Friday, June 27, 2008

Bones: Never Knew Love Like This Before

Alright, fine. I concede. I was naive and stubborn, and I really had no idea what I was up against. What I want to do is to blame every one I've ever met for not telling me what I was missing; not making every effort to get me into the fandom before I missed out on something undeniable.

I want to do that, but I can't - our very own Jen, along with a mutual friend, has been on my case about how crucial it is for me to watch Bones for at least the past year, if not longer. Four of my closest, most trusted and complementary friends from the 'shipper world are head-over-heels, crazy in love with show (read: in this case, "show" pretty much narrows down to "'ship"), and I should know by now that if it's ever more than just one of them that's fallen hard... well, I'm better off just joining the ranks.

But I didn't simply go quietly and allow them to school me on all things Bones - no, I instead was incredibly resistant to the idea of taking on yet another fandom when my brain was already overloaded with all things Lost, not to mention Grey's, House, Brothers and Sisters and Friday Night Lights. It really doesn't work out well when I attempt to split focus, at any given time, between more than one "current favorite" when it comes to 'ships, and that was really the problem, you see -- it wasn't that I didn't want to watch Bones or that I thought it would be stupid, but more that I knew simply based on the premise of it's main 'ship that I was likely to fall hard and fast.

For the record, "hard and fast" ended up being the understatement of my life.

I gave in to the whining begs of my friends and put Bones at the top of my "Summer Catch-Up" list so that I could just get it over with and get them to shut up. I knew I would like it (I mean, barely 15 minutes into the pilot and they throw out an X-Files reference - I'm sold), but I was content to let Booth/Brennan live on the same plane of 'shipper importance that I've moved Derek & Meredith to over the past year. Lost would still rule supreme, and Jack/Kate would not be dethroned as my absolute current favorites.

Unlike a basketball finals bracket, my list of important 'ships would not need re-seeding simply due to the addition of a late substitute.

What I never prepared myself for, however, was the possibility of Booth/Brennan not only completely surpassing the level of love that I have for Derek/Meredith, but truly landing on the same plane as my Jate obsession. I never saw that one coming.

It's officially a damn good thing that Lost isn't returning until January again, because that means I can spend the entire fall focusing solely on Bones without suffering brain damage from trying to 'ship two (tied for first place!) current favorites at the same time. I honestly don't know what I'm going to do come January. I've never experienced two all-consuming 'ships concurrently. I'm both excited and terrified at the prospect.

The thing is, everyone told me that I would love Booth/Brennan. I never doubted them, as I've already said, but just expected them to be like another Mulder/Scully partnership - not that that's a bad thing, it's just less urgent; more understated, less "take me now!"

Instead, what I got was a relationship unlike anything else that I've ever experienced on television before. Yes, Booth/Brennan are incredibly Mulder/Scully-esque in their partnership (their beliefs are inherently opposite, and every path to truth is riddled with constant bickering), but the immediate sexual tension and underlying, burgeoning friendship between the two is something very akin to Seasons 1 & 2 Sydney/Vaughn of Alias. Except that, even then, the comparison falls short as Booth/Brennan have more of a frustrating love/hate dynamic than the sugar-coated, Disney-Happy-Painted dynamic of early Syd/Vaughn.

And, honestly, the frustrating and semi-hateful version is actually a lot hotter.

What really secures my all-consuming love for this series/'ship is honestly the character of Temperance Brennan herself. I could (and will) write an entire blog about her complexities and the ways in which she makes me (and, obviously, Booth) want to simultaneously hug her and ring her neck.

I'm a huge, huge fan of strong-willed yet completely emotionally damaged female protagonists (Sydney Bristow, Kate Austen, Abby Lockhart, Summer Roberts, Meredith Grey...) because I find their complexities to be what makes them so consistently fascinating to try and understand, however Temperance Brennan stands out from the others.

I'll save the details for my Brennan-centric blog, but basically I have never - never - experienced a character that was so entirely aggravating and unbearable while at the same time deserving of so much empathy and support. My psychoanalysis (which Brennan would hate) of her onion layers of emotional detachment seems never-ending, and I desperately love the challenge she presents for this clearly destined OTP.

Let me just say, before Caroline reads this and freaks out, that it's not as though Booth/Brennan have replaced Jate in my heart as my number one loves, but the two are most definitely sharing the title right now. They can share simply because I find them both to be so drastically different and yet almost the same at the core. It's not that I love Booth/Brennan more than I've ever loved any other 'ship, ever - it's simply that I've never seen anything like them before. I've never seen anything like this show before, honestly.

How refreshing it is to find a procedural drama that is actually centered around character development, interpersonal relationships and budding romances instead of this week's bad guy and nothing more. I love that we get to see the characters outside of work. I love that we get to experience the BFF bond between Brennan and Angela. I love the familial aspects of the show, both with regard to "friends are family" and the characters' actual families away from the job. The crime of the week is what all of the good guys come together over, but (just like with Alias) it isn't the driving force of what makes this show brilliant.

And to think - David Boreanaz was originally contracted to appear in only 13 episodes every season, leaving Brennan to interact with other FBI Agents in the meantime, until Hart Hanson felt the "lightning in a bottle" that he had working in his favor during David and Emily Deschanel's first audition together. Hart asked David to reconsider working full-time as to not waste the rare wonder that is perfect chemistry and obviously David obliged, resulting in the wondrous dynamic of the Booth/Brennan pairing that I've spent the past week and a half with falling madly in love.

Thank God for that undeniable spark and overwhelming sexual tension between Boreanaz and Deschanel, huh?

But that's a blog for another day...

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The Year for Friday Night Lights? Kyle Chandler, Connie Britton, and People From Other, Almost-as-Awesome Shows Headline 2008 Emmy "Predictions"

For the last several years, I’ve put together a list of “Emmy predictions” before the nominations were announced. What I’ve come to realize, however, is that they’re never very accurate. Why? Because although I have a decent-sized group of shows I watch and know, it’ll never add up to how much good TV is airing at a given time. I also don’t watch premium cable, so that’s always a problem. I try to be relatively objective, but I never am, and even though I “predicted” that Noah Wyle would get nominated three years in a row, he never did. That’s the hard thing—separating the shows I love for their quality from the shows I love for the ships. I loved ER for the ship. I loved The West Wing for the quality. I’m falling for Bones because of the ship. I fell for Friday Night Lights because of the quality. When you find knockout series that also have an amazing love story—thank you, Mr. Abrams—it’s a treat. Separating the two categories, though, is what makes Emmy “predicting” difficult for me--they've been an absolute joke since I first started doing it. It's not predicting, it's wishful thinking, and I shouldn't have been sharing them with anyone other than my therapist.

