Sunday, September 30, 2007

Desperate Sisters, or How the Alphabet Channel has a Delicious Sundae

9:00 Desperate Housewives (ABC)
After an estranged season (I can't remember any episodes after that crazy "Bang!" episode) I decided/was forced to go back to Desperate Housewives this season: how could I not, with hottie my favourite space captain setting up shop in Wisteria Lane? It didn't take long for Brenda Strong to fill me in on everyone's dirty laundry - 5 mins in I was aware of Bree's fake pregnancy, Lynette's cancer (why is it that Felicity is getting all the "drama" acting and not enough comedy!?), Gabrielle's marriage, Edie's suicide and Susan's (actually every single scene with Teri Hatcher works like an amnesiac...) The episode was fun as per usual. Too much Teri (and actually stealing a scene right from Nathan's earlier summer exposure: read Waitress - which if you haven't seen, wait for it on DVD and do yourself a favour!) and not enough everyone else, really. I still don't know what they're gonna do with Lynette's cancer - how comedic is a disease, really? and do we need more drama? It was fun, fluff, but fun. Bree still has the best lines, though the fork scene was a bit... over the top. Yet again we have new neighbours (Dana Delany gets a chance to capitalize on that 'Bree' role she turned down) and new intrigues, so we'll see how that pans out. Overall, an enjoyable episode but not the best I've seen of the girls in Wisteria Lane, though the Dana-Marcia rivalry looks more than promising, so we'll tune in on Sundays, when I'm rarely doing anything more exciting.

Favourite part of the show:
Edie: My doctor told me to talk openly about it [her attempted 'suicide']
Bree: Surely not over food.

10:00 Brothers and Sisters (ABC)
As someone reminded me today, I do make 'fun' of people who watch Brothers and Sisters, but like anything else, I believe that to judge you need to have watched/tasted/talked to...well, you get the picture. So I gave it a chance. And, even though I love Calista (if only for that wonderful David E. Kelley show everyone loves to hate), love Rachel (just cause) and love the gay storyline (who doesn't love the gays on primetime?) I find the entire show a bit... over the top. Too much drama, too much 'weep now gentle viewer!' or 'be moved by our stories, which are just like your stories...' - which I can't really stomach. Maybe that's why I like over the top shows (comedic like Ugly Betty, crazy like 30 Rock, sci-fi like BSG, vampire-y like Buffy/Angel, witty like GG, well,you get the idea). That said, it was entertaining to watch - it does have good writing and good acting which I can admire, but needless to say I won't be tuning in next week to see if hottie-son actually died (oops spoilers...)

Favourite part of the show: "I dont want nice, I want my mother!"

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Ugly Rabies, or How Thursdays are Hot


8:00 Ugly Betty (ABC)
Last year I came to watch Ugly Betty with a hesitation mainly cause I had seen the original Colombian incarnation "Yo Soy Betty la Fea" and while it ended up being too sappy for my taste, it was a breakthrough in terms of Colombian "telenovelas' (how many 'ugly' female protagonists do we get, really?) With that in mind, I think I saw what ABC had done with 'Betty' and it made me cringe: Back then I didn't know how well soap opera conventions would translate into an hour of US Primetime. But after an entire season I think Betty's antics are soapy enough (the season finale featured a gunshot, a car-crash, an enagagement, a prison break and an unexpected pregnancy!), funny enough (just pull up any Amanda/Marc quotes) and hip enough (Kristin Chenoweth as a dentist's assistant? Rebecca Romjin as a tranny? Salma Hayek reprising soap opera roles in the 'fictional tv telenovelas'?) The characters grew on me: I will laugh at anything Marc spits out at Betty, and Vanessa Williams (playing herself, in my eyes) is pitch-perfect as the Ice Queen of fashion (when is she not wearing white, honestly?)
The season premiere was good: the first segment (a 'Betty daydream' where she sees her life as a soap opera) was hilarious - mostly for the awesome spanish lines and set the tone for what promises to be a fun season - is (currently fat) Amanda Faye and Papa Mead's daughter? Will Henry and Betty have a 'happily ever after'? How will Judith Light steal Vanessa's thunder this time around?
All of this makes me sad of course - because come next week, my 8:30 slot will be taken by that Emmy nominated comedy starring the funny Tina Fey and the hilarious Alec Baldwin, but I guess I am hooked enough: I'll probably catch up downloading the episodes anyway! (As if I needed more procrastinating tools!)

