Hendricks, Mad Men
Archie Panjabi, The Good Wife
Maggie Smith, Downton Abbey

I love the actress, but Froggatt's nomination is hilarious. On the other hand, I am over the moon ecstatic that Anna Gunn was recognized for her stellar work. I think Lena Heady was robbed a bit, but not to the extent that I'm super angry about it. As for who has the edge, I'm actually going to pick Christina Hendricks to be the first Mad Men actor to win an Emmy! Yes, even over the great dame Maggie Smith who can just as easily win of course.

Prediction: Christina Hendricks,
Alternate: Maggie Smith
Should Win: Christina Hendricks
Should've Been Nominated: Lena Heady, Maisie Williams

The Big Bang Theory
Curb Your Enthusiasm
Modern Family
30 Rock

I understand the snub of Community YET AGAIN, but this category is pure and utter bullshit without Parks and Recreation. In fact, I'd probably only support two of these shows to make the shortlist, so I have pretty negative feelings about the Comedy categories overall. I mean at least they didn't nominate Glee or Smash, but seriously this category is useless with Parks and Recreation. Repeating myself? YES I AM.

Prediction: Modern Family
Alternate: Girls
Should Win: None since it belongs to Parks and Recreation
Should've Been Nominated: Parks and Recreation, Community

Alec Baldwin, 30 Rock
Don Cheadle, House of Lies
Louis C.K., Louie
Jon Cryer, Two and a Half Men
Larry David, Curb Your Enthusiasm
Jim Parsons, The Big Bang Theory

See my comment above about having negative feelings about these comedy categories. Of course it doesn't help that I only watch two of these performances regularly, but even those don't really inspire strong feelings within. I was a bit shocked that Elijah Wood didn't get nominated for Wilfred, but I guess that show was off their radar or something. I don't even have a rooting interest really. Moving on.

Prediction: Jim Parsons
Alternate: Alec Baldwin
Should Win: Louis C.K.
Should've Been Nominated: Adam Scott, Elijah Wood

Zooey Deschanel, New Girl
Lena Dunham, Girls
Edie Falco, Nurse Jackie
Tina Fey, 30 Rock
Melissa McCarthy, Mike & Molly
Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Veep
Amy Poehler, Parks and Recreation

Kind of annoying that there's seven nominations, but at the very least they included Amy Poehler even though they snub her show (still not over it). If there was any justice in the world she would win this award, but I think the front runner here is Emmy favorite Julia Louis-Dreyfus, which in her defense would be completely deserved. Deschanel and Dunham as the new kids in town also have the edge for being new and cool. Was a bit bummed about Plimpton's snub, but she won a guest Emmy last week so it's all good!

Prediction: Julia Louis-Dreyfus
Alternate: Zooey Deschanel
Should Win: Amy Poehler
Should've Been Nominated: Courtney Cox, Martha Plimpton

Ty Burrell, Modern Family
Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Modern Family
Max Greenfield, New Girl
Bill Hader, Saturday Night Live
Ed O'Neill, Modern Family
Eric Stonestreet, Modern Family

Look, I like Modern Family as much as any other guy, but chill the fuck out Emmy voters. The show is NOT THAT GOOD. With that said, I'd be shocked if anyone from another show wins, because the odds are just so stacked against them. Greenfield's nomination was a bit refreshing though, but Nick Offerman, Jim Rash, and Damon Wayans Jr. should've been nominated as well. This category just saddens me.

Prediction: Ed O'Neill
Alternate: Ty Burrell
Should Win: Casting director of Modern Family
Should've Been Nominated: Jim Rash, Nick Offerman, Damon Wayans Jr., and more

Mayim Bialik, The Big Bang Theory
Julie Bowen, Modern Family
Kathryn Joosten, Desperate Housewives
Sofia Vergara, Modern Family
Merritt Wever, Nurse Jackie
Kristin Wiig, Saturday Night Live

Joosten gets her posthumous nomination and her show's one and only. As crass as it is to talk about, her death does give her an edge here. Last year's winner Bowen could just as easily repeat, but I think Joosten's biggest challenge is from Sofia Vergara. Bialik's nomination gives me immense joy as she's the one consistent bright spot on her show. Never underestimate Wiig though especially for her farewell season. Lots of snubs particularly Jane Krakowski and my fave girl in Girls Zosia Mamet.