So this year, I’m trying something new. I went through the categories and picked ONE person from each who I hope will get nominated. Hope, not predict.

Outstanding Drama Series—Friday Night Lights. Hands down, this is the show I most desperately want to be recognized. I often feel like someone needs to take NBC aside and say, “You know this show you’ve got? Well, it’s really good.” Who better to do that than Emmy? Friday Night Lights is touching and sweet and undeniably real. When’s the last time you saw Christian fundamentalism portrayed in such an earnest and irony-free way? The relatively simple stories draw me in just as much as the high-concept crap going on over at Lost. This is the show that everyone should be watching and loving.

Outstanding Comedy Series—Pushing Daisies. So you know what I said about quality shows with quality ships? This is one of them. So many of the shows I watch are high-concept serials with a side of romance. I just wrote a blog about The X-Files and how it’s a show about aliens with the relationship between the main characters playing an integral, constant, secondary role. Pushing Daisies, meanwhile, is a high-concept romance—oh, the potential! The short-but-sweet introductory season was a beautiful exercise in, as I said a few months ago, “creativity and childhood glee and grown-up romance and desperation, really.” Exquisitely detailed, delightfully inventive, and perfectly narrated by Jim Dale, Pushing Daisies badly deserves this nomination.

Outstanding Actor in a Drama Series—Kyle Chandler, Friday Night Lights. I had to decide between Kyle Chandler and Matthew Fox—not a choice a girl should ever be faced with. Chandler submitted “Last Days of Summer,” the season premiere, and while Fox’s submission isn’t known yet, I’d guess it would be either “Something Nice Back Home” or the finale. So when I thought about it, I realized that my hopes for Matthew Fox were inextricably tangled with my love for the Jack and Kate episodes. My hopes for Kyle Chandler are based solely on the fact that I think his facial expressions—no dialogue, no blocking, nothing else—could out-act almost anyone else in the category. Jackface comes close, but Kyle Chandler definitely deserves this award this year. I mean, “Last Days of Summer” (and just about every episode this season) had the amazing facials inspired by Gracie Belle. Sold.

Outstanding Actress in a Drama Series—Kate Walsh, Private Practice. This is actually a really pathetic category this year, which should tell you something about the state of being a girl on TV this season. In fact, I don’t remember the specifics of the episode she submitted (“In Which Cooper Finds a Port in His Storm”), but I think it’s the one where Addison has to keep the baby (“Batgirl”?) overnight. It’s sweet, and it offers up nice character development for Dr. Montgomery, but it’s nothing whoa special. Private Practice as a whole is nothing special. It’s okay, and I like most of the characters, but I’m only watching it for the awesomeness that is Addison. Part of me thinks the perfect fit might be for Walsh to get nominated for Guest Actress in a Drama for her one-off spot on Grey’s this year. Grey’s is still an all-around better show than Private Practice, and that episode reminded me of how much the ensemble lacks without the good neonatal surgeon. Damn, maybe she’ll get nominated for both. Wouldn’t that be something?

Outstanding Actor in a Comedy Series—Alec Baldwin, 30 Rock
. He lost last year to that dastardly Brit, Ricky Gervais, but I still think Baldwin’s a shoo-in for at least a nomination. Wonderfully hilarious as Jack Donaghy, Baldwin had a lot to do this year, what with Don Geiss being in a coma, having a war with Devon, and generally being ridiculous. I got the 30 Rock season one boxed set for my dad for Father’s Day, and he called me the other day just to tell me he was having a Jack-inspired laugh attack. It’s so funny it almost makes you forget what a terrifying person Alec Baldwin is in real life.

Outstanding Actress in a Comedy Series—Eva Longoria, Desperate Housewives. I had it down between Longoria and Tina Fey and I’m still not sure I made the right decision. Gabrielle didn’t have anything fantastic to do this season—that Victor storyline was pretty dumb—but I think Longoria is just generally great. I really thought she deserved to win for season two, and this award is a long time coming for her. This season, with the introduction of Katherine Mayfair and a mystery just as delicious as season one’s, was a resurgence of sorts for Desperate Housewives, and Longoria was consistently great, even if her own storyline wasn’t the most imaginative. (Also, I can’t WAIT to see Gabrielle as a mom to two mischievous little girls next year!)

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series—Michael Emerson, Lost. Another shoo-in, perhaps, but can you blame me? As Ben Linus, Emerson had his plate monumentally full this year and he pulled absolutely everything off. Half of Darlton—can’t remember which half—commented on realizing, after distributing the script for “The Shape of Things to Come” (the episode Emerson wisely selected), just how much they had demanded of this actor: playing the piano, firing a weapon, experiencing the death of his daughter, speaking Arabic and Turkish, commanding the smoke monster, and, of course, having dramatic, cryptic conversations with Charles Widmore. Ben Linus scares me, y’all, but I’m undeniably intrigued by his character. Michael Emerson needs this Emmy.

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series—Connie Britton, Friday Night Lights. For some reason (probably incompetency, but I shouldn’t jump to conclusions), Connie Britton was submitted for Supporting. Now, in all fairness, she does technically play a “Supporting” role on FNL, but there’s a lot of room for leeway as far as which category you go for, and I would think that, in the interest of not overloading one category with actors while neglecting another, Britton would have ended up in the Actress category. Nevertheless, she’s over here with the other three regular female cast members from her show. She should’ve been in the Actress category, but I still hope to goodness she gets nominated. Hell, I’d be rooting for her in the Guest Actor in a Comedy series if that’s where the monkeys decided to put her. If I were to guess on which episode Britton submitted, I probably would have guessed it to be a late episode, one of those angsty Mom and Julie episodes, maybe even the driving-test episode (“Leave No One Behind”?). But no. She submitted “Bad Ideas,” the second episode of the season, in which Tami Taylor has a new baby and an absent husband. She’s so awesome in it. But it's an understated awesome. In fact, she’s so awesome…here it is, y’all. If you haven’t seen it—watch it now.



Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy—Jack McBrayer, 30 Rock. I normally would be championing John Krasinski, but I just can’t this year, not after everything Jim put me through. Instead, I’m choosing to support Kenneth Ellen Parcell. Sometimes, I wonder which television character I most closely resemble. I like to think I'm a Liz Lemon most of the time, a Liz Lemon who occasionally veers into the realm of Izzie Stevens. However, when I really think about it, I’m so Kenneth. First of all, we grew up about twenty minutes from each other, and Wikipedia has the following sentence to describe Kenneth: “His love of television and his unending devotion to the NBC network are two of his most defining character traits.” Yeah, that’s me, folks. There’s just such an earnestness to McBrayer’s portrayal of Kenneth—his happiness is infectious. There’s no way you can watch that scene of Kenneth biking through Manhattan with an exotic fish in one fist and singing “There’s No Business Like Show Business” and not feel light and happy inside. God, I love southerners.

