Saturday, March 31, 2012

News Roundup: End of March 2012

by Amy K. Bredemeyer

Renewals, Cancellations, & Scheduling:
BBCAmerica's Being Human will return for a fifth season of six episodes.

FOX's Q'Viva: The Chosen is being shortened from two hours to ninety minutes... and it's moving to 11pm instead of 8pm on Saturday nights. Cops and Bones will fill the gap.

The CW's The LA Complex (which doesn't premiere in the US until April 24th) will expand its first season from six episodes to nineteen. The new episodes will air over the summer.

FOX has renewed Bones for an eighth season.

Animal Planet has renewed Pit Boss, My Cat from Hell, and Pit Bulls & Parolees.

MTV renewed The Challenge for a 23rd season and The Real World for a 28th season.

Nickelodeon will present Dora's Easter Adventure for the first time this Wednesday, April 4th at 10am ET/PT.

TLC has yet another reality competition show in the world. Craft Wars will being its 10-episode run on June 26th, hosted by Tori Spelling.

Cast & Plot Updates:
Jason Alexander will have a role on an upcoming episode of Two and a Half Men.

Lindsay Lohan and Whoopi Goldberg will both guest on Glee this season.

Shows in Development & Other Fun Stuff:
Netflix has decided to pass on Terra Nova after all, so consider it gone for good.

FX is looking at potentially making Fargo into a television show.

You may have known that you can watch the pilot for Don't Trust the B---- in Apartment 23 early on ABC's website and on Hulu, but the second episode will also be available on April 2nd, a full nine days before the official debut.

NatGeo's Bid & Destroy will "give viewers an unprecedented look into the cutthroat, rough and demanding world of demolition." Twelve episodes are expected later this year.

Way back in October, Scott Baio was cast as the lead in Daddy's Home, an original show for Nick at Nite, but the network has ordered 20 episodes, to start filming later this year.

FX will have six installments of the untitled late show with Chris Rock & W. Kamau Bell, premiering this summer.

NBC is launching "NBC Kids" on Saturday, July 7th. This three-hour block will help meet the development needs of 2-5 year-olds.

Disney finally beat Nickelodeon in "average number of total daily viewers." If took them nearly 17 years to do so.

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Friday, March 30, 2012

Happily Divorced: New Episode, Same Stuff

by Amy K. Bredemeyer

Did we really need a Fiddler on the Roof joke? Nobody's forgetting that Fran is Jewish. Of course, we also need to keep repeating that Fran and Peter may be divorced, but they're still inextricably intertwined. That's basically the point of this episode, and most others. Viewers receive even more background on how great of a husband Peter was and how accepted he is by Fran's family... the same spiel thrown out there every week. The only thing that made this episode different were some of The Nanny references... though those aren't exactly few and far between, either. Fran's vest was worn on her earlier show and the actresses who played Marilyn and her mother played Fran's mother and grandmother on The Nanny. Sure, it's fun and all... but nothing is happening to give Happily Divorced any forward motion of its own. Sooner or later they're going to run out of gimmicks and the audience is going to be tired of seeing the same theme played out over and over... let's see something NEW on this show for a change. 

Happily Divorced "The Burial Plotz" (S02E04): The flower shop has had poor business lately, despite the fact that there are more obituaries in the paper than usual. [a weak poke at florists doing well because of funeral arrangements.] Peter, always looking out for Fran, forgoes a commission in order to get her business a small spot on live television. [I didn't understand why it needed to be live... wouldn't things like that tend to be shot ahead of time? I realize that it was supposed to make the actual interview "funnier," but that isn't what happened.] But, the roof leaks
and they don't have the money to patch it before the news story, so Fran sells Peter's spot in the family burial plot to Marilyn, a nosy neighbor of her parents. [how would you even think of that potential asset? Maybe if I had one I'd remember it, but it just seems odd to me that your mind would think of it as a potential sale.] Peter is more upset than he lets on, and Fran's parents aren't happy with the situation either, though they're equally upset for Peter and for the fact that they'll be "next to strangers." Fran's mother tells her that she needs to set things right, so Fran tries to buy back the $3,000 plot with floral arrangements. [ah, a good old-fashioned barter...] However, Marilyn has already given the plot to her aging mother, who wants double the original price. Fran offers to do errands and chores for the woman, but she only raises the price further, so it's a lost cause.

Peter finally admits to Fran that he feels unloved and unwanted for the first time, a statement for which she was unprepared to hear, especially just before her interview. [timing, timing, timing..] Her responses to the reporter's questions are very Peter-centric, and she ends up breaking down on the air over selling Peter's grave. [...and this is why such things aren't live.] Fran then apologizes to Peter, saying that she'll sell her burial plot, too, and they'll get two cheap ones together someplace else. [I guess that was a thoughtful ending. At least "Four Feet Under" was funny.]
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Thursday, March 29, 2012

Dance Academy: Rumors & Music Videos

by Amy K. Bredemeyer

Yeah, so last I've been thinking about whether TeenNick is either trying to burn off the episodes faster or build an audience for Dance Academy by moving the show to twice a week, and making it Wednesday and Thursday instead of Friday, alongside the new Degrassi episodes. At this point I'm leaning toward the former, as I've seen a significant drop (like 90%) in views for the three most recent Dance Academy recaps, in comparison with the first few. So, we'll take a look at how this post does, but if it's not picking up, we're going to cut our losses. The show doesn't thrill me that much anyway. The two episodes this week have Abigail hating her body, Christian taking the high road, Kat trying something different, Tara letting a rumor fly, Ethan trying out for a new part, and Sammy buying his first protective undergarment. Nothing too exciting, but it makes sense that we're seeing some body image issues at a dance school, and it was really only a matter of time before Tara came up with a new way to try and lure Ethan.  

Dance Academy "Growing Pains" (S01E08): Tara walks around the school and practices what she'll say to Ethan when she "stumbles upon him." [does she really think that she's fooling him? Ethan hasn't really shown any signs of being an idiot, so I'm not sure why she thinks he'll buy yet another one of her stupid lines.] She invites him to see a traveling show and he tells her that she's his sister's best friend, so it's not a good idea. [at least he's trying to let her down gently at this point.] Tara meets a company member whose mother knows hers. A rumor soon starts spreading that Tara is dating Damian, which she doesn't deny. [yeah, I tried to let a rumor like that go when I was in seventh grade. and then again in eighth grade. Neither really worked out to my advantage.] Tara is told to wear less makeup in class (she's trying to cover a pimple), then she's called to the administration, where she's confronted about the rumor - company members aren't allowed to date students. [double whammy for Tara... girl can't catch a break sometimes.] Tara apologizes, then finds Damian to explain that she only wanted Ethan to see her differently. [why does Tara smile when she apologizes? this is really getting old]

Sammy is told that he needs to wear a dance belt for support from now on, and Christian goes with him to buy one. The salesgirl likes Christian so Sammy tries to help him out, only Christian isn't that interested. [why are we setting up that Christian doesn't like girls? Are they really trying to push the fact that he doesn't like to share things about himself that hard?]
Abigail is ashamed of her developing chest and doesn't want to remove her sweater during class. [...but how is hiding it going to help anything?] Instead, she goes to the nurse, claiming she's coming down with something. She also tries to steal a chocolate bar, but that's glossed over pretty quickly. [perhaps we're to believe that she's craving chocolate as some do during a certain time of the month?] Kat tries to help Abigail, but Abigail just talks about how principal dancers have flat chests, and this will be the end of her career. [Nice of Kat to do something more than just walk away. And I've heard more than one former ballet student say this, so I imagine it has a certain degree of accuracy... much like with gymnasts...]

Dance Academy "Heartbeat" (S01E09): Ethan and Christian work out together. [well, Ethan follows Christian around and then tries to show him up. They really write Ethan to be a jerk sometimes.] We learn that Christian has to stay at the Academy during school vacations as part of his parole. Ethan and some others (including Christian) audition for a side project. Abigail doesn't make it, but Christian and Ethan are interviewed after their dances go well. Christian is offered the position, but doesn't take it because he has to share his ambitions. [wow. you lose out on something like this because you don't want to open up... shame.] Ethan is given the slot and rubs Christian's nose in it, not knowing that he was the second choice. [but, since the viewers all know, we can laugh at Ethan's ego.]

Kat posts an online music video of herself dancing, which lands her in trouble with the administration. Luckily, it also gets her a chance to dance in a real music video. [wow, that's cool. And, although I know that she and Ethan aren't close, I was expecting her to tell him about it...] Kat brings Tara and Sammy to the shoot, but Kat just isn't impresses, calling the costumes and moves cheesy. The singer agrees and decides to change things. [wow... normally you'd just throw out someone who wasn't a team player...] He then takes Kat to dinner, invites her on tour (to which she declines), and even dedicates the premiere of the music video to her. [they act like they shot it and it's airing the next day... there's so much post-production on things like that... at least in the US!]
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Hot in Cleveland: Lockdown with Enemies

by Amy K. Bredemeyer
I just had to open with that image. It was my favorite exchange of the episode, so I was delighted that it was up and available on the internet. I actually rather enjoyed this episode, finding it fairly unique and rather unusual. Sure, I've experienced a lockdown with others for whom I didn't care (flashback to bomb threats and SWAT sweeps in high school), but the writers managed to get all four girls to have antagonists early enough in the episode to make the situation-of-the-week pretty comedic. I hope we see more of Elka's friend, who apparently was a larger part of her life before the girls moved in. And, while I like Rhea Perlman as much as the next Cheers fan, she didn't do much for me in the role of an unproductive maid. I don't think the other two will really be back anyway, so let's just get on with the recap!

