Friday, October 31, 2008

Friday News Bites

(Photo Courtesy

Jon Hamm to Guest Star on "30 Rock"
If Christmas and birthdays, and peanut butter and chocolate could all collide in one rainbow of amazing, it might resemble this. Jon Hamm, star of "Mad Men", future SNL multiple guest host, and actual fan of "30 Rock", will be guest starring in the Tina Fey extravaganza as a possible love interest for Liz Lemon. Something is wrong. This is too perfect. I think I need to lay down.


"30 Rock" Rocks the Ratings
Last night's season premiere brought in some stellar ratings. The show earned 8.5 million viewers last night - up 20% from last season. Lets hope it lasts.

(Photo Courtesy of

BBC Head Rolls after Russell Brand Fiasco
Many on this side of the ocean may not know of Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand. Ross is a longtime talk show host in the U.K., whose style and experience comes close to O'Brien or Letterman. Russell Brand, who starred in "Forgetting Sarah Marshall", is a sex addicted, former drug using sexy god who hosted a BBC2 Radio show that followed the outrageousness of a Howard Stern. Well, looks like Ross (who should know better) and Brand (who's just crazy) got in trouble earlier this week for an October 18th radio broadcast that went a little too far, resulting in public complains, Ross' suspension from the Beeb, and Brand's resignation - along with the programming head.


The Daily Show Ratings Surge
Thanks to the heat of the current election, Jon Stewart and his crew got a nice ratings boost on Wednesday night due to Barack OBama's appearance. 3.6 million viewers tuned in, out doing the show's ratings high of 600,000.

Source: www.hollywood

John McCain to Host SNL
The Republican candidate will appear on SNL this weekend (Guest: Ben Affleck).


"The Office": Employee Transfer

This wasn't the Halloween episode expected, but the cold open was a satisfying call back to the great days of "The Office". Pam looked cute (although a bit creepy) in her Charlie Chaplin/Hilter get up, despite the fact that corporate New Yorkers don't dress up for the day. (We don't. I'm looking around now. Not one mask nor kitten ears in sight- not to say the streets aren't filled with holiday revelers). Creed won the Best Joker Costume award for the night, beating out Kevin and Dwight, simply by inhabiting the role rather than just playing dress up. Jim as "Dave" was amusing, but "Three Hole Punch Jim" from season two may have been his pinnacle as far as Halloween drag goes.

As Michael and Holly's love affair crumbles around them hour by hour in the front seat of Darryl's truck, it's clear that this episode was going to be a downer. Cut to Dwight pranking Andy by threatening to apply to Cornell, and "Employee Transfer" was quickly becoming a Frankenstein of used bits and parts from other episodes of the past. Mix in the Halpert brothers and their douche-baggery, and you have an odd, off kilter episode, making one feel that "The Office" of old has been left in the dust. Dwight sending up Andy with his Cornell sweatshirt and threat to apply to his Alma Mater? Seen it in "Product Recall" when Jim imitated Dwight and Dwight imitated Jim. Michael's sad road trip back with Darryl? Done. It was used in "The Negotiation" when they road hauled it to New York to ask for a raise.

But it's not the rehash that annoyed as much as storylines with a "B" quality feel being jacked up as primary plots. First of all, the running joke on Cornell and Andy wore thin last year.

Dwight and Andy acting like a duo of school aged children in a middle school cafeteria trying to one up the other was funny, but overkill. As the time ticked away from the meager twenty one minutes the network allows in between commercial breaks, the same Andy/Dwight give and take stretched out and bumped the probable Jim and Pam scenes most fans (such as myself) hoped to see . Also, the revenge Dwight plots against Andy, all for the sake of losing Angela was wearisome. There have been more Angela/Dwight than Jim/Pam so far. Sorry, but Dwangela does not replace Jam. If people find them too schmoopy and tired of their story - too bad. They are an important part of this show, and they are being under used, especially with Pam away.

As a fan of Holly, I was surprised to find myself really tired of her relationship with Michael. It dominated the last four episodes. Yes, the story arc had to unfold in a reasonably short time since Amy Ryan is only signed on for six episodes this season, but it was becoming too much of the Holly/Michael show. Perhaps it was used as filler for the lack of Jim and Pam. And yes, it was a lovely coupling, making a love worn Michael find a true mate. Yet, cue in the thunder. David Wallace played the evil mastermind behind breaking up the two by transferring Holly to Nashua. Apparently, our HR lady is originally from that branch, which confused many focused "Office" fans since in last year's season finale, she mentioned having been at another company...not another branch. Continuity, Writers. Continuity.

Michael's heartbreak over Holly's decision to break up was vintage Steve Carell. When he pleaded to Holly to not break up with him screaming, "I'm too weak! I'll end up back with Jan!" I was right there with him. Those tears? You couldn't help but weep for him. Oh Holly. Don't do that to Michael. Don't do that to us!

The meat of "The Office" for me has always been Jim and Pam, and once again, their relationship, something we have suffered through three seasons of strife, was pushed back as a "C" story. We finally met Jim's brothers! Yay, they are probably cool like him, or they suck. At least we'll get a feel for the Halpert clan. Well, almost.

The Brother's Halpert was a wasted opportunity of jerky, frat boy sadness sparked by Pam's hankering for a prank. Equipped with a lame story about her engagement ring being left in a smock, and the brothers playing along, this fan was immediately disappointed in our prankster Pam. A misplaced engagement ring? Come on, girl, you're losing it. Pam's set ups are much more artful. However, the guys have a better idea. Let's do that prank on Jim when he was with his girlfriend in High School! Yah! Hilarious! What ensued was uncomfortable moments of Jim being confused while Pam was the one being targeted. She handled it like a trooper, and was welcomed to the family by the brothers, in the form of a text message received while the future Mr. and Mrs. Halpert walk away from this date. If fans were getting the dry heaves over the saccharine sweet cuteness of Jim and Pam's missed voicemails a few weeks ago (which I loved), then this was my eye roll moment. The text message was a bit hokey to me.

But they do look happy and lovely together:

And at least they mentioned my beloved Mets during dinner.

There were some wasted opportunities in this episode. This has been a persistent trait in season five thus far.

Even the two minute replay of "Employee Transfer" is lame, since there are no Jim and Pam chowing with the Halpert dunderheads. Sadness. Again.

Next episode is entitled "Customer Survey" and airs on Thursday 11/2 at 9:30pm ET/8:30pm CT

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Thursday News Bites

Obama Ruled the Night
Obama's 30 minute prime time infomercial special out performed the usual programming in the 8pm timeslot on all networks. Brian Stelter reports:

Ben Silverman of NBC on the Outs?

As per Deadline Hollywood Daily, NBC Program Executive Ben Silverman continues to sit on his bubble of doom. The Fall NBC schedule did not bring in the viewers, and is being considered a failure at the hands of Ben. Paul Teledy, head of BBC Worldwide America has apparently resigned from his post. The word is, NBC may poach him for the job Silverman is sitting on.

World Series Ratings
Fox reports that the 2008 World Series, which had reported the lowest numbers ever Games One through four, ruled the night for Game Five, the game clincher. It garnered the highest ratings ever for the autumn classic at 26.3 million viewers. So, people actually cared enough to watch the Rays and the Phillies.

