Friday, August 30, 2013

The 2013 Fall TV Preview: the New Shows on FOX

FOX will premiere five or six new shows, including a reality series I chose not to preview. It's Friday evening of the Labor Day weekend. I need to get food, so let's just jump in!

SLEEPY HOLLOW



Created By Alex Kurtzman & Len Wiseman & Phillip Iscove & Roberto Orci

Premiere Date: Monday, September 16 at 9PM

Premise: (from FOX's press release, May 2013) What if you suddenly woke up from the throes of death 250 years in the future to find the world is on the brink of destruction, caused by unimaginable events, and you are humanity's last hope? Welcome to SLEEPY HOLLOW, the thrilling new mystery-adventure drama from co-creators/executive producers Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci ("Star Trek" and "Transformers" franchises, "Fringe").

Thoughts: Leave it to FOX to make its Sleepy Hollow adaptation as uninteresting as possible. Crane finds himself 250 years in the future, in the present day, and immediately hooks up with police to solve different crimes each week. The police need him for the headless horseman investigation. The headless horseman is adept with automatic weaponry. Crane misses pop-culture references because he's 250 years old. Don't laugh or even chuckle at the Captain America line, America. There's a centuries old mystery involving President Washington and the pyramid on the $1 bill. I'm so disenchanted with the new dramas on network television.

DADS



Created By Alec Sulkin & Wellesley Wild

Premiere Date: Tuesday, September 17at 8PM

Premise: (from FOX's press release, May 2013) Honor thy father. Way easier said than done. Especially when your dad's broke, living in your house and ruining your life.

Thoughts: Hollywood writers need to sort out their complicated feelings about their parents. Every sitcom mines comedy from a dysfunctional parent-child relationship. Dads is yet another series about grown children who hate their fathers (it's usually 50/50 for whom the child hates). The fathers get a poor portrayal. They're rude, irritating, inappropriate, and eager to ruin their respective son's happiness. Seth Green's one of the leads. Dads is executive produced by Seth MacFarlane. FOX wants to make more money with Seth. I don't doubt they will make more money.

BROOKLYN NINE-NINE



Created By Michael Schur & Dan Goor

Premiere Date: Tuesday, September 17 at 8:30PM

Premise: (from FOX's press release, May 2013) From Emmy Award-winning writer/producers Dan Goor and Michael Schur ("Parks and Recreation"), and starring Emmy Award winners Andy Samberg ("Saturday Night Live") and Andre Braugher ("Men of a Certain Age," "Homicide: Life on the Street"), BROOKLYN NINE-NINE is a new single-camera ensemble comedy about what happens when a talented, but carefree, detective gets a new captain with a lot to prove.

Thoughts: Michael Schur compared Samberg's Brooklyn Nine-Nine character to Jimmy McNulty, a character in The Wire, adding that Samberg's a comedic Jimmy McNulty. Jimmy McNulty was a hilarious character, broken and damaged but hilarious. Samberg's making grade school faces and wearing speedos. I'm not anti-Samberg. I'll never watch Hot Rod in my life, but I enjoyed him on SNL. He reminds of goofy dudes I knew in high school. Terry Crewes and Andre Braugher are strong castmates. Terry Crewes killed it in season 4 of Arrested Development. The story's secondary to the casting. If you like the cast, check it out. If you don't, don't (as Jimmy Eat World sang on Bleed American).

ALMOST HUMAN



Premiere Date: Monday, November 4 at 

Created By J.H. Wyman

Premise: (from FOX's press release, May 2013) From Emmy Award-winning executive producer J.J. Abrams ("Fringe," "Lost," the "Star Trek" and "Mission: Impossible" franchises) and creator/executive producer J.H. Wyman ("Fringe," "The Mexican"), comes ALMOST HUMAN. Starring Karl Urban ("Star Trek") and Michael Ealy ("Sleeper Cell," "Common Law"), the new series is an action-packed police drama set 35 years in the future, when police officers are partnered with highly evolved human-like androids.

Thoughts: Karl Urban looks different without his Middle Earth beard and attire. Is it fair to compare Almost Human to a Philip K. Dick story? I used to have interest in Abrams' sci-fi shows, but the recent string of Bad Robot shows haven't been good. Alcatraz was a mess. Revolution should've been a movie or mini-series.

ENLISTED



Premiere Date: Friday, November 8 at 9:30PM

Created By Kevin Biegel

Premise: (from FOX's press release, May 2013) Three brothers, one Army, but absolutely no fighting! ENLISTED is an irreverent but heartfelt single-camera comedy about three brothers on a small Florida Army base and the group of misfits who surround them.

Thoughts: Geoff Stults will find a show that lasts more than 13 episodes eventually. I'll root for Enlisted's success in the ratings for Stultsy. The YouTube comments about Enlisted are uninformed and misguided. A top comment reminds folk any show you like will get cancelled. It's not 2002-2004 anymore. I'm still amazed FOX gave Arrested Development three years. Enlisted seems like a good show to chill down with on a Friday night.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

The 2013 Fall TV Preview: the New Shows on NBC

Three and a half years ago I wanted to tell a story about a duck that didn't know how to swim. I'd title a documentary about NBC 'The Duck That Didn't Know How To Swim.' I wonder if the exeuctives bought the staff pizza and soda after reading the ratings for the premieres post-Olympic coverage. (Those numbers didn't hold). Michael J. Fox and Sean Hayes represent NBC's glory days. The peacock relies on the actors again to lift them from the rubble it's been trapped under for a few years while helping to soften the blow of no The Office. I bet Community DOES get a sixth season. Bring on, mid-season. I digress. NBC finally developed a series to pair with Grimm on Friday nights. From the description alone I'm willing to bet Ironside is the worst new drama of the season. James Spader's doing things on Monday nights. Mike O'Malley continues to distance himself from Double Dare, GUTS, and Global GUTS.

THE BLACKLIST



Created By Jon Bokenkamp

Premiere Date: Monday, September 23 at 10PM

Premise: (from NBC's press release, May 2013) For decades, ex-government agent Raymond "Red" Reddington (James Spader, "The Office," "Boston Legal") has been one of the FBI's Most Wanted fugitives. Brokering shadowy deals for criminals across the globe, Red was known by many as "The Concierge of Crime." Now, he's mysteriously surrendered to the FBI with an explosive offer: He will help catch a long-thought-dead terrorist, Ranko Zamani, under the condition that he speaks only to Elizabeth "Liz" Keen (Megan Boone, "Law & Order: Los Angeles"), an FBI profiler fresh out of Quantico. For Liz, it's going to be one hell of a first day on the job.

