Once Upon a Time

For the jaded, the entertainment business is a money-making endeavor.  The modern trend is to recycle: make popular books into movies; make comic books into summer blockbusters; and finally, convert our favorite fairy tales into that next blockbuster (did you hear about the competing Snow White movies?).  For the young-at-heart (and possibly naive), the entertainment industry is about joy, fantasy, and escapism.  And now, ABC has provided a show that satisfies both that money-making Scrooge and that idealistic Samwise Gamgee : Once Upon a Time.

The show has an interesting premise.  All our favorite fairy tale characters are trapped in time in a city called Storybooke, Maine (where there are no happy endings), except they don't know it.  Our hero(ine), Emma (Jennifer Morrison of HOUSE), is the a cynical bounty hunter prophesied (by Rumpelstiltskin!) to save the day.  Only, she doesn't believe it, nor does anyone else.  Only the son she gave up for adoption long ago knows the truth about the inhabitants of Storybrooke, well, except the Evil Queen, aka the Mayor.  The relationships are convoluted on paper, but play out well on screen.

We meet Snow White (Big Love's Ginnifer Goodwin), Geppeto, Rumpelstiltskin and Jiminy Cricket in flashbacks that explain how the curse came to be.  On the flip side, we meet the characters' Storybrooke counterparts as the story is told in the present.  Not only is the show ripe with character development and plot, but the cinematography/CG is fantastic, popping in HD.  This show was touted as one of the best of the new fall season and it's definitely living up to the hype (for now).  A breath of fresh air, different from the glut of reality shows and procedurals, Once Upon a Time is a perfect blend of fantasy and reality.  Do yourself a favor and check it out on Sunday nights at 8/7 c on ABC.


Update from Comic-Con!

My super spy informant, Derek, is on the scene at Comic-Con in San Diego, every fanboy and girl's DisneyWorld.  Derek will graciously give those of us who are unlucky enough not to live in San Diego (or have a cool spouse who designs video games for a living and gets free passes to Comic-Con) a glimpse into what is arguably the greatest show on earth.  So, here's a preview of Comic-Con so far:

                Comic-con is officially underway, and I’ve spent a few hours at the convention already.  Here’s a brief breakdown of Wednesday’s preview night:
                -About a block away from the convention, I walked past a lesbian Batman and Robin couple making out on the hood of a car.   A little weird, but given that the actual Batman story involves a wealthy bachelor who lives with a young orphan that he keeps in a cave and dresses in tights, I don’t think they disrespected the source material.
                -Seconds after walking through the entrance, I spotted Stan Lee signing autographs.  Stan is a controversial figure at comic-con.  Some revere him as a god.  Others think he’s a sellout who is ruining his franchises, Lucas style.  However, no matter your personal feelings about him, everyone agrees that the ideas he stole from Jack Kirby were truly genius.   
-The convention floor is as crowded as always.  Thankfully, the bigger booths have been moved to the edges of the floor.  You’ll have to push your way through the crowds outside these booths, but at least you can move about the floor.
-A little girl saw a life-sized My Little Pony figure, and ran up to give it a big hug.  It is quite possibly the cutest thing that has ever happened.   
-Video games and television are the main attractions at Comic-con.  In the exhibitor’s hall, one entire wall is filled with video game developers demoing their latest games.  Another is filled with various television studios showcasing their fall line-up of vampire shows.  The hotels around the convention center have video game lounges set up, Sprint has a gaming pavilion right outside the hall, and Sega set-up an entire arcade just down the street.   On another note, I heard a rumor that someone tried to sell a comic book (whatever that is), and was summarily executed.
-If you want to meet celebrities, hang out by the novelty t-shirt vendors. 
There you have it.  As crowded and crazy as it is, it looks like it’s going to be a great convention.
More from Derek in the coming days.  Stay tuned!  Maybe there will be a Sarah Michelle Gellar siting.



What Are You Watching This Summer?

Sorry for the long break, folks.  Finding time to write isn't so easy anymore--I haven't even caught up on all my season finales!

Anyway, for those of you who have caught up on your season finales, I bet you're wondering what to watch this summer.  Well, unlike summers pasts, the networks have found that original summer programming is a moneymaker, as long as production costs are cheap.  So below is a list of a few summer shows that I'll be watching.  Maybe something will catch your fancy.

*This list is the first in a series to come.


Book Recommendations

I'm going to inflate my ego a bit and consider myself the arbiter of taste for some, at least with respect to entertainment.  Lately, I've been asked for some book recommendations.  Although some of these novels have been out for quite some time, I'd like to take the opportunity to recommend a couple.

First, Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen.  Recently adapted for a movie, this novel follows a veterinary school drop-out as he travels with a circus featuring a sweet-natured elephant.

Water for Elephants

Second, The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins.  Another series primed for movie adaptation, this series follows the adventures of teenager Katniss Everdeen as she competes in the Hunger Games, a to-the-death competition of wits and skill.  I promise you, you won't be able to put these books down.  You'll devour each book with a voracious appetite.

Hunger Games Trilogy Boxset

Finally, I'd like to recommend The Help by Kathryn Stockett, also recently made into a movie.  The Help chronicles the efforts of a Southern white lady and a team of African-American maids describe the life of the help in the 1950s/60s.

The Help

Let me know if you like them!

Body of Proof

Aaaaaand, we're back!  Sorry for the delay folks, but life has caught up with me, and sadly, my TV life has suffered.  But I'm popping back in for a minute to discuss a "new" show, Body of Proof.

Body of Proof follows Dr. Megan Hunt, a headstrong, but emotionally unavailable, medical examiner (ME) in Philadelphia.  Dr. Hunt, a former surgeon, killed a patient on her surgical table due to some type of weird paralysis that resulted from a car accident.  Thus, her position as an ME: you can't kill someone if they're already dead.  As is natural in the TV world, Dr. Hunt and her ragtag group of fellow medical examiners, medical investigators, and police detectives team up to solve crimes a la HOUSE (except it's diagnosing cause of death to solve crimes instead of determining what ails ya). 

What's more interesting, however, is Hunt's relationships with her co-workers and her estranged daughter.  TV vet Dana Delaney does a great job of portraying the brash, socially inept, but fashionable, doctor who seems to care more for her dead patients than those alive and well orbiting her very existence.  She breaks interrogation protocol to find the killer; she smothers her daughter with well-intentioned actions, trying to win back the affection lost due to her former grueling surgical schedule; and she bosses her superiors around at the Medical Examiner's Office.  For all her wit and intelligence, Hunt lacks social grace and awareness, which makes her a semi-interesting character for primetime television.

And this brings me to a certain observation.  Why is it that TV's main characters need to be flawed or troubled in some way?  I guess it would be quite boring to watch the well-adjusted, loving, married mother without a tragic past solve crimes every week.  Some of the draw, at least for me, of watching television is the escapism: the possibility of aliens, the supernatural, or just watching fictional characters live their flawed, but normal, lives.  Although quite important, plot isn't everything.  Without complex, compelling characters, television shows just wouldn't be that interesting.

Body of Proof airs on Tuesday nights 10/9c on ABC.  My Grade: B.


FOX Breaking In to the Half-Hour Comedy

FOX is rolling out another half-hour comedy, Breaking In.  After one episode, I think it's worth another look.

Breaking In has an interesting premise.  Think ALIAS/Covert Affiars meets The Office.  Christian Bale, playing his usual mysterious figure (except for the angst), runs a security company that breaks into customers' homes/facilities to test their security systems.  His underlings include Melanie (played by Odette Annable, formerly Odette Yustman, just off her recent marriage to Dave Annable), the lock-picking genius; some dude that pulls office pranks a-la-Jim from The Office; a Dwight-like intelligence specialist; and finally Cameron, played by Bret Harrison, who is basically the equivalent to Bret's former character, Sam, from Reaper. 

Cameron is a hacker genius that duped his university computer system into noting he had a full scholarship.  Living up the college life for seven years, Cameron is psyched to squander his 20s in complete comfort due to his hacker efforts.  But that hedonistic life doesn't last for long.  After being hired to test the university's computer system, Oz (Christian Bale) discovers Cameron's potential, as well as his charade.  Using Cameron's hacker past to blackmail him to work for Oz, Cameron is enveloped by the wacky world of comedic espionage.  Chaos ensues.

As comedies, this is par for the course: nothing to rave about, but better than others.  But if you're in the mood for a little chuckle, check out Breaking In on FOX Wednesday nights after American Idol.



Just a quick recommendation.  If you're a fan of the sci-fi/fantasy genre and like a little romance sprinkled it, check out Stardust, flick that flew under the radar while in theaters (think Serenity, but not as dark).  It has gained some popularity in its post-theater, aka DVD, existence.  So check it out, newly on Blu-ray!