Hot in Cleveland "Everything Goes Better with Vampires" (S03E16): The maid, Jackie, isn't cleaning so Victoria tells Melanie to fire her, as a celebrity firing a maid would only result in a tell-all book. [the first of a half-dozen The Help jokes this episode. Too bad they beat that horse to death!] Joy can't do it because Jackie apparently can't understand her accent. [again, once or twice is was laughable, but they went a little far with this one, too.] Once Jackie breaks Victoria's Daytime Emmy, however, Victoria is ready to lay down the law! [with the tiny bit we learned about Jackie's character, I didn't really see "honesty" as being a big priority for her, so why would she confess to Victoria about the award right away?]

"Rick Springfield" is picking up Joy for a date, though she quickly connives him into moving straight to the bedroom. After their intimacy, however, she notices that he doesn't have a certain scar, so it's yet another one of her faux-Rick Springfields. [Joy has an unhealthy obsession with Rick Springfield, got it. But if the writers really wanted us to believe that, why haven't any of her other attempts been shown before now? We're not in season one...]

Elka's friend comes by to collaborate on writing a radio play adaptation. [now here's something you don't see everyday!] Elka wants to get a younger audience by adding vampires to Gone with the Wind. [I laughed at probably all of the jokes in this storyline... from "modernization" to vampires and werewolves to 70-year-olds being young... great stuff.]

Melanie is dating an intellectual but decides to break it off with him... just before a mandatory lockdown goes into effect because of an armed robbery in the area. So, all four girls have unwanted guests, as each woman's story comes to an impasse at around the same time. [I enjoyed Victoria's joke about the 99% and Occupying the living room.] The group decides to play charades, but that doesn't last long. Victoria eventually apologizes to Jackie and FakeRick apologizes to Joy. [FakeRick did have a good point about carrying out a different persona because it repeatedly works...] Melanie and her guy and Elka and her friend make up, then the police come to the door to let them know that the lockdown is over. [I thought that they could have carried this over to a second episode if they wanted, but I guess not... I did like the reading of the Vampire mashup of Gone with the Wind, tho!]
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South Park: Just Combine the Memes!

by Amy K. Bredemeyer

Talk about a pointless episode. While it did make me laugh, I thought that, for a storyline about memes, Parker and Stone could have done so much more. I also would have supported a larger portion of the plot being dedicated to cats rising to power through memes, as there have certainly been several in the past few years, not just "cat breading." Plus, why wasn't there a joke about Tebow going to the Jets and is therefore "out of style" or something? I've always loved how topical South Park manages to be through their quick-paced work environment, so I was hoping for some sort of joke there. On the whole, it would be worth watching again, but I don't see it achieving "classic" status. Here's hoping that this season will pick up soon!

South Park "Faith Hilling" (S16E03): The boys have concocted a scheme much more elaborate than it needs to be to make a joke at the Colorado debate. [seriously, I was set-up to believe that something of brilliant caliber was about to happen... disappointment!] Security is concerned about someone "Faith Hilling," and Cartman is the guilty party, pulling at the chest of his shirt to make it look like breasts. [yep, this is the "new thing."] The kids make the newspaper headlines the next day, but the stunt is called "so 2000 and late" which upsets our favorite fourth-graders.

At school, a "Memes Specialist" is brought in to show a "dated" filmstrip and talk about the dangers behind memes. Planking, Tebowing, and other poses are discouraged because kids tend to pause for iPhone photos and wind up getting hurt - mostly by rogue trains, it seems. [gruesome AND ridiculous!] They're told that the only acceptable memes for photos are the peace sign, bunny ears, and fake wiener." [I've seen "fake wiener" before, but I guess I never knew that was what it was called.] Butters is affected by the filmstrip but everyone else wants to keep Faith Hilling. Well, at least until the new thing, "Taylor Swifting," debuts. It's a bit more complicated - you pull down your pants, sit on your butt, then drag yourself around on the ground. [gross and old-dog-like is right!] All this does is force the Memes Specialist to give another lecture, this time with the point that "Swifting and Hilling is like playing with a loaded gun." To make the issue "real" to the kids, he forces Butters to put a loaded gun in his mouth, teaching that that doing memes is playing with your life. [too bad nobody really cares about Butters. Though, it would have been worse if Kenny was the assistant!]

The Memes Specialist is brought in to talk to some other folks, and he says that cats must be almost as smart as humans if they've figured out how to take pictures of themselves "breading" and posting them online. Cartman asks his cat why he
photo courtesy: Comedy Central
participated in the meme. [hahaha, I love how angry Cartman was at the cat. oh, and Kenny saying that memes are pointless didn't really work because he was off doing another one pretty shortly afterward.] Kenny joins Stan in a new meme (also created by a cat) while Kyle and Cartman continue Faith Hilling. [why is Butters still in the classroom?] The latter group is constantly teased for being out of style. The "ambassador of people" goes to talk to the new-meme cat, and claims that the cat said that their species will rise to power. [cue the ridiculousness climax!] The 're now a second debate, this time with the meme-cat and Gingrich, Santorum, and Romney. Well, Cartman oes to pull the newest meme but stops at the last second, saying that he's better than this - it's time that somebody stood up and did the right thing - he "Faith Hills" and sings. The audience and the candidates join in. [boooooo! boring ending!] 
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Wednesday, March 28, 2012

16 & Pregnant: Mackenzie & Katie

by Amy K. Bredemeyer

Yep, this show is back again, even opening with two episodes. Neither of the girls were all that interesting, though their lives are very different - one graduated from high school shortly before having her baby while the other hadn't even started her junior year when she became pregnant. One had to give up her dreams of going to an out-of-state college while the other sits on the sidelines while her cheerleading friends tumble without her. Both have babydaddies who stick around but don't bring in much money. Overall, their experiences were interesting enough to warrant airing, but not intriguing enough to really enjoy.

16 and Pregnant: "Mackenzie" (S04E01): She's a 16-year-old competitive cheerleader and horseback rider in Oklahoma. She has both parents and three siblings. She didn't want to take birth control because it makes you gain weight, so her boyfriend, Josh, got her pregnant. [I loved that her mom laughed at her when she explained "how it happened."]
May, 24 weeks: "summer's almost over" so she goes with her friends to a rodeo. [well, that was clearly a mistake by MTV, whom you may remember is notorious for getting the dating wrong with this show.] Josh has been entering rodeos to make money. [he's graduated but has no real job, it seems.] Mackenzie knows that they need to get jobs and settle down to afford the baby, but her family doesn't think she's planning enough.
July, 28 weeks
: She calls around to look for a job but doesn't get far. [one place did tell her to come down and fill out an application - I guess she didn't do that, tho?] Mackenzie talks about not wanting to miss much school but she doesn't have money to afford daycare, either. Josh is only planning on doing rodeos, even if he gets injured. She tries on her cheerleading outfit for fun. [I don't really understand why you'd want to try on old clothes when you're seven months pregnant, but maybe that's just me?]
30 weeks
: Mackenzie and her dad recycle cans to earn a little money. [where are they getting these cans, exactly?]
August, 33 weeks
: She goes back-to-school shopping with her friends. Josh and Mackenzie are supposed to look at daycare options together but he's in a bad car accident and suffered neck and head injuries. His concern, tho? Not being able to ride again, especially if he is paralyzed in a possible upcoming surgery. [I can understand wanting to be a professional rider, but it doesn't really seem like this kid trains or anything - he just does it. either be serious or make it a hobby - it's not just a casual job.] Mackenzie tells him that she doesn't want to have to drop out of high school, but she might have to if they can't afford day care. Her sisters throw her a shower. [big party!]
35 weeks: She starts her junior year of HS. She can't get her jeans zipped. [no maternity clothes for this kid, huh?]
36 weeks: Her stomach hurts one night but she isn't sure if it's contractions.They head to the hospital anyway, and she's admitted. Seven hours into labor, the baby is too big and she needs a c-section. She still experiences some pain, but Gannon is born 9 lbs, 7 oz on September 12th. [that IS a big baby! was she not having regular prenatal care? Shouldn't they have known that the baby was measuring big?]
3 days old: They go back to Mackenzie's house, where Josh will stay, too. Her mom takes a week off from work to help Mackenzie (who is breastfeeding and pumping) manage things. [She seems very comfortable around the baby. but why show us a dirty diaper??] 
October, 5 weeks old: things have been exhausting. Josh will watch Gannon when Mackenzie is at school and then she'll watch him at night. [decent compromise. not bringing in money, but at least she can go to school.] Josh tries to sell some old rodeo gear for money. 
6 weeks old: Mackenzie goes back to school.
7 weeks old: she goes to tumbling, bringing Gannon with her. She stretches and then does a few moves, but she's in pain and struggling. [I bet!] They go to a rodeo while Josh's mom watches Gannon. Josh wants to ride, but they end up leaving instead. [has he not ridden in one since the accident?] Mackenzie calls him the next day and asks him to stop doing rodeos, and he says he doesn't care if it ruins their relationship. [cliffhanger ending. of course. I don't want to follow her in the future, though...]