The Beatles and MTV Strike a Deal
MTV and The Beatles Apple Corps. have come to an agreement that will allow the fab four's music to be used in the latest version of Rock Band.

"30 Rock" Feature in
Nice feature from Alessandra Stanley from on Tina Fey and "30 Rock".

"The Office" Thursday! Tricks or Treat?

Just waiting on 9pm for tonight’s “Office”. The episode is entitled “Employee Transfer”. Tick Tock. Is it time yet?

“The Office” is the show I fell in love with back in 2003, when Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant created the cringe worthy, dark and funny, human and heartwarming original British series that transferred so successfully to the USA. The American version has taken on a life all its own. During the past five seasons, it has blown me away with jaw dropping heart ache, surprise turns and smart, gut wrenching laughs. This is the show that tugs at my heartstrings. I know these characters, and care about them as if they were real, allowing me to revel in their successes, join them in eye rolls in the conference room, and follow every move as they make their way through life, even if sometimes the results are a bit outlandish.

Sadly, I've been a bit underwhelmed by “The Office” as of late. The show seems off kilter to me. Yes, there are some funny, lovely moments here and there, but the goodness doesn’t hit me between the eyes upon original viewing. It takes two or three viewings to like what I see. The lack of Pam Beesly in the offices of Dunder Mifflin Scranton has taken a toll. It appeared as if she would be gone for only three months over the summer, which we partially saw in a span of eight weeks covered in the season premiere; however, three months has turned into five, as Halloween closes in, only to find Pam still in New York living the life of a college student without explanation. Meanwhile, Jim remains in Scranton, looking for ways to connect with her, not doing much growing, but staying strong in his trust of Pam. Perhaps this absence is to prove how integral each and every cast member is to the ensemble. It’s like a missing plank of wood in a DIY desk set from Office Max. Exclude one piece, and your table will be all wonky and rickety. It’s understood that Pam will be in tonight’s episode, but if she’s not back at her Receptionist desk soon, things will continue to be weird. And will she ever return to answering phones? Can you bring the girl back to Scranton after she’s seen NYC? I miss Pam more than I missed Jim when he was in Stamford. At least we saw more of him in Connecticut. Throw in Dwight having a baby watermelon, Jan being part of the Dunder Mifflin universe, Andy and Angela, Dwight and Angela, the likelihood of various twists and turns with plot and sloppy continuity (three months at Pratt is now five, birthday mix ups, which came first- Jim or Pam?), and it starts to feel like a regular sitcom rather than a fresh, goofy, human sitcom that wasn’t your average sitcom.

But, I do have hope. My heart is pounding at the idea of tonight’s show. We revisit Dunder Mifflin at Halloween once again. Creed will don his Dark Knight freakishness, and Andy will presumably be dressed as a member from the cast of “Cats”. Will Jim out do “three hole punch Jim”? (Spoiler alert) Speaking of Big Tuna, we finally get to peak into the Halpert family tree. His brothers make an appearance. It seems that pranks run in the family, and Pam uses it for good… or evil? Meanwhile, Michael and new HR lady Holly Flax are getting on like gangbusters, only to have David Wallace imply his unhappiness with their union in last week’s episode. The results of this discovery will play out in tonight’s episode.

“Employee Transfer”. Bring it.

Meanwhile, let's bide our time and hearken back to simpler days of "Office". Here's a photo from season two’s “Halloween”, when the pain was sweet and Beesly still had frizzy hair.

(Photo courtesy of

"30 Rock" in The House: Season Network Premiere Tonight

No, Oprah fans. The great lady (and Liz's Valium) is not in tonight's episode. But there is still reason to rejoice! "30 Rock" is back! It seems the new NBC television season began in September and left "30 Rock" behind, wistfully waiting for the last week of October to grace our screens again. Meanwhile, Tina Fey's stock has been rising during the heat of the Sarah Palin election circus, making all those "30 Rock" neophytes wonder what the fuss is about when the damn show isn't even on. Well it's on now!

Tonight's episode was sneak peaked on Hulu and iTunes last week, so the cat's pretty much out of the bag. The premiere is a doozy. Jack emerging from a limo to greet Liz is as much a sight for sore eyes as seeing Don Draper return to Sterling Cooper. All hell breaks loose as Liz tries to impress a baby adoption agency lady, played by Megan Mullally, while Jack, whose been locked up in a room in Washington D.C. with Cooter since the end of last season, returns to NBC and tries to earn his way back up to the top. Will Arnett is back as Devon. "30 Rock" is alive and well.

Now that Tina Fey has entered American's vision in these election times as the master-in-parody look-a-like VP hopeful (and doubtful), perhaps the curiosity factor will make non-viewers tune in and fall in love with this hilarious show.

This season promises to be a star studded one with appearances by Oprah Winfrey, Jennifer Anniston and Steve Martin.

"30 Rock" premieres tonight on NBC at 9:30pm ET/8:30pm CT.

(Photo Courtesy of NBC Universal Media)

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

It's a "Mad" Week: Mad Men Showrunner's Future in Doubt

This has been a busy week in the "Mad Man" camp. First Jon Hamm hosts "Saturday Night Live", then the season finale of the Emmy award winning show airs on Sunday, earning stellar ratings. Now this.

It's been reported that negotiations on bringing back "Mad Men" for a third season have been slow. Anxiety grew high as the second season drew close to an end, only to find that AMC had not officially picked up the show for season three - until a few days ago, when the "all clear" had been rung, and fans rejoiced that, yes children, there will be another year of Don Draper. Yet, all hopes have come to a screeching halt. Nikki Finke has reported that Matthew Weiner and Lionsgate have hit a brick wall when it comes to his contract. CAA and Weiner want $10 million a year, plus control over promotion and advertising, which, as Finke mentions, is fine for a premium channel such as HBO, but it's pretty rich for basic cable AMC.

This may all be smoke and mirrors to allow Weiner and Lionsgate to compromise on a decent deal, but it's scary for "Mad Men" viewers who appreciate the intense devotion and imagination of Weiner, whose own vision brought this story to the small screen. When a list of possible new showrunners is being considered to replace him, one of them being Aaron Sorkin (other than "Sports Night" - not a fan, me), the heart thumps through the chest in fear.

Lets hope that this is one of those tactics they use in Baseball, where the free agent holds out, looking at other teams as options, until the favored team wins. Although the show has been signed on for two more years with or without the original showrunner, it's clear: "Mad Man" cannot go on without Matthew Weiner. Here's hoping they reach a fair deal soon.


Update: According to Defamer, reports of Lionsgate looking to replace Weiner was only a rumor. There appears to be slight friction because they are still hashing out details, with back and forth still going on.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Strike TV: From the Picket Line to You

Imagine walking around in a circle all day, every day, for about three months while waiting for negotiators to work out a deal on your union contract. Meanwhile, you count your pennies, wait for good news, get splinters from the signs, freeze your ass off, feel the pain of bunions, and hope the WGA strike ends before you lose your house. In the midst of such goings on, you meet up with writers and performers from around the industry, pitching ideas, getting some gristle for the mill of creativity. Suddenly, one day - you've hatched "Strike TV", an online, original content website where writers and actors, who've bonded through the adversity of AMPTP and WGA battles, produce fresh new scripted entertainment programming for the web, defying the very issue that created a stalemate in the Guild negotiations to begin with (original content residuals).