Man v. Food For The Win

For some reason unknown to me, I have just discovered Man v. Food on the Travel Channel.  And it is now officially my new obsession.  Not only does the Travel Channel air reruns and new airings of Man v. Food, but there are spinoffs as well, such as Man v. Food: Carnivore or Man v. Food: Breakfast.  Anyway, I can't believe that I have just discovered this show, especially since everyone I have talked to about this show says, "That's a good show!" or "I love that show!" 

In case the title doesn't give it away, Man v. Food follows host Adam Richman across the country to various eating establishments where he attempts to conquer whatever eating challenges life can throw at him.  For example, no one had ever finished the 6lb. sampler of food from Humpy's in Anchorage, Alaska until Adam came to town (he got a shirt!).  Or the occasion where Adam attempts to eat Special #2 at Orechon Ramen in L.A. (his picture is on the wall!).  Adam even finished 8 scoops of ice cream, complete with whipped cream, nuts, and sprinkles (it's called the Kitchen Sink) in about 1 hour.  Episode after episode follows Adam on these crazy eating challenges, not only entertaining audiences, but educating them about prime eating establishments all over the country.  If I didn't worry about the possibilities of major gastrointestinal problems, I'd vie for Adam's job in a heartbeat.

When I travel, I always like to get a flavor for the culture by sampling the local food.  Adam Richman shows us the best places to dine across the country.  And in the competition of Man v. Television, Man. v. Food definitely wins.


Mad Love

I LOVE Judy Greer.  She's always the wacky sidekick that provides comic relief with her outrageous personality, snarky one-liners, and overall wack-a-doodle-ness.  She's a welcome sight in 27 Dresses, 13 Going on 30 and The Wedding Planner.  So that's why I was a little disappointed her character in the new comedy Mad Love is a cynical stoic.  She still delivers those killer one-liners, but she doesn't exhibit that slutty snarkiness that made her so great in 27 Dresses or 13 Going on 30.  But, I'm willing to give her character another chance because I am such a big fan.  Who knows, her character may evolve.

And that's the feeling I get about Mad Love.  Taking a cue from How I Met Your Mother (HIMYM), Mad Love, I have a feeling, is about the evolution of a couple's relationship (it even has narration!); but it's probably not the couple you think.  Jason Biggs and Sarah Chalke (who I loved in Scrubs and How I Met Your Mother) play the lovey-dovey couple that meet atop the Empire State building and hit it off right away.  But their best friends, played by Greer and Tyler Labine (Reaper), are the real focus of the show.  Their incessant bickering and immediate hatred for one another leads me to believe that Mad Love actually focuses on their story from meet-cute haters to passionate, dare I say, lovers.  I believe this show will follow the likes of  HIMYM, where the story really is in the journey, not the destination.  And fans of the bickering duo setup (i.e., Moonlighting) will likely find this not-so-fairy tale romance fun to watch.

Mad Love airs Mondays on 8:30/7:30 central on CBS.



Chicago Code v. Blue Bloods

Chicago Code aims to do for Chicago what Blue Bloods does for New York.  Both are police dramas set in big cities: Blue Bloods is about a family of cops fighting crime in the Big Apple; Chicago Code, however, is about a police supervisor trying to bring down a corrupt Windy City politician.

In my opinion, Blue Bloods is the more audience-friendly show.  Chicago Code introduces a complicated plot concept right off the bat.  Audiences aren't dumb, but Chicago Code gives us too much too soon.  The pilot expects us to process it all: the character setup, the corruption plot, and the inter-character relationships--so much so that I found myself dazed and confused at the end of the hour.  In sum, Chicago Code may take some time to build a fan base.  But to do so may require too much time, time this show may not have since it's a mid-season replacement.

Blue Bloods, however, is buoyed by big name actors and the combination of family drama and crimes-of-the-week.  Tom Selleck leads this cast (rounded out with Donnie Wahlberg, Bridget Moynahan, and Will Estes) as the police commissioner of NYC.  His two sons are also cops, his daughter a prosecutor, and his father, well, also an ex-cop and ex-police commissioner.  Not only do these characters tackle a crime every week, but each episode contains a scene around the family dinner table where everyone has the opportunity to discuss the crime/issue bothering the detectives, often expressing the opposing views of greater America.  These family dinners provide a vehicle to express the battling political opinions of Americans with regard to crime, prosecution, and criminal immunity.  And oftentimes, these dinnertime conversations provide revelations and insights into breaking the case (let's just say that there's more to this show than Tom Selleck's mustache).

