Tuesday, September 29, 2009


So Jenny Slate dropped the big "F" during her national television SNL debut. What is the big deal? In this day and age of cable and diverse television viewing, why is a slip of the word "fuck" after midnight such an issue?

Jenny Slate didn't even go to the cast party on Saturday. Sounds like she was shaken. Seth Meyers meanwhile is absolutely wonderful in giving her some support during the goodbyes. Don't worry Jenny. Viewers got your back. And you've probably just acquired some new fans as well.

Friday, September 25, 2009

The "I Can't Believe I'm A Sap For These Two" Dept.

After five seasons of heartbreak, horror, sadness, sobbing, nail biting and hating on Karen and Roy, Jim and Pam are finally on the brink of marriage and baby. My days of sweating over this fictional couple are over - which is a relief because I'm not much of a romance, "oh what a cute couple" kind of person. But Jim and Pam (and Tim and Dawn for that matter) were so realistic in their situation, and hit it so close to the bone, that it got to me.

Sadly, season five dimmed my love for The Office and for the future Halperts. Some thought it was the second coming of the now legendary season two. I thought it was a bit boring with only a few highlight episodes ("Customer Survey", "Circuit Lecture I and II", "Company Picnic"), as the story lines on the couple petered out after Pam's return from New York (a Pratt storyline that went nowhere) and Jim turned to wallpaper paste in the background. I could have sworn Ms. Beesly had his balls in a box on the top shelf of their garage. Wasn't loving the new Pam.

The Office premiered last Thursday with the episode entitled "Gossip". It was fine. Didn't make me want to run out and write about it. Fans online loved it, which probably says more about my picky nature than what is actually great TV. Yet, last night's episode "The Meeting" was more like it. Jim showed his professional side and business acumen beautifully. It's also nice to see a forceful, angry Jim, ready to fend for himself, ensuring security for his new family. Pam returned to her old self (careful of what she says to co-workers, going with the flow, supporting Jim) which makes me love her again. We also discovered a new duo dynamic on the show: Toby and Dwight - the Scranton version of Holmes and Watson as they sleuthed out Darryl's attempt at workers comp fraud.

With the wedding episode to air on October 8th ("Niagara), perhaps season six is going to be awesome after all.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

I Still Love This

Review: Cougar Town

"I am begging you, please watch the show "Cougartown" with Courtney Cox - It's, hands down, bar none, undoubtedly, undeniably, unmistakenly, positively, the WORST FUCKING THING ON TELEVISION and Courtney Cox needs to be killed - I found myself with my jaw hanging open in disbelief at how fucking horrible it was..."

The above review is from my friend Marie - sent via email this morning. She writes better TV reviews than I do.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Emmy Awards

Nailed it... Neil Patrick Harris made what is usually a laborious night of viewing into a fast paced, funny pleasure. He was constantly applauded for doing a great job by presenters and winners alike. It was well earned.

There were some nice moments and some curious ones.

Nice surprises:

The lovable and insanely talented Kristin Chenoweth won for her role as Olive in the now sadly canceled Pushing Daisies. Her portrayal of the lovelorn pie making assistant was funny, heartbreaking and memorable. So nice to see this win.

Both Jessica Lange and Drew Barrymore nailed Big and Little Edie Beale in the HBO bio pic Grey Gardens. Since they both couldn't win - the trophy went to Lange, who truly became the eccentric matriarch in the role, crooning "Tea for Two" with the same crackled howl as the original dame.

Winners who were destined to win. AKA...no brainer:

Alec Baldwin is the funniest man on the planet right now. Hands down. No discussion. My friend Marie has intense dreams about him. His talent haunts the minds of married women. Her husband doesn't even care. That's the power of Baldwin.

30 Rock won the big prize for best comedy series. Of course!

Well, big duh on this one. Jon Hamm may have lost out in best actor in a drama category to the amazing Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad), but Mad Men won in the best drama category. Rightly so. Also, Matt Weiner and Kate Gordon grabbed the best writing for a drama Emmy for the sublime episode "Meditations in an Emergency".

The Daily Show won for best writing in a variety, music or comedy series and best variety, music and comedy series. It was toss up between Stewart and Colbert's staff and crew who write and produce intensely funny, smart, hard hitting political commentary five days a week. The Daily Show pulls through by a hair because they have the brilliant knack of providing faux news with intelligent observations all the while nabbing bullshitters while they are bullshitting.