"Strike TV" has been online for a few months in beta version, testing the waters of technology before their scheduled launch for today. The site is in the same vein as "Funny or Die", where content is devised primarily by well known and behind-the- scenes "well know" writers and actors, putting together short comedy films for the masses. "Strike TV" follows suit with various shorts by Kristin Wigg, Mindy Kaling, and Bob Newhart, to name a few.

Give "Strike TV" a look-see at www.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Mad Men Season Finale: "Meditations In An Emergency"

This weekend was saturated in "Mad Men". The very dapper Jon Hamm successfully hosted an edition of Saturday Night Live, where he and his "Mad Men" co-stars Elisabeth Moss and John Slattery dabbled in satirizing their beloved drama. Also, "Mad Men's" second season concluded in a powerful season finale on Sunday night.

"Meditations in an Emergency", the beat book of poems by Frank O'Hara, originally published in 1957, was featured in the season premiere. It's a slim book of rambling emotional free flowing thought on a man's personal quest to return to his own center. The book's mention set up a mirror to Don's struggle for his identity, the need to return to his true self, whether that is the roving Dick Whitman, or Don Draper, a man who will be left standing in the mire as the world crumbles around him. It is here where we found Don dealing with his mortality. A visit to the doctor warned of health risks and bad habits. He wasn't getting any younger, and that three pack a day habit wasn't helping.

He and the minions of Sterling Cooper dwelled in the middle of 1962, living in Camelot, waiting for the new space age, defining their roles in the social and professional mores of Madison Avenue, as the world found itself on the brink of a cultural explosion. Yet, last night's episode provided an intrusion on the day to day. The news was grim. The Cuban Missile Crisis was upon them. Kennedy worked to avert a national catastrophe. American's worst fear was at hand: A nuclear attack threatened. This was real.

"Meditations" is rehashed, this time as the title for last night's episode. We find all characters huddled in fear at the prospect of a nuclear attack at the hands of Fidel Castro. Meanwhile another invasion is brewing as Sterling Cooper is about to merge with a high power British advertising agency. The episode was explosive, as the fright of world decimation makes everyone face the reality of their own mortality. The confessions come. The truth begins to hatch.

Do confessions come about when one is on the brink of death? As bombs were pointed in the direction of these shores, there was personal redemption for most characters. In a tender and powerful scene, unforgetable in its grace and pain, the floodgates opened. Pete Campbell admitted his love to Peggy Olsen which in a confessional turn, inspired by Father Gill, Peggy admitted she gave birth to his baby. The crushing blow came in the words that followed, when she gently told him that when she gave the child away, she relinquished any love she may have held for Pete. The irony of their characters has always been devastating. Pete and his wife Trudy couldn't conceive, and adoption, a motion that appalled Pete, was a looming option. And then there's Peggy, the girl he loved and couldn't have, who unknowingly produced his child who was now adoption. The scene is like a delicate dream, hanging in the mind's eye, leaving the viewer breathless. Kartheiser and Moss shined in this lush exchange of superb acting. The result was stunning.

The center of the story of Mad Men of late has been the damaged marriage of Don and Betty. The glory of "Meditations" is Don's return home. He was indeed a "sight for sore eyes", as Joan uttered in relief. It was a homecoming, a welcome symbol of stability as we see Don walk through the doors of Sterling Cooper once again. But the mere sight of him at the stables, as Betty's pregnancy hung in the balance, was a moment of relief. No matter how liberated he was as the California sun soaked Dick Whitman, those Don Draper New York clothes maketh the man. It is here where Don and Betty's reconciliation has a modicum of hope. Her chilliness is tiresome, fearsome, and quite sad. Yes, Don was a cad in his relentless infidelities. Perhaps Betty's sexual dalliance with the handsome man in the bar will provide a buffer, allowing her the cushion of knowledge that if Don could be untrue, at least she is now even. As they deal with her pregnancy, we are still left in wonder as the bomb threat lessens. Now that they can go on living, what's next?

We'll find out when "Mad Men" returns in July 2009.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

SNL: Guest Host - Jon Hamm

Jon Hamm has established himself as a continuing future guest host of Saturday Night Live, along the lines of Alec Baldwin, Ben Affleck and Carmen Diaz. He was on fire last night in a bevvy of political sketches as well as incredibly fun "Mad Men" spoofs that thrilled this MM fan to the marrow. Cameos by John Slattery and Elisabeth Moss playing their perspective MM characters was a surprise and fun to behold.

Hamm has always had the funny chops to carry off a guest starring stint on SNL. You can see the glimmer of humor in his eyes on Mad Men, and the guy hangs around Jimmy Kimmel for God sakes. For a program that tends to be serious with variable degrees of lighthearted moments, it was a blast to find Hamm portraying Don Draper in a comedic light. Highlight of the night:
"Don Draper's Guide to Picking Up Women".

So much more was in store. A funny Halloween bit involving Will Forte as a neighborhood sex predictor, a hilarious spoof of a Vincent Price fright hour, where Hamm showed his impressionist skills by nailing a perfect James Mason. A great reunion with Maya Rudolph flourished into the Michelle and Barack OBama variety hour, whereby Hamm showed his JFK imitation skills to perfection. Here's hoping that Hamm returns for more appearances. He ruled the show.

Amy Poehler was missing due to the very wonderful fact that she and her husband, comedian Will Arnett had their first child the day before - Archie Arnett. Amy will apparently be leaving SNL, but will be working on the new Greg Daniels (showrunner of "The Office") project for NBC. Go baby mama!

(Photo courtesy of NBC Universal Media)

Friday, October 24, 2008

SNL: Update Thursday and Election Brings Back More Cast from the Past

Will Farrell, perhaps the best George W. Bush impersonator ever, made an appearance on last night's SNL "Update Thursday". Joining him was Tina Fey, channeling Sarah Palin.

More good stuff on SNL. In the same spirit of Farrell and Fey, Maya Rudolph will be re-joining the SNL cast this Saturday to portray Michelle Obama.

Also, the happiness continues. "Mad Men's Jon Hamm will be hosting Saturday Night Live this weekend with musical guest Coldplay.

"The Office": Crime Aid - Not a Recap, But An Unpopular Rant

Why is my rant unpopular? It’s because I'm in the minority of people who weren't thrilled with this episode. I'm missing Pam in the offices of Dunder Mifflin. Her absence ruins the fine balance of the characters as an ensemble. Also, as a Halpert fan, I'd hope that Pam being away would provide Jim an opportunity to discover his own independence and self as a manager. But that's not happening. Pam is in New York City studying art. Jim is in Scranton, not reaching beyond his comfort zone, not improving his ability to supervise with confidence or find his own interests.

