Every hero needs a villain, but sometimes a TV show creates a character that just becomes so irritating that you just want to stop watching the show altogether. This is also known as The Poochie Effect, from that episode of The Simpsons where Homer's new rad-surfer-dog character ruins The Itchy and Scratchy Show. Here's a handful of current and recent examples.
Sue Sylvester, Glee
We have nothing but love for Jane Lynch, and certainly Sue is not the only problem this maddeningly uneven show has had over the years. But Sue Sylvester is such a smug, preening irritant that she's best enjoyed in small doses. Instead, she became the show's breakout star in the first season and the writers responded by giving her tracksuited self more and more screen time.
Sophie Kerchinsky, 2 Broke Girls
Again, it's a stretch to say that 2 Broke Girls would actually be a good show without the presence of Jennifer Coolidge's broad, one-note portrayal of a blowsy Polish housekeeper. But like Lynch -- who Coolidge was so good playing against in Christopher Guest's fantastic Best in Show way back when -- Coolidge has had what should have been a small guest role expanded far too much. It's taking away from the show's primary charms. Which, admittedly, mostly involve staring at Kat Dennings' chest and Beth Behrs' legs. But still.
Christopher Pelant, Bones
Bones has never done well with the season-long villain arcs, because they detract from the show's essentially light and frothy tone. (For a series that regularly features corpses in varying states of decay, Bones has a surprisingly His Girl Friday kinda feel.) But Christopher Pelant is just annoying. For one thing, his supposed ability as a super-hacker to use basically any item more complicated than a toaster as a surveillance device strains credulity and turns him into a cartoon super-villain who doesn't seem to have any motives for his actions other than being a pest. The whiny, juvenile feel of Andrew Leeds' portrayal of the character just makes him come off as an obnoxious little brat, and the sooner he's gone, the better.
Scarlett O'Connor, Nashville
Clare Bowen is a perfectly capable singer and actress, and I sort of get why showrunner Callie Khouri wanted to have the character of Scarlett in her show, to be able to show a third singer at a different level of her career. The thing is, the glammy soap that is the entire Rayna and Juliette show is more than enough show in and of itself, and shoehorning in Scarlett's comparatively drab storylines just stops the show dead. The frustrating thing is, Bowen's clearly a better singer than either Connie Britton or Hayden Panettiere, so it's a shame she can't be better integrated into the series.
Mark Brendanawicz, Parks and Recreation
Finally, here's an example of how much a show can improve when it cuts out the dead weight. Mark Brandanawicz, whose sole character trait was that he was fed up with both his job and his life, literally did not fit in the Parks and Recreation world. As a love interest for Amy Poehler's Leslie Knope, Paul Schneider came off as a cold fish, and his dead-eyed ennui wasn't anywhere near as funny as Aubrey Plaza as April Ludgate, who was both funnier and more cynical. Although the producers later claimed that they had planned to write Mark off the show all along and that they also planned to bring him back, the brilliant double-team of Rob Lowe and Adam Scott made Schneider surplus to requirements. The show became 100% better as soon as their characters appeared.
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In this week’s edition of Leanne’s Spoiler List, I decided to shake things up a bit. On Monday, I asked you — the lovely readers of the Internet—to vote for the five shows that you wanted to be featured this week. After thousands of votes I’ve discovered a few things: The first is that the Glee fans will automatically dominate any type of competition or poll. And secondly, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that your votes allowed me to write about five of my all-time favorite shows! Basically I felt like this when I saw the results.
To thank you for your good taste and participation, I’ve packed this week’s list with as many spoilers as I could. I chatted with Andrew Rannells to get the goods on Girls, laughed with Once Upon a Time’s Josh Dallas about his charming new family, and chatted with Glee’s very own Ryan Murphy to bring you your weekly shipper update. I’ve also gathered scoop from the stars of New Girl and Arrow to get you all caught up on the craziness that it coming to your TV screens. Read on for all the scoop from the shows you picked!
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1. Girls: The Best Performance We Never Saw!