Prediction: Kathryn Joosten
Alternate: Sofia Vergara
Should Win: Mayim Bialik
Should've Been Nominated: Zosia Mamet, Jane Krakowski

Best Miniseries or Movie: Game Change
Best Actor, Miniseries: Clive Owen, Hemingway and Gellhorn
Best Actress, Miniseries: Julianne Moore, Game Change
Best Supporting Actor, Miniseries: Martin Freeman, Sherlock
Best Supporting Actress, Miniseries: Jessica Lange, American Horror Story
Best Guest Actor, Comedy*: Michael J. Fox, Curb Your Enthusiasm
Best Guest Actress, Comedy*: Melissa McCarthy, Saturday Night Live
Best Guest Actor, Drama*: Mark Margolis, Breaking Bad
Best Guest Actress, Drama*: Joan Cusack, Shameless

Please take my predictions with a grain of salt as historically I have NOT done well. Last year, I predicted 7 of 19 awards correctly which is quite pathetic. *With the Creative Emmys already giving out the awards for guest acting last week, I start off with a whimper in my predictions getting a grand total of zero correct. Though if I really thought about it, I should've realized Bates was the easy pick in her category. On to the show!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Summer Shows Review, Part 2

Today is the last full day of summer! So in honor of that sad (not really) occasion, I'm finally posting the rest of my thoughts on the summer TV shows I checked out this summer. To read Part 1, click here. Onwards...

Breaking Bad - The stage was set this season during the first scene where Walt celebrated his 52nd birthday alone at a diner. It meant the last 16 episodes of the series will, at the very least, tell a years-worth of stories to lead up to that point in Walt's life. Considering the past four seasons covered roughly around the same time frame, the pacing will be a bit different. This gave the show a sense of urgency which was good, but as a longtime fan it was also a bit distracting. Scenes or episodes that would have been amazing in any other season because they lingered and were built up, started feeling wasteful this time around. We wanted to get to the good stuff! Did we really need more time to devote to showing them make meth? Or spend time on new characters like Lydia and Todd? And yet, the show kept pulling it off somehow. Most of that is because of the excellent cast from Cranston's palpably sinister edge to Gunn's wonderful portrayal of a hardened and depressed Skyler (my favorite part of the season). I also loved getting into the head of Mike and even though he didn't have much to do, Aaron Paul as Jesse constantly stole scenes. And of course there's Hank who is finally connecting the dots especially in that final scene making my heart skip a beat. I honestly have no idea what Vince Gilligan has in store for the final 8 episodes airing next year. I just know I can't wait for more! A-

Weeds - I foolishly had high hopes for this final season especially when the show brought back its catchy theme song for the opening credits. I thought yes they were going back to their roots and end the show on a high note, pun intended. Except no, not really. The season, like its main protagonist Nancy, meandered aimlessly not knowing exactly where to go and what to do. Their return to Agrestic was a refreshing welcome which unfornately only took place over one episode and it was the penultimate episode. The time jump then for the series finale grated me to no end as I felt everything was rushed (of course) and ultimately unearned. I did like the random return of Justin Chatwin's character, but you know long-time fans really wanted to see Celia back. Overall, a big disappointment even though the final scene of all the characters getting high was a nice touch. D

Masterchef - Since Gordon Ramsay is such a grating figure, I avoided this show like a plague in the past, but little did I know Ramsay is not that bad here. He's mean, but his remarks, like the other two judges, are always constructive. It helps that most of the contestants are truly talented preparing delicious food in such a pressurized environment. The winner this season is Christine Ha which made me insanely happy since I rooted for her since the first episode I saw her. Even with her blindness, she schooled every other chef and hers is just an inspiring story. Runner-up Josh Marks competed though coming back from elimination and always doing his best. Will definitely check out next season. B+

So You Think You Can Dance - Other than the very first season, this was the only other season I didn't watch. Yes, I saw the auditions and the first 2-3 weeks of live competitions, but coupled with dancers who didn't really grab me and the confusing and alienating schedule it was a challenge to see any more than that. From what I hear, I didn't miss much though I do regret missing the comeback of season 2 winner Benji Schwimmer for an episode. I did manage to watch the finale this past week and even though I didn't see all episode, I can't deny how talented year in, year out these show's contestants are. Two ballet dancers won this year, which is pretty interesting. Hoping the magic returns next year though. N/A

Big Brother - Pretty much the same situation above except I haven't seen this show regular for a few years. I only saw the premiere episode and about 1-2 more episodes this season because a few Big Brother alums I liked came back, but I've seriously outgrown the show. While Janelle left early, I was glad to see two of my early picks for the guys as the final two. I was even happier to see geeky cutie superfan Ian win the whole thing in the end. N/A

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Cast of Firefly: Where Are They Now 10 Years Later?