For instance, last year we saw him try to take charge, only to be cornered by the staff when he faltered, as seen in the "Night Out" episode. Instead of the writers creating more situations that will hone his own strengths, he remains static. The only person he continues to be is the guy who loves Pam, who has encouraged her to spread her wings and get an education as he dwells in sameness, waiting for the day he can hit the highway to Manhattan. He's still stuck. In the first few episodes of Jim living Pam-less in a paper world, he spent an episode timing Dwight every time he wasted company time; he struggled to understand Pam's strange new Pratt speak about people he doesn't know, and he provided the Halpert face-into-camera as the crazies at Dunder Mifflin continue to mystify him. When is he going to have his Pratt moment? Does he even want one? It's dampening my worship of the Michael/Holly union when the main coupling is in this odd state of limbo.

Perhaps there are too many romances on this show. Andy-Angela-Dwight, Michael and Jan, Michael and Holly. Jim and Pam were the original. In season one and through season two, we saw the drudgery of a branch office in an industrial town where dreams are suppressed. The very existence was to just survive the crazy boss so you can punch out at five o'clock and get that paycheck. Brewing amidst all the drone-like routine was a lovely relationship between a very unhappy receptionist, engaged to her high school sweetheart, and a young salesman, who tried very hard to show that he was not in love with her. They had their talks, their pranks, their undeniable chemistry shown in subtle ways until the viewer knew that these two should be together. What followed was a transfer, a canceled wedding, a new girlfriend, and a very distraught Pam, who gained courage through her own journey - which we are still watching at a painstakingly slow pace.

Where did "The Office" I loved so much go to? It wasn't as if last night's episode was bad. It wasn't. There were a few laughs, and a bit of heartfelt sadness over Dwight's plight against the Andy/Angela wedding. Phyllis getting involved to help him was touching, and was symbolic of how this show can show humanity.

An office crime brings the crew together in an auction to raise money for...what, I'm not sure. Doesn't Dunder Mifflin have insurance?

Michael and Holly are officially dating and having sex. A drunken Pam butt dials Jim at 3am while having an all nighter with friends. She's having fun with other people - not Jim. Good for her, but still, it hurts. A bit later in the day, Jim runs into Pam's ex at Poor Richards, and a friendly conversation ensues, but not without Roy putting the seed of doubt in Halpert's head about Pam's fidelity. One can't blame Jim's for a sudden need for an NYC road trip, but I'm glad he decided he "wasn't that guy". After all, Pam's not that kind of girl.

Granted, it was great seeing David Denman back, even if only for a minute.

I love David Wallace. For some reason, seeing him was a sight for sore eyes. He reminds me of every 40-something executive I ride the Metro North train back and forth with everyday. He's professional in a dysfunctional company, and has a big heart. Will his discovery of Michael and Holly break their relationship into little pieces? It looks that way.

Enough with Pam in New York. Get her out of the corporate office. Finish her classes at Pratt. Bring her home.

Here's a two minute recap of "The Office: Crime Aid":

Thursday, October 23, 2008

30 Rock Premieres on Hulu Today!

Oh Happy Day! The internet premiere of "30 Rock" hits computers today on Episode one is entitled "Do Over", and co-stars the fabulous Megan Mullally.

I was also on set at 30 Rock during some of the exterior shots with Will Arnett and Tracy Morgan. (Missed Alec Baldwin by an hour. DAG!) It was fun to see the offical cut.

The show will officially premiere on Thursday, October 30th at 9:30pm ET/8:30pn CT after "The Office".

Monday, October 20, 2008

Happy Birthday John Krasinski

It's come down to this. No one is reading this blog. I know. It's just me writing stuff pretending I have readership. I can live in my own world of delusion.

I like this guy. I happen to know it's his birthday today. Although no one will see this, especially the subject himself, I wanted to throw out a universal shout to John Krasinski, six foot three, lanky-man, floppy hair actor who plays Jim Halpert on "The Office". He's also portrayed the heartbreaking yet funny Gideon in "A New Wave", major nerd Brethen in "Smiley Face", and the very sweet, deceitful yet tormented Carter Rutherford in "Leatherheads". (He was also in a movie with Robin Williams that I pretend never happened). "This Must Be The Place", the summer project he starred in with Maya Rudolph, helmed by Dave Eggers and Sam Mendes, promises to be amazing.

Krasinski's film adaptation of David Foster Wallace's book "Brief Interviews with Hideous Men", written and directed by John himself, has me waiting with baited breath for it's mythical, mystical release.

In my opinion, Krasinski has portrayed the most compelling character on television. Jim Halpert is the everyman to which John breathes the right dose of heartbreak and humor. This talent lends itself to other roles. John turns 29 years old today, but he's an actor spiritually older than his years.

Ok, enough. He's cool. He's funny. He also has great taste in music, and I'm a sucker for a guy with a good CD collection and a love for Indie bands.

Happy Birthday.

Mad Men: "King of the Mountain"

Last night's Mad Men, entitled "King of the Mountain" unraveled more layers of Don Draper/Dick Whitman's past. Several episodes earlier, we were taken into a flashback of Don's earlier days as a used car salesman. In walked a lithe blonde woman who took one look at fake Don and proclaimed that he wasn't Don Draper. Cut to 1962. Don's on his California journey, leaving the wealthy band of jet setting gypsies behind. He visits the mysterious blond, who turns out to be the real Mrs. Draper - Anne. Apparently, they share a past of friendship and secrets held close to the vest. Her lack of love for the real Don, made her bow to Dick's need to carry out the false identity, pretending they were married until Don/Dick (this is confusing) falls in love with Betty. "Look at you. You're in the lavender haze". I love that line. There is much to do with baptism, re-birth and renewal as Don walks into the ocean. Who will he be when he comes back to shore?

(Personal wish: I hope that Don's "renewal" makes him come back to tell Betty everything. Betty holds firm in no allowing Don to come back because he won't tell her something. She wants him to admit his infidelities, yet she seems to want to hear more from him. I'm hoping this all comes out. The chips fall. Then when the healing begins, they can find a way to stay together. I want them to work out).

Meanwhile back in Westchester County, Betty's odd desire to punish people is rearing it's Dipity Do head. At the sight of eight year old Sally smoking, she understandably (for those days) unleashes the wrath of mother hell on the child. But she's not finished. For good measure, she rings up the love sick Sarabeth to secretly take a pulse on how her broken heart is going, considering that she threw her into the arms of the young, nubile Arthur. Betty's gift of riding boots for Sally was a lovely touch in acknowledging that she may be engaging in motherhood more than ever. The notion of getting her period at that moment could be telling. There have been teasers forcing us to believe she could be pregnant.

Joan. Poor, lovely, lonely Joan. Here's hoping that she reads Betty Friedan before she does something horrible, like actually marry that rapist doctor.

Peggy is taking charge. Claiming her stake in Freddie's old office takes more testosterone than all the male copywriters can find together. Harry has to "stare at an Orangutan all day", and Paul Kinsey will continue to stew in his own jealousy while Ms. Olsen has her own wet bar.

