Friday, August 31, 2007

Fall TV Preview - Gossip Girl - Pilot Training

Gossip Girl - Pilot - directed by Mark Piznarski
Premieres Tuesday September 18th, 8pm on CTV (Regular Timeslot 7pm) and Wednesday, September 19th, 9pm on The CW

Here's yet another Josh Schwartz show (The OC, Chuck) and another slick young adult/teen drama on The WB The CW (which I know, I swore off) that has Kristen Bell (Veronica Mars) as the narrator, which buys itself points but still doesn't excuse the network for cancelling Veronica Mars (on a side note, was this director dude Mark Piznarski the inspiration for Piz on VM? I think it was).

But I'll be nice for a moment and give Gossip Girl its own chance. For now. At least until it has its own fashion faux-pas. Gossip Girl gossips about the lives of rich New York (wait, where did I just hear this before?) teens, particularly when Serena van der Woodsen (above) returns after disappearing for a year, and finds herself out of the IT group led by former best friend Blair (below, with bf Nate who had a fling with Serena before she disappeared). Whatever.

All you need to know is that there are plenty of pretty girls, pretty boys, bitchy dialogue, party scenes and more recent hit pop songs before the first commercial break than MTV has played in the last 5 years. What's not to love?

If you're one of the 6 people that mourned the end of The OC (and yes, I was one of them), then Gossip Girl will fill the void. They have every stock character possible, from reformed-bad girl Serena (Blake Lively, Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants (the girl that wasn't on Joan of Arcadia, Gilmore Girls, or would be on Ugly Betty)), the actualy bitchy bad-girl Blair (Leighton Meester), the moody hottie Nate (Chace Crawford), the creepy slick schmarmy rich kid Chuck (Ed Westwick)(and who really is just SOOOO GAY), the misunderstood invisible loner who happens to be cute as hell Dan (Penn Badgley), the overbearing mean mother that explains her daughter's bitchiness Eleanor, the naive young flower about to be de-flowered Jenny (Taylor Momsen), and the Rock & Roll dad who was rich but escaped that world so is the good guy in the show Rufus but looks so young that he could be his son's brother (Matthew Settle).

If you're looking for deep intelligent thought provoking dialogues and story, keep moving to another channel, but if you're looking for a fun, frothy soap that gives you an excuse to stare at young hotties without feeling like a pedophile (because all the actors are obviously NOT High School age but play it on TV), this is the show for you.

3 Stars (***), though it leans towards 3.5 stars based on the slick pilot and the fact that Kristen Bell is sort of involved in a half-assed way, and I enjoyed Gossip Girl slightly more than Dirty Sexy Money and I give much of that credit to Blake Lively and Penn Badgley.

Here's the promo for Gossip Girl:

Gossip Girl Promo

Blake Lively

Penn Badgley

Leighton Meester

Chace Crawford

Ed Westwick

Taylor Momsen

Nicole Fiscella

Nan Zhang

Matthew Settle
Video uploaded by SeriesBlog

More After the Jump...

Fall TV Preview - Dirty Sexy Money - Pilot Training

Dirty Sexy Money - Pilot - directed by Peter Horton
Premieres Wednesday September 26th, 10pm on ABC and Sunday, September 30th, 10pm on CTV

This is the show I keep calling "Dirty Sexy Monkey" only cause it somehow rolls off my tongue easier that way. Maybe it's my subconscious missing Love Monkey or that I'm kinkier than I thought. They will really need to find a shorter moniker to dub this show though, and DSM doesn't cut it. Sounds like some program software you must download.

So Dirty Sexy Money has THE CAST and Greg Berlanti (Everwood, Brothers and Sisters) as a producer and Peter Horton (Grey's Anatomy, thirtysomething) directing. So the pedigree is there. THE CAST includes Donald Sutherland (Commander in Chief) and Jill Clayburgh (Running With Scissors) as head of the Darling family, a mega wealthy New York family with too many spoiled rich kids. The rich kids include Samaire Armstrong (The OC, Entourage) as the useless baby of the family, Seth Gabel as the useless troublemaker of the family, and William Baldwin (looking and sounding more like a thinner Alec everyday, Backdraft) as the groomed-to-be-Senator-with-a-secret (that even I didn't really see coming. It's a great little twist even though Ugly Betty sort of covered it already, more spoiler below). There's also 3 more brothers and sisters (I think, I lost count), plus all the wives, girlfriends, husbands, fiances etc. etc. If you thought the Brothers and Sisters cast was big, try getting a handle on this one (that also includes a mean mean priest with a secret of his own).

The entire rich Darling clan loses their lawyer when he dies in a plane crash, and they ask his good-lawyer son (we know he's a good lawyer cause he works for good causes in a plain looking office) Nick George, played by Peter Krause (Six Feet Under) and basically the biggest selling point of this show for me. Nick George looks at the family in disgust but ends up taking the job working for them, until they drive him crazy and he quits, but then he discovers his father was probably murdered, probably by someone in the Darling clan, and vows to find out who.