Thoughts: Silence of the Lambs meets Person of Interest. Is that a fair comparison? James Spader speaks like Bane initially but then loses the Bane accent once he's free from the chair. I'm 67% certain James Spader pronounced the Russian word for thank you "placebo" instead of "cpasiba." The Blacklist's a procedural. Spader gives the FBI names of criminals they don't know about while he engages in a psychologically taxing relationship with main character Liz Keen. Procedurals rarely offer anything new. Characters become more important with each procedural, because if there isn't a House or Sherlock Holmes or some other larger than life character then it's not worth watching. Bokenkamp's Red is an aspiring larger than life character, but one will need to watch to determine whether or not Red's a slightly altered Hannibal Lecter.

THE MICHAEL J. FOX SHOW



Created By Sam Laybourne & Will Gluck

Premiere Date: Thursday, September 26 at 9:30PM

Premise: (from NBC's press release, May 2013) Look who's making the news again. One of New York's most beloved news anchors, Mike Henry (Michael J. Fox, "Spin City," "Family Ties"), put his career on hold to spend more time with his family and focus on his health after he was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease. But five years later, with the kids busy growing up and Mike growing restless, it just might be time for him to get back to work.

Thoughts: Curb Your Enthusiasm's season 8 episode, "Larry Vs. Michael J. Fox," is a precursor to Michael J. Fox's newest sitcom. In the Curb episode, Larry accuses Michael J. Fox of using his disease to get away with irritating behavior. Michael J. Fox would like audiences to know, and feel comfortable, laughing with him when jokes are made about his disease. The daughter character learns she's failing after making a manipulative video about her father for a class project. Michael J. Fox is delightful to watch. He was amazing in the Back to the Future movies, Teen Wolf, and in the Curb episode. I'll definitely tune in for this sitcom.

IRONSIDE



Created By Michael Caleo

Premiere Date: Wednesday, October 2 at 10PM

Premise: (from NBC's press release, May 2013) In the gritty world of the NYPD, no one's tougher than Det. Robert Ironside (Blair Underwood, "The Event," "In Treatment"). He's a fearless cop who won't stop until the guilty are brought to justice. He and his trusted, handpicked team of specialists - Virgil (Pablo Schreiber, "The Wire" "Lights Out"), Holly (Spencer Grammer, "Greek," "As the World Turns") and Teddy (Neal Bledsoe, "Smash," "Ugly Betty"), as well as his former partner Gary (Brent Sexton, "The Killing") and boss, Det. Ed Rollins (Kenneth Choi, "Sons of Anarchy") - will do whatever it takes to solve New York's most difficult and notorious crimes.

Thoughts: Ironside is vaguely familiar in that sort of way when you see someone in a store or on the street who looks vaguely familiar but can't quite place why that person is possibly familar. Maybe you went to school with that person or met through friends of a friend of a friend or you know the person but don't have the proper angle to figure out whether or not that person is the person you think the person is. Well, I can place Ironside's familiarity--it is Luther, if Luther was in a wheelchair. Did I miss the press release about NBC buying the rights to develop Luther for American audiences? Ironside, the character, is his own police officer. The NYPD doesn't control him. He'll dare a criminal to stab him or he'll hang a criminal over a building demanding truth. I'm stunned Dick Wolf's not attached the project.

WELCOME TO THE FAMILY



Created By Mike Sikowitz

Premiere Date: Thursday, October 3 at 8:30PM

Premise: (from NBC's press release, May 2013) Parents Dan Yoder (Mike O'Malley, "Glee," "My Name Is Earl") and wife Karina (Mary McCormack, "In Plain Sight," "The West Wing") find out on the day their daughter Molly (Ella Rae Peck ("Deception," "Gossip Girl") is graduating from high school with an acceptance to college, she announces she pregnant. Across town in East L.A., Junior Hernandez (Joseph Haro, "Glee," "Awkward"), in the middle of his high school valedictorian speech, gets a text from girlfriend Molly that he's going to be a daddy. Expectedly, Junior's parents Miguel (Ricardo Chavira, "Desperate Housewives") and Lisette (Justina Machado, "Six Feet Under," "ER") are also upset, as they now have Caucasians in the family. What follows is a crash course in culture blending as Molly and Junior decide they want to get married and, in doing so, bring together two very different families.

Thoughts: Welcome To The Family recalls to mind the season six premiere of Boy Meets World. Cory and Topanga sneak away to marry. Amy turns heel by cursing Topanga's existence. Amy and Alan must decide how to handle their new daughter-in-law. Angela, for whatever reason, is mortified by the hasty decision to marry. Two episodes later, the wedding thing is forgotten, and Cory's fled to Jackson Hole to retire with Mr. Feeny. I'd like a severe right turn in Welcome to the Family. The preview showcased nothing but a potential wedding and a pregnancy--two of the worst storylines in television. I do like the diversity aspect of Welcome to the Family.

SEAN SAVES THE WORLD



Created By Victor Fresco

Premiere Date: Thursday, October 3 at 9PM

Premise: (from NBC's press release, May 2013) Sean (Sean P. Hayes, "Will & Grace") is a divorced gay dad who juggles a lot - his successful but demanding career, offbeat employees, pushy mom Lorna (Linda Lavin, "Alice") and weekends with his teenage daughter, Ellie (Sami Isler). So when she moves in full-time, it's a whole new world.

Thoughts: The preview showed no juggling. Sean Hayes is an entertaining guy. His Will & Grace character still follows him, as YouTube folk couldn't get past an actor playing different roles. Sean's a gay man, divorced, raising a teenage daughter on his own. He struggles with that, with a demanding boss (but comically demanding), and his mom is pushy and overbearing. The beats of the first episode must be on the universal white board of Hollywood. Well, no, just in any screenwriting book or blog. NBC's constantly trying to move away from the Community type of sitcom and back into more traditional sitcoms, but Community's still ticking. Ask Matthew Perry how returning to the old guard worked out. Six seasons and a movie!

DRACULA



Created By Cole Haddon & Daniel Knauf

Premiere Date: Friday, October 25 at 10

Premise: (from NBC's press release, May 2013) Golden Globe winner Jonathan Rhys Meyers ("The Tudors") stars in this provocative new drama as one of the world's most iconic characters. It's the late 19th century and the mysterious Dracula (Rhys Meyers) has arrived in London, posing as an American entrepreneur who wants to bring modern science to Victorian society. He's especially interested in the new technology of electricity, which promises to brighten the night - useful for someone who avoids the sun. But he has another reason for his travels: He hopes to take revenge on those who cursed him with immortality centuries earlier.