Joss Whedon may have helmed the biggest movie of the year, but it was only ten years ago when Whedon premiered his little-seen and now much-beloved cult favorite TV series Firefly on FOX. I admit that I didn't take to the series at first though FOX's jumbled scheduling didn't help matters. I eventually watched and became obsessed with the entire series just before the big-screen sequel Serenity premiered in theaters.

I blame my initial hesitancy in the space western genre of which I'm not a huge fan. Plus I had been trained to love Whedon at that time when he was only dealing with vampires and witches. Little did I know that space cowboys and superheroes were his forte as well. Like most of Whedon's work, it's the ensemble working as a non-traditional and dysfunctional but loving family that's at the heart of Firefly. It's this cast and what they are doing now what I want to talk about now...

Nathan Fillion - Played the charming and handsome Captain Malcolm Reynolds. Fillion's show Castle will have its 5th season premiere at the end of this month on ABC. He is also in Joss Whedon's Much Ado About Nothing hopefully to come out this year and will also be playing Hermes in Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters next year.

Gina Torres - Played the beautiful and strong second-in-command Zoe Washburne. Last year Torres appropriately voiced Wonder Woman for a video game. She's currently starring in USA Network's Suits which is in the middle of its second season and will most likely be picked up for a third.

Alan Tudyk - Played the hilarious Hoban "Wash" Washburne who piloted the ship. Tudyk had memorable guest starring roles in Dollhouse and V in recent years and will re-team with A Knight's Tale director for the Jackie Robinson film 42. He is currently on ABC's Suburgatory which will have its second season premiere next month.

Morena Baccarin - Played the dignified and gorgeous Inara Serra, Companion. Though V was cancelled, where Baccarin starred as the scene-stealing Anna, she quickly found another show in Showtime's Homeland which was recently nominated for a nine Emmy Awards. Homeland's second season will premiere later this month.

Adam Baldwin - Played the brutish and tough hired-gun Jayne Cobb. Baldwin's show Chuck ended its 5-season run earlier this year. He has recently has done bit parts in shows like Leverage and Law & Order: SVU and has pissed off some people with his twitter account.

Jewel Staite - Played the free-spirited and talented engineer Kaywinnet Lee "Kaylee" Frye. Last year, Staite blew many fandoms' minds by guest starring in Supernatural as Amy Pond. She is currently starring in the CW's The L.A. Complex, which is in its second season.

Sean Maher - Played the protective and smart Dr. Simon Tam. Maher will also appear in Whedon's Much Ado About Nothing and was recently in ABC Family's Make It or Break It. He was in NBC's now-canceled Playboy Club last year playing a closeted gay man which prompted Maher to publicly come out himself to the delight and support of his fans.

Summer Glau - Played the highly intuitive and graceful River Tam. Glau has made many appearances in other TV shows like Big Bang Theory, Grey's Anatomy, Dollhouse, and Alphas. She also briefly starred in the now-cancelled The Cape and The Sarah Connor Chronicles. Up next for her is the film Knights of Badassdom.

Ron Glass - Played the enigmatic and grounded Derrial Book, Sheperd. Glass isn't doing much, but he does have a movie coming out called Strange Frame: Love & Sax which also boasts a few other geek friendly names such as Claudia Black, Alan Tudyk, Tim Curry, Juliet Landau, and George Takei.

Of course no discussion of Firefly and its cast would be complete without mentioning two of the more popular recurring characters, Badger played by Mark Sheppard and Saffron played by Christina Hendricks. Name a sci-fi/fantasy/genre show from the past few years and Sheppard has probably been on it... seriously. Meanwhile, Hendricks wrapped up her fifth season on Mad Men earlier this year and has also starred with Ryan Gosling in Drive and with Neil Patrick Harris in Company last year.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Looking Forward To...

The Perks of Being a Wallflower
Release: September 21, 2012
Distributor: Summit Entertainment
Director:  Stephen Chbosky
Starring: Emma Watson, Logan Lerman, Ezra Miller, Dylan McDermott, Kate Walsh, Johnny Simmons, Nina Dobrev, Melanie Lynskey, Mae Whitman, Joan Cusack and Paul Rudd

Monday, September 17, 2012

Creative Arts Emmy Winners

I can hardly believe that the Emmy Awards are this Sunday! I haven't had a chance to get into the nitty gritty of the main nominations, but I still have a few days to weigh in. For now, just wanted to highlight the recent winners from this past weekend's Creative Arts Emmy ceremony.