In last Sunday’s painfully awkward — and just plain painful to watch — episode of Girls, fans witnessed Marnie’s first attempt to showcase her newly declared dream of being a singer. In case you missed the most horrifyingly realistic performance to ever creep across your television screens, you can watch it here. Was anyone else peeping from between their fingers?
Hopefully Marnie’s singing skills will improve, because as I recently revealed, The New Normal star Andrew Rannells is returning to Girls in Season 3! We all know that Rannells has a flawless voice and amazing stage presence — but does Elijah share these same skills?
To find out the answer, I caught up with the unbelievably handsome Rannells at PaleyFest’s red carpet to honor The New Normal last week. After gushing over the brilliance of Matt Bomer — again — I asked if we could expect to see a Marnie/Elijah duet sext season. Rannells smiled and revealed, “Well you know what’s a bummer is we did one!”
Did you hear that, Book of Mormon fans?! Rannells sang on the HBO hit earlier this season, and somehow it ended up on the cutting room floor. Gasp! “In Season 2 — the first episode back — Allison and I sang a song together,” Rannells said. “We sang a karaoke version of The Wreckers, which is Michelle Branch’s country group. We did a duet.” Apparently this alcohol-induced performance happened only a few minutes before their “two-and-a-half pumps" that took place on the couch.
Is anyone else experiencing a strong case of FOMO right now?! (Psst! That means “fear of missing out” Mom.) Thankfully, the multi-talented actor assures Girls fans that he’s currently campaigning for another duet next season. “Hopefully we’ll get to do something else. If nothing else Allison and I will just get drunk and sing somewhere,” Rannells says with a laugh. Umm, that sounds absolutely amazing! Can we come too?
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2. Arrow: New Island Ally
Believe it or not, we’re about to hit the home stretch, Arrow fans: starting on March 20, we’re going to get 7 amazing, action-packed, jaw-dropping episodes in a row, all the way to the season finale! And if you think the freshman CW drama can’t get any more epic than it already has, then we’re clearly not watching the same show.
When we caught up with the Arrow cast and producers at their PaleyFest event last week, we could barely contain our fangirling long enough to ask questions about the next chapter of the show. Thankfully, star Stephen Amell was as eager as we were to talk about what Oliver does next, especially now that his island self has started to toughen up.
“I’ve become a big sucker for the island," he says. "When we began on the island, I was just laying around in the cave like an idiot, like, ‘Aww I need some fooood.' But I always knew that eventually my spine would begin to form. We’re going to see in coming episodes that things are actually pretty good for Oliver — relatively speaking [on the island], so that means something bad is about to happen.”
Executive producer Marc Guggenheim agreed that the island story is a crucial part of Arrow's mythology, and the addition of Manu Bennett’s Slade Wilson was a success. “We love writing Oliver and Slade together," Guggenheim says. "They are the proto Butch and Sundance. But something will complicate that relationship soon, adding a third element to that.”
Spoiler Alert! That third element is Yao Fei’s daughter, Shado, who we briefly got a glimpse of during “The Odyssey” — when we learned that Fyers was holding her hostage in exchange for Yao Fei’s obedience. Shado is a lawyer (as well as an expert martial artist and archer... hmm, that sounds like another certain lady friend in Ollie's past... cough, Laurel cough…) fighting to free her father from being banished to the island by the Chinese government.
Expect to see the dynamic duo of Slade and Ollie add one more to their alliance when she teams up with them to rescue her father and escape the island But most mysteriously of all, she has the same tattoo of a tiger on the back of her shoulder that post-island Ollie has… Could there be something more between them? Something romantical, perhaps?
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3. Once Upon a Time: A Baby Maybe?
Being forced to save your baby girl by passing her through a magical wardrobe into another realm and then missing out on her first 28-years of existence — followed by a year of not remembering her at all — is not an ideal parenting situation.
In ABC’s hit drama Once Upon a Time, Prince Charming and Snow White have spent the past 16 episodes trying to make up lost time with their darling magic-inclined daughter Emma, and it’s been just lovely. However, many fans — myself included — are campaigning for the stork to visit Storybrooke.