16 and Pregnant: "Katie" (S04E02): She is 17, lives in Wyoming, has divorced parents, and lives with her boyfriend, Joey, and his family (mom, stepdad, and two younger siblings). She was hoping to move to Denver for college, then go on to graduate school in psychology, but she got pregnant. Her main problem? She wants to get her own place with Joey, but he thinks they won't be able to afford it.
April, 26 weeks: We learn that they were using condoms for protection. We learn that her best friend is still moving to Denver for school. Her mom is disappointed and doesn't have anything positive to say. [maybe she shouldn't have allowed her to live with Joey, huh? Maybe she should have talked to her about safe sex.]
May, 28 weeks: She's been working on weekends at a baby supply store. [good for her!] Joey got his GED and now works at a tractor shop but is trying to get into mining. [you know, every teenage father's goal on this show.] Joey's mom suggests they apply for income-based housing, though they can continue to live there if they want. [it'll be crowded, but it's nice to be offered.] Katie goes to the Prom with her friends but doesn't have energy to "go out" after the event. [did she really just try on everyone's dresses? do teens no longer get their hair done for Prom?? where do kids "go out" in the middle of Wyoming? They already said that there isn't much to do there besides ride four-wheelers...]
30 weeks: They start applying for income-based housing.
June, 31 weeks: She graduates, then talks to a college counselor about doing online classes for a year, then transition into local courses. [probably a decent plan.]
32 weeks: [she has a lot of stretch marks!] We learn that Katie wants to have the baby naturally with no drugs. [interesting. I wonder if that choice had anything to do with the cost the drugs? She doesn't say much about her reasoning, so it's unclear if she's being pushed to do it that way or anything.] She goes to visit her friend in Denver, and when she comes home she and Joey head out to look at apartments. [they didn't do the math on what they can afford before they look at places? How do you know what to look at?]
July, 34 weeks: She calls around and realizes that they can't afford $699/month. [holymoly! Wyoming is CHEAP!] Joey is going to spend the weekend with his dad, which makes her feel unloved, so she goes to stay at her mom's. Joey later reminds Katie that his parents love her and that they can stay with them. [I thought that was a good thing for Joey to do, though Katie doesn't see it that way. The girl simply wants space of her own and that's all there is to it.]
August, 38 weeks: She hasn't seen Joey since the fight, but when she feels weird and heads to the hospital, she lets him know. [he's "Joseph" in her phone??]  Katie keeps saying she doesn't want an epidural, though she starts experiencing pain three hours into labor. After six hours, she's 3cm dilated. Twelve hours in, she's at 8cm. fourteen hours in, she's pushing, and Molli is born 7 pounds, 2 oz, on August 18th. Veronica (the friend who moved to Denver) makes it in time for the birth.
Photo by MTV
1 Day: Because she had no drugs, she can go home to Joey's place pretty quickly.
1 Week: She starts online classes. [wow! a week after delivering a baby! good for her!] 
3 Weeks: Joey gets a job in the mines, so they immediately look at places to live, apply, and get approved. They move in and Katie keeps talking about how they're a family. [I don't think she ever understood that there's not one way to "make" a family...]
1 Month: Joey works the night shift, leaving Katie alone with Molli often. Molli is getting bottles and breastfeeding. They talk about how, in two years, Joey doesn't want to leave the mines, so Katie might have to move to Denver alone if that's what she wants. [this girl just doesn't want anything to sidetrack her personal plan...]
6 Weeks: She doesn't want to become a housewife. [which is good, because she manages to burn scrambled eggs.] But, she's lonely and it "doesn't feel like she's a person anymore." her episode ends with an explanation about her struggle to take timed exams with a crying baby. [yeah, well, that's why you finish school before you have a child. or you figure out a way to pay for childcare when you're doing important things like taking tests.] 
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19 Kids & Counting: Losing a Baby

by Amy K. Bredemeyer

A lot could be said about this past season of 19 Kids and Counting, which anyone who follows the news knew would end with the loss of Baby Jubilee. Because of the solemn nature of the episode, I will not make many remarks.

19 Kids & Counting "A Duggar Loss" (S06E09): We're reminded of the "we're expecting" announcement from Today, then Michelle reiterates about how they left family planning up to God. [I guess they have to keep explaining this for the handful of new viewers every now and then?] We see more of Michelle exercising and talking about healthy eating. [just to reinforce that it wasn't Michelle's fault?] We see Michelle and Josie visit the Children's Hospital in Little Rock to reunite with a few of Josie's nurses. [if this was really when they went to do that speaking engagement in Little Rock, where were the boys? A few of the younger ones were on that trip, too...] The night before the ultrasound, Michelle and JimBob take name suggestions, and hear things like Jerusalem, Jamocha, Jefferson (Davis), Joel, Jarvis, Javier, Jericho, Jasmine, Judy, Jane, Jenelle, Julie, Jenessa, Justice, Jenesis, and Jubilee. [I wanted to hear from Grandma Duggar! Also, didn't they have a dog named Jasmine?] Michelle explains the "J" name thing again, and talks about the first miscarried baby being "Caleb" because Joshua and Caleb were friends in the Bible. [the "J" thing is covered all the time, but this is my first memory of her describing Caleb's story on the show, normally that's just in interviews and whatnot.] The soundman is going to find out the sex first, then the whole family would find out together later. [why not give one of the older girls that joy? Because that's what the Bates do?] The fetus has no heartbeat, and it measured at around 17 weeks. Michelle quotes some scripture, then asks JimBob to pray. When they arrive home, they gather the family (Josh and Anna are not present) and Michelle breaks the news. [I thought that she did a good job of explaining what happened without "dumbing it down" too much, which I was expecting from her.] Michelle and JimBob offer the kids a chance to talk if any of them want to. [how would they handle this? a group session? a waiting line a mile long? split up and talk to the kids? none of these are great solutions...]
Michelle talks about the next three days, the contractions, the peace she made, and her preparations for delivery. The pastor who married Michelle and JimBob gives the eulogy at the funeral of Jubilee Shalom. [a lot of people show up!] We see the birth certificate and tiny handprint of the four-ounce baby. [looks like Jana, Jessa, Jinger, and Joy attended the birth. Jill is listed with her full name rather than as a sibling, so does that mean she's doing more midwifery training? Did she assist, perhaps?] The burial ends the episode, with Michelle leading the family in "Jesus Loves Me, This I Know." [Josie singing is the cutest!]
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Smash: Taking Charge

by Amy K. Bredemeyer

For being called, "The Coup," I thought that this episode could have done a much better job at fulfilling that title. At least there was plenty of ambition this time, though. Eileen and Jerry's daughter takes action in trying to make peace between her parents. Dev steps up and tries to solidify his career by taking down someone else. Eileen and Derek try to do something different with the Marilyn musical. Julia and Frank want to end their son's criminal record by any means necessary. Ellis decides to just stop working for Tom and switch to being Eileen's assistant, because he thinks that will get him more later down the road. All of these characters have ideas for how to improve things... yet so little actually changes, it's rather depressing. There was an odd uplifting moment, however - when Frank singing to Julia while playing Guitar Hero. The strange part about that? How many adults over thirty have video game systems in their bedrooms? 

Smash "The Coup" (S01E08): Jerry put an extra $3M in his daughter's trust fund, causing Katie comes to New York (from India, where she's out "changing the world") to act as a mediator for her parents. [how did she know Eileen's new address?] It doesn't go too well, so she just redecorates her mother's new place. She's not sticking around, though... the little do-gooder is off to Alaska to count wild salmon. [it's cute when rich people have kids who do non-profit stuff, but the last thing this show needs is another cliche.]

Dev learns that there's some inappropriate photos of his rival floating around. [and, in an attempt to act current, they throw in an "Anthony Weiner" remark. really??] He has a conscience at first, but after he loses an assignment to someone else, he decides to expose the evidence... but it doesn't work. [I didn't understand why he kept it a secret from Karen, though... she knows he's going to turn sleazy at some point, doesn't she?]

