Thursday, April 28, 2011

Sick from Royal Wedding Fever?

The Royal Wedding is finally set to take place tomorrow, and what I’m most looking forward to is the end of the incessantly inane coverage of the “wedding of the century” (I mean, really, we’re only 10% into this century –I’m still holding out for the first human/extra-terrestrial union to save us all from the inevitable damnation that is sure to come to us once the aliens arrive…or, whatever).

With great hype comes inevitable backlash, but I wasn’t prepared for such a wide variety of backlash. With that, here is a fairly comprehensive guide:

1.  Lifetime, being the ripped-from-the-headlines blood hounds that they are jumped on the Royal Wedding bandwagon with their very own Lifetime Movie based on the couple’s notoriously boring relationship. The channel took it upon themselves to spice things up. The Daily Beast’s Jace Lacob summarizes the hilarity that ensued. For the record, I would much rather see a movie based on Prince Harry…although, somehow I don’t think that dressing up as a Nazi and getting blow jobs in a bathroom mesh with Lifetime’s particular brand of fairytale garbage.

2.  John Doyle of the Globe & Mail lists his top ten reasons not to watch the Royal Wedding. While the list is a little misguided (he refers to Posh and Becks as true British royalty for no apparent reason), he still offers some interesting points. For example, the cost of security, estimated to be between thirty and fifty million pounds, is going to be paid by British taxpayers…but they are all getting the day off, so let’s call it a wash.

3. While Doyle’s list is playful, Ishaan Tharoor of Time Magazine is actually really upset about the Royal Wedding. I mean really, really upset. In his piece titled “Five Reasons to Hate the Royal Wedding,” Tharoor points out that with everything going on in the world, now isn’t the right time to be celebrating one of the world’s most visible monarchies. He raises a really good point; however, I think he’s missing the reason why people are so bloody excited about all of this nonsense.

4.  On the less serious side of things, New York Magazine’s fashion blog, The Cut, has compiled a slideshow of the most egregious ways people are cashing in on the Royal Wedding. My favourite item of the William & Kate ridiculata has to be the royal wedding pizza, mainly because Papa John’s is a brand I recognize.

5.  Also from The Cut, a complete list of some of the best Will & Kate gossip from the influx of unauthorized bios released in the last couple of months. While this isn’t necessarily indicative of backlash, it’s still pretty fun to read about how Catherine Middleton enjoyed mooning and Prince William possibly had a threesome in a third world country (not really, Patagonia is in Chile!)

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Don’t Preach to Me

Look! A sub-par singer singing a sub-par song!
Receiving my first annual “Bitch, Please” award is Gwyneth Paltrow. Last night, the so-called “Renaissance Woman” guest starred on “Glee” (again). And the “lovely” Paltrow took some time out to address all of the “haters.” This scene was as preachy as Billy Graham, with all of the subtlety (it was so painfully didactic that it literally pulled the show to a screeching halt). Anyway, the scene involved Paltrow’s character berating a group of students for heckling the glee kids and criticizing people from the safety of their computers. Here is an actual quote:

"I get it. We live in a culture of insults. I mean, we're constantly bombarded with these images of people who are richer than us, and happier than us, and are having more interesting sex than us.”

It’s no mistake that the monologue came from Gwyneth’s lips; “Glee” loves to be meta. Paltrow, (like “Glee”) takes a lot of flak from people, which most Gwyenth lovers boil down to the fact that everyone is jealous of how perfect Ms. Paltrow is (just take a look at the quote above). This would be a very effective argument had Gwyneth not followed up her lecture with a tepid cover of Adele’s “Turning Tables.”

Now, Gwyneth Paltrow leads a very charmed life, which probably irks a lot of people. But what bothers me most about her is that people give her praise where none is due:

PRAISE: She speaks English and Spanish!
ARGUMENT: Yeah, so do millions of other people and you don’t see us fawning all over them (in fact most Americans are trying to kick them out of their country).

PRAISE: She cooks!
ARGUMENT: If you really want to impress me, sling it on a line at a restaurant (it doesn’t even have to be a good one) for one week and see how you fare. We don’t need to hear about how you occasionally cook for your family - the majority of North Americans do that every day.

PRAISE: She has a great body!
ARGUMENT: Yeah, we all would if we had our own personal trainer and months in between jobs to perfect our physiques. Even more grating? Listening to how Gwyneth put on an additional 30 pounds for her “Country Strong” role, much to the dismay of her trainer. By the way, she looked exactly the same.

Oh God! I looke like Bluberella!

PRAISE: She sings!
ARGUMENT: Not very well!

PRAISE: She’s married to a rock star!
ARGUMENT: Chris Martin is about as much of a rock star as I am the Emperor of the Moon.