Let's get the actors out of the way and congratulate Jeremy Davies (Justified), Martha Plimpton (The Good Wife), Jimmy Fallon (Saturday Night Live), and Kathy Bates (Two and a Half Men). Frankly I'm actually a bit shocked at all of these as I had pegged stronger and likelier candidates in all four categories, but this is why I don't make it a living actually predicting these award shows. Still it's a bit shocking to me to see Michael J. Fox ( for either of his roles in The Good Wife or Curb Your Enthusiasm), Mark Margolis (Breaking Bad), Joan Cusack (Shameless), or Melissa McCarthy (Saturday Night Live) not win. Though for McCarthy it was more me thinking how much they love her not realizing that the Emmys really love Bates too.

HBO was the big winner of the night picking up 17 awards including 6 Emmy wins for Game of Thrones, the most of any show. Last year's Creative Emmys MVP Boardwalk Empire took home 3 awards. While these early wins should signal wide support from voters come Primetime Emmy time, they shouldn't feel too share. In fact it was new show Homeland that took flashier Casting and Editing awards. Girls and Game Change (Julianne Moore as Sarah Palin!) also won for its casting while Curb Your Enthusiasm, How I Met Your Mother, and Hatfield & McCoys all picked up editing honors. The miniseries Great Expectations, Saturday Night Live, and Frozen Planet got four wins each while CBS had 13 wins and PBS was a close third with 11.

A few other noteworthy results include Betty White's 90th Birthday special losing to The Kennedy Center Honors (honoring Neil Diamond and Meryl Streep), Martin Scorsese winning his second Emmy award for the documentary his directed about George Harrison, and The Penguins of Madagascar upsetting The Simpsons for Best Animated Program. The 65th Annual Tony Awards also picked up 3 wins including Best Special Class Program and Original Music and Lyrics for the song "It's Not Just For Gays Anymore" performed by Neil Patrick Harris. And you can now say "Emmy-winning show Smash" as its choreographer Joshua Bergasse won against steep competition from dancing reality shows including last year's two-time winner So You Think You Can Dance.

Click here to see the complete list of winners and nominees. The Primetime Emmys are September 23rd.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Zachary Quinto In Out

It was just a few months ago when Zachary Quinto publicly came out, albeit in the most casual way ever, by prefacing his thoughts on working on Angels in America with "as a gay man" inside the pages of New York magazine. Now he's on the cover of OUT magazine for their 20th Anniversary issue. Inside, he shares his thoughts on what prompted him to professionally come out the way he did and talks more about his professional journey and struggles.

On the former, he remarked:
“One of the defining conversations that I had with myself was that absolutely no good can come from me staying quiet about [my sexuality]. Literally, no good can come from it. But if I take the step to make the acknowledgment and be honest, so much good could potentially come from it.”

The article also briefly mentions Quinto's relationship with actor Jonathan Groff (Glee, Spring Awakening) and while that was pretty much it in terms of talking about his current love life, he made sure to say how incredibly happy and lucky he was. Up next for Quinto is of course the Star Trek sequel coming out in 2013 where he'll reprise his role as Spock. A bit earlier, he'll be appearing in the second season of American Horror Story.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Pawnee Breaks Bad

The sound I made when Alan Sepinwall broke the news this afternoon that Jonathan Banks would be appearing in Parks and Recreation this upcoming season was practically inhuman. You see, Breaking Bad, where Banks played the inimitable Mike Ehrmentraut, and Parks and Recreation are not just two of my favorite TV shows, but my top two favorite TV shows. Having this casting crossover made my day. It got better when I found out that he would be cast as the father of Adam Scott's Ben Wyatt and that he would be playing a very Ehrmentraut-esque character. Now I wonder what he would think of Leslie or Chris... or even better yet Ron Swanson.

Speaking of Ron Swanson, he's getting a love interest of sorts and the casting people yet again picked perfectly by asking Xena Warrior Princess herself, Lucy Lawless to play the role. This was announced a few weeks ago, but coupled with today's news, I'm now more excited than ever for the new season of Parks and Recreation, which is just one week away! Everyone watch!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Looking Forward To...

