Tuesday, August 26, 2014

2014 EMMYS


The results are in and as usual there are some surprises (Orange is the New Black shut out), some not (Modern Family ... again), and some well-deserved triumphs (Breaking Bad and its cast).

While I would have been happy to see Matthew McConaughey make history (be the first lead male actor to win an Oscar and an Emmy in the same calendar year), I can't deny being completely thrilled for Bryan Cranston's win for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series for his stellar role as Walter White on Breaking Bad, which ended its five-season run this year (it also took Best Drama Series, Anna Gunn for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series and Aaron Paul for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series).

Personal shout-outs to American Horror Story: Coven winners Jessica Lange and Kathy Bates as well as to Benedict Cumberbatch, Martin Freeman and Steven Moffat for Sherlock.  Boo for no wins for the amazing Orange is the New Black and Game of Thrones.

And next year, Emmys, please recognize amazing shows like Suits and The Walking Dead in all categories!

Here are all the Winners:

Outstanding Drama Series - Breaking Bad
Outstanding Comedy Series - Modern Family
Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series - Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad)
Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series - Julianna Margulies (The Good Wife)
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series - Aaron Paul (Breaking Bad)
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series - Anna Gunn (Breaking Bad)
Outstanding Variety Series - The Colbert Report
Outstanding Television Movie - The Normal Heart
Outstanding Miniseries - Fargo
Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or Movie - Jessica Lange (American Horror Story: Coven)
Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or Movie - Benedict Cumberbatch (Sherlock)
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or Movie - Martin Freeman (Sherlock)
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or Movie - Kathy Bates (American Horror Story: Coven)
Outstanding Reality-Competition Program - The Amazing Race
Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series - Jim Parsons (The Big Bang Theory)
Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series - Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Veep)
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series - Allison Janney (Mom)
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series - Ty Burrell (Modern Family)
Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series - Moira Walley-Beckett (Breaking Bad - "Ozymandias")
Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series - Cary Joji Fukunaga (True Detective - "Who Goes There") 
Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series - Louis C.K. (Louis - "So Did the Fat Lady")
Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series - Gail Mancuso (Modern Family - "Vegas")

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Doctor Who Returns!


Welcome to the TARDIS, Peter Capaldi

What a wonderful introduction to the latest Doctor we were presented with last night with the premiere of Doctor Who Series 8 (in England, seasons are called series ...), which had Capaldi - a lifelong fan of the show - stepping into the iconic role previously played by 11 other actors, the last being the whimsically soulful Matt Smith, whose swan song aired last Christmas.

The great thing about Doctor Who, the reason it has continued on over more than 50 years, is because the character is able to regenerate whenever he's about to die - a process that has the Doctor completely changing how he looks and acts.  In reality, this process happens when an actor chooses to move on from the role, as Smith chose to do last year.  It can often be a daunting task for the casting director, trying to find the next Doctor, but apparently they had Capaldi in mind right from the start (in addition to loving the show, he actually appeared in an episode in Series 4 and also the spinoff series Torchwood).

Capaldi is the oldest actor to take on the role since its massive resurgence in 2005 (which started with Christopher Eccleston, David Tennant and Smith, the latter being only 27 when he started in the role ... Capaldi is 57).  So this Doctor (who is depending on who you talk to is either the 12th or the 13th - Smith was officially considered the 11th and John Hurt was introduced in this year's 50th anniversary special as the 12th, though in the line of regenerations is actually the 9th because his Doctor regenerated into Eccleston's\, who is really considered the 9th ... have I lost you?) is going to be a far cry from Smith's man-child one.  He already seems a little darker, a little colder, but it's going to be fascinating watching where these new travels with him take us.

No doubt the Doctor's current companion Clara (Jenna Coleman) will be dealing with that right along with us (the companion is thought to be the voice of the audience, often thinking, feeling and expressing what the masses might feel).  It's bee thought that Clara had a bit of a crush on 11 (Smith), but now that same man is old enough to be her father, and the change happened in an instant, so there is clearly an adjustment period, for both her and us.