So I caught up with Prince Charming himself, Josh Dallas, last week at PaleyFest, and asked if a new baby is something he’d like to see for his on-screen alter ego. “God, that would be nice wouldn’t it?" Dallas says. “I think that would be a really nice happy ending for them. There are [currently] no talks, but I think it would be a cool way to go.”
That’s not quite true, Josh! In the PaleyFest panel, creators Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz briefly mentioned that a Charming baby is most likely in the works for sometime next season. All together now: Squee!
Until the Charmings get another royal bun in the oven, their main priority for the next few episodes is looking after Henry. Luckily Neil/Bae’s presence should help take away some of that babysitting burden. Dallas admits that Charming is genuinely happy that Henry has been reunited with his father. “I think on one hand he’s going to be really relieved that there’s going to be a puzzle piece from Henry’s past placed back in there," he says. "So he’s going to sit back and just see what Neil is all about.” Would you like to see Snow and Charming with a baby prince, or princess? Cast your vote in the comments below!
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4. New Girl: Love in The Loft
Nick/Jess shippers, let it be known that something major goes down during next week's episode, “Quick Hardening Caulk.” Jess, hopped up on pain pills, confesses her true feelings to Nick. But how will he react? I’m not telling ...but let Nick himself, Jake Johnson, share how this admission will affect the group's dynamics: "It throws a wrinkle into the mix a little bit, and it kind of takes it to another level."
But while Nick and Jess could potentially heat up, another beloved non-couple (not anymore, at least), cools down. In “Quick Hardening Caulk,” we'll see Schmidt desperately trying to let go of his feelings for Cece now that his ex is engaged. "In a way, there is a cathartic experience that Schmidt goes through involving a fish — that he may think is Cece — and he’s starting to try to come to terms with it," Max Greenfield says.
Schmidt will get back out in the field as a way to get over the one that got away, and "ends up reconnecting with an old girlfriend from college, played by Merritt Wever, who is just the best," Greenfield says. That will last for at least a few episodes, and inspires the gang's virginity-losing flashback episode the cast and producers teased during the show's PaleyFest panel Monday night.
Not to worry, Winston fans! He certainly won't be left out on the relationship front — he's still dating Daisy, although the state of their relationship is up in the air. "His relationship is very patchy," Lamorne Morris says. "His girlfriend is always on a plane somewhere so he doesn’t really have time to see her. It’s more of a convenient relationship [for Daisy] — it’s like I’m in town, and none of my other dudes have picked up their phones, so I’m going to call Winston. That’s what I feel like Daisy’s doing. I don’t even care."
Their relationship should last for a while, though — or at least until the end of the season. "The only reason I say that is because Brenda Song got a new TV show, so she won't be back next season," Morris says. "Hopefully her TV show will last a million years. She's the greatest." Fingers crossed New Girl lasts a million years too!
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5. Glee: Ryan Murphy Tells All
It’s no secret that Glee fans are, without a doubt, an extremely and sometimes overly passionate group — but that’s what makes them so great! According to Glee creator Ryan Murphy, that is. (Bee tee dubs: I totally agree, but you already knew that of course.) When I caught up with the Murphy a few weeks ago, I made sure to ask the showrunner extraordinaire if he ever lets some of the — Hmm, how should I put this? — intense fans influence his creative choices for the show.
“They’re all so intense, are you kidding?” Murphy says with a smile. “I don’t look at is as pressure, I just look at it as passion. I’ll be honest — when I first started [using] Twitter, I was a little unnerved. But [now] I just treat it as a fandom that has a love of things that I’ve created, so why would I think differently?”
And as far as the “original” shipper fandoms go — we’re talking Klaine, Wemma, Brittana etc. — Murphy reminds fans that all couples go through their natural ups and downs in a relationship and there is always an opportunity for reconciliation. However, when it comes to progression in upcoming episodes, Murphy revealed that Finn and Rachel fans should remain optimistic. “Always have hope, I’ve said that from the beginning," he says. "Always."
Bonus Scoop! Here are some other Gleeful goodies we can look forward to: Finn is finally going to find his dreams — and he’s going to discover this inner amazingness in the hallowed halls of college! That’s right, Mr. Hudson is headed to higher education. While I’m not allowed to reveal what his major will be, I can tell you that we will be meeting his roomie very soon!