Fall TV Edition

Fall TV season has already started with NBC getting an early jump start as they used the momentum they got from Olympics coverage to promote many of their shows. I've seen a few pilots already in fact, but for right now just wanted to give you a quick list of the new shows I'm most looking forward to this season. Granted last year Revenge did NOT make it into my list as well as The Good Wife the two years prior, so I'm hoping there's a similar surprise or two that awaits me this new season...

The New Normal (NBC)
Premieres: Tuesday, 9/11 9:30PM
Starring: Justin Bartha, Andrew Rannells, Georgia King, Ellen Barkin, Bebe Wood, NeNe Leakes, and Jayson Blair
Time Period Conflict: The Mindy Project, Apartment 23

Revolution (NBC)
Premieres: Monday, 9/17 10PM
Starring: Billy Burke, Tracy Spiridakos, Giancarlo Esposito, Tim Guinee, Maria Howell, David Lyons, Elizabeth Mitchell, Zak Orth, Graham Rogers, Daniella Alonso, and Anna Lise Phillips
Time Period Conflict: Castle

Partners (CBS)
Premieres: Monday, 9/24 8:30PM
Starring: David Krumholtz, Michael Urie, Sophia Bush, and Brandon Routh 
Time Period Conflict: N/A

The Mindy Project (FOX)
Premieres: Tuesday, 9/25 9:30PM
Starring: Mindy Kaling, Chris Messina, Ed Weeks, Zoe Jarman, Anna Camp, Stephen Tobolowsky, Amanda Setton, and Ike Barinholtz
Time Period Conflict: The New Normal, Apartment 23

Elementary (CBS)
Premieres: Thursday, 9/27 10PM
Starring: Jonny Lee Miller, Lucy Liu, and Aidan Quinn
Time Period Conflict: Scandal

Nashville (ABC)
Premieres: Wednesday, 10/10 10PM
Starring: Connie Britton, Hayden Panettiere, Eric Close, Charles Esten, Clare Bowen, Jonathan Jackson, Powers Boothe, Robert Wisdom, and Sam Palladio
Time Period Conflict: N/A

Other NEW shows on my radar: Ben and Kate (FOX), Last Resort (ABC), 666 Park Avenue (ABC), and Arrow (CW)

Tennis is Over, Now What?

There's still plenty of tennis to be played in the next couple of months (Federer himself has about 3000 points to defend), but for the most part the tennis season has unofficially ended with the crowning of its newest champions in New York. It's been an insane summer of tennis stretching all the way back to days of European clay then to London grass and finally the North American hard courts. Players and fans are exhausted and many are probably feeling a kinship to the image above from The Royal Tenenbaums.

This is about the time when my tennis brain takes a break to make way for the barrage of new TV and movies on the horizon. The fall TV season has essentially already started and I will be making a post later today to pick out those shows I'm looking most forward to seeing. The Toronto Film Festival in the meantime is in full swing and along with the Venice Film Festival, which wrapped up a few days ago, it could only mean that Oscar season is upon us once again! Already there are many films I can't wait to see the next few months. More on those a bit later this week! Sometime in the next couple weeks, I will finally react to the almost two-month-old Emmy nominations as well as post Part 2 of my Summer TV recap (read Part 1 here).

Monday, September 10, 2012

US Open: The Finale

It ended up being a golden summer for Serena Williams and Andy Murray as they both captured not only the gold medal at this year's Olympics, but also the US Open title. For her it was her 4th US Open title and 15th overall. For him, it was his very first Grand Slam title. Winning, however, didn't come easy for either one.

Serena came into the match against top seed Victoria Azarenka as the overwhelming favorite having led their H2H 9-1 and the first set signaled a routine rout after Serena won 6-2. Serena was perhaps thinking about lost opportunities and unnecessary drama that cost her the title the past couple years as she remained focused and more importantly her serve remained dialed in. Azarenka, however, started hitting harder and taking more chances in the second set. Coupled with Serena's serve and footwork going walkabout Azarenka managed to win the next set with an identical 6-2. This was when the match went from great to classic as this became the first 3-set women's final since 1995! Also both players had excellent 3-set records (Serena was 5-0 in 3-set slam finals and Azarenka was 12-0 in 3-set matches this year). The third set was certainly more competitive with Azarenka taking the lead by breaking Serena in the 7th game to go up 4-3 then holding serve for 5-3, just one game away from her first US Open title. Unfortunately that was one game too many. After Serena held for 5-4, Azarenka tightened serving for the match going down Love-40 and eventually lost her serve to bring the score to 5-5. Serena held again for 6-5 putting the pressure right back at Azarenka who was a point away from the tiebreak, but was pushed to a few deuces by a relentless Serena. A couple of errors later from Azarenka and Serena has won the US Open title to go along with her singles and doubles trophies from Wimbledon and golden medals from the Olympics. Her ranking of 4 will remain unchanged after the tournament, but is there any doubt who the best female player right now?