Blue Bloods wins this shootout, and airs on Wednesday nights at 9/10 central on CBS.

Mr. Sunshine Provides a Ray of Light

Half-hour comedies are hard to pull off.  Finding a good one is like finding a four leaf clover; there are a lot of posers (those three-leaf clovers are sneaky), but the actual thing is rare.  And when you find one, you hold on to it, sometimes until it falls apart.  The four leaf clover comedies currently airing are Modern Family, 30 Rock, Community, and Parks and Recreation (some would say Two and a Half Men).  The Office, in its heyday, was one of them, as were Friends, Scrubs, and Arrested Development.  Notice that many of the half-hour sitcoms I just named are now cancelled.  So you can imagine how impressed I need to be to give a shout-out to another.

Mr. Sunshine is the best new comedy of this season.  Perfect Couples, Better With You, Traffic Light, and $#*! My Dad Says, are all a poor man's substitute.  But Mr. Sunshine brings a ray of light to this dreary dearth of comedy choices.

Matthew Perry is back on TV as a manager of a San Diego stadium.  Because his co-workers are crazy and the writing is sharp, this show is actually laugh-out-loud funny.  Allison Janney plays Perry's eccentric, drug-addled, and slightly racist boss.  Jorge Garcia found his post-Lost gig as the head maintenance man of the Sunshine arena.  Together, they run the arena hosting musical acts, the circus, and a variety of athletic events.  Granted, my opinion is based only on the pilot, so it may be too early to call the quality of this particular show.  What I can tell you, however, is that Allison Janney + a runaway elephant + an original racist song + clowns bearing axes = a successful pilot.

Tune in to Mr. Sunshine on Wednesday nights at 9:30/8:30 central on ABC and let me know what you think.  I'll definitely be there to see if it's worth my while.


Eat Pray Love

Adapting a book to a movie is difficult and daunting, especially if the story/novel is told from the first person.  The movie is then bogged down in narration because the story requires that the audience know exactly what the character is thinking at that moment in time.  And that's exactly how the movie Eat Pray Love starts out.  The thing is, novels and movies are different mediums, and each has their particular strengths.  Books lend themselves to a psycological/mental intimacy that few movies ever achieve (although Memento and Black Swan are pretty near perfect in that regard).  Why?  Because books use words.  Movies, on the other hand, use words, but the impact of movies stems from the visual impact the story carries.  For example, the furtive glance, the pristine scenery, the physical comedy all lend themselves better to a visual medium.  And other than the beautiful scenery of Italy, Bali and India, Eat Pray Love fails in almost every regard.


Just a Quick Tip

I've been watching some great television lately, so I wanted to point you to some of the greatest, most creative episodes of television from the recent past:

1. "Caught in the Act" Modern Family
2. "Oh Honey" How I Met Your Mother
3. "Advanced Dungeons and Dragons" Community

These episodes are listed in no particular order, but IMHO, these episodes represent what's best about these individual shows, and pay homage to their creative roots.  I urge you to check them out on Hulu ASAP.


Top Chef: All Stars

Oh Top Chef, how I love thee.  As you have probably deduced, I'm not a huge fan of reality TV.  BUT Top Chef is an exception.  What's not to love about the collision of my two favorite things: television and gourmet food?

If you haven't seen Top Chef, it's a twist on The Iron Chef.  Up-and-coming chefs from all over America to compete in various challenges to win the title of . . . Top Chef!  And this season is especially fun because it brings back contestants from previous seasons.  Take some fan favorites, a pinch of drama, and add a series of elaborate competitions, stir, and you've got a recipe for success (oh, c'mon, I had to).

But I gotta tell ya, Wednesday night's episode was weird.  The Quick-Fire Challenge, the opening challenge of every episode where the chefs scramble to accomplish the designated task in (usually) under an hour, was an attempt to cross-promote another Bravo show with Isaac Mizrahi, which I will not be watching due to this disaster of a Quick-Fire.  First, the competitors were told to create food to resemble art/fashion.  Second, the judge did not taste the food created.  Third, what the heck did these chefs make?  And finally, Isaac Mizrahi judged the food by whether the food LOOKED appetizing.  As you can tell, I have a huge issue with this challenge.  Why would you have a cooking competition and not taste the food?  Second, if you weren't going to even taste the food, why does it matter whether the piece looks appetizing or not?  And finally, Mizrahi contradicts himself and says, "it looked extremely appetizing, but that wasn't the subject.  The subject was to make it beautiful on a plate."  But the winner won because his dish "looked the most beautiful and made me [Mizrahi] kinda want to say 'oh give me a spoon.'"

