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.

Gossip Girl vs The Good Wife: The Takeover Battle

For weeks now, both Gossip Girl and The Good Wife have had a major story line involving the takeover of a company.

In Gossip Girl, the company in question was Bass Industries, chuck was concerned with his father’s legacy remaining intact. Ian Thorpe and Chuck battled it out for control of the empire with many a scheme and trick. Ian made Chuck think a successful party might convince him to keep the company together then sent Nate’s dad a memo saying he would take it apart no matter what. Ian then convinced Chuck to get rid of Lily, Chuck did so (losing Raina in the process) only to find out that once again that didn’t matter. Chuck snuck into the Thorpe office, learned who his financial backer was, and stole him. Lily then pretended to be on Ian’s side to throw him off guard. Ian then attempted to blackmail Lily and Chuck showed Raina what a scum her father was. Lily turned herself in and Bass Industry won.

In The Good Wife, the battle was for control of the firm. Derrick Bond came in to bail the firm out of financial ruin and then attempted to make a play for control by winning Will onto his side. Diane noticed that she was being marginalized and attempted to start her own firm. Will and Diane finally realized they were being used by Bond and worked together to turn some votes and regain control of the firm by ousting him. Ultimately, our original twosome won.

For weeks now, EW has been complaining about the Gossip Girl battle because it was dull (to quote: “Business deals are boring enough but fake business stuff is even worse”). In the case of Gossip Girl, I am inclined to agree. I am not sure what it was about the story that never quite worked (maybe it’s just that everyone talks in this weird smarmy way and always smirks, making their deviousness too obvious?). Meanwhile, when it comes to The Good Wife, this storyline was actually interesting. In the most recent episode in particular, as the showdown came to a head, things got extra heightened when we weren’t sure if our team of Lockhart-Gardner would make it. And what if Will had been lying all this time? (It isn’t entirely unlikely…) My conclusion is that it is not the story but the execution that makes a business deal boring or interesting. In a way, Gossip Girl lacked its classic scamming and simply had too much of Chuck acting desperate and therefore continuously being swindled, which we all know is not where he’s best. Diane meanwhile, struck back without ever seeming really desperate.

Reviewing a Few Shows

It’s been a while, so I suppose now is the time.

Dexter– at the end of a great season (let me just say that finale was the epitome of a nail biting thriller), I am sorry to see Julia Stiles go and I hope the producers aren’t teasing hen they say the door is still open for her to return. My real wonder is how Lumen feels about herself after everything she has done. Whether or not I believe Deb would have let them go…I’m still not sure. But it certainly didn’t ring as completely false. (If you pay attention, she never actually makes any attempt to identify the vigilantes or even really wonders who they are.) I wonder if Dexter’s acquittal of Quinn has bought him any good will (Quinn has no way of knowing that Dexter definitely changed the results since he couldn’t know for certain that it was Liddy’s blood on his shoe). Why must this show be so short? Bring us the next season already!

The Good Wife– this season has been an interesting one, mostly because you can’t help but wonder about Kalinda’s story that they so teasingly hang in front of us without really revealing much of anything. There was an interesting moment of her in the airport where she got tagged for extra security (I couldn’t help but wonder if they’d show the full body scanners). Also having the son (can’t remember his name) totally into Kalinda was classic. A small detail but this show is all about the small details. People, start watching this show! Saving it from cancellation!

Psych– so we finally have it. Sean and Juliette are dating. At least, that’s what they tell us. Most of the time there’s little indication of this (beyond Juliette making a comment like “I know you, I’m dating you”), only occasionally, when they were first telling Gus, was it actually a part of the story. Personally, I want it to play into things more. It does make Juliette’s loyalty’s conflicted at times. And if she’s around him more, might she ever realize that he’s lying about being psychic? I think that would be a particularly interesting thing to look at.

Nikita– I don’t know how other people feel about this show, but I’m actually really enjoying it. Especially Alex’s side of things since we seem to know enough about her to sympathize with her. We still need more about Nikita (like how she was on death row in the first place). Is it weird to see Ted Moseby’s future daughter act as superspy? The mid-season finale was a particularly interesting test on Alex that really drove home the stakes of what she is doing.

The Challenge– People are really hating on Laurel this season and while I agree that at some points she was pretty mean, I think people are also forgetting about the situation they were in. They were in a competition to make money, so there is no reason she shouldn’t have been trying to get rid of the players who she thought would prevent her from doing so. (Yes, she was out of line talking to Eric, but she did apologize and whether it was genuine or not we can’t really ever know, so it isn’t worth debating.) Her cockiness is pretty fair too, considering how strong a competitor she is (it’s like Evelyn, she is that good but she may not know how to play the social game). Whether or not she was right about Cara Maria in the end is sort of irrelevant. (So is the fact that Cara Maria is the only one who didn’t cry, since she was also the one who was carried, whether she wanted to be or not.) I feel bad for Paula, but she also shouldn’t be so surprised about it either.

