My TV Blog Small Screen Chat on Common Room

In December I began writing TV posts for Common Room, a website and series of podcasts on pop culture, beauty, fitness, and more. My segment, Small Screen Chat, is a weekly segment where I talk about some aspect of TV, whether that be trends, a specific show or episode, or what I am watching in general. Take a look at what I’ve written so far-

A look at new shows that have premiered over the year:

  • The End is Near – Intelligence, The Assets, Killer Women, Chicago PD (I also talk about the spring premieres of Community, The Crazy Ones, and Big Bang Theory.
  • What Else Is New? – Enlisted, Helix, Bitten, Spoils of Babylon, and True Detective (I also discuss the spring returns of The Originals, Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Switched at Birth, and Shameless, as well as my decision to stop watching The Michael J. Fox Show and Community.)
  • Just Getting Started – Star-Crossed, Growing Up Fisher, and About a Boy
  • The Start of Something New – Crisis, Mixology, Believe, and Night Shift
  • Let’s Get It Started – Bad Teacher, Friends with Better Lives, The 100, Faking It, Sirens, Playing House, Deadbeat, and Jim Henson’s Creature Shop Challenge.
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Writing In A New Location Now…

It has been a long time since I have updated this blog. Life seems to have gotten in the way.

But now I am writing again, though in a new location. I am writing weekly blog posts about TV at Common Room: Small Screen Chat.

My first post, Shows I Don’t Care About Anymore, is up now. Check it out.

Arrow

Dear Arrow Writers,

I really like your show. Please get rid of the voiceover.

~A Fan

This Season’s Pilots

It has been a long time since I have written anything, mostly because my new job has left me with so little time to sit down and write. But now that things are settled, I am hoping to get back to writing more regularly.

So without further adieu, thoughts about some of the new shows this fall:

Up All Night– I wanted to like this show more than I did. Following a young couple with a baby who seek to remain “young” while growing into their own as parents, the series stars two big name comedic actors: Christina Applegate and Will Arnett. Add Maya Rudolph to the mix and it seems like a surefire win. But for some reason the first few episodes did not do it for me. They lacked laugh out loud moments and I did not find myself connecting to the characters. Arnett was more likeable here than in Running Wilde, but still he lacks the charm he had in arrested development. I have heard that it has more recently gotten better and I am considering trying it again sometime when I get the chance.

Free Agents– This show sort of grew on me but unfortunately it was canceled before it grew on anyone else. The show is about a two co-workers who are attracted to each other as they grapple with the end of their former relationships (one through death one through divorce). Not exactly the funniest of premises, but not too bad either.

The Secret Circle– I am a little torn on this newest CW show. For one thing, I don’t love the main actress Britt Robertson in this role. I thought she was great as Lux in Life Unexpected, but somehow she doesn’t do it for me here. My bigger issue is that a lot of the action involves chanting words over and over and staring at things until something happens. it doesn’t make for a visually impressive show. Even Charmed, which had chanting witches, had other things to make the fight scenes more action-filled. Pru had telekinesis, Piper could stop time and later blow things up, Phoebe could fight on top of her hover ability, and Paige could teleport herself and other objects. The bad guys could throw fire balls and do other impressive things. This is what the show is missing.

Ringer– Sarah Michelle Geller back on TV! Well, I wasn’t as thrilled as I thought I would be. Don’t get me wrong, I liked it, but it is missing the charm of Buffy (in large part because it doesn’t have the great comedic asides and I prefer the butt-kicking Buffy to the prissier character we see now). I have not had the time to follow this consistently so instead it is on my list of shows to get back to when everything else is on hiatus.

The X Factor– I love singing shows as much as the next person but this just felt like a reiteration of American Idol without the charming judges and no twist to draw me in. Sure, I stopped watching during the audition stages to maybe it gets better from there, but with so many other shows to watch, I just didn’t have the time to commit to yet another singing competition.

Revenge– I like Emily Van Camp a lot. Even more, I like the idea behind this soapy if not as mysterious as I’d hoped show. I have only had the chance to see the pilot, sadly, but it too has been put on my “watch during the hiatus season” list.