It's this type of absurdity--although usually to a lesser degree--that makes me come back for more.  I don't have to feel guilty about reveling in the troubles of others, nor do I have to feel bad about my consumption (no calories, y'all).  So next Wednesday, tune in to Bravo and check out this feast for your eyes.  You won't be sorry.


RED, Hard on the Outside, Gooey on the Inside

RED just goes to show that old dogs don't need to learn new tricks.  The old ones work just as effectively. 

Replete with stars, Morgan Freeman, Bruce Willis, Helen Mirren, Mary Louise Parker and John Malkovich, this action-comedy is fun for all.  RED is about former CIA field agents designated Retired, Extremely Dangerous who get back in the game.  With explosions galore, this movie seems like a hard-core action flick on the outside, when in fact, it's got an abundance of the romantic, gooey stuff that women (and secretly, men) particularly like.  So if you're looking for a movie that caters to all tastes, rent this one.  It's good for a laugh or two, and Bruce Willis genuinely kicks ass.


Oscar Nominations Are In!

So it's awards season, a time for fashion, speeches and upsets.  And here are my predictions for the Oscars, but I have a disclaimer: I haven't seen all the nominated performances or films.  And the categories concerning music and cinematography?  You're guess is as good as mine, so I have omitted those categories from my predictions.

A Vampire, A Werewolf, A Ghost...Oh My!

SyFy's Being Human is the Americanized version of the UK show of the same name.  The American version of Being Human is not like those other failed UK-copycat shows like Coupling or Life on Mars.  Instead, it's like The Office in its heyday.

Being Human follows three "monsters," a werewolf, a vampire, and a ghost, all making valiant attempts at being human.  Josh is a werewolf with personal problems.  Aidan is the reformed vampire that recently fell off the wagon.  And Sally is the ghost that haunts the house where the boys live.  As roommates, these monsters provide a sort of support network for one another.  As one can expect, the problems these characters face occur when their monstrous tendencies clash with their human personas.  In fact, one such problem was the focus of the pilot's cliffhanger ending, which admittedly, made me tune into episode 2.

But Being Human is not just another werewolf/vampire show jumping on the Twilight bandwagon.  This show is part supernatural, part touchy-feely, and part comedy, which reminds me of another supernatural show called . . . Supernatural.  So if you're a fan Dean and Sam, you should definitely tune in to Being Human.  I plan on checking out the UK version myself.

There's just one question about this show that has been nagging me: Why are Josh and Aidan friends and roommates if werewolves and vampires are mortal enemies?  This question alone will keep me watching.


More of a Bad Thing Is...Good?

A friend of mine urged me to watch Teen Mom 2.  Having seen some episodes of the original Teen Mom, I was definitely hesitant.  But the Teen Mom and 16 & Pregnant series are praised as cautionary tales against teen sex, so maybe there's some merit to these shows?  No.  Like many reality shows, the attraction to Teen Mom 2, and it's popularity, is being able to watch people that are worse off than you and make fun of them in the anonymity of your own home.  If you think about it, it's actually quite depressing that these teens have to grow up so fast and be role models for their own children.  What makes things even worse is that the fathers of these babies rarely stick around.  So these teens girls, and often their parents, are stuck with the bulk of the responsibility of raising these babies alone.  Not cool.

Basically, this show is not for me.  I don't enjoy reveling in others' hardships.  That's not to say that everyone who watches this show watches to feel better about themselves in comparison to these teens; this is just how I view this particular show, and many others like it.  If I want to watch a reality show, I'll stick to Millionaire Matchmaker and Top Chef.

Fairly Legal, A New Spin on the Legal Genre

USA premiered Fairly Legal last Thursday, providing perspective on a little-explored aspect of the legal profession: alternate dispute resolution.  Most legal-themed shows focus on the trial aspect of practicing law because people are enamored with the courtroom antics of lawyers, the shady tricks attorneys allegedly pull, and the drama of innocence or guilt.  But in fact, most cases do not even reach trial, which does not make for good television.  That's why Fairly Legal is taking such a huge risk; its main character is not a trial lawyer, but rather a mediator.  That means a lot of the show's plot lines play out in a conference room, not in a court room.  I have to say though, that Fairly Legal may stand a chance.  Writers have cleverly positioned our hero, Kate Reed, in her family's law firm, which means those traditional courtroom cases will still see the light of day.  Toss in a sprinkle of complicated family relations, and you might have yourself a winner.