Still not convinced? Re-watch her “Oscar-winning” performance in “Shakespeare in Love.”

Friday, April 1, 2011

I (don't) Want my MTV

I am of the MTV generation; however, I just don’t get MTV. Growing up I was very into music, but always held a certain disdain for music videos (there were a few notable exceptions, namely anything by the Foo Fighters and Weezer’s “Buddy Holly”). Anyway, with the sharp decline in music video production, MTV has adapted and turned itself into one of the lowest bastions of pop culture (I’m aware that is an oxymoron). The channel managed to stay afloat by stumbling upon reality hit series “Laguna Beach” and its spinoff “The Hills.” Then when aspirational TV lost its allure, MTV appealed to that horrible aspect of the human psyche and specialized in what I like to call “trainwreck television.” I’m talking “Jersey Shore,” “16 and Pregnant” and “Teen Mom” - television that features people who are so horrible, you can’t help but watch. I imagine watching these shows can be very life-affirming; “I may not have a job or a husband or a family or whatever it is that I so greatly desire in life, but at least I’m not from Jersey!” Despite my own personal taste, this formula seems to be working for them, which is why I can’t explain MTV’s sudden obsession with fictionalized teen dramas and comedies.

I mentioned MTV’s adaptation of “Skins” in an earlier post. Let’s revisit the show now that it’s wrapped its run. It was pretty much a disaster – the ratings steadily declined over the ten episodes; sponsors couldn’t pullout fast enough (pun possibly intended); and its future at the network is still uncertain...also, it was unwatchable by normal television standards. Anyway, after this disaster, MTV has just announced that it plans on adapting yet another British series – the mostly hilarious “Inbetweeners.” Now, I actually really enjoy this show and I encourage you to check it out if you can; however, my biggest pet peeve with it is its overuse of gross-out humor (see: fart jokes, shit jokes, puke jokes, piss jokes, cum jokes…you catch my drift). Now, being on a US conventional network might solve some of these problems, but given MTV’s track record, my hopes remain very, very low. Their other recent foray into scripted comedy, “The Hard Times of RJ Berger,” does not bode well. The ratings were alright, but the couple of episodes that I caught were a disgrace to the teen raunch genre (which standards are pretty low to begin with). The structure was completely all over the place (which can be explained by the fact that it was originally conceived as a screenplay) and the “jokes” were merely teens saying nonsensical, weird shit. It also lacked any trace of heart – even though it has been self-described as “Superbad” meets “The Wonder Years.”

On a more optimistic note, MTV is also developing a series called “Savage U,” in which the intelligent and witty blogger, Dan Savage gives sex advice to college students; and “The Substitute” which is being heralded as “Cash Cab” in a high school classroom.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Please Don’t Pee on Me

There are some noted differences between television and real life. For example, people go to a bar and order “a beer.” This usually results in me yelling at my TV screen: ‘WHAT KIND OF BEER?!?! Is this an exceptionally shitty bar that only serves one kind? You should probably stop going there.’

Possibly more annoying is the use of home pregnancy tests on television. While watching “Idol” last night, (yay, continuity!) there was an ad for “Private Practice.” In the promo, one of the characters was taking a home pregnancy test and came out of the bathroom clutching the test with BOTH HANDS on EITHER END OF THE STICK! Umm, lady, I hate to break it to you, but you just peed on that.

Another example - the opening scene of “Juno.” If you recall, the titular character downs a jug of OJ and takes a pregnancy test. She comes out of the bathroom and shakes the pee stick around in the hopes of garnering a different result, leading Rainn Wilson’s character to 'hilariously' quip, “That ain’t know etch-a-sketch. This is one doodle that can't be un-did, Homeskillet.”

What he should have said? “Wait, why are you waving that around? Oh, GOD, what the hell is that on my face? Why is it wet?”

Unless you’re R Kelly, what I’ve just described to you is pretty disgusting. While my dialogue lacks the “cutesy, adorable vibe” of Diablo Cody’s, I think it’s accurate, which is why I am calling bullshit on Hollywood.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011


We’re already in Season 10 of “American Idol.” If that doesn’t make you feel old, chew on this: last week one of the contestants sang “Smells Like Teen Spirit” as the theme was SONGS FROM THE YEAR YOU WERE BORN! Ugh. Anyway, I wouldn’t consider “Idol” one of my guilty pleasures as I can get behind its premise – young hopefuls vie for a recording contract and a potential career in the music industry. Like “The Bachelor,” most of these kids are fairly delusional and there is some blatant emotional manipulation on the part of the producers and the contestants (see: every sob story that has ever been trotted out, from dead wives to tourettes). But the basic idea behind the show involves a lot of heart.