It has been a long time coming for Murray to lift the championship trophy. Prior to this year's US Open, Murray had an abysmal slam final record of 0-4 (1-12 in sets) and it's been a longer wait for Britain who has been waiting for a homegrown slam champion since Fred Perry in 1936. But finally all the waiting can stop as Murray impressively won his maiden slam in a five-set epic thriller against defending champion Novak Djokovic. The setting and conditions could not have been any more dramatic. The men had to play a Monday final for the fifth straight year and in windy and cold conditions to boot. Both players started off slow, perhaps getting used to it all, but eventually the first set came down to a tie-break that ended up being a nice summation of the match as a whole. There were momentum shifts, 30+ shot rallies, and high drama. Murray finally edged out Djokovic 12-10 giving himself huge momentum (winner of the first set in matches between these two have went on to win the match every time). Murray carried that momentum in the second set going up a double break for 4-0 as he took advantage of a frustrated Djokovic. Refusing to go without a fight, Djokovic did just that storming back into the set and bringing it back on serve 5-5. But Murray would win that second set 7-5 making his dream that much closer. That's when Djokovic would take over as the Serb took the 3rd and 4th set easily most likely due to Murray tightening up and Djokovic himself serving and hitting better. One set to determine the champion and this time Murray grabbed the moment. He broke Djokovic twice early going up 3-0. Djokovic would break back and hold serve for 3-2, but Murray would win the next two games for 5-2, a game away from history. Djokovic took a timeout at that moment to get the trainer and so Murray waited just a little bit longer. Murray stormed to a 40-Love lead giving him triple match point. At 40-15, Murray served and Djokovic blasted a forehand that unlike last year's Miracle Shot went out giving the Scot his first ever Grand Slam title. The match tied for being the longest US Open Men's Final at 4 hours and 54 minutes. But I think Murray and the rest of Britain would agree that went quickly compared to how long they had to wait for this special moment.

Bob and Mike Bryan won their 12th Grand Slam title, a record, by beating 5th seeds Leander Paes and Radek Stepanek while Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci captured the Women's Doubles title by defeating 3rd seeds Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Hradecka. Meanwhile the shotgun team that beat Kim Clijsters at her final match at the Us Open, Ekaterina Makarova and Bruno Soares, won the Mixed Doubles title taking out 4th seeds Kveta Peschke and Marcin Matkowski. And with that, we say goodbye to New York until next year!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

US Open Report: Semifinals Recaps and Finals Predictions

It took two days, rain delays, and a tornado warning, but the Men's Semifinals have finally been completed just in time for the Men's Final to take place on Monday for the fifth consecutive year.

A deluge of rain and a tornado warning greeted players and fans on Saturday delaying the start of the men's semifinals. When the skies finally cleared, the first match between Andy Murray and Tomas Berdych began and it was clear that the swirling wind made it difficult for both players. Berdych handled it a little better in the first set and won it on a tiebreak, but Murray adjusted winning the next two sets quickly. Berdych put up a fight in the fourth set and when it looked like the match might go to a fifth set, Murray won it in another tiebreak to book himself a place in the finals, his second Grand Slam final this year. He is still looking to get that maiden slam as he is 0-4 in major finals, but after his Gold Medal win at this year's Olympics, things seemed to have changed. It certainly helps that he did not have to get through either Roger Federer or Rafael Nadal to get through the finals, but getting an extra day of rest compared to his opponent should also be advantageous. Speaking of...

The second match came on court right after the first one as quickly as I've ever seen it. It was between defending champion Novak Djokovic and David Ferrer and the wind was still a major factor. Ferrer stood firm against the wind while Djokovic flailed going down 2-5 in the first set before the higher-ups declared the match suspended and for the tennis center to be evacuated with the threat of extreme weather imminent. No tennis would be played the rest of the day including the Women's Finals. The next day Ferrer managed to hold serve once to win the first set, but it was Djokovic who flourished with the picture perfect weather taking the next three sets easily to reach his third consecutive US Open finals.