Julia talks to Michael to let him know that they're letting him go from the show, and he says that he would have quit anyway - he's been stupid; his family is everything. [nice of him to finally realize that. I guess we're to assume Julia didn't need to say the same?] Leo goes to court for allegedly walking on receded grass, as all of the other charges were dropped. Frank wants to pay a fine and move on, but the lawyer says they need to get it dropped so that Leo's record is expunged. In the courtroom, Julia flies off the handle when the judge makes a remark about "rich kids getting away with murder." We don't see what happens next, but they leave the building with the whole matter behind them. [ what was the point of having Julia be upset?]
Craig Blankenhorn/NBC
Derek tells Karen that "they" are talking to a new songwriter about a new approach to the Marilyn show - and he wants Karen to sing the song that he and Eileen will pitch to Julia and Tom. Karen isn't comfortable with this "arrangement," but winds up doing it anyway. [I don't mind Karen having values here and there, but she's so fickle about when they should come into play...] Ellis starts piecing together the situation when he answers Derek's call to Eileen (he works for her now, by the way... not Tom), and he wastes no time letting Ivy know. [what was with that bowling scene? Both the dancing and the pins (with sticks?) were weird.] A couple of days later, Eileen, Katie, Julia, and Tom (with Ellis and Ivy secretly following) go to Brooklyn to see Derek and Karen's new number. While the song is very different from the others, Julia and Tom are more shocked that Eileen and Derek have been working on this rather than answering their calls. [yep!] Katie tells Eileen to stop acting like Jerry, so Eileen apologizes to everyone, only to upset Derek in the process. Ellis reveals himself and talks for Eileen, saying that she wants to schedule a meeting for the next day, when everyone has a chance to cool down. While this solidifies him as a golden boy to the producer, it seems odd to everyone else that he takes this action. [I can't even enjoy disliking Ellis... that's how much I hate him.] Meanwhile, Ivy approaches Karen and tells her that she stabbed Tom and Julia in the back by taking part in this re-write. [Derek didn't ask Ivy to help, so she's upset. blah blah blah. By this point, Karen should know to ignore Ivy.] And, Tom finally confronts Derek about what went down eleven years ago, which results in Derek saying that Tom's songs are too nice for the story of Marilyn Monroe. [meh. We never heard enough of them to get a feel for it, I don't think.] At the meeting the next day, Eileen says they're going to find more potential Marilyn actresses, so Tom breaks the news to Ivy, offering her the same ol' ensemble job again. [and yet, I bet something will happen to bring Ivy back to the forefront...]
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Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Secret Life is Back - Now with More Drama!

by Amy K. Bredemeyer

I was a bit surprised to find out that almost no time has passed in the world of Secret Life since it last aired over six months ago. I was even more surprised to find out that we'll actually be seeing the kids in school this season... they've managed to go three and a half seasons without actually showing us more than a glimpse into a classroom... on a show about a bunch of teenagers. I know, hard to believe, right?? What's easy to believe, however, is how quickly word spread about the various match-ups that happened at that party. None of those kids should have believed that what they were doing was going to stay quiet, especially because the majority of them have been burned before. I think the most shocking thing in this episode, however, was Ben giving in to peer pressure and smoking pot. Not only did he just meet most of those girls, but he was also home, not even out at a park or in someone's backyard. Remember when Ben used to think before he said and did things? Perhaps those days are gone...

The Secret Life of the American Teenager "Smokin Like a Virgin" (S04E14): Amy thanks Ricky again for proposing, then they start talking about the wedding. Ricky thought it would be soon, but Amy acts as if she just wanted the commitment and the ring, and now there's no hurry. [I couldn't believe that she said that! how posh do you have to be to only want the engagement and not the marriage??] While Anne sides with Amy, the rest of the family votes with Ricky. Amy is considering going to summer school, and she's encouraged to by Margaret, who is about to take in Ethan again, who is out of Juvenile Detention early and will be spending the next few months doing summer school and community service. [I'm not thrilled that we're going to bring back that kid...] After some frustration, Ricky decides to leave the wedding planning to Amy, who thinks that next June would be nice. [a year is a good amount of time to plan the wedding. Plus, she'll be 18 and a high school graduate by then, even if she will have a preschooler.]

Daniel finds out that Grace and Jack kissed, so he breaks up with her. Jack wants to talk about the kiss, but Grace says it was just a mistake - though she later admits to Adrian that she might still love Jack. [while I liked Jack and Grace as a couple at the beginning of the series, I don't think that they should get back together now.] Adrian, meanwhile, tells Grace about sleeping with Henry, then goes on a warpath looking for Dante or Omar. Grace encourages Adrian to tell the truth, but that only loses her both guys. [I'm not sure why Adrian would decide to start telling the truth now, even if it was Grace's suggestion.] Adrian and Grace pout about their troubled love lives, with Grace now blaming her mom for letting her go to an all-night party in the first place. [typical teenage drama - always throwing the blame on someone else!] Adrian suggests that Grace go to summer school to get ahead and have an easy senior year instead of going to MedCamp. [is summer school free for these kids? because it wasn't where I grew up!] She then invites Grace to move in, as they could keep one another focused on school and away from boys. [hahahahaha, yeah, right!] Kathleen isn't crazy about the idea, countering it by offering Adrian Jack's old room instead. [good haggling.] Grace decides to offer that if she and Adrian don't focus on school and stay away from boys, she'll stay home for her first year of college. [I'm not sure why you'd bet that. I'm also not sure how you'd follow through with it.]

Ben and Dylan have been talking on the phone nonstop, and Leo encourages Ben to date Dylan. [for some reason I didn't think that Dylan was up at the party for only a night - I thought that she was on vacation with her family or something.] Dylan's never had a boyfriend before, so her parents want to meet Ben, especially after they overhear Dylan telling her friends that Ben got Adrian pregnant, then married her, and is now getting a divorce. [what a ridiculous first boyfriend that would be. I'm pretty sure there's no way I'd allow my daughter to date someone with that history!] When Ben finds out that Henry slept with Adrian, however, he's too upset to go on the date and cancels. Dylan's friends decide to see what's up, so they drive on over to Ben's, then hang out and smoke pot, though Ben initially tried to shoot down the idea. [I guess stalking is just accepted these days? and what was up with her friends insulting his bedroom?] Dylan's parents track her location via her cell phone, so they show up and Leo lets them in. [her parents are pretty intense...] When the adults all smell pot, Ben takes the blame. [...why??]
Madison goes to Lauren's, but Lauren kicks her out, angry that her best friend slept with her boyfriend. [yep!] Madison calls Henry to befriend him, as they're both outcasts now that they've slept with their respective best friend's significant others. [only someone like Madison could pull off such a dopey move. Inviting him to go to summer school, though? odd.] 

Ashley surprises everyone with her return, and with the news that she and Toby have been accepted to college in Florida. [I take it that nobody has talked to her in a week or more, otherwise they'd know that she was en route?] Amy and Ashley instantly fight, with Amy saying that nobody missed Ashley and Ashley saying that she's better and smarter than Amy. [I don't remember them being on such terrible terms when Ashley left... did I forget something.]
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Alcatraz: End of Season 1 *SPOILERS*

by Amy K. Bredemeyer

I normally don't post SPOILERS in the title. Generally, I don't think you should be reading recaps and remarks about episodes you haven't seen. But the season finale of Alcatraz was pretty shocking, so I felt the need to warn you that Madsen dies. Yep. I couldn't believe it. I'm not sure what the writers were going for there, especially since we have not yet heard whether FOX plans to renew the show. While I would have preferred this to continue, in comparison with already-cancelled Terra Nova, the numbers aren't looking good, and I would not be surprised if this was the end of the thriller. It's a shame, though, because even though we started to learn about how things came together in these final two episodes, I was still left with a lot of questions. Lucy being the subject of many of them, really...c'est la vie and on with the recaps!

Alcatraz "Garrett Stillman" (S01E12): Lucy realizes that Madsen and Soto don't know about her, so she apologizes for keeping it a secret. Madsen is more accepting of it than Soto, who launches into interrogation mode, primarily about the fact that there is no documentation of a female doctor on Alcatraz ANYWHERE. Lucy says that the warden kept secrets. [yeah, yeah. we already knew that.] He then asks her what it's like to make the "jump" fifty years., but we get very little out of her. [disappointing. has she not pieced together what happened at ALL yet?] Lucy tells Madsen that she can ask her anything, so she asks what Tommy was like. [while we all know that Madsen wants to hear SOMETHING good about her grandfather, it's not really going to happen.] Tommy was charming and ruthless, as most inmates were. He was also manipulative, relentless, and patient. Lucy doesn't know why Tommy would have killed Madsen's partner. Lucy also doesn't seem to know why she, herself, is a target of the 63s. Madsen realizes that Lucy used to have a relationship with Hauser, and learns that the emotionless man was once a romantic, hardening after searching for 50 years to find Lucy again. [what was that supposed to do for viewers? Make us like Hauser more? It was a little goosebumps-inducing, tho.]  

