Author

Michael Arbeiter
Staff editor Michael Arbeiter’s natural state of being can best be described as “mild panic attack.” His earliest memories of growing up in Queens, New York, involve nighttime conversations with a voice from his bedroom wall (the jury’s still out on what that was all about) and a love for classic television that spawned from the very first time he was allowed to watch “The Munsters.” Attending college at SUNY Binghamton, a 20-year-old Michael learned two things: that he could center his future on this love for TV and movies, and that dragons never actually existed — he was kind of late in the game on that one.
  • 'Person of Interest' Recap: Cura Te Ipsum
    By: Michael Arbeiter Oct 13, 2011
    S01E04: Well, this is a nice change of pace! My main issue with Person of Intserest has been that each episode so far was too self-contained. The theme lends itself to continuity, ongoing stories, cliffhanger endings…but so far, it has seemed like a high-concept procedural. Tonight’s episode, “Cura Te Ipsum,” is a big step in the right direction. Episode highlight: Linda Cardellini playing a doctor with a vendetta. Cardellini’s character Megan is a workaholic doctor who spends her nights out late, always bar-side at the same club. Her number comes up on Finch’s machine, so Reese tails her. At first, it seems like Megan is being stalked by a power suit prep, who turns out to be a sexual predator. But Reese soon learns that it is Megan who is stalking the predator—Andrew Benton. Via Detective Fusco, Reese finds out that Benton raped Megan’s sister years ago, which led to her suicide. Thus, Megan has adopted a plan of vengeance against Benton and plans to kill him. Speaking of Fusco, that guy’s having his own slew of problems: seems being a crooked cop isn’t all peaches and cream. After the events of the pilot (wherein Reese thwarted Fusco’s crooked cop crime ring, leaving Fusco as the only survivor and his eternal blackmailee), the drug dealers pay Fusco a visit, demanding the money they would have gotten if things hadn’t gone awry. They threaten Fusco with some light beheading if he doesn’t pay up in two days. So, Fusco brings this to Finch's attention, and instead of actually helping his “pal” out, Finch knocks out all three drug dealers and steals a hefty sum of their coke to plan on Benton. Reese wants Benton put in jail, both to protect innocent women from him, and to protect him from Megan. However, it is not really Benton’s well-being that Reese is looking out for here. He doesn’t want Megan to kill Benton because of what it would to do her. Reese, having some experience in the field, knows that taking a life can and does remove “the only part of yourself that matters,” and doesn’t want this to happen to Megan, who he clearly thinks of as a good person. Unfortunately, rich Benton manages his way out of jail in no time. “I know what happens when you take a life. You lose a part of yourself. Not everything. Just the part that matters the most.” – Reese This episode may not have any literal backstory construction for Reese or Finch, but it does build a lot in terms of the former’s character. So far, all we’ve seen of him in the present is a cold, sly battle-droid; flashbacks have shown us the beginnings of his deterioration. But tonight, we see that he’s not entirely soulless. And of course, he can’t be: he’s made fighting crime and protecting the innocent his new job. Yes, he’s not above extortion and heavy violence, but usually that’s just an ends to a “Greater Good” means. But tonight, we see genuine sensitivity in Reese. He doesn’t know Megan, but he relates with her. He understands her pain, and he doesn’t want her to turn into him. So, he begins to follow her, puts on an act as a fellow griever at a support group for victims of sexual abuse. And finally, after Meg has all but done the deed (she breaks into Benton’s house, drugs him, wheels him into a van and intends to drive him out to Montauk where she will kill him and destroy his body—pretty smart doctor), Reese cuts the act