Friday, February 27, 2009

30 Rock: Larry King

If you tuned into 30 Rock last night, and thought you had joined the Crypt Keeper Hour, with guest Tracy Morgan, you were mistaken. It was just another hilariously odd episode of the Tina Fey show with Larry King playing himself. There was also another installment of Selma Hayek portraying Jack's paramour Elisa. Lest there should be an overload of stunt casting, Jon Hamm wasn't in this one, causing me a tinge of sadness, yet a very nice mention by Liz that she has had sex two more times in 2009 than currently sexless Jack. If we count backwards to all the lovers she's had this past month - that would be zero plus one equals Dr. Baird. So, hats off to you, Liz Lemon, for getting laid by your gorgeous doctor boyfriend and having him take boobie shots of you before the first quarter ends. Kudos.

However, all is not rosey in Liz Land. Her iPhone - the most ubiquitously featured bit of product placement on the show these days - was left in a taxi, and is being held hostage by the driver for $2,000. It's either the money or the picture of Lemon boobage that lives in its hard drive will be spread across Livery cabs from borough to borough like that maple syrup smell from Jersey.

Meanwhile, the economic crisis explodes while Tracy is chatting it up with Larry. Jack is trying to keep Elisa from going off to Puerto Rico while juggling his need for sex, love and his need for greed as GE takes the brunt of the economic freakout. Also, the incredible and sorely missed Pete Hornberger tries to find some money that Tracy has told America he has hidden in a special place in 30 Rock that is hard on top, soft on the bottom but moves everywhere. That place was Kenneth's Page jacket - which came in handy when he helped pay off the ransom for the iPhone. Now Liz's boobs ("for once, the were pointing in the right direction!") will not be posted on the Fairway Billboard on the West Side Highway.

Hilarious episode as always. Since the story between Jack and Elisa appears to have ended (or put on hold), I'll miss Selma. Some bloggers weren't thrilled with her acting style, but I enjoyed the Baldwin/Hayek interaction. She brought out his warmth.

Also major props to Maulik Pancholy, who plays Jack's secretary Jonathan. His turn as the infatuated second hand man with a boy crush was and is always incredibly funny. Watching him play flute shirtless on tape in last night's episode was horrifyingly hysterical.

Now, lets bring back Jon Hamm for the ladies, please.

Wendy Richards

Wendy Richards, star of Are You Being Served and Eastenders as well as British Carry On films, passed away yesterday at the age of 65 after a long battle with breast cancer.

Wendy Richards was a sparkling, underrated talent in this country; yet, for those of us who have known and enjoyed her work, she held a very special place in our television cult hearts. Her portrayal of the great British working class heroine was filled with dignity, humor and nice dose of salt. It was hard not to admire her and her fine body of work.

Back in 1992, I was living off the Edgeware Road in London for a few months, soaking in the UK life on a few severance checks from old jobs. Along Crawford Avenue, a quiet residential respite away from the bustle of Edgeware, I saw the long white blond banged hair of Richards from a distance. She was walking her dog. Now, I've seen plenty of celebrities. I've worked with some, and have supported many people known in the public eye; however, seeing a famous British television star was exotic. Some British actors are only known in cult-like PBS viewing Anglo loving circles. When you see a person who has enlivened ficitional beings on a funny soap or drama from Blighty, their image is as foreign as the soil in which they live. It's one thing to see David Letterman or perhaps Tom Cruise walking down the street. Their wow factor is obvious. But to see a famous Brit who could turn nary a head on the streets of Manhattan, is a pleasant and heart warming surprise - as if they are part of a secret society of people you know and admire - but no one else in your world has a clue. (Perhaps that is why Hugh Laurie's fame is so wonderful yet weird to me. He's now known by all in the mainstream USA celebrity machine when he was once my little hero on Black Adder and A Bit of Fry and Laurie.)

Nevertheless it was a thrill seeing the lady who portrayed Miss Brahms and then later the vinegar filled yet good hearted Pauline Fowler walking her little dog on an overcast afternoon in London.

Fun fact: Richards was also in the Beatles movie Help!, but her scenes ended up on the cutting room floor. She made up for that in spades.

Rest in Peace Mis Brahms. So long, Pawleene.

Sources : NYTimes, BBC

Thursday, February 26, 2009

NBC Announces New Comedy Reality Series with Jerry Seinfeld

NBC has announced that they have entered into a agreement with Jerry Seinfeld and his production company Columbus 81 to produce a new reality comedy series starring Seinfeld himself. Called The Marriage Ref, it will involve comedians, actors and sport figures who try to resolve relationship disputes with their significant other, leading to hilarious results.

