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. 

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Birthday (NEW) GIRL(S)

This week, we celebrated the birthdays of our two favorite “girls,” Jess Day of Fox’s New Girl and Hannah Horvath of HBO’s Girls. Granted the audiences of the show have little overlap, it’s no surprise that these two girls had quite different birthday parties.

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Location

New Girl: Nick plans a surprise party for Jess, but forgets to take into account the many hours leading up to his seven o’clock gathering. He stalls by taking her to get a diabetes test at the drug store, and then challenges her to find the heaviest rock in the park. When she’s had enough, a teary-eyed Jess heads to the movies, where her friends give her the surprise of her life.

Girls: Marnie hosts a party for Hannah in a dive-y bar, at the expense of Mr. and Mrs. Horvath. Guests were welcomed to an open bar, using the password “banana.”

Big Surprise

New Girl: Nick puts together a touching video montage of all of Jess’ friends, co-workers, parents, and students, each saying what they like most about the quirky teacher. 

Girls: After Charlie posts Marnie’s embarrassing music video on YouTube, the absentminded friend decides to prove her singing abilities at Hannah’s party. She invites Hannah on stage for a surprise duet of “Take Me or Leave Me,” something Hannah swore to never do again. And by the look on her “Birthday Bitch” face, she’s not having it.

Unnecessary Conflict

New Girl: While I’m glad the writers have picked up on the conflict between Winston and Coach (now there isn’t a single “token black guy” on the show), I’m not sure their cake-bake-off was the best way to show their division. However, I’m glad that they’ve finally settled their differences in the name of Jess Day’s birthday.

Girls: After telling off Shoshanna for doing nothing (literally, he started the conversation), a drunk Ray gets into a shouting fight with Hannah’s editor/Edward Norton lookalike, David because the bartender changed the song during Ray’s request. Ranting about “song cues” and “what’s right,” David shoves him into a coffee table and they tussle.

Ending

New Girl: Everyone is happy in the movie theater! Yay! And then Schmidt’s epic green screen moments happen, and it gets even better.

Girls: Hannah and Adam return to their apartment to find Adam’s deranged sister, Caroline, naked and cutting herself in the bathroom. Hannah and Adam agree it would be inappropriate to have sex in this situation, so they don’t.

When I posted this, I thought it would be creative and witty and never-before-seen. Then I saw other people blogging about the same birthday parties and I felt inadequate. So, take this with a grain of salt…or two.

The Zoe/Zoey/Zooey’s of TV

Zoe or Zoey or Zooey is a pretty unique name. And it’s no wonder why all the most compelling characters on television today bear this name. Let’s take a look:

Zoey Barkow

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Show: Nurse Jackie
Actress: Merritt Wever
Occupation: ER Nurse
Description: This fun-loving, colorful scrub-wearing ball of fun scored an Emmy this past year for taking her character to a new emotional level. When taken home by Dr. Ike Prentiss, she confesses that she’s “not the nurse that goes home with the doctor.” But we’re cheering for you, Zoey. We’ll watch the edited-for-television version of Dirty Dancing with you and attend your Nurse’s Appreciation basement bash. And maybe we’ll throw in a driving lesson if you promise to wear your kimono to work.

Zoe Barnes

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Show: House of Cards
Actress: Kate Mara
Occupation: Journalist
Description: She’ll blackmail you until the day you die, but she won’t kill you – so that’s a plus! With the nation’s most prominent media outlets at her fingertips, she will do whatever it takes to make a name for herself. And she’s not above sleeping with members of Congress – I’m looking at you this time, Francis Underwood.

Zoe Benson

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Show: American Horror Story: Coven
Actress: Taissa Farmiga
Occupation: Witch/Student
Description: With a vagina that kills, this is one witch you do not want to mess with. I didn’t mean for that to sound crass, but Zoe Benson’s super power in this horror thriller is to take the life of any man she has sex with. Tragic, yet she works it. When she’s not out protecting the coven, she can be found having a three-way with her undead boyfriend and undead classmate. If they’re already dead, she can’t kill ’em!

Zoey Brooks

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Show: Zoey 101
Actress: Jamie-Lynn Spears
Occupation: Boarding School Student
Description: By joining the first ever class of women at Pacific Coast Academy, it’s not an overstatement to say that Zoey Brooks is truly a pioneer. From the spacious dorm rooms straight out of a PB Teen catalog, to the mouthwatering dining hall food, she made us all want to go to boarding school. Until she got pregnant and ruined everything!

And because I couldn’t resist:

Zooey Deschenel

New-Girl
Show: New Girl
Character: Jess Day
Occupation: Teacher
Description: Quirky.