Pete Campbell is an impressive man, if not a tad infuriating. He's like a stubborn, arrogant child who likes to throw his weight around at work, and in his marriage. Yet, I will say that it's kind of him not to harp about Don's disappearance to Peggy, admitting to knowing about the real Don Draper, but he didn't spill the beans. As for his wife forging ahead with the adoption despite his approval - he was well within his right to be angry with her and her nose butting father. Who cares if the Clearasil account is pulled? Campbell showed some cahones there. Here's hoping that he divorces that little muffin of a wife, and gets it on with Peggy once more.

Next week is the season finale. It should be explosive.

Mad Men News:

- Mad Men has been picked up for a third season by AMC. Details have not been disclosed since Wiener and crew are still in negotiation over minor items.

- Jon Hamm will be hosting "Saturday Night Live" on October 25th, with musical guest Coldplay.

Friday, October 17, 2008

The Office: "Baby Shower" or "Who Let Crazy Out of the Cage?"

Last night's episode, "Baby Shower", was a mixed bag of horror, eye rolls, disgust, laughs and heartfelt, tearful moments. The cold open was an assault of the senses as Dwight and Michael prepare to give birth to a watermelon. Dwight pushing out a butter smeared gourd was disturbing. If Jim hadn't intercepted the vision of Dwight's water breaking with his sane rundown of the absurdity, I would have run for the Smirnoff's sooner than expected.

"?" = "Delusional". Glad you said it, Jim.

Meanwhile, back to the A-story. The baby shower gets underway. Phyllis, whose Olympian success in making the Dunder Mifflin parking lot in "Goodbye Toby" an outdoor Chuckie Cheese, and earned her promotion over Angela as head party planner, is losing her touch. This shower makes Angela's previous party bore fests look like a ballroom wedding.

Michael warns Holly that he's going to have to pretend treat her like crap in front of Jan, so her witchcraft spells won't hatch and hurt them both. Holly is befuddled, but seems to understand.

The Bitch Fiend, AKA Jan, walks in with a newly baked baby, fresh from the oven, much to Michael's disappointment. He was all ready to help with the birthing of Astrid, AKA "Astird" too! He had Dwight's Magic Marker! Gotta place an ID on that baby or else she'll get scooped up by a mother who isn't crazy.

Suddenly, with no warning, Jan starts singing a Dusty Springfield classic to the comatose Astrid, and to entertain the group with her voice of poison. Twenty minutes go by, and it's "Jan Levinson, Live from the Break Room Lounge!". Jim walks out. Eyes glaze over. Shut up, Jan.

Cue - The Cold Winds From Hell: Holly, in all her Michael-type dorkiness, made a funny to Jan. Jan summoned the bats from Hades to descend upon the receptionist desk and humiliate Miss Flax to hell. God help us all. There is no humor, only ice water flowing through the Levinson veins.

If I have to view another episode where Dwight acts like a total cartoon idiot, I will cry. As soon as Jan's baby carriage was revealed to have cost $1,200, it was only a matter of time before Dwight would give it the inevitable Schrute test of doom.

Meanwhile, back in the land of Jim and Pam, it appears their separate lives are causing miscommunication and various language barriers. "Stacy Comesinagin" is not from France, but from England, and is a guy - as per Pam. Oh nevermind...she has to run into Digi-whatever class before her brains spill out. Jim is perplexed. Suddenly, the stomachs of thousands of Jammers are heaving from the pain of Pam being all swept up in a new foreign land called New York, where she's been brainwashed into learning an indecipherable language, while being all hip and cool. But all is well, as we see Pam, in a noisy laundry room, also fail to understand Jim's account of how Jan's toxic sing-song fumes are wafting through bull pen. Even Steven. Pam hasn't gone all funky town. Jim isn't lost in her artsy dust. They are just having a busy day where phone tag and noisy laundry machines rule. She misses home. She misses Jim. He wishes she were home. He misses her, concerned for her safety in the weirdness of a laundromat. As the day unwinds, and phone tag is turned into perfectly timed voice mail messages eerily speaking of similar stories, we realize that when they are not in synch, they are always in synch. "I'm being safe" she assures him. "Stay safe, Beesly".

With a sense of smell shared only by a hound from hell, Jan sniffed out a possible Michael and Holly attraction. "Don't date Holly", the wicked Levinson said to the shivering Michael. But Michael wasn't shivering in fear. He was quaking with courage and an awakening. He couldn't be Astrid's "baby daddy", and Jan made him feel horrible all the time. Yet, Holly's Lady Baker goodness made him feel better. In a lovely, unexpected moment, he gives Holly a very tender hug, filled with love and relief. The tears in Holly's eyes said it all. "Want to go out?" "Yes." Moments like these remind me why I love this show.

It's a good thing that Michael grew a pair before Jan turned him on to a 529 college fund for Astrid.

Here's a two minute replay of "Baby Shower":

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

"The Chocolate News" Premieres Tonight

Exceptionally funny man David Allen Grier has been around the comedy block for a long time now, making us laugh in guest spots, ill fated sitcoms and most famously in the long running Fox show "In Living Color". Well, Grier now has a television show all to himself. "The Chocolate News" premiering tonight on Comedy Central is the African America version of "The Daily Show". He'll play a host of characters and do some major mocking.

"The Chocolate News" Premieres tonight on Comedy Central, 10:30pm ET/9:30pm CT

Amy Sedaris Inks Deal for TV Show

Amy Sedaris just signed a deal with 20th Century Fox TV for a new television comedy show based on her book "I Like You". Co-Producer is David Letterman's production company Worldwide Pants. She will be co-writing the series with longtime collaborator Paul Dinello. No network has been selected yet, but word is, she will be shopping it to cable. Sedaris is one of the funniest, progressive, quirkiest comedians today. This new project is definitely worth waiting for.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Mad Men: The Jet Set

What a strange trip it's been. Don Draper hits L.A. and succumbs to letting is inhibition run wild. Not that it never had before in New York. But this is different. It seems that when the airline lost Don's luggage, and the heat sizzled his brain, making him hit the floor, he transformed back into Dick Whitman.

So many themes wove in and out of last night's storyline. Roger left Mona for a twenty year old bubble head, riding the wave of mid-life crises into the sunset. (Let's hope the wife everything he owns, including his socks and the suspenders that hold them up). Don's true self is unleashed by young Joy, a transient twenty one year old oddity, part of a roving clan of society lay abouts. Strange days. Don's L.A. journey was like a Hitchockian dream filled with imagined Betty sitings, heat exhaustion, and will power weakened by the need to liberate himself from the straight jacket of his created image.

Sal looked lost and confused as the Russian ad man hottie admitted he was gay. Everyone was flabbergasted and grossed out. Peggy lost her ponytail, and got a make over "Queer Eye for the Straight Girl" style. Betty was not home. But that luggage she kept dreaming about sits waiting at her front door.

As Don lived his hazy days in L.A., ready to take flight into another wild blue yonder, much like the space program of the time, Duck rounded up his British Ad Agent pals to buy up Sterling Cooper so he can take over and be president. Oh, that's going to be good. I have a longing to see Sterling Cooper get an ass whooping.

