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The beginning of every new series is going to be rough. The chances of choppy waters increase when said show is ambitious and epic  like Glee is. That is not to say that “Acafellas” was bad. On the contrary, it was a delight in many ways. But after the genius of the pilot and the solid second episode last week, I was slightly disappointed with this week’s Gleeful outing.

The show has the potential to collapse under its massive ensemble cast- there are at least twelve significant roles on this show. That is a lot of people to try and work in to a show, complete with individual story lines and moments to shine. And this episode ended up feeling overstuffed and under developed simultaneously.

The valid question off the top, asked by Cheerleader Quinn, was whether Will had even tried to fulfil his performing dreams. After shop teacher Henri returns from his cough syrup induced thumb amputating shop accident, a sad round of ” He’s a Jolly Good Fellow” with Will, Ken, Sheets and Things’ Howard, Henri, and Sandy ” Stay 50 Feet Away From Children” Ryerson leads will to form an a cappella group, launching into a really fun version of Montell Jordan’s 90s classic ” This Is How We Do It”. This plays into Will’s B story, where he bonds with his dad ( the fabulousity that is Victor Garber- alas, no song), who admits his failings with ease. Fathers on television are routinely maligned, often absent and mean. It’s nice to see a father-son relationship that is rather warm and friendly.

The other story of the episode, the Glee kids hiring that annoying prick Dakota Stanley, honestly didn’t go anywhere. I get that they were trying to create a bit of tension between Finn and Rachel, and allowing Quinn and her minions try to disrupt Glee quietly, but it just felt… ugh. With no Glee performances this week, the show felt kind of empty.

The one thing that did work well this episode was the “C” story between Mercedes ( Amber Riley, so fantastic on ” Bust The Windows”) and Kurt ( Chris Colfer, a TV star in the making). Mercedes instincts were right on the money, but she allowed insecuirty and fear ( and a couple of ne’er-do-well Cheerios) to get her hopes up about Kurt, who was being a supportive friend. Ryan Murphy said in an interview that he wanted Kurt’s coming out to echo his own, so the one real moment of the entire episode was Kurt tentative telling to Mercedes, followed by a tear and an acknowledgement that he really wasn’t as brave as Mercedes wanted him to be.

Overall, there were some good moments, but over all, the cluttered, scattered tone left me wanting( and too much Terri- I really dislike her). Rumor has it next week is going to be a hum dinger of an episode, focused on Colfer’s delightful Kurt. I certainly hope all the love I’m hearing is legit, and not just a bunch of TV critics trying to sell me snake oil.

 Quoteworthy:

” I have no thumbs!” Henri, in a game of one ups-manship

” The parents discovered we’re feeding their kids prison food”.- Figgins

” Josh Groban likes a blousy alcoholic.”- Josh Groban, cementing my belief he’s a singing comedian.

” Is cliche a bad thing?”- Finn

” I’m going to ask you to smell your armpits.”- Sue to the Cheerios

” If you blow this for me I’ll shove my arm so far down your throat you will be able to taste my arm pit hair.”- Ken to Puck.

” I told Figgins we’d end up with a bunch of pansies if we didn’t get some hot wood in their hands.”- Sandy

Grade- C

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Larry Gelbart

I was a fan of Larry Gelbart before I knew that television shows had writers. M*A*S*H*  reruns always made me laugh as a kid. He stopped writing the show after its fourth season, but his fingerprints were on it until the very end. The show seemed to reflect his comic sensibilities always. He also had a hand in the delightful A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, a musical comedy about- well, comedy. There was his early years as a writer for Sid Caesar, and his later in life masterpiece, Tootsie. But more than that, he was available to other writers. I’ve spent the last few days reading from other writers about how when they met Larry, he would always be willing to help them out.

I never got the chance to meet Larry Gelbart. He was on my list of people I’d have to dinner in a perfect world. I can hardly believe he’s gone. It was only this year, watching PBS’ invaluable series on American comedy Make ‘Em Laugh, where I saw him looking still spry and as quick-witted as ever ( he was never a dull interview). Now, after a couple of shell shocked months where I have seen many of the idols of my childhood shake off their mortal coil, all I can say to this devastating loss as a fan of comedy is:

Gen. Wilson Spaulding Barker: Nurse, is everybody around here crazy?
Lt. Ginger Bayliss: Everybody who’s sane is, sir.