It's nice to see Jerry back; however, it's sad to see yet another reality show being added to prime time. NBC just sealed a deal with motivational guru Tony Robbins; yet, there is scant info on new scripted programming. Low cost production seems to be the way to go, and might explain why the AMPTP gave the WGA problems during the writer's strike that goes beyond new media.

Looks official. If you want good, quality sitcoms other than or addition to The Office, 30 Rock, go to CBS on Monday nights or cable - Jerry's show. Reality or not, it could be groundbreaking.

Source: NBC Universal

Yes, Jindal Does Sound Like Kenneth the Page

As Late Night with Jimmy Fallon prepares for it's maiden episode on Monday, Fallon and team are working on test shows that have been making the internet rounds. Jack McBrayer shows up for some Kenneth duty by arguing that he is cooler than Jindal the Republican from Louisiana.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

NYTimes Spoof for 92Y Tribeca

Brilliance. Sheer brilliance. This has been online for a while, but Webby McSpeedyson over here finally got around to seeing it today. Here's a hilarious bit of comedy from David Wain, Ken Marino, Paul Rudd, Todd Barry plus a butt load of very funny comedians.

Is That Norm from Cheers?

I really hope this is just a big, beautiful lion sleeping on top of a dirt hill with Norm from Cheers photo shopped behind him (not that it IS George Wendt), because I'd hate to think anyone would have really shot that majestic, gorgeous creature. This photo appeared in a feature on Carl Icahn and Lionsgate on DeadlineHollywoodDaily.

Speaking of Cheers, Emmy Award winning writer Ken Levine (say that with an Elmer Fudd accent) wrote a funny and fascinating entry on his blog about getting hired on the show: Cheers Amnesia.

"Arrested Development" Movie Has Been Unleashed From the Chains of Cera

Hey, Michael Cera! I'm looking at you. Yes you. Put that fugly camera down.

The Arrested Development Movie has now been officially green lit. The last piece of of the casting puzzle has finally agreed to be in the flick. Michael Cera, the young'n who played the lovable and sweet George Michael Bluth, now big star of Juno and Superbad, was the one hold out. The entire cast of well seasoned, hilarious, talented actors, such as Jessica Walter, Jeffrey Tambor, Jason Bateman, Portia de Rossi, still my laughing heart...Will Arnett, were all willing and ready to reprise their now classic roles, only to be held up by Cera's hesitation to join. However, Co-Executive Producer and narrator Ron Howard did spill the beans during the Oscar red carpet chats just by saying that yes, the film was a definite go as his eyes glowed with happiness. It seems that Cera finally came to his senses, realized what a fantastic opportunity it would be to work with this awesome group of funny actors, and decided to become George Michael once again - this time on the big screen.

Well, it's about time, Cera. All this too-cool-for-the-room snarkiness was growing old. The "you can always watch all three seasons on DVD" was getting way past lame. Know the hand that fed you. Don't bite it. But having said that - thank you for finally seeing the light. Putting the dysfunctionally funny Bluth family in cinemas will be awesome with cheese on a bun. More GOB magic tricks!

Gratuitous photo of the cast I love...

"It's Arrested Development..."

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Andy Richter to be Announcer on "The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien"

NBC Universal announced today that former Late Night Conan sidekick Andy Richter will be rejoining the late night host as official announcer on The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien when it premieres in June. Of course, as in the old Tonight Show tradition, the announcer is usually the sidekick. Life is cyclical. Nice to see Andy back with the Cone-ster. However, I'm still broken hearted over O'Brien leaving New York, so I'll have to ease into it. Having Andy back will make that easier. (Can they bring back his little sister Stacy too?)

Source: NBC Universal

Monday, February 23, 2009

Flight of the Conchords: Love is the Weapon of Choice

Perhaps it was the boring snore of an Oscar ceremony that bummed me out for the night, but I wasn't feeling Sunday's new episode of Flight of the Conchords. I hate to say this because Bret and Jemaine are so genuine, sweet and funny that even when a show isn't their best, there is always a sparkling morsel of gemstone to mine. However, last night's episode entitled "Love is the Weapon of Choice" was a strange mixture of familiar storyline rehashed from last year's "Sally"episode, with songs that didn't jive in my ear (with the exception of their finale on dogs). I blame Hugh Jackman for this less than happy review. He harshed my mellow.

While jogging in the park, the boys meet up with Brahbrah, played by the ubiquitous SNL "It" girl, Kristin Wiig who is searching the park for her epileptic dog. The boys each fall in love with her because she's a girl with a cute button nose, and they are horny dudes who'll fall in love with any girl who'll speak to them. Especially any girl who isn't named Mel - their number one super fan, and slightly deranged but lovable stalker.