Thoughts: The description follows, "Everything seems to be going according to plan... until he becomes infatuated with a woman who appears to be a reincarnation of his dead wife." Yeah, infatuation with a woman who appears to be a reincarnation of his dead wife would disrupt any plan. Rhys Meyers definitely has a presence as Dracula. His American accent's decent. He quotes Darwin, which was the laziest thing about the preview. Darwin's On the Origin of Species wasn't the only work published in the 19th century. People know about Darwin though. Networks want to appeal to the broadest audience possible. So, cool, I guess. The "Pilot' was directed by a director of The Tudors. The producers of Downton Abbey. Name-dropping in the preview is usually misleading. Kitsis and Horowitz were important writers on LOST, but Once Upon A Time blows. The preview suggests a gothic, moody interpretation of Bram Stoker's text with a helping of night time soap. Grimm should be a solid lead in for Dracula. I'll check out an episode or two.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The 2013 Fall TV Preview: the New Shows on The CW & CBS

Les Moonves made a rare appearance at the TCAs and answered a popular question: how is The CW still functioning? The ratings are terrible. Mark Pedowitz points to social media scores and whatnot and talks up the new way of evaluating success, which is to ignore ratings and focus on likes and retweets or some such nonsense. Moonves bluntly said The CW continues to function because it doesn't lose money. Good enough for me. I received screeners for the new CW shows, so I'm 5% more legitimate. l. The CW's light on new shows again. The Originals' pilot aired in April. Of the other two new shows, Reign's pilot is better, but The Tomorrow People seems unlikely to fail whereas Reign is trying to capture the magic of 1998's Ever After.

Meanwhile, stable CBS is premiering five new shows in the next month. I wrote last year that Moonves could order a series in which people tie their sneakers for each episode and get 11 million people to watch live, and I stand by that.

THE CW

THE ORIGINALS



Created By Julie Plec

Premiere Date: Thursday, October 3 at 9PM

Premise: (from The CW's press release, May 2013) Family is power. The Original Vampire family swore it to each other a thousand years ago. They pledged to remain together, always and forever. Now, centuries have passed and the bonds of family are broken. Time, tragedy and hunger for power have torn the Original Family apart. When Klaus Mikaelson, the original vampire-werewolf hybrid, receives a mysterious tip that a plot is brewing against him in the supernatural melting pot that is the French Quarter of New Orleans, he returns to the city his family helped build..

Thoughts: I really like the first episode. I watched it twice. It follows a very tired formula, but the execution is great. Execution matters more than formula. I wrote this in April: "So, how is "The Originals"? The episode works quite well as a pilot. Indeed, the episode is a pilot. I was most interested in the plan to transform Klaus into a leading character, one the audience could sympathize with and root for. Klaus is a wild and remorseless villain. He slaughtered twelve of his hybrids this season because they tried to break free of him. A few episodes ago, his mind was messed with by Silas. Caroline was a witness to Klaus' suffering. I compared his suffering in front of his beloved to Spike's suffering in front of Buffy in the seventh season of Buffy, the Vampire Slayer. Last week, Klaus decided not to kill Tyler. Baby-steps." Joseph Morgan's performance is the key to the success of the show. He's able to elevate Klaus from what's a thin character on paper into a lively, complicated, and complex character. I will try to find time to continue following this character. I like the performance. I liked the world. I trust Julie Plec.

THE TOMORROW PEOPLE


Created By Greg Berlanti & Julie Plec & Phil Klemmer

Premiere Date: Wednesday, October 9 at 9PM

Premise: (from The CW's press release, May 2013) They are the next evolutionary leap of mankind, a generation of humans born with paranormal abilities - the Tomorrow People. Stephen Jameson stands at the crossroads between the world we know and the shifting world of the future. Up until a year ago, Stephen was a "normal" teenager - until he began hearing voices and teleporting in his sleep, never knowing where he might wake up. Now, Stephen's issues have gone far beyond the usual teenage angst, and he is beginning to question his sanity.

Thoughts: Damon Lindelof's interview in Vulture about the summer movie blockbuster is so effective that it's effect trickles into television and basically derails The Tomorrow People, for me, before the first act break. The Tomorrow People is a British import--another one of those series about people with extraordinary abilities. The difference between TMP and Alphas or HEROES is that the Tomorrow People are superior to human beings. Main character Stephen isn't just a normal teenager, he's the chosen one; and his family has deep roots in the battle between ultras, the baddies, and the Tomorrow People, the goodies. The government wants to neutralize the tomorrow people with containment centers, and my eyes glazed over really quickly. The creative team behind this series is great. Berlanti and Plec entertained me for many hours over many years, but the pilot doesn't click. Robbie Amell's okay but sort of flat in the lead. The other actors, besides Mark Pellegrino, play plot devices instead of characters. There is a deluge of this kind of storytelling right now which means a series needs to really stand out. TMP doesn't out of the gate, but there's plenty of time for the writers to find the show.

REIGN



Created By Laurie McCarthy & Stephanie Sengupta

Premiere Date: Thursday, October 17 at 9PM

Premise: (from The CW's press release, May 2013) Hidden between the lines of the history books is the story of Mary Stuart, the young woman the world would come to know as Mary, Queen of Scots. Queen of Scotland since she was six days old, the teenage Mary is already a headstrong monarch - beautiful, passionate, and poised at the very beginning of her tumultuous rise to power.

Thoughts: Reign not as different as you might think for a CW show. Pretty people are everywhere. Mary's friendship with her girlfriends is similar to any depiction of friendship seen on The CW. There are love triangles, deception, adultery, etc. It's like any teenage drama but only set in the 14th century. The accents are jarring. France and Scotland have different histories, cultures, language, and accents, but not in Reign. The Queen of Scotland speaks with a distinct English accent. Adelaide Kane's the prettiest girl I've seen on The CW since Nina Dobrev. She's a young Australian. The young Aussies are taking over American TV shows, and they are all ridiculously good-looking. Reign's similar to Ever After. A historic figure becomes a character. The story's not the same, but the costumes and the tone is. Reign seems to be a better bet than Emily Owens M.D.

CBS

MOM



Created By Chuck Lorre & Eddie Gorodetsky

Premiere Date: Monday, September 23 at 9PM

Premise: (from CBS's press release, May 2013) MOM is a comedy from executive producer Chuck Lorre starring Anna Faris as a newly sober single mom raising two children in a world full of temptations and pitfalls, and multiple Emmy Award winner Allison Janney as her critical, estranged mother.

Thoughts: What is wrong with CBS' brand of comedy? The laugh track is a weapon. I imagine a family sitting around on a Monday night watching the CBS comedy block. The offensive jokes made by characters are accompanied with a laugh track. Laughter means acceptance. If someone laughs, it is good. If someone doesn't, it is bad. Alison Janney's character is a former drug addict. She's a terrible mother and her daughter blames her for the way her life turned out. Anna Faris' character delivers the saddest line I've heard in trailers for new shows. The character reminds her mother she licked specks of cocaine from the carpet. The laugh track goes nuts for the line, like it's funny a woman was that bottom in her life. I hope Mom gets cancelled before the first episode ends.