A bunch of masked men rob an armored truck, and this is picked up by Soto's system. Soto and Lucy realize it's Garrett, who liked elaborate schemes and excelled at robbery. It seems that Garrett is killing his helpers and isn't after money (only taking uniforms). Madsen questions the security company and we learn that they've lost two trucks in the past month. There are non-reproducible codes on the uniforms that change monthly, though Madsen advises them to change the codes immediately. [you know, I understand it's for security and whatnot, but this whole Big Brother thing via clothing is getting to be a bit much. I just read an article this morning about Brazil recording student attendance this way.] Soto realizes that another former Alcatraz inmate, Simmons, became a billionaire, and theorizes that Garrett is trying to rob him of a mysterious package that is always moving around. Madsen, Soto, and Hauser head out to intercept, and Soto ends up being the one to figure out Garrett's plan - the three armored trucks are a ruse. Instead, Garrett hotwires an SUV to take, so Soto plants his cell phone in the backseat so they can track it. [clever going, Soto! Though I wonder why you get out of the car... you've been a target before, too.] Before the crew catches up to Garrett, however, another old inmate, "Ghost," arrives, kills Garrett, and takes off with the key from the package. Soto gets a glimpse of a car leaving, so he uses a traffic cam to match the vehicle - Tommy Madsen was driving, so it appears that he, too, was after the key. [no surprise there.] Speaking of keys, Hauser and Lucy finally found a secret area of Alcatraz where they insert the two uncovered keys... only to learn that a third key is also needed. [of course. it couldn't be that simple.]  

In 1960, the warden invites Garrett to attend a parole hearing for Simmons, who is a good prisoner but has been caught with contraband on several occasions. Simmons is denied parole, but the warden asks Garrett to steal the denial paperwork and replace it with approval paperwork - it seems that Tiller doesn't want Simmons to leave because he gets a big cut of his business, and that's why he denied him. [oh, corruption. always alive.] The warden even suggests that Garrett could take over Simmons' business and that he'd only ask for 20%. Garrett talks to a few other inmates and devises a way to forge a hearing slip, get the signatures on it, and swap it out. Tiller catches him and another steward rats him out, causing Tiller personally swaps the verdicts. [I saw this coming. you?] The warden takes a while to catch on, but is happy with the result. [of course.] He also gives Simmons a note when he leaves, saying that they'll be in touch again someday. [when's the last time you saw a TV villain who was such a sinister mastermind??]

Alcatraz "Tommy Madsen" (S01E13):  Joe Limerick goes to a psychiatric hospital, saying that he's from Alcatraz and that bad people (aka Tommy Madsen) are chasing him. He's admitted and we see he has the key with him. Tommy knows this, so he kidnaps a woman who works at the hospital, so he'll be able to get past the retina scanners. Of course, she isn't home when he comes looking, so he roughs up her husband and scares her daughter, who runs away unseen. It's the little girl who helps Madsen, Soto, and Hauser figure out the link, after a long period of coloring to get her to talk. [I was amazed that the original sketch was so well-done with no descriptions from the child. Similarly, I was surprised that Soto and Madsen found out about the possible match so quickly. The coloring thing was boring, though. I feel like NCIS has beaten that horse to death.] Tommy brings the woman to the hospital as a hostage, running around to find Ghost, who claims he doesn't have the key. Ghost jumps out of a window to avoid Tommy, just as Madsen and Hauser pull up. Madsen goes after Tommy, who drops the woman (and she's reunited with her daughter). [why would you bring a child to the scene to meet her mother? Why not wait and bring the mother to the station?] Madsen commandeers a new mustang to chase Tommy, eventually ramming him and having to pull him from a burning vehicle. [we saw hotwiring in two episodes in a row? Is it 1987?] He reminds her
CR: Liane Hentscher/FOX
that they're family, then explains that he killed her partner, Harlem, because the guy was being paid to watch her, plus he was involved with the warden. [This, combined with the fact that she had just learned Harlem was under investigation for accepting payments from Simmons' company, starts to throw Madsen.] He also starts to tell her that her parents had a wrongful death, but she's caught off-guard and he stabs her and drives off. [I couldn't believe he'd do that! jerk! he probably didn't realize how serious the injury was, though...] Madsen is brought to the emergency room, and when Ray shows up, he orders Hauser to leave, just before recognizing Lucy. [And Ray is a normal guy... you'd think that one of the "non-63" living Alcatraz guards or criminals would recall a woman doctor and there would have been a record SOMEPLACE...] Madsen is pronounced dead after several life-saving measures are taken. [!!! this is worse than Lucy's coma, so I don't know if colloidal silver could do much...]

Hauser has had his own little side-story going on all episode - he's paranoid that something will happen to Lucy, so he arranges a military buddy (who knows everything, even about Tommy) to take her to Paraguay. [just how many people know about this project? I was surprised to learn that Hauser has confidants...] In order for Hauser to be able to go with her to help her settle in, he has to brief Madsen and Soto on some of his secrets, like what's in his "bat cave," the story about the keys and door, his theory that the warden is behind it all, and that some sort of tectonic shift caused the "jump." [Of course, they should have been clued-in on this long ago. And, it doesn't much matter, as Lucy doesn't want to be hidden away.] Later, after being kicked out of the emergency room, Hauser and Lucy take the third key (which Soto found sewn inside the cuff of Ghost's pants) and enter the door to find a large room with lots of equipment and a map of the US marked with the inmates' numbers. It seems that the colloidal silver in the 63s' blood can be used to track them (Beauregard had earlier determined that it can never be separated as it binds to the platelets), and that they likely had a rhyme and reason to when and where the 63s "reappear." They also find a guy lying on the ground behind the machines, shocked to learn that it's 2012.

In 1960, Limerick tried to escape but didn't make it. He was gone long enough, however, that the warden had already filled out a death certificate for drowning. Because he's officially dead, he's kept in his cell 24/7, and it explains his "Ghost" nickname. We also see Tommy painfully re-injected with his own, altered blood. He gets to leave Alcatraz for a day and spends it with the warden in Nob Hill, where they eat Italian food and Tommy gets to see his son, Ben, who doesn't recognize him. The warden offers Tommy a wish, and Tommy asks that Ray be terminated and given custody of Ben. Tommy tells Ray that he needs to leave the island, that there are no more plans because he's guilty after all. [not sure I believe that...]
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Monday, March 26, 2012

The End of The Rosie Show

by Amy K. Bredemeyer

I was first introduced to Rosie O'Donnell through A League of Their Own, which remains among my favorite movies to this day. However, it put me under the impression that she was a movie actress, and it wasn't for several more years that I learned of her other (more recognizable) talents. Don't get me wrong, the woman can do great movies, but playing Betty Rubble on The Flintstones wasn't the best idea. From being a comedian on Star Search to having a talk show to having recurring roles on sitcoms like Curb Your Enthusiasm, Nip/Tuck, and Drop Dead Diva, Rosie's a big deal. So, when I learned more about her latest venture, The Rosie Show on OWN, at last summer's TCA tour, I was intrigued.

Photo by John Kringas and Courtesy of OWN
The Rosie Show, which debuted 7pm ET on Monday, October 10th, ran five shows a week, and will conclude its ninety-fifth episode this Friday. It should come as no surprise that the talk show has been cancelled, as that story has been all over the news this past week. Low ratings are to blame, though there are a handful of other theories out there. Rather than look at what failed, I want to take a look at the promise the show held in the very beginning, when Rosie was so full of ideas and enthusiasm. The quotes below come from a conference call with Rosie the week before the show premiered. Thanks to the Communications & Publicity people over at OWN for inviting TheTalkingBox to participate.   

Rosie O'Donnell wasn't familiar with Chicago when she moved there last summer, so when one of the Presidents of Harpo, Erik Logan, had a house for sale, she looked at it and called him, saying, "if you will leave it furnished, I mean, like, down to the toilet paper and some of the nightshirts, I think we have a deal." I have no doubt that Rosie really did say something like that, though I was amused later in the conversation when she talked about "having a heated garage" and "something on the roof to melt the ice" without truly being certain how those little things are great amenities to have in a Chicago winter! Speaking of Chicago, she was thrilled with the area upon arrival. "I actually love it here and can imagine moving and living here for this next chapter in my life... [Chicago] is like a beautiful, clean, European-kind of version of New York... People always say people in the Midwest are nicer, but now that I've been her, I'm like 'Oh my God, they really are." It's lovely to think about settling down for a period of time, but that's not how things went for Rosie, though her show was not doomed from the beginning.

The story of how things came together for The Rosie Show is almost enlightening. Oprah has a tendency to intimidate anyone, and Rosie was no different; "The Oprah is sort of magical, and I was very overwhelmed at just being in her presence when she called me... And at the end of the [four-hour] conversation, she said, 'why is it that you'd rather do it for me than the network you are about to sign with?' And I'm like, 'because you're you.'" That's right, Rosie was tempted to sign with NBC, which would have been a lot more money, but also more pressure. The money didn't matter, as "it was always about trying to do the best job in the best place that would be most congruent with my life and my values." Phrases like this really give you a good feeling and hope for the future of television, which we all know has more than its share of junk these days. Rosie also added that, with doing the show on OWN, "I feel nothing by privilege, truthfully, and it's going to be thrilling." Oprah gave Rosie all sorts of help in setting up the show in Chicago, where the media mogul hosted her daytime show for twenty-five years. When it came to advice, however, Rosie shared that, "'Be yourself and don't resist anything.' That's all she told me." Can you imagine receiving such a confidence-boosting tidbit from the Talk Show Master? It's not all you need, though.