For me, I've had the chance to get used to the idea of a new Doctor, which I didn't before, as I pretty much binged watched the show from Eccleston's premiere straight through to and through Smith's.  So I went right from Eccleston, who I liked, to Tennant, who I loved (still my favorite Doctor), to Smith (that took some time).  But bidding Smith goodbye last December and now hello to Capaldi, I'm ready for the adventure to continue with this new Time Lord. 

So to Capaldi, I say Fantastic, Allons-y, Geronimo, and whatever catch word his Doctor adapts!

New Doctor Who airs Saturdays at 9pm on BBC America.  Past series are currently streaming on Netflix.

Monday, August 4, 2014


Well, I've finally gone and done it.  Caught up with a little piece of TV pop culture known as Sharknado.

I have never partaken of SyFy's infamous so-bad-they're-good creature features before, but I got a chuckle out of the sequel's sub-tag line, "The Second One" and figured I had to see what all the hilarious fuss was about.  So I recorded the double feature and settled in for the craziness.

My goodness.  Wow.  The first hurricane to hit Los Angeles brings with it mega waves that spool sharks into the streets and sewer systems, through Santa Monica, into Beverly Hills and Hollywood and eventually up into Van Nuys.  Being a resident of the city, I naturally recognized the many landmarks affected and watched them destroyed by flying sharks.

Oh, in case you didn't already know, they were flying because water spouts became tornados that picked up the many sharks, therefore making them - you guessed it - sharknados.

Fighting the good fight are Ian Ziering (Beverly Hills, 90210) and Tara Reid (American Pie) as Finn and April, ex-spouses who take down the sharks with guns, chainsaws and homemade bombs.  It is one f-upped adventure to survive, and there are many casualties along the way.  But this is by no means quality filmmaking.  The special effects are quite laughable, the continuity is ridiculously inconsistent (It's raining!  It's sunny!  It's pouring!), but it's not a surprise.  In fact, it's exactly expected in films like these.  It's part of what makes them so insanely fun to watch.  And why it promptly demanded a sequel.  How can it not when the the climax of the flim features Finn cutting himself and friend Nova (Cassandra Scerbo, Make It or Break It) out of a shark that had swallowed them both whole?

Sharknado became such a phenomenon, it seems like everyone wanted to join in the fun of Sharknado 2: The Second One.  Ziering and Reid returned for more action - which this time takes place in New York - and in addition to being joined by Vivica A. Fox, Mark McGrath and Kari Wuhrer, the many cameos include Kelly Osbourne, Robert Hays (playing a pilot, a humorous nod to his Airplane! days), Andy Dick, Matt Lauer, Al Roker, Kelly Ripa, Michael Strahan, Judd Hirsch (another humorous nod - he plays a Taxi driver), Shark Tank's Daymond John (get it?), Perez Hilton, Robert Klein and Wil Wheaton.

The flick certainly doesn't fail to up the insanity.  The opening sequence finds Finn successfully crash-landing the 747 he was on with April, who were on their way to the Big Apple for a book signing (she wrote the natch best-seller How to Survive a Sharknado).  See, the pilots got sucked out of the cockpit after flying sharks took out the engine and disabled the jet.  Duh.  Also among the flight's casualties are Wheaton, who got sucked out the chewed out side of the fusilage, and April's hand, bitten off by an incoming airborne shark.

There's plenty of other gore and screaming and carnage in both *cough* films and the cheesy lines are among some of the cheesiest (feel free to grown and eye-roll all you want, but if you make a drinking game out of it, be warned - you won't last 10 minutes).  And yes, they even included several winks to Jaws, including the line "We're gonna need a bigger chopper." 

Sharknado and Sharknado 2: The Second One are exactly what you expect, no more, no less.  But who cares.  Love em or hate em, they have secured their place in pop culture history. 