While I don’t particularly enjoy the karaoke-ness of it all, there is some really amazing talent on the show. Even though I won’t be running out to purchase any of their albums, I still manage to get invested in these people’s lives for a good four months. Also, the current judging panel provides some very interesting entertainment – whether it’s Randy Jackson’s continued assault on the English language, Steven Tyler’s repeated use of women’s clothing and/or accessories, or the beautifully vacant Jennifer Lopez. Hey, I’ll take my entertainment any way I can get it.

The sweetest cherry on top has to be that New York Magazine online managed to get Paul F. Tompkins to recap the show twice a week. For those of you who aren’t familiar, Tompkins is an extremely funny standup who has one of the best comedy podcasts out there – the Pod F. Tompcast. Anyway, this fact alone is enough to get me to watch every episode of the season. If you don’t believe, here are some of the highlights:

…the Idols will each sing a song from the year he or she was born. Ah, but think of it, gentlemen: What if they sang a song from the year they will die? I put it to you that science can conquer time itself!

More than a few people expressed disappointment that I did not recap J.Lo's video last week. I'll tell you why I didn't. Nothing happened in it. It was a music video. J.Lo lip-synched and so did Pitbull. There was dancing. It took place in a club. What'd you think there would be? Oh, J.Lo and Pitbull were dressed like Diane Keaton and Warren Beatty from “Reds” and then the camera zoomed into Pitbull's eye and George Washington Carver married a peanut and their baby fast-forward grew up to be the next incarnation of the Buddha and the grown-up Buddha was played by a CGI Heath Ledger. I cried.

Clint went for it, lots of vocal runs and all that, very energetic onstage, but it seemed kinda sweaty overall. Like, I AM SINGING LIKE CRAZY UP HERE AND MOVING AROUND A LOT! LIKE, A LOT A LOT! YOU ARE PROBABLY IDOLIZING ME!

See?!?! Even if you don’t watch Idol, I still think you should read these recaps because it will probably be the funniest five minutes of your day. Yes, I am assuming your life is boring.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

For Colored Girls

Guilty pleasures – we all have them. Mine happens to be the junk food of reality TV – “The Bachelor.” I got into “The Bachelor/ette” franchise (again) when my sister and I decided to start watching it together, even though we live 700 km apart – it started out as something to bond over and send snarky text messages about. However, a couple of seasons ago, my sister stopped watching. I continued on. I can’t really explain it, but there is something so delightful about watching 24 beautiful women self-destruct on national television. Ok, so maybe I can explain it.

One thing I have noticed lately is that there is a distinct lack of non-Caucasian bachelors and bachelorettes. Earlier seasons would sprinkle at least one or two “colored” contestants in for good measure, but these men and women would seldom make it past the top 15. This has always kind of bugged me until this recently published interview Entertainment Weekly online conducted with “Bachelor” producer Mike Fleiss:

EW: Will we ever see a bachelor or a bachelorette who is not white?

Mike Fleiss: ...We really tried, but sometimes we feel guilty of tokenism. Oh, we have to wedge African-American chicks in there! We always want to cast for ethnic diversity, it’s just that for whatever reason, they don’t come forward. I wish they would.

I HAVE NEVER BEEN MORE PROUD TO BE SOMEONE OF COLOUR IN MY LIFE! (Sorry, Obama). Look, while I love this show, it basically scrapes the bottom of humanity’s barrel in terms of casting. The women they find are either fame-seeking whores, delusional divorcees in their early twenties or desperate cat-ladies in their late thirties – as an added bonus, these women all seem to regress and behave like lovesick teens when forced to live together and vie for the affections of a man they know nothing about.

Would it be nice to see more non-white faces on TV? Of course. Does it need to be on a trashy reality television show? No.
Yes, I am as stupid as I look.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Why Superman will never be Cool

I don’t claim to be any sort of comic book fangirl; however, I do have a pretty decent knowledge having grown up watching Saturday morning cartoons, hanging out with geeks in high school and dating a huge nerd for over two years. So this morning when I checked out Entertainment Weekly online, I noticed that Jeff Jensen had written a very interesting essay on how to make the new Superman franchise relevant. While I enjoyed the essay (and the discussions going on in the comments section), I would disagree with Jensen completely, citing the fact that the whole reboot is pointless. Here are some reasons why I feel another Superman movie is a very bad idea:

1. Superman is always going to look like an idiot. There is no getting around it. This is not a good look for anyone (not even Henry Cavill):

2. Superman is just too perfect. All of the (successful) franchise reboots of late have centered on the fact that these “superheroes” have a lot of personal shit to deal with (see: Spiderman, Iron Man and especially, Batman). Superman is no fun because he has no humanly faults (admittedly, he is not human). He’s a giant blue boy scout with all of the power in the world and yet we’re supposed to sympathize and relate with him? No.