Rosie knew that it would be a tough market to crack. Even though she had a successful television show in the late 90s and early 00s (The Rosie O'Donnell Show finished with over 1,000 episodes), the "daytime TV universe" has "done a 360. It's not the same landscape in any capacity... I had to literally sit down with station owners and advertisers and them, no, I was going to do Merv Griffin. And the philosophy at the time was, 'that will never work,' because what was number-one in daytime in '96 or what was drawing all of the media attention at least - a Jenny Jones guest had been murdered and Geraldo Rivera had his nose broken. That's when I entered the foray, so I was dubbed the Queen of Nice." And things just aren't the same anymore. As a big fan of Jenny Jones, I must say that the bits of talk shows I catch these days are fueled differently than they were back then. But, then again, so many things were different in the days before everyone seemed to have cable. Rosie acknowledged this, too. It "used to be that you had three options: you were going ABC, NBC, or CBS. You were either gonna watch game shows, talk shows, or soap operas, and that was it. But it's changed completely now... they don't know the difference between network TV and cable TV." This change is everywhere, and it's getting more and more difficult to remind the causal viewer that TVLand is new to the "original programming" game and networks like OWN and the Hub weren't always there. Reruns of sitcoms, dramas, old sports games, and a plethora of cartoons are all part of the competition for those "game shows, talk shows, and soap operas" that pretty much had the market to themselves fifteen or twenty years ago.

In addition to the the obstacles that anyone doing this show would face, Rosie was asked what her own biggest challenge was, as a host. An excellent question to address, Rosie's response felt real: "My biggest challenge is, I think, to just be authentic. That's the goal, I think, for every human being, no matter what your job is, and it's sometimes hard when showbiz is so full of pretense that to remain your authentic self is difficult while you're being recorded... trying to be conversational, not presentational, that's the biggest challenge." I have to agree - this is a personal hurdle that we see in many television hosts... you see them one way on afternoon or late-night television and then see them acting very differently when they're out of the "host" role, whether it be in a public appearance or as a guest on another show. With so much knowledge and understanding about what The Rosie Show needed to be, Rosie could have had a winning recipe. Unfortunately, it wasn't in the cards to really fulfill her hope that the show would "give you an hour of uplifting, entertaining laughter, family-oriented, multi-generational, kick-back, relax, and get-ready-for-your-evening" recreation. 

After her show's cancellation, Rosie made a short statement about how it didn't work out.

My final thoughts? At least Rosie was given time to try and improve things - so many shows are taken off the air prematurely these day! Throughout the season, several changes were made, but they really seemed to take away from what made the show different. It was nice to hear, however, that "at the heart of the show is Rosie's genuine desire to entertain, inspire and connect with America," because that doesn't happen nearly enough anymore.
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GCB: News Jobs for Amanda & Sharon?

by Amy K. Bredemeyer

Another episode where Amanda's children are barely seen. Sharon and Heather have small parts as well, as this installment focuses mainly on Amanda and Cricket, with a side-story of Carlene, her family, and Gigi. I don't see the latter lasting long, though, unless Burl and Gigi are going to become a couple before a suitable period of mourning. Of course, the former doesn't really last, either, as Amanda has already bowed out of working with Cricket and Blake. I'm okay with it, as I didn't see her making that great of a fashion consultant anyway. Plus, Carlene's immediate return of Amanda's laptop didn't further that story arc, either. The only new thing that really happened this episode that will carry over? Andrew bought some land in Texas and Sharon wants to work outside the home. Disagree?

GCB "A Wolf in Sheep's Clothing" (S01E04): Amanda wears high-waisted slacks and open-toed shoes to church, horrifying Carlene and Gigi. [because they feel like women must wear dresses and men must wear suits in the presence of the Lord, as seen to the right.] That's not the most shocking thing for Gigi, however... Carlene's uncle Burl comes back to town with his wife, Bitsy. It quickly becomes apparent that Burl has been harboring feelings toward Gigi for years. [so it's the older generation of Zach being married to Sharon but caring for Amanda...] Gigi throws a "Come as Your Favorite Texan" bash, complete with a wide variety of barbecue available. Even the local opera lends its costumes to the attendees. [what money won't buy! more on the party later, though...]

Blake asks Amanda to work as a fashion consultant for his company, which is trying to relaunch a 70s brand of jeans, Western Ho. Amanda is worried about what Cricket will think, but goes ahead and proposes a design for the modern woman by borrowing pockets, stitching, and tapering from old styles. [if Gigi was so upset that Amanda was taking the jeans out in public, why was she keeping them in her home?] They immediately go into production to make ten pairs for Amanda's Boobylicious friends to model, as there's a business meeting the next day. Amanda witnesses a guy giving his number to Blake, so Amanda lets Blake know that she doesn't judge. It's clear that Blake is considering confiding in her, but Cricket makes sure to tell him that, while she can handle Amanda being around, she doesn't want her too close. [if we believed the first part, the second would work, but I don't think anyone buys any of it.] "LordLover87" leaks photos of the jeans to a Christian website, so the business may suffer a $25M loss, especially because Cricket doesn't want to issue an apology. [I wasn't sure whether or not to be suspicious of this, but I definitely should have taken Cricket's actions more seriously...] Amanda is shocked that she isn't the scapegoat, but she still tries to help by asking Andrew to figure out the identity of "LordLover87." Caruth Industries soon loses a big client, but Amanda has another potential solution: rename the brand to "Western Hosannah," which would appeal to the same people who were offended. [I was impressed with her idea, though I don't know that it would fix things.] 

The pastor suggests that Sharon and Zach swap places for a week to learn to appreciate one another. So, Sharon tries to do odd jobs around the church, and although she breaks a nail and it takes her all week, she does finish a bookshelf. Proud of her independence, she feels belittled when Zach tells her that she makes too much work around the house for herself and that he just needs to learn to thank her more often. Sharon decides to keep her job at the church as an assertion of her ability.

Rip asks Carlene to steal Amanda's laptop so that he can continue to search for information on Bill, but Gigi catches her snooping. [why would she cut out the stain from her shirt?] Carlene manages to smuggle out the computer between her knees (and under her skirt). [I'm impressed that she made it down the stairs like that!] When she gets home, however, her son has his pants down and is looking at the Western Ho jeans online. See, he's not allowed to bring the "family laptop" upstairs, as he had previously been caught ordering "subversive books" like Harry Potter. [who has a "family laptop" in 2012? seriously...] Carlene decides this was a punishment from God, so she returns the computer before Rip can download the hard drive (which would have been password-protected anyway...).

Andrew is heading to Alabama to check out a property, so Heather is desperate to find him a suitable parcel locally. [even though he's only been back for a short time, I guess Heather really has the hots for him, huh?] Burl is ready to see a large chunk of land that he and Carlene own, but Carlene wants to buy him out and build an all-Christian housing complex, which is against a fair housing law. [I know that Carlene is accustomed to getting around laws, but thinking that this would work is ridiculous!] Heather winds up working out a deal with Burl, and Andrews is so thrilled that he gifts her some ornate earrings. [who can spot new earrings from across the room? that darn Carlene!] Burl tells Carlene that he sold the land for twice what it is worth, and she's bummed. [duh. but let's move on.] 

[Now, back to that party!] Sharon dresses like Anna Nicole Smith, but then changes to Mary Kay, to fit her new, "independent woman" mode of thinking. Amanda is dressed as Farrah Fawcett in her famous red swimsuit. Bitsy dresses as Barbara Bush and asks Gigi to play Laura, which she agrees to after Burl encourages her to be nice to his wife. [the Laura Bush looked very realistic.] Anyway, Andrew gives Amanda the cell number to LordLover87, but when Cricket answers the phone, Amanda is shocked. [ooooh... tricky GCB! I thought maybe it would be Carlene, but Cricket makes more sense.] Amanda tells Gigi what happened, then shares that Cricket and Blake have an open marriage. [the first secret I was fine with, but why tell Gigi (a gossip) about Blake and Cricket??] Amanda then talks to both Cricket and Blake and tells them that she can't stay on as a consultant, though she wishes them luck in the endeavor. [I guess that's the tactful way to get out of it?] Amanda comes across Carlene at the party, off in a corner praying for guidance. Amanda says that she'd hand off a similar situation (walking in on your son), and pawned off the problem to his dad, which she can no longer do. Carlene seems genuine for a moment, then takes the opportunity to ask if Bill's funeral was open-casket, and Amanda says that it was. [for Carlene and Rip, this means that Bill likely isn't hiding around in South American somewhere.] Bitsy confronts Gigi about Burl's feelings, then announces that they'll be going back on a world tour. Before anyone else finds out, however, Cricket and Blake come across a passed out/dead Bitsy. [heart attack? choked on some food?]
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Sunday, March 25, 2012

Dance Academy: Pressure from Parents

by Amy K. Bredemeyer

Dance Academy is now running two episodes per week, so we'll likely include both in a single post as we continue to cover this old-but-new-to-the-US series. The first episode focused mainly on Kat & Ethan's mother coming to town, though Ethan is hardly seen. The dynamic of Tara ignoring her mother's calls to fawn over Kat's mother was quite realistic, though Tara dying her hair and changing the style in emulation was a bit much. What really stands out, however, was Tara and Sammy both asking Kat's advice on their outfits when she's dressed like she's going to an 80s flashdance party under blacklights. The second episode split its focus on Christian's talent vs. personality and the fact that Sammy is now crushing on Abigail. While I think that all of the choices that Christian made fit his character, I don't really know what the writers are hoping the audience gets from fleshing him out in this way. I hadn't seen the possibility of Sammy falling for Abigail, not only because of their early conflicts, but also because I hadn't really noticed him paying her any extra attention. This last part really intrigues me - have you observed Sammy to be crushing on Abigail prior to wanting to take her to the ballet in "Perfection" ?? Oh, and the part of this episode that most stood out for me? Kat taking pictures of her feet and keeping them in an album... as a tribute to the pain she goes through as a dancer. Creepy.