Favourite part of the show: "I am never going to see Sound of Music the same ever again!"

9:00 The Office (NBC)
Continuing with shows that I don't normally watch but had to watch the premieres this week (marketing and advertising and EW are to blame for that!) I watched The Office this week. Having only watched one or two episodes before, I was laughing by the first scene (Steve Carrel running over one of his employees was probably the highlight of the episode). The rest of the hour-episode was what is surely common-ground for avid Office fans: Carrel's awkward 'like me, praise me' attitude towards his employees, Pam and Jim lovey-dovey scenes (finally! - or so I hear) and random, ridiculously funny sketches. I find the documentary style at once quite refreshing but also a bit choppy at times - maybe it gets some getting used to, I don't know. That said, I could watch paint-dry if it had John Krasinski who I had heard so much about from a certain someone *wink wink* and now I know why. All in all, a good two-part episode with some laugh-out loud moments.

Favourite of the part of the show: "Support the Rabid!"/ "You don't know me, you just saw my penis."

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Bionic Vancouver, or How Katee Sackhoff is the shit


8:00 Back to You (FOX)
Did I watch Frasier for Kelsey Grammer? No.
Did I watch Everybody Loves Raymond for Pat Heaton? No.
Why did I watch Back to You? Cause it was on FOX when I got home and I had half an hour to wait til Bionic was on. What I got was a great early 1990's sitcom. It was good for what it's worth, and though I do believe Ms Heaton will shine more in this than she ever did playing Ray Romano's wife (god how I hate that show...) it will take a while (and a certain type of audience) for this comedy to catch on. It feels dated somehow - I mean, how many multi-camera, 'filmed in front of a live audience' sitcoms do we have on right now? How many are successful? Back to You, though filled with great actors, and an impeccable production team, seems to tell us that it's because it's heyday has passed, and I am quite okay with that. I mean the punchline included a dead fish..? Dr Crane can surely do better than that, and I hope in weeks to come, he will.

Favourite Part of the Show: ... that forgettable, I guess.

9:00 Bionic Woman (NBC)
As if the impeccable production, the interesting (re)created concept of the Bionic Woman and the good looks of Michelle Ryan weren't enough of a draw for me, NBC added some Vancouver shots and the electric performance by Katee Sackhoff to win me over completely. But I have to admit, all those other things got me hooked as well (what else was I expecting when the amazing David Eick, of BSG fame was involved?). If we all didn't know the mythology before, I think NBC has done a good job of making the story behind 'bionic woman' well-known with an aggressive marketing push that goes back to Comic-con in San Diego (where that pic from Katee Sackhoff comes from): woman gets 'bionic-ized' (new legs, arm, ear and eye) after an accident leaves her almost dead. This reimagining of Bionic owes much to several strong female-centered shows that came before it: Buffy, Dark Angel and even BSG. Jamie Summers joins a select group of empowered females that battle evil - she's in good company, but she can also stand on her own. That last cat-fight with Katee is by far the best one we've seen since Katee herself battled an arrow-wielding Tricia Helfer, and before that we hadn't seen that girl-on-girl fighting action since Sarah and Eliza were duking it out for Slayer-of-the-year.
My favourite lines were by far those of the evil 'rogue' Bionic Woman - when have we seen such a good way to Time Out of a fight than light a cigarette in order to advance the exposition during a fight? Exactly. Plus, any woman who can wear that much lipstick and not look like a hooker is a pleasure to see (who knew Starbuck could be so evil?) This show is of course a fanboy's wetdream and all I have to say to that is that we are lacking in the hot boys department (if after the episode ended Will indeed died) - because I mean, if all I have to look at for eye candy is Isaiah Washington (don't even get me started on that baffling casting choice)... My point exactly.

Favourite Part of the Show: The self-aware scene with the girl in the car, who, after seeing Jamie running really fast says to her mom: "I just thought it was cool that a girl could do that." So do we, random girl, so do we...