( M*A*S*H*, “Chief Surgeon Who?”, 1972)

I didn’t say it would be logical.

So long, Larry Gelbart. And thanks. Because of people like you, I wanted to write.

2009-2010 TV Essentials

Mondays:

CBS: How I Met Your Mother (8 pm EST), The Big Bang Theory (9:30 EST)

NBC: Heroes ( 8 pm EST), Chuck ( beginning in March 2010)

Fox: House ( 8 pm EST), Lie To Me ( 9 pm EST)

CW: Gossip Girl ( 9 pm EST)

ABC: Dancing With The Stars ( 8 pm EST), Castle ( 10 pm EST)

Mondays are again cluttered with good TV and fan faves. Expect Castle to see  ratings to increase as NBC replaces scripted TV with Jay Leno, Fox and CW go local,  and CBS airs the aging but still popular CSI: Miami.  Also, Big Bang will likely become the most watched scripted show on a Monday by May. Yes, it will surpass lead in Two and a Half Men. HIMYM  at 8 pm, as well as it’s 100th episode, may seal this sitcom’s fate. I predict that unless there is a serious ratings bump and it does a better anchoring job than in the past, this will be HIMYM final season. Heroesis in turmoil after two seasons of disappointing stories and uneven episodes, and the fans are leaving in droves. Only a section of diehards are here, and we’re holding out hope that Tim Kring turns it around. Introducing a new villain, as much as we all love Sylar, will help. CW still has the corner on the youth buzz market, but One Tree Hill  is past it’s prime, and Gossip Girl  needs less shock value, more actual story telling. All the whispers about the House  season six premiere being amazing leads me to believe House’s break down is going to revive the aging series and give Hugh Laurie something new to do.  Lead out Lie To Me still has two things going for it- an intriguing premise and Tim Roth. The biggest disappointments are the fact none of NBC’s one hour dramas, including Monday night entry Trauma, seem to be worthy of my time, and Chuck  won’t be back until March. Unless, of course, NBC’s entire fall sked falls apart. Which it will.

Tuesdays:

CBS:  NCIS ( 8 pm EST), NCIS: Los Angeles ( 9 pm EST), The Good Wife ( 10 pm EST)

NBC: forget it.

Fox: So You Think You Can Dance ( 8 pm EST), American Idol ( January 2010)

CW: destroying the happy memories of my youth.

ABC: V (November 2009), DWTS Results show ( 9 pm)

Frankly, I’m not a huge NCIS  fan, I refuse to watch the new CW revivals of early 90s Fox shows, so outside of Fox’s dance and singing programs and the very promising looking CBS drama The Good Wife, the only thing I’m waiting for is V. I’m a geek, yes.

Wednesdays:

CBS: Criminal Minds ( 9 pm EST)

NBC: Nope.

Fox: SYTYCD Results Show ( 8 pm EST), Glee ( 9 pm EST), Idol Results Show ( January 2010, well, more like February 2010)

CW: America’s Next Top Model ( 8 pm EST)

ABC: Modern Family ( 9 pm EST)

I have faith that Criminal Mindswill find its way back after an uneven season that has given us a couple of classic episodes and several clunkers, but I’m such a Gleek that for the first time I’m really compelled to watch something besides my favorite BAU gang. Fox has put so much money into the musical dramedy that picking up the back nine is a good bet. NBC has nothing new to offer, really, just SVU and the disappointing looking Mercy. Modern Family  is the most interesting looking sitcom not on NBC Thursdays.

Thursdays:

CBS: The Mentalist ( 10 pm EST)

NBC: Community ( October 2009), Parks and Recreation ( 8:30 pm EST), The Office (9:00 pm EST), 30 Rock ( 9:30 pm EST)

Fox: Bones ( 8 pm EST), Fringe ( 9 pm EST)

CW: neither show is on my radar.

ABC: I’ve stopped watching Grey’s Anatomy.  No George, no me.

It’s either indulge my Comedy geek or indulge my science geek. Right now, I’m leaning to the science geek, as rewatching Fringe over the summer has reminded me that this is a really good show and deserves my patronage. And I’m still a Bones  fan. But giving up NBC’s one solidly good night of TV is a tough one. This may be the night I’m grateful for reruns. At least there is no Sophie’s Choice at 10, where I can watch Simon Baker’s charming performance on The Mentalist  all I want. I’m not into vampire love triangles and I’ve never been an avid Supernatural fan, and ABC’s soapy line up leaves me cold.

