I already have my two front teeth, video games, and DVDs, so all I want for Christmas is for TV to make some tweaks here and there to optimize the viewing experience. I’m sure some of you will think I’m complaining, but as the saying goes, there’s always room for improvement and in some cases, outright changes.
A Quality Show to Fill Fox’s 8:30 Timeslot on Sunday Nights
Say what you will about their quality at times, but The Simpsons and Family Guy are Sunday night staples. For 23 and 10 years respectively, both the Simpson and Griffin families have provided countless hours of memorable laughs. If I was a programming executive at Fox, I would certainly want to try and introduce new animated shows at 8:30, right smack in the middle of both of the aforementioned shows. It’s TV Programming 101; take a new show that you want to catch on and place it between ratings winners. However, Fox has had a hard time trying to find a show that’s worth watching at 8:30. Last season, they tried Bob’s Burgers, and I think the audience had a collective aneurism. This season, Jonah Hill’s Allen Gregory might have given fans and embolism. We all know TV can be mindless at times, but to feel as if you’re actually losing brain cells while watching a TV show is a crime – a crime that Fox continues to commit. So, Fox, please find something worth your viewers’ and advertisers’ money.
Please Give Shows (like Community) a Fighting Chance
Speaking of programmers, I think the NBC programming staff needs a complete overhaul. After all, someone over at the Peacock thinks it’s a good idea to bench Community. Mind you, the show and its humor aren’t for everyone – though the series’ post-modern and self-referential plotlines could make it a hard bandwagon to jump onto. However, the geektastic show does have its audience. Unfortunately, I think it’s safe to say that the Community of the series’ fans may also love The Big Bang Theory, which along with those fans also has gained a mainstream audience thanks in part to Jim Parsons’ back-to-back award-winning seasons. Oftentimes, the next step for a show that is benched is cancellation, so I’m starting the Save Greendale Now Campaign, in hopes NBC will get the message. After all, a long time ago, NBC had another quirky show on its plate that didn’t have great ratings and was on the verge of being cancelled: it began with a Sein and ended with a feld.
Please Give Shows a Fighting Chance, Round 2
Yes, Community is so good that it gets its own entry, but its hiatus is indicative of a big problem networks have: ending a show before it really finds its audience. Case in point: Light’s Out, an FX drama that debuted early this year and ran for one season. The Rocky-meets-Sopranos series surely could have found its footing if given a second season. But the show’s ratings were poor throughout the first season and word of mouth (not to mention a boxing expedition held in New York’s Grand Central Station) wasn’t enough to generate viewership. But just like Arrested Development, The Critic, Chase, Freaks and Geeks, and Kitchen Confidential before it, Lights Out was ahead of its time while trying to be relevant and shows like that tend to land on the chopping block no matter how great they are or could be.
Can Someone Remind the Disney-Owned Network That They Also Own Marvel Comics?
Sure, last season ABC aired their own version of the Fantastic Four – No Ordinary Family (which lasted only a season) – and this season’s Once Upon a Time closely resembles DC Comics’ Fables, but now that the alphabet network has a whole slew of geek-tastic characters to play with, they should use them. It’s not an attack on the network; it’s just something that this couch potato would love to see. So far, the Incredible Hulk is being prepped for a series, but other properties that didn’t quite fair well at the box office, such as Daredevil or the Punisher could work wonders in episodic form.
Just Keep the Train A-rolling at the Eye Network
Trust me; I am not the biggest fan of CBS shows. Other than a few comedies and Person of Interest I do not watch the network all that much. That doesn’t mean that I’m not aware of the eye’s dominance over the other networks in this era of television. There are not a lot of holes in CBS’ arsenal, with its acronym-laden procedurals, and whip smart (albeit foul--mouthed) comedies. You want proof? They’re benching Rules of Engagement, a formulaic, but sweet and funny sitcom and Rules is tied in ratings with one of NBC’s highest rated shows, The Office. Other than selfishly holding out hope for a reunion with Charlie Sheen or even more HIMYM,The Big Bang Theory, or Rules of Engagement, I can’t really think of a weak link in the network’s chain. Feel free to correct me in the comments section.