This is where the concept that comedy is subjective comes to play. I've enjoyed Jon Cryer in Two and a Half Men, but he's never knocked my socks off. He was up against two 30 Rock favorites - McBrayer and Morgan - who steal prime time laughs every week. How is Cryer funnier than Tracy or Jack? Really? Also, Toni Collette is a fabulous actress, but I find her to be an over acting headache in the unfunny and annoying United States of Tara. How is she funnier than Tina Fey or Sarah Silverman? I wandered the halls of my house last night wondering if 35 years of comedy worship was all a lie.

Needless to say, I didn't feel their wins. But still it was a good night for Emmy. Even if some of my favorites didn't get a trophy (I'm looking at you Aaron Paul and Elizabeth Moss...wait 'til next year), that's another awards show done. Afterwards, I flipped over to Mad Men and watched an executive's foot get mowed off with a John Deere tractor in the offices of Sterling Cooper. So, despite seeing some of my fave people lose the Emmy, the night wasn't entirely a loss.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Looking Forward to Some Prime Time Premieres Tonight

NBC isn't really winning any gold stars for good program decisions in my book, but Thursday night's comedy line up looks decent. Saturday Night Live's Weekend Update Thursday heats up tonight at 8pm ET. Amy Poehler is due to return with Seth Meyers. Should be fun.

Here's one of my favorite clips from SNL's Weekend Update:

Parks and Recreation returns. Judging from the last two episodes from season one, this show could take off this year. The Office is also back with Jim and Pam pregnancy and an impending wedding (9pm ET). Also the premiere of the brand spanking new Community is on hand (9:30pm ET). I'm looking forward to this. The pilot was terrific.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

NBC's New Medical Drama: Mercy

I can't remember the last time a television promo made me so mad. Wait - yes I do. The day I clapped eyes on previews for Grey's Anatomy and its' sister show Private Practice which tumbled out of the belly of ABC network executives when they saw dollar signs around Kate Walsh's face. (No offense to Kate Walsh.)

The latest fare from the failing NBC network has me fit to be tied up and dragged into a padded basement. I will say that no, I have not seen the pilot for Mercy. I hate to judge by the trailer above, but one can't help it - it's supposed to entice us to watch. Yet, it's obvious: This is a Nurse Jackie rip off with hideous character archetype contrivances, a seemingly hateful lead character that no one is going to give a fuck about and a bevvy of sexy broads who look like they can't even load a dishwasher much less insert an IV needle. If this is just a night time soap opera a-la Desperate Housewives with tongue firmly sticking in cheek - then, ok - I'll buy it. But if this is supposed to be a straight forward drama? Oh God no.

Why am I so pissed? Because I grew up on medical dramas. Emergency, St. Elsewhere, even old crotchety re-runs of Dr. Welby MD kept me riveted. They were smart, interesting, uncomplicated, funny and had some likeable people. ER was a great show, but you can only have so many bombs going off in the lobby, hijackings and hellicopters crashing into the roof of the same hospital to keep the realism flowing. Now we have Greys, Practice - shows I can't even comment on because they look so boring to me - and Mercy.

Really NBC? Really? There are no ideas out there?

This is why terrific comedies like TheWB.com's Children's Hospital are made. When medical dramas become stupid and self important, it's time to take them down a notch with comedy.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Bored To Death

So, how did that first hour of the new Jay Leno Show sit with you? Yeah. Boring.

Here's a good "boring". I'm looking forward to HBO's new original series Bored to Death. It premieres this Sunday, September 20th at 9:30pm. It stars Jason Schwartzman, Ted Dansen and Zach Galifianakis. Based on the written work of Jonathan Ames, specifically a semi autobiographic short story featured in McSweeney's back in 2007, it's about a man named... Jonathan Ames... who offers his detective services on Craigs List. Galifiankis is his cartoon drawing friend and Danson plays his editor. Hi-jinks, laughs, Brooklyn...how can you go wrong?

Monday, September 14, 2009

Jay Leno: Let's Do This Again

I like Jay Leno, I really do. It's just that I liked him when he did stand up and comedy bits with David Letterman on the old Late Night. NBC's assumption that Jay would be ready for retirement in 2009 was far off the mark. His new show feels like a consolation prize for Leno, the mea culpa from Zucker and his minions to placate Jay and the viewers for trying to phase him out. It also erased five hours of original scripted episodic prime time programming. Sad. But I wish Jay luck.