3. The franchise doesn’t have a great track record. The 1978 movie, while loved by many, is still pretty fucking terrible – the plot involves Lex Luthor trying to sink California and Superman flying in the opposite direction of the Earth in order to turn back time by changing the planet’s rotation…two through four weren’t much better…I won’t even touch the awful Singer adaptation.

4. He doesn’t fit into contemporary society. Superman was conceived during the 1930s as a fantastical response to the very real problems of that era. While these problems are still relevant, I can’t see Superman handling these matters in a way that wouldn’t cause loud guffaws from the viewing audience. Can you just imagine what Superman would have done given last week’s horrific events? Freeze the tsunami with his super-breath? Use his super-strength to drill into the earth’s crust and physically stop the tectonic plates from crashing into one another? It’s a nice idea, but it would never happen. Superman just doesn’t belong in the 21st century.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Should I be Gleeful?

There has been much love and then much backlash doled out towards Fox’s “Glee.” I can understand where most people are coming from when they criticize the show as I hold the same sentiments: the characters are inconsistent; the songs are overproduced and auto-tuned to death; the tone veers wildly; etc. Despite my better judgment, I have continued to watch this show, hoping for a glimpse of the series I fell in love with during the first half of its first season.

So, going into last night’s “Original Song” episode, I was very skeptical. The show has taken a lot of criticism over their ubiquitous cover songs (they’ve even managed to steal the record for most number one singles away from The Beatles), so I was interested to see what they would come up with. All in all, the originals weren’t half bad. I thought Santana’s “Trouty Mouth” about her boyfriend/beard’s gigantic pie-hole was hilariously written and pretty well-sung (though, most people around the blogosphere seemed to dislike it); Puck’s “Big Ass Heart” was a charming love song about his overweight paramour; and Mercedes’ “Hell to the No” was one of the night’s weaker offerings which was saved by Amber Riley’s huge, yet underused voice (like most of the characters on the show, the writers don’t really know what to do with her).

But for the night’s biggest numbers, Lea Michelle belted out “Get it Right” and dueted with Corey Monteith on “Loser like Me” which were clearly the originals we were meant to pay attention to (I’m really hoping that people prove me wrong and make “Trouty Mouth” number one on iTunes). Personally, I don’t think these songs are going to be smash hits as the writers played it pretty safe – nothing really set these originals apart from the generic pop songs that this show chooses to cover from week to week (in all honesty, half the time I have no fucking clue what songs rival glee club, The Warblers are singing).

Anyway, this episode could have been pretty great – we had some emotional pay-offs with the Rachel, Finn, Quinn love triangle and the much awaited romantic pairing of Kurt and Blaine; however, between the original songs and the covers, the episode felt overstuffed. More importantly, as Todd VanDerWerff of the A.V.Club notes, the whole original songwriting plot could have been stretched out over three episodes instead of crammed into one (for the record, he is much more eloquent than I am and you should check out his review of the episode here). But possibly the worst part of this episode was the bizarre Kathy Griffin cameo as a Sarah Palin/Christine O’Donnell type character. The impression wasn’t very funny and pretty much resorted to saying offensive things explained away by the fact that the character was a Republican. As you guys know, I’m a fan of structure, but the writers of this episode failed to construct a single joke for Griffin (who as a comedienne should have done something about this). The final act of the show threw me off so completely that I ended up hating what should have been a pretty good episode, proving that one bad apple does in fact spoil the bunch.

Monday, March 7, 2011

A Pond Apart

So I’ve taken quite a long hiatus – take that New Year’s resolution! I squashed you like the annoying gnat that you are. ANYWAY, the reason for my extended vacation from the blogosphere was due to an actual vacation – I traveled the UK for a couple of weeks. Just a bit of history before I proceed – growing up I was a huge anglophile. I would watch Britcoms on PBS, had an unhealthy affinity for Hugh Grant, (we’re talking getting-BJs-from-prostitutes-era Grant) and always dreamt I would grow up to marry Prince Harry (like most children, I was delusional and had no concept of my place in the world…I also didn’t know this was coming:)

However, when I first traveled to London some four years ago, I was severely disappointed – London was grey, soggy and full of smarmy, unfriendly people. But, I was determined to give the early love of my life a second chance. This time around, London was very good to me. And now, on to the small screen.

While in the UK, I watched a fair amount of television. One show that I managed to catch quite a few episodes of was “Harry Hill’s TV Burp” which is basically the British version of “The Soup.” I am a huge fan of “The Soup” – it’s pretty much the only watchable thing on E! and Joel McHale does an amazing job. “TV Burp” tries to do essentially the same thing; however, there are some notable differences – namely, that weird slap-sticky comedy that the Brits are so fond of. Take a look:

Now, I’m not saying that every bit on “The Soup” is a hit; however, I applaud the fact that they tell actual jokes. I don’t really know why I’m such a stickler for form and structure (especially when it comes to joke telling), but I just can’t get behind being silly for the sake of being silly. I guess I’ll just consider it something lost between the great cultural divide.