It also helps that Fairly Legal airs on a cable network.  Cable networks like USA, TNT, and FX are more patient with their original programming than say, ABC or NBC, which allows writers 1) more freedom with violent or sexual content and 2) more time to hit their creative stride.  I'll just have to tune in next week to see what kind of zany plot-o-the-week these writer's come up with, and see if this show is worth watching (so far, the writers have kept the show light and airy).

At the very least, Fairly Legal did a smart thing in casting Sarah Shahi.  She's likeable as Kate Reed, smart and compassionate, with a fiery attitude.  And Virginia Williams is well-cast as Reed's foil, Kate's recently widowed, ice queen of a stepmother, who also happens to be Kate's boss.  Pulling in the sci-fi fanboys is Michael Trucco, formerly of Battlestar Galactica, who plays Kate's ex-husband DA (Somehow Trucco ends up playing characters that constantly chase after the women they love, e.g., Reed and Starbuck).  So if this show fails, it likely won't be due to its cast.

Fairly Legal airs on USA on Thursdays at 10/9c.

Doctor Who by Derek

When a show has run out of ideas and becomes a confusing, outlandish mess, it is said that the show has "jumped the shark," or, in some circumstances, was "written by J.J. Abrams."  Sadly, almost every show eventually reaches this point.  Sometimes the Shark is a wedding.  Sometimes the Shark is a new location.  Often, it is Ted McGinley.  This knowledge causes many of us to approach each new season with trepidation.  We sit paralyzed wondering if the show will fall from the narrow tightrope between Jumping the Shark and stagnation.  But thanks to Dr. Who, we now have an alternative; a moment of excellence we hope a long-running show can reach that justifies our loyal viewership.  I like to call this event "Flying the Shark."


Finally, a Snake! What Took Them So Long? Off the Map

Off the Map came back for its second episode with some Grey's Anatomy-like stunts and some new tricks of its own.  Personally, I can't believe it took the writers two episodes to use a boa constrictor as the impetus for a jungle-medical emergency.  And it worked, as is typical of most GA-type stunts, i.e. using the medical case as a metaphor or vehicle for the treating doctors to work out their personal issues.

But Off the Map is not just Grey's in the jungle.  The jungle not only provides a myriad of characters that come across these doctors' paths (tourists, natives, and probably animals), but also the cultural differences and obstacles treating their patients may pose.  Set in South America, Off the Map has the opportunity to explore the cultural differences between gringo and native whereas the the doctors of Seattle Grace rarely get a chance to do so.

As I said before, this show is great for Grey's Anatomy fans; the sexual tension, the medicine, and the exploration of these doctors' personal lives is reminiscent of it's predecessor.  But if you're not a fan of Grey's, I don't expect you to tune in, and I don't think ABC does either.

The Cape, Part Deux

After episode two (or three if you're a purist), I've concluded that The Cape is a dud.  Anyone who has seen The Incredibles knows that superheroes shouldn't wear capes.  They get you killed.

The beauty of The Cape, aside from Summer Glau, is that it embraces the camp.  The show aims to be a comic book story, and with that comes the cheese.  However, it was a nice change of pace to see the show give a nod to fellow comic book character Gambit with a violent, card-throwing murder.

As much as I hate to say it, the over-the-top dramatics, combined with The Cape's holier-than-thou attitude doesn't encourage the loyalty I usually dedicate to my TV shows.  At best, The Cape is DVR-able, but if your DVR is anything like mine, inundated with a myriad of better shows, then The Cape is not worth your time.


Will You Watch- Harry's Law

Another legal television show from David E. Kelly, this one's along the lines of Ally McBeal.  Why?  Because within the first five minutes of the pilot, the main character smokes pot, gets fired, has a man fall on her from the sky, and gets run over by a car.  Oh, and she also sells high-end shoes out of her storefront law firm.  But will all this goofiness lead you to watch?

Guest Blogger Derek on Inception

Readers, my buddy Derek has graciously provided his review of Inception.  Although a 2010 blockbuster, I have yet to see this mind-bending movie.  I will post my own review of the movie once I have the change to view it.  The plan is to do separate reviews to provide different perspectives, so I have not yet read Derek's review (so his opinion doesn't subconsciously taint mine).  Without further ado, Derek's review after the jump.


