Episode: S01E02 “Showmance”
Tune-In: Wednesdays, 9/8c
Web Site: http://www.fox.com/glee
Spoilers Ahead: Yup
When I heard FOX was ramping up to do a high school musical that was not a High School Musical, I assumed it might be titled, Viva Laughin Too! (thank you, CBS for not removing canceled show sites in a timely fashion). The pilot would air after American Idol, but without Idol I wasn’t sure there was going to be an audience for it.
I watched the pilot episode however-many months ago and after viewing, I was indifferent. I felt that the show was dangerously close to being an ABC Family program. Coming from Ryan Murphy, the creator of ever-controversial Nip/Tuck, the episode seemed too friendly, too optimistic and really, really safe. I wanted the characters to give a hint that there was something darker lurking under their bubblegum exteriors.
As the days counted down to its return, with building intensity, I was assaulted with everything Glee related (including my favorite video where they subtitled the guy who is speaking english) on the various social networks. Even after blocking the status updates of several abusers, I still watched. And honestly I hoped that I would hate it. Just a little.
But I didn’t. I couldn’t.
“Showmance” delivered just what I wanted. Will’s wife and her hysterical pregnancy, the “Push-It” performance, cheerleader infiltration, Keith talking about dating. Each person revealed their flaws and each of them are out to get what they want. Some are just more vocal about it.
Even though in appearance, the show maintains a quality gloss, the things the characters say on the sly. It took a second viewing (that’s right, second viewing) for me to catch this:
[Emma walks into the bathroom. Gagging sounds.]
Emma: Rachel? Did you just throw up?
Rachel: [quickly, defensively] No.
Emma: You missed the toilet.
Rachel: The girl who was throwing up before me left that. I tried but I guess I just don’t have a gag-reflex.
Emma: One day when you’re older, that will turn out to be a gift. Let’s have a little chat, okay?
I was glad to see they addressed the Will/Emma tension early. I was afraid she would spend the first season wishing and wanting Will quietly from a distance. Instead, Emma tackles the issue head on.
Even the stupid title card impressed me. You would assume this show would have a long intro of explosive colors, dance moves and cast shots galore. But it just shows “glee” in simple font on black.
The only thing that I can complain about with Glee came under examination with a magnifying glass. During the performance scenes the mouth-to-song syncing makes Britney look like a pro. It quickly breaks the flow and feels like you’re watching a bad talent show.
And please just give Jane Lynch the Emmy now. There’s absolutely no one else out there who completely sells you on a character like she does. Her emphasis and delivery on every single brilliantly written word is “delicious” and calculated.
And the slushees to the face makes me laugh every time. So there you go, Jill. I don’t like kicking puppies.
Up next, The CW’s Vampire Diaries.
2009 Fall Season: Foreword / Melrose Place
A few months ago, I told a friend of mine that I had missed the obvious. “I love to complain. I love TV. So why not combine them?” My personal goal here is to review the new shows of the 2009 fall season, both network and cable. I’ll give all new shows a few episodes since pilots aren’t always something to judge the series on. And from there, we’ll see where this goes.
Before I begin my project, I feel that I need to give credibility to my name. Give you my background to you feel that what I write is worth reading.
I can give you absolutely nothing.
In 2003, I worked for a major studio and learned The Simpsons was a magic ATM machine for the studio and that somewhere, someone believed that Ryan Seacrest would succeed as the host of his own daytime TV show (of course, I was vocally against it). In 2004, I worked for the dotcom of major network where I saw Emmy winning brilliance crushed by public ignorance, and that same public ignorance continue to fuel broadcast karaoke. In 2008, I left and am now residing just outside the television world.
I have never written a script, never produced a television series, never put in the amount of work or cash it takes to create a show, but I’ve been behind-the-scenes with the people that make it all come together and I respect the effort that it takes.
Last time I shot my mouth off, I gained unintentional infamy with one of the most powerful people in this town. I still hope to one day buy that person lunch.
I believe there is no such thing as a bad show concept, just bad writing, casting, directing and production (upon review of this foreword, a friend cited “Cavemen”). I believe the people making the choices don’t always think like the people they’re making the choices for. I believe that networks should realize they have become just cable. I believe that the viewers don’t understand how TV works. I believe the creative options and outlets for marketing are incredibly wide open, but there’s safety in print. I believe in being first, not waiting for it to be popular. I believe viewers no longer know what shows are on what channel. I believe it can be better. It can be good. It certainly can be great.