HOSTAGES



Created By Jeffrey Nachmanoff

Premiere Date: Monday, September 23 at 10PM

Premise: (from CBS's press release, May 2013) HOSTAGES, from executive producer Jerry Bruckheimer, is a high-octane suspense drama starring Emmy Award winner Toni Collette as a premiere surgeon thrust into a chilling political conspiracy when her family is taken hostage by rogue FBI Agent Duncan Carlisle (Dylan McDermott).

Thoughts: I got angry at myself for getting hooked by a 3 minute show produced by Jerry Bruckheimer. I got angry because I'm probably a pretentious person who thinks Hostages is below me. I don't know. Duncan Carlisle's plan seems incredibly short-sighted. The preview suggests Duncan wants the president killed because of a new health care plan. So much for subtext. The premise is nonsense.

THE CRAZY ONES



Created By David E. Kelly

Premiere Date: Thursday, September 26 at 9PM

Premise: (from CBS's press release, May 2013) Academy Award winner Robin Williams returns to series television in THE CRAZY ONES, a single-camera workplace comedy about a larger-than-life advertising genius whose unorthodox methods and unpredictable behavior would get him fired... if he weren't the boss.

Thoughts: Robin Williams almost reluctantly played Dungeons and Dragons on Harmontown before Dan Harmon bailed him out. Robin Williams isn't as reluctant to accept a high salary to star in David E. Kelly's newest show. If you enjoy Robin Williams, I think The Crazy Ones will be enjoyable. I think it's his vehicle. Kelly's writing it for him. James Wolk is terrific in the two scenes I watched. Wolk's coming off the high of portraying the memorable Bob Benson in Mad Men.

WE ARE MEN



Created By Rob Greenberg

Premiere Date: Monday, September 23 at 8:30PM

Premise: (from CBS's press release, May 2013) WE ARE MEN is a single-camera comedy about four single guys living in a short-term apartment complex who unexpectedly find camaraderie over their many missteps in love.

Thoughts: Good cast. Solid premise. We Are Men's like How I Met Your Mother if Ted got left at the altar. Kal Penn's involvement instantly makes the show more likable. Tony Shaloub's gonna get good lines. The search for one's soul mate is a popular goal for a main character, especially when that main character was deserted by Fiona Gubleman.

THE MILLERS



Created By Greg Garcia

Premiere Date: Thursday, September 30 at 8:30PM

Premise: (from CBS's press release, May 2013) THE MILLERS stars Will Arnett as Nathan Miller, a recently divorced local roving news reporter looking forward to living the singles' life until his parents' marital problems unexpectedly derail his plans.

Thoughts: The six minute preview covers the essential beats of the first episode. Will Arnett's dance number with Margo Martindale shouldn't have been included in the preview. It doesn't matter actually. The Millers will get 10 million for the premiere. Will Arnett's figured out how to play roles without becoming GOB.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

2013 Fall TV Preview: the New Shows on Cable & Premium Channels

Cable and premium channels are light on new shows and heavy on returning shows. An overwhelming amount of content exists across cable and premimum. Overwhelming's not even the right word to use to describe the the amount of shows available to watch. There can be too much of a good thing. I won't remember these shows below premiering because of all the other shows premiering at the same time.

BBC America

ATLANTIS

Created By Howard Overman, Johnny Capps & Julian Murphy

Premiere Date: Saturday, November 23 at 10PM

Premise: (from BBC America's press release, July 2013) The new 13-part fantasy drama series, created by Howard Overman (Misfits), Julian Murphy (Merlin) and Johnny Capps (Merlin), is set in a time of legendry heroes and mythical creatures. A mysterious place; a world of bull leaping, of snake haired Goddesses and of palaces so vast it was said they were built by giants - this is the lost city of Atlantis.

Thoughts: Misfits is beloved by people from many continents, and Merlin had a never-ending run, so Atlantis seems to be in good hands. Capps said at the TCAs that the series would mix comedy and drama, which is what most genre shows mix, it'd be mix different parts of Greek mythology. Atlantis is premiering five days before Thanksgiving. Every show you watch won't air new episodes until early December. If I remember, I'll give Atlantis a shot. BBC America's a reliably entertaining channel. Orphan Black was great fun.

DISNEY

WANDER OVER YONDER



Created By Craig McCracken

Premiere Date: Friday, September 13 at 9PM

Premise: (from Disney Channel's press release, July 2013) The new comedy follows best friends, eternally-optimistic intergalactic traveler and constant do-gooder Wander and his quick-tempered but loyal steed Sylvia. Together, they travel through the cosmos happening upon one freewheeling adventure after another, making new friends (and foes) all while battling numerous forces of evil, including the infamous Lord Hater and his army of Watchdogs.

Thoughts: My sister was over on Saturday. I happened to put on Gravity Falls during the half of Aston Villa/Liverpool. My sister and I grew up with Doug, Hey Arnold, Angry Beavers, Ahh Real Monsters, Rugrats, etc. We watched The Simpsons and South Park when we were allowed. My sister's reaction to Gravity Falls  were telling. Animated series aren't the same in the present. Gravity Falls appeals to me because of its insane sense of fun and sense of humor. Its creator is about my age, and it's like the kind of animated show I'd make if given the opportunity. Wander Over Yonder is another animated series that subverts and surprises. Lauren Faust told GamerLiveTV at the 2012 Comic Con that the series is more about love versus hate than good versus evil. I'm into the new crop of animated series such as Phineas and Ferb, Adventure Time, Gravity Falls, The Regular Show, etc. I'm inclined to watch Wander Over Yonder weekly.

LIV & MADDIE



Created By John Beck & Ron Hart

Premiere Date: Sunday, September 15 at 8PM

Premise: (from Disney Channel's press release, July 2013) Disney Channel's "Liv and Maddie," a new comedy series starring Dove Cameron in the dual role of 15-year-old identical twin sisters Liv, a Hollywood star who has just returned home to Wisconsin and Maddie, a hometown basketball star, as they navigate high school life, mischievous brothers and each other's differences.

Thoughts: Dove Cameron's Tatiana Masleny-lite playing dual 15 year old identical twin sisters. I like how Liv & Maddie differentiates the attractive sister from the less attractive sister through pony tails and glasses. It reminds me of the late 90s. I just hope Dove keeps it together when she turns 18 in 3 years. She's probably going to cause chaos in five years at the VMAs. The youngest brother character has potential to stand-out. He made a Vegas joke I didn't understand after a refrigerator rolled down a flight of stairs. In fact, the entire scene came out of nowhere and concluded bizarrely. I don't think I'll watch the show, though.

HBO

HELLO LADIES



Created By Gene Stupnitsky & Stephen Merchant

Premiere Date: Sunday, September 29 at 10:30PM

Premise: (from HBO's press release, July 2013) HELLO LADIES: Stephen Merchant stars as a gawky, 6' 7" Englishman searching for the woman of his dreams in Los Angeles. Half as charming - and twice as desperate - as he thinks he is, he's obsessed with infiltrating the glamorous world of beautiful people, who won't let him in.

