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. 

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

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

I Finally Start NURSE JACKIE

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After years of seeing nominations for Nurse Jackie at various award ceremonies – and Merritt Wever’s now infamously hilarious acceptance speech for winning the Emmy for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy – I finally sat down to watch the comedy…or drama…or dramedy. And I love it.

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Edie Falco (The Sopranos) shines as a cynical ER nurse, whose addiction to pain killers toggles with her own morality – all while leading a double life with a loving husband and two daughters. Jackie’s good cop/bad cop style of nursing allows the writers to add a host of compelling trauma patients to come through the doors of the bustling New York City hospital.

In the pilot, Jackie is tasked with mentoring a skittish nursing student, Zoey (Wever), who learns right off the bat to barf away from the severed human ear. The hospital has the most prestigious staff in the city, with the adorkable, Dr. Cooper (Peter Facinelli) – Coop for short – and the egocentric diva, Dr. O’Hara (Eve Best).

Something I love about the editing. Most shows fade to black during transitions, but in Nurse Jackie we fade to white. There’s something very lucid about this – mixing Jackie’s immoral addiction to pain killers with the very real sense of mortality in the hospital. In a very powerful moment in the first season, Zoey loses her first patient, and the quick-to-judge Jackie stands down for a moment to acknowledge the many dark horrors that come with working in the medical profession.

If you haven’t starting watching Nurse Jackie yet, don’t fret! It’s not too late! Well, I guess it’ll never be too late, unless, well…we all die eventually.

TV Haikus

Two weeks gone, and to what avail? So I’ve decided to write haikus to make up for my lack of television blogging. This is cool, right?

NEW GIRL

Coach is back, thank God!

But Schmidt moved out, Cece’s sad.

Nick and Jess? In love.

“Temple Grandin” jokes,

A lot of diversity

For a show on Fox.

THE MINDY PROJECT

Mindy rebounds and

Makes a bro club for her friends.

Appreciated.

Josh Peck guest stars, what?

Doc Reed’s dad? Charles Widmore.

Danny in the nude.

MODERN FAMILY

Cam and Mitch engaged,

Extravagance? No Pepper.

Prostitute downstairs.

Manny vs. Manny

Can they both win? But, of course!

Lily makes me laugh.

AMERICAN HORROR STORY

Nan and Christian boy,

Fiona kills new supreme,

Where’s your tongue, Spaulding?

Zombies attack house,

Who blinds Delia? Burn her!

Misty Day revives.

DOWNTON ABBEY

Edith’s pregnant. Yikes!

Mary rolls in the mud. Yikes!

Violet’s sick, then not.

Robert takes the states.

Bates learns truths about Anna,

Baxter’s the new spy.

HOMELAND

Carrie pees on stick.

Plus? Whose? Saul goes duck hunting.

Random people die.

Dana changes name.

Moves out of the house, abrupt!

Where is Brody? Huh?

THE WALKING DEAD

Who burned the bodies?

Carol. Sorrowful goodbye,

Alcohol poisons.

Flu plagues the prison;

Beth – no tears in this new world.

Carl should die soon.

Well, that was a fun segment, right? Let’s just look at this picture and laugh:

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http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2013/11/25/challenge-haiku/

Fall Television So Far…

Now that the first few weeks of fall television are under our belts and we’ve bid adieu to Breaking Bad and Dexter (on gravely different terms…spoiler pun intended) it’s time to reflect on what’s working and what’s not working with my line up.

What’s working:

New Girl

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I’ve gone “all in” with the third season of New Girl, and the cast has never been stronger. Between Jess and Nick’s honeymoon phase, Schmidt’s juggling of CeCe and Elizabeth (played by the hilarious Emmy winner Merritt Wever), and Winston’s obscenities, the laughs keep coming. The latest episode hit home with a broad range of emotions, when Schmidt is finally caught in his double life. Both Max Greenfield and Hannah Simone change the tone of the quirky show in a tear-inducing break-up, but Merritt Wever perks us up again with her devil-may-care attitude, giving Schmidt a pie to the face. Now, he vows to split up the seemingly innocent couple, Jess and Nick. Will he succeed? Will Winston be able to take care of Ferguson the cat? So many questions!

The Mindy Project

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The OB/GYNs are back for a take two, after Fox barely renewed the show for its second season. Mindy is back with a host of guest stars like James Franco and Beth Grant. So far, the season is fast paced, well-written, and generally funny. However, the plot line of Dr. Reed being fat just isn’t working out and Mindy Kaling needs to pen in some more lines for Betsy Putch, the more naïve version of Pam Beasley.