Please Figure Out When To End a TV Series
While it would be nice if networks did give certain shows a better chance (like the aforementioned Community), it would be equally nice in networks knew when to the pull the plug. House is prime example. While I do think the series is still a fun hour of television, it’s also easy to see that House is now limping along with its titular character. You could make a drinking game out of how many times in an episode any doctor offers Lupus as a diagnosis. Then there, Law and Order: Special Victims Unit, which lost Detective Elliot Stabler last season and has tried to carry on with not one, but two detectives to fill the void. And as we have seen time and time again, swapping out main characters usually spells doom for a series, or at least the bulk of fans tuning out. The Office used to have a heart, but now it’s just a bunch of characters being weird for weird’s sake. Even though it has thankfully ended, can someone tell HBO to not run shows like Entourage into the ground? Plus, Jack Bauer had one too many bad days and Heroes wasn’t worth anyone’s time past their “Days of Future Past”-inspired episode in the first season. But, let’s get back to those still kicking. Weeds on Showtime went from a quick-witted satirical look at the underbelly of suburbia and replaced it with completely asinine Botwin family mischief.
Pay No Mind To Internet Naysayers
From perusing the message boards, it seems as if more than several fans were not pleased with the first half of season two of The Walking Dead. Fans and critics alike all lamented Rick Grimes and company simply lounging around Hershel’s farm, while looking for Sophia and licking their wounds. Those people might be right about the lack of brain-eating action, but I for one disagree that the first half of the season was a wash. It’s called character development, people; and it’s hard to develop that when our heroes are shooting zombies. All of the hoopla surrounding finding Sophia and Rick’s ability to make tough decisions, combined with Shane’s passionate speech about the survivors’ new world, made for one hell of a heartbreaking reveal to close the first half of the season out. You may call it boring, but I think the lack of action made for compelling television. It forced viewers to think about the life these people now live and what would they, the viewers, might do in the survivors’ position. Some people have compared The Walking Dead to Lost and I think that’s a fair comparison – after all, Season Two of Lost didn’t have a lot going on either, just a lot of button-pushing and looking for Waaaaallllttt!
So, unless one of you guys wants to buy me the complete collection of The Twilight Zone or Batman Beyond, pay off my student loan or maybe even get me an X-Box Live Gold membership complete with NHL ’12 and Gears of War 3 -maybe even a Kinect - I guess that’s my Christmas list for this year.
What do you guys want from TV Santa this year? Sound off below, Merry Chrismahanukwanza, Happy Festivus, and a Jolly Express Christmas to everyone. And I have one last Christmas wish: follow me on Twitter @CouchForceOne.
Last year director Garry Marshall hit upon a devilishly canny approach to the romantic comedy. A more polished refinement of Hal Needham’s experimental Cannonball Run method it called for assembling a gaggle of famous faces from across the demographic spectrum and pairing them with a shallow day-in-the-life narrative packed with gobs of gooey sentiment. A cynical strategy to be sure but one that paid handsome dividends: Valentine’s Day earned over $56 million in its opening weekend surpassing even the rosiest of forecasts. Buoyed by the success Marshall and his screenwriter Katherine Fugate hastily retreated to the bowels of Hades to apply their lucrative formula to another holiday historically steeped in romantic significance and New Year’s Eve was born.
Set in Manhattan on the last day of the year New Year’s Eve crams together a dozen or so canned scenarios into one bloated barely coherent mass of cliches. As before Marshall’s recruited an impressive ensemble of minions to do his unholy bidding including Oscar winners Hilary Swank Halle Berry and Robert De Niro the latter luxuriating in a role that didn’t require him to get out of bed. High School Musical’s Zac Efron is paired up with ‘80s icon Michelle Pfeiffer – giving teenage girls and their fathers something to bond over – while Glee’s Lea Michele meets cute with a pajama-clad Ashton Kutcher. There’s Katherine Heigl in a familiar jilted-fiance role Sarah Jessica Parker as a fretful single mom and Chris “Ludacris” Bridges as the most laid-back cop in New York. Sofia Vergara and Hector Elizondo mine for cheap laughs with thick accents – his fake and hers real – and Jessica Biel and Josh Duhamel deftly mix beauty with blandness. Fans of awful music will delight in the sounds of Jon Bon Jovi straining against type to play a relevant pop musician.