And no doubt, there will be Sharknado 3.  But what will they call it?  The Third One?  Back for a Bigger Bite?  Feel free to leave your ideas for titles in the comments below! 

Sharknado is currently streaming on Netflix and Sharknado 2: The Second One is replaying on SyFy Channel.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Recap - Comic-con 2014


My annual trek to and through Comic-con came to a close yesterday, and it was a whirlwind adventure as always (20 hours in line for Marvel!  Camping out with very cool people!  Navigating the tightly-packed Exhibit Hall!).  I actually got to attend two days this year and got into almost everything I wanted, while I got the inside track from friends on some things I missed.

Here are some highlights (TV-related, of course):

Once again the Supernatural panel delivered awesomeness across the board.  In attendance were showrunner Jeremy Carver and stars Jensen Ackles (Dean), Jared Padalecki (Sam), Misha Collins (Castiel) and Mark A. Sheppard (Crowley).  I actually got to see Misha a couple of hours before the panel, as he came first jogging by us in line and later brought by coffee for the fans.  Got a nice shot of him:

Jensen is directing an episode once again and it's gonna be one hell of a tale if the clip he brought for us exclusively is any indication.  He and the others expressed their gratitude to the fans, acknowledging that they're still on the air after 10 years because of us. (You're welcome! - happy to have you still around). 

The panel gave us some very general inklings into the upcoming 10th season, including their 200th episode, which Carver says will be "musical-ish", but whatever is coming, it sounds like it'll be amazing and fresh, which is important for a show that has been on so long.  They left us with a glimpse of the always-hilarious gag reel, which will be included on the Season 9 DVD release this September.

Supernatural (The CW) returns Monday, Oct. 6 at 9pm with a retrospective of the series, then the 10th season premiere is Tuesday, Oct. 7 at 9pm.

I also got into the panel for the Cartoon Network animated series Teen Titans Go!, which was cool because voice actors Tara Strong (Raven), Scott Menville (Robin) and Greg Cipes (Beast Boy) were in attendance, and it's always cool to put faces to voices you know so well.  I am a huge fan of the original Teen Titan series, which was more mature and darker than the current Go! version, but the latter is quite hilarious.  Mostly I wanted to go to find out why they revamped the series to such a varying degree, but while I didn't quite get that answer, the panelists did mention that maybe in a year or two they will return to the original version.  I'll Go! for that!

New episodes of Teen Titans Go! air Thursdays at 6pm on Cartoon Network.

 Other panels I didn't go to but heard were fantastic were:


The panel for ABC's Once Upon a Time had a great turnout of stars, including Jennifer Morrison (Emma), Lana Parrilla (Regina), Robert Carlyle (Rumplestilskin), Josh Dallas (Charming), Colin O'Donoghue (Hook) and Emilie de Ravin (Belle), with a taped message from new mother Ginnifer Goodwin (Snow White).  Not present were the newest cast members Elizabeth Lail and Georgina Haig, who are playing Anna and Elsa, respectively, from the hit movie Frozen, but the new characters were discussed.

Once Upon a Time returns Sept. 28 at 8pm on ABC.

The Vampire Diaries also had a great cast turnout, including stars Nina Dobrev (Elena), Paul Wesley (Stefan) and Ian Somerhalder (Damon).  A hilarious video the cast and crew made was shown and I'm so glad it's available to see.  It takes place right after the season 5 finale, when Damon and Bonnie (Kat Graham) supposedly crossed over to the other side.  But did they?  Or is this what really happened? 

The Vampire Diaries returns Oct. 2 at 8pm on the CW.


Here's a one-two punch I wish I had been around for (it was on Friday).  I hear both panels were spectacular, packed with cast members, lots of news and great footage.

At least I can share the trailer for season 5 of The Walking Dead that was shown with you here:

The Walking Dead returns Oct. 12 at 9pm on AMC.