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy—Kristin Chenoweth, Pushing Daisies. Okay, so I had it down between Dana Delany, Angela Kinsey, and Kristin Chenoweth. It really sucks the way The Office submits its actors for Emmy competition. I’ve always seen the show as having four leading actors (Steve Carell, Rainn Wilson, John Krasinski, and Jenna Fischer) with a large contingent of supporters. However, the show submits only Carell as leading and everyone else in supporting categories. There were eight submissions from The Office to the Supporting Actor in a Comedy category and six for Supporting Actress. I feel like pitting Jenna Fischer against Angela Kinsey in this category is a little ridiculous. Seriously, and y’all know how much I love Angela, but there is no way logistically she’s going to get nominated in this category. Dana Delany saved Desperate Housewives for serious, but I ultimately went with Chenoweth on this one. As Olive, Chenoweth brings a different kind of lightness and a different kind of desperation to the table. She provides a nice contrast to Chuck, and while we all of course want Ned to end up with Chuck, we can’t help but feel for poor pining Olive. I’m just waiting for her to duet with Raul Esparza. Holy crap, that’s going to be amazing.

Neil Patrick Harris and Kristin Chenoweth (!!) are announcing the awards at 5:40 AM PDT on Thursday, July 17.

The X-Files: New Spoilers (Potentially) Elaborate on the Six-Years Backstory

I can't begin to explain how impressed I am that Chris Carter and the X-Files: I Want to Believe team have really (knock on wood) succeeded in keeping the movie details so under wraps. The movie opens in thirty days, and we have surprisingly little to go on. I'm starting to get excited for the film, but as a spoiler enthusiast, I'm also starting to get nervous.

Yesterday, I sent the following frantic email to Mae:

"I'm getting more and more scared that Amanda Peet & Mulder are going to be, like, dating in this movie. With the knowledge that Mulder and Scully are, at least at the beginning of the movie, not working together/spending time together, I'm growing more and more concerned that there's 'someone else.' And you know how much I hate triangles. And Amanda Peet. She's completely untalented."

That fear has passed, but the uncertainty associated with being an X-Files enthusiast lingers.

As the fandom grasps at spoiler straws, I was directed to this article. (Someone posted the link in a comment on XFilesNews.com.)

The article is framed oddly, as if written from the perspective of a spoiler-fearing producer, and ends with an entirely bogus claim (that Scully has grown a beard and works weekends at the circus). It's clever, and it does make you roll your eyes at the absurdity of the spoiler crackdown—have they confused themselves with the real FBI?

Seriously.

Although in this world of trust no one, I can't be sure if the article is legit or not, the bulk of the spoilery part seems believable enough. (Also, the following paragraph has been omitted from the article, further encouraging me to believe it's for real. However, if I wanted people to believe my fake spoilers were real, I'd put them up long enough for everyone to see, then tell everyone that Fox demanded I take them down.)

"Mulder [sits] in his home's cluttered office eating sunflower seeds and clipping out a news article to pin on his wall of conspiracies when Scully walks in… Mulder greets Scully with a windy speech of psycho-babble about pre-cognitive ability only to serve the punchline, "But who believes in that crap anymore?" Mulder is a fugitive - a paranoid, angry one at that who's still rankled at the F.B.I. for discrediting a decades' work. Scully [worries] about Mulder's mental health from living in long-term isolation [and offers] Mulder a pardon from the government if he helps to find a missing F.B.I. agent."

We'd been thinking, of course, that our favorite agents were going to have to either (A) strike a deal or (B) live like the Unabomber after the events of the series finale. Living out in the woods is all well and good, I suppose, except for that eventually you need money. Now, I don't doubt that one or both of them had a somewhat large secret stash of money for just such a situation, but you need at least one income. It's not like either of them knew how to garden, and where were they supposed to live?

So I think the situation described here is believable. After a certain period of time, Scully goes back aboveground and either strikes a deal or lies. We might assume that Kersh is still working for the bureau, so Scully could use the same excuse he used for how Mulder got out of federal prison or Kersh could just help her figure it out.

She's working at Quantico, I would guess. You know how on Alias, Sydney Bristow likes to go to the train station and think, or how on Lost, Kate likes to stand in the surf and "sink"? Well, Scully's version of "sinking" is working at Quantico. She sometimes likes to hide behind her "I'm a medical doctor" BS when she doesn't want to face up to the fact that, dammit, she's an FBI agent. She's working at Quantico and every once in a while, she goes to visit Mulder wherever he is in Virginia and they hang out. [Mae: "She brings him groceries and shit." Caroline: "Groceries and sex." Mae: "Yeah, that's what I was implying."]

And then something comes up and she thinks the bureau could use Mulder's expertise on the paranormal. Now, there are a couple of possibilities here. It's possible that everyone at the FBI knows that she spends her weekends in the country with her fugitive husband. They all just choose to leave him alone, because they think he's just legitimately crazy. Or because somebody's come to terms with the fact that one of those military higher-ups was an alien and Mulder really saved everyone's asses again, but they still can't, you know, tell the whole truth or anything. Either that or Dana K. Scully takes it upon her awesome self to broker a deal between the FBI and their most wanted.

Wouldn't it be amazing if this was a line: "Nobody down here but the FBI's Most Wanted"? I know that Spotnitz or somebody said that the new movie wasn't going to be two hours of nostalgia, but come on. I would love that.

Also, having seen the clip shown at the LA Film Festival last weekend, this scenario would explain why Scully feels responsible for getting Mulder involved in this case.



It makes sense.

I'm trying not to be a shipper nerd about this movie. There's so much more to The X-Files than the Mulder/Scully romance, which was always a downplayed element of the show. I was just on Wikiquote looking at quotes from "The Truth," and if we hadn't seen the kiss or the cuddle, their dialogue is just as devoted-friend-love as it had always been. "This is what I'm fighting for, Mulder--you and me," is sweet, but it's no more true post-hookup than it was in season two. It's part of what I love about them. Jim and Pam's relationship is based on friendship on pranks; Jack and Kate's is based on survival and salvation; Derek and Meredith's is based on sex; but Mulder and Scully's is based on trust.

It's an amazing convention in a show that tells us to trust no one.

So I'm not expecting--or wanting--grand romantic gestures. What I am expecting from the pair is the same style of interaction I watched for nine years. I don't need them to get married or have (more) babies, even though that forces me to quell my desire for ship-families. I'll suppress those feelings because, for these guys, it runs a terrible risk of being out of character and cliche.