Yes, Wiig is funny, but Christ on a cracker, does she have to be in everything? You can't turn your head without seeing her in a Judd Apatow film, 30 Rock, every Saturday Night Live sketch that requires a weirdo. I'm glad she getting work, but I'm seeing her in my sleep. She's actually alright as Brahbrah, but I'm Wiig'd out. Again, I blame Hugh Jackman for this attitude.

Both believing Brahbrah (holy batman that name!) likes the attributes of the other, Bret steals Jemaine's glasses and clothes, while Jemaine glues on a Bret-like beard, each sharing a date to woe her with charm. (Sally? Where are you?)

Fed up with competing, they challenge each other to a duel. Very cute. But frankly, it was handled within the shriek of a song that came close to making my ears bleed. I was tempted to switch back to the hideous Oscars to view Jackman perform his tribute to movie musicals which are supposedly back (insert jazz hands here) - but not. (Don't tell him, but Mamma Mia and High School Musical are not quality enough to re-claim the genre in 2009).

In order to impress Brahbrah, the guys help set up a charity event for epileptic dogs. This was actually pretty funny. PowerPoint slides with photos of cute pups and lists describing the dangers of epilepsy were accompanied by a signature funny song that truly worked. However, all goes awry when their strobe light show made all the effected dogs go into seizure. As they leave the venue, Brahbrah mentions that some even died. Oh dear. I know, I know...Conchords have an absurdist view of humor, and no animals were hurt in the making of this show, but I'm a dog lover. Despite the icky, yet funny allusions to dogs shaking in the lyrics of their song, I don't want to imagine, even in jest, the death of a pooch.

It turns out Brahbrah thought Bret and Jemaine were gay. When they clear up the confusion, she admits to digging Bret. Jemaine is left in the dust. Again, I blame Hugh Jackman.

Of course, not every episode can be perfection. Since last week's episode was filled with stellar music and the well balanced quirky comedy we've come to expect from Flight of the Conchords, they were bound to have a less successful one, even if they do look pretty damn cute in shorts.

Speaking of showing some leg, well not their legs - Flight of the Conchords had a Q&A in Playboy recently. Check out the premiere fan site, for a better than real scan. The site is run by Sherry. She's the boys main webchick who has been championing them from the beginning (before HBO and America found them).

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Ok...Maybe I will Watch SOME of the Oscars

I will be Twittering. I will be reading other Twitters. The gowns on the red carpet on E! have drawn me in. Just when I thought I was out...

Saturday, February 21, 2009

What I Won't Be Watching

The Oscars will be on ABC Sunday Night, and I will be avoiding it all: the red carpet, the ceremony, the self satisfying grins, the boring gowns, and host Hugh Jackman doing high kicks in a dance number. I will have no interest in seeing these things.

I am also not interested in seeing Kate Winslet win an award, only to have to see her re-enact her sappy, tear filled, time halting speech at the Golden Globes which turned into two speeches after she won Best Actress for one of those two films she gave the world this past year. Nor will I see the solemn faces of Hollywood as they see Heath Ledger win his award posthumously. I am also not interested in the feel good Bollywood film of the year, which could very well win Best Picture. It was very nice, but not all that. It was a weak year for film, although there were a few good ones such as Doubt, which has multiple Best Actor/Actress awards for acting, but not for Best Picture. Shame. The film was an absorbing, thought provoking experience.

No red carpet for me. There is no desire to even see the best and worse dressed the day after on WireImage or in People. No. I will be watching Flight of the Conchords on HBO, and keeping myself occupied with other Sunday night distractions, but no Oscars for me.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Will Michael Scott Be Leaving Dunder Mifflin?

The second half of season five's Office is heating up with more mystery. Kobi from reports that a big storyline regarding Michael Scott and the new corporate head honcho, played by The Wire's Idris Elba, might see our favorite boss of dorkidom walk out of the Scranton branch in a "Jerry Maguire moment" while another faithful employee follows him out the door in solidarity. Who could it be? Jim? Andy? Not more Pam-lessness at Reception, please! My first guess was Dwight, but wouldn't that be too obvious? Whatever the outcome may be, fan sites are abuzz. Since this episode could possibly be the one called "Two Weeks Notice", and is scheduled for later in the spring, there will be plenty of time to speculate and ring our hands over the possibility of losing the Regional Manager of Dunder Mifflin until the corporate office comes to its senses - or Elba's character leaves. He is only signed on for six episodes. However, a Scranton branch without Michael could Scooch Jim to the number one position. Could this give us the Halpert character growth we all hoped to see? Unless...Jim is the one that follows Michael out the door, that's another open ended question.