Fridays:

CBS:  I don’t watch any of them.

NBC: Or them.

Fox: Dollhouse (9 pm EST)

CW: Never watched Smallville.

ABC: Ugly Betty ( 9 pm EST)

Push comes to shove, it’s Dollhouse. I would follow Joss Whedon to the grave and I refuse to give up on this interesting but not yet great show. If it proves to infuriating, I’ll let the Betty gang continue to crush my heart with it’s continued downward spiral.

Saturdays and Sundays:

CBS: The Amazing Race ( 8 pm EST), Three Rivers ( 9 pm EST) ( both on Sunday)

NBC:  nada

Fox: The Simpsons ( 8 pm EST), the Seth McFarlane 90 minute block ( 8:30 pm EST)

CW: literally nothing. CW has dropped weekend programming.

ABC: can someone tell me why these shows are all still on?

ABC’s very tired line up of warm-hearted sob stories and drippy soapy dramedies has gotten boring. CW has nothing on. NBC has football. There is literally NOTHING on Saturday nights, and only CBS and Fox have anything worth watching on Sundays. Fox’s two hour comedy block is solid entertainment, still amusing, even if The Simpsons, entering it’s trillionth season, is creaking a bit ( it can still knock an episode out of the park once a season though). I’m not the biggest fan of Seth McFarlane’s work, but I certainly don’t begrudge him his phenomenal success. When I do watch The Family Guy I do laugh quite a bit. And The Cleveland Show is rumored to have more heart in the mix. CBS has the always reliable 60 Minutes,  and I love The Amazing Race, but launching Three Riverson Sundays is a bit of a gutsy move. CBS has a lot of faith in this show. I’m an Alex O’Loughlin fan, but I’m a bit worried about it.

Other shows to watch over the season:

HBO: Real Time With Bill Maher ( Fridays), Curb Your Enthusiasm (fall 2009)

ABC: Lost ( presumably Wednesdays, January/February 2010)

AMC: Mad Men ( currently airing on Sundays, with reruns throughout the week), Breaking Bad ( 2010), The Prisoner ( 2009/2010)

FX: Damages, Rescue Me, It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia

TNT: The Closer

 NBC: The Olympics ( February 2010)

 

NOTICE: EMMY LIVE BLOG

On Emmy night ( September 20, 2009), I will be doing my Emmy commentary live through out the night. You’re all invited. Seriously.

I could go on and on about the technical flaws I saw on last nights episode ( the musical numbers were way to polished and the AV was out of sync), but I’m not. No. Because I am in love with this show.

The fact I love this show should be no surprise to anyone, as I am also deeply in love with Ryan Murphy’s previous high school dramedy Popular  (Mary Cherry forever!). Glee in many ways hits similar tones comically and dramatically as this late 90s cult classic, and the struggles the students face are also similar. The slightly awkward, overly ambitious girl crushes on the cool jock boy who dates the pretty blonde cheerleader. There are kids with speech impediments and disabilities, and they aren’t all a size two. Murphy creates a real high school feeling. Then he throws on show stopping musical numbers.

Now, the audio of ” Gold Digger” is amazing, but it was hampered last night by poor mixing and editing.  In fact, that was an issue with all the musical numbers last night. If this show is going to work over the long haul, they have to fix it. Off sync is distracting.  And the “Push It” number was amazingly cringe worthy and hilarious at the same time. I watched it mouth agape and sniggering the entire time. That was right on the edge of appropriate and Murphy probably knows it ( the man also created Nip/Tuck, which has been crossing that line for years).

But there were some really great moments in the episode- Will and Emma’s chalk dust on the nose, Finn and Rachel bonding over their mutual love of music, Finn making the angels cry with that popping balloon, Rachel’s speech on teenage sexuality that made her a hero to a certain faction of horny teenage boys, every moment Jane Lynch and Jayma Mays were on screen, and the realization that Quinn and the Cheerios can kind of sing. As the Cheerios go in to spy for Sue Sylvester, expect high jinks to ensue.