The Jay Leno Show premieres tonight on NBC at 10:00pm ET.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

100 Days of Stephen Fry

Illustrator Morgan Ritchie has been illustrating the world of comedian Stephen Fry based on his plummy Twittering Tweets for the past 100 days. Yesterday was the final drawing. See the multi faces of Fry above.

And below...in honor of Beatles 09-09-09 day and all the goodies that have been released (Rock Band, Remasters), here is day 69 of Ritchie's Fry journal.

This Will Be In Your Head All Day And You Will Hate Me For It...

Jeannie Tate: Score for the Lady in Mommy Jeans!

This makes my heart happy. Liz Cackowski, star and co-creator of The Jeannie Tate Show has been given a development deal to bring the insane soccer mom to HBO. The web series, originally produced for WB.com was co- created with Maggie Carey. Jeannie Tate features Cackowski as the nervy mom who does a talk show out of her mini-van. Celebrity guests have been Bill Hader, Rashida Jones and Rob Riggle. Aubrey Plaza (Parks and Rec) co-starred as her crabby teenage step daughter.

Check her out at http://jeannietate.com/, but watch this now...my personal fave video with Riggle.

Friday, September 4, 2009

SNL: Sadness...

Oh well. With the addition of Jenny Slate and Nasim Parad, the other shoe was bound to drop. Michaela Watkins and Casey Wilson have been axed from SNL. Two talented, funny ladies who were never given the best material, left to wither on the vine, now gone.

Good luck Casey and Michaela (other UCB people, by the way). Hell, SNL ain't the only party in town. There is more to life than what happens on the 17th Floor. They're gonna knock everyone's socks off, and I'm looking forward to it!

Source: Ausiello (Entertainment Weekly)

Bobblehead Nation. Why?

It started innocently enough. Season two of The Office - Valentine's Day episode. Angela bought Dwight a bobblehead created in his likeness. It was really funny and special. Soon, NBC licensed it, and the doll went gangbusters. Having Dwight's shaking head on your desk at work was fun. Michael Scott was soon to follow. Now, the entire cast is getting their own heads on the end of a coil. It's sort of sweet, since some of the cast members are getting some props. Phyllis Smith cried when she received hers. Yet, I can't help but feel it's kind of lame. Maybe it's because Schrute is a character all to himself. The others don't stand out the same, except maybe for one...

Andy Bernard. I mean...he has a BANJO.

And a hilarious goofy face!

Other bobbleheads I might want to own...

Office Space!

And 30 Rock's Kenneth Parcel.
Other that, I'm grumpy about bobbleheads. They get broken when you move office or house (like my Mike Piazza and Pedro Martinez bobbles did), or they become dust collectors, soon to be sold at a yard sale near you. Still...I'd keep my Ken the NBC Page doll. He's perky and earnest.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Mad Men: My Old Kentucky Home

"Come gather 'round people
Wherever you roam
And admit that the waters
Around you have grown
And accept it that soon
You'll be drenched to the bone.
If your time to you
Is worth savin'
Then you better start swimmin'
Or you'll sink like a stone...

Bob Dylan, 1963

Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner must have an inspiration board where the lyrics of Bob Dylan are posted. As season three moves in a methodical pace within the soon to be tragic 1963, those words provide an thematic outline. Don Draper and his contemporaries continue the day to day, some in happy complacency, others in quiet desperation, as the cultural winds propelled by the young start to shift. Call it the quiet before the JFK assassination storm.

Weiner called this "the party episode", where different elements of social class convened within their own circles, showing stark contrasts at work. Roger Sterling's old timesy Derby Day party on Long Island was one example. He sang in black face to be-hatted mint julip swilling women and their sear sucker suited ivy league husbands. Roger was pleased in himself, crooning like an antiquated fool to please the old world upper crust, who were cocooned in a crisp comfortable life unaware to the as civil unrest at their doorstep. Only Don was disjointed by the display. He hates Roger for letting others do his dirty work, for being the priviledged idiot without a clue to life's struggles, for being unaccountable for his actions. "I don't know what I did to get under your skin." Said Roger to Don. How about just being a old timesy dick, Rog.