Okay, I should just stop talking about what I want. With only thirty days to go--less than, actually, since I'll probably see it at midnight on the 25th--I can wait.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Weeds: The Injustice of Premium Cable

Sorry I’ve been gone for the last week and a half. I’ve been doing research. I’m now officially caught up on Friday Night Lights, Weeds, In Plain Sight (thanks, Sophie!), and Pushing Daisies. And believe me, I’ve got something to say about all of ‘em. Anyway, this is a blog I’ve wanted to write for a long time.

As a longtime Emmy enthusiast and devotee of all things peacock, I’ve spent many an Emmy Sunday disappointed that my favorites lost to a pay-cable series. Edie Falco, Rachel Griffiths, Sarah Jessica Parker…these women were on my shit list for a long time. In fact, I still hold a slight grudge against them. Although I have come to appreciate Sex and the City through TBS reruns, I still cringe when I recall SJP’s Golden Globe win one year (she took that award four times), in which she adjusted her breasts on the walk up to accept her statuette. And Rachel Griffiths is one of the reasons why I just can’t tolerate Brothers and Sisters.

In my mind, I worked to explain these horrific injustices.

My biggest complaint about the Emmys was—and continues to be—that premium cable series were included in the competition in the first place. With shorter seasons, bigger budgets, and freedom from the FCC, I have always felt that comparing Sex and the City to Friends is a serious case of apples and oranges.

Part of what’s so amazing about network television is that so many series manage to crank out 22 or 24 episodes every year. It takes awesome creative energy to get that done, and, yeah, I imagine it’d be ridiculously mind-blowing if all of Lost’s budget and all of Darlton’s brainpower was crammed into an eight-episode season. But, to me, an eight-episode season is a miniseries.

Then there’s the whole thing about how premium cable isn’t under the confines of the Federal Communications Commission or family-friendly advertisers; thus, its characters can curse, commit excessive acts of violence, and have graphic sex with each other. It’s a freedom that HBO and Showtime series are more than happy to take advantage of.

Premium cable television series are an entirely different animal from network series, in my opinion. And it frustrates me to see network series get schooled at the Emmys while they’re at such an obvious disadvantage.

So while I was sitting around bitching about The Sopranos and Six Feet Under beating the crap out of Alias, I was also decidedly not watching premium cable. I protested.

I protested until one of my favorite actresses decided to get herself a series on premium cable.

Why couldn’t Mary-Louise Parker have just taken Teri Hatcher’s role on Desperate Housewives?

Anyway, I originally tuned in to Weeds because of her. I’ve grown to love some of the other characters—Shane, Dean, Conrad, and I loved that crazy girl Kat—but my tether to Weeds is little more than MLP herself.

It’s the first premium cable show of which I’ve seen the entirety. There’s cursing, drug use, lots of sex, and I have to say…I was right.

Weeds only shows cursing and graphic sex because it can.

I mean, seriously.

First of all, the sex rarely involves the characters we really care about. MLP has a no-nudity clause in her contract (as did SJP on Sex and the City), which you’d think would preclude dirty sex. But no. If producers can’t get it from the leading ladies, they’ll just default to the supporting cast.

Cynthia Nixon and Elizabeth Perkins have been shown completely naked more times than I can count.

I’m not being prudish and saying that sex is always unnecessary on television. Sex furthers the romantic storyline of the characters we know and love. But most of the sex they’re showing on Weeds isn’t, you know, Nancy and Conrad.

Last season on Weeds, there was a whole subplot involving Andy getting a job catering on the set of a porn film. This subplot did absolutely nothing to advance the storyline. They showed a LOT of naked people—scratch that, naked women—and it was totally useless to the show at large.

I seriously think it’s a case of writers sitting around wondering how they can use their pay-cable freedom next, when they should be sitting around wondering how they can create quality television. It’s not even “pushing the envelope” anymore, because it’s nothing that hasn’t been seen or done before. It’s just gratuitous.

I will confess that I doubt Weeds is of the caliber that Six Feet Under was. I mean, one has Peter Krause and the other has Kevin Nealon—you do the math. Weeds isn’t making off with loads of Emmys. I’m not generalizing in that respect, but I am generalizing the pay-cable folks as far as their use of excessively graphic sex.

Okay, so that’s not my only problem with Weeds right now.

Having just watched the third season, I’m falling out of love with Nancy Botwin.

Yeah, she finally got herself a “real job,” but nobody took it very seriously.

Here’s the thing. In the beginning of the show, she kept saying that she was a temporary drug dealer. It was supposed to get her back on her feet. Remember how she hoped to eventually make her cover business her real business?

Not so anymore.

If I was a temporary drug dealer and my frienemy drowned all my pot in my pool, or my drug lord crime boss died, or I got $110,000 after my DEA husband died, I’d think, “Hallelujah! I can stop being a temporary drug dealer!”

Instead of seeing opportunities to get out of the business, Nancy dug herself deeper and deeper with every crisis. My mom had a problem with Weeds from the beginning, believing Nancy to be putting her kids in unnecessary danger week after week, and I find myself coming to the same conclusion at this point. We see her struggle momentarily with bringing Silas into the business, but it’s a short-lived angst.

I’m only partly intrigued to see what lies in store for the Botwins in Mexico. I mean, as long as we’re talking about opportunities to change your life, how about now? Maybe I’ve been watching too much In Plain Sight in the last few days, but I’m pretty sure Nancy could strike a sweet witness protection deal, turning over Guillermo (drug lord and starter of the damn wildfire!) in exchange for a quiet life in Pittsburgh. She’s not going to change, though. She’s going to become an even bigger deal dealer in Mexico.

And that’s dumb.

Premium cable is not of a higher quality than network television. Both media have their strengths; both have their weaknesses. I’ll continue to contend that we should go back to Emmys and CableACE Awards, and until then, I’ll bitch and moan when pay-cable takes home statues. And with Weeds not offering much except for nudity and drug use, I think I’m done with it. I’ll catch up with Mary-Louise Parker later.

Friday, June 20, 2008

In Plain Sight: Veronica Mars, All Grow'd Up

As much time as I spend watching USA, it’s always for reruns of SVU or House. I’ve never gotten into any of their original series. Until now. In Plain Sight is the one that’s finally won me over and, thankfully, given me something new to watch this summer.


Mary is a U.S. Marshal with the Witness Protection Program. She’s a badass, smart-mouthed blonde crime-fighter who has problems with authority figures, intimacy, and her dysfunctional family. In short, she is Veronica Mars’ long-lost big sister.