So, another Comic-con come and gone.  Can't wait till next year!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Emmy Nominations


The Emmys are coming!  The Emmys are coming!  Unfortunately not for everyone, but there are some deserving nominees along with the snubs.

Among those that I would be happy to see win include AMC's Breaking Bad, for its stellar swan song, along with stars Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul; Matthew McConaughey, who is poised to make history should he win for his role in HBO's True Detective (if he does, he'll be the first actor to win an Oscar and an Emmy in the same year); HBO's Game of Thrones, which is a tremendously exceptional series, and star Peter Dinklage, who has one hell of a screen presence; and Netflix's Orange is the New Black, which I'm not sure belongs in the Comedy category, but I guess if that gives it the best chances - it has one of the best female ensemble casts around.

Serious snubs include the amazing Tatiana Maslany for her many diverse roles on BBC America's Orphan Black, all of which she portrays to perfection; USA's Suits - by far one of the best series, writing and casts on the air; AMC's The Walking Dead, which failed yet again to break into the main categories; and - and I may get stoned for this - CBS' Survivor and Jeff Probst in the Reality Show Competition and Host categories (yes, I care, at least here).

All that being said, here is the full list of nominees:

Breaking Bad
Downton Abbey
Game of Thrones
House of Cards
Mad Men
True Detective

Lizzy Caplan, Masters of Sex
Kerry Washington, Scandal
Michelle Dockery, Downton Abbey
Julianna Margulies, The Good Wife
Clare Danes, Homeland
Robin Wright, House of Cards

Bryan Cranston,  Breaking Bad
Jeff Daniels, The Newsroom
Jon Hamm, Mad Men
Woody Harrelson, True Detective
Matthew McConaughey, True Detective
Kevin Spacey, House of Cards

Anna Gunn, Breaking Bad
Maggie Smith, Downton Abbey
Joanne Froggatt, Downton Abbey
Lena Headey, Game of Thrones
Christine Baranski, The Good Wife
Christina Hendricks, Mad Men

Aaron Paul, Breaking Bad
Jim Carter, Downton Abbey
Peter Dinklage, Games of Thrones
Josh Charles, The Good Wife
Mandy Patinkin, Homeland
Jon Voight, Ray Donovan

Margo Matrindale, The Americans
Diana Rigg, Game of Thrones
Kate Mara, House of Cards
Allison Janney, Masters of Sex
Jane Fonda, The Newsroom
Kate Burton, Scandal

Paul Giamatti, Downton Abbey
Dylan Baker, The Good Wife
Reg E. Cathey, House of Cards
Robert Morse, Mad Men
Beau Bridges, Masters of Sex
Joe Morton, Scandal

The Big Bang Theory
Modern Family
Orange is the New Black
Silicon Valley

Lena Dunham, Girls
Edie Falco, Nurse Jackie
Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Veep
Melissa McCarthy, Mike & Molly
Amy Poehler, Parks and Recreation
Taylor Schilling, Orange is the New Black

Louis C.K., Louie
Don Cheadle,  House of Lies
Ricky Gervais, Derek
Matt LeBlanc,  Episodes
William H. Macy,  Shameless
Jim Parsons, The Big Bang Theory

Mayim Bialik, The Big Bang Theory
Julie Bowen, Modern Family
Allison Janney, Mom
Kate Mulgrew, Orange is the New Black
Kate McKinnon, Saturday Night Live
Anna Chlumsky, Veep

Andre Braugher, Brooklyn Nine-Nine
Adam Driver, Girls
Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Modern Family
Ty Burrell, Modern Family
Fred Armison, Portlandia
Tony Hale, Veep

Natasha Lyonne, Orange is the New Black
Uzo Aduba, Orange is the New Black
Laverne Cox, Orange is the New Black
Tina Fey, Saturday Night Live
Melissa McCarthy, Saturday Night Live
Joan Cusack, Shameless