and comes straight out with her. He explains that killing him will actually kill her, that taking a man’s life destroys a person. After much hesitation, Megan gives in to Reese’s words and gives him the keys to the van. The last scene in the episode sees Reese out in Megan’s Montauk house, sitting, gun at arm’s length, across a table from a disheveled Benton begging for his life. The episode ends with Reese questioning whether or not he should kill Benton—we never get an answer, presumably to highlight the impossibility in defining what is ‘right’ in that situation: let the man live and allow him to go on hurting women, or murder him? It’s an interesting way to end an episode. Philosophical debates are always good seasoning for shows about good and evil. “He told me to stop staring at him.” – Finch “That’s interesting. Most peoples’ instinct is to look away.” – Carter “I’ve never been accused of being like most people.” – Finch But back to the idea of continuity. Although it’s not a huge push for a story arc, it is refreshing to see things carried over between episodes. Dramas demand a good deal of continuity to keep the characters real, the themes honest, and the conflicts worth caring about. This episode sees Detective Carter examining the videotape of the robbery in which Reese participated undercover. She questions Finch (who uses the name Burdette) as to his relationship with Reese and involvement in the crime, as it looks as though on the video that Finch and he exchange a few words—probably because they do. The expert liar that is anyone played by Michael Emerson manages to convince Carter that it was merely a threat passed to him by Reese, and that he knows nothing of who the man is. It seems as though she buys it, but it’s hard to say. We can be sure that she is not giving up on figuring out Reese’s deal…which is exactly why Reese pulls some strings (more blackmail, on other cops) and has Fusco put in the bullpen to become Carter’s new partner, presumably to deter her from finding anything useful on Reese. Although it’s not a huge piece of continuity, it’s something. And Reese’s development in this episode is appreciated. I’d venture to say that the show is increasing in quality steadily. Hopefully we’ll see more arc construction next week, and more insights into Reese and, hopefully, Finch. But the best thing of all to take away from this episode is how this season of Fall TV is turning out to be a surprise Freaks and Geeks fest. Bill Haverchuck on Community two weeks ago, Neil Schweiber on yesterday’s Modern Family…and now Lindsay Weir? Couldn’t be cooler.
  • 'Glee' Creator Ryan Murphy Developing a Gay Family Sitcom for NBC
    By: Michael Arbeiter Oct 13, 2011
    Ryan Murphy's goal is to traverse all territories of television -- pardon the alliteration. Murphy's name is most affiliated with his musical high school dramedy Glee, which is in its third season on Fox. His success in television really began with the acclaimed series Nip/Tuck, about the dark and often erotic world of plastic surgery. And his latest product is a big leap from both of these series: American Horror Story, which is exactly what it sounds like. But Murphy treads forward, seeking new terrain for his creativity. And he has found it at NBC. The network ordered a gay family sitcom from the writer/producer. Only the half-hour sitcom format will be unfamiliar to Murphy. Glee deals regularly with issues of homosexuality and homophobia, as this new series is likely to do. However, as it is in fact a sitcom, the new show might place less of a dramatic emphasis on the matter, instead painting the picture of a comical, likely dysfunctional -- this is a sitcom after all -- but happy, gay family. The characters are described as a male gay couple, their female surrogate, and their children. Murphy will co-write and co-executive produce this new series with Allison Adler, who will base the stories and themes on their personal experiences with their own sexualites.  Source: Deadline
  • A Very Muppetational New 'The Muppets' Trailer!