Predictions: Along with Federer and Nadal, Djokovic and Murray have dominated the big events this past year. These two finalists have won big titles (Australian Open, London Olympics) and made the finals at others (French Open and Wimbledon). Neither of them have the top ranking, but you better believe that they both think they are number one. For Djokovic, this would put him back to dominant form that alluded him during the grass season. For Murray, this would be his most precious breakthrough for his first slam. Either player could also solidify their claim for Player of the Year with this win. So with all of that said, pressure is high. Djokovic leads their H2H 8-6, but only 6-5 on hard courts. This year alone they are 2-2 including Djokovic's fifth-set win at this year's Australian Open. Murray will be the better-rested player and will certainly be hungrier. It's a coin-flip for me and I certainly don't have any rooting interest. I'll predict Andy Murray.

As for the women, they played and completed their semifinal matches on Friday albeit that's all they really had in common. The first match, between Victoria Azarenka and Maria Sharapova, was an instant classic with both splitting the first two sets and testing out their cumulative 23-0 record in their matches this year that have gone through three sets. The volume and drama were ramped up high throughout the match especially in the third set where Azarenka really made Sharapova worked hard to hold each and every one of her service games. It was only a matter of time then before Sharapova finally cracked in the 10th game to give Azarenka the break and the win for a chance to win her first US Open title (and her second Grand Slam title of the year).

Azarenka's opponent will be Serena Williams who absolutely dominated Sara Errani in their semifinal match. Williams overpowered the crafty Italian who has been having the year and tournament of a lifetime (she just won the Women's Doubles title with partner Roberta Vinci). In the match, Errani only managed 6 winners and 0 aces compared to Williams' 38 winners and 9 aces and those pretty much tell you everything you needed to know about the lopsided match. It really is a testament to Errani that the match lasted more than an hour, if just barely.

Predictions: Williams and Azarenka are set to clash in a couple of hours from now and history says that Williams is the odds-on favorite leading their H2H 9-1 including their last match at the Olympics where Azarenka only won 3 measly games. With that said everyone said pretty much the same thing when Williams went up against Stosur in last year's final and we all know what happened then. Plus Azarenka is a better all-around player than Stosur and has been amazing on hard courts this year. With that said, this is match against the world no. 1 versus the Olympic gold medalist, the Australian Open champion versus the Wimbledon champion. I'm going with Serena Williams, but just hoping it's a three-set classic.

Friday, September 7, 2012

US Open Report: Recapping the Week and Weekend Preview

Today is Ladies Day at the US Open with both semifinals on the schedule. Three of this year's Grand Slam champions are represented as well as French Open finalist Sara Errani who is having just a stellar year. Errani, who took out friend and doubles partner Roberta Vinci in the quarterfinals, will play against Serena Williams who made quick work of 12th seed Ana Ivanovic. In the other match, top seed Victoria Azarenka will face 3rd seed Maria Sharapova. Azarenka is actually playing for the first time since she beat defending champion Samantha Stosur on Tuesday while Sharapova had to come back the next day to gut out a win against the always tricky 11th seed Marion Bartoli. I think Sharapova actually saved set and/or match points or something.

No surprise, but my early tournament predictions were pretty off especially since I overestimated Kim Clijsters' chances and didn't even think about how well the Italians would do. With that said, I'm impressed by my Ivanovic pick to make the quarterfinals and I still think my finalists are the favorites to actually reach that round. Azarenka, however, cannot be counted out. No matter who she meets in the finals though, I just can't see this Serena Williams losing tomorrow night.

As for the men, they get a much-needed break today after some intense and emotional matches the past couple of days. First and foremost, Andy Roddick played his final match losing to 7th seed Juan Martin Del Potro in four sets. Roddick actually won the first set after winning the tiebreak which was delayed overnight due to rain. Del Potro hung in there and stole the second set and it was all she wrote after that. An emotional and teary Roddick addressed the thousands of people in Ashe and millions of tennis fans watching for the last time as a professional tennis player. Del Potro then had the unenviable task of playing the next day against defending champion Novak Djokovic, who won the day before by virtue of Stan Wawrinka retiring. Despite Del Potro's amazing play, Djokovic was just a little better and won in three very entertaining and intense sets.