Also — we’re getting a flashback! In the upcoming episode “Sweet Dreams,” fans will not only be reunited with the lovely Shelby Cocoran — aka Rachel’s momma — but we’ll also get to see 5-year-old Rachel! Fingers crossed they make Reindeer sweaters for little ones. Also, one member of the New Directions will take their crack at songwriting — and I anticipate it to be very Taylor Swift-y. (Pssst! Meaning it’ll be about boys…)
Are you excited for the upcoming episodes of Glee? Think Snow and Charming should have a royal new addition to the family? Wanna get drunk and sing karaoke with Andrew Rannels and Allison Williams on Girls? Sing out in the comments!
Follow Leanne on Twitter @LeanneAguilera
—Additional reporting by Sydney Bucksbaum and Jean Bentley
[Photo Credit: HBO, Universal Pictures, ABC, FOX (2)]
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The latest movie in the Step Up franchise aims for a politicized message behind all the flashy moves but it could do with a lot less plot and a lot more dancing. In Step Up Revolution the Miami dance group "The Mob" takes to the streets (and other random locations) to perform intricately choreographed routines with their own DJ a camera guy who uploads their videos to YouTube and a graffiti artist who leaves their signature behind. It takes at least that much effort just to get hipster New Yorkers to ride the subways without any pants on once a year; it's hard to believe that The Mob could pull off their elaborate schemes without getting caught but that's the magic of movies.
The Mob represents the more diverse working class side of Miami a young multiracial group of friends who create incredible works of art that disappear before they get shut down. One of the Mob's leaders Sean (Ryan Guzman) earnestly explains to newcomer Emily (Kathryn McCormick) that the group's reason is to give a voice to the voiceless or to be happy or to dance or something. It's not really clear but they have a lot of fun and look amazing doing it.
Once Sean and his friends find out that a greedy developer plans to raze their neighborhood to make way for another South Beach-style hotel monstrosity they have a reason to rally but until then they're just trying to win a cash prize by getting clicks on YouTube. The typical Step Up twist is that Emily is the developer's daughter. Mr. Anderson (Peter Gallagher) doesn't approve of Emily's love of dancing or other frippery and he certainly wouldn't approve of her hanging out with the people causing such mayhem in the streets of Miami.
Step Up Revolution biggest misstep is trying to give the movie more of a hook than the franchise's typical Romeo and Juliet-style love story and tap into "the Zeitgeist" (I swear that's from the studio-provided press notes) of flash mobs. The film could have cut out most of the plot and characters and still have a completely intact film insofar as the point of the film is its multimedia dance routines. The sort of productions The Mob pulls off are more akin to carefully planned art installations or music videos in terms of scope; it would have been better to at least make that somehow feasible in terms of the storyline. Yes we are here for a spectacle and we surely get a spectacle but it needs to have some roots in reality.
The dance scenes are fun sexy and occasionally a little sappy but overall quite enjoyable for people who enjoy "So You Think You Can Dance" type of shows. Kathryn McCormick and Stephen "tWitch" Boss both appeared on "SYTYCD" and their costar Misha Gabriel is a classically trained ballet dancer turned pro back-up dancer for folks like Beyoncé and Michael Jackson. Guzman doesn't have a dance background but he is an MMA fighter who obviously took his training very seriously. The entire outfit is pretty damn entertaining to be honest.
As far as the 3D goes it makes most of Miami look overcast and grey. The extra zings added in to make sure we get our money's worth like sand flicking out at us or a breakdancer whose foot seems to be aiming for our face only serves to distract from the real show at hand. There is also an awful lot of ramping and generally spazzy editing tricks that look cheap. The screenplay by Amanda Brody is definitely not its strong suit.
Step Up Revolution is the cinematic equivalent of a trashy beach novel. It's embarrassing to be caught actually enjoying it and you'll forget about it almost immediately but it's a decent way to spend a summer afternoon.