    By: Michael Arbeiter Oct 13, 2011
    Muppetational (adj) [muh-peh-TAY-shuh-n?l] 1. Of or relating to Muppetation or Muppets 2. The combined phenomenon of sensation, inspiration and celebration 3. Describing a movie so supercharged with fun, comedy and messages like friendship, loyalty, believing in yourself and going for your dreams, that no matter how old you are, you can't help but rattle with excitement over its imminent release The Muppets will indeed be a Muppetational movie...at least if the below trailer is any indication. Kermit, Miss Piggy, Fozzie, Gonzo, Rolf, Skeeter, the Swedish Chef, Animal and quite a few more will be reuniting to save their old Muppet Show theater. But Muppets alone does not a theater save. They're getting help from an enthusiastic live cast that includes, among countless others, Jason Segel, Amy Adams, Rashida Jones and Jack Black. So what can stand in their way? The usual hijinks? A post-Muppet world? Perhaps the intimidating Moopet gang? Whatever it is, we can bet that they won't be daunted for long. Now get on board and Mup it up with the new Muppets trailer. Sensational it is. Inspirational, for sure. Celebrational? You bet. Muppetational? Don't you forget it. Source: Yahoo via Comingsoon
  • Johnny Depp and 'Rum Diary' Producer Take On Drama Series For Lifetime
    By: Michael Arbeiter Oct 13, 2011
    Just to keep us guessing, Johnny Depp likes to take a little bit of mainstream and mix it with a little bit of the outskirts. As we know, period dramas are all the rage these days. Mad Men ignited the fad, sparking the great Boardwalk Empire, and newbies Pan Am and the recently-cancelled Playboy Club. So Depp's attachment as producer to a period piece about William Wilkerson, founder of The Hollywood Reporter and Las Vegas' Flamingo Hotel and the man responsible for discovering Lana Turner, is no big eyebrow-raiser. What is a bit bizarre is where this series will air: Lifetime. Lifetime is infamous for its melodramatic TV movies about tragic accidents, miracle births and women fighting oppression. A dramatic series about high society mogul Wilkerson is not exactly the network's wheelhouse. But perhaps Lifetime is trying to extend its appeal to larger audiences. Depp is certainly one way to go about that. Reportedly, he will have a cameo role in the series -- although if we know Depp, that part won't remain a cameo for very long. Graham King is producing the series with Depp. King also produced the Depp-starring films Rango and the upcoming Hunter S. Thompson adaptation, The Rum Diary. Source: Deadline
  • Menacing Poster for 'Star Wars: The Phantom Menace' 3D Release
    By: Michael Arbeiter Oct 13, 2011
    [Editor's Note: Michael suffers from a condition where he continually believes it is the year 1999] Just when I thought this current year couldn't get any more BOSS, I get the news that George Lucas, age 54, is making a new Star Wars movie! That's right! He's finally doing the prequels! And better than that, he's releasing them in 3D, a phenomenon with which filmmakers have barely begun to experiment! But that's Lucas for you. His new Star Wars adage, The Phantom Menace, is sure to thrill. Just look at that menacing phantom center stage! Who is that guy?! He looks more badass than contemporary nu metal sensation Korn! I can't wait to see this film. I can only begin to imagine just how this film will change cinema from here on out. With Y2K just around the corner to end things for America once and for all, we can rest assured that Lucas won't leave us with a disappointment! And if you disagree, well...you must be crazy, like Robert Downey, Jr. Not sane, like Tom Cruise. The Phantom Menace 3D reaches theaters February 10, next year. Vote Perot!       Source: Collider
  • Exclusive: Kevin Spacey Begs Craig Robinson for Cash in New The Father of Invention' Clip
    By: Michael Arbeiter Oct 13, 2011
    Going into this clip knowing little about the The Father of Invention, I was enamored by the visual of a chubby Kevin Spacey riding a bicycle down a dirt path, calling out both unnervedly and familiarly for Ranger Jerry. Spacey is the sort who, by appearance alone, conjures up the idea of classy Oscar bait, so my immediate thoughts on this film were as such: perhaps something a little stuffy and overly serious, even. And then, out of the woods, comes Craig Robinson, a man with a staunch reputation for outlandish comedies. I never expected to see these two men share a scene, but I'm glad I did—the payoff of their joint 'types' is perfection. We have some sincerity, some sophistication, and some genuine humor and fun. The Father of Invention tells the story of Robert Axle (Spacey), an infomercial guru who returns to society after almost a decade in prison, aiming to win back his family and reclaim his professional throne.