Not to be outdone, however, was the quarterfinal match between 4th seed David Ferrer and 8th seed Janko Tipsarevic that lasted more than 4.5 hours. I didn't see most of the match, but I heard it had everything including the kitchen sink. The match of course came down to a fifth-set tiebreaker where the Serbian was ahead early only to go down a break and never recover giving Ferrer only his second semifinals appearance at the US Open. Third seed Andy Murray meanwhile had his own drama by getting down a set and two breaks to 12th seed Marin Cilic in the quarterfinals. And yet that was all Murray needed to break Cilic's spirit and winning the odd match in four sets. More shocking was the loss of 5-time US Open champion and top seed Roger Federer to 6th seed Tomas Berdych whose forehand gave the Swiss all he could handle. Berdych was also helped by the rare serving off day for Federer. After the match, it was evident how disappointed Federer was, but it's important to remember for him and his fans alike that this has already been a year full of AWESOME with his 17th Grand Slam at Wimbledon and re-taking the number 1 ranking which he will keep no matter what happens the rest of the tournament.

And so the semifinals are set with Djokovic going against Ferrer and Murray versus Berdych. Pretty insane to think only one Grand Slam champion has made it in. Even crazier to think that this is the first time since the 2004 French Open that neither Federer nor Rafael Nadal have made the semifinals. Prediction-wise I didn't do well at all despite getting five of the eight quarterfinals spot correct. Yes, I predicted Federer to win, but was that so insane especially taking into account his history here and his most recent performances? Djokovic should surely reach the final and be the favorite to win the whole thing while Murray-Berdych is a bit trickier with the Czech leading their H2H and Murray not exactly playing gold-medal tennis out there.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Looking Forward To...

The Master
Release: September 14, 2012
Distributor: Weinstein Company
Director: Paul Thomas Anderson
Starring: Amy Adams, Joaquin Phoenix, Jesse Plemons, Laura Dern, Rami Malek, and Phillip Seymour Hoffman

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

US Open Report: Labor Day Weekend

While rain has wreaked havoc with today's schedule, the weather cooperated just enough over this past Labor Day weekend to complete every match scheduled.

Of course the big story still was the parallel farewell tours of former US Open champions Kim Clijsters and Andy Roddick. Clijsters effectively had her final match last Saturday losing in the second round of Mixed Doubles playing with Bob Bryan and against Ekaterina Makarova and Bruno Soares. For Roddick, the dream continues as he won a hard-fought third round match against Fabio Fognini. I ended up seeing the match live and the pervading sense of love and support Roddick was getting from the crowd really was something else. Roddick's next opponent is former US Open champion and 7th seed Juan Martin Del Potro. As I write this, their match has just started on TV.

Fittingly enough Roddick is the last American man in the tournament with 27th seed Sam Querrey losing to 6th seed Tomas Berdych and 9th seed John Isner upset by 19th seed Philipp Kohlschreiber in a thrilling 5-set match that ended after 2:30am. The only other American man to reach the 4th round other than Roddick is 23rd seed Mardy Fish who unfortunately had to withdraw from his match with top seed Roger Federer due to health reasons. This is after Fish upset 16th seed Gilles Simon in another late-night thriller. Fish's withdrawal also meant that Federer reaches his 34 consecutive Grand Slam quarterfinals.

Unsurprisingly, Serena Williams is the lone American woman still in the draw and she has been dominant losing only 4 games in her last two matches including a 6-0 6-0 rout of Andrea Hlavackova in the fourth round. Top seed Victoria Azarenka also easily moves through as well as 12th seed Ana Ivanovic who reaches the QF for the first time since she won the 2008 French Open. Defending champion Sam Stosur ends Laura Robson's dream run while Maria Sharapova survives Nadia Petrova after being down a break in the third set. Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci, who are still in the womens doubles draw as a team, move through to the quarterfinals after upsetting 6th seed Angelique Kerber and 2nd seed Agnieska Radwanska (the highest seed to lose so far). Finally, 5th seed Petra Kvitova loses a weird match to 11th seed Marion Bartoli 6-1, 2-6, 0-6.

Other notable results include 3rd seed Andy Murray winning a tight match against Feliciano Lopez in the third round and an easier-than-expected fourth round match against 15th seed Milos Raonic while 4th seed David Ferrer beats former champion Lleyton Hewitt in four sets. Other seeds through include 2nd seed Novak Djokovic, 8th seed Janko Tipsarevic, 12th seed Marin Cilic, 13th seed Richard Gasquet, and 18th seed Stan Wawrinka.