Dance Academy "Perfection" (S0106): We learn that, after the three years at the Academy, only two girls can hope for contracts with the company. A guest teacher has come for a week, and it turns out that she's Tara's idol... and Ethan & Kat's mom. [while I thought that Tara not knowing about the relation was possible, Kat never questioning Tara's locker pictures struck me as odd.] Tara attends the premiere backstage with Kat and brings flowers for Natasha. After the space is empty, Tara goes onstage and spins a few times, then practices bowing. [I'm surprised that Ethan didn't tease her.] Kat and Tara go to Natasha's dressing room and Natasha invites them to the matinee the next day, though Kat would prefer to go shopping. [aka use mommy's credit card.] Tara dyes her hair and puts it up like Natasha, and Abigail wastes no time making jokes. [did Tara not think that anyone would comment? It was blatantly obvious.] Kat doesn't want to go with Tara to see the matinee, so Tara goes alone, and visits Natasha's dressing room before the performance. [why? wouldn't that be incredibly awkward?] She's asked to leave and thinks little of it, but when she later overhears Natasha saying negative things about her, she leaves to call her own mother. [you know, because they have to make Tara look like a goody-goody in the end.] When we next see Tara, she has dyed her hair green over the black, and she apologizes to Kat. [while I was curious to see how long she'd have weirdo hair, it doesn't last and it's back to normal by the start of the next episode.]

Mia is back from studying in Israel and comes to the Academy to see Sammy. [...and I had completely forgotten that he had a far-off girlfriend.] Kat gives Sammy and Mia some matinee tickets, but Sammy decides to take Abigail, telling Mia that the tickets fell through. Sammy lies to Abigail and tells her that Mia can't make it because she's sick... but Mia shows up and realizes what happened. [that sucks. but what else would you expect when you're meeting in the common area. Also, is there no security at the Academy? how is Mia just coming and going as she pleases?]

Dance Academy "Crush Test Dummies" (S0107): Christian leads in hip-hop class. Tara makes Ethan a mix CD, then tells Kat that she just can't stop thinking about Ethan. [we're back to this again? Tara, you told yourself that you need to take away distractions but it seems like you are creating even more of them!] Ethan invites Christian to dance in his hip-hop choreography project, but Christian doesn't want to do more than what is required. [completely expected.] Ethan blackmails him, so between that and the opportunity to blow off classes to rehearse & perform, Christian goes. He doesn't find Ethan's story realistic and doesn't care for the choreography, so he takes Ethan to see some real hip-hop and  breakdancing. Ethan tries to get some help from a girl dancer, but when one of the guys there gives Ethan a look, Christian decides it's time to go. [tho I don't know why Christian didn't explain the situation to Ethan...] Ethan thanks Tara for the CD - he's using one of the tracks for his project. [they are just the most awkward couple of kids EVER. but maybe teenagers just act very differently in 2010 Australia than they did in the 90s in America...]  Abigail insults Christian, then Ethan tells him how important the project is - which causes him to head to the beach and go surfing, blowing off Christian. [as much as it fits in with Christian's character, it's still pretty disappointing. And that "all the rehearsals" thing? If Christian was only cast the day before, exactly how many rehearsals could they have had??] Ethan takes off to find the hip-hop girl and ask her to be in the project. Christian returns and is filled in by his project partner, then high-tails it to the park, where the guys are robbing Ethan. Ethan loses his jacket and bag and gets into a fight, but Christian goes back with him and dances the part. [which I suppose is impressive? Not sure.]

While all of this is going on, Tara and Sammy are dealing with crushes. Kat doesn't believe that falling for someone can affect you so deeply, but both claim it happens. Samuel begins to tell Kat about his lust for Abigail, but it comes off to Kat as if he likes her, so that has to get squashed. Then, Kat thinks that Sammy likes Tara, but when Tara confronts Sammy, he tells her it's someone else. [why did he ever bring it up if he's going to try to keep it a secret now?] Well, the girls are determined to find out who the object of Samuel's affection is, so they decide to tickle him until he reveals the girl... Abigail. [and I just sit here shaking my head...]
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South Park: The Life Cycle of Gold Jewelry

by Amy K. Bredemeyer

While I have wondered before what sort of money those gold places would give for unwanted jewelry, I hadn't noticed how prevalent those storefronts are. Three days after the episode aired, my husband and I were all over town on errands and he pointed out quite a few of them - and there are two in/adjacent to our local mall. I thought that the highlight of the episode was the exposed life cycle of jewelry, but I'm always a fan of a good Cartman scheme as well. So, although it's not going to go down as a South Park great, it's amusing enough to watch more than once, so let's call it a win.

South Park "Cash for Gold" (S1602): Stan and his family visit Randy's dad in the retirement home. Stan's grandfather (who can never remember Stan's name) gives him a bolo tie, which is allegedly worth $6,000. [...say whaaa???] Stan's parents have him wear it to school the next day for picture day, so, of course, the other kids notice. [why weren't they wearing anything special?] The others suggest that he take it to a cash-for-gold place, so they shop around and are offered $15, $9, and a seven-layer burrito at various places. [I thought it was pretty funny that they stopped by the Taco Bell for an estimate.] While trying to figure out what's going on, they see a jewelry channel offering faux sapphire earrings for over $300, then an over-priced bracelet that Stan's grandfather plans to order. [so part of this episode's gimmick is that the elderly are always buying things off television?] Stan calls into the show and tells the host to kill himself over what he's doing. [you know, because "go kill yourself" is no longer a big insult.]

Stan, Kyle, and Kenny then try to get to the bottom of the scheme by going to where the gold is melted down and are told that, "he who smelt it, dealt it," and, "he who denied it, supplied it." [nice riff on a classic joke, Parker & Stone!] They then go to talk to the sign-spinners, who say that the jewelry comes from India, and whoever made the rhyme should do the time. [not as funny.] While they're off on this
photo courtesy: Comedy Central
mission, Cartman has decided to start his own cash-for-gold business, with Butters as a sign-spinner. [haha!] He then sells junky jewelry on television for $75.95. He needs more to work with, however, so he goes to a discount diamonds and gemstones place, only to suspect that he's getting screwed, not screwing the store. [I question whether Cartman would have realized this, but let's keep going...] 

Butters and Cartman go to India to a sweatshop to cut out the middlemen, only to find Kenny, Kyle, and Stan already there, yelling at the sweatshop for taking advantage of old people. We 're then shown the entire cycle: kids making jewelry, it being shipped to the US jewelery channel, the channel selling it to old people, the old people receiving it and passing it on to loved ones, the loved ones selling it for cash, the cash places selling it to the smelting companies, and the smelting companies selling the gold back to the Indian sweatshops.[it made me laugh pretty hard anyway.]

Stan reveals this cycle to his grandfather, then gives him a framed photo of his favorite dog. [while it didn't make total sense, it was a sweet moment.] The episode ends with more people calling into the jewelry show and telling the host to kill himself... and he eventually does. [...yeah...]
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Happily Divorced: Looking Out for Your Father

by Amy K. Bredemeyer

Talk about an episode full of promise but didn't go anywhere! I liked the idea that Fran's dad may be a little less independent than he once was. I liked the idea that Peter spent way too much on an outfit to impress a guy. I liked the idea that Fran's dad could be a wingman for Peter. But in actuality, none of these storylines really did much. The part I liked the most ended up being Judy and Cesar listening in on Fran & Peter's conversation via pocket-dial. I never was enthralled with this show, so perhaps it's getting near the chopping block... we'll give it another couple of attempts to impress, though. Do you agree?