I believe that Hollywood is a town based on opinion. Every song, show, actor, fashion, advertisement, is created because one person thinks something is good. There is no science, no magic formula. It is always a gamble.
My reviews are my opinion; A verbal rambling born of a passion to make it all better. My reviews will be unbiased, complimentary and unforgiving if needed. I have many great friends spread through the ranks of networks and studios in this town and mean them no offense for their hard work. I know what it’s like to eat, sleep and bleed for a show only to have it slaughtered after its first breath.
This is my way of feeling like I’m doing something.
Show: Melrose Place
Episode: S01E01 “Nightingale”
Network: The CW
Tune-In: Tuesdays, 9/8c
Web Site: http://cwtv.com/shows/melrose-place
Spoilers Ahead: Yup
Melrose Place opens by giving us the whirlwind tour of the cast. Our characters are the usual mix of youngish, attractive people scrambling at their hotter-than-average jobs. The high paced chef at the trendy, packed restaurant. The wannabe filmmaker who knows everything about every movie. But we also have the financially struggling nurse in case us normal folk can’t relate to the others.
Just a side note, for those of you living in the fly-over states or people getting ready to move to Los Angeles, Melrose Place doesn’t happen. Most of the time, you get neighbors like this and this. So just stay home and enjoy your surrounding cornfields. We don’t need anymore traffic.
The first episode of Melrose sets up the season-long story line, who murdered Sydney. Sydney is a carry over from the original series and has somehow weaseled her way into being the landlord. And after the whodunit set-up, there’s about thirty-five minutes of filler.
The characters go do their character establishing things, as expected. Yet, NONE OF THEM SEEM CONCERNED THERE WAS A MURDER IN THEIR POOL. None of them seem too concerned that their landlady is toast. None of them seem concerned that Melrose Place clearly has a terrible security gate. None of them seem concerned that ONE OF THEM MIGHT BE THE KILLER.
For example, in the opening, the goody-goody wannabe director Jonah Miller proposes to his girlfriend, Riley Richmond. Before she can answer, screams come from the pool and Riley, rightfully, is distracted. But at the end of the episode, Jonah is all pissy-pissy because Riley hesitated to answer. Well, duh. And at the end-end of the episode, after Auggie (who apparently has some deep connection with Sydney) makes a brief speech in Sydney’s memory, the pool turns to a party when Jonah tells the neighbors Riley said yes.
Overall, Melrose was what you would expect. 90210 without the high school. Which, and I can’t believe I’m saying this, makes it a little more believable. It’s easier to understand the broke-doctor trading sex to pay her bills, than it is to believe a high school junior is trading sex for concert tickets to some band I don’t know because above being a TV snob, I’m a music snob.
There were a few things that bugged me and most are because the show airs on The CW.
First, Melrose Place makes the mistake of thinking people outside Los Angeles care about places in Los Angeles. A few of the characters talk, almost too precisely, about going to a movie at the New Beverly Cinema. Like Entourage, writing these lines is such self-gratification for the Los Angeles based writers. Jane Iowa doesn’t care about the New Beverly Cinema. Just say they’re going to the movies. Move on.
Second, the show continues the One Tree Hill tradition of playing music over almost every single minute of film and then promoting the crap out of singers and albums. Which I’m sure is a great sales tool, but sometimes silence builds suspense.
Ashlee Simpson-Wentz is deplorable. She looks like a muppet, who is probably the secret love child of Syndey coming back to meet her mother and just happens to start living in the complex the day her probably-mom is murdered. Gasp. Katie Cassidy on the other hand, does a pretty good job of being Ella, the cold-hearted publicist who just wants to be loved. Everyone else can be replaced with wet bath towels of varying flesh tones.
My favorite moment took place early, when Auggie opens up about his past with Sydney to newly-arrived Violet. This was the Bad Acting Titanic vs. Bad Acting Iceberg. Auggie tries to bring tears to his eyes and mumbles, “She was also the one who convinced me I could be a real chef,” followed by an off-camera glance combo with sad face, and pause for reflection.
Like I said, Melrose is exactly what you expect it to be. Next up, FOX’s Glee.