Thoughts: Last year a call popped up on caller ID from a Los Angeles number with the name 'S Merchant' so I convinced myself for 30 seconds that Stephen Merchant read my reviews and my one available short story and decided he needed to hire me. Anyway, Stephen Merchant's Hello Ladies got me laughing twice in less than a minute, doubling Trophy Wife's laugh quotient. I relate to the subject matter. I'm likely to watch, laugh, commiserate, and then try out what I've seen since life reflects TV (no, it doesn't, but I thought that in high school. Specifically, I thought life worked like Dawson's Creek. What a mistake.) Stephen Merchant's a brilliant writer and actor. His Extras character is among my favorite characters in fiction.

IFC

THE BIRTHDAY BOYS



Executive Produced By Ben Stiller and Bob Odenkirk

Premiere Date: Tuesday, September 25 at 10PM

Premise: (from IFC's press release, August 2013) IFC's new original sketch comedy series The Birthday Boys, which showcases the silly-meets-smart humor from the popular comedy troupe of the same name.

Thoughts: Ben Stiller and Bob Odenkirk are among several executive producers. I don't watch much sketch comedy shows. IFC's niche. The executives don't try to appeal to large audiences. They bring in already popular people, give them shows, and that audience will follow. Dan Harmon brought me to Maron, though.

LIFETIME

WITCHES OF EAST END

Created By Maggie Friedman

Premiere Date: Sunday, October 6 at 10pm

Premise: (from Lifetime's press release, July 2013) Inspired by Melissa de la Cruz's New York Times best-selling novel, Witches of East End centers on the mysterious Beauchamp family: free-spirited artist Joanna (Ormond) and her two grown daughters, wild-child bartender Freya (Dewan Tatum) and shy librarian Ingrid (Boston), both of whom are unaware that they are gifted (and cursed) with a magical birthright. Freya is recently engaged to the man of her dreams, wealthy playboy Dash Gardiner (Winter), but when she finds herself inexplicably drawn to Dash's troubled, enigmatic brother Killian (DiTomasso), bizarre occurrences begin to manifest in her life. Meanwhile, Joanna's long-estranged sister Wendy (Amick) shows up with a warning that could change the Beauchamps' fate forever, forcing Joanna to reveal to her daughters they are, indeed, immortal witches who possess great untapped powers. With their idyllic small town life now turned upside down, and a formidable and ancient enemy intent on ending the Beauchamp family line, will Freya and Ingrid be able to accept their true potential before it is too late?

Thoughts: I think it's a bad sign when it takes a paragraph to tell a potential viewer what the show is. I accidentally watched the trailer for the book. Witches of East End is perfect for Lifetime. All its missing is sexually active teenagers contracting STDs.

NETFLIX

DEREK



Created By Ricky Gervais

Premiere Date: Thursday, September 12 at Midnight

Premise: (from Netflix's press release, May 2012) A bittersweet comedy-drama about a group of outsiders living on society's margins, "Derek" centers around Derek Noakes (Gervais), a tender, innocent man whose love for his job at a retirement home shines through. Derek cares deeply for the home's residents, because they are kind and funny and tell him stories of what life used to be like. Working alongside Derek is Dougie (Pilkington) , his landlord who is one of life's unlucky individuals; Kev (Earl) , a loveable train wreck; and Hannah (Godliman), a care worker in the home and Derek's best friend. She is smart, witty and hard-working, but unlucky in love, and, like Derek, always puts other people first.

Thoughts: A better term should be coined for watching many episodes in a row without a break. Binge-watching is annoying to hear and to read. How about we state that we watched show x and enjoyed it? Why does it matter how fast one got through a series? Derek's another Netflix series created by a big name talent. Ricky Gervais' newest series will be available at midnight. I didn't get a good sense of the series from the trailer. It's like a different aspect of Gervais' persona. I'll get crap for this, but Gervais' look reminded me of Adam Sandler's Little Nicky. Just the look.

PBS

LAST TANGO IN HALIFAX



Created By Sally Wainwright

Premiere Date: Sunday, September 8 at 8PM

Premise: (from PBS's press release, July 2013) LAST TANGO is an uplifting comedy/drama about romance and second chances. Full of zesty humor, authentic characters and glorious dialogue, it's about timeless love in a very modern setting.

Thoughts: The biggest surprise about Last Tango is its modern setting. I didn't think PBS bought anything from the BBC that didn't tell a World War II story. There are avenues to watch the series without relying on PBS. A 31 second preview depicted a series similar to some of Woody Allen's films.

THE PARADISE

Premieres in October

Premise: (from PBS's press release, May 2013) This adaptation of Emile Zola's beloved French novel is a rags-to-riches story of a young woman seduced by the dangerous charms of the modern world set against the Victorian splendor of a British department store.

Thoughts: When will The Hollow Crown run on PBS? Can anyone tell me? Oh, it premieres September 20. The adaptation seems like it could've been a 19th century novel. Oh, it was.

THE HOLLOW CROWN

Premieres Friday, September 20 at 9PM

Thoughts: The Hollow Crown series looks badass. I love Shakespeare's plays. I wrote my best college essays about Shakespeare. I compare reality TV shows to Shakespeare. I'm about to read every Shakespeare history play because I've only read Henry IV, part 1. I've been excited about The Hollow Crown for over a year. Seeing Henry IV dramatized will be special, especially with Tom Hiddlestone as young Hal, the future king of England. I watched a Shakespeare Uncovered on Richard II which completely opened up the text for me. Gillian Jacobs, from Community, panned it, but her panning of it got me even more interested in it. She described it as basically early existentialist. Watch this!

SHOWTIME

MOTHERS OF SEX

Created By Michelle Ashford

Premiere Date: Sunday, September 29 at 10PM

Premise: (from Showtime's press release, August 2013) MASTERS OF SEX stars Michael Sheen and Lizzy Caplan, who will portray the real-life pioneers of the science of human sexuality, William Masters and Virginia Johnson. The series chronicles the unusual lives, romance and pop-culture trajectory of Masters and Johnson. Their research touched off the sexual revolution and took them from a mid-western teaching hospital in St. Louis to the cover of Time magazine.

Thoughts: Good ol' sexual intercourse.

TOMORROW: I preview the new shows on The CW and CBS.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Get Out Alive with Bear Grylls "No Guts, No Glory" Review

Get Out Alive was the most positive reality series I've watched in some time. Of course, I watch one other reality television show twice a year. The Soup shows me how awful people treat one other on other reality shows. Grown women beat and berate each other. Men compete against each other for the hand of one girl. People on reality TV will endure any kind of humiliation or embarrassment to get on TV and to become a star. Notoriety, or fame, doesn't happen for a person unless he or she behaves terrible for weeks. Bear's competitive reality series never crossed into crassness, cruelty, vindictiveness; no, Get Out Alive rewarded positivity, strength of mind, and it offered a chance for renewal, growth, and a deep bond between people that happens far too rarely.