The task of interweaving the various storylines is too great for Marshall and New Year’s Eve bears the distinct scent and stain of an editing-room bloodbath with plot holes so gaping that not even the brightest of celebrity smiles can obscure them. But that’s not the point – it never was. You should know better than to expect logic from a film that portrays 24-year-old Efron and 46-year-old Parker as brother-and-sister without bothering to explain how such an apparent scientific miracle might have come to pass. Marshall wagers that by the time the ball drops and the film’s last melodramatic sequence has ended prior transgressions will be absolved and moviegoers will be content to bask in New Year's Eve's artificial glow. The gambit worked for Valentine's Day; this time he may not be so fortunate.
The 2012 People's Choice Awards are on their way and here's the proof: the nominees. As usual, teen-skewing series like Glee and The Vampire Diaries dominated the nominations, but a few more mature candidates like The Good Wife and The Walking Dead make a few appearances as well. In addition to half the cast of Glee getting some nomination love, newly announced People Choice host, Kaley Cuoco also earned herself a nod for her work on The Big Bang Theory. Plus, the great thing about these awards is that there are enough categories to give plenty of shows a chance for some recognition -- they even separate network shows from cable show to even the playing field.
Fans can voice their choices in all categories starting today and ending Dec. 6 via basically every internet avenue available. The Favorite New TV Drama and Favorite New TV Comedy will stay open until the night of the awards, Jan. 11 at 9 p.m. ET/PT on CBS. Votes are accepted at the People's Choice Awards website, on Facebook, Twitter and via mobile devices.
Here are all your TV nominees, now get to voting!
Favorite Network TV Drama
The Good Wife
The Vampire Diaries
Favorite TV Drama Actor
David Boreanaz (Bones)
Hugh Laurie (House)
Ian Somerhalder (Vampire Diaries)
Nathan Fillion (Castle)
Patrick Dempsey (Grey's Anatomy)
Favorite TV Drama Actress
Blake Lively (Gossip Girl)
Ellen Pompeo (Grey's Anatomy)
Emily Deschanel (Bones)
Eva Longoria (Desperate Housewives)
Nina Dobrev (Vampire Diaries)
Favorite Cable TV Drama
Game of Thrones
Pretty Little Liars
Favorite Network TV Comedy
The Big Bang Theory
How I Met Your Mother
Two and a Half Men
Favorite TV Comedy Actor
Alec Baldwin (30 Rock)
Chris Colfer (Glee)
Cory Monteith (Glee)
Jim Parsons (The Big Bang Theory)
Neil Patrick Harris (How I Met Your Mother)
Favorite TV Comedy Actress
Courteney Cox (Cougar Town)
Jane Lynch (Glee)
Kaley Cuoco (The Big Bang Theory)
Lea Michele (Glee)
Tina Fey (30 Rock)
Favorite Cable TV Comedy
Hot in Cleveland
It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia
Favorite TV Competition Show
America’s Got Talent
Dancing With The Stars
So You Think You Can Dance
Favorite TV Crime Drama
Favorite Sci-Fi/Fantasy Show
The Vampire Diaries
The Walking Dead
Favorite Daytime TV Host
Al Roker, Anne Curry, Matt Lauer, Natalie Morales, Savannah Guthrie (The Today Show)
Anderson Cooper (Anderson)
Ellen DeGeneres (The Ellen DeGeneres Show)
Kelly Ripa, Regis Philbin (Live With Regis & Kelly)
Rachael Ray (Rachael Ray Show)
Favorite Late Night TV Host
Conan O’Brien (Conan)
David Letterman (Late Show With David Letterman)
Jay Leno (The Tonight Show With Jay Leno)
Jimmy Fallon (Late Night With Jimmy Fallon)
Jimmy Kimmel (Jimmy Kimmel Live)
Favorite TV Guest Star
Gwyneth Paltrow (Glee)
Jim Carrey (The Office)
Katy Perry (How I Met Your Mother)
Kristin Chenoweth (Glee)
Michael J. Fox (The Good Wife)
Favorite TV Celeb Reality Star
Tia and Tamera Mowry
Favorite New TV Drama
A Gifted Man
Hart of Dixie
Once Upon A Time
Person of Interest
The Secret Circle
Favorite New TV Comedy
2 Broke Girls
Last Man Standing
Up All Night
Vote and see the full nominee list here!
The first and most important thing you should know about Paramount Pictures’ Thor is that it’s not a laughably corny comic book adaptation. Though you might find it hokey to hear a bunch of muscled heroes talk like British royalty while walking around the American Southwest in LARP garb director Kenneth Branagh has condensed vast Marvel mythology to make an accessible straightforward fantasy epic. Like most films of its ilk I’ve got some issues with its internal logic aesthetic and dialogue but the flaws didn’t keep me from having fun with this extra dimensional adventure.