Bob Newhart, The Big Bang Theory
Nathan Lane, Modern Family
Steve Buscemi, Portlandia
Jimmy Fallon, Saturday Night Live
Louis C. K., Saturday Night Live
Gary Cole, Veep

The Amazing Race
Dancing With the Stars
Project Runway
So You Think You Can Dance
Top Chef
The Voice

Betty White, Betty White's Off Their Rockers
Tom Bergeron, Dancing With the Stars
Jane Lynch, Hollywood Game Night
Heidi Klum & Tim Gunn, Project Runway
Cat Deeley, So You Think You Can Dance
Anthony Bourdain, The Taste

The Colbert Report
The Daily Show with Jon Stewart
Jimmy Kimmel Live
Real Time with Bill Maher
Saturday Night Live
The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon

American Horror Story: Coven
Bonnie & Clyde
The White Queen

Killing Kennedy
Muhammad Ali’s Greatest Fight
The Normal Heart
Sherlock: His Last Vow
The Trip to Bountiful

Helena Bonham Carter, Burton and Taylor
Jessica Lange, American Horror Story: Coven
Minnie Driver, Return to Zero
Sarah Paulson, American Horror Story: Coven
Cicely Tyson, The Trip to Bountiful
Kristen Wiig, The Spoils of Babylon

Benedict Cumberbatch, Sherlock: His Last Vow
Idris Elba, Luther
Chiwetel Ejiofor, Dancing On the Edge
Martin Freeman, Fargo
Billy Bob Thornton, Fargo
Mark Ruffalo, The Normal Heart

Frances Conroy, American Horror Story: Coven
Kathy Bates, American Horror Story: Coven
Angela Bassett, American Horror Story: Coven
Allison Tolman, Fargo
Ellen Burstyn, Flowers in the Attic
Julia Roberts, The Normal Heart

Colin Hanks, Fargo
Jim Parsons, The Normal Heart
Joe Mantello, The Normal Heart
Alfred Molina, The Normal Heart
Matt Bomer, The Normal Heart
Martin Freeman, Sherlock: His Last Vow


Thursday, June 26, 2014

Review - Mystery Girls

No.  No, no no.

I was a big fan of the original Beverly Hills 90210 that aired for a decade, and I enjoy seeing people from shows of the past reunite in new stuff, so I tuned in to this ... show ... which stars Jennie Garth and Tori Spelling.  So sorry I did.

This is a bad TV, my friends.  Bad writing, bad acting, so gaudy in its production design and way too over-the-top, which seems to be a trend for ABC Family comedies (see Melissa and Joey and the Young and Hungry).  This feels more like a show you'd see on Disney or Nickelodeon, being that it's so hammy and exaggerated. 


Mystery Girls is about follows two former detective TV show starlets brought back together by a real-life mystery. Charlie Contour (Garth) is a suburban housewife and mother, while Holly Hamilton (Spelling) longs for her glory days in the 90's when she was on television. Both of their lives are disrupted when Nick (Miguel Pinzon), a witness to a crime and a ‘Mystery Girls' fanatic, will only speak to the infamous duo, and the former friends must reunite and put their TV crime-solving skills to the test.

Now, I watched the episode entitled "Death Becomes Her," which is labeled Season 1 Episode 1, which implies it's the first episode of the series.  It's logical, then, that this first episode would set up the series and resemble the description presented by the network, as pilots usually do.  BUT IT DIDN'T!!!  This first-aired episode explained nothing about who these women are or what they do, nothing about their 90's show, no clear setup that they have a detective agency.  Suffice to say, I'm thoroughly baffled by what I was watching and as I write this, my brow is crinkled in utter confusion. 

Not to mention I would NEVER buy these women as detectives.  TV detectives, sure, in a comic way.  But the fact that we're supposed to believe these actresses (I'm talking about Garth's and Spelling's characters) then give the profession a go ... I guess I can see why it would be a funny premise, but it so doesn't work.  AT ALL.  It's so bad, I still can't believe I made it through the episode. 

