Wednesday, October 10, 2007

That White Light You See Is The TV Set Turned On - The Canadian Thanksgiving Holiday TV Catch Up

As much as I love going away and discovering new places, I love coming back from a trip and catching up on all the TV I missed. Seriously, for a split second as I was about to die from almost falling off a horse on a Chilean mountain, I thought about the episode of Brothers & Sisters I was missing. The possibility of death (or at least getting muddy and a backache) sure puts good TV into perspective.

And now that I'm back, still bruised (Heath Ledger I'm not, I can definitely attest that I'm a city slicker, and thank god we went on the winery tour AFTER horseback riding in the mountains) and spent the day mostly catching up, here's what I loved from what I missed these past few days, in order.

Pushing Daisies - Dummy
Chuck -
Chuck Versus the Tango
Brothers & Sisters -
An American Family
Gossip Girl -
Bad News Blair
House - 97 Seconds
Desperate Housewives - Smiles of a Summer Night
Beauty and the Geek - It's Not Rocket Science
Everybody Hates Chris -
Everybody Hates Caruso
Aliens in America -
No Man Is An Island
How I Met Your Mother -
Third Wheel
Corner Gas -
Spin Cycle
Dirty Sexy Money -
The Italian Banker
Private Practice -
In Which Addison Finds the Magic
Heroes - Kindred
Journeyman - Game Three
Reaper - All Mine

Holy. Did I really just watch all that TV in just one day? (And to think it can't be done. Pushaw... now I have proof there's always time for TV! Granted, I'm still on holiday here and recovering from the 11 hour flight)

So not the greatest week again for last years faves How I Met Your Mother and Heroes (not horrible, just not superb), good episodes from Everybody Hates Chris and House (which has re-invigorated itself by switching things up finally) and yet another homerun for newcomers Chuck and Pushing Daisies, and as clichéd as it is, I still find myself immensely enjoying Gossip Girl, though I think mostly impart from Blake Lively and Penn Badgley's charms.

And as amazing and complete as the pilot episode for Pushing Daisies was, everyone I spoke to worried about where it could possibly go from there. First of all, people, just ENJOY IT for what it is. Second of all, worry no more, because wasn't the second episode just as delightful, in a totally different way? This time almost taking a horror film slant within its whimsical and odd tone.

I loved that they delved back to Ned's childhood, explaining a little bit more after his mothers death. I loved that Chuck and Ned actually kissed already and that they aren't holding them back from each other despite the fact that they can't actually touch each other. Moonlighting this is not, this goes beyond that point right away and it's a smart move. I loved that they already made Kristin Chenowith sing in a hilarious musical ode to her unrequited love for Ned. I loved that I love Chi McBride as Emerson because I found him a bit annoying on House, so it's good to see him in a good role. Next week, the aunts are back which can only mean more wackiness ensues!

As for the cast of Chuck, why isn't Ryan McPartlin as Captain Awesome not part of the regular cast? If Morgan can be, why not Captain Awesome? He who does more with 3 minutes of screen time than some can do on a whole series? Captain Awesome teaches Chuck to tango for Chuck's first mission, while Morgan gets stuck in a cage. I understand that Chuck needs one of those annoying best friends that gets him into trouble, but does he have to be so annoying? At least that's my only complaint about the show. The rest, hilarious!

Justin is alive and back in the US, injured but safe, until the Walkers come descending upon him, and gets attacked with motherly love from Nora and all his Brothers & Sisters. Kitty, Kevin and Nora also get in trouble after backtalking to a radio political shock jock that gets Senator McCalister in trouble. Rebecca reveals the truth about what happened with Joe to Sarah, while Joe is officially over with Sarah. Rebecca gets her friend a job at Ojai, who presumes Saul is gay, mistakenly outing Saul underneath Tommy's watch, before everything is swept under again. Again, I love the dynamics of the crazy Walker family which makes this show work so well. I love that Calista Flockart, Matthew Rhys, Rachel Griffiths, Dave Annable, Sally Field and Emily Vancamp actually gel on screen well together, and make it seem possible that they could actually be related. Now if only they could stick Balthazar Getty's Tommy into the mix a bit more, and it would let his character be more interesting since his scenes with the family are great, but they are few and far between, since most of the time we see him with depressing wife or at Ojai.