Unforgettable– I’m not sure about this one. Other than the gimmick that the main character has a perfect memory, there wasn’t much to set this show apart from the other cop procedurals out there. For now it is relegated to “try it out when I have time” but I don’t have a ton of hope for this one.

Prime Suspect– I was a little doubtful on this one. For one thing, there was the weird hat. A woman trying to gain respect from her fellow cops would not wear that stupid thing. For another, even though I definitely believe that the world of police still has a lot of male-female issues, it is hard to reconcile that with all the cop shows out there with strong central female characters. Ultimately, the central struggle being gender issues just wasn’t compelling enough for me. I’d rather shows that show woman as strong and capable to change people’s minds than actively drawing attention to it.

A Gifted Man– I didn’t have any hopes for this one about a self-absorbed surgeon who sees his dead wife and begins questioning his life. It feels a lot like that Philanthropist show fmor a few summers ago. It just isn’t deep enough.

Suburgatory– About a girl who is moved to the suburbs with her dad after he finds condoms in her drawer. Overall I like this show. Not the best of comedies to be sure, but it is fun in its own way. My one complaint: the voice over. I have always felt that voice overs must be done just right to be worth it but this show doesn’t quite do it.

Charlie’s Angels– The biggest problem with this already canceled remake mostly comes from the poor casting choices. While I liked Minka Kelly as the tutor in Parenthood, she did not feel believable as a hardcore car thief. The other actors were little better. To have worked, I think this remake needed to be made darker and more modern, instead it felt campy.

Homeland– I was late getting into this one only because I didn’t have enough time when it first started but I kept hearing good things and now I am finally back. I am glad to find it just as exciting as I’d heard. I am not the only one who is glad to see Claire Danes out from wherever she has been hiding.

Grimm– The first of two fairytale centric shows, this one follows that Grimms are a family line with the ability to see supernatural fairytale’s true identities. The main character just comes into his gift and uses it, in combination with his job as a cop to help people. So far I have not been thrilled by this one. It felt very earnest, like it was trying very hard to be exciting.

Once Upon a Time– The second fairytale show of the season is a little more successful. In one reality, the characters are famous fairytale characters, in the other, they are cursed to forget their true identities and are stuck in a town where time never passes. But the main character, Jennifer Morrison plays the daughter of Snow White and the only character who can save them–dragged to town by the kid she gave up some years before. I can’t decide if I like the part of the show that is in fairytale land, but for one reason or another, I am really enjoying this show. Of course, it is so high-rated that clearly other people are too.

Person of Interest– I only had the chance to watch the first episode of this new series about people who track upcoming murders by finding people involved in the murder without knowing what part they will play–murderer or victim. It’s an interesting idea, but I wasn’t convinced by the pilot. It’s another one relegated to the “try later” list.

Last Man Standing– There’s something so nostalgic about this show. It, like Melissa and Joey, feels like one of those old school comedies like the ones we came to get to know Tim Allen from back in the day. Again, not the most intelligent or unique of comedies, but enjoyable nonetheless.

Hart of Dixie– Rachel Bilson plays a neurosurgeon who doesn’t care enough for her patients and ends up in the deep south as a doctor at a small practice. I don’t really love Rachel Bilson in this show, she sort of bumbles and stuff in a way that i don’t find endearing or even so believable in a surgeon. But for some reason I’m still enjoying the show.

There are still a number of shows I haven’t had a chance to watch but what are your favorite new shows so far?

Sabrina Matthews of SYTYCD Canada

Having enjoyed SYTYCD, I jumped at the chance to watch another season, albeit the most recent Canadian season. The season has proved to be exciting and impressive for a number of reasons, but the main thing I take away from the season is that Sabrina Matthews absolutely must come to the American version. Above all other choreographers, Matthews stood out as the most consistently impressive and inspiring of the choreographers. I can’t remember a single dance of hers that I did not like, which is saying something considering she choreographed ten routines (almost every week). Her choreography is heartfelt and brings the emotional element that the American audience (myself included) loves so much.

Check out some of her work:


What do you think? Should she be added to the US choreographer line up?

