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.