Allergy ridden Gossip Girl (hilarious narration from Kristen Bell) is back tracking down S and B, who this week, are trying to be friends again, then not, when Blair gets unceremoniously dumped as a model by her own mother in favour of Serena, then friends again, when Blair finds out it really wasn't Serena's fault after all. Wait, was Margaret Colin the mother in the pilot or did they just do a switcheroo? I LOVE Margaret Colin so I think I would have noticed if she was in the pilot. Anyways. LOVE Mararet Colin (from the cancelled-too-fast-gem Now and Again with Dennis Haysbert (24, Far From Heaven) and Eric Close (Without a Trace)) so I like that they seem to be filling the adult roles with some good pedigree (including Peter O'Brien (UK's Queer as Folk) as the photographer). Meanwhile, Nate is having his poor-little-rich-boy crisis and with the help of former-rich-boy-hippie, loses a lot of money in a con poker game much to Chuck's objections. (Seriously, what's with all the Chuck's in this years best new shows?)

Like I mentioned before, House has totally revitalized itself by throwing all these wannabe ducklings into the mix, and Foreman with his own set at a different hospital. I've always liked Olivia Wilde (The OC, Skin) and Kal Penn (Harold and Kumar Go To White Castle) so I'm glad they are finally on a good show that gives them a chance for more, especially now that they will be permanently added to the cast. The best episodes of House were always the ones where they mix things up from their usual disease-of-the-week where House solves it 10 minutes before the end of the hour, and while the addition of new ducklings will probably end up doing the same, the audition process sure was fun.

Ditto with Desperate Housewives, with the addition of bitchy old/new neighbour Katherine Mayfair (Dana Delaney) and the bonus of husband played by Nathan Fillion has added a nice new mystery to Wisteria Lane. They've also grouped the housewives back together again, making sure they all intermingle, which has always been the strength of the show. While the men (a great group of guys Doug Savant, Kyle MacLachlin, Nathan Fillion, James Denton) have mostly been relegated to the sidelines (with the exception of Carlos' Edie marriage proposal's storyline), all seems right again on Desperate Housewives and it's finally landed in the right balance of an enjoyable show again.

Between Rebecca being with studly Sam and Will's constant winning bloating his ego, everyone is out to get them on Beauty and the Geek. It's viewers favorite competition week and the Beauties must make a bottle rocket while the Geeks must give the beauties a message. Thankfully, Jesse wins the massage, enabling them to enact revenge on Will and Rebecca (paybacks a bitch), while Sam wins the rocket launch contest and puts up Will (the other one) and Jennifer assuming they would easily be beat. Sam was wrong and Will (the good one) while gloating, is adorably put into place by partner Jen, to not let it get to his head. That's how Will (the evil one) was antagonized in the first place. Justice is served and just before next week's makeover episode! Yey! It's my favorite episode! Who doesn't love Pygmalion?

Everybody hates Caruso when the Chinese kid beats him up, taking out the sole bully from the school. However, chaos ensues when the natural order of the school falls apart as everyone becomes a bully and Chris must fix it before Everybody Hates Chris. Rochelle makes Julius take his vacation days, but Julius being Julius, secretly takes on a job as a delivery man. Okay, I know the Emmy's are generally whitewashed and only award black actors on white shows, but it's time to stop the insanity and take notice of Terry Crews and Tichina Arnold who are really the heart and soul of this show, and can balance between heartfelt emotion to over-the-top hilarity all in the same scene.