Friday Night Lights
– I wasn’t loving the newest cast members and the change of schools (not because of the schools but because of the sudden enormous shift in storylines), but this season has really grown on me. I don’t care for Julie’s storyline, she’s acting like a five year old. I never really cared for her since that’s sort of all she’s ever been. But some of the other stories have picked up. I particularly love seeing Mrs Taylor try to connect to that problem kid who all the teachers hate.

Leverage– the show is pretty much the same as always, but who wasn’t charmed by Parker’s love of Christmas?

Vampire Diaries– anyone else think this season is a vast improvement over last? Not that I didn’t like last season, but ditching the diaries, bringing in Katherine, making Caroline a vampire, adding werewolves and creating a bond between Tyler and Caroline…all those elements made the show so much better. This last episode with Taylor’s transformation was particularly excellent. (And it’s nice to read about how supportive the cast and crew was with it in filming.) I’m not into Bonnie and Jeremy at all, but other people seem into it so to each his own. I am still waiting for the “rules” about the Originals. They can go out in daylight, they aren’t killed via stake through the heart, etc. So what are their limitations?

The Sing-Off– anyone been checking this show out lately? It cracks me up that acapella, which is hugely popular in college, has suddenly made it on tv. It’s sad, but true, that it never quite sounds as good recorded live as it does in person, so when you watch, think about how much better it must really be than what we hear. I don’t particularly care for the Jerry Lawson group, but otherwise, I’m quite impressed with the teams. The Backbeats and On The Rocks are my favorites. They’re still in it, but I haven’t watched episode 4 so we’ll see if they make it to the finale. I would say the judges are decent. Not the best I’ve seen but definitely better than certain others (Randy…)

Survivor– sometimes i think Jeff Probst goes a little too far during tribal council. To push them to the point where he literally may have convinced people to change their alliances (and if they had even the slightest brains they would have). I will say that I am impressed by the number of older players still in the game (half! when does that ever happen?) This is definitely the weakest season that I’ve season in a while, but perhaps it just seems that way after coming off such an excellent Heroes vs Villains season?

General Recaps

Dexter– Not much has changed since the last time I wrote about this show. Some people are disliking Julia Stiles’s character, but personally I love it. The relationship that she and Dexter have is fascinating because on the one hand he’s training a protege and on the other he’s trying to shield her. The way he acts with her is some of the most human we’ve ever seen him, even more so than when he was with Rita where a lot of it was about guessing what the right thing to say was. He’s been more honest and open with Lumen than he ever was with Rita (for good reason). Meanwhile, I love the little twist that Deb’s story line has taken. Fired because Laguerta’s trying to save herself! The cop who idolized her turning on her! Can’t wait to see Deb strike back. And with Angel on her side, that should do wonders for the already irritating (and troubled) marriage. I’m still waiting to see how everything comes together between Deb’s story and Dexter/Lumen’s but I’m not seeing how it would. Unless it’s just Deb’s being out of work and her relationship that makes them intersect. Finally, there’s “Quinn’s” investigation and the pictures of Lumen and Dexter dumping bodies. So that’s one more person to kill. Personally, I’m really liking this season though I’m not sure they can really beat the shocker that was the end of last season.

Brothers and Sisters– This week was the first time where Luc’s presence on the show felt like it had a point. Maybe it’s just me, but until now his only point was for Sara to have issues and basically ignore him. For the first time we had an opportunity to learn a little about him and see him have an actual storyline. Justin as sex God was a lamer thing, didn’t he change at all over this series? And what happened to the girl from the hospital? I liked her much better than Scott’s staff members. Kitty’s absence this episode was a definite plus though, I did not miss her at all. I did miss Saul though. Has anyone else noticed that he’s been getting more and more absent as the show continues? Bring him back! Let him have a relationship for once. Meanwhile, I would really like Scotty to get more in the way of storylines. We got a little with the cheating on Scotty and with his parents, but I want more. Also, we get it that Paige is a bratty teenager, but what is Cooper’s story? We haven’t seen him in ages. Nora and her friend/love interest are cute but I’m more excited to see what happens when Sara becomes her boss (finally she’ll be back to storylines that aren’t just about her love for Luc and insecurities because he’s younger).