Second Favourite Part of the Show: Seeing Vancouver. Everywhere. I can't even remember what city they're making it pass for, but it made me miss Koerner Library and even Buchannan Tower when I saw it in the background like 10mins into the show...Sigh

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

House of Bones, or How Fox Delivers the Goods

Continuing with the "Watching with Manuel" Fall TV Preview I give you my dish on Fox's Tuesdays:


8:00 Bones (FOX)
Now, I am not a die-hard fan of procedural dramas (whether they follow lawyers, doctors or forensics... Profiler not-withstanding). But when you add the disarmingly charming David Boreanaz and Emily Deschanel's eye-liner you give me a good place to start. I have watched a couple of episodes of Bones, but this was by far one of the more interesting ones: I mean, a random skull, a conspiracy theory worthy of Mr Dan Brown and great tie-buckle ensembles in David's wardrobe choices are clearly elements of a good hour on TV in my books. This was an episode that very clearly (and not as self-consciously as some Heroes....) sets up the main storylines for this season: Bones and Booth; Hodgins and Angela's wedding 'adventure' and of course the vault's conspiracy. I am intrigued and was very entertained for the entire hour making me remember that Fox gives me all the good stuff (even if they do cancel shows obscenely early when Rupert doesn't see profit coming his way by episode 4... coughDrivecough).

Favourite part of the episode: "No ... ungual, with a 'g,' a 'g'..."

9:00 House M.D. (FOX)
I have to be honest. I had my concerns: House with no Foreman, Chase or Cameron? It sounds like a cool episode (I believe it was done already - that one in the plane where it's just House and Cuddy) but making it work for the rest of the series? You had to be kidding. And yet, the premiere of House M.D. manages to work without the three hotties of the show (oh how I miss Chase's accent though). As per usual House is faced by a patient that seems to have inexplicable symptoms that don't add up and without a team, how will Hugh Laurie sarcastically burn his peers with his dry-wit banter? He improvises, and we all knew House was always about House, so if we still have his cranky mood swings, we still have a good show. Formulaic, true, but a good show nonetheless. That said, the ending blew me away - it was actually quite clever. The preview gave us a glimpse of Chase, Cameron and Foreman so maybe there is still hope for those of us who miss the 'team' but I am also eagerly awaiting what promises to be a "House's Next Top Doctor"-like season ahead; "By the end of 6 weeks, one of you will leave...along with 28 other unfortunate souls."

Favourite part of the episode: "You were bouncing ideas off of a janitor!"

Retroactive TV Sunday, or How Star Wars is the New Pink


8:00 The Simpsons (FOX)
Knowing how good The Simpsons movie was, and knowing that Stephen Colbert was guest-voicing a part in the premiere episode, I was very excited to see the new Simpsons season kick-off. Sadly, I was not impressed at all. Instead of the refreshing comedy in the movie (albeit never achieving 'classic' status) we got a standard late-Simpsons season episode: not really funny, really good animation, good guest voices with the odd laugh-inducing gag (In this episode it was the opening sequence - completely revamped! and ending with a Spider-pig appearance at the couch). But other than that, nothing from the movie seems to have affected the Simpsons dynamics: why did we get yet another "Homer disappoints family" storyline crossed with "Homer gets a new job (sort of)" storyline? I don't know. Also: not enough Lisa.

Favourite part of the episode: Bart's blackboard reading "I will not wait 20 years to make another movie" (Oh self-awareness! how we love thee)

9:00 Family Guy (FOX)
So, if the Simpsons premiere was underwhelming, the Family Guy one was overwhelming, in many levels! For those of you who have been living under a rock, the one-hour season premiere was a re-enaction of A New Hope, FG style: Lois as Leia, Chris as Luke, etc. And not only was the animation amazing when trying to mimic the 1970s style effects but the inside jokes regarding the popular culture surrounding Star Wars were clever and almost always laugh-inducing. Stewie as Darth Vader was hilarious and the jokes poked at the original Star Wars (I especially liked the "John Williams everybody!" sketch when Luke is gazing at the two suns and the music seems so over the top and you turn and meet the entire John Williams orchestra). All in all it was a treat to watch, even though I am not a regular FG watcher, but this was not an event to miss.
Favourite part of the episode: "Hi I'm Han Solo and the only actor whose career isn't destroyed by this movie" and Leia trying to record the "Help me Obi Wan Kenobi" message and having to ask what "buffering" is and dealing with R2D2's Windows asking her to download Real Player 7 to continue.