We get it; you are hilarious.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

The Triumphant Return of "Parks and Recreation"

“Parks and Recreation” returns tonight after a seemingly epic hiatus (has it really been since last May that the folks at Pawnee’s Parks and Recreation Department have made me almost pee myself?) Last year, it was pretty difficult to get people on board with “Parks and Rec” – it had an awful first season where it lacked fully realized characters and saddled the wonderful Amy Poehler with a very unlikable lead to portray. However, much like it’s predecessor “The Office,” ”Parks and Rec” rallied and pulled together one of the best comedies of the 2009-2010 television season. Hell, they even managed to add my boyfriend Adam Scott and Rob fucking Lowe to the cast!

Anyway, many people have wondered why the long hiatus. Some people assumed it was due to Amy Poehler’s pregnancy. Wrong! They started filming the third season immediately after they wrapped season 2. Others have blamed NBC’s lack of faith in the show and feared its cancellation – thankfully, they were wrong, too.

But, my favourite crazy theory has to be that NBC execs originally wanted to air “Parks and Rec” after “The Office,” capitalizing on their strong numbers. However, they didn’t want to anger the folks over at “30 Rock” and “Community,” whom would also appreciate the implied ratings boost.  So, NBC slotted in the awful and kind of racist “Outsourced” in the 9.30pm slot, secretly hoping that it would fail. Then the execs would slot in “Parks and Rec” as a mid-season replacement for their failed comedy and nobody could complain.  If you managed to follow all of that, then you realize just how crazy that theory is. First of all, no network would put out a TV show with the intentions of having it fail (although, if you’ve seen “Outsourced” you may disagree). Second of all, this is the same network that gave us The Late Night Wars Part Two – do you really think they could pull off such an intricate and convoluted scheme?

None of that matters now because “Parks and Recreation” is finally back and I couldn’t be happier.  The cast has been capitalizing on the Internet by releasing some pretty hilarious teasers.  The show airs tonight on NBC at 9.30pm, after “The Office.”

Monday, January 17, 2011

About Last Night...

Oh awards season, how I’ve missed you. Before I sum up my random thoughts on the Globes, I’d like to congratulate the HFPA on awarding Best Motion Picture to “The Social Network.” There has been some backlash about this movie, but I think it’s from people who are too old to understand the facebook phenomenon. For me, everything about this movie was just so perfect – I don’t even care about the film’s supposed “women problem” as Aaron Sorkin is one of the few straight, male writers who really knows how to create dynamic female characters (see: CJ Cregg from “The West Wing” and Dana Gordon from “Sports Night.”)

I’d also like to shake my head and extend a big ol’ W T Frak to the HFPA for awarding “Glee” with Best Television Comedy honours. I mentioned on Friday how awful the nominees were to begin with, but awarding “Glee” seems silly to me. The show has a few funny moments, but it’s a mixed bag at best.

And now some random thoughts from last night’s Golden Globes telecast:

Ricky Gervais roasts Hollywood: while I thought that some of his jokes were a bit obvious, I still adore the man for calling out Tinseltown on its bullshit.

Christian Bale’s acceptance speech: was so long and rambling which, coupled with the fact that he currently resembles Jesus, made him sound like the crazy homeless man who wanders the underground mall. They both end their ramblings with, “Oh shit, it’s Robert DeNiro.”

Andrew Garfield continues to steal my heart: his adorable stuttering over the word “inspiringly” and his self-deprecating sense of self not only won me over, but the Globes director as well – the camera was glued to the future Peter Parker the majority of the show.

Annette Benning was doing her best Helena Bonham Carter impersonation:

But she still has nothing on the actual girl herself:

Halle Berry forgot to put on a dress over her negligee:

Paul Giamatti gets the award for best acceptance speech: not only does he go on and on about Godiva chocolates, he also gives a shout out to Canada (Montreal in particular) and openly ogles Halle Berry (please see above).

Natalie Portman gets the award for most awkward acceptance speech: first she rambles about how her fiancé, Benjamin Millepied has helped her continue on her journey of “creating;” then she announces that “he really wants to sleep with [her,]” followed by a maniacal giggle. We get it; you guys are fucking.

Between her speech and the awkward dress (which looked like she bedazzled some flowers and slapped them on her gown), one could come to the conclusion that she was extremely drunk off the Moet…except for the fact that she’s pregnant.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Grab a Bottle of Moet!

