Essential TV 2009

December 8, 2009

The next 4 Essentials posts, the last 4 of the year, will be “best- of” lists on books, music, movies and TV. Those that make the lists won’t be exclusively from 2009, but made up of my favorites I saw/heard/read for the first time in this year.

First up: TV

1.    Flight of the Conchords: Seasons 1 & 2. This is one of my favorite shows of all time. It’s about two clueless members of a band trying to make it in NYC, except their songs are awful, so awful/awesome they become parody songs.

2.    Summer Heights High– Only 8 episodes were ever made of this crazy show. I really don’t know how to explain it. The star, creator and writer plays 3 parts: drama teacher, troubled boy, and popular girl at Summer Heights High.

3.    Damages: Season 1 – Glenn Close is so scary in this murder thriller, and how about Ted Dansen? I never knew he could actually act before this.

4.    In Treatment: Season 1 – What a excellent idea. Gabriel Byrne plays a therapist treating 4 clients and eters therapy himself. Each episode is one session, each client always showed on a certain weekday (this show aired 5 times a week) The writing and acting are something to marvel at. It’s just the two of them, Byre and his patient, for the episode. It takes great talent to hold tension for so long

5.   Arrested Development: Seasons 1, 2, & 3- I’m going to be original here and just say: it’s funny.

6.   Friday Night Lights– I heard critics rave about this show for years and years, and the they were right. This drama about a high school football team is unbelievable. If you watch the pilot (reminiscent of Remember the Titans), I think you’ll be hooked just like I was.

7.    Community– I love Joel McHale, but I always love Troy (Donald Glover) and Abed’s (Danny Pudi) bits at the end.

8.    V– Best new drama this season.

9.    The Office, (USA)- Until this year, I refused to watch this show because I LOVE the British version so much, but I gave in once Netflix put it on instant view. The first few episodes of USA are complete copies of the UK edition, but after that, Michael Scott found his footing in a new way. ANd even though the name and general idea are the same, the 2 editions are completely different because they were both tailored to their respective audiences.

10.  Gossip Girl: Season 1- I tried this show and loved it. I heard it got really bad in the 2nd and 3rd seasons, but in season 1 its more like Dawson’s Creek, just more high fashion and with more money. But at the end of the season, I knew I’d never watch another episode.

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SYTYCD top 10

December 2, 2009

My absolute favorite:

I completely agree with what Adam said the WOW moments have been so few and far between this season. Ellenore and Jakob showed everyone how good these minute and a half dances can be and it really made me wish they had been together all along. In my opinion, Ellenore is emerging as a dark horse. She has been in some of the most memorable routines so far this season and this routine really showed her to be a star.

And in 2nd place:

I LOVE RUSSELL. But I still can’t call a clear cut winner. Jakob is still the best, but I’m not sure if he’ll be the favorite. No surprise here: I thought Kathryn was great in both her dances, but man, was Nathan a different boy this week or what? I didn’t catch last week’s results show but they must have torn him up. I think he swung too far the opposite way in his emotions to be likable this week. He just seemed so, so sad. This girl was a surprise for me: Noelle.  She had a great night esp. in the hip hop. Her partner Ryan did well too, but male ballroom dancer’s solos always seem weird.

The worst:

I knew Ashleigh would be revealed for the lame duck she is, but the bad thing is Legacy, one of my absolute favorite dancers, was partnered with her. BUT I should say, I really think these 2 looked so awful because of choreography. As Adam pointed out, we all know they can both do hip hop, so a lame routine might land them in the bottom.

In the bottom: We’re so close to the end and its getting harder and harder to predict. So I’m going to throw a hail Mary-

Girls: Ashleigh, Mollee, Noelle     Boys: Ryan, Nathan, Legacy


SYTYCD

October 21, 2009

by Andrea Burke

The top 20 was originally scheduled to air last week, but finally, FINALLY, this show is about to get good. And we the viewers deserve it after suffering through all the audition episodes! And having to listen to Tyce be a bitchy prima donna.

Tonight, the season really starts, If you’ve never seen SYTYCD, here’s a look at 3 of my favorite numbers!

First up, Season 5 winner Jeanine (my favorite from the beginning of the season) and her original partner Philip with Hip Hop.

Next Season 3’s Danny and Lacey, who can now be seen as one of the “pros” on Dancing with the Stars.

And the last for this post, one of the most talked about pieces from season 5: Kayla and Kupono choreographed by the brilliant Mia Michaels.

There are so many other dances I could post, so much beautiful art to come out of this TV show (who’d have thought), but I’ll leave it at that.

Watch tonight to see the top 20! And then, the dancing really begins!

P.S. While we’re talking about Wednesday night TV, I’m back on board for the Glee episode directed by Joss Whedon, but that’s another post.


The Pop Culture Essentials

October 4, 2009

by Andrea Burke

Oct 4- 10:

1. Zombieland– I’ve seen it but you have to!

2. An Education in theaters Oct 9. I hadn’t heard of this movie until I heard Fresh Air’s interview with writer Nick Hornby, who also wrote High Fidelity and About a Boy. The premise seems kind or ordinary, but I liked  Hornby in the interview so much that I’ll probably see it.

3. So You Think You Can Dance. I had to take a break from all the stupid auditions, but finally the best of the best journey to Vegas on Wed Oct 7!

4. Manhood for Amateurs by Michael Chabon. The Pulitzer winner debuts his first work of non-fiction Tuesday (Oct 6)

5. Away We Go on DVD Oct 6. John Krasinski (better known as Jim Halpert- see #6) and Maya Rudolph play a couple expecting their first child who travel around looking for the ideal place to set up house and home. It got an A- from EW.

6. The office. Its the wedding episode! Jim and Pam finally tie the knot! Thank goodness because this last episode was terrible. Oct 8 on NBC at 8:00

7. Classic of the week: My Man Godfrey comes on TCM Thursday Oct 8 at 10:15. I heart this comedy starring William Powell.

8. Music. If you didn’t know, every month Amazon puts 50 mp3 albums up for $5 . October features a wide array of choices including albums by Nina Simone, Roy Orbison, Third Eye Blind, Kiss, Taylor Hicks, the Noisettes and (the album I just bought) The Avett Brothers


I’ll pass on Glee

September 17, 2009

The first episode was okay.

The second episode was alright.

Third up, third strike and it’s out!!!

Wed. was my last night of watching Glee *sniff* I had such hopes for this show. I love musicals, LOVE them. I loved that America loved High School Musical, even though it was cheesy, and at first, I was all, YES- people love Glee and its a musical on TV!

And the cast is stellar- Jane Lynch from Role Models, Best in Show, 40-year old Virgin? Always hilarious. Lea Michele, who plays Rachel, originated the female lead in Tony Award winning Spring Awakening. Mr. Schuester,  Matthew Morrison, earned a Tony nomination for his role in Light in the Piazza. He also had roles in Footloose, South Pacific, and as Link in Hairspray.

But the characters on Glee seem to be chosen from stock “quirky” characters. Finn reprises Zac Efron’s original role, Emma Pillsbury is OCD neat and clean (is that supposed to make her cute?), there’s the gay guy in show choir, and over-ambitious star Rachel, and Mr. Shuester is always happy, no matter what- does he seem like an air head to anyone else? Jane Lynch is the only funny part.

And the story-lines are so contrived. Take episode 3- Mercedes tried to get with a gay boy and Mr. Schuester starts his own acapella group called acafellas. Acafellas are an immeadiate hit- they get favorable reviews in the newspapers- they are selling out large venues- just not believeable. Every story feels contrived in order to infuse more dance/song numbers into the show. I mean, the singing and dancing is the best part, but the story shouldn’t have to work  so super hard to set up the song- i.e. Glee has a random car wash just so Mercedes can break the window of Kurts car, and therefore sing the corresponding song. (That number was awesome. Amber Riley can sing and dance.)

Even though I won’t be watching full episodes, I’ll still watch the musical numbers, I will just be fast-forwarding through the lame part that is the rest of the show.