Modern Family

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What’s there to say about Modern Family? As much as I ragged on them for winning their fourth consecutive Emmy just last month, the first few episodes of this season have reminded me why it is one of the greatest shows on television. It’s managed to stay topical, tackling the legalization of gay marriage by having Mitch and Cam get engaged – but not before a comedy of errors. Elsewhere, Gloria is convinced that Fulgencio is possessed by the Devil and Phil has found a new niche of real estate customers – divorced wives.

Parks and Recreation

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Pawnee’s Parks Department crossed the pond in the season opener of Parks and Recreation to accept Leslie’s award for women’s achievement in government. With the town still against her, Leslie learns to come to terms with her constituent’s ignorance with the help of April. Meanwhile, Tom has a new competitor in the clothing rental business: Jean-Ralphio’s father. Retta is still doing her thing (thang?) in the office, as Chris and Ann Perkins break the news to their co-workers about their pregnancy. I’m expecting big things from this season of Parks and Rec, even though Rob Lowe and Rashida Jones are slated to bow out halfway through the season.

Downton Abbey

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Over in the UK, the upstairs/downstairs drama Downton Abbey is back in full swing, but the mourning of Mister Matthew has put a damper on their lives in the past six months. Also, O’Brien skipped town in the middle of the night (little explanation here), making Anna the head Lady’s Maid for Cora. Edith is off gallivanting in London with the publisher, while Mary mourns in her room, until Carson and the Dowager pushes her to her brink and she choses life – for her and her child. I’m loving the introduction of the electric mixer in the kitchen, finally giving Daisy something she’s good at. However, when Valentine’s Day rolls around, she’s left with a fake letter from Mrs. Patmore, while Olive gets one from Alfred, but she thinks it’s from Jimmy. It’s so middle school and I love it. All the while, Thomas has had a slight change of heart, and wants to be more of a part of baby George’s and baby Sybil’s life – much like Carson was a part of Sybil, Mary, and Edith’s life. I have a feeling the first two episodes were catch-up/set-up episodes, and hopefully they keep the drama coming.

What’s not working:

Homeland

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What was going on with the Homeland premiere? I understand that Brody’s confession must have destroyed his household, but by seeing the season three premiere, you’d think Dana is our main character. And don’t get me wrong, I think Dana is a very interesting, dynamic character, played by the very talented, Morgan Saylor. We saw very little of Claire Danes freaking out, which upset me, and too much of her having sex, which also upset me. Also, I know Brody is supposed to be MIA, but at least let us know what he’s up to, right? And Saul’s wife is back? Why? That part didn’t make sense. Let’s pray that this was just a bad set-up episode and that Carrie Mathison will go ham on some terrorists.

The Middle

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Just make a Sue Heck spin-off and I’ll be happy.

My Favorite Moments from The 2013 Emmys

There’s a 60% chance you watched the Emmys last night, a 40% chance that you watched Breaking Bad and a 6% chance you watched Dexter. Regardless of these irrelevant statistics, television was packed with groundbreaking water cooler moments.

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Neil Patrick Harris hosted the 65th Primetime Emmy Awards, honoring the best in television over the past year. Coming into the night, American Horror Story: Asylum led the night with 17 nods and Netflix made history by becoming the first non-television network to be nominated for an Emmy with their shows Arrested Development and House of Cards.
Here were my highlights:

-Amy Poehler and Tina Fey heckled Neil from the audience and proceed to crawl up the stage to present the award for Best Supporting Actress.

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-Merritt Wever (Nurse Jackie – but you know her as Caroline from New Girl) won Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series and delivered the shortest – and probably best – acceptance speech ever. “Thanks so much, thanks so much,” the actress said. “Umm…I gotta go.”

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-Tony Hale joined co-star Julia Louis-Dreyfus as she collected her second award for Veep. Hale, who won for Best Supporting Actor earlier in the night, acted as the bumbling bagman for Louis-Drefyus’ character, Selina, the Vice President of the United States.

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-Claire Danes won again for her work on Homeland and honored the late writer Henry Bromell, whose wife later accepted the award for Best Writing for a Drama Series for the episode “Q&A.” While it was no “Rains of Castamere,” it was an honorable mention to one of the industry’s greatest talents. On the red carpet, Danes caught up with her unlikely BFF Lena Dunham. And it was pretty great.

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-Kevin Spacy turned into Congressman Underwood.

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-Will Ferrell brought his kids with him on stage to present because Dame Maggie Smith cancelled her babysitting gig.
-James Cromwell took the award for Best Supporting Actor in a Movie or Mini-Series over co-star Zachary Quinto. Sarah Paulson was snubbed for Supporting Actress and Twitter had this to say.

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-Modern Family won its fourth Emmy, which peeved me, but Breaking Bad finally won the award for Outstanding Drama Series.

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