NEW GIRL Walks Down the Aisle

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Last night, Fox’s New Girl invited us to CeCe and Shevrang’s traditional Indian wedding, but their special day was not immune to Jess and the gang’s antics.

Before the wedding, Jess, who is the maid of honor, and Nick are unsure where their relationship is and choose to just enjoy each other’s company for the day.

Meanwhile, a full-bladdered Schmidt stumbles upon CeCe’s changing room on his search for a bathroom and the other bridesmaid yell for him to leave. As he does, he makes eye contact with CeCe, which he takes as a signal from her to get her out of the wedding.

When Schmidt tells the rest of his friends that CeCe wants to call off the wedding, they ignore his foolish thoughts. But, he is able to convince the conniving Winston to help him “sabo” (sabotage) the wedding.

From using a blow horn to send Shevrang’s horse into a frenzy to blasting “Cotton Eyed Joe” as CeCe walks down the aisle, the two get a rush from their pranks.

However, Jess is not pleased with their childish antics and goes to see what they are up to. She stumbles upon Nick, who she thinks is a part of the scheme and she calls off their fling.

Later, an angry Nick agrees to help Schmidt and Winston with their final prank to get back at Jess. This time, they plan on sneaking a badger through the air ducts and dropping it on the alter. Of course, their plan goes awry and Jess ends up trying to help. After a heart-to-heart in the ducts, Nick, Jess, and the badger all fall through a vent on top of the alter canopy.

The ruckus causes CeCe to call off the wedding, but she adds that she is in love with someone else – staring down Schmidt as she does so. Shevrang, too, declares his love for the mysterious Elaine, who stands up in the crowd – it’s Taylor Swift! Although her acting is cheesy, her out-of-place presence makes it all the funnier.

The episode ends with a bit of a cliffhanger, as far as one can go in a half-hour comedy. Schmidt is given an ultimatum by both Elizabeth and CeCe to pick between the two of them – an ironic twist in fate for everyone’s favorite womanizer. Nick and Jess decide to keep their fling going, even though we all know it won’t amount to anything in the end. And last, but certainly not least, a light-headed Winston awaits an ambulance for his badger wounds. Will he live to prank another day?

Overall, New Girl was able to pull off the almost impossible by avoiding a sophomore slump. In fact, I argue that the show is even better in its second season, and showrunner Elizabeth Meriwether isn’t showing any signs of slowing down for the show’s upcoming third season, set to premiere in September.

Fall Line-Ups Announced

This past weekend, TV networks have been releasing their line-ups for the fall season, which include some exciting new pilots. Most of these will be cancelled after three episodes, so don’t get too attached. Here are the ones that I think you can get a little bit attached to come September.

24 – it’s a reboot miniseries with 12 episodes… so shouldn’t it be renamed 12? (Fox)

Sleepy Hollow – the legendary Ichabod Crane is resurrected after 250 years to stop the Headless Horseman with the help of modern day technology (Fox)

Almost Human – yet another J.J. Abrams production that has to do with killing and aliens and stuff (Fox)

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. – all of the awesomeness of Marvel, minus the superheroes (ABC)

The Family Guide – with Jason Bateman, how can this comedy go wrong…that was an Arrested Development joke, which also comes back via Netflix in two weeks! (NBC)

Late Night with Seth Meyers – with Jimmy Fallon moving on to The Tonight Show, it only seems fitting that Seth takes his chair. But what does this mean for the future of SNL’s “Weekend Update”? (NBC)

Heroes??? – a revival of the superhero phenomenon has been rumored, but will only stream via Xbox Live. (???)

Here’s what you won’t see in this fall (AKA what was cancelled):

-Barbara Walters – she announced her retirement from broadcast journalism just last night

-Randy Jackson – this “dawg” will not be returning for another season with American Idol, leaving the show without any original judges for its upcoming season 13

Go On – Matthew Perry, just stop trying please. Friends wasn’t even that good…

-Whitney1600 PennGuys With Kids, and Up All Night – NBC, get your shit together

To end on a positive note, both New Girl and The Mindy Project have been picked up for another season each, and the former has secured the coveted post-Super Bowl spot. You go New Girl, you go.

NEW GIRL Loses Its Virginity

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In an episode of monumental proportions, the New Girl gang reminisces on how they each lost their virginity – each trying to out-do the others in terms of who had the worst experience.

Jess starts off by announcing that the man that had been her first time is in town and that he has asked her on a date. This spirals into peaked curiosity on the sex lives of the members of the group, so they decide to tell their tales.

Jess starts her story by claiming she lost her virginity on prom night, but her story is cut short for having too much of a prologue.