Monday, September 24, 2007

TV Monday, or How Heroes is the most overrated show on the air

It's premiere week!
Most of my favourite shows are returning and now that I have a tv and a less crowded social life (read: mostly non-existent, but slowly working on it) I can revel in watching loads and loads of tv!!
My idea is to blog about the shows that I watch this week.
It'll be like Watch with Manuel.

(Some spoilers ahead)

8:00 - How I Met Your Mother (CBS)
I only caught up with HIMYM yesterday, having finished watching the second season so I was more than anxious to hear Neil Patrick Harris finish saying '...dary!' at the beginning of the episode. The gang is back - Ted with breakup beard (and making out with Mandy Moore), Robin back from Argentina (and dating Enrique Iglesias... who only American TV would cast as an 'Argentinian'), married Lily and Marshall and ever so funny Barney. The episode was tres funny as we watched Ted bounce back (and gets 'wings' of his own, in a matter of speaking - the joke is too funny to have it ruined, trust me). Enrique and Mandy were okay - as was the unabashed Mandy CD plug at the end of the episode. The season promises to be a really fun one - now, all we need to know is how Ted ACTUALLY met his as-yet-unborn-and-yet-unnamed kids' Mother... We do know she owns a yellow umbrella, hm...

Favourite part of the episode: Barney saying "We're gonna get Cirque du So-laid!"

8:30 - Last 1/2 hr of Chuck (NBC)
Spies and geeks? Yah-hah, that had me intrigued, and also being a Whedon-fan I had to tune in and see what Jayne was up to. Good thing NBC has had Chuck plastered all over the web, NYC billboards and tv ads: it made tuning in half an hour late easier as I knew the basic premise. The concept sounds funny and I'm sure many girls (and boys) will swoon over Zachary Levi (he has that Krasinski look going for him) but I'm not sold. Was it funny? Yes. Entertaining? Sure. It was also very sleek-looking (both in terms of cinematography and art direction for a TV show - that scene on the roof for example looked amazing) but there was something missing. I mean, I rather have my spies be chiseled like Michael Vartan and Jen Garner, and I rather have my quick-wit Gilmore-style, but the combo somehow feels forced. Nice twist at the end with what Chuck sees from a certain surveillance camera, but I guess my Monday's will have to be okay without the Geek Squad.

Favourite part of the episode: Awkward dinner talk - "I could be your baggage carrier"

9:00 - Heroes (NBC)
That said, I would take any episode of Chuck over an episode of Heroes. Everyone loves it I know, and hey, it actually is a good premise. I enjoy it more when it's called X-men and it's written by Joss Whedon and drawn by John Cassaday, or when it is directed by Bryan Singer and stars Hugh Jackman, hey I'll even take it when it airs on Saturday mornings in the form of cartoons... But I digress. I don't follow it, I've only seen a handful of episodes, but I have the same problems with it over and over again. It tries too hard: to be hip, to be geek-chic, to be cool, to be 'cult' and it isn't helped by lackluster writing. I went in knowing vaguely about where we were at since I watched the season finale on the plane on my way here and even if I hadn't I will give the writers props for giving a 'just-tuned-in' audience a good briefing. That also meant that we spent the first half-hour visiting different 'Heroes' and seeing where they were at: Clare's at a new school, we don't know what happened to Peter, Hiro is in the past, etc. But even as I was watching I could see the show wanting (in a very LOST-esque way) to lure me into asking endless questions that the season will unravel for me if I devote one hour of my life to the show. I think back fondly on techniques like this when they were used sparingly (think seeing Michelle Trachtenberg and SMG fighting at the end of 'Dracula' and hearing the collective gasp of the buffy-fandom going wtf?!) but here, Heroes tries to set so many stories into place the episode felt like a good warm-up that didn't deliver anything substantial, only questions:
Where was Peter, how did he get there (and who did his hair? Cause they need a raise)?
Who's that creepy kid in Clare's school and what does he know?
What are Clare's dad and Indian guy working on?
What's the Sensei symbol doing all over the effing episode?
What will Hiro do?
Who committed that murder at the end?
etc etc...
Too much for too little. (Also - no Ali Larter? Who does Tim Kring think he is?)
That said, what Heroes lacks in writing it tries to make up in casting: as an ALIAS fan, I was happy to see my fave Brit-villain back in the tube in the random role of Takezo Sensei.