In This Means War – a stylish action/rom-com hybrid from director McG – Tom Hardy (The Dark Knight Rises) and Chris Pine (Star Trek) star as CIA operatives whose close friendship is strained by the fires of romantic rivalry. Best pals FDR (Pine) and Tuck (Hardy) are equally accomplished at the spy game but their fortunes diverge dramatically in the dating realm: FDR (so nicknamed for his obvious resemblance to our 32nd president) is a smooth-talking player with an endless string of conquests while Tuck is a straight-laced introvert whose love life has stalled since his divorce. Enter Lauren (Reese Witherspoon) a pretty plucky consumer-products evaluator who piques both their interests in separate unrelated encounters. Tuck meets her via an online-dating site FDR at a video-rental store. (That Lauren is tech-savvy enough to date online but still rents movies in video stores is either a testament to her fascinating mix of contradictions or more likely an example of lazy screenwriting.)
When Tuck and FDR realize they’re pursuing the same girl it sparks their respective competitive natures and they decide to make a friendly game of it. But what begins as a good-natured rivalry swiftly devolves into romantic bloodsport with both men using the vast array of espionage tools at their disposal – from digital surveillance to poison darts – to gain an edge in the battle for Lauren’s affections. If her constitutional rights happen to be violated repeatedly in the process then so be it.
Lauren for her part remains oblivious to the clandestine machinations of her dueling suitors and happily basks in the sudden attention from two gorgeous men. Herein we find the Reese Witherspoon Dilemma: While certainly desirable Lauren is far from the irresistible Helen of Troy type that would inspire the likes of Tuck and FDR to risk their friendship their careers and potential incarceration for. At several points in This Means War I found myself wondering if there were no other peppy blondes in Los Angeles (where the film is primarily set) for these men to pursue. Then again this is a film that wishes us to believe that Tom Hardy would have trouble finding a date so perhaps plausibility is not its strong point.
When Lauren needs advice she looks to her boozy foul-mouthed best friend Trish (Chelsea Handler). Essentially an extension of Handler’s talk-show persona – an acquired taste if there ever was one – Trish’s dialogue consists almost exclusively of filthy one-liners delivered in rapid-fire succession. Handler does have some choice lines – indeed they’re practically the centerpiece of This Means War’s ad campaign – but the film derives the bulk of its humor from the outrageous lengths Tuck and FDR go to sabotage each others’ efforts a raucous game of spy-versus-spy that carries the film long after Handler’s shtick has grown stale.
Business occasionally intrudes upon matters in the guise of Heinrich (Til Schweiger) a Teutonic arms dealer bent on revenge for the death of his brother. The subplot is largely an afterthought existing primarily as a means to provide third-act fireworks – and to allow McGenius an outlet for his ADD-inspired aesthetic proclivities. The film’s action scenes are edited in such a manic quick-cut fashion that they become almost laughably incoherent. In fairness to McG he does stage a rather marvelous sequence in the middle of the film in which Tuck and FDR surreptitiously skulk about Lauren's apartment unaware of each other's presence carefully avoiding detection by Lauren who grooves absentmindedly to Montel Jordan's "This Is How We Do It." The whole scene unfolds in one continuous take – or is at least craftily constructed to appear as such – captured by one very agile steadicam operator.
Whatever his flaws as a director McG is at least smart enough to know how much a witty script and appealing leads can compensate for a film’s structural and logical deficiencies. He proved as much with Charlie’s Angels a film that enjoys a permanent spot on many a critic’s Guilty Pleasures list and does so again with This Means War. The film coasts on the chemistry of its three co-stars and only runs into trouble when the time comes to resolve its romantic competition which by the end has driven its male protagonists to engage in all manner of underhanded and duplicitous activities. This Means War being a commercial film – and likely an expensive one at that – Witherspoon's heroine is mandated to make a choice and McG all but sidesteps the whole thorny matter of Tuck and FDR’s unwavering dishonesty not to mention their craven disregard for her privacy. (They regularly eavesdrop on her activities.) For all their obvious charms the truth is that neither deserves Lauren – or anything other than a lengthy jail sentence for that matter.
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