Cece butts in to tell of her deflowering, saying that on her prom night she met Mick Jagger in a bar and rolled with the stones.

Schmidt recalls a night his senior year when him and his newfound love interest, Elizabeth, decided to have sex after many months of dating. Nick was tripping on shrooms when the pudgy couple began their sexual escapade and he attempted to crawl out without being noticed. Schmidt, however, used a bit too much lube that caused him to slide off the top bunk and smoother his roommate. After some back and forth, Nick crawled to safety leaving the room to the somewhat happy couple.

Winston remembers losing his virginity on the night when Nick’s dad brought the two of them to New York City and brought women back with him. Reflecting on the experience, Nick explains that the women were prostitutes, but Winston was sure that his girl, Mysteria, was a nurse.

In an effort to make up for her prolonged story, Jess continues her saga of how she lost her virginity. She met up with CeCe in a bar and saw the guy who serenaded her at prom and the two of them. Ironically, the two girls look around the bar and see their future friends Nick, Schmidt, and Winston, goofing around in a booth. And just to make a Lost reference in my post, it reminded me how in Lost, the castaways had already crossed paths with one another before crashing on the island. Similarly, the best friends had already glanced over at each other – and Schmidt even tried a pickup line on CeCe: “So, do you like DVDs?”

Jess continues to explain that the she and the guy decided to have sex in a miniature castle on a public playground, but his anti-depressants hindered him from getting it up. As soon as day broke, some kids found the two of them wedged between the gates so a firefighter had to come rescue them. This fireman, Tommy, rescues her and becomes the man t take the New Girl’s virginity.

At the end of the episode, the group disbands while Jess continues to get ready for her date. Before leaving, she makes a point to say goodbye to Nick – their sexual tension has been in effect since the pilot, and he intends on cutting it with a knife tonight.

In a play out of an ’80s romantic comedy, Nick rushes after Jess in the elevator, scoops her up, and brings her back to his bedroom where the rest is kind of self-explanatory. But if you need explanation, they have sex.

To end this post, I want to just throw out how funny it is that Brenda Song is still a recurring guest star on this show. That makes her the only Suite Life of Zack and Cody star to go anywhere after the Disney channel show ended. You go, Brenda Song. You go.

NEW GIRL Throws a Bachelorette Party

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One of the most consistently funny shows on television right now is Fox’s New Girl and this week’s episode was no exception.

This week, we were invited to Cece’s bachelorette party, but of course we knew it wouldn’t run smoothly. Technically, Cece never asked Jess to throw her a party – let alone be her maid of honor – but Zooey Deschanel’s self-proclaimed “adorkable” character pulled together a party with the help of Cece’s model friends. However, things took a turn for the worst when Cece’s future mother-in-law decided to accompany Cece, who assumed she would just stop in to her friend’s apartment to say hi and grab a CD.

Needless to say, she was not too pleased when Jess initiated the playing of “Pin the Dong on Shivrang” (accompanied by a revealing cardboard cut-out of her fiancée).

Meanwhile, the guys were in charge of distracting the groom. Nick, who was using his “dead dad pass” sulked in a dark yellow jumpsuit, prompting comparisons to “a homeless pencil” and “Jane Lynch,” the menacing gym teacher from Glee.

With Cece panicking about her sporadic wedding (namely that she hasn’t seen Shivrang naked), Jess enlists the guys to take a picture of his penis before the end of the night. After many fruitless attempts, they send Jess a picture of Nick’s, and she shows it to a relieved Cece – and her future mother-in-law.

Soon enough, the guys return to set things straight, and the engaged couple decides to hold off on the wedding for a little longer, making Schmidt hopeful.

During the episode, Schmidt had been asking his various ex-girlfriends to accompany him as a plus-one to the wedding, all of whom turned him down. His one long-term girlfriend, Elizabeth, scolded him for losing weight and becoming the selfish jerk the audience has come to love to hate. This sparked Schmidt to apologize to Cece for not being the best boyfriend.

One thing about this show that distinguishes itself from other comedies on the air is that it has a consistent plotline. They referenced Nick’s dad’s funeral and Nick and Jess’s middle-school-esk romance. Other shows rarely carry a plot from episode-to-episode, which makes it hard for a character to develop.

The show was picked up for its third season in February, along with its Tuesday nighttime slot pair, The Mindy Project, which has been slumping in terms of ratings.

A bit of a side tangent here, but people have to start watching these two shows, or else they will face the same fate as Fox’s old comedy, Arrested Development, which the network refused to air for a comeback season. The show, which had produced multiple Emmy awards and nominations, will return exclusively to Netflix for a fourth and final season on May 26th.