A Few New(ish) Shows

Happily Divorced– The show based on Fran Drescher’s life is surprisingly entertaining. You can’t help but wonder why anyone likes watching someone whose voice is so grating, but somehow it works in this show about a woman who learns after nearly two decades with her husband that he is gay. They get divorced but don’t have the respective money to live in separate homes (their house is unrealistically big for this issue, maybe it is time to get two smaller houses). I don’t care for her best friend Judi, who seems there for obvious laughs and little more. The show isn’t going down in the history books as a fantastic comedy, but there’s something enjoyable about killing time with it.

Death Valley– MTV’s latest foray into scripted television is a supernatural comedy about how a police station (specifically, the Undead Task Force newly formed within the LAPD) deals with the revelation that zombies and vampires are real. At the same time, they are being filmed, Office-style, for a documentary. This show isn’t of the quality that Awkward is, but the network’s scripted TV has always been hit or miss and this is somewhere in between. A lot of its laughs are a bit cheap and zombies are a bit silly. It feels like the show is mostly missing true characters (rather than a group of caricatures), but I’m still watching to see where it goes.

Strike Back– this show isn’t exactly new at all, in that it is in its second season, but it only just came to the US this year (with a partnership with Cinemax that is much like the Torchwood deal with Starz). I watched the first season (which is, in typical British form, only a few episodes long) and found it to be all right. The main character’s internal drama did not come across as strongly as it might have and felt largely removed from the action of the story (perhaps because his family and the guy who is giving him a hard time are always on the other side of the world). The six episode first season is divided into two episode arcs and the strongest one was easily the first, focusing on the kidnapping of a journalist by someone from the main character John Porter’s past. Porter is a retired Sergeant, after a mission in Iraq led to the death of two soldiers from his unit. he has since grown estranged from his family and struggled to get his life on track when he is called in to help save the journalist. The show wasn’t strong enough to jump to the top of my to watch list, but it will remain on my “watch when all that is on is reruns” list.

The Lying Game– Yet another ABC Family show based on a book series. This show follows Emma and Sutton, twins who discover each other when they are teens. Sutton was adopted and has grown up in a life of privilege. Emma, on the other hand, has gone from one bad foster family experience to another. The girls’ personalities could not be more different–Sutton is the nasty queen-bee while Emma is sweet and desperate for love and acceptance. Sutton goes off to search for their birth parents while Emma pretends to be Sutton in order to cover for her. Things get complicated as the mystery of their birth grows and Sutton’s complicated life makes it difficult for Emma to maintain her cover. The mystery isn’t as engrossing and the series isn’t as addictive as Pretty Little Liars, but the show does have a charm of its own. (Perhaps the biggest problem is that while Emma is endearing, Sutton is not, whereas in Pretty Little Liars, all four girls are sympathetic. It may also be the lack of well-developed other characters.)

Full House

I recently decided to start watching Full House from the beginning. Not sure what prompted the decision, but so far (I’m in season two) I’m glad I did. That being said, I feel like I have been a bit disillusioned. Little is the way I remember it:

  • Danny was not always a neat freak (in season two he vacuums the regular vacuum with a smaller one, but before then he does nothing like it)
  • Stephanie did not say How Rude! until halfway through season one
  • Jesse doesn’t say have mercy until even later than that
  • Even the lyrics to the theme song aren’t as I remember (it turns out they changed slightly over time)

I was surprised to find the first few episodes super emotional. If anything, the premise of this comedy is shockingly depressing–Danny’s wife dies, leaving him to care for his three daughters alone–but the show manages to strike a balance with this sadness by bringing in rocker musician Jesse (Danny’s brother-in-law) and stand up comedian Joey (Danny’s best friend).

Watching Michelle (the Olsen Twins) grow up is also fascinating. We literally see them go from silent baby to walking and talking toddler and beyond. It is strange to see someone actually play their own age on television. Though they never look unhappy on the show, Mary Kate apparently regrets her childhood years on set.

I find myself appreciating DJ much more than before–she is the one who pulls in the tears most because she is the only one old enough to understand the bigger picture of what is going on. She is old enough to truly understand that her mother is gone and express those feelings. Eventually Michelle and Stephanie grow up to be a part of this story too.