  • Alvin and the Chipmunks Are Lost at Sea in the New 'Chipwrecked' Trailer
    By: Michael Arbeiter Oct 13, 2011
    I suppose if I was a tiny, anthropomorphic (and musically inclined) chipmunk, I, too, would send asunder my adoptive father's cruise vacation. Who among you cannot say the same? But the degree to which Alvin (Justin Long), Simon (Matthew Gray Gubler), Theodore (Jesse McCartney) and their female counterparts (Christina Applegate, Anna Faris and Amy Poehler) perform this task is inequivocal. Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked takes our tamian heroes and tosses them from a luxurious getaway onto an uncharted island filled with dangers, prompting Dave (Jason Lee) to set out to rescue them. Of course, Alvin seems to undergo a few personal changes along the way, realizing just how much trouble he causes his family, and perhaps turns over a new leaf. As with the last trailer, this one culminates with a Lady Gaga songsation that's...a little bit of a force to power through. Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked will chip its way into our hearts on December 16. And check the videos below the trailer to experience the Alvin and the Chipmunks of generations past. Video: Alvin and The Chipmunks 3 - Chipwrecked Source: Comingsoon
  • Ellen Returning to Sitcoms With 'Weitz & Wong' for ABC
    By: Michael Arbeiter Oct 13, 2011
    America doesn't have a royal family, but it has its equivalents: Queen Oprah, Prince Bono, and somewhere around the level of Dutchess, we have Ellen DeGeneres. Ellen is pretty much as beloved as a human being can be; thus, people are willing to invest some interest in almost anything she puts her name on. This is good news for ABC, as Ellen just signed on to produce a single-camera comedy called Weitz & Wong. The series will focus on an interracial married couple, their children, and their relatives; one side of the family is white and Jewish, the other is Chinese. The series will illustrate the family's comical struggle with their varying cultures and wildly differing families and customs, and will likely touch on the stigmas attached to interracial marriage. Alex Hershog, who wrote for DeGeneres' 90s sitcom Ellen, will also write for this new series. In addition, Ellen is also developing a sitcom for NBC, starring her wife Portia de Rossi. It's an exciting prospect considering di Rossi is an incredibly adept comic actress whose outstanding performances as ambitious lawyer Nelle Porter on Ally McBeal, self-absorbed socialite Lindsay Fünke on Arrested Development, and cold-hearted businesswoman Veronica Palmer on Better Off Ted were each laugh-a-minute. Source: THR
  • Alec Baldwin Speaks Out About His Imminent '30 Rock' Departure
    By: Michael Arbeiter Oct 13, 2011
    When Jack Donaghy kicked in the door of his new office in the very first episode of 30 Rock, proudly proclaiming that his predecessor was dead and that he was now in charge of NBC and, by extension, Liz Lemon's life, we knew that the show had just begun. For five years, the hypercapitalist superhuman that is Jack Donaghy has been one of the best parts of the often spectacular sitcom 30 Rock, courtesy of the excellence that is Alec Baldwin. Since we met him, we've seen Jack warm up to Liz (Tina Fey), open his heart to love enough to take a wife (Elizabeth Banks) and father an infant child (unknown baby actress). But as we've heard time and again, Jack's time on 30 Rock coming to an end. Badlwin spoke to Entertainment Weekly about the imminent change, admitting that he's considering leaving 30 Rock after this season. Said Baldwin, "I wouldn’t want to prevent them from having another year, because they’re all my friends and they’ve been good to me. Maybe I would do a piece of the year. But I really do want to move on to other things." Baldwin's interests for the future are diverse. He wishes to pursue a larger sum of movies; he's starting a public radio interview show beginning Oct. 24; and, most interestingly, he's considering running for political office. But before he makes the shift to politics, he needs to put the comedic side of his life behind him. Baldwin stated, "The jokes have to stop, everything has to be on the record,” explaining that there's a "difference between going to Jon Stewart and Jim Lehrer." Despite his interest in moving on from the series that revived his fame, Baldwin did express a great deal of gratitude for the show and for his lifestyle in general. Personally, I wouldn't want to see a 30 Rock without Jack Donaghy. Perhaps this is a hint that Liz Lemon needs to either finally "have it all," or become content with only "having it somewhat." Source: EW
  • TV Checkup: How is 'Up All Night' Holding Up?