Favourite part of the show: Anders punching Hiro.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

My Chemical Way-Ba, or How I Love The Umbrella Academy

The Umbrella Academy
The Day the Eiffel Tower Went Berserk
Issue 1 (of 6) of Apocalypse Suite
Story: Gerard Way
Art: Gabriel Bá
Cover: James Jean

From the very first page I knew I was going to like this comic-book. Actually, I take that back. From the cover, I knew I was going to like this comic book. James Jean never goes wrong. Also, having Scott Allie associated with a project is a plus any day.
So first page: I love Way's "notes from Sir Reginald Hargreeves, a.k.a. The Monocle" they're really funny and offered a good 'intro' to our Academy members. My favourite line:
"00.03 Insufferable, narcissistic creature, but extremely useful."

A couple of disclaimers -
Even though I have some My Chemical Romance songs on my iTunes I am by no means a Gerard Way fan - unlike some people I know.
Even though I got a free copy of The Umbrella Academy short story released on Free Comic Boy Day both at the time and later at Comic Con, I had not read it (I had only looked at the pretty cover, over and over again)

That said, after reading the first issue I fell in love with everything - the ridiculously crazy plot, the witty dialogue, the super-fun artwork by Gabriel Bá (reminiscent enough of his brother's work on Joss' Sugarshock but appropriately different to suit Mr Way's tone and story) and of course, the characters. Rumour might just actually have the greatest power I have ever heard of. So simple and yet so 'extremely useful.'
To Gerard Way's merit I will say that the comic-book reads very much in a cinematic fashion and I think that's one thing I found helped set the pace and the mood for the story. More so than any other book I've read recently, Bá's panels work as shots on a screen that accompany Way's voice-over in the first five pages what seems to be a wonderfully informative and yet vague enough introduction that reminded me of Ms Blanchett's voice-over narration opening Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring. And then, as if that wasn't enough, Way gives us one of the most amusing titles I've come across: The Day the Eiffel Tower Went Berserk. (Those crazy French! Non?)
Overall it is an intriguing concept and though I was actually hoping to get more background story (I am always weary of those '__ years later' labels, but actually that followed by 'The Moon' was cool), I am enjoying where it is going and can't wait for the next issue!

Friday, September 21, 2007

Across the Universe, or How I (heart) the Beatles + Julie Taymor

Julie Taymor's Across the Universe.
Now, for those of you who don't know anything about it I've put here the trailer so you can see for yourselves what it's about. In a few words it is a 1960s-set Beatles-musical. Sounds a bit weird? Yeah. Pretentious? Please, of course it does - when does a movie I like not get labeled pretentious?
In any case, it is a bit in the vein of Moulin Rouge (the first scene follows along the same tradition of 'let me tell you the story about a girl') - pop music turned on its head in the midst of an otherwise simple boy-meets-girl storyline. And let me tell you, some psychedelic scenes in Across the Universe, leave you thinking that Absynthe Kylie Minogue fairy bit in Luhrman's masterpiece isn't all that weird after all (look out for Bono singing 'I am the Walrus,' Salma Hayek [as a nurse] multiplying in front of your eyes as she coos 'Happiness is a Warm Gun,' and an 'interlude-like' trip with gigantic puppets, a ringmaster, blue people and all).
But the beauty of Across the Universe is the music: hearing Hey Jude coming very organically out of the movie; or listening to a sombre and (lesbian) sad version of I want to hold your hand; and even a beautiful cast rendition of Because is an experience that mixed in with Taymor's crazy filmic antics makes the movie worthwhile. It's not a pitch-perfect movie, and it might make a better soundtrack than a movie but the 'trip' is worth its while. Where else will you see Strawberry Fields Forever underscored by Jim Sturgess making strawberries bleed? That's what I thought...
All that said, I loved it. Every minute of it. Made me smile, made me laugh (can't say it didn't make me cringe at times, cause it did) but it was a great film and I highly recommend it for any Beatles fans.
P.S. I am officially in love with Jim Sturgess' voice and I think it makes him TEN TIMES more attractive than he actually is. Hearing him sing All my Loving was one of those moments that made me wish he had been singing it to me...