Poor Garth seems to be taking her role seriously, giving her straight-man all and trying perhaps to recapture the mild success she had when she co-starred with Amanda Bynes in What I Like About You, her first post-90210 foray into episodic television.  Maybe she's just glad to be acting again.  She still looks great.

Spelling, who is supposedly the brainchild behind this debacle, is playing ditzy dumb to the hilt, which is not funny at all, just very sad.  I know her personal life is a bit of a train wreck right now, and maybe she just needs to go and have fun with an old friend, and that's great.  But not when it's this awful.  She does not have her dad's knack for creating entertaining TV.

Pinzon's Nick is like Sean Hayes' Jack (Will & Grace) on a hundred Red Bulls.  The former worked.  The latter does not.  This whole show doesn't work.

I will not be watching any more of Mystery Girls - unless they scored a cameo by Shannen Doherty, which would be worth suffering through 22 more minutes of for the sheer madness it would inevitably be.  But maybe I'm missing something, so feel free to check it out for yourselves ... if you absolutely have nothing better (laundry, getting your privates waxed, watching paint dry, listening to a symphony of nails being drawn down a chalkboard ...) to do.

Mystery Girls airs Wednesdays at 8:30pm on ABC Family.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Farewell, Drop Dead Diva


Last night we bid goodbye to a really delightful series, Drop Dead Diva, which aired on Lifetime for six seasons.

DDD had actually been cancelled early last year but response from fans drove the cable net to bring the show back for a shortened last season, giving it the chance to wrap things up.

I wish I could say I loved the finale, but it felt too much like a regular run-of-the-mill episode rather than a goodbye.  Plus I was still wrestling with a decision the writers made a few weeks ago that didn't really have the time to play out, given there were just a few episodes left in the series run.


The premise of DDD is that a beautiful model, Deb, was killed in a car accident, but when she gets to heaven, she hits a "return" button on her welcoming angel's computer keyboard and gets sent back into the body of a lawyer, Jane, who had just died after being shot.  Deb went on to live Jane's life, maintaining her own soul and personality but meshing with Jane's intelligence and law know-how. 

The star, Brooke Elliott, pulled this duality brilliantly and was so likeable in the role.  Her on-screen love was Grayson (Jackson Hurst), who happened to be Deb's fiancee and worked in Jane's law firm.  During the course of the series, Grayson fell in love with Jane, and this last season finally learned that Jane was in fact Deb.

Then a few weeks ago Grayson, who was planning to propose to Jane, was shot outside the courthouse and eventually died, which was a dark turn for this rather light-toned show.  Grayson went to heaven and himself pushed the "return" button and came back into the body of a man, Ian, who had just been executed on death row, having been convicted of murder.  He calls Jane and lets her know that he - Grayson - is back.  Jane comes to his defense and in a whirlwind, proves that Ian was in fact innocent of the crime, gets him freed and jumps right back into her relationship with him.

Of course, no one can understand how Jane could be with someone just weeks after supposedly losing the love of her life (except her best friend Stacy (April Bowlby), who has known all along that Jane is the reincarnated Deb).  But again, we only have three episodes left at this point, so, in order to have a happy ending which this kind of show demands, Jane's friends and coworkers have to come around to accept Jane and Ian together.  It was rather forced and leaves us kind of hanging, which I'm not happy with.  The finale gave us a little montage of Deb/Jane and Grayson/Ian's love story at the end, and then it was over.

So that's it.  Again, I really loved this show and its quirky, likeable characters andthe  twists-and-turns its law cases (the fastest resolved in judicial history, but hey, suspension of disbelief) took in each episode.  I just wish we'd gotten a better, more fulfilled sendoff.

Catch up with past seasons of Drop Dead Diva now on Netflix.