Happily Divorced "Daddy's Girl" (S02E03): Fran and Peter go to her parents' house and her mom makes a "fat" comment to her. [meh. normally I'd feel for Fran a little more, but most of the outfits that she wears aren't the most flattering choices.] Her dad is starting to miss things and forget things, so Fran is a bit worried and decides to try to stop him from driving. But, he won't let her in the car - so she makes Peter miss his spin class (for which he bought a new track suit to impress a guy) to go with him to the market. [I was slightly afraid that Glen wouldn't notice Fran standing in front of the car and he might bump her... glad that didn't happen!]
Glen and Peter go to a bar and Glen wonders how Peter can't get a man. [nice to see Glen so accepting and interested in Peter's life.] Glen then meets Keith (the gym guy) and introduces him to Peter. Glen owns a motorcycle shop (selling leather is "the Jewish doctor" of Peter's world, apparently). [did anyone else find this just plain odd?, oh, and "I've still got it." "So do they." was funny.] They head to the motorcycle shop and Glen buys a motorcycle, panicking Fran. [well, yeah. I would worry about an elderly man on a motorcycle!]. Fran begs Peter to help her steal it, but neither really know much about driving it, so they wind up crashing into the flowershop. [surprised they got that far without incident, actually.] Along the way, Fran pocket-dials Judy so she and Cesar listen to Fran and Peter argue about Glen. [driving along and getting gum in your mouth was about the grossest thing EVER!]
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Saturday, March 24, 2012

Hot in Cleveland: How to Find a "Bouncer"

by Amy K. Bredemeyer

I read the episode title about three times before I could conjure up any meaning beside a rubber bouncing ball. I still didn't figure out what they were going for until it was actually explained at the country club. I guess it's a fun, localized joke, but I can't say I was all that amused. The event itself was interesting and had several jokes that fit the four girls well, but I was a bit thrown by how much Elka seemed to fall for Jameson - she has Max back! All that aside, this was a funny episode about a ridiculous event. $5,000/ticket isn't ridiculous in Los Angeles, or maybe even Seattle, but I guess I didn't realize that clientele existed in Cleveland. Of course, I've never been there, or any Midwestern city for that matter. [dang... I never realized that before. Nothing between Chattanooga and Denver besides New Orleans, really... ] What did you think... too over-the-top to be worth it? Or just enough for hilarity?

Hot in Cleveland 
"Rubber Ball" (S03E15): The three younger girls tour a country club and each has a different plan to gain admittance - Victoria banks on her celebrity status, Joy hopes her English accent will do it, and Melanie has nothing to go on but her cleavage. [none are particularly bad attributes to possess, but I don't know that they'll be enough.] They need current members to sponsor them, so it's suggested that they attend the Rubber Ball to meet some members - it's open to the public but tickets are $5,000. [they didn't think that they'd need sponsorship? And this "bounce" phrasing was only funny once or twice.] Turns out, Elka worked there in her 20s, and believes she was unjustly fired for turning down her boss's advances. Because her boss was none other than Jameson, she plans to attend, too, with the hope of making him fall for her, then reveal her true identity, throw a drink in his face, and humiliate him. [certainly sounds like something Elka would do!]

Victoria rents $200,000 earrings for the Ball. [they're way too large.] She struggles to find the wealthiest man to flirt with, but after she's chosen, she loses an earring in his mother's cleavage. Victoria waits until the lights dim to "go for it" and locate the earring, but she's caught. [of course she is! When you're digging around in a woman's decolletage, what else would you expect?]

Joy runs into Colin, from whom she hasn't heard in weeks. Turns out, he's engaged to a shrill millionaire named Preston (who goes by "Preshie"). The homeless guy, Artie, is apparently an alienated member of the Firestone family, so he's there and pretends that he's with Joy. [did NOT expect to see him again!] They dance dramatically to draw the attention of Preshie, for whom Artie longs. [random!] Preshie has been annoying Melanie all night (even reaching into Melanie's cleavage to demonstrate for Victoria), as Melanie had picked a potential "bouncer" based on the distinguished name "Preston" had. [I'm gonna call this her own fault.] The jig is up when the lights go down and everyone sees Colin and Joy kissing, but Artie is able to have a few moments with his precious Preshie. [bleh. what a horrid name!]

After spending the bulk of the night with Jameson, Elka comes clean about her identity, and he says that she was just a horrible waitress. [to which nobody bats an eye.] She tries to make him look bad by saying he would only let her in the club if she had sex with him - but she misunderstood the meaning of the word, "bounce," in this sense. [haha. it was only a matter of time before that happened!] Jameson forgives her and they fall for one another. [no! I will not be happy if Elka stays with any of these guys besides Max or maybe that temp waiter...]
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16 & Pregnant: Season 3 Update

by Amy K. Bredemeyer

This is one of those update roundups that MTV has every now and then. There's really not much to say because they take place so long after we see the girls that it's hard to remember who did what and whether or not the "where are they now" is all that surprising. Two of the ten below have babydaddies in prison. One has a second child already. A few have jobs. Quite a few are in school (either high school or college). Only one has a "new man" in her life. Two have moved a thousand miles from "home." All in all, nothing too thrilling. If you're stuck on remembering who any of them were, I've linked their episode recaps below.

16 and Pregnant "Where are They New? Part 3" (Special):
Jamie from Asheville. Miah is now 15 months. Jamie is on meds for post-partum depression. She graduated HS and is starting college, though she seems to be dragging her feet when it comes to applying for assistance. Ryan pays some child support, and they're also back together. Ryan has changed, but her mom isn't thrilled with the relationship. [nothing really shocking here.]

Taylor's Aubri is now 14 months. She and Nathan have broken up and she doesn't want Aubri around Nathan's new girlfriend. [reasonable.] He took the issue to court and he'll get Aubri on Wednesdays and every other weekend. [standard.] Taylor wants to get child support but she can't file because they're both minors. [hahahahaha! Another reason not to have sex so young!] Her mom files for grandparent support. [do all states have this? or just certain ones?] Taylor went back to school (she was doing virtual high school before).

Kianna from Fort Worth. Kay'den is 14 months now. Zak, who is younger than her, is now in prison for burglary for 15 years. [given that he was 15 when she got pregnant, he definitely had enough against him that he couldn't get away with being charged as a minor...] She has a promise ring from him and plans to wait for him so they can be together. [that's dedicated, yo!] She goes to school 9am-3pm and wanted to be a vet, but now she's doing psychology to help abused kids and addicts. [interesting switch.] She's a bit let-down that she's only going to a community college. Every Saturday, Zak's mom (who helps out with diapers and wipes) watches Kay'den. [it's nice that Kianna is receiving some support from Zak's family, especially since Zak was so anti-adoption!]

Jennifer from Riverview, FL. The boys are now 14 months, and Joshua is crazy while Noah is laid-back. The cops broke up another fight between her and Josh. She moved to Chicago on the fly to get away and live with other family. [such a climate change is a big adjustment... and for someone with twins?!? yikes!] She skypes with her parents and brother daily. She got her GED and is soon starting college. [she really has a dog, too?]

Jordan and Brian got married, moved to California when he joined the military, and then she got pregnant again because she wasn't on birth control. [yay, a statistic! Where's Dr. Drew to lecture her?] They talked about not having the second one, but she couldn't have an abortion. They name their daughter Auri (sp?). She misses her twin (who is starting nursing school) and they've been apart for four months. Jordan still wants to go to school, but it'll have to wait. [yep.]

Izabella's Enrique is now 16 months old and her mom watches him while Izabella is in school. She's still in high school. Jairo got a GED and a job, plus a family car (though it's a Mercedes!). [this kid annoyed me SO MUCH when they first showed him and only slightly improved now!] Izabella goes to her car to pump during lunch. [way to be responsible!]

Cleondra and Mario both spent a night in jail for fighting and are now working on their relationship. [though it's unspecific what they're doing to improve things.] Kylee is a year old. Cleondra changed her major from nursing to photography. [glad that she realized what she needs to be happy.]

Kayla graduated from high school and moved into an apartment with her friend, Lauren. Preston, 14 months, gets a bedroom while Lauren and Kayla share a bedroom. [it looks like they even share a bed, actually.] Kayla and Mike broke up and Mike saw Preston on the weekends until Mike's parents got divorced and he needed a place to live. He moved into the other bedroom. [I guess that's why the girls are sharing now? Or does Michael share with Preston?] She's working 70-80 hours/week (10am-6pm and 10pm-6am) between her two jobs to afford everything. Her eating habits are better now, at least. [great. so just when she has her nutrition under control she decides to only let her body rest for 2-3 hours at a time... rough!] Kayla and Mike aren't even really friends anymore, just roommates. She's also planning to start classes soon.

Danielle's parents divorced and she moved in with her mom. She got a job and her mom watched 14-month-old Jamie until she decided that Danielle was using her. Danielle moved out on-the-spot and went to live with her dad. [whoa... weird!] She dropped out of high school and her babydaddy is in prison (for six months) for drugs. Danielle doesn't want to get back with him, but she figures it'll probably happen anyway. [I remember this girl now. She doesn't care about a whole lot and has no willpower.] She no longer has any contact with her mom, whose final words to her were that she'll soon drain her father and need to move again. [harsh! who says that??] 

Allie graduated HS and moved to NJ to be back with her mom. [who seems super-supportive. it's really a shame shat she couldn't afford to have Allie the whole time - I wonder if her teenage pregnancy could have been avoided...] She's starting online college. Her mom pays for everything for Aydenn (who turns 1 during this update), but Joey is supposed to start paying child support. She has an IUD now and is dating a guy named Mike, who wants to be a father to Aydenn. [ha! too bad they broke up six weeks later!]
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