House– I have to be completely honest, I’m really enjoying Amber Tamblyn’s awkward new character. I’d be happy to see Thirteen return, but I kind of hope we can keep them both. Get rid of Foreman or Taub maybe. I’m sick of them. Even Chase is sort of boring at this point. Maybe it’s time for a new guy. House and Cuddy are still a strange relationship that’s sometimes endearing and sometimes a little irritating. She expects him to tell her the truth, he intends to lie…I particularly loved when Wilson’s new girlfriend/ex-wife says she sees House’s side of things. I’m hoping they do more about them (like the episode with House and Cuddy’s baby, that was great. I can’t wait till the kid is a little older and can have funny/entertaining conversations).

How I Met Your Mother
– We knew that it was only a matter of time before Robin Sparkles returned, but I never anticipated Jessica Glitter. This week had some funny stuff, but it definitely wasn’t my favorite. It was one of those filler episodes where nothing really changes. Still funny, but not quite as exciting as other episodes.

90210– Is anyone else waiting in eager anticipation for the moment when Adrianna is finally outed in front of the entire world? That is all I want. When that happens I will be happy. I’ve realized that the main reason I dislike Naveed is because he LOOKS dirty. Like he hasn’t washed his hair or anything. Silver has been a non-character all season so I guess they’ve decided it’s time to give her a relationship with Naveed which will also bring drama into the girl group. I do wish we’d seen more of Ivy hanging out with the girls (do you think they will get her to be more girly?) but all we got was the precursor. Teddie’s story is one of the most interesting. I like how they’ve finally said that him being gay isn’t just a sudden plot twist (though perhaps some more subtle hints throughout would have been nice) but something from before. On the upside, there was none of Liam’s annoying “girlfriend,” on the downside there was very little of Naomi. No surprise that Aunt Becky and the teacher slept together, it was only a matter of time.

Chuck– There were a few particularly fascinating and excellent things in this week’s episode. For one thing, YAY SUMMER GLAU! Her storyline was pretty hysterical, though I was kind of hoping for a little more. Meanwhile, Chuck was trying to learn how to re-access his intersect and they brought in a specialist who thought fear would be the way to go. He also thought Sarah prevented him from full fear because he could always fall back on her. Why didn’t they simulate a situation that Chuck thought was real rather than actually bring him into a real one? And why didn’t they “threaten” Sarah because if ever there was something to make Chuck afraid, it would be the possibility of losing her. It bothered me that Chuck was insulted about Sarah saying he wasn’t an agent without the intersect. If he can’t fight and defend himself, he can’t be an agent. It’s as simple as that. Maybe there was a better way for her to say it, but still.

The Event– The show has taken a turn for the interesting (aged little girls, man morphing from young to old, the vice president as evil) but it’s still on the slow side. I want Layla and Sean to do something more interesting. Enough running away and crying. Let us see Layla as a three dimensional character. What skills does she bring to the story? (No, abducting a doctor doesn’t really count.) I hate to say it but the president is pretty lame. He doesn’t compare to any of the 24 presidents. He’s involved in things where it doesn’t make sense and yet doesn’t seem to be doing anything. I mean, does he actually run the country? We need more pieces to the puzzle (or even just more things to make us say “what?”). Think of Lost. In the first season, we saw polar bears, the smoke monster, a hatch, a mysterious distress signal, Locke healed, visions of Jack’s dead father, a cable running through the forest/beach, the others, the mysterious numbers, and some other things. So far in the Event we’ve got…stranded aliens with advanced technology, aged girls, and a creepy man. Not enough. Give us more!

Lie to Me– this show is missing the personal interactions and storylines. Think of Bones. Each week there is a unique case, but we also have a ton of relationships going on as well. Cam and her sort of daughter, Bones and Booth, Booth and Hannah, Sweets and Daphne, Hodges and Angela, and the random techs. In every episode something happens with a couple of these relationships so that it feels like someone has moved forward in some way. In Lie to Me, it is that progression in character that I feel like we are missing. Yes, we have Lightman and Foster flirting and Loker and Torres have their moments, and of course Lightman and Emily, but that’s about it. And we don’t really progress much (at all) with any of them in each episode. Get into the interpersonal relationships more.