The flaws,  though, have the potential to be too distracting. I like Jessalyn Gilsig a lot as an actor, but her character Terri is shrill and shrewish. I honestly wanted to punch her at various moments ( though I did snicker when she pointed out the children’s bedroom as the room for ” their daughter or gay son”). The Cheerios are still way into Mean Girls territory and have yet to be really fleshed out as characters. The same thing can be said about the jocks. There are those sync issues and they need to dirty up the vocal tracks as well ( last night was a little too polished and studio for my liking- only ” Take A Bow” came close to any real emotional connection, aside from Jayma Mays’ Emma sobbing through ” All By Myself” in her car).

Then there are the highs. The appealing youngsters are delightful as the ” island of misfit toys”, as Sue called them. Matthew Morrison ( Tony nominee for Light In The Piazza and the original Link in Hairspray)  is charming as Will, who only seems to come really alive when he’s at the school, doing Glee and interacting with the students. The incomparable Jane Lynch is clearly delighting in playing the vindictive, spoiled, entitled cheerleading coach, who gets the school to pay for European dry cleaners and for some reason has seen an elementary school production of Hair. There is sharp humor and commentary about relationships, the high school caste system, and the general malaise of education systems in North America.

After the completely charming pilot, this was a good follow up episode.

Pilot received an A from me. ” Showmance” gets a solid B+.

Quoteworthy!

Rachel: I guess I don’t have a gag reflex.

Emma: Years from now you’ll find that a blessing.

***

Coach Tanaka: I’m a minority so they can’t fire me, I’ll always be able to provide for you.

***

Kurt: Wait! One day you will all work for me.

Other things of note:

  • Figures guys would join the Celibacy Club to try and bed their chaste girlfriends.
  • Chris Colfer, who plays Kurt, is going to get a big episode coming up that Ryan Murphy has said is based on his own high school experience. If you know anything about Ryan Murphy, you can probably figure it out.
  • I tend to hate cheerleaders in TV world. These ones take the cake.
  • Quinn and Finn. I hate cutesy couples with rhyming names.
  • Amber Reilly has a voice and a half!
  • I do not remember the disco revivial of 1993. Anyone else?

My Emmy Winner picks

Best Drama

Big Love

Breaking Bad

Damages

Dexter

House

Lost

Mad Men

I know Mad Men  is the mega buzz show right now, I know Lost fans think that it is THE GREATEST SHOW EVER ( they’re wrong). House  and Dexter both buckled under their previous genius this past season, Big Love is pretty bland for something that’s supposed to be so controversial ( it’s just another family drama). Damages  has bright spots, almost all involving Glenn Close, but is wildly inconsistent. My pick is the searing, surprising Breaking Bad, which is quickly surpassing even Mad Men as my new favorite cable drama.

Best Comedy

Entourage

Family Guy

Flight of the Conchords

How I Met Your Mother

The Office

30 Rock

Weeds

I’m picking 30 Rock because the only sitcom better than it isn’t even nominated. ( All Big Bang Theory fans unite in your grief!) It’s not that 30 Rock is undeserving, it’s just that TBBT is much more consistent.

Best Television Movie

Coco Chanel

Grey Gardens

Into The Storm

Prayers for Bobby

Taking Chance

It was just sheer brilliance.

Best Reality Competition Series

The Amazing Race

American Idol

Dancing With The Stars

Project Runway

Top Chef

This is obviously a case between what I want and what I know. Project Runway  is one of my favorite shows in history, but it can’t compete with the exotic locales and sheer scope of CBS multiple award winning reality show.  The fact is, The Amazing Race is amazing.

Best Reality Series

Antiques Roadshow

Dirty Jobs

Dog Whisperer

Intervention

Kathy Griffin: My Life On the D List

Mythbusters

Kathy Griffin FTW.

 

Best Variety, Music, or Comedy Series

The Colbert Report

The Daily Show with Jon Stewart

Late Show with David Letterman

Real Time with Bill Maher

Saturday Night Live

I’m sorry. I love Jon and Stephen to death, you know it, I know it. But Bill Maher has been a favorite of mine for years. I still disagree with ABC’s decision to scrap him, I admire HBO for not letting him go away into that good night, and Religulous was a thought provoking scream. Give him a goddamn Emmy.