Meanwhile in the offices of Sterling Cooper, another party was going on. An ad campaign brainstorm session turned into a something more. "I'm Peggy Olsen. And I want to smoke marijuana." Doug Benson? Are you there? It turns out that pot opened a new door for Pegs - not just in the creativity department, but in the feel good about her success department. She even felt compassion for her secretary Olive, who hovered around her like a worried mother, telling her to drop the concern - ol' Peggy will be just fine. And she will be. Because these are the 60's and a hard rains about to fall. We even have Paul and his drug pushing Princeton buddy, once acapella club rivals, now friends after singing an old sing-song. Peace and love, everybody.

And then there is the beautiful Joan and her party. The kick ass secretary with the weight of the world in those DDD cups. The joan who was raped by her own fiancee, now married to the doctor idiot who apparently lost a patient and stands to possibly lose his reputation. What of her? She's a dutiful wife who is showing wear and tear at the seams. "If things don't work out, I'm relieved he has you as a wife." Said the chief surgeon's wife. Poor Joan. Stuck as a wife of a doctor with no security to show for it. Desperate to please, Dr. Rapist asks her to play her sexy french song on the accordion like a nice performing monkey. Seething, she does. Beautifully, yet so sadly. Betty Friedan take note.

Pretty Betty Draper and her pretty pregnant belly. Men just gravitate to her. Someone online put it perfectly: Betty is like everyone's doll. Mesmerizing, prettier than life, propped up in a smart hair do and a fashionable dress. But Betty wants more than what Don can give her.

Back home in Ossining, there wasn't a party going on, but it was a meeting of the old versus the young. As Gene's mind starts to fail, it's pretty hard to convince people that he really had the five dollars that went missing. Sally was the little thief, but older heads prevailed. Gene knew she did it, and remained stern but patient. And patience was what 60's youth were asking from their elders. Sweet, that.

And then there's Don. Is this what he imagined when he took on the Draper persona? Being the dirt poor gutter snipe who peaked over the fence decades ago at the fancy party and wanted to be those people? And there he is now - Roger in black face, chuckling at an insulting form of comedy. His Grace Kelly look-a-like wife laughing with the rest of them as he turns away. If anyone can sense the undertow of change and the psyche of society, it's Don. Even the romantic final scene between he and Betty, kissing within the trees felt like a longing for something else.

Much like Peggy's new discovery about herself, Don senses the shift. The oppressed will not be held down, and the privileged will have to summon compassion or die out. As Dylan said, "The first one now will later be last...for the times they are a-changing".

And that's why I love this show.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

New Additions to SNL Cast

SNL begins its 35th season when it premieres in September. Some additions have been made to the cast.

Jenny Slate. Slate's show "Dead Millionaire" was featured at UCB in May. She has also starred in "Gabe and Jenny", a weekly show at Rifif created with her comedy partner Gabe Liedman. Jenny has also appeared on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon in the sketch "7th Floor West".

Nasim Perad also joins. Iranian born, she's performed at UCB, Improv Olympics and is featured in the weekly Sunday shows at The Groundlings.

Perad and Slate add to the already loaded female cast. Kristin Wiig remains, as does Michaela Watkins and Abby Elliot. I've been a bad blogger due to late summer holidays, so I could be out of the loop and therefore unsure of Casey Wilson's fate. I adore her work, but fear she might not have cottoned onto the show. Also, with nary an African American female in sight, I guess the Michelle Obama impressions are out.

I wish the new cast members much success; however, I'm a bit of a crank when it comes to SNL's casting. Whenever I hear of a new member added to the ensemble, I wonder how they will be utilized. Will this person emerge as Lorne's new star? Or will he or she fade into the featured performer role with little to do, phased out by next season? I turn to Rob Riggle, who during a monologue at a UCB performance last year, talked about crappy jobs. Before he went into a funny story about a summer job in a factory, he mentioned SNL, implying that it can kind of suck to work there (which he kindly shrugged off as a joke). The fact that it's hard to remember Riggle's work on SNL says a lot about the process. Thankfully he found success via other avenues; yet, that's SNL for you. The show can be a star maker, or just part of the journey before your arrive. You never know.

Here's a peak at Jenny Slate's work on Fallon. This is also a shameless ploy to gratuitously showcast Jimmy and A.D. Miles.