Like any good heroine (and like Veronica), Mary’s got some capital-I Issues. The exact roots of her interpersonal problems and pessimism have yet to be determined, but we’ve gotten some hints that she’s got Daddy Issues. Dad committed a crime and ditched the family. Plus her mom’s kind of an idiot and her sister’s a skanky cokehead. And they’re both living in her house. So, y’know, home life sucks. At least while she’s running around keeping her witnesses away from murderers, she’s got an amusing partner/sidekick and a bumbling boss to keep her company.


According to USA’s web site, Mary’s boss, Stan, has fatherly feelings towards her. Now, until I read that, I thought he had a huge, unrequited crush on her, so… I don’t know where to go with that. I’m going to have to go back and watch more carefully. But he turns into a stuttering fool around her and labored over what to get her for a birthday present. To me, that screams “crush” more than “dad.”


But Mary’s got some non-creepy suitors too! She’s having no-strings sex with a hot baseball player, Raphael, a guy who wants strings so badly that he proposed to her last week. She shot him down and ran screaming from the room. Then he left town to go play pro ball, which may open the door for Mary’s flirty-flirty interactions with an Albuquerque police officer.


I admit, I didn’t pay much attention to Mary McCormack on The West Wing, because I was having an on-again-off-again relationship with the show by the time she came along. That said, by the last season, I found myself strangely enjoying Will and Kate. And who else still remembers the fandom hysteria surrounding her guest appearances on ER (that amounted to, what, two episodes?) as Carter’s maybe-potential-girlfriend in Africa. If only we had known how much of a threat her character wasn’t in the grand scheme of Carby, we could have saved ourselves a lot of time and energy.


But as unfathomable as it seemed back then, I’ve become a fan. I was rooting for her at the Tonys last weekend (she lost) and her play, Boeing-Boeing (also starring Bradley Whitford) is at the top of my Broadway To-Do list.


In Plain Sight isn’t a perfect show – first off, Mary’s mom and sister are so flighty and giggly and annoying that you want to smack them as badly as Mary does. In the second episode, Mary went out of town with a witness, leaving the two of them alone with their own subplot, something I never want to see again. And what was up with the end of the third episode, where Mary tried to beat a train, only to have her car die on the tracks and her dress (long story) get caught in the car door? She ended up having to push the entire car off the tracks at the last second. Weird and unnecessary.


But overall, I have very few complaints. The show’s funny in a very dry, deadpan way (a marshal named Marshall!) and it’s much worthier of your time than most of what’s on TV this summer. (I mean, Greatest American Dog? Really?)


And just in case you’re not already convinced to give this show a chance, the next two episodes feature guest star turns by Dave Foley and Sherry Stringfield, respectively. So
NewsRadio/ER fans, rejoice! And check it out,
Sundays at 10pm, or grab the full episodes at ips.usanetwork.com.

Friday, June 13, 2008

The Office: Spinoff News Spins Caroline Off On an Angry Tangent

I hate June. It’s hot, and there’s nothing good on TV. Last night, I watched the Bravo! A-List Awards. It was sort of excruciating.

News is slow. Everyone is either off filming movies or hanging out with their kids. In my town, a significant portion of the summer is spent in Congressional recess, meaning that there’s not much for any of us to do. It’s ironic, really. I have a practically infinite amount of time to blog during the summer, and nothing about which to blog.

Yeah, I think that’s one of those things that’s not really ironic persay. It just sucks.

Anyway, during the hiatus, news outlets and bloggers alike are hard-pressed to find stories. So today I’ll be talking about the Office spinoff and the tiny pieces of information recently released.

Variety reports that Aziz Ansari is the first hire of the spinoff, though producers are remaining quiet on the role Ansari will play. By producers, we mean Greg Daniels and Michael Schur, who will be exec-producing the spinoff. Stepping in for Daniels as showrunner on The Office will be Paul Lieberstein, which I suppose we should’ve seen coming since his character was seemingly written off there in the finale.

First of all, way to go, Mose, for getting a promotion, but I’m slightly heartbroken by this. Greg Daniels and Michael Schur are, in my professional opinion, the two best writers The Office has. Greg adapted these characters, he Americanized them, he made the Jim and Pam storyline so much more powerful and angst-ridden than Tim and Dawn could have imagined. And Michael Schur has graced us with “The Alliance,” “Christmas Party,” “Traveling Salesmen,” and “The Negotiation.” It kills me that they’re leaving their posts at The Office and leaving Paul Lieberstein of all people in charge. Lieberstein wrote “The Carpet” and “The Coup,” which are just awful, as well as “Goodbye, Toby,” which of course made me want to shoot someone in the face, namely Paul Lieberstein.

Before the season finale aired, I was terrified of Toby pulling a “Casino Night” and confessing his undying love for Pam. I said, “If he actually throws Jam out of whack, I will slap someone. A writer or Toby or a producer...looks like it’ll be you, Paul Lieberstein.” Looking back, I almost wish Toby had done something drastic, as it would have at least given the finale some semblance of plot. But I don’t trust my show—much less my ship—in the hands of this guy. I think he would be more than willing to sacrifice Jam for what he thinks is funny, and frankly, I don’t value his opinion on funny. I’m very nervous.

There still isn’t a plot for the spinoff. It’s good that Greg and Mike are taking the time to work on it—and nice that the network is giving them such freedom—but I’m really curious at this point. I think the market for office comedy is pretty saturated with just The Office. Obviously, though, The Office—with its steady cams and talking heads—has a unique format. You take that format to a non-office situation and it’s still perhaps an Office spinoff without being, say, Dunder-Mifflin: Utica. (Variety says Rashida Jones has signed a talent agreement with Universal, which could be linked to anything in the Universal universe. This is a bad move for the production company, who probably would have known better if they had watched an episode of Unhitched.)

Damn, I’m bitchy today.

I’m also really miffed at NBC in general. They’re way too focused at this point on recreating the NBC of, like, 2000. They would like to instantly have a Must-See TV Thursday, a handful of awesome dramas, and the occasional piece of quality reality television. In grasping for monetary success, they’re not nurturing the high-quality television they’ve got working for them right now.

I’m catching up on season two of Friday Night Lights right now and let me just say that this show has undeniably the best acting on television. Connie Britton is amazing. Kyle Chandler kills me every episode with the simplest facial expression. I am consistently blown away. And yet if you look at this Emmy campaign NBC Universal put together, you’ll see that they’re lobbying harder for Life. Why aren’t they making a huge freaking deal about Friday Night Lights? Why are they not doing everything in their power to promote FNL and stand behind it? Their DirecTV deal for a third season was done almost reluctantly. Which I absolutely do not understand since FNL consistently stays on schedule, isn’t ridiculously big-budget (hello, Heroes?), and yet remains an unparalleled show in terms of quality. It’s also a family show. Holy crap! What’s the problem, monkeys!?!