But really, the whole show is just a thinly veiled polished and classy drama that hides the layers of dirty, trashy soap opera antics that lay just underneath. While I'm not sure I really need to watch another show about snooty, silly, spoiled rich people, I sure laughed several times at some of their antics (most particularly, a vamping Samaire Armstrong, who seems to be thrilled to be not playing a smart and sassy girl she usually does, though I'm wondering if that's a great move since that's what I loved best about her before).

There were parts of the pilot that bored me, others that really left me wanting more, and with numerous plot strings hanging about with each Darling, I'm sure things will tighten up. SMALL SPOILER ALERT highlight below to read on:

I was slightly surprised of the casting of Candis Cayne and slightly delighted, and cements ABC as the network deeply looking for GLAADS approval. Ugly Betty introduced a transgendered character but this goes one step beyond by casting a transgendered actor AS a transgendered character which is fantabulous! Still, my mouth dropped open when Carmelita (Candis' character) was introduced and spoke.

For the time being, I'm leaving Dirty Sexy Money at 3 Stars (***) though it has great potential with the pedigree in front and behind the camera (Blair Underwood also joins the cast after the pilot). Then again, I said that about Six Degrees last year too and look where that ended up.

Here's the promo for Dirty Sexy Money:

The Whitest Cast This Side of Friends Before Blair Underwood Joins In Episode 2

Peter Krause

Donald Sutherland

Jill Clayburgh

Samaire Armstrong

Seth Gabel

William Baldwin

Zoe McLellan

Glenn Fitzgerald

Natalie Zea

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GimmeMore Britney Spears? Did Anybody Even Ask?

Britney Spears has a new song out! WHA? I thought she was too busy driving drunk with her baby on her lap on her way to the barber?

Even more shocking, it's NOT THAT BAD! (Though I think it's more a testament to Danjahandz producing skills than Britney). I'm not sure it's going to completely save her career but it'll get her played in the gay clubs at least. It's a start.

Thanks to ModFab for a better mp3 link than I was originally going to use.

UPDATE: Here's an actual download you can get thanks to EW's Popwatch.

More After the Jump...

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Big Brother Trifecta - Julie Chen Goes Gangsta

I lied on Tuesday.

Evil Dick goes mad in the house again, back on another rampage when things don't go his way. Daniele is up on the block after Eric uses the Veto when he realizes his ties are too close to the strongest alliance in the house. Jessica and Daniele are yelling at each other pulling each others fake blonde hair after Jessica grows a backbone and splits up the evil alliance while Amber cries in the corner as she thanks god for saving her in the game. Jameka prays to god in a corner, trying to stay away from the rumble that seems to be brewing between Eric and Dick. Oh wait, there's no god so this is not what happens.

So I lied on Tuesday that ModFab was going to report this, but Big Brother is delayed until 1:30 in the morning in New York so I'm here reporting on what really happened in the house. Nothing.

So instead of the above drama, Amber cried, nothing happened at the Veto, Amber cries, and then Amber is voted out tonight, and Amber cries. Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. The anti-Semitic could not convince the little Jewboy to keep her in the end, even though Jessica was regretting her nominations. Eric convinces Jessica its for the best, Amber cries. Damn Jews.

(uh, you know that was a joke right? Please. Chinese and Jews. We are the same people. We only differ in our opinions about pork. We like to use it as much as possible and Jews stay away (for us to use it as much as possible)).

In a more interesting bit, we find out...that Eric's younger brother is CUTE/HOT/CUTE! In the funniest and most disturbing bit, Chenbot says this phrase: "Is Eric, America's Player, America's PLAYA'?". I practically chocked on my own spit watching Julie Chen attempting Ebonics (She by the way, I am not claiming as being Chinese. I don't know WHAT she is). Oh, but we meet Eric's Cheryl, Eric's on/off ex/girlfriend who is in fact very supportive but NOT his current girlfriend. Or so they edit.

The HOH competition begins as a race to fill up a huge fishbowl with tea using a small teacup... which means it will take hours and we won't know who wins until Sunday when ModFab will report back on the winner and the new nominations, taking over a vacationing QTA.

More After the Jump...

Fall TV Preview - Chuck - Pilot Training

Chuck - Pilot - directed by McG
Premieres Monday September 24th, 8pm on NBC and Citytv

Oh...THIS is the show that is directed by McG (Charlie's Angels) and from Josh Schwartz (The OC). That explains the fast paced zippiness of it all. Truth be told, I wasn't sure what to expect and forgot the details about the show, so the only thing that really made me want to watch was that the title character, Chuck, was played by Zachary Levi, who stole every scene he was in on the show Less Than Perfect.