Grab a bottle of Moet because it’s time for the Golden Globes! Sunday night marks the 68th annual awards ceremony put on by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. My relationship with the Globes has always been mixed – yes, they are the most entertaining awards show to watch because everyone is always hammered; however, the list of nominees and subsequent winners is usually questionable.

By now, everyone has heard the controversy: “The Tourist’s” three nominations for Best Comedy Actor, Best Comedy Actress and Best Comedy; Piper Perabo’s nomination for her work in “Covert Affairs;” and recognition for “Burlesque” – 2010’s version of “Glitter.” But really, who cares? The Globes are just a good excuse for Hollywood’s elite to get together and blow themselves, because isn’t that what awards shows are all about? I mean has anyone been more inclined to see a movie or watch a television show because it won/was nominated for a Golden Globe? Didn’t think so.

Of course, I’ll be watching on Sunday night, feeding my oft-chronicled addiction. I’ll probably chuckle when they announce the nominees for Best Television Comedy, with their glaring omission of the wonderful “Parks and Recreation,” “Party Down” and “Community.” Then, I’ll become noticeably upset when “Breaking Bad” doesn’t win for Best Dramatic Television Series because it wasn’t nominated, even though it was on the top of EVERY television critic’s 2010 ‘best of’ lists. And finally, I’ll become totally belligerent when “The Social Network” doesn’t win Best Motion Picture (“The King’s Speech” is pretty much a lock as it has everything the HFPA loves – it’s a biopic, prestige piece). While I’ve heard great things about “The King’s Speech,” there’s no way it’s better than “The Social Network,” a veritable perfect storm of writing, directing and acting.
Best. Scene. Ever.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Vampires, Werewolves AND Ghosts?!?!? Oh, My!

I read the pilot script for the original BBC version of “Being Human” before I watched the series. It was pretty fucking terrible. The premise involves a werewolf, a vampire and a ghost all living together. Seriously, that’s what it’s actually about. It’s like someone decided to capitalize on every aspect of paranormal zeitgeist over the past couple of years in one go (all it’s missing is a zombie outbreak). Despite myself, I decided to watch the show and was pleasantly surprised. Based on the log-line alone, this show SHOULD NOT work and it almost doesn’t. But casting is such a beautiful thing and it makes this show very watch-able. In fact, “Being Human” is currently entering its 3rd season in the UK and has been Americanized for Sy-Fy (it premieres January 17th – same day as “Skins” for those keeping track).

The UK version stars the wonderful Lenora Crichlow as Annie the ghost. On paper, this character is Miley Cyrus level annoying, but Lenora is so downright charming that you can’t help but love her. It’s also really interesting to see the actress tackle the character’s story-arc, especially when Annie finally learns the truth surrounding her death. The American version will feature Meaghan Rath who has been a staple on Canadian television for years. While I enjoy Rath, I don’t know if she has the ability to pull off the sweetness of Annie/Sally (I never understand why Americanized versions of shows feel the need to change character names).

The other two leads are the brooding vampire and the angst-ridden werewolf. What I particularly enjoyed about the vampire character, Mitchell (Aidan in the US) was that he wasn’t particularly vampirish. Sure he had over a hundred years worth of problems, but his vampire characteristics were always understated, which is a nice change from the current batch of pasty-faced whiners (“Twilight,” I’m looking at you). However, the promos for the US “Being Human” seem to be ignoring this and are making their lead look like this:
Note to the entertainment industry: pointy fangs and white makeup are NOT attractive.

Finally, there is the goofy werewolf, George (Josh for the yanks). This character probably struggles the most with what he is, even though he only changes on the full moon. Now, I realize that I have described this character as both goofy and angsty, but that’s really the only way to describe him – he’s basically a geek who has been turned into a werewolf. Much like the character of Annie, played the wrong way, George’s storylines border on obnoxious and mopey; however, Russel Tovey manages to ground the character.

What I particularly enjoy about “Being Human,” is that it’s a character-based drama that doesn’t exploit its gimmick. The three leads are just people trying to cope. The characters are three-dimensional and very well acted. I guess we’ll see how the American version stands up.

Fun fact: the creator originally conceived of the show as a drama focusing on three roommates: one with anger management issues, a sex-addict and an agoraphobic…so maybe there was some capitalizing on paranormal zeitgeist after all.

Monday, January 10, 2011

It Was A Mad, Mad, Mad Mad World

I thoroughly enjoy’s top ten lists. However, this past year, they published a list that made me pretty upset. It was a list entitled ‘The Top 10 Things We Miss About the “Mad Men” Era.’ Before I dissect the list, I’d like to share a little anecdote. My boyfriend’s friend works in marketing and mentioned how everyone in his office loves the show, “Mad Men” because it really captures the glory days of advertising. My boyfriend told his friend that if that’s what his friends were getting out of the show, then he was watching a completely different program. When I heard this story, I told my boyfriend that those people were completely missing the point of this show and shouldn’t be allowed to watch it (I can be a bit extreme, sometimes).