I compared Bear to Prospero in my first review of the series. The Tempest challenges the hearts and minds of the characters. Prospero brings the lot to his isle for revenge, but he learns profound forgiveness. Bear's like a Prospero had Shakespeare chosen to set The Tempest as a comedy. Shakespeare's comedies always end in a rebirth, forgiveness, renewal. Characters take to the forest for cleansing and healing. Get Out Alive didn't end with actual dancing, but the spirits of the final six probably were dancing. Bear looked moved during the final elimination as he recounted the journeys of the remaining team and charted their growth throughout the experience. Tears were shed, hugs were given, and Bear appeared near tears.

The teams didn't try to cut each other down in the final elimination, for they had a special bonding experience in the feast pit where they read letters from home, which reminded me of a certain time in my life. Reflection and renewal were actively happening for the participants. Fittingly, it rained throughout the final journey (the two days were my ideal day weather-wise). The final three teams made it through raging rivers, wet campgrounds, bushwhacking, and got to the rescue site where they got a signal fire burning. Once rescued and returned to base camp, the clouds departed and the sun shone. Blue skies were overhead. I think the Get Out Alive production crew had the best luck. Rainy, miserably weather creates a terrific narrative. The teams made it through a foreboding weather system and got to the bright light of day. Their final journey was like the dark night of the soul. Bear used the phrase 'baptism by fire' early in the episode.

Jeff competed because he needed to prove to himself that he could and that he could become who he was before the accident. Jim came because his son asked him to. Lucky and Louie competed to overcome fears and to get out of their small town. Bear helped each person get what they needed from the journey. The repeated phrase in eliminations was, 'The wild is revealing,' which has double-meaning. It is revealing in the best and worst ways. It is renewing. Any journey is renewing. I drove up the coast of California two weeks ago and felt renewed. Bear's last words to Chris and Jeff were to continue pushing boundaries and doing what people don't think they could. The hard part happens after an enriching journey when one returns to the routine. David Foster Wallace spoke truly in his Kenyon commencement speech when he spoke about the hard work it takes to live a fulfilling life day-to-day. Living honestly and truly and without fear is the real challenge in the modern world. Get Out Alive's lessons work for the audience too. Bear's shown his audience that anyone can accomplish what the competing teams on Get Out Alive accomplished. What we need is within us.

Bear awarded Louie and Lucky the $500,000 for their unwavering and reliable strength of spirit and positivity. Get Out Alive's editing has been the problem for the entire run. The editor's job was to take all the footage and cut it together for the best narrative, so it's impossible to know the specifics of why they won over Chris and Jeff or Austin and Jim. I recall Lucky's constant support of the other teams, especially in the episode when he offered to eliminate himself. The money part didn't seem to matter as much as everyone's individual experience. I mean, it mattered because it's a capitalistic society and money most definitely matters. I think Thoreau could've found an aspect of Get Out Alive to enjoy, and that's the best compliment I can give the show.

I hope Bear keeps doing what he does. He's a hell of a man.

Other Thoughts:

-Thanks for reading these reviews. Special thanks extend to Mama Donna, who actually commented on one of these reviews, and to the lovely Alicia Berkwitt for her nice compliment. I invite either lady or any one else reading from the show to fill me in on what the final cut left out.

-Jim and Austin were my favorite time. Their father-son bond connected with me.

2013 Fall TV Preview: the New Shows on ABC

The critics slammed ABC's president, Paul Lee, after ABC's panel at the 2013 Television Critics Association tour. Critics slammed him for his lack of preparation, for his devotion to the company's buzzwords about four quadrant programming, and for his aloofness. ABC finished fourth in a key demographic last season. The executives at ABC must hope Whedon's box office success will translate to television success because the rest of their lineup of new shows is as bland as a carton of plain yogurt. Besides Whedon's series and a comedy series created by a former Community writer, the crop of new ABC shows should be as forgettable as a carton of plain yogurt. S.H.I.E.L.D. is competing with the most watched series on television in the fall. ABC hopes adultery will keep Revenge fans tuned in, but the network failed to find success with any series after Revenge last season.

Let's begin!

AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D.



Created by Joss Whedon, Jed Whedon & Maurissa Tancharoen

Premiere Date: Tuesday, September 24 at 8PM

Premise: (from ABC's press release, May 2013) Clark Gregg reprises his role of Agent Phil Coulson from Marvel's feature films, as he assembles a small, highly select group of Agents from the worldwide law-enforcement organization known as S.H.I.E.L.D. Together they investigate the new, the strange and the unknown around the globe, protecting the ordinary from the extraordinary.

Thoughts: ABC's last dip into superhero drama was a disaster, but I'm way more confident in Mr. Whedon's, his brother's, and his brother's wife's ability to pull it off than I was in Jon Feldman and Marc Guggenheim. ABC premiered the series at comic-con to fervent applause. The critics viewed the pilot earlier this month at TCAs. Fans loved it. Critics were hesitant to declare it an instant hit. I am a Joss Whedon fanboy, but I will admit his pilots aren't the best (with the exception of "Serenity.") Audiences should expect a sort of growth period for the series. Marvel's transitioning from a large scale to a small one. I read somewhere that this series would put the focus on the people that clean up and rebuild after the Avengers beat Loki, and on the small stories of the Marvel universe. I don't doubt the series quality, range of stories or depth of emotion. I only hope the many people that watched The Avengers will watch Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. A Joss Whedon series is very special. He and his writers make magic on the small screen.

THE GOLDBERGS



Created by Adam F. Goldberg

Premiere Date: Tuesday, September 24 at 9PM

Premise: (from ABC's press release, May 2013) Before there were parenting blogs, trophies for showing up and peanut allergies, there was a simpler time called the '80s. For geeky 11-year-old Adam (Sean Giambrone) these were his wonder years, and he faced them armed with a video camera to capture all the crazy. The Goldbergs are a loving family like any other, just with a lot more yelling.

Thoughts: Former Community writer Adam F. Goldberg created this autobiographical sitcom, but do not mistake him with the other Adam Goldberg, the villian of Harmontown. I confused the two for twenty seconds one day. The production team has fun with the 80s setting. The mother's entire look is outrageously 80s, from the big hair to the multi-colored wardrobe. The trailer scenes consistently pokes fun at REO Speedwagon. Jeff Garlin stands out in the role of the father. He's lively and energetic. He's great at physical comedy and one-liners--a comedy tour de force. ABC chose to highlight the family as a whole. I felt bummed out while watching the trailer, though. I didn't feel bummed because I didn't respond to the humor. I felt bummed by the network's idea of the American family. I don't know. I'll give the "Pilot" a look.