The next new episode entitled "Blood Drive" will air on March 5th. It's Valentines Day in March! What will cupid, ever late as can be with his holiday episode (thanks NBC) provide? Jim and Pam PDA, which will lead to their banishment from the office for the day. Lets hope it's hot, sexy PDA, because fans such as myself are waiting for some Halpert/Beesly deep smooching. The future Halperts have lunch with the present day Vances of Vance Refridgeration. Michael finds a mysterious love interest at the office Blood Drive. Dwight and Kevin pair up with some ladies at a Lonely Hearts party. Angela splits an atom and re-recreates nuclear fusion using cat fur and yarn, while Oscar finds the cure for infertiliy. What? Forget the last part.

Remember when these stories were simple? "The Dundies" in season two was just that - an office awards ceremony with subtle situations among the staff. "Office Olympics" was just that - a way for the staff to pass the time while the boss was out closing on his condo. "The Injury" was all about Michael's injury, and the concussion Dwight incurred while trying to go "rescue" him. All quiet, funny, deeply satisfying stories without extra layers of drama, over the top comedy or new plot lines. I fear all this office search for romance among the second tier characters getting tired. But I hold out hope that they'll provide me wrong.

Oh dear, and am dire on a Friday aren't I? Again - I love this show, and only want it to be back on track.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Conan's Last Stand

So, this is it. Tomorrow night will see the last show of Late Night with Conan O'Brien before our easily sunburned jester will be taking his laughs and boarding a flight to Los Angeles for good. I don't want him to go. Taking our east coast funnyman away to already production heavy Los Angeles is rough. Conan has roved through every inch of gritty, hip, yet real Manhattan for hilarious bits and remote segments. I don't need to see him do the same in the sunbaked streets of L.A.

The challenges he has to face are daunting. He will continue to follow Leno, with a time shift that will test his comedic mettle. Entertaining an earlier audience whose comedy sensibilities might not jive with Conan's quirkiness will be a challenge he'll face. Also, fighting for guests in Los Angeles with Kimmel and Leno will be a tough battle.

I hope Conan all the best, but I doubt I will be able to bring myself to watch him. As much as I hope Jimmy Fallon succeeds with his own following, I may have to give a pass. It looks like Letterman will be my late night show of choice, once again; yet, sadly, he has lost his edge over the years, so perhaps not.

Tomorrow night's last stand in Studio 6A will mark the end of an era. The show will go dark and be taken over by a Lorne Michaels' favored comedian in the studio across the hall. Conan will take up residence in a brand new sound stage on the Universal lot. And here we are, with a new late night television landscape, where scripted television have been scaled back, and a sudden dearth of low cost talk shows are spread out before us like a buffet.

I wish Conan good luck, eventhough I will be keeping my distance with the new Tonight Show for a while after it premeires.

In tribute, here are some of my favorite Conan bits over the years:

Emmy Awards:

1864 Baseball:

Conan's Help During the NYC Transit Strike:

Triumph The Insult Comic Dog Visits Star Wars Geeks Part 1:

Park 2:

Andy's Little Sister Stacy - Thanksgiving (Amy Poehler):

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Television and the Winter Doldrums

Seasonal Affective Disorder getting you down? Here are two new shows that will brighten your sun starved brain... or not...depending on what floats your boat:

In the Motherhood premieres on ABC Thursday, March 26th at 8pm EST/9pm CST. It's based on the original web series that starred Leah Remini, Jenny McCarthy and Chelsea Handler. The network television incarnation stars Cheryl Hines, Megan Mullally and Jessica St. Claire, reprising the daily hardships and hilarity of motherhood. I'm sure all mothers out there will get a good knee slapping laugh out of this. As much as I love Mullally in anything - I loved the original ladies, and was sorry they didn't sign up for the ABC venture. Newly svelte Horatio Sanz also stars.

Parks and Recreation, the highly anticipated new series from the makers of The Office, will premiere on Thursday, April 9th at 8:30pm EST/7:30pm CST on NBC. Also starring Rashida Jones and Aziz Ansari it will have the same mockumentary feel as showrunner Greg Daniel's "mother show", but will take place in a government office. Love Amy, and hope the show does well - but I have a soft spot for the old gang over at Dunder Mifflin, and fear that the quality of The Office has suffered a bit since Daniels and Writer/Producer (and Mose) Michael Schur have left the building to tend to Poehler's vehicle. So, there's a little "lets see" about this one.

If there is any consolation, it appears that it's knocking not so great Kath and Kim off the schedule for a while. No word on whether or not it will come back, but NBC has always been committed to that show, so it's probably going to return like that recurring rash you thought you had beaten before the holidays.

Reality shows continue to infest the airwaves like sharks in the water. The Real Housewives of New York came back last night. I had never watched this show before, so imagine my surprise when it all started with a caddy cat fight that is the talk of the internet today. I feel like my brain cells are withering just thinking about it. Who are these women and why are they the real housewives? Don't they know New York is the mecca of socialite domestic queens and anyone worth their Pradas and Trump penthouse would never do such a show? All the Gucci and BMW's and boyfriends who are Counts in a European country can't buy these ladies any class. And that's why people tune in. Interested? It's on Bravo. Check your local listings.