The good news? Fresh minds are being brought onto The Office’s staff to fill in for Greg and Mike, and they include Paul Feig, who created Freaks and Geeks and has directed a handful of Offices, Arrested Developments, as well as the awesome 30 Rock episode “Cleveland.” Thanks, IMDb!

NBC is digging themselves into a huge hole. I have issues with their handling of Friday Night Lights, The Office, 30 Rock, ER, Scrubs, and Studio 60 in the past two years. The network deserves to be in fourth place; the first-place shows that have somehow survived being manhandled by Jeff Zucker and his team of monkeys do not.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Lost: This Time Business Is Stressing Me Out

An awkward time has arrived for Lost, pun very much intended.

We have a rough sketch of three off-island years for Jack, Kate, Aaron (the Lie!Fam), and those other people, thanks to an entire season of flash-forwards. All we've got for the losers left back on the island is that life hasn't been too great for them sans Oceanic Six.

There are three years of story that need to be told. Three years, and we assume they need to be told in one season. No matter what, episode format is likely to change dramatically, since we're used to seeing about a month of time go by in an entire season. What we're struggling with over here--and what the writers are hopefully working on right now--is how do you tell three years of story without totally bucking the well-ingrained conventions of Lost?

I mean, we've been asking ourselves for weeks now how the show would even be able to incorporate flashbacks and flashforwards once we account for the fact that real time has now caught up with the flashforwards.

Plus, remember how much people disliked the first six episodes of season three? It was all messy having half of the main cast up with The Others while the rest of the camp was down at the beach. It took them all the way up to February sweeps to finally resolve that drama, and I have a hard time believing that Darlton would willingly venture into a season during which we know that the Oceanic Six has no hope of being reunited with the rest of the castaways for at least three years.

They won't. They have to have an impetus for the season, and as one producer said a few months ago, season five is about getting back to the island. This cannot be done if they were to pick up the season from where they left off, in what we've associated for four years with "real time" -- say, right after the Oceanic Six press "con"ference.

We think the more likely situation will be picking up the show three years in the future, picking up from Jack's conversation with Ben. That period, beginning the journey back to the island, will become "real time." Flashbacks can fill in more of the gaps between arriving on the mainland and Crazy!Jack time. The stories to tell here are about Widmore and Ben, Locke's time off-island, Kate re-meeting Cassidy, Nadia getting killed, and, of course, Jack and Kate's secret airport sexcapades. Real time stories are about the Oceanic Six venturing back to the island. It's about convincing Kate, finding out where Hurley and Sayid are hiding, getting Sun on board (yikes), figuring out the physics of the return, and ultimately doing so.

It's an active story that will ultimately involve all of the O6, unlike the in-between stories, which have so far been about the Lie!Fam and the other three in very separate realms.

Meanwhile, there are island stories. What I don't know is whether or not episodes will contain both on- and off-island events. I think the way it makes the most sense for me now is to take a kind of Law and Order: Criminal Intent approach--you know, where you have your Mr. Big episodes and you have your Vincent D'Onofrio episodes. This makes it all the more jarring when the two eventually share airtime.

Anyway, so on-island, you've got real time, whatever THAT means. Is it the past, is it the future? Is it where it's always been? (Kristin Veitch says the island has moved in time, but she's, you know, herself and everything.) And in this story, the first thing you see is going to be three years (at least in terms of years experienced) from where we left off. Shocking, no? Everyone'll probably look a little different, act a little different. Imagine, say, the premiere opening on the Barracks. We're introduced to the same people we've known for four years, except they're in these totally seemingly random situations. Rose is a widow (sorry, Bernard!), Dan's taken over leadership responsibilities in Locke's absence, Richard Alpert is still wearing too much eyeliner and looking far too young, and Sawyer and Juliet are raising their semi-precious baby together. Actually, the drama would be if they have this baby together but are fighting, just so they can continue to draw out the effing love quadrangle. It could also be neat--if somewhat predictable--to see Sawyer having stepped into the leadership role.

Then we get to see these "horrible things" happen via flashbacks. Episodes get to more or less maintain the real-time-plus-flashes format to which we've grown so accustomed, they just have to adapt what real time is.

Darlton noted at the end of the season that we had "caught up" to the flashforward end of season three. No, it's not the most concise story (we're not even sure we've got all the flashforwards in the correct chronological order!), but there's no reason to waste the majority of the off-island storytelling on a tale we already know the ending to. I would, however, like to see flashbacks flesh out those three years a little more. Especially since I'm hopeful at this point that there's a second baby in the picture, born between the flashes of "Something Nice Back Home" and "Through the Looking Glass."

It needs to take a significant amount of time to get the Oceanic Six back to the island. Having it happen too early makes the whole leaving thing seem trivial--we've got to really see the decision-making and the struggle to make the story of leaving the island worth it. I'd expect it to take all season, with a dramatic reunion of Team Locke and Team Six happening in the finale. And by dramatic, I mean awesome. "Hi, Kate, cute baby." "Thanks, Sawyer! She looks just like Jack, doesn't she?" Best friends forever.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Sex and the City: The Movie: What Exactly Were You Expecting?

When I was in fourth grade, I often found myself very frustrated by the movie reviewers in my local newspaper. Obviously, I was going to children's movies, and the reviews were often scathing. Let's face it--there are many more Flushed Aways then there are Finding Nemos. What irritated my nine-year-old self was that they didn't have kids go and review movies. Sure, grown-ups are going to find Mary-Kate and Ashley movies annoying, but for a girl who grew up on Full House, Two of a Kind, and So Little Time, the Olsen twins are awesome.

I have the same problem with film critics today, except instead of kid movies, I'm confused by the reviews of movies like Sex and the City.

Sometimes, you just have to accept things for what they are.

I'm a women's studies major, and I thought Katherine Heigl's comments about the portrayal of the women in Knocked Up were a little off-base. It's a Judd Apatow movie, for crying out loud! Don't read too far into it.

So for people to complain about Sex and the City: The Movie for being superficial, shallow, and lacking in plot begs the question: Have you ever seen the show?

As a casual but persistent viewer (I've seen every episode, but I've never visited a SATC forum), I can attest to the fact that Sex and the City: The Movie was precisely what it needed to be. It was a fitting send-off and a delightful epilogue to the series. It offered closure and happy-ever-after for the characters. Everyone kind of got the "next step" of their happy ending. Charlotte got Baby #2, Miranda and Steve finally decided to be together instead of just letting their lives fall conveniently into place, and Carrie--oh, Carrie--got married.