The Town

I kept hearing rave reviews about The Town. It's the movie that supposedly jumpstarted Ben Affleck's career (in conjunction with Gone Baby Gone); it highlighted Affleck's directorial prowess; Jeremy Renner (The Hurt Locker) gives another amazing performance; it's authentic and thrilling...And yes, it's all those things, but it's definitely not a night out on the town. It's a slow-paced drama that left my mind wandering.

I can't definitively state whether this movie is authentic, but it's seems so.  From the accents to the Red Sox fan-gear, this movie, like all of Affleck's other creatively-helmed movies (Good Will Hunting, Gone Baby Gone), is an ode to working-class Boston.  In this case, it's about a band of brothers (in the figurative) that also moonlight as a bank-robbing crew.  Unfortunately, they've got Jon Hamm (Mad Men) and the rest of the FBI on their trail.


Off the Map, On Your Schedule?

Off the Map comes from the mind of Shonda Rimes, the creator of Grey's Anatomy, which, like Off the Map, was a midseason replacement.  So does Off the Map look like it'll succeed like it's older sibling Grey's, or will it be slashed and burned?

Black Swan

I went to see Black Swan the other day fully prepared to be in awe of the performances of Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis.  And I must say, they did not disappoint.  Although, Portman's Nina Sayers did grate on my nerves with her pretty pretty princess persona and soft, doll-like voice.  However, I do recommend that you go see this movie.

Black Swan makes its audience experience the same evolution of madness Portman's character experiences as she strives for utter perfection.  While actually watching the movie, I found myself constantly asking, "Did that just happen?"  I couldn't distinguish between movie reality and movie fiction.  I left the theater feeling like my brain was placed in a blender and put back together again, only everything wasn't in its proper place.  Basically, I felt like I had just been mind f@!#ed.  Go see this movie and tell me you didn't feel the same.


The Best Show on TV You're NOT Watching

I'm from Texas, so maybe I'm biased toward shows that play to my Southern sensibilities.  And, no, I don't mean guns or football.  And although this critically acclaimed show is built around Texas football, Friday Night Lights is really about the relationships that build you up and tear you down.


The Cape- Will You Watch?

Last night, NBC debuted The Cape, a tv show modeled after a comic book character.  I have to say, I've seen better.  But that's not to say that it's dead on arrival.  I have a theory that audiences have to give new shows at least two chances: one for the pilot, which should pique the audience's curiosity; and another for the second episode, which should cement the relationship.  Although last night's episode was two hours long, I'll give The Cape the benefit of the doubt . . . for now, and count the episode as a really long pilot.  The Cape will be moving to it's regular time slot to Mondays at 9/8c.  Will you be on the couch to watch?

Aussie David Lyons stars as The Cape.  The Cape, our "superhero" is tortured, tragically separated from his family because the bad guy did bad things . . . yada yada.  But it was the promise of Summer Glau that I tuned in.  As an ardent fan of Glau and her work (Serenity, Firefly, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles), I thought her "Orwell" character was greatly underused.  Given a small proportion of screen time, Orwell was relegated to a side-kick role, which, let's face it, she is.  But hopefully more time will be dedicated to Glau's character because there is 1) more than meets the eye with this one and 2) there is no longer any need to set up the show's premise--tortured do-gooder out to get justice while wearing a cape.

So give this show another chance.  If Glau doesn't kick ass, then don't come back.

EW's List of Movies You Need To See Before the Oscars

Want to be in-the-know for the Oscars?  Watch these movies before the big night.  I'll give a short blurb summarizing my opinion of the movie, if I've seen it.  Not all are out on DVD, and ironically, some are no longer in theaters.  They recommend you watch in order:


Smallville Season 9 for $20

Smallville fans: Season 9 of Smallville, formerly sold out at Amazon.com, is now $20!  Get something else for $5.01 and qualify for free shipping.


Doctor Who?

So my friend Sarah told me to write about a show set in SPACE.  After quickly considering and discarding Star Trek, I could only think of one show: Doctor Who.  Now, I haven't seen all the seasons of this BBC show, nor have I seen all the specials.  But I do like the quirkiness of Brit humor, the SPACE travel, the far-fetched and mostly ridiculous aliens, oh, and the time travel.

So check out a trailer for the new Doctor Who, and let me know what you think.  I'll definitely do the same.

And Derek, if you're reading this, this is your official invite to be a guest blogger.

Winter Premiere Dates

Yesterday, I was asked which shows were new this week.  Check out the 2011 Winter Premiere Date calendar compiled by Kristin of Watch With Kristin on E!