And Don. Last we saw him, he was shirtless with arm perched on the sofa. It's the compose image of the Mad Man logo of our suited, smoking anti-hero. Now he sits half naked, void of uniform, left arm stretched out instead of right. His cigarette in the other hand. Rebirth. Once he got that L.A. bug in his head, it felt like he'd never come back - or at least not come back the same.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Stephen Fry in America

How lucky the British public are in having Stephen Fry as their brethern. He's a renaissance man of the modern world, a ranconteur, writer, actor, comedian, director, documentarian, activist, humanist, newspaper columnist, novelist, blogger, Macintosh geek, techie freak, manic-depressive bundle of plummy British teddy bear joy. In his new documentary "Stephen Fry In America", which airs tonight on BBC1 in the UK, the forever curious Fry unfolds the wares of his travels across the United States within the past year or so, when he brought a camera crew, his laptop and his open minded British perspective on a country that claimed its independence from his own nation a few hundred years before.

My admiration for Mr. Fry began in the late 80's, when he and comedy partner Hugh Laurie ("House") brought their freshly baked Cambridge Footlights satire to the UK airwaves, appearing in various sketch comedies, culminating in their own BBC show "A Bit of Fry and Laurie", which evenutally appeared on these shores via PBS and Bravo in the early 1990's. Their encarnation of Woodhouse's "Jeeves and Wooster" aired on Masterpiece Theatre, and further solidified their resume of fine work both here and abroad.

In the tradition of the Great British BBC documentary, Mr. Fry, quite the man of words, provided a companion book of the same name to go with the broadcast. No one can explain the thrust of this project better than Stephen. Here's an excerpt:

"For years then, I have harboured deep within me the desire to make a series of documentary films about ‘the real’ America. Not the usual road movies in a Mustang and certainly not the kind of films where minority maniacs are trapped into making exhibitions of themselves. It is easy enough to find Americans to sneer at if you look hard enough, just as it is easy to find ludicrous and lunatic Britons to sneer at. Without the intention of fawning and flattering then, I did want to make an honest film about America, an unashamed love letter to its physical beauty and a film that allowed Americans to reveal themselves in all their variety."

Stephen Fry in America on BBC 1 on Sunday October 12th @ 9.00pm (And hopefully on American channels soon).

New Office Promo: Baby Shower

In the past, we've seen Dwight emerging from a warehouse after monkey sex with office mattress Angela. We've seen him handle is own urine in three different episode for three different reasons. Somehow Dwight's antics tend to end with him zipping up his pants. Here's the latest promo for next Thursday's episode: "Baby Shower" where Dwight dabbles in enacting another bodily function uncommon to the male gender. Meanwhile the office awaits the next lame in-house celebration, this time involving Jan and the long awaited birth of her spawn. Spoiler alert. Avert your eyes if you must.

This is my favorite part. This was my reaction too. Driving into a lake sounds good about now. Hopefully, the show is better than the promo. Frightening.

"The Office" - Thursday nights on NBC at 9:00pm ET/8:00pm CT

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Political Satire in a National of Few Laughs

Bill Maher has been one of my favorite television comedic pundits since his days at Comedy Central. When his show "Politically Incorrect" made its way into the mainstream on ABC TV, he found himself fighting off the foes of liberal minded chatter. Unfortunately, Maher's time with ABC was cut short after September 11th, when he said something about Americans being terrorists, and well, the network didn't take kindly to that remark, so off he went. Thankfully HBO gave Maher another chance with "Real Time" and a platform to speak freely, passion and all.

It's not my intent to write too much about political humor despite the fact my favorite shows are "The Daily Show", "The Colbert Report", and to some extent "Saturday Night Live". The realities of this week's stock market plunge while the nation plows through a heated presidential campaign, rendering hatred from one party to another, has made me cling to the comedy of Jon Stewart and Bill Maher. It's no wonder their ratings have soared in recent months. It's not just because people want their news with a smile. It's due to laughter being the only way to ease the fear and anger that has been stirred by accusations, lies and ignorance. Stewart points out the insanity by showing its absurity through jokes and irony. Colbert pokes fun at the right wing by becoming a characterization of them. Bill Maher creates monologues and bits such as "Exit Strategy" and "New Rules" not just to speak of liberal views, but to peel away layers of bullshit and throw the truth in the face of those who won't listen.

As Stewart, Colbert and Maher continue to make America think intelligently about the ways of politics and the downcast news of the economy, there is always the sense that despite the turbulence, we will prevail. Thank God we have comedy. If it weren't for the laughs, I think I'd ride that hobo train to hell.

SNL Highlights from the past few politically charged weeks:

Friday, October 10, 2008

As the World Crumbles Around Us..."The Office" is Still Here.

Last night's episode of "The Office", entitled "Business Ethics", wasn't one of the strongest; yet, even when the laughs are quiet and the story is tame, this cast and crew still provides the best television on air.

In terms of surprise twists and more Jim/Pam love making, there were low expectations going into last night's show. NBC had already leaked the cold open on their site, and provided screeners to their favorite bloggers (not me), giving the usual close-to-the-vest lock down on story lines a rest, perhaps indicating that "Business Ethics" was going to be a tame, non-explosive episode. Indeed, it was. However timely the topic of "ethics" is in this week's news of the day, "The Office" indirectly, and unintentionally, hit pay dirt with good timing by showing their small corporation's profound dysfunctional business environment. Since the real world economy is in tatters at the moment, and financial institutions are questioned for their ethical practices, the contrast was stark.

But let's put all that bad news out of our heads. This is fictional Scranton PA, and the offices of Dunder Mifflin are being presented with grown up issues as a result of Ryan Howard and his fine business acumen of last season. You remember douchebag Ryan of last season? He was in his mid-twenties, and never processed 9/11? He spent his days in New York, dating vacuous babes and snorting copious amounts of cocaine while cooking the corporate books? Yeah, that guy. (No McCain pun intended). The one who was lead away in handcuffs. Why is he back at Dunder Mifflin spewing false mea culpas while jotting names on his shit list instead of being in jail is beyond this blogger.

Nevermind. This was a Holly and Michael episode. They are a dorkier version of Jim and Pam. Partners in arms, they present the bored and bemused conference room bunch with a song and dance Olivia Newton-John intro of "Let's Get Ethical" to rouse up the troops and give Holly a boost as the new HR lady ready to take charge.

As talk goes back and forth about Post-It pilfering and pen stealing from the supply closet, Meredith reveals that she's been bartering with an office supply reps at Hammermill by offering sex in exchange for discounts and steak coupons. Has Meredith finally gone overboard? Yes and no. It appears that her actions are grounds for termination in the sane corporate world. In the Dunder Mifflin universal for the dysfunctional, Meredith is helping the company with that discount. Meanwhile, Holly gets reamed by the awful HR Corporate evildoer Kendall for not finishing a training session that Michael, in his silly childish manner, cut short due to dumbness. It seems that when Holly tries to follow the rules and question Meredith's ethical actions, Michael starts to see her as a female Toby Flenderson who sees his office, not as a family, but as an office. The nashing of teeth and little boy hatred begins. It doesn't last long. The wrath of Kendall hits a nerve with Michael, who wants to figure out a way to tell her "I told you so with a rose" or to let it go.