TROPHY WIFE



Created by Emily Halpern & Sarah Haskins

Premiere Date: Thursday, September 24 at 9:30PM

Premise: (from ABC's press release, May 2013) They say the third time's the charm, and reformed party girl Kate (Malin Akerman) is hoping that's true when she becomes Pete's (Bradley Whitford) third wife. She fell into his arms (literally) at a karaoke bar, and a year later Kate's got an insta-family, complete with three stepchildren and two ex-wives.

Thoughts: Every August and September, people preview the fall television schedule, and these people have to cover shows like Trophy Wife. I don't remember some of the shows I spent time previewing LAST YEAR. So what's there to potentially like about Trophy Wife? Bradley Whitford plays a rich guy married to Malin Ackerman's Kate. Malin Ackerman's Kate is a beautiful outsider. She doesn't belong in domesticity or in PTA meetings. Pete's children don't respect her. Women criticize her young body. Kate can't relate to teachers. Is ABC trying to appeal to threatened middle age women? Well, that's what ABC tries to do with nearly all of its series.

LUCKY 7



Created By David Wabel & Jason Richman (Created in U.K. By Kay Mellor)

Premiere Date: Tuesday, September 24 at 10PM

Premise: (from ABC Press Release, May 2013)  In Astoria, Queens, a group of seven gas station employees have been chipping into a lottery pool for months, never thinking they'd actually win.

Thoughts: Not much of a premise, is it? The premise continues with what each employee could do with the potential money won, but then it ends. I assume the seven gas station employees win the money they'd never thought they'd win. The trailer's like the premise. The employees are introduced, they win the cash, and then it ends. ABC really wants viewers to watch and learn how winning the lottery works out for these characters. Chances are some won't feel so lucky after all. The show seems targeted for the many Americans struggling to get by in the tough economy. The concept of Lucky 7 appeals to me. I like stories about people united by a certain thing and watching how each person/character responds. Nick Hornby wrote a novel about four characters that met trying to kill themselves. Lucky 7 as a series does not appeal to me, though.

BACK IN THE GAME



Created By Mark Cullen & Robb Cullen

Premiere Date: Wednesday, September 25 at 8:30PM

Premise: (from ABC's press release, May 2013) Terry Gannon Jr. (Maggie Lawson) was an All Star softball player until life threw her a few curve balls -- a baby, a lost college scholarship and a loser for a husband. After striking out on her own, Terry and her son, Danny (Griffin Gluck), move in with her estranged father, Terry Sr., aka "The Cannon" (James Caan).

Thoughts: Back in the Game reminds me of FOX's failed Ben & Kate series. Remove a fun-loving but eccentric brother and place him with a harsh, disappointing father figure, as well as some of the quirks of Ben & Kate, and add in baseball and a feel-good story about bringing together the children the actual teams of the town don't want, and it's like Little Giants meets Ben & Kate meets Bad News Bears. Maggie Lawson seems like a charming actress whom I would take out for frozen yogurt if the opportunity presented itself. Her character's trying to overcome many negatives from her life by helping children who remind her of herself. If they have no one, like she did, then she'll be their someone, which is sweet. I'll tune in for an episode or two until Arrow returns.

BETRAYAL



Created By Kevin Abbot

Premiere Date: Sunday, September 29 at 10PM

Premise: (from ABC's press release, May 2013) A chance meeting between photographer Sara Hadley (Hannah Ware) and Attorney Jack McAllister (Stuart Townsend) leads to an instant and undeniable attraction. Sarah's husband, Drew (Chris Johnson), is a successful prosecutor with political aspirations, while Jack is married to Elaine (Wendy Moniz), the daughter of his boss, Thacher Karsten (James Cromwell). When Karsten's brother-in-law Lou is murdered, all evidence points to Karsten's son, T.J. (Henry Thomas). Jack, the company's lead counsel, will have to defend him, but for Sara's prosecutor husband, Drew, this is the kind of high-profile murder case that can secure his political future. Just as Sara and Jack's affair is starting, the lovers find themselves in an impossible situation -- on opposite sides of a murder investigation.

Thoughts: Betrayal will be convoluted. Just read the premise pasted above. The trailer's basically shot after shot of Hannah Ware looking sexy. In some scenes, she's supposed to look sexy. In other scenes, she looks conflicted and troubled, and yet undeniably sexy. I'm not sure where adultery falls in the current pop culture landscape. People like watching anti-hero men enduring a middle age crisis. Betrayal seems like it belongs in the 1990s. I don't expect the series to succeed since nothing succeeds in the post-Revenge timeslot. James Cromwell's character name might be the best thing about the series. Plus, his beard is commendable.

ONCE UPON A TIME IN WONDERLAND



Created By Edward Kitsis & Adam Horowitz

Premiere Date: Thursday, October 10 at 8PM

Premise: (from ABC's press release, May 2013) In Victorian England, the young and beautiful Alice (Sophie Lowe) tells a tale of a strange new land that exists on the other side of a rabbit hole. An invisible cat, a hookah smoking caterpillar and playing-cards that talk are just some of the fantastic things she's seen during this impossible adventure. Surely this troubled girl must be insane, and her doctors aim to cure her with a treatment that will make her forget everything.

Thoughts: I think Once Upon A Time is an ambitious failure. Kitsis, Horowitz and their writers re-invent and re-imagine fairy tales for modern audiences weekly. A bloated cast, uneven storytelling, and horrible special effects made OUAT unwatchable for me.  ABC decided to Eddie and Adam the opportunity to do more of that. A few things concern me about the spinoff. Amnesia storylines are always a bad idea, and the series hook is that Alice forgets everything and must find her way to Wonderland and True Love again. I'd love for the series to explore the state of mental health care in Victorian England, but I have a better chance of time-traveling to Victorian England than viewers do of seeing any exploration of the mental health care in Victorian England. Sophie Lowe seems well-suited to the main role, but the surrounding talent seem bland and generic. Kitsis and Horowitz hired handsome guys on OUAT to deliver lines poorly and they've done the same in Wonderland. The CGI looks bad. I just wonder why ABC needed an OUAT spinoff. The industry is immersed in the trend of bringing stories people grew up with back to the theater or the small screen and as these epic pieces of storytelling. Alice in Wonderland's not an epic. A girl falls asleep, dreams about wonderland, and wakes up. I don't think 22 hours of Alice's trip to Wonderland is what anyone wants or needs.

TOMORROW: The preview continues with a look at the new shows on Cable & Premium Channels

Monday, August 19, 2013

Get Out Alive with Bear Grylls "Frozen Planet" Review

The Get Out Alive journey nears an ending with next week's episode. The penultimate episode brought the four remaining teams to a glacier high in the New Zealand terrain where each team would be tested the same as they've been tested throughout the series. Only the altitude changed. Jim and Austin won the survival challenge last week after failing in their task. Lucky and Louie failed in their shelter task but won the survival challenge. Nonsense eliminations continue, but at least the immunity teams earned their immunity.

Glacier episodes were among my favorite during Man Vs. Wild, mostly for Bear's pronunciations of 'glacier' and 'crevice.' Cold, icy and foggy conditions make for excellent photography. The grey and black color of the glacier contrasted with the white snow made for a nice looking episode. The growing skill and confidence of each team makes for better content. The shelters are still a flaw for every team. I sat on my couch thinking about the best shelter possible where they were at, but could not think of anything better than Lucky and Louie. I wondered if the teams could've dug ditches in the snow for wind protection and insulation. The snows did not look deep enough though. The food expedition went swimmingly. Jeff retrieved the food, though he drew criticism for doing it on a bum knee. Jim and Austin made a mistake by not putting Ryan at the end the rope as they traversed the glacier. Bear criticized Jim and Austin for trying to handle each task themselves. Jim and Austin never seemed in danger of elimination since they've been the most consistent team throughout the series.

I didn't think Bear would eliminate Jeff and Chris, not after Bear went to bat for Jeff in the series' most touching exchange last episode when Royce criticized Jeff for having a bad knee. Bear displayed a humanity I expected to see more of throughout the series, but the competition aspect of the series doesn't quite encourage a consistent display of humanity. Teams turn on each other, jump at one another's faults, so I'd like to think Bear wanted to set an example for how teams should treat each other as the final journey nears. Bear's message about shouldering an injured man recalled to mind "The Message" from Firefly, specifically Mal's line about 'when you can't walk, you crawl, and when you can't do that you find someone to carry you.' Bear's background influenced that scene (Leave No Behind). Jeff retrieving the food seemed a more important act than any liability concern. If one separates actual survival from the game then Jeff's act is a testament to his will, and his mental and physical fortitude.

Ryan and Madeline were consistently strong throughout the game too. They seemed like favorites in the second episode, but they were victims of the numbers game. Bear's nitpick of her panic attack on the turbulent helicopter ride seemed harsh. Ryan and Madeline performed really well throughout the challenges in the episode, but Lucky and Louie won immunity. Bear didn't see as much durability in them as he saw in the other teams up for elimination. Ryan's been an admirable figure in the series. He's never been cruel or harsh; he's been supportive rock. Ryan accepted responsibility for the slow fire building and didn't immediately throw the closest team into the fire burning before Bear. I thought Bear would've spared them for Ryan's acceptance of responsibility because it seemed like what Bear wanted since the journey began.

Lucky showed that Dad Strength never leaves a man no matter how grown a child is. The editing of reality TV episodes is misleading. Jim and Austin and Jeff and Chris seemed to have a clear lead until Lucky used his Dad Strength to haul the bag up the hill and guarantee him and his daughter a spot in the final challenge. Lucky's reflections in the early morning on top of the glacier about his daughter and how he'd carry her with him as a baby as she drifted to sleep was touching. I'm a sucker for parent-child relationships. (I'm rooting for Jim and Austin to win it all since I am a son.) The smaller group of teams and the quality of episodes isn't a fluke. I'd like to see season two of the show follow four or five teams figuring out how to survive without eliminations and prizes. Networks would never order that type of series.

Bear promised horrific weather conditions in next week's finale. I'd like to see a Tempest of Shakespearean proportions.

THE YOUTUBE CLIP OF THE WEEK


Monday, August 5, 2013

Get Out Alive with Bear Grylls "Don't Look Down" Review

Get Out Alive and The Challenge are the only reality TV shows I watch on a weekly basis. I sort of fell into watching Get Out Alive weekly. The Challenge's weekly format doesn't change until near the end of the season. Get Out Alive reached a point last week where the obstacles were repetitive, and everything that followed was uninteresting. Bear reminds the teams that the objective is survival, but the urgency's never where Bear wants it. Of course, every team knows Get Out Alive is a game show--that fact removes some of the urgency. Competitors on The Challenge talk about winning big money every week, but the Get Out Alive contestants never talk about the money. I forgot about the money until Bear asked to see it in the show's opening. I like that the money isn't the Ultimate prize and that teams won't destroy each other in the pursuit of it. The emphasis on survival, of personal growth and self-improvement, of learning more about each other and also understanding each other better, are the objectives of Get Out Alive.

"Don't Look Down" had a alot to make one smile. The obstacle, which tasked the teams with crossing the tyroleon across a wide gorge, showed the strength and determination of Wilson, and his unwavering support of Robin. The food team worked together to capture eels. I waited for Ryan to use his hand for the eel to bite, but his technique worked very well. The sweetest part of the food gathering involved Madeline's reaction to Ryan's ability as a hunter-and-gatherer of the dinner, like in the way she looked at him and the sort of marvelous way she said, "I'm learning so much about you," with a mix of awe, admiration, and love--a pure expression of the soul almost. The food team worked wonderfully together (though I thought Kyle and Royce should've taken Ryan and Madeline into the food pit, but meritocracies aren't fun or fair). Austin and Jim successfully lit a fire in damp New Zealand. I particularly liked Austin's amazement over him and his dad's ability to create fire using two sticks. The group worked smoothly together. It's a shame most of the team's slept poorly because Robin and Wilson made more bad shelters. Sleep deprivation has its perks, though.

This week's elimination had little suspense. Bear tried to manufacture suspense by targeting Lucky, Louie, Chris, and Jeff, for enjoying a good night's sleep. Robin and Wilson's time on the show was up though. Bear told them they dodged a few bullets, but the consistency of the crappy shelters was too much to overlook. Bear obviously loves Robin and Wilson. He effusively complimented Robin's effort during the obstacle, and he lauded Wilson's effort in reaching the other side.

The feast pit was the least interesting part of last week's episode (there are limited ways to make people feasting interesting, unless it involves Gimli from the Lord of the Rings). I reacted to tonight's feast pit differently. I think the addition of a second team improved the feast pit. Four people were overwhelmed with happiness and comfort instead of two. Lucky said he'd be proud to have Kyle and Royce as sons. Jeff watched forlornly (not really forlornly but go with it). No, Jeff's cameo during the feast pit was the best part for his impression of a kid hoping the nice neighbor would invite him for supper (Lucky made the comparison).

"Don't Look Down" is the first episode of Get Out Alive I enjoyed all the way through; it's the first episode that met my expectations of the show. Now I expect to see expert survivalists next week. I don't really. I won't be around next week to write about the episode, but I'll be back for the final two episodes.

THE YOUTUBE CLIP OF THE WEEK


About The Foot

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Originally, I titled the blog Jacob's Foot after the giant foot that Jacob inhabited in LOST. That ended. It became TV With The Foot. I write regular posts about Grimm & The Vampire Diaries.