TLC has made The Duggars a household family name. I admit it. I like this family. Yes, they are super religious, and follow Jesus in a cult-like way, but I can't help but enjoy their attitude to life, despite feeling a bit uneasy with their belief that children are like God's flowers. Nevertheless, the crew of seventeen kids and father Jim Bob went to El Salvador to see first hand the poverty that pervades, like missionaries out to provide a helping hand. It was heart wrenching, heart warming, and so much better than seeing the chaos and bitchiness of TLC's other big hit Jon and Kate Plus 8, which I can only stand for thirty seconds before Kate's well coiffed head starts to explode in anger over Jon's tensed skull. No thanks, guys. I'll pass on that family. They are not the cure for the winter blues, but rather a reason to go see a shrink.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Flight of the Conchords: Too Many D**ks...

Last night's episode of Flight of the Conchords was the best one out of the second season bunch so far. With special rivalry between Australia and New Zealand rearing it's hilarious head in Jemaine's tryst with a Sheila, Murray and Bret's disapproval and some of the two best songs the boys have put out there, it was a rocking night.

"You guys are dorking out my vibe with all the dicks..."

"Shut up, girlfriends from the past..."

Saturday, February 14, 2009

SNL: Alec Baldwin

Saturday Night Live is all new tonight with Guest host Alec Baldwin and musical guest The Jonas Brother.

NBC - 11:30pm EST.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Parks and Recreation: Latest Promo Spot

After many months of covert planning and casting, not to mention a few working titles, Amy Poehler's new sitcom Parks and Recreation is gelling into an actual show with promos and everything. Here's another spot shilling the new sitcom, and it looks pretty damn funny:

Also starring Rashida Jones and Aziz Ansari, Parks and Recreation is coming to NBC on Thursdays this March.

Office and 30 Rock Night

The Office: Lecture Circuit: Part II will air tonight on NBC at 9:00pm EST.

Continuation of Pam and Michael on the road, heading for Holly closure in Nashua. Jim and Dwight's reluctant and snarky party planning continues, much to my delight, and Angela deals with a new cat. Last week's Part I was back to the old classic Office way, so tonight's second part promises to bring us more goodness.

30 Rock' "St. Valentine's Day" airs tonight on NBC at 9:30pm EST.

Totally unaware that's it's Valentine's day, Liz embarks on her first date with the handsome Doctor Drew...not that Doctor Drew - although they are both quite the dreamboats. Jack and Elise go out on, what is being termed, an "unconventional" date. And yes, Liz gets caught on the can.

The Best Week Ever

Jon Hamm will be joining Paul F. Tompkins on The Best Week Ever tomorrow night at 11pm EST on VH1. I love it when Hamm is in his funny mode, and thrilled he's getting in some laughs before he slicks down his hair and gets his Don Drapper on for production on Mad Men this spring.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Wednesday Night: Three Way Clash with a DVR

They'll be a hot time at the old DVR tonight. Many noteworthy programs are airing. Of course there is Lost on ABC at 9pm EST. I've never watched it, and my disinterest has rendered it too late to start now. But Wednesdays are a little brighter thanks to other shows that may not have the same buzz as those sweaty, desperate looking people on that weird universe. Dharma Inititative...whatever. I'm a girl that rolls in the direction of retro-TV, music and some laughs.

That's why I'm watching....

Life on Mars - 10pm ET on ABC. After last week's strange episode where Sam digs up a body in Hastings and Ray's dealings with his shady brother send him on the precipice of wrong doing, it will be interesting to see where they pick up where they left off. I'd like to see Maria, Gene's daughter carry on with Det. Tyler a bit longer. Not sure what this show is trying to be - a SciFi feature, time travel fantasy, 70's cop show or just borrowing from all, but I love this cast and the action. It's my hope that ABC gives it a chance.

Spectacle: Elvis Costello With...on Sundance Channel at 9pm EST is going to be a fabulous blast. Jenny Lewis, one of my most favorite singer/songwriters today, will be joining Jakob Dylan and the music duo She & Him (made up of Zoey Deschannel and M Ward) for an evening of chat and song. I cannot wait to see this incredible line up of alternative talent sing and chew the fat with the lovable Costello - who has been an amazing host throughout the series.

Important Things with Demitri Martin on Comedy Central at 9:00 pm EST will further prove that Martin is a new voice in the world of humor invention. The New York Times calls him adorable. I still think of him as the keytair playing member of The Dirty Doggzz, Flight of the Conchords nemesis band, who climbed over them to find success with the hit song "Doggy Bounce". However, his comedy is sweet, observational, childlike and refreshing.