Anyway, part of what I love about “Mad Men” is that it captures the 1960s really well (Creator Matt Weiner is known to be almost compulsive when it comes to portraying the details of the era). The decade was rife with tension and the show really knows how to exploit that in order to squeeze the most possible drama from the situations it places its characters in. The sixties was a decade in constant flux and it definitely changed things for the better. The fact that anyone would write a list glorifying some of the more questionable aspects of that decade is beyond me:

10. Enjoyable Air Travel: The list makes it a point to mention that stewardesses in the 60s were very attractive because hiring practices were “different” back then. Right, let’s bring back a time when people failed to be hired simply because they couldn’t make your pants happy. I’m sure every current flight attendant longs for the days when they were ogled by air travelers. Let’s all remember that many of them looked like this:

and not this:

6. Real Cocktails: While I enjoy my drink as much as the next guy, I don’t think that this is something we need to lament. If someone really wants a stiff drink, they can order one. So what if drinks have become fruitier? That doesn’t make them any less delicious! And their low alcohol content simply allows you to consume more without becoming totally shitfaced. Let’s remember that the majority of people in the 60s were probably undiagnosed alcoholics.

5. Drinks at Work: Again, why is this list encouraging alcoholism? You need only to watch the season one episode, “Red in the Face,” to see why drinking at work is a bad idea and hardly a necessity.

2. Casserole: I don’t like casserole, nor would I want to eat one every night.

1. Struggles and Causes: This one really gets me. Why on earth would anyone miss “struggles and causes,” particularly, the ones that afflicted America during the 1960s? And it’s not like people in this day and age lack causes to fight for!

Now, I understand that most of this list is a bit tongue-in-cheek and that the writers point out a lot of the problems with these items. But it still incensed me to no end to read about people longing for a time that wasn’t all that glamorous as is evidenced by the show, “Mad Men.”

Friday, January 7, 2011

TV Fail

I’m a huge sucker for lists - as I’ve mentioned, I have an obsession with quantifying things. So when the end of the year rolls around, I practically go into sensory overload. One of the more interesting lists that I have come across is Movieline’s Top 10 Biggest Television Fails of 2010. This past year was a mixed bag. While it brought us some of the most wonderful television I’ve ever seen, (a series high for “Breaking Bad,” a vastly improved “Parks and Recreation,” etc.) there have been some notable gaffes (mainly the entire slate of new shows which premiered in September). Keeping that in mind, I’ve analyzed some of Movieline’s choices for 2010’s biggest fails:

10. “Bridalplasty”: The most horrifying TV experiment of all (Agree)
I don’t really know anyone who actually watches this show, but you have to look at it this way: A group of executives (this was not the work of one poor, misguided soul) decided that it would be a good idea to gather a bunch of women and have them compete for free plastic surgery just in time for their weddings. Someone not only came up with this horrid idea, but countless executives signed-off on it! But really, we shouldn’t be surprised; this is the network (E!) that will greenlight anything with the word “Kardashian” in the title.

7. Bristol Palin making it to the “Dancing with the Stars” Finals (Disagree)
Look, I hate the Palin family as much as the next person, but like it or not, people voted for the girl. Did it really warrant 7am diatribes from my mother about how the “teen activist” was “making a joke out of the competition”? No. It’s reality TV show in which people cavort around a ballroom in order to win a tacky trophy – it’s already a huge joke…and it’s on us.

5. Katy Perry’s Busty Disappearing Act on “Sesame Street” (Agree)
In case you didn’t hear, Katy Perry sang a duet with Elmo on “Sesame Street” which was yanked from the episode as Perry’s outfit was deemed too risqué for children’s television. Take a look:

Many objections were made due to Perry’s revealing neckline. Seriously? They’re breasts! The majority of children watching this program are still being fed by them.
2. The Cancellation of “Party Down” (Agreed)
Starz’s little seen “Party Down” was one of the funniest sitcoms on television. I could write an entire dissertation on why this show was so funny, but I’ll save that for another time. The good news is that you can catch star Adam Scott on the new season of “Parks and Recreation.” The one thing I will disagree with Movieline about is that the final episode was unsatisfying; it was actually the perfect ending to the series.
1. Lee DeWyze Winning “American Idol” (Disagree)
Personally, I didn’t think this was that big a deal. Like “Dancing with the Stars,” people voted for him. However, had Movieline put the entire ninth season of “American Idol” at the top of the list instead, I might be more inclined to agree. The talent pool selected was mediocre at best; Simon Cowell checked out of his final season before the auditions even began and the addition of Ellen DeGeneres made little to no sense on a variety of levels. It was an epic fail. That being said, I will check out season 10, which includes new judges Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Who Exactly Are These People?