Best Actor Drama

Simon Baker The Mentalist

Gabriel Byrne In Treatment

Bryan Cranston Breaking Bad

Michael C. Hall Dexter

Jon Hamm Mad Men

Hugh Laurie House

While I’m still smarting about Hugh Laurie being Emmyless, Bryan Cranston is giving the best performance on television right now. I’m thinking Laurie’s time may have passed and James Spader has his Emmy.

Best Actor Comedy

Alec Baldwin 30 Rock

Steve Carrell The Office

Jermaine Clement Flight of the Conchords

Jim Parsons The Big Bang Theory

Tony Shaloub Monk

Charlie Sheen Two And A Half Men

Without question, Parsons is putting together a comedic performance that will go down in history. There is a very thin line he dances on between eccentric genius and hateful ass, but he plays it beautifully. For a character with little insight into the human condition, Parson’s Sheldon comes off as the most human of all. A lot of that credit must go to Parsons, who has an innate goodness and loads of charm. The two headed monster that is Alec Baldwin and Steve Carrell still have an excellent chance of winning, and one must never count Tony Shaloub out ( the Emmys love the guy). But my heart and soul believes that Parsons actually DESERVES it.

Best Actor Mini Series or Movie

Kevin Bacon Taking Chance

Kenneth Branagh Wallander: One Step Behind

Kevin Kline Cyrano de Bergerac: Great Performances

Brendan Gleeson Into The Storm

Sir Ian McKellan King Lear: Great Performances

Keifer Sutherland 24: Redemption

I never thought I would get a chance to see McKellen do Lear. I’m glad I got that chance, albeit on PBS. The highlight of my TV viewing life.

Best Actress Drama

Glenn Close Damages

Sally Field Brothers and Sisters

Mariska Hargitay Law and Order: Special Victims Unit

Holly Hunter Saving Grace

Elisabeth Moss Mad Men

Kyra Sedgwick The Closer

Elisabeth Moss is so freakin’ good as Peggy Olson she has to win or there is no justice in this universe.

Best Actress Comedy

Christina Applegate Samantha Who?

Toni Colette United States of Tara

Julia Louis- Dreyfus The New Adventures of Old Christine

Tina Fey 30 Rock

Mary Louise Parker Weeds

Sarah Silverman The Sarah Silverman Program

Long time readers know I want to be Tina Fey when I grow up.

Best Actress Mini Series or Movie

Drew Barrymore Grey Gardens

Jessica Lange Grey Gardens

Shirley MacLaine Coco Chanel

Sigourney Weaver Prayers For Bobby

Chandra Wilson Accidental Friendship

It will be either Drew or Jessica, and I’m going with the former, because we forget what a good actor she is amongst the crazy that is her life.

Best Reality Host

Tom Bergeron Dancing With the Stars

Phil Keoghan The Amazing Race

Heidi Klum Project Runway

Padma Lakshimi and Tom Colicchio Top Chef

Jeff Probst Survivor

Ryan Seacrest American Idol

I have a bizarre crush on Tom Bergeron. And Cat Deely isn’t nominated.

Best Supporting Actor Drama

Christian Clemenson Boston Legal

Michael Emerson Lost

William Hurt Damages

Aaron Paul Breaking Bad

William Shatner Boston Legal

John Slattery Mad Men

Best supporting categories are the most prime for surprises, though if you have seen Breaking Bad, you know this is no surprise. Paul gives as good as he gets.

Best Supporting Actor Comedy

Jon Cryer Two and a Half Men

Kevin Dillon Entourage

Neil Patrick Harris How I Met Your Mother

Jack McBrayer 30 Rock

Tracy Morgan 30 Rock

Rainn Wilson The Office

Because I will not rest until Barney Stinson is awarded an Emmy.

Best Supporting Actress Drama

Rose Byrne Damages

Hope Davis In Treatment

Cherry Jones 24

Sandra Oh Grey’s Anatomy

Dianne Weist In Treatment

Chandra Wilson Grey’s Anatomy

Chandra Wilson is truly the heart and soul of Grey’s.

Best Supporting Actress Comedy

Kristen Chenoweth Pushing Daisies

Jane Krakowski 30 Rock

Elizabeth Perkins Weeds

Amy Poehler Saturday Night Live

Kristin Wiig Saturday Night Live

Vanessa L. Williams Ugly Betty

Jane Krakowski is one of my favorite actresses of all time.

Today’s poll is about Best actor in a comedy. Who is your choice of the six Emmy nominees to win?