Good night for television. Then comes Thursday night, when The Office and 30 Rock look to heat up a good hour of laughs. Be still my heart. Too much good stuff to write about in one day.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

John Krasinski to Star in Universal Comedy

This should be The Office/John Krasinski fan site, because the only thing that seems to interest me these days is the show and this guy. I like him, what can I say? He makes me smile. Give me Paul Rudd, Jon Hamm and Krasinski and call it a day. Then give me Jason O'Mara of Life on Mars and call it a night.

Universal Studios has just signed on John to co-star alongside Meryl Streep, Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin in an untitled comedy written and directed by Nancy Meyers (The Holiday, Parent Trap). It will be produced by the very scary, and very famous Scott Rudin. Production will start this spring. Meanwhile,
Away We Go, the Sam Mendes feature Krasinski filmed last summer with Maya Rudolph will be released sometime in June.

No word on any distributor or release date for his own directorial debut,
Brief Encounters with Hideous Men, which had a look-see screening at Sundance last month. I can't wait to lay eyes on that one. He plays a total bastard, which will be fun to see.

Source: Variety

Monday, February 9, 2009

Flight of the Conchords and The Office

I've been in the midst of moving house hell, devoid of all brain power to write, explore television on the internet or keep up with the show biz joneses. However, as things settle, I am back with a posting on my boys - Bret and Jemaine - who've been rocking the party for a few weeks now - with not one jot of written discussion by me. Damn that move! It sapped me.

After a quiet season two premiere episode, entitled "A Good Opportunity" where we see Murray living in the flickering embers of managing one hit wonders and plagerists The Crazy Dogggzz as the boys go it alone in a toothpaste advertisement, the show picked up the pace. In "The New Cup", Flight of the Conchords suffered as a $2.49 mug purchase crashed the household budget, forcing our friendly Kiwees to become rent boys - which also failed. In last week's "The Tough Brets", Bret starts his own gang of local neighborhood thugs which comprised of an old guy, an angry Asian middle aged couple and Dave. In a send up of West Side Story, they kicked some butt on the ever mother lovin' street with intimidating dance and song. Last night's "Murray Takes it to the Next Level", guest star Jim Gaffigan appears as the ever inquisitive friend of Murray, who follows the rules of friendship to a tee, rating very high on his pal's friendship chart, peaking well above Jemaine and Bret whose flow chart arrows have peaks and valleys to Jim's high flying lines.

McKenzie and Clement have encapsulated running themes through each season thus far. Season one saw the boys trying to make it big while picking up chicks. Their songs were of longing for women, being a horny "Boom King", prancing as the "Prince of Parties" while begging off the mythical bevvy of babes in "A Kiss is Not a Contract". This year, the running thread appears to be the harsh realities of the artist's struggle of living dirt poor in New York. Ladies have been pushed into the background thus far, giving room for more hardship stories, making the guys more endearing and sympathetic, if not just as hilarious. The songs are plentiful and generous to the other characters. We've reached episode four of season two and each of the primary characters - Mel, Murray, Dave, Gene the Landlord, Greg the Consulate Assistant and even Doug - have had a song or a line to sing. After the long writer's strike, which pushed back production and thus the airing of Flight of the Conchords season two, all this dry witted comedy and the eclectic mix of music from Bret and Jemaine's brains (with c0-producer and write James Bobin in the mix) is a sight for sore eyes on Sunday nights on HBO at 10pm.

The Office: "Lecture Circuit - Part 1"

I could watch Jim and Dwight for hours. Their frenemy relationship, their brotherly annoyance is a dynamic that has been missing from the show for a while now. But it returned in last Thursday's episode of The Office with part one of a two parter called "Lecture Circuit". This installment was absolutely, and very happily amazingly, funny, old school classic Office, the likes not seen since earlier this season in "Weight Loss". Oh, there were shades of it in "Customer Survey" and "Business Trip", but this episode was pitch perfect, hitting the nail on the old Dunder Mifflin head.

Starting from the funny cold opening, that had Michael find out about a P.A. feature to his phone that had him announcing idiotic drivel to the troops, ending with Jim cleverly distracting him while cutting the cable, to Pam and Michael on the road, spreading the Scott wisdom upon unsuspecting and uninterested branches, to the party planning committee, now a gang of two in Jim and Dwight who are so pissed they've been assigned this dumb ass task, and so unprepared for the responsibility, they forget Kelly's birthday - which is obviously the biggest no-no you can face in this place. Miss Kapoor is out of luck because Dwight can barely blow up a balloon, and Jim couldn't give a shit.