Gossip Girl– As much as I hate Chuck, I do like him and Blaire together. This decision of hers to remain apart is interesting (and unlikely to stay this way permanently). Dan and Nate act less like bros and more like a couple. Vanessa is a little bit delusional. While it’s true that Serena gets away with things and her friends help, Vanessa has yet to actually be a victim of this. Her friends have always stepped in for her when Vanessa was trying to screw Serena for no good reason. Still not clear on how Ben got in jail. Even if he and Serena had an affair while she was in school. (Is that the real reason she left? This seems like a really delayed address of the issue.) If he’s in jail for statutory rape then Serena’s mother would know about it. I’m okay with a bit of Jenny here and there just to help with the sabotage (since Vanessa and Juliet are clearly awful at it) but I hope she’s not making an official comeback. What I really can’t wait for is when everyone realizes they’ve been scammed. What do we think they’ll do then? And what will happen when Serena wakes up in Juliet’s place?

Castle– After those excellent episodes where Beckett was being targeted, the show has slowed down a bit. I get it, Alexis has a boyfriend and it’s cute, but we need more. Is anyone else expecting Alexis to get kidnapped at some point? It feels like it’s only a matter of time.

Weeds– This show is not what it used to be. The only interesting thing happening is that Nancy has just fallen into the clutches of Guillermo and Esteban and then turns herself into the police to get away from them. It sounds like there is one season left to this show. We’ll see what happens then, but I miss Aggrestic and the other characters that they’ve eliminated.

Glee– Gwyneth Paltrow! She may not be the best singer ever, but I think she was excellent as Holly Holliday and I hope they bring her in more now that they’ve left the door open for it. I’m fine with Teri not coming back and I notice Emma has been a bit absent of late. Fine by me, the EW recapper may not agree, but I don’t care for the adult storylines (except for Sue vs Will which took an interesting turn this week as Sue realized he was better than the alternative). I like Kurt and the idea of him having a boyfriend (and I particularly love the secretly gay football player) but I’m not the biggest fan of Blaine. I’m not sure why, something about him just rubs me the wrong way, talent and all. It feels like the Glee kids for the most part have fallen in the background (Brittany, Tina, Quinn, Puck, Santana) and I would like more episodes to focus on them. Some people are probably thrilled to hear that Mike the Other Asian has been upgraded in cast status. I don’t particularly care, just because we already have so many characters to explore that I’m not sure we need another at this point. Otherwise, the music is still excellent and I am completely happy with the show.

No Ordinary Family– watch this show people! It needs to build more of the mythology (more hints about who the mom’s boss is for example and bring in some more supervillains), but I think this week’s episode with the parents and JJ were excellent. Daphne’s powers have got to become more dynamic (mind control!) to give her some more active storylines. Somehow they’ve made JJ’s super brain more interesting than mind reading. Maybe Daphne mind reads someone who wants to kill themselves or get revenge by shooting up the school and intervenes somehow? Something. Save this show! (tvbythenumbers.com say this is a bubble show so let’s push it back to renewal!)

Life Unexpected– Well, we know this show is done for. Unfortunate since it just got back to a particularly interesting plot (an abusive foster family). Anyone else wonder what the deal with the recent obsession with student-teacher relations is? Pretty Little Liars, Gossip Girl, Life Unexpected, 90210 (though it is obviously different in this case because he’s a rapist)…enough already. The question is, will Lux ever come clean to get Tasha out of trouble? What will happen when they find out.

Parenthood– another show to save. How are people not watching this? Everything about it is compelling. The best story this week was definitely about Christina trying to get Max invited to a birthday party (though I enjoyed the Sarah-Amber college story too). Never has a TV show addressed Aspbergers as in depth as this (well, I can’t say never for sure, but from what I know of) and how it affects the rest of the family is so compelling. Haddie could stand being a little more interesting (maybe it’s time for her to go through a rebellious stage, just as Amber is bettering herself because then who better to help her back?), but otherwise, I’m thrilled. It seems Parenthood is moving nights. Let’s hope this isn’t a too little too late measure to save the show. If you haven’t been watching yet, it’s time to start. This is one of the better family dramas on TV.

The Good Wife– this week was a particularly fantastic episode. Miranda Cosgrove (iCarly) guest starred as a pop icon trying to shed her Disney image by over-partying. But the interesting thing was how clearly it was actually an act and not the reality of who she was. And when does it become a reality rather than an act simply because of how long she’s been doing it. Cosgrove in real life seems to be one of the teen stars (though Nickelodeon not Disney which might be part of what’s helping her) who has not gone crazy, but she did a great job of acting the part. I’m hoping the show will further explore Kalinda as well as Peter and Alicia’s relationship (which has been pushed to the background), but otherwise I just can’t believe it took me so long to start watching this show. If you haven’t, this is yet another show that should be saved from cancellation.