I’ve mentioned before that I am an awards show slut. I love awards season as it allows us to (arbitrarily) quantify the past year in all things entertainment; however, the one awards show I can’t get behind is The People’s Choice Awards. I’ve never really thought about why I despise this ceremony so much until this morning when I actually read the list of winners and figured it out – the people are stupid.

If you disagree with me, please check out the following list:
1. The “Twilight” saga won awards for Favourite Movie, Favourite Drama Movie, Favourite Actress and Favourite Screen Team. - Ok, I’m willing to let the first one go because it says “favourite” and not "best." There’s no accounting for taste, right? However, Favourite Drama Movie? No. Favourite Melodrama, maybe. Favourite Fantasy Movie, maybe. Favourite Less Entertaining Than a Harlequin Romance Novel, But Still a Shitty Knock-off of one Anyway Movie, maybe. But NOT drama.

As for Kristin Stewart winning Favourite Movie Actress, I don’t really have a problem with that except for the fact that the male version of the category is split into Favourite Male and Favourite Male Under 25. Why the distinction for one and not the other? Is it because we over-sexualize women in our society and insist on pairing young females with much older men, rendering any distinction useless?
*See the romantic pairings of: Anne Hathaway and Steve Carell in “Get Smart;” Zooey Deschanel and Will Farrell in “Elf;” and any movie Scarlett Johannson has ever made.
2. Adam Sandler wins Favourite Comedic Star and Favourite Comedy Movie for “Grown Ups.” Seriously? Adam Sandler hasn’t been funny since the late 1990s (and even that is questionable). Meanwhile, “Grown Ups” has a 5.8 rating on IMDB and a dismal 10% on Rotten Tomatoes. Again, who is voting for these awards?

3. Favourite New Television Comedy goes to “Shit My Dad Says.” I’ll admit that I haven’t watched this show since the pilot, but a friend of mine recently quoted a reporter as saying something to the effect of, “if someone took my children hostage and told me that they would kill them unless I watched the first season of "Shit My Dad Says;" I’d seriously consider letting my children die.” Yup, that about sums that up.

4. Favourite viral video star winner: “Single Ladies” Devestation, The Whittaker Family. I literally had to look this one up only to find out it wasn't Forest Whittaker’s family singing Beyonce’s infectuous hit. I was wrong, but not that disappointed. Take a look:

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The Fictional Teen

An Exercise in Writing: I’ve never fancied myself a writer, but I’ve always loved the idea of it. So 2011 is going to be devoted to my writing experiment. I will write at least a paragraph everyday on my favourite topic – television…after all, this blog is called the small screen and the small person. So without further ado:

The Fictional Teen:

For the most part, teen dramas are cursed with horrible clichés, vapid stereotypes and a complete lack of depth when it comes to characters. Currently, the CW and ABC Family are the only channels specializing in this type of programming; however, the types of shows being offered up are mostly derivative and hackneyed. While the CW presents the most blatant form of escapism (watching New York City socialites behaving badly and teens sleeping with two hundred year old vampires), ABC Family’s teens are completely delusional (you need only to watch fifteen minutes of “The Secret Life of an American Teenager” to figure this out). So when I finally settled down to watch the first couple of episodes of the UK teen drama hit, “Skins,” I was blown away.

“Skins” has been on the air in the UK since 2007 and follows the lives of a group of teens attending a British (what North Americans refer to as) public school. That’s it; there’s no gimmick or hook. What is so compelling about this series is that the characters are extremely fleshed out and complex. They feel like real people, not how adults imagine teenagers to be.

If that doesn’t convince you to check out this show, here’s an added incentive: look for a grown up Nicholas Hoult, whom you may remember as the boy in “About a Boy.”

Hoult plays the handsome sociopath Tony…as you can see…he has grown up… Also, look for a pre-“Slumdog Millionaire,” Dev Patel, playing a confused Muslim trying to reconcile his religious beliefs with being a teen in London.

As you may have heard, MTV is doing an American version of the show that is set to air on January 17th. I’ll be interested to see how the yanks handle the tone and subject matter of the show as the original version is very gritty, containing frequent full-frontal nudity, swearing and casual drug use. I have been describing “Skins” as a very clever and smart program to my friends, two words that I wouldn’t use in the same sentence as most of the usual MTV fare (see: “Jersey Shore,” “The Hard Times of RJ Berger”). However, I’m pretty optimistic, as it seems “Skins” co-creator Bryan Elsley, (whom created the show with his son) has had a strong hand in the development of the US series. Also, it was shot in Toronto, which is enough to warrant a viewing from myself.