As the birthday fiasco is hashed out by two salesmen who could give a crap about event planning, Pam is driving Michael to Utica - first stop on that whirlwind whistle stop tour of branches in need of sales religion.
It's great to see Pam back to being herself, but with the dose of confidence earned through her years of growth and time in New York. I was worried about her being uncharacteristically aggressive in other episodes, since standing up for herself was easily mistaken for whining and ranting while fighting petty battles. However, Pam's encounter with the post-Jim Karen fared better than Jim's meet up back in season four in "Branch Wars". When faced with the ex-girlfriend he dumped next to a fountain in NYC the spring before, Jim hemmed and hawed through the big foot he stuck in his mouth not able to articulate much unless it was about Pam or the traffic he had to fight getting back home. Miss Beesly, on the other hand, wanted to make sure Karen didn't hate her, and had the strength to face what could have been a nasty little situation with ease. Pam doesn't want enemies out there - not even Al Quaeda - and who could blame her?

How fabulous was it to see Karen pregnant and married and happy? Although I was always Team Pam, I adore Rashida Jones and really cared about Karen since I've been in her shoes, and knew she'd get hurt in the end. Her happiness was my hope for her character. Her professionalism is solid as she takes Michael in stride. Also, when hearing of Pam's engagement to Jim, the reaction was satisfying. Hugging Pam with warmth, if not slight awkwardness, confirming that there is no hard feelings, and that she has moved on, was the definitive high road. The closure Pam received from this experience was the right way to end the Karen story, comforted in the knowledge that the lady in Utica has found contentment and isn't beaming psychic death stares in the direction of Scranton, PA.

Michael, thinking about the concept of closure, realizes he never had it with Holly. New Pam, as sweet and bold as ever, encourages Michael to ditch the Rochester branch and set sail for Nashua, where his long lost Holly now works. It's all steam ahead for closure...but will Holly be there? This was a smart cliff hanger ending a terrific part one with anticipation for a heart warming/wrenching and hopefully funny conclusion.

Part 2 of "Lecture Circuit" will air on Thursday on NBC at 9:00pm EST, where we'll see if Holly shows up, and if Jim and Dwight are still alive at the hands of Kelly when they throw this lame ass party in which they want no part.

30 Rock: "Generalissimo"
Ok, ok...I'm a major lover of 30 Rock. Alec Baldwin, Tina, Tracy, Jane. Please, the writing is superb, the humor provides lashes of laughter. Last Thursday's "Generalissimo" was side splitting hilarious, well paced, well written. And if The Generalissimo wasn't amazing enough....

...the beauteous Jon Hamm cranked it up a notch as Liz Lemon's neighbor and ice cream loving, chocolate fondue eating object of desire.

Jon Hamm is swoon-able. I mean...look at that screen shot! To see him let loose the Don Draper for a while and get down to the Dr. Andrew Baird was like wallowing through a lovely Vicodin-like cottony dream.

More Jon Hamm plus Selma Hayek to come in upcoming episodes. And in act of unbridled unprofessional blogging, I'm too tired to write more - so watch the episode here if you haven't seen it already.

If you DVR'd it and haven't watched yet - what are you waiting for?

Photos courtesy of and

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Oh, To Be Stuck in An Elevator with the Twitter-rific Stephen Fry

I've adored Stephen Fry since the 1980's. He was the Jeeves to Hugh Laurie's Wooster long before the latter grew a limp, a cane, an American accent and a surly manner to play Dr. House. Imagine my amusement and slight fear when I read Twitter messages of SOS from the lovable six foot plus British "National Treasure" stuck in a lift on the 26th floor of Centre Point in London. If you are also a fan, can you imagine being on that elevator with the plummy intellect and humor of Fry himself? Well, it happened to a group of lucky bastards last night.

Stephen, most likely with one of his many iPhones in hand, took a shot to share to the Twitter-verse outside as the cables of an elevator lift sequestered he and his temporary family suspended in air. "Hells bells!" declared Fry through the interweb. Hells bells, indeed! No one likes to get stuck in a lift, but geez, with Stephen himself? The last time I was held captive in an elevator was in an old building on West18th Street in NYC circa 2002, and my group contained an executive who was later indicted for falsifying revenue to stock holders. Thanks, Gods of Thor. What a thrill.

Stephen and his group of lift-mates made it out alive to live another day - and to appear on popular American television shows. Well, not the rest of them, but Stephen Fry himself. Having been a guest star on Bones, Stephen's Twitterings today indicate he will be traveling back to the U.S. to do another episode of the Fox drama. Elevators, beware!

Monday, February 2, 2009

The Untitled Amy Poehler Sitcom is Now Titled

The Poehler project, which had the auspicious name "untitled", and then was tentatively titled Public Service, is now officially called Parks and Recreation.

Filming began last week. A sneak peek promo aired last night during the Super Bowl.

Super Bowl Ads: Duds or Studs?