With the exception of the cold opening, where we hear her voice on a phone call to Jim, Pam was missing in action in this episode. There was a certain emptiness with out Miss Beesly. She's been in every single episode since the show's inception on US soil, so this writer was taken aback by the black hole of weirdness without Pam to balance the ying and yang of the office. At least she encouraged Jim to forgo his qualms about telling the crew of their engagement, leading to comedic results.

"The Tall One" spills the beans and is met with all the snark and indifference he had expected. Yeah, who cares about those two? They're so cute. So perfect. Don't they know that Angela and Andy are the engaged couple that matters? In hell? With Dwight on standby for Angela's booty call? Only Michael and we the audience are thrilled. His tackle bears the force of a million happy viewers, as Jim falls like a skinny tree knocked over by a bulldozer. "Sorry..." says Pam from New York. Yeah. Sorry, Pam - that the lameness of the Dunder Mifflin crew can't share the happiness we do.

Jim and Dwight were back to their give and take of hate and annoyance. During Holly's training session, she mentioned how company time was wasted by employees doing other things other than work - like hanging around a water cooler for a half hour. Dwight, in his super hero self diluted way, spoke of his time management purity. Yeah, Dwight. I suppose playing "Second Life" at your desk and screwing your ex-girlfriend in a warehouse back room provides good salesman skills. (Oh please Jim...Please find out about this!) Jim calls him out by spending the rest of the day not getting any work done by timing every sneeze, pee break and wink Dwight makes. Best moment was Jim's discussion with Oscar of the previous night's "Battlestar Gallactica". Watching Schrute cringe as a parade mash of up his favorite geeky characters of all time - Potter-Rings-Star Wars style - mock him was priceless. Oh, Jim. I love it when you're a dick. This must say so much about me more than it does about you.

NBC's Two Minute Replay: "Business Ethics"

Kath and Kim:
The highly promoted "Kath and Kim" premiered last night. The critic panned this show. Being a fan of Molly Shannon, I rooted for this one. But upon first viewing, sadly, it is quite the stinker it was projected to be. No laughs. No cohesive character development. There is no reason for me to care about these characters. They are annoying.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Sunday Night TV Overload: "Little Britain USA"

Sunday nights are sometimes the saddest nights of all. You unwind as the last hours of the weekend draw to a close. Before you know it, you're off to bed only to wake up Monday morning and the work week has begun. Luckily, Sundays have been rocking when it comes to television.

"Britain, Britain, Britain", croons iconic original "Dr. Who", Tom Davis, narrator of BBC America's "Little Britain" who continues his stoic vocal duties on these shores on HBO's "Little Britain USA". Davis is the omnipresent voice of comedians David Walliams' and Matt Lucas' world. His voice swells with pride at the mere mention of his great nation, almost to the point of sexual satisfaction, exploding in rapture and pride. Nevermind the implications. Puns and nastiness, bitchiness and pushing the envelope of gender, social class and sexuality has always been "Little Britain's" specialty; however, it seems they've lost their bite on that British Airways transatlantic flight.

The original "Little Britain" has been dancing over the American airwaves on BBC America 'lo these past few years, producing an array of oddball characters who lovingly mock various elements of British humanity with a dash of vinegar and salt. HBO has brought on the comedy of team of Walliams and Lucas to the United States, creating a local version of the BBC series where all the familiar characters intermingle with newly created American ones, to dish up a plate of weird that in some instances exceeds the original, yet fails in general.

They are all here: Vicky Pollard ("Yah but no but"), Bubbles DeVere ("Dahling, call me Bubbles."), Carol Beer ("Computer says no."), diet guru Marjorie Dawes ("Ohh...I luv a bit of cake!"), Dafydd Thomas ("I'm the only gay in the village") all and more have made the crossing, with the addition of a few new American ones to add into the mix. If you've followed the original, the U.S. version will have waves of familiarity; however, there is something missing from the new local incarnation: laughs. The characters maintain the same level of amusement and curiosity with an American twist. For instance, Sebastian, who in the British version is a government assistant smoldering with the lusty hots for the Prime Minister, is now the Prime Minister of England wanting the jump the bones of the President (portrayed by an African American actor, thus hinting at a possible Obama administration). For those who are fans of the original, this jump in character description is a bit jarring, and sadly, not as hilarious.

It seems the boys are trying too hard to be funny, as if the freedom of HBO gives them leeway to be more outrageous here than within the loose confines of BBC standards. A cameo by Rosie O'Donnell during one of their "Fight Fighters" sketches brought some laughs, but the last line of the sketch graphically describing something sexual (please don't make me say it) was a bit overdone and seemed created more for the shock than comedy. Of course the boys always like a little jolt to the jokes. Yet it doesn't hit the right pitch when it's gratuitous.

Walliams and Lucas rely much on the wigs, false teeth and fat suits, all adding to the curiosity of the characters. When Bubbles DeVere prances about in her evening gown, it's only a matter of time before she will disrobe and her dangling boobs are everywhere; yet, for some reason, her outrageous nakedness, so funny in the British series, seems goes to waste in sketches that don't hit the mark here. This is also apparent in the body builder buddies, whose names haven't been defined. Their outright Homophobia is parlayed into homo-erotic motions (complete in fat muscles suits) that try for laughs, but just seem forced.

"Little Britain USA" airs on Sundays on HBO at 10:00pm. But if you want some juicy laughs, watch the original on BBC America or download it from iTunes. The comedy is akin to Python and The Goons, with satisfying satire that exceeds their American incarnation.

Here's a sneak peak:

Bubbles DeVere goes gambling:

Sunday Night TV Overload: "Mad Men"

Since July 28th, the second season of "Mad Men" has been knocking my socks off. The plight of the mysterious Don Draper as he struggles to survive at Sterling Cooper, an ad agency whose glory days are behind them as the cultural revolution of the 60's awaits. The lives of those around Draper continue to be enriching, as we find Peggy Olsen, Joan Holloway and Betty Draper beginning to come into their own, whether it's climbing a corporate ladder, trying to define one's self, or standing on her own two feet. Meanwhile, the men are adjusting to changes in the workplace and the cultural pull of the civil rights movement and keeping afloat in the rat race world of Madison Avenue as it gets younger, artsy and cutting edge.

Last night's "Mad Men" was another nod to women of that time. Betty, standing firm on keeping Don out of the house, learning to deal with the dementia of her father while coming to terms with her own strength was moving. Peggy's own strength in dealing with the aftermath of her affair with Pete flourishes with delicate touches. She's evasive, non-judgemental and stoic. She resembles Don in resolve and determination to live out his advice: "It never happened. It will amaze you how it never happened". But you cannot deny, the chemistry between her and Pete is so strong that it might end up being her one weakness.

The male role on "Mad Men" is often intriguing to me. The having-it-all syndrome clashes with their profound unhappiness. It results in men such as Don having affairs - but never with his secretary. And it involves someone like Roger Sterling, stuck in the mud at mid-life, looking at younger women, trying to find a reason to leave his wife Mona. As for Don, it took emotional turmoil of Betty to finally bring herself to confronting him about his dalliances, thanks to the smarmy Jimmy Barrow who spilled the beans to her. Don, in his obstinance that resembles someone who has carefully brainwashed himself to believe his own version of his life and his truth, remains baffled at Betty's need to be alone. He never apologies, he never admits to anything. Betty's sticking to her guns, and as each week goes by, we find her evolving from a broken sparrow unable to get out of bed, into a woman who will hear a bump in the night, and not flinch. Even when she and Don had a physical connection - she was on top.