Boy, I was surprised at how much I enjoyed Chuck, about a computer nerd who gets sent a message from an old college roomate with all the encrypted information both the NSA and the CIA are trying to attain. Except, the encrypted information is in the form of images that gets into Chucks head, so in essence, he himself becomes the hard drive storing all the information. There's also his regular life where he lives with his caring sister Ellie (Sarah Lancaster, Everwood) and hangs out with fellow nerd best friend Morgan (Joshia Gomez). Both NSA agent John Casey (Adam Baldwin, Firefly) and CIA agent Sarah Walker (Yvonne Strzechowski) need to get Chuck to retrieve the information, and this Alias set up of Chucks regular life and the spy world hes thrust into leads to the comedy and adventure for the show.

Again, like Pushing Daisies, the main reason people will keep coming back to the show is the appealing lead, this time with Zachary Levi bumbling his way through things that are way over his head in the world of espionage and its a beautiful opposition to the cool smartass he played in Less Than Perfect. Add in favorites Sarah Lancaster and Adam Baldwin, and a so-far-one-episode-appearance-though-I-hope-there-is-more Ryan McPartlin (Life with Fran, below with Sarah Lancaster) as Ellie's fiance Captain Awesome (yes, that's how he's billed), and Vik Sahay as another member of the nerd posse, it rounds out a pretty diverse and fun cast.

The show is filmed in almost a monotonously realistic tone (think cheap indie movie filmed in LA, made me think of You And Me And Everyone You Know for some reason), which counter balances the proposterous plot and fast action sequences and someone grounds the show and makes me like it even more.

So 4 Stars (****) for Chuck and it left me really wanting to see the next episode.

Here's a video clip of the promo for Chuck:
Chuck extended Promo NBC

Yvonne Strzechowski

Adam Baldwin

Joshua Gomez

Sarah Lancaster

Vidoe uploaded by SeriesBlog

More After the Jump...

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Fall TV Preview - Pushing Daisies - Pilot Training

Pushing Daisies - Pie-lette - directed by Barry Sonnenfeld
Premieres Wednesday October 3rd, 8pm on ABC, Tuesday October 2nd, 8pm on CTV

At this point, we've all heard so much about Pushing Daisies and how great it is from the critics and bloggers. So can it really hold up to its hype? Yes. Yes it can. Did it blow me away like the pilot for Lost? No. But it wasn't meant to. In fact (and this is when I need to start pulling out the thesaurus), Pushing Daisies was weird and wonderful, morbidly magical, like a fairytale movie that had a sweet sweet heart. I think the show is more meant to enrapture, than blow you away.

I have no idea how the show will continue its high standards (something I worried about last year when I saw the pilot for Friday Night Lights, which ended up being the best show on TV) but based on the pilot, I'm super excited.

People have thrown around the words "quirky" and "Tim Burton-esque" but its WAY beyond that and yet much less quieter and comfortable. The show is like a dented fairy tale, with Jim Dale narrating the story of Ned (Lee Pace) who has an amazing gift to bring back people from the dead. Only there are rules to his gift, one being that if the person stays alive longer than a minute, another person dies in their place. The other is, if Ned touches that person again, they will die permanently. Ned owns a pie shop and works with Olive (Kristin Chenowith, Wicked) but does a side business of solving murders with his power with partner Emerson (Chi McBride, Boston Legal). Ned ends up reviving his childhood love Chuck (Anna Friel) and leaves her alive, and a blossoming romance begins, but Ned can never touch her, or else she dies forever. Chuck also lived with her aunts (Swoosie Kurtz (Sisters) and Ellen Greene) who round out the cast.

Everything about the show, the sets, lighting, mood, humour, casting is superb and film director Barry Sonnenfeld (Men in Black) and writer Bryan Fuller (Heroes, Wonderfalls) make it a joyous little romance, but if anything is going to keep people around after this perfect little pilot, it's Lee Pace as Ned. Lee Pace is simply charming as Ned and as I've said before, has deserved to be a bigger star than he is (who? exactly) (then again, so did his Wonderfalls co-star Caroline Dhavernas).

So, if the pilot was all that was ever made, so be it, because it basically wraps itself up like a mini-movie. The pilot itself is 5 stars (*****) but I'm giving the show as a whole 4.5 stars (****1/2) mainly because I'm reluctant to give anything 5 stars right off the bat and many shows can succeed or fail (see Traveler) in subsequent episodes. Still, kudos to ABC for taking strong but undefinable pilots to a new level (see Lost, Desperate Housewives, Ugly Betty) and for promoting the hell out of Pushing Daisies (at least it seemed so in New York).

Here's the promo clip again that I've posted before:

Lee Pace

Anna Friel

Chi McBride

Swoosie Kurtz

Kristin Chenowith

Ellen Greene

More After the Jump...