Taking notes from fellow Avenger Iron Man the story begins with an enthralling event that takes place in a remote desert but quickly jumps back in time to tell the prologue which introduces the audience to the shining kingdom of Asgard and its various champions. Thor (Chris Hemsworth) son of Odin is heir to the throne but is an arrogant overeager and ill-tempered rogue whose aggressive antics threaten a shaky truce between his people and the frost giants of Jotunheim one of the universe’s many realms. Odin (played with aristocratic boldness by Anthony Hopkins) enraged by his son’s blatant disregard of his orders to forgo an assault on their enemies after they attempt to reclaim a powerful artifact banishes the boy to a life among the mortals of Earth leaving Asgard defenseless against the treachery of Loki his mischievous “other son” who’s always felt inferior to Thor. Powerless and confused the disgraced Prince finds unlikely allies in a trio of scientists (Natalie Portman Stellan Skarsgard and Kat Dennings) who help him reclaim his former glory and defend our world from total destruction.
Individually the make-up visual effects CGI production design and art direction are all wondrous to behold but when fused together to create larger-than-life set pieces and action sequences the collaborative result is often unharmonious. I’m not knocking the 3D presentation; unlike 2010’s genre counterpart Clash of the Titans the filmmakers had plenty of time to perfect the third dimension and there are only a few moments that make the decision to convert look like it was a bad one. It’s the unavoidable overload of visual trickery that’s to blame for the frost giants’ icy weaponized constructs and other hybrids of the production looking noticeably artificial. Though there’s some imagery to nitpick the same can’t be said of Thor’s thunderous sound design which is amped with enough wattage to power The Avengers’ headquarters for a century.
Chock full of nods to the comics the screenplay is both a strength and weakness for the film. The story is well sequenced giving the audience enough time between action scenes to grasp the characters motivations and the plot but there are tangential narrative threads that disrupt the focus of the film. Chief amongst them is the frost giants’ fore mentioned relic which is given lots of attention in the first act but has little effect on the outcome. In addition I felt that S.H.I.E.L.D. was nearly irrelevant this time around; other than introducing Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye the secret security faction just gets in the way of the movie’s momentum.
While most of the comedy crashes and burns there are a few laughs to be found in the film. Most come from star Hemsworth’s charismatic portrayal of the God of Thunder. He plays up the stranger-in-a-strange-land aspect of the story with his cavalier but charming attitude and by breaking all rules of diner etiquette in a particularly funny scene with the scientists whose respective roles as love interest (Portman) friendly father figure (Skarsgaard) and POV character (Dennings) are ripped right out of a screenwriters handbook.
Though he handles the humorous moments without a problem Hemsworth struggles with some of the more dramatic scenes in the movie; the result of over-acting and too much time spent on the Australian soap opera Home and Away. Luckily he’s surrounded by a stellar supporting cast that fills the void. Most impressive is Tom Hiddleston who gives a truly humanistic performance as the jealous Loki. His arc steeped in Shakespearean tragedy (like Thor’s) drums up genuine sympathy that one rarely has for a comic book movie villain.
My grievances with the technical aspects of the production aside Branagh has succeeded in further exploring the Marvel Universe with a film that works both as a standalone superhero flick and as the next chapter in the story of The Avengers. Thor is very much a comic book film and doesn’t hide from the reputation that its predecessors have given the sub-genre or the tropes that define it. Balanced pretty evenly between “serious” and “silly ” its scope is large enough to please fans well versed in the source material but its tone is light enough to make it a mainstream hit.
The comedy, about a group of high school students in a choir club, will fight for the Outstanding TV Comedy prize against Curb Your Enthusiasm, Modern Family, Nurse Jackie, The Office and 30 Rock, which has taken home the title for the last three years.
Glee's leading stars Matthew Morrison and Lea Michele have been nominated in the male and female categories for the outstanding comedy actor awards, while their co-star Chris Colfer has received a best supporting actor nomination.
Morrison faces competition from Larry David (Curb Your Enthusiasm), Jim Parson (The Big Bang Theory), Tony Shalhoub (Monk), Steve Carell (The Office) and last year's winner Alec Baldwin (30 Rock).