TV only softens the a ripe banana. So what do Super Bowl Ads do? Make you cringe, go to the fridge or laugh your guts out. Which ones did you like? Which ones did you hate?

Personal love? Alec Baldwin's Hulu Ad. Personal hate? Talking babies.

The Office: Super Bowl "Stress Relief" Review

There was some positive buzz from various bloggers and reviewers who obtained advanced screeners on last night's Office episode entitled Stress Relief. Some were comparing it to the classic episodes of season two, while others were claiming the special was a perfect way to introduce the show to a new post Super Bowl audience who might not have otherwise tuned in on Thursdays to bear witness to the Dunder Miffin-ites.

Indeed, the episode was fun, and I did find myself laughing at some funny Michael Scott moments; yet, the story lines that folded one into another felt disjointed and scattered. First we have the plot on Dwight's fire safety crises, followed by a corporate reprimand. Then we have a bootlegged movie Andy downloaded to watch with Jim and Pam. Then we have Pam's parents tussling with marital problems that involves Jim's emotional and verbal support. Then we have Stanley's heart attack prompting Michael to take on the responsibility of keeping people healthy and alive by extolling relaxation exercises, ultimately culminating into his idea of having a Michael Roast, which goes horribly wrong. Throughout this hodgepodge of situations, there were plenty of laughs with a dash of bewilderment on where these characters are going, and how their stories are being told.

The Office writers tend to have problems breaking a clean one hour story successfully, only pulling it off well in season three's The Job and this season's Weight Loss. Stress Relief had the same split personality syndrome most other one hour installments have sustained. It felt like two half hour episodes rather than one complete sixty minute story. Minus the multitude of tiresome commercials, and that only whittles it down to forty minutes plus change.

Although the lovable Andy Bernard has improved with age, I fear the writers have turned some of their characters into cartoon figures. Dwight has devolved into a hateful person for the sake of comedy. Some may find his antics and behavior humorous, but I find him painfully disturbing, putting a damper on the comedy. Perhaps I put myself in the role of the the other fictional characters on this sitcom. After all, this show started off as a story of The Everyman (and woman) to whom I could relate. I only know if I had a co-worker who carried around weapons, lit fires in wastepaper baskets and locked all the doors before re-enacting Buffalo Bill in Silence of the Lambs, I'd call the authorities. He's a danger - not a comedic character. It's my hope they are going somewhere with this newly deranged Dwight. Perhaps he will be thrown in prison for a few months, released, and re-hired by Dunder Mifflin under one of those special work programs that Martin from season three's Stamford crew obtained? Maybe not.

Michael was hysterically funny at times in this episode, and Carell always does him great justice; however, Scott's need to be loved and to protect the security of his "family" at DM can be tiresome. Instead of seeing Shrute as the danger he really is, Michael protects him, thus causing more probable harm on his employees. In addition, Angela has proven to be a shameless hussy. Jim and Pam are great, but I wish Pam, even in her emotional state, and possibly with Roy baggage clouding her judgment, would stop jumping to conclusions with Jim's actions (such as in the parental issue) only for her to realize how much he loves her. When are we going to see how much she loves him? When is she going to show him how much she appreciates all he's done for her? (And sacrificed, btw. He could have been a VP in NYC by now - if he really wanted it.)

Yet, I will say their moment was lovely. Jim's support of Pam as she works out her feelings and issues with her folks is the heart of what makes The Office what it is.

Beautifully executed by the writers, Krasinski and Fischer. Kudos.

The writers are wasting some prime opportunity for Halpert evolution. The boy needs to step up and find a purpose besides Pam. If Pam is the purpose that drives him, perhaps he needs to channel it into something else. Or just throw himself under a train and be the boss at DM Scranton.

Nevertheless, it was a blast to see a new opening title sequence, incorporating other characters who have been prominently featured as of late. As for the entire ensemble, I adore them, and will stick by them until the end, hoping that somewhere between now and the last episode ever, we'll get a glimmer of that wonderful show that gave us heart, soul and realism. Indeed, there were flashes of this last night. It may have been mired a bit in too much storyline activity.

I liked the episode for what it was: a prime time sitcom aired after the Super Bowl to attract new viewers. It was better than some other episodes this season, and it probably pulled in some decent ratings. Indeed, it had lots of funny moments. But as a long time viewer, I felt is was one of the best of season five, but not as great as the pre-Super Bowl online buzz had me believe.

Next week's Office episode will be part one of a two parter called Lecture Circuit. Michael and Pam go on the road to spread the word of his sales success, where they encounter a very pregnant Karen Fillipelli. And unless she's been pregnant for two years, no, Jim is not the father.

And 30 Rock's next episode Generalissimo, guest starring Jon Hamm, promises to be HILL-arious.

Here's the current promo:

Photos and screenshots courtesy of NBC Universal