Sunday, September 16, 2007

The Emmys, or How I Love Television

My favorite Emmy moments:

Ray Romano (when he mentioned Frasier), Katherine Heigl (when her name was called) and Sally Field (when she began talking about "War!") being censored by cutting to a random shot of the ceiling.

Tina Fey and Julia Louis-Dreyfus making fun of each other that went something like "We were chosen to present this award because we have so much in common: we both started in SNL, we both have Emmys, and we both have children - who we love equally, and we will both act happy if the other one wins tonight"

Helen Mirren's speech. "I just love that dramatic music that cuts people off [a speech later] Where is the music?"

Kanye West v Rainn Wilson in an "impromptu" Don't Forget the Lyrics, Kanye West Edition.

Katherine Heigl's name being said wrong by "voice-over" chick. And Kat correcting her as she walked on stage.

The bloggers.

Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert discussing the Green Emmys: "After the show I will buy a carbon crate and some peruvian farmers will be able to saw off part of the Amazon"

The Vanessa Hudgens and Hayden P[however you spell her name] jokes.

30 Rock winning Best Comedy Series: "Why are you wearing a tux?" "It is after 6, what am I a farmer?"

Stanley Tucci and Elaine Stritch. "As the Bard said, Tis better to have Guested in a Comedy Series, than to have never guested at all."

Favorite pre-Emmy moment: Giuliana Depandi stepping on Portia de Rossi's dress.

Least favorite moments: Kate Walsh's hair, BSG losing both their noms, Tony Bennet and X-tina (or maybe I was just bored during the performance though I was still happy it wasn't a Brit-VMA moment)

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Seeing Red Grinches, or How I am Seeing Double

Turns out Alyson loves skipping apologies...

Tara: We can’t just have coffee and expect…

Willow: I know

Tara: Its just so much to work through. Trust has to be built again, on both sides. Can’t we just skip it? Can you just be kissing me now?

Lily: I came here to apologize I am so sorry Ted

Ted: I accept. Gimme the beer. Oh It is so good to see u guys!

Lily: Are you coming home?

Ted: Uh totally. But first Lily I owe u an apology.

Lily: Oh for the love of god, are you as sick of apologies as I am?

Ted: Yeeees

Lily: Can we just skip the apology and go straight to the forgiving?

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

El Amor en los Tiempos del Colera, or How I Can't Wait to See This Movie

I was excited when I saw the first poster, but now the new one with its simplicity (a rose, a woman, black background) I can't wait!

Monday, September 10, 2007

Washing Doc, or How I am Seeing Double


In the last scene where Mr Tudyk appears in the movie, he does a grand heroic feat before, well... going on to better things.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Yorick at Your Door, or How I am Seeing Double

I have never heard of this movie before, but I as soon as I saw the poster (which oddly I can only find on Apple Trailers) I thought of that Vaughnnian (?) Last Man.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Gay-Dar, or How I Created my Own Superhero

Clicking and clicking around I happened to find this really cool website HeroMachine where you can create your very own superhero - picking his/her clothes, weapons, etc. Needless to say this killed a couple of hours and after many "drafts" here is my final Superhero: Gay-Dar.
I hope his powers are very self-explanatory - I mean, they say you always create a superhero you wish could save you, and he's exactly what I need here in NJ right now: someone who can help me "spot the gays" here in New Brunswick. I mean, the Starbucks baristas are a given, but other than that I am always unsure and I think that any overt move towards trying to find out might cost me an eye.
But without further ado, I give you Gay-Dar: a retail salesperson by day, and gay avenger by night.Pfft! Northstar has nothing on this guy! And yes, his stick is ironic AND metaphorical at the same time.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Skrulling Faith, or How I am Seeing Double

I don't know why but as soon as I saw this (fabulous!) Faith cover in the Wizard Interview, I was reminded of yet another Jo Chen cover for another Vaughan-tastic series.

No Future For You, or How I Can't Wait For Wednesday!

Isn't this rivalry just perfect? I love it. More of Vaughan-goodness here.