While we've already seen almost everything on this second episode of Aliens in America, when Justin really gets the blunt of social rejection for being connected to Raja, I couldn't help but laugh at Dan Byrd who really is terrific as the social outcast on the show. Adhir Kalyan plays Raja sweetly naively and bonus points for being naked in the locker room. And while the accent is a little annoying, I've got to hand it to Amy Pietz, who if I hadn't seen doing theatre, would have written her off from her Caroline in the City days, because she and Scott Patterson (there really IS life after Luke's Diner!) work really well together as the Tolchuk parentals.

I think I should have laughed a little more on How I Met Your Mother, as Ted finds himself in a possible position as the third wheel in a threesome between former dates (Danica McKellar, Busy Phillips). Barney is hilarious TALKING about the threesome but is it not weird that technically, future Ted is telling his KIDS this story? I know. I'm thinking WAY too much but it occurred to me during the show and then it creeped me out. This is one to boast to your friends (maybe), but NOT your kids. Oh the horror. At least Robin was on a funnier storyline as she dates a British doctor and realising she needs to shave part way through the good date (just watch, it makes sense on the show).

Lacey is asked to do model nude for the local ladies charity calendar, Hank teaches a spinning class (!??!) where Karen becomes a teachers pet and Wanda gets a cordless phone for Corner Gas. Somehow Brent and Co. makes this REALLY funny. I love the dry Canadian sense of humour but I do wonder how this will do on American syndication?

Okay, Samaire Armstrong is the best thing of Dirty Sexy Money. There. I said it. I was worried at first that her character would be one note (even though all her other characters have always been fully fleshed out smart girls), but no matter how many dimensions (or lack there of) Juliet has, Samaire is ridiculously funny with her. As funny as the mean priest Brian is, I'm getting a little tired of it all, and the slow serious parts of the show still lag the pacing a little but I'm still liking this show even though it still feels like it's trying to find it's own footing. Maybe Blair Underwood will help, if he actually shows up in person.

Meanwhile, the best part of Private Practice this week is Paul Adelstein in a butterfly costume playing with little girls. Somehow it's not as creepy as it sounds, much to Paul's credit. I love me some Audra McDonald but maybe they should take a note from lead-in show Pushing Daisies and let the Broadway star sing instead of making her eat cake all episode. You'd think this show was written by men and not lead by a woman. What is this? Womens Wear Daily?

While I didn't hate Heroes this week, I just don't really remember anything from it except Milo's large eyes as he pushes his hands into the air and Claire and emo-boy-Thomas Dekker-replacement flying in the sky. Nikki is back, the new latinos escape from jail, Mohinder gets Issac's studio, remade into a lab, and Hiro makes sure Kensei becomes a hero and thus loses his love. Blah Blah blah... Oh yeah. and Sylar is alive and being nursed by a company.

Journeyman had a neat concept, by sending Dan back to San Francisco during game three of the world series when the earthquake shook the city. He keeps returning, assuming he needs to save people from the quake, but of course, things are never as they seem. It was good but this episode could have been exceptional, and by actually personalising the story to the man he had to save, it actually decreased the interest somehow. Luckily, they have Kevin McKidd in the lead so I'll keep on this journey for now.

I find myself wanting to really like Reaper especially because of Bret Harrison and Tyler Labine, but I find myself always getting a little bored partway through every episode so far, and while Sam contends with wasting his future, I always feel reminded that I'm wasting my time watching TV (which, as a TV lover, I should not feel like). I know most people seem to be loving this show but I feel like a slacker while watching these slackers reap evils-of-the-week. I feel more productive when I watch The Real World. Yet I still have this devotion in trying to love this show and there are parts I do, but it's not becoming the love affair I thought it would be. I think part of it is that I don't buy the girl boy relationships. No way would Josie have gone out with Socks, and no way would her lawyer boss have just acted so casually upon meeting him, and while I could understand smart Andi toiling away at something beneath her, something still feels off about that storyline. I don't buy it quite yet. I'm hoping there's more to the explanations.

So there you go, I'm back, I'll be back on my normal work schedule on Monday and as of now, I play catch up with life and TV, which sometimes is one and the same!

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