Survivor– This season has been a weak one (seriously Producers, Old vs Young is 9 out of 10 times going to be lame, why risk it?), but this week’s did take an exciting turn as Holly instigated a push to get Brenda out. I am surprised that Naonka is still around just because she’s so awful. I would think that Fabio would have tried to make a push to get rid of her (though I guess he has not really made any moves on his own). But the odds of Naonka winning are so slim that I guess everyone is hoping she’s the next Russel.

Bones– I’ve already mentioned some of the things I like about the show, but I am hoping that they kick things up a notch. I loved the gravedigger episodes because there was a bigger picture to decipher. I’m hoping they bring in a new big picture villain sometime soon.

The Big Bang Theory– I’m glad Penny is back. She seems to be walking normally (or normally enough). Not everyone is happy about Mayim Bialick’s promotion to series regular, but as long as the show actually explores her character rather than just use her for comic relief, she will be a good addition. (Though Bernadette has yet to be more than a prop so we’ll see.)

The Office– The show hasn’t been garnering the laughs and compelling storylines of former seasons. I’m still watching but I’m a little ambivalent about it of late. Hopefully it’ll find itself again soon.

30 Rock– I want them to give Jenna a new, bigger story. She’s been comic relief but I think it’s time to explore her background more. We got a little about her mother, but I’d like to see more. Kenneth too, would be nice. The show has still be pretty funny, but not quite as strong as it was in past seasons. I do appreciate the way they dealt with Jack needing to move on (though it wasn’t quite as awesome as the episode where Jack was supposed to walk away from his mentorship with Liz).

Outsourced– The show has definitely gotten better since the premiere. I particularly appreciated getting a sense of Tod’s family, which we haven’t really gotten to see until now. It’s still not the best show out there, but it has some interesting things (especially when it comes to Tod and Asha) that make it enjoyable.

Grey’s Anatomy– I am glad Christina’s bartending stint was only a one episode deal. It’s funny, but not the kind of thing I’d want to go on for a long period of time. I particularly like how Teddy’s taking Christina’s issues so personally. It shows there really was a bond and they’d gotten beyond Hunt. I’m more annoyed with the way Derrick is dealing with these things since it doesn’t feel like he’s doing anything to help but rather is keeping her from being able to deal with things. Avery’s also become more interesting now that he has his own survivor’s guilt issues to work out. Bailey drunk though, was awesome. I love Bailey and really hope she gets more air time.

Private Practice– this show has just reached some of its best point since it started. Charlotte dealing with the rape is intense but compelling (though Violet is really starting to bug me). I also love the little bit of Amelia that they finally gave us and hope they can find a way to make her more of a character on the show. I really liked seeing Pete deal with his family, that was probably some of the best we’ve seen of him.

Burn Notice– this was one of the stronger episodes lately. There’s something about the team being caught and forced to work with someone else while also stopping them from doing anything bad that makes it much more interesting. Plus it sort of followed the show’s general procedure while also disrupting it, which makes it interesting. It’s time for more unexpected things to happen. Take the control away from the players for a bit.

Smallville– I love that Tess is finally a good guy with a past to explore. I was over her self-righteous evil. It would be nice if Louis could start being more of a solution to some problems than the damsel in distress since she’s supposed to be so strong. I was happy to see Supergirl back and really hope we haven’t seen the last of her. (Though she was a little too “perfect” this time around, which is never fun.)

Well, that’s pretty much everything in one of my longest posts ever. Thoughts?

The Good Wife

Julianna Marguiles makes yet another attempt at a new tv show, this time about Alicia, a woman who returns to practicing law (AGAIN A LAWYER) after her politician husband’s very public cheating scandal. She makes a great start…coming late to the meeting. She gets compared to Hilary Clinton. She gets relegated to pro bono because despite her previous law record (top of her class and 2 years with the most billing hours), she hasn’t been working for 15 years.

I don’t know how I feel about this show overall. Despite only catching the tail end of her time on ER, I’ve always enjoyed Julianna Marguiles, post Clooney, so I’m more than willing to try it out. I enjoyed Canterbury’s Law though like Philanthropist, it didn’t give enough depth to the main character (losing a child is devastating but it is not a personality trait!). Perhaps it just never had the time.

I like that she gets continually beaten down (though she can’t seem to get a sentence out without an objection so you can’t help but wonder how good of a lawyer she actually is) and yet she doesn’t lose her fire. The way she solves the case is interesting and makes you worry a little bit about general police proceedings.

The question, why did she stand by him? We don’t get to see much of the husband in the first episode which is a shame but I think that will change with time.

This is a more grown up show than most things on television so I wonder how it will stand up to with viewers.