It's funny because in my little pre-movie anticipation blog, I talked about how we all figured Carrie would end up living happily-ever-after with Big and Manolo Blahniks, but I was actually touched at how intertwined those two were. I love that it all came back to a pair of designer shoes.

The whole film, in addition to being a nice send-off, was a sweet tribute to the series. Throughout the movie, even I, as a fairly casual SATC-watcher, noticed many homages to the series. You had, of course, the girls ooh-ing and aww-ing over that damn tutu and the not-so-subtle dialogue about Cosmopolitans that really brought the story to a perfect ending. But there was also Big and Carrie passing each other in the cars, a nod to a moment in the series finale. There were more, but now, a week after I saw the movie, I'm at a loss to remember them. I knew I shouldn't have been such a slacker! A quick Google search is getting me nowhere. If you've found a blog or something that lists all of the film's meta references, link me to it, please!

If you had never watched the show before, you may not have liked the movie. Charlotte's outburst in the restaurant (how good was Kristin Davis's squee?) may have seemed silly if you hadn't spent the better part of a decade with Charlotte York Goldenblatt. Then it's just adorable. Also, that was a seriously long movie with a seriously short plot. When you love the characters already and have missed them for so long, you relish in spending two-and-a-half hours with them. Hell, bring on the DVD so I can see some deleted scenes, please. But at times it was especially lacking in plot and overflowing with SATC chintz, which could make for a tedious experience depending on your personal tolerance for Carrie Bradshaw.

Here's my one request: please don't make another movie. The ending of this film was so fitting. The story is over. Please don't ruin it by trying to keep it going--you won't do the characters justice and you'll create unnecessary drama that nobody really needs. It'd be a money choice, not a story choice, and while I definitely see the monetary value in continuing the film series, you'd be doing a disservice to the girls. Quit while you're ahead, folks.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Lost: "Dark" Polling Data Puts a Fresh Spin on the Season Finale

Lately I’ve become addicted to the polls section on DarkUFO’s website. If there’s a poll up, you can pretty much assume that I’ve voted in it.

While I originally thought the polls were inane—and, yes, some of them are—they’ve also given me great insight into the minds of Lost viewers at large. It’s telling me a lot about what people think about the mysteries, the couples, the producers and their silly hype, and the general nature of being a viewer.

I’ve always wondered how I fit in as a Lost viewer. Skimming posts at sites like DarkUFO and Television Without Pity, a Jater would definitely get the idea that she’s in the minority. I’ve always had the idea that the huge Lost population in general is comprised primarily of Jaters—people like my sister, my grandparents, and some of my colleagues—but that there is a large and vocal minority of Skaters/Jacketeers who defy the mainstream opinion. If I had to put an actual number on it, I’d say it’s, like, 65% Jate and 35% Skate/Jacket. Of the intense Lost internetty crowd, I’d say it’s almost flip-flopped. Just personal observation.

Now that the finale seems to have set up a new and—if you ask me—awesome potential coupling, a lot of feelings seem to have changed about the triangle. Let’s talk about shipper polling data first.

Several weeks ago, Skate was pwning Jate at any ship-related poll. When asked who Jack would get with, 60% said Juliet; Skate was polling even higher. But after the finale, things seem to have shifted a bit. When asked flat-out, “Will Juliet and Sawyer get together?” 42% said yes, with 74% of those respondents clarifying that it was “just because Jack and Kate aren’t there.”

Here’s what I have to say about that. First of all, I don’t particularly care how the obstacles to my ship get out of the way. Juliet/Sawyer (is there a ship name for them yet?) is awfully convenient, so I’m not at all hesitant to get on board. You can explain away this hookup all you want, but as long as Jack and Kate end up together at the end of the show, I’ll be just fine. Secondly, Juliet and Sawyer have at least three years on the island with Jack and Kate presumed dead. Even if they do originally hook up out of “grief,” that still gives them three years together (or roughly 12 times the days Sawyer and Kate have known each other) to build a relationship on more than that.

Later, the question was posed “What will happen to Sawyer?” 40% of respondents say, “He will start a romance with Juliet,” making this the most popular response. When asked “Who will be Sawyer’s new love interest?” 64% said Juliet, with only 24% claiming that he would “stay true to Kate.” There are still hard-core Skaters out there, but it seems like you’ve also got some wafflers and some fair-weather fans over there.

We were delightfully underwhelmed by the Sawyer/Kate “spectacular” kiss. I feel like there are three choices: (A) Darlton thought the kiss was spectacular and therefore need kissing lessons, (B) Darlton thought the situation of the kiss was spectacular, not necessarily the actual liplock itself, or (C) The spectacular kiss was Desmond/Penny all along and Darlton just put all that information out there to throw us off the Penny’s-boat-of-rescue trail.

Whichever choice it is, we felt so wonderful being wrong about that kiss. It didn’t break out hearts—you can listen to the podcast, which should be up within the next 24 hours, and hear our knee-jerk reactions, which are roughly summed up as “Meh.”

What we didn’t know was how the rest of the fandom saw the kiss.

When Dark asked what was the “most overrated finale scene,” Sawyer kissing Kate had an overwhelming majority with 59%. Nothing else even had over 10%. I would assume there are some Skaters out there who are disappointed, too. Don’t worry. Your ship ends up living together with a presh baby and a big diamond. Oh, wait! Nope, that’s mine. Sorry.

When asked specifically, “How did you feel about the spectacular kiss?” 60% say, “It was okay, just another kiss on the show.” 27% say, “It was just as amazing as Darlton promised.” What’s interesting is that if you look at the comments, several people who said it was amazing did not know that spoiler whores were practically told that the kiss was Skate. Some excerpts:

“If they were talking about the Sawyer/Kate kiss there was nothing spectacular about it. Desmond and Penny, now that was spectacular!!”

“It was awesome. Henry Ian Cusick and Sonya Walger lived up to all the hype and then some :)”

When asked explicitly, “Which kiss did you prefer?” the responses are less misleading. 16% say Skate, 56% say Desmond/Penny.

A post-finale poll begs the ultimate question: “Which is the best Lost couple?” Desmond and Penny received a majority of the votes with 52%, while (surprisingly to me) Jate edged out Skate for second with 17% over 16%. Now, for all we know, all 52% of those respondents who said they preferred Desmond/Penny could be Skaters. But what this poll does tell us is that there are more Jaters willing to sacrifice the wonder that is Desmond/Penny for our OTP. Basically, there are just more Jaters who find our ship to be the flat-out OTP of the show.