Last we saw of Don Draper, he was flying out to Los Angeles, a last minute decision, swapping places with Paul Kinsey, who had been given the word of his cancelled trip by Joan, his ex-girlfriend, who relished having to tell him to give her his ticket. Paul ended up going to a protest march down south with his girlfriend, proving he's the free thinking radical he tries so hard to be. Don ends up in a plane, with the sun in his eyes. I wonder if he will come back?

"Man Men" is on AMC on Sunday nights at 10pm, with a repeat at 11pm. We're down to the last few episodes before they break until next year, when we find Don and his friends in 1964.

Special Sunday Night Shout Out

"Entourage" - HBO Sundays at 10:00pm. This show has been on hiatus from being a comedy for a few years now. Too many improbable situations where Vin Chase gets in trouble, only to come up smelling like a rose somewhere on Boobs Island with a bunch of gorgeous babes was beginning to wear thin. This season, we find Vin's reputation destroyed by the stink bomb that was "Medellin", his passion project. Now all the roosters come to roost as Hollywood won't give him the time of day. The usual antics of Drama and Turtle continue, as their money train dries up. Last night they needed to take a break injesting 'Shrooms" at Joshua Tree to clear up their heads. Of course, Ari comes along. All hilarity ensues, and I'm sure Piven getting lost in the desert without a cell phone signal will earn him another Emmy award. Jury's still out on this one. And I used to love this show.

"The Life and Times of Tim" - HBO Sundays at 10:30pm. Animated comedy. The first episode viewed was entitled "Angry Unpaid Hooker", which in itself is funny. For those who love animated comedy, this looks funny and weird. It's like Ray Ramano and Lewis C.K. combined forces with Family Guy and had a threesome. That's the best I can do. I'm not much of a animation fan.

Friday, October 3, 2008

New on NBC: "Kath and Kim"

This American adaptation of the Australian hit "Kath and Kim" has been a long anticipated sitcom from the get go. It was lovingly brought over via Ben Silverman, an Executive Producer and now head honcho at NBC Entertainment, who had such luck in bringing over format rights for the UK's "The Office" and Latin America's "Ugly Betty" while at the helm of his very own Revielle Productions. Producing US incarnations of foreign sitcoms, once a gamble, now seems to be all the rage for Silverman, who has placed his bets that America will fall for "Kath and Kim" they way they did for Jim and Pam.

If the promos are anything to go by, "Kath and Kim" looks like an amusing program, utilizing the popularity of the one camera comedy. It stars Molly Shannon (SNL)who is single mom to daughter Kim, played by Selma Blair (Legally Blonde). The casting match up is an oddity since much like the Australian version, Kath is being played by an actress who is not that much older than Kim. This in itself provides an strange surrealism to the show, much like Monty Python's cast playing women and portraying more than one character per film. Add the dysfunctional relationship, by God, you have the ingredients for comedy.

Here's the premise: Daughter Kim gets married to a guy named Craig (Mike Daly) and leaves home, much to the delight of Kath, who embraces the empty nest like it's a second life. She falls in love with a sandwich shop owner named Phil, played by the under rated, wonderful John Michael Higgins, star of many Christopher Guest films. Just when she thinks she's regained that Oprah-like "you-go-girl" independence, Kim crashes back home, claiming she's getting a divorce, and all goes haywire from there.

The promotional spots actually look funny, but that might be more of a compliment to the Marketing department. Yet,when I hear insider buzz, the reaction is more of an eye roll than cheers of delight.

"Kath and Kim" premieres Thursday October 9th at 8:30pm ET/7:30pm CT on NBC.

If anyone is curious, here is a clip from the original Australian version.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Worth Watching, and Saving: "Pushing Daisies", "Dirty Sexy Money" and "Friday Night Lights"

There is nothing sadder in the television universe than seeing a compelling show hang onto the network schedule by its fingernails, dashing the network axe, and running from cancelation. Shows such as "Arrested Development" and "Freaks and Geeks" come to mind. Both were well written, funny shows with a cultivated cult following that didn't spread out to Nielsen ratings. What's a show to do?

"Friday Night Lights" is one of the many well crafted programs on air that has been given second and third chances for life. Now entering its third season on NBC (with it's initial premiere on DirecTV starting October 1st), "Lights" is one of the most emotive, well written, executed dramas currently on air. Focusing on a microcosm of American life, it takes place in fictional Dillion Texas where high school football team the Dillon Panthers is the celebrated life force in this one horse town. Hopes and dreams don't go far beyond the front yard fences of the families and teens stuck in this blue collar forgotten portion of America. The emotional turmoil stirred by family and team obligations of Coach Taylor, played by Kyle Chandler, weaves it's passion among the athletes and their personal struggle. You don't have to love football to love this show. The only problem is NBC's lack of promotion. Other than knowing that it will air on DirecTV (check your listings), it's hard to find when it will begin to air on the network itself terrestrially - if at all.

"Pushing Daisies" is a delight: A lovely, surreal bubble of dark, quirky fluff that had so much heart that it's hard to pass this up. Sadly, the writer's strike curtailed the show just when it started to take flight last year, to the point where it even fell off this writer's radar. Ned, owner of the quaint pie shop The Pie Hole, has the power to enliven the dead with just one touch. He's in love with his childhood sweetheart, Charlotte "Chuck" Charles (Anna Friel), murdered on a cruise ship, is brought back to life with just one touch, and the love story unfolds as they try not to touch each other for just one feel, and she'll drop dead again. Kristin Chenoweth and Swoozie Kurtz also star. "Pushing Daisies" airs on Wednesdays on ABC at 8pm ET/9pm CT.

Perhaps "Dirty Sexy Money" is not on everyone's favorite list. It's a night time soap opera with a killer cast: Donald Sutherland, Jill Clayburgh, Steven Baldwin, Peter Krause who elegantly bumble their way through a script filled with silly twists and turns of the billionaire Darling family. The storylines are so contrived you can't help but wonder if this show's intent is to be tongue-in-cheek or a full blown comedy. Why should you watch it? Peter Krause and Donald Sutherland, great talents who might be able to right this ship. The season premiere lacked bite and was a tad boring; yet, it's still worth viewing in case of improvement. It might be hard for ABC to put this one to bed since the cast is hot and it's an anchor to their Wednesday night line up. Airs Wednesday on ABC at 10pm ET/9pm CT.

If anyone is reading this...anyone...please watch the Emmy award winning "30 Rock" on NBC. The show is a tour-de-force in comedy, and the network doesn't promote it like it should. Even Fey had to give the show a verbal advertisement during her Emmy acceptance speech. It's hilarious, well written and acted. You cannot go wrong with Alec Baldwin and Tracy Morgan. It airs on Thursdays starting October 30 at 9:30pm ET/8:30pm CT, with a special online premiere on October 23rd.