    By: Michael Arbeiter Oct 13, 2011
    I'll be honest: I was deterred by Up All Night's premise. We've seen young couples adjusting to parental life before, and it's the sort of thing that can sometimes pass for "cute" and "sweet." Maybe it's the sort of thing that new parents can watch and relate to, but rarely the sort of thing that is fuel for genuine laughter. And although it's got Lorne Michaels behind it, and Will Arnett center stage, I didn't get my hopes up. But Up All Night has proven that I've become way too cynical. NBC recently picked up the comedy starring Arnett and Christina Applegate for a full season order, and it is officially my favorite new show of the fall season. The series actually did itself a disservice with all the baby-centric promos. I imagine it was trying to rope in an audience of young parents with its relatable subject matter. But in doing so, the series painted itself as the kind of show where most of the humor is derived from the new baby spitting up on her parents -- don't say that's not something shows have relied on in the past. Instead, Up All Night has remarkably quick-witted dialogue from each of its three principal players (the third being Maya Rudolph, who plays Applegate's boss and best friend), and problems not limited in interest to those in the same walk of life as main characters Chris and Reagan. In fact, if one had to pinpoint what the show is really about, it's not dealing with the literal stresses of parenthood. It's a desperate fear of aging—and that is something that many of us can understand to some degree. Chris and Reagan are illustrated as two former partiers who took pride in their adventurous lifestyle; although they are not entirely capable of accepting this, their lives have changed. Reagan is a workaholic producer of a talk show, and Chris is a stay-at-home dad. And although both are incredibly devoted to one another and to their daughter Amy, they consistently show signs of nostalgia for their wilder days. It is this balance of their good intentions (and general success as parents) and inherent flaws that make the show terrific. “Perfect families” are more or less a thing of television past. “Corrupt” characters work well in many instances, but would be hard to watch and root for if a baby was involved. The creators of Up All Night found a great balance in Chris and Reagan, who are a little bit selfish and immature at times, but who are generally good people and good parents. And, in case they are too grounded for you, there is Rudolph’s Ava, who is the show’s lovable basketcase. Through her insecurities and her constant need to be loved, she makes Reagan’s life worlds more difficult than it has to be. Despite their yearning for youth, Chris and Reagan are also comically obsessed with being seen as good parents. Last night’s episode showcased all of the show’s main themes, and very humorously so. Chris strives desperately to be the “best parent” at a baby playgroup led by the insufferable, but sort of ingenious, Mr. Bob (Michael Hitchcock). Reagan resents her inability to stay out late with Ava for a Bangles cover band concert, just like old times. And Ava becomes bitter and irrational as a result of Reagan’s newfound maturity. The plotlines are not ones we’ve never seen before—they’re simple and familiar. But the talent on this show is the biggest sell. Anyone who has seen Arnett in anything knows he can steal a scene from the best of them. He softens up his ‘slimy jerk’ archetype just enough to be likeable as a dad, but still maintains some remnants of the flawed jackass he plays so well. Applegate is moreover the straight woman, but that doesn’t mean her deadpan reactions to the madness around her aren’t great for laughs. And Rudolph plays crazy like a legend. To sum up, the show has the rapid fire wit of 30 Rock with the authentic characters of earlier 30 Rock. Don’t let the “new parents” theme deter you—Up All Night's premise is a bonus for new parents, yes, but as a whole it’s so much more than that. It’s about growing up: balancing youth and maturity, work and family, yourself and those around you. It’s a sophisticated show, but is not above silly humor. All in all, it’s a big win.