One of the most interesting mysteries to Mae, Jen, and I right now is who Adam and Eve are. We’re collaborating both on elaborating the theory that the cavepeople are Jack and Kate and proving it correct. I feel like this theory has gotten a lot of buzz about it lately in the fandom—although I can’t imagine why—and Dark did a poll about it. When asked, “Who are Adam and Eve?” 29% say Jack and Kate, while 27% say Desmond and Penny. Here’s a question I have for the fandom: Is it possible for Jack and Kate to indeed be Adam and Eve, to be inextricably tied to such an epic and longstanding part of the show’s mythology, and not be the OTP of the show?

Moving away from the ship, I thought it was interesting that a full 75% of the polling audience think Jin will get rescued by Dan and the redshirts. It sure seems logical to me, right.

Another kind of ominous poll question asked which of seven people (the Oceanic 6 plus Ben) would die first. I didn’t know who to choose—although I eliminated the three members of the Lie!Fam instantly, because, well, that would destroy Lost for me—but after thinking about it, I figured the logical answer would be Sayid. He’s in the middle of some seriously dangerous shit, for one, and also, really, who cares if Sayid dies? How many people are, like, watching Lost because Sayid’s freakin’ awesome? Anyway, that was my logic, and I was surprised to see that 59% of respondents said Sayid, too. That’s a big number! I’d be interested to know what other pollees’ logic was.

I was not surprised to hear that 84% of the poll people think that Locke left the island “to convince the O6 to return.” Again, logic. Locke loves the island; if we are to believe, as crazy Jack said, that bad stuff has been happening since the Six left, then I would expect Locke to leave the island by whatever means necessary to convince them that they need to get back to the island.

Here’s a poll that made me sad—not because of the responses, which seem pretty inconclusive, but because of the answer choices. Dark asked readers, “During this season, what really did surprise you?”
Knowing Kate’s son is Aaron
The flashback/forward of Sun and Jin
Locke was in the coffin
Sayid working for Ben
Jack and Kate living like a couple
Michael was a spy in the boat
Ben controlling the smoke monster

The only two of those big surprises that I didn’t actually know were going to happen are “The flashback/forward of Sun and Jin” and “Jack and Kate living like a couple.” I think I need to stop reading spoilers, y’all. Because even if they make you all giddy with anticipation when you read them, at the end of the day, you’re spoiled. Huh. Something to think about.

Anyway, I promise to post the podcast before I go to sleep tonight. I’m off to New York City for a little weekend vacay, but I’ll be back on Sunday with the Chaos in General take on Sex and the City: The Movie.

Summer Catch-Up: The Five Series I'm Giving a Chance This Hiatus

I'm really bad at pilots. I thought October Road looked awesome and Lost looked really stupid. Of the shows I've become majorly obsessed with, the only three I've followed from day one are Desperate Housewives, Grey's Anatomy, and Alias. I tend to find stuff well into its run, using a summer vacation or a Christmas break to get deliciously caught up with a new series. I used that blasted strike period to immerse myself in three shows: 30 Rock, Pushing Daisies, and Brothers and Sisters. I fell madly in love with the first two and still can't get into Brothers and Sisters. I just can't! Whatever, that's why I have Mae and Leigh.

So yesterday I went through and tried to decide what I need to spend this summer doing. I chose five series, totaling 116 episodes, so if I watch one a day on average, it should take me right into premiere season. Then, if I've become obsessed with any or all of them, I'll be ready to start appointment-watching them in the fall.

Sounds like a plan, no?

Here are my five summer catch-up shows, in no particular order. Feel free to encourage me toward—or discourage me from—any of these series if you feel so inclined.

Bones (58 episodes, watching on DVD and Hulu.com). Mae and I had a conversation yesterday in which we both expressed shock that this show has been on for four whole seasons already. Gosh, 2004-2005 was a prolific year for television. I tend to shy away from procedural dramas, as I feel like they lack that overall forward impetus I always crave and the general OTP requirement. Lily, my roommate, said to me the other day that she feels as strongly about Stabler/Benson from Law and Order: SVU as I do about Jack/Kate. My response? "Well, the general rule for picking couples should be picking ones that are actually realistic." I'm not sure just how established or canon the Booth/Brennan thing is, but I have a feeling I could probably get behind that ship. (They're both pretty hot.) Anyway, I'm jazzed to get started.

Weeds (15 episodes, watching on DVD). I loved the first two seasons, but it's really hard to be a poor college student and watch a show that's on Showtime. When I lived on campus, we got the premium channels in the dorms (I know, right?), but now that I live in my own apartment, I'm far too cheap/practical to spring for the expensive cable packages. Showtime put the first episode of season three on their website, which I watched and loved, but it was just far too difficult to try and go to friends' houses to watch new episodes. It's currently at the top of my Netflix queue.

Eli Stone (13 episodes, watching on ABC.com). I wrote this show off before the pilot even aired, as I was quite skeptical of anything involving George Michael. I thought it seemed silly and precious—it got a pretty serious "meh" reaction from Mae, and I take her opinions pretty seriously. Nevertheless, people outside of my blogosphere keep telling me that it's really good, compelling stuff. Also, SpyDaddy is in it, so…yeah, I should probably be watching it.

Chuck (13 episodes, watching on Hulu.com). So I did a little Wikipedia research on this show, and it looks GREAT. Like, I don't know why I haven't been watching it since the beginning. The creator, Josh Schwartz, who has loyal followers in Mae (once a devout The O.C. watcher) and Sophie (lover of Gossip Girl), calls Chuck a combination of Alias and The Office. Hello, Caroline? Where have you been! It's a high-concept comedy, which is an elusive (and often awkward) genre. Wikipedia tells me that the show involves Chuck and some undercover agents, one of whom masquerades as a colleague and another who's pretending to be his girlfriend--looks like some serious OTPotential to me. Also, I'm all for quality TV on NBC. I feel a sense of serious loyalty to the network that gave me Friends, The West Wing, and so many others (Mad About You, Frasier, Seinfeld, Will & Grace, Good Morning Miami...), but, man, it's sucked lately. I'm more than willing to give this show a chance.

The Big Bang Theory (17 episodes, watching on CBS.com). I don't know. The boys are cute, I love geek boys, Mae's mom is obsessed. I expressed an interest when it first premiered, but haven't seen a single minute of it. We'll see if it actually interests me.

So that's it. I'll keep you updated on my progress as the summer progresses. Until then, I'm saving up money so I can buy one of those fancy new iMacs with the HD screen, so I can watch these shows the way they were meant to be watched--and not on my teensy iBook.