Meanwhile Michele will face off with Julia Louis-Dreyfus (The New Adventures of Old Christine), Edie Falco (Nurse Jackie), Amy Poehler (Parks and Recreation), Tina Fey (30 Rock) and Toni Collette (The United States of Tara), who took home the statue last year (09).
Producers of cable network HBO's gritty World War II drama The Pacific will also hope for a triumphant night after receiving 24 nominations, including Outstanding Miniseries.
The 62nd Annual Primetime Emmy Awards will be handed out on 29 August (10) at a ceremony in Los Angeles' Nokia Theatre and will be presented by comedian Jimmy Fallon.
The main list of nominees is as follows:
Outstanding Drama Series: Breaking Bad, Dexter, The Good Wife, Lost, Mad Men, True Blood.
Outstanding Comedy Series: Curb Your Enthusiasm, Glee, Modern Family, Nurse Jackie, The Office, 30 Rock.
Outstanding Lead Actor, Drama: Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad), Michael C. Hall (Dexter), Kyle Chandler (Friday Night Lights), Hugh Laurie (House), Matthew Fox (Lost), Jon Hamm (Mad Men).
Outstanding Lead Actress, Drama: Kyra Sedgwick (The Closer), Glenn Close (Damages), Connie Britton (Friday Night Lights), Julianna Margulies (The Good Wife), Mariska Hargitay (Law & Order: Special Victims Unit), January Jones (Mad Men).
Outstanding Lead Actor, Comedy: Jim Parsons (The Big Bang Theory), Larry David (Curb Your Enthusiasm), Matthew Morrison (Glee), Tony Shalhoub (Monk), Steve Carell (The Office), Alec Baldwin (30 Rock).
Outstanding Lead Actress, Comedy: Lea Michele (Glee), Julia Louis-Dreyfus (The New Adventures of Old Christine), Edie Falco (Nurse Jackie), Amy Poehler (Parks and Recreation), Tina Fey (30 Rock), Toni Collette (The United States of Tara).
Supporting Actor In A Drama Series: John Slattery (Mad Men), Aaron Paul (Breaking Bad), Martin Short (Damages), Terry O'Quinn (Lost), Andre Braugher (Men of a Certain Age), Michael Emerson (Lost).
Supporting Actress In A Drama Series: Rose Byrne (Damages), Christina Hendricks (Mad Men), Archie Panjabi (The Good Wife), Sharon Gless (Burn Notice), Elisabeth Moss (Mad Men), Christine Baranski (The Good Wife).
Supporting Actor In A Comedy Series: Jesse Tyler Ferguson (Modern Family), Chris Colfer (Glee), Jon Cryer (Two and a Half Men), Ty Burrell (Modern Family), Eric Stonestreet (Modern Family), Neil Patrick Harris (How I Met Your Mother).
Supporting Actress In A Comedy Series: Jane Lynch (Glee), Jane Krakowski (30 Rock), Kristen Wiig (Saturday Night Live), Sofia Vergara (Modern Family), Julie Bowen (Modern Family), Holland Taylor (Two and a Half Men).
Guest Actor In A Drama Series: Robert Morse (Mad Men), Alan Cumming (The Good Wife), John Lithgow (Dexter), Ted Danson (Damages), Gregory Itzin (24), Dylan Baker (The Good Wife), Beau Bridges (The Closer)
Guest Actress In A Drama Series: Mary Kay Place (Big Love), Lily Tomlin (Damages), Sissy Spacek (Big Love), Elizabeth Mitchell (Lost), Ann-Margret (Law & Order: SVU), Shirley Jones (The Cleaner).
Guest Actor In A Comedy Series: Mike O'Malley (Glee), Fred Willard (Modern Family), Eli Wallach (Nurse Jackie), Jon Hamm (30 Rock), Neil Patrick Harris (Glee), Will Arnett (30 Rock).
Guest Actress In A Comedy Series: Kristin Chenoweth (Glee), Tina Fey (Saturday Night Live), Jane Lynch (Two And A Half Men), Kathryn Joosten (Desperate Housewives), Christine Baranski (The Big Bang Theory), Betty White (Saturday Night Live), Elaine Stritch (30 Rock).
Reality Series: Antiques Roadshow, MythBusters, Undercover Boss, Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List, Dirty Jobs, Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution.