Fall 2014 Network TV

There’s quite possibly too much television to talk about nowadays and sorting through it can be quite a daunting task. But, alas, I’ll try my darnedest.

CBS has never interested me as a network, probably because I’m not in their target demographic, so there’s not much for me to discuss here.

ABC has launched a campaign to diversify their lineup. SelfieBlack-ishHow to Get Away with Murder, Cristela, and mid-season replacement Fresh Off the Boat, all feature minority leads, countering the network’s Caucasian-dominated programming.

NBC, on the other hand, seems to be adding more of the same “white-centric” sitcoms, with shows like A to Z, Bad Judge, and The Mysteries of Laura. The latter two sitcoms might have too specific of a premise to survive the year (think back to other NBC flops like Save Me and The Michael J. Fox Show). Once the kings of comedy, NBC is putting all the eggs in their Saturday Night Live basket, where they are still in a sort of generational transition. With a set of powerfully comedic women, lead by Kate McKinnon and Aidy Bryant, as well as strong newcomers Michael Che and 20-year-old Pete Davidson (yes, 20…like, my age), the show premiered last weekend to mixed reviews, as Guardians of the Galaxy star and NBC family member Chris Pratt hosted alongside musical guest Ariana Grande. The best bit of the night came as Pratt poked fun at the obscurity surrounding Marvel’s blockbuster hit, and the gang mocked a some of their upcoming flicks, including Marvel’s Pam 2: Winter Pam (a play on Captain America 2: Winter Soldier). Click the picture below to see the full sketch on Hulu!

AidyBryant_Marvel_Pam-690x262Last, but not least, is Fox. And I like Fox this year. Their solid Tuesday line-up of The Mindy Project and New Girl is sure to cure your mid-week blues, not to mention the sigh of relief that came with the solidification of both of their casts. Brooklyn Nine-Nine took a move to Sunday nights, along with the network’s famed Animation Domination, which includes newly-crowned Emmy winner Bob’s Burgers. While Fox seems to know their comedy, they’ve also taken a dark turn to fill the gaps in the drama department, once championed by House, M.D. and 24 (might we see yet another return of Jack Bauer??). Gotham takes a look at the world of the Batman before the Bat-Call. The heroes and villains we have come to know and love all have their own backstories, from the Riddler to Poison Ivy, Commissioner Gordon to the Penguin. Rumor has it that the Joker will be revealed at the end of the first season, so let’s hope they make it past the mid-year cuts.

In the coming weeks, the cable networks will take control of the airwaves. This Sunday, Showtime revamps Homeland sans Damien Lewis. On Wednesday, FX takes us under the tent with American Horror Story: Freak Show. And the following Sunday, AMC hunts the hunted with the Season Five Premiere of The Walking Dead. 

Summer Lovin’

As the title of this post suggests, I have found love this summer. A newfound love of summer television. And I’m not just talking about summer’s #1 show – America’s Got Talent (which I non-ironically watch and non-ironically tweet about).

This summer has been a gem for television, between Netflix’s Orange is the New Black and HBO’s The Leftovers, AMC’s Halt and Catch Fire and FX’s TyrantFox’s 24: Live Another Day and the highly anticipated Netflix revival of The Killing, love is in the air(waves). Puns.

My hope is to blog about these shows before the summer is over, but, alas, my 9-5 internship can kind of put a damper on my blogging spirit, as it is so much easier to binge my DVR than it is to pause and reflect on each individual episode.

Side thought: Merritt Wever in the Nurse Jackie finale was amazing. Pulling for her to take home a second Emmy.

Side thought to the side thought: Emmy nominations will be announced on Thursday. I will surely post my thoughts on my reaction and picks for the awards (which will be held on a Monday in August because NBC doesn’t respect television…if the Oscars were held on a Monday in March, the world would go apeshit).

Be blogging soon,

Rob

A Little Song & Dance: MAD MEN Mid-Season Finale

mad-men-season-7-poster-featured

I apologize to my readers who haven’t had any posts to read over the past few months, but I’m back with a take on last night’s Mad Men mid-season finale.

The episode, entitled “Waterloo” brings us full circle with Peggy’s decision to give up her child in the first season, as she shows remorse when her neighbor/quasi-son Julio hugs her goodbye and she gives a rousing presentation to Burger Chef about families from a mother’s point of view.

Then, Bert’s death makes Don realize two things. First, that he is to Peggy as Bert was to Roger: a mentor. Second, that “the best things in life are free.” Sure the moon landing cost $35 billion (according to the Francis-Draper houseguest that Sally didn’t get with), but the feeling of togetherness that the historic moment brought to the country and its families was priceless. Everyone was watching the moon landing with their families (even Roger and Mona), but Don was alone in his hotel room calling his family from half-way across the country.

Bert’s post-mortem song and dance at the end of the episode reemphasizes how Don is spiraling into insanity and falling further from the facade he has held up all these years as Don Draper. Maybe it’s time for Dick Whitman to come back?

Now, let’s look further at what’s to come from the final episodes next Spring. Don ended things with Megan last night (or the other way around), which I believe will set us up for a tragedy next season. With his new wisdom from the ghost of Bert Cooper, I think that Don will fly to Los Angeles to surprise Megan, only to find her victim to the violently brutal Charles Manson killing spree (the signs have been adding up for multiple seasons at this point). And with Betty fighting with her new husband, maybe Don will go crawling back to his family – it’ll be like Bobby’s summer camp all over again.

Let’s not rule out big changes to the show’s other leading protagonist, Peggy. She’s sacrificed everything a woman should have for the times – a husband, children, a home. The show can go two directions. Either praise her for her independence, or lay on the societal pressures to make her leap from the windows of Sterling Cooper & Partners – a homage to the “Falling Man” from the show’s title sequence.

The first half of the season started slow, but ended with some nice, original Mad Men vibes. Let’s hope Weiner and Co. keep up the good work for the last seven episodes, slated to air Spring 2015.

 

I’m Back, But I Never Really Left

Hey gang,

Sorry I haven’t posted in awhile. I know you all must be worried about my well-being, so I’m here to tell you this: I’m OK. Well, sort of. In the past few weeks I’ve watched a few shows here and there and nothing has really wowed me. While the Sochi Olympics are providing some quality entertainment, my regular shows have been lagging a bit. The Walking Dead returned. It was blah. But it did make me want to eat some pudding – right, Carl?!?!? Girls has been blah. No one cares about Hannah moping around. I want season one back, Lena! 

house-of-cards-season-2.jpg?w=1000&h=563&crop=1

The one beacon of hope in these dark days arrived today. Netflix released Season 2 of House of Cards this morning, and I’m ashamed to admit that I’ve only seen the first episode, but wow. What a way to start the season off with a bang…or a shove, I guess. Francis Underwood went for his second kill in the season premiere, taking out budding reporter and quasi-mistress Zoe Barnes with a swift push into a train. Truly kicked off my Valentine’s Day with high hopes about the world! But, to be fair, Claire Underwood did remove the ash tray from the home – no more smoking for a Vice Presidential nominee. How loving. I’m looking forward to my binge this weekend, and I’ll be sure to keep you posted!

My Open Letter to the Hollywood Foreign Press Association

Golden-Globes1-540x360

Dear Hollywood Foreign Press Association,

Did you watch this season of Homeland? Like, actually, did you watch it? Even past the first seven episodes? It got better, you know. How about Game of Thrones? Does the phase “Rains of Castamere” not sing “Golden Globe nomination” to you? Oh, here’s another one: Did you watch Mad Men this season? It was a lot darker than usual, so maybe you turned it off because you got a little scared. The Hershey Pitch? Anyone? 

On the other hand, did you per chance watch Downton Abbey? Maybe you were just watching Joanne Froggatt’s heartbreaking performance in episodes 4-8. Because other than that, the season was shit (no offense, Downton, I still love you). And Masters of Sex? I know you like to give experimental shows a chance, but not this year. Not when the three most talked about dramas are left out in the cold. Just throw a nod at Lizzy Caplan and call it a day. Just kidding, you didn’t do that either. How about Anna Gunn? Wasn’t she great on this season of Breaking Bad? It’s like she was SO GOOD she won an Emmy for it, or something. I see you gave some love to Taylor Schilling for Orange is the New Black, but, as the also-snubbed cast of Arrested Development would say, “Her?” Really? You had an entire ensemble of amazing breakout artists (Uzo Aduba, Danielle Brooks, etc.) and you only shed light on Schilling? Shame on you. Shame. On. You.

You’re lucky Amy Poehler and Tina Fey are hosting, because their comedic gold will make me forget about all the wrongdoings you have done this holiday season.

Best,

Rob Zappulla

 

Top Ten Entertainment Moments of 2013

The year was 2013 and madness ensued. Here’s yet another meaningless top ten countdown, where someone will bitch about how I didn’t include HBO’s “Enlightened” being cancelled.

 10. The Rise of the Mini-Series

american-horror-story-coven-2

To start off the countdown, I’d like to take a moment to recognize a phenomenon that has captivated audiences in 2013: the mini-series. Unlike any year before, these productions have combined the high production value of films with the periodic elements of a television show. Most notably is FX’s American Horror Story: Coven, the third installment to Ryan Murphy’s anthology series, which follows the struggle between the witches and voodoos in New Orleans. Another popular mini-series this year was BBC’s Top of the Lake, starring Mad Men’s Elisabeth Moss as a detective who uncovers the disappearance of a twelve-year-old pregnant girl. The story unfolds with strong cultural ties to the New Zealand landscape. BBC’s other masterpiece this year was Parade’s End, starring Benedict Cumberbatch as a conservative aristocrat who falls in love with a progressive suffragette. So do yourself a favor and watch a mini-series! It’ll be worth your time.

 

9. North West

bound-2-5-things

 

At number nine is the baby of the year – and we’re not talking about the future heir to the English throne – we’re talking about North West. On June 15th, reality star Kim Kardashian gave birth to a baby boy, who, along with boyfriend and rapper Kanye West, named North West. As a nation, we gasped, thinking of this kid’s first day of Kindergarten as a confused schoolteacher takes attendance and calls out a compass direction, rather than a name. This was also a big year for Kimye as a couple. From Kanye’s music video for “Bound 2” was parodied by James Franco and Seth Rogan, to his public fight with Jimmy Kimmel, to his record smashing CD release of Yeezus, tabloids have been stocked with juicy stories about Hollywood’s newest power couple.

 

8. Lorde releases “Pure Heroine” 

Lorde_0135final-11-e1370628162874

At number eight comes a young girl from down under – New Zealand to be exact. In the midst of the Royal Baby craze, she reminded us that, “We’ll never be royal.” This girl’s name is Lorde and her album, “Pure Heroine” hit shelves September 27 to critical raves and a whopping four Grammy nominations.

 

7. Jennifer Lawrence wins Oscar, trips

gty_jennifer_lawrence_fall_thg_130224_wblog

 

Moving on to number seven, we take a trip back to February’s Academy Awards, where America’s budding sweetheart Jennifer Lawrence took a trip of own. On her way up to the stage to accept her award for Best Actress in a Motion Picture for her role in Silver Linings Playbook, Lawrence stumbled up the steps – but still managed to make it look like a Chanel ad. The Girl on Fire has had a full year, starring in The Hunger Games: Catching Fire and the upcoming David O’Russell flick American Hustle, where another Oscar could be in store for Lawrence.

 

6. Deaths of James Gandolfini and Cory Monteith

rs_560x415-130916130636-1024.JamesGandolfiniCoryMonteith.RIP.9.15.13.JMD

 

For number six, we take a somber moment to remember two great men gone too soon. In June, news broke that Sopranos front man James Gandolfini had died of a heart attack. Gandolfini had just wrapped up filming of a recently released film Enough Said alongside Julia Louis-Dreyfus, which has gained a lot of critical attention. Then in July, we learned the passing of Glee star Cory Monteith. The show postponed the start of their fifth season in order to properly pay tribute to Monteith’s legacy in an episode entitled “The Quarterback.” At the 2013 Emmy Awards held in September, Edie Falco and Jane Lynch paid tribute for their respective co-stars in a tearful in memoriam.

 

5. Sandra Bullock Brings The Heat and is Suspended in Gravity

GRAVITY

 

Number four on our countdown goes to Sandra Bullock, whose films this year brought audiences to tears of laughter and desolation. First, in her summer blockbuster, The Heat, Bullock stars as a ridged, by the books FBI agent from Manhattan, who is tasked to work with a Boston cop, played by Melissa McCarthy, to take down the nation’s most notorious drug dealer. Then in October, Bullock captivated audiences as Dr. Ryan Stone in Alfonso Cuaron’s Gravity. Bullock’s character goes through a range of emotions in the ultimate “stranger in a strange land” film. The only thing in the way of Bullock’s second Oscar is Cate Blanchette in Blue Jasmine, but my vote’s for the lonely astronaut.

 

4. “Rains of Castamere”

hoo

Have you heard someone say “Spoiler Alert!” at all during the past year? If so, chances are pretty good that that someone was about to talk about Game of Throne’s “Rains of Castamere” – which comes in at number three on our countdown. In one of the bloodiest hours in the history of television, the HBO fantasy drama unexpectedly killed off a slew of protagonists, as jaws dropped around the globe. Like clockwork, fans took to the Internet to vent their concerns, leading to dozens of viral “reaction” videos to the episode’s infamous moment, now known as “The Red Wedding.” Basically, if you haven’t started watching television’s most expensive drama, you should probably make that your New Year’s Resolution.

 

3. Miley Twerks at the VMAs

1377483237000-mileytonguebetter

 

She’s still just being Miley. At number two on our countdown comes Disney star turned provocative twerk-er. In August, Miley Cyrus performed a rendition of “We Can’t Stop” and “Blurred Lines” with Robin Thicke, and proceeded to do the “Twerk Seen Round the World.” Was it a publicity stunt? Probably. Did it work? Definitely. Before the year was up, Miley had hosted SNL, performed a head-scratching rendition of “Wrecking Balls” at the AMA’s, and released a relatively successful album, Bangerz, all while sporting her now iconic short hair-do. Say what you will, but she’s just being Miley.

 

2. Breaking Bad Finale

breaking bad 660 reuters emmy

At number five, America said goodbye to its favorite meth cook – Walter Hartwell White. AMC wrapped up the fifth and final season of Breaking Bad on September 29th, as audiences packed auditoriums and movie theaters around the nation to view the shocking conclusion to one of the greatest television dramas of all time. To honor the show’s legacy, the Emmy’s awarded Anna Gunn with Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama, and the Outstanding Drama award went to the cast and crew of Breaking Bad.

 

1. Netflix Produces Original Content

photo

For my number one moment in entertainment for the 2013 year, I log onto my Netflix account to view their new, original content. Racking up an impressive fourteen Emmy nominations and one win, the online streaming site has become a television network in its own capacity. From reviving fan-favorite Arrested Development, to the political drama House of Cards, Netflix is doing everything right. Over the summer, Netflix added yet another outstanding show, Orange is the New Black, which has demolished all notions and prejudices America has had about female correctional facilities. At $8.99 a month, Netflix is more than just entertainment – it’s an experience.

Do you agree with my top ten? Let me know in the comment section. Be civilized, people.

THE WALKING DEAD Mid-Season Finale

the-walking-dead-season-4-poster-comic-con

Are you still feeling the adrenaline kick from last night’s midseason finale of The Walking Dead? I know I am! (Dramatic pause). Sure, this season’s antagonist was just the zombies, then the flu, then we think the zombies might have had the flu, but really it was the rats/pigs that had the flu…regardless of what seemed like the longest season of The Walking Dead since the Sophie played hide-and-go-seek in the barn, the climactic showdown between Rick and the Governor was worth the wait. And little kids got guns; that was cool!

After the writers pushed the envelope with two whole episodes dedicated to the Governor and his newly converted minions, the one-eyed tyrant led a march on the prison, taking Hershel and Michonne hostage to tease Rick into a bloodless overthrow. However, Rick pleaded to the Governor that both groups could live in complete harmony in the separate cellblocks. Meanwhile, seasons 1-3 Rick turned his cheek the other way, mumbling, “I’m not with this guy.” The Governor wasn’t convinced, so naturally he took to Michonne’s sword and offed Hershel’s grinning head.

Then, war.

I want to take a moment to talk to the characters individually to critique their performance in the epic showdown.

Hershel: I’m glad you went with a big smile on your face. We were all crying just like Beth & Maggie, machine guns included.

Beth & Maggie: I was moved by your powerless shrieks when your father was beheaded. That being said, you didn’t have to waste all your ammo with your emotions. Slow it down next time.

Michonne: I’m not sure how you rolled your way to safety without any of the Governor’s men (or the Governor himself) noticing. Good for you for using that trailer hitch to free your hands from that super strong rope.

Rick: You really lost a fistfight to the Governor? We just saw two whole episodes where this guy was literally emaciated and was contemplating suicide. I feel like your farming should have prepared you – both physically and mentally – to beat the crap out of him. SMH (Shaking My Head – even though I just learned this wasn’t an acronym for “So Much Hate”).

Tyreese: I’m not sure how you stumbled upon those brutally mutilated rats – slash the battle was an easy way for us to forget about the plot of a potential psychopath living amongst the survivors – but you are really bad at shooting. You had to be saved by four little kids with pistols; never forget.

Lizzie and Her Band of Badass Munchkins: Carol taught you a thing or two, I see. Best moment of the season – by far – slaying Alisha, whose lesbian plot line didn’t really amount to anything, but probably appeased the LGBT community.

Miranda: Since when are you against using guns? I’m very confused. Your character arc makes no sense to me. And your lover was killed by an eight-year-old. Maybe it’s time to rethink your life?

Lilly: I don’t get you. You’re just a less cool, less attractive version of Andrea, minus the gun skills and the personality, plus the daughter (then minus the daughter when she dies, so you even out with her there!).

Daryl: You’re way too cool for all these people. I hope you ditch the group and go find Carol in Season Five and live happily ever after.

Sasha: You were barely able to walk at the start of this episode, then all of the sudden you’re shooting down the Governor’s army and walkers left and right? You were totally faking the flu.

Glenn: You very much still had the flu. You need to heighten your immune system somehow. Maybe some tea? Tea should help.

Carl: YOU HAD ONE JOB! WHERE IS LIL ASSKICKER NOW? HUH? JUDITH’S CAR SEAT WAS PRETTY BLOODY, SO IT DOESN’T LOOK GOOD, CARL. IT. DOESN’T. LOOK. GOOD. Ugh.

After the smoke cleared, the good guys really only lost Hershel, maybe Judith, and their home. They did a pretty good job, considering how our heroes were outgunned by the Governor’s mini-army. And they also had a tank, which forced me to suspend my disbelief a little – were the keys just sitting in the tank? Did someone hotwire the tank? Was there that much ammo still left in the tank? So many questions, so little time.

Now we all must brave the cold without our favorite cold-blooded friends (get it!), as The Walking Dead returns in February to cap off their fourth season. Fingers crossed that there’s an episode dedicated to Carol driving down the coast all the way to Disney World. A guy can dream, damn it!