Best Character on TV

My vote is for Christina Yang.  Following close behind is Sheldon Cooper (The Big Bang Theory).  Yes, my #1 and #2 favorite TV characters are complete opposites.  But each character encompasses something especially different that sets them apart from all the rest.  First, Christina Yang (Grey's Anatomy), at least for me, is relatable.  Ambitious and determined, she exhibits strength and intelligence while simultaneously showing vulnerability, a rarity for female characters on television.  Oftentimes female characters are either the bitch (Wilhemina Slater, Ugly Betty), the mama (Nora Walker, Brothers & Sisters), or the airhead (that assistant Cerie on 30Rock).  Granted, characters like Alicia Florrick and Kalinda (both from The Good Wife), are popping up on primetime, but it could be argued that these shows are thriving due to the strong female lead characters.

Anyway, back to Christina Yang, whose most recent story arc has made her the "dark and twisty" half of the Yang/Grey duo.  <If you have not seen the season finale of Season 6 of Grey's, do not read on>


Best TV and Entertainment Websites

This site is not about spoilers, but there are a bunch out there that are.  I'll do my best to retweet any good spoilers on my Twitter account @ViewsOnTheAir.  But if you're not into tweeting, or you don't appreciate the selection of shows that I cover, take a look at these websites:

Watch With Kristin: Kristin hosts her own segment on E!, but she also has a spoilerchat every Monday where viewers can submit questions about their favorite shows.  She also provides videos of interviews from your favorite TV actors.  http://www.eonline.com/uberblog/watch_with_kristin/index.html

TVLine.com: For those of you who are fans of Michael Ausiello (formerly of TVGuide and E!), he has launched a new website chock full of spoilers, casting scoop, and more.  He continues his Ask Ausiello column where he, like his frenemy Kristin, hosts a spoiler chat.  http://www.tvline.com/

Zap2it.com: Zap2it is more of a pop-culture entertainment website, but of course, there is information about your favorite television shows, movies, and celebrities.  http://www.zap2it.com/
You can also scroll to the very bottom of the webpage and click through to a myriad of pop-culture entertainment websites.

TV.com: Tonight's TV listings, episode guides, current events, the latest episode of numerous shows available for free streaming.  http://www.tv.com/

TVSquad.com: More of a TV news site, this website lets you know about TV current events, TV listings, and even posts free TV shows streaming from its websites.  http://www.tvsquad.com/

Apple.com: Apple posts movie trailers and clips for free.  http://trailers.apple.com/.  Other sites that provide movie trailers: Amazon.com and Imdb.com.

Hulu.com: Watch movies and television episodes for free.  Upgrade to Hulu Plus for a fee.

TVRockstars.com: Just learned about this site...gives advance synopses of TV episodes.  http://www.tvrockstars.com/

Grey's Anatomy DVDs On Sale at Amazon!


Follow me on Twitter!  @ViewsOnTheAir


It's probably not a good idea to admit in my blogging debut that I'm a little late to the Eureka party, but this blog is about discovery, even if it's only my own.  For those who don't know (assuming I'm not the only person who reads this thing), Eureka is a show that airs on SyFy during the summer.  Each episode centers around a plot-of-the-week disaster that's inadvertently generated by some of the United States' most genius scientists and the every-man sheriff who must avert said disasters.

Still not ready to get on the Eureka party train?  I have to admit that after four seasons, the weekly disaster plot is not the strongest aspect of the show.  Rather, the characters drive the success of this show.  Our protagonist, Sheriff Jack Carter, is a little bit wacky, but definitely one of the most relatable characters of the show.  He's not as eccentric as the nerdy, accident-prone Fargo who loves his AI and even captured himself in an ever-expanding personal force field, or Vince, the cafe proprietor that can make the residents of Eureka any type of food at any given time.  But Sheriff Carter is the character that grounds the show in the believable . . . even if the rest of the show's plots are not.  Then there's Jo, Sheriff Carter's deputy, former Navy Seal (or equivalent), quintessential tough girl with a hard-candy shell and a soft, nougaty center (also the victim of body snatching).  Or bad girl turned smart girl Zoe, Sheriff Carter's daughter.  And of course, who could forget S.A.R.A.H., the smart-house AI program that governs the bomb shelter home of the Carter clan.

Of course, there's romance, weird-science, and time travel.  So even if you're not fully persuaded, give this little show a try.  What else do you have to watch during summer reruns?  Catch up with Eureka from the beginning via Netflix' streaming Watch Instantly, or catch the second half of Season 4 on Hulu.com.