Summer TV Season Check-In August 10, 2008Posted by Amy Yen in In Plain Sight, Project Runway, The Closer, TV.
Tags: Amy Yen, Bravo, Burn Notice, In Plain Sight, My Boys, Project Runway, Psych, StrawGrasping, summer TV, TBS, television, The Closer, TNT, TV, USA
Well it’s almost August, the promise of the fall TV season around the corner & the summer shows in their final stretch. So what did we watch during our summer vacation? Some good, some very good & some very unfortunate:
In Plain Sight (USA)
Most of the season has passed since we last checked in with our heroes, the constantly irritable & angry Mary Shannon & her dorky, completely awesome partner Marshall Mann, & I’m just about ready to say that this show is what it is. For a second there, I thought it might have a chance to make the leap from harmless, decent summer show to consistently strong & surprising must-see TV, but that feeling quickly went away. IPS might be the most frustrating show on TV. The moments you expect—the Marshall-centric episode we’ve been waiting for since Day 1 especially—never happen, & the realizations that you expect the writers to have—that absolutely nobody cares about Jinx & very rarely does anyone care about Brandi—they never have. Instead, IPS just hums along, completely oblivious of its own wasted potential. Still, I was happy to hear that it got renewed for next year. There was worse things to do in the summer than watch Fred Weller on TV.
I think that, in the exact opposite way the surprising, wonderful moments haven’t happened on IPS, they have on Psych, completely unexpectedly to me. I mean, I’ve always liked the show for what it was, an amusing, clever buddy comedy &, unlike IPS, I never expected it to be anything more. But so far this season, it’s been the serious moments that have shot this show up to a new level. The back-story with Shawn’s mom, the spontaneous speech in front of the reunion class (in 3 minutes recognizing why all heroes need a sidekick like Gus), the”missed moments” talk with Shawn’s dad, Shawn’s subsequent redemption with his high school crush (nostalgically played by Rachael “She’s All That” Leigh Cook)…& best of all for me at least, in this second chance at a missed moment, Shawn opens his eyes & sees Juliet, & we realize that, after 2+ seasons of constant teasing & cute flirting, there’s something deeper there. Then this week’s episode, one inoculate little mention (“You smell nice.”) is all that’s needed to keep it going. Just one moment, because this show isn’t about romance…but it’s those moments that has made an entertaining show a great one.
The Closer (TNT)
The fourth season premiere was a surprising disappointment, considering all that it had going for it, specifically the resurfacing of Bill Croelick, the villian-that-got-away from Season 1, one of the creepiest bad guys the show has ever produced. But while Croelick’s reappearance was at first spot-on perfect (“Hello, Plain Ol’ Brenda”), by the end of the episode, you can’t help of feel let down. There was just something missing from the opportunity. I do appreciate the subtle attempts to flesh out the supporting characters, particularly Flynn, whose compassion for the victims’ families was demonstrated in extreme in the second episode, when we see that he’s still on friendly terms with the family of an 8-year-old case, & subtly in this past week’s scene where he took the victim’s wife off Brenda’s hands, & who we got to see is actually a pretty good detective too. And of course it’s always great to see him & Provenza’s simultaneous bickering & intense loyalty. But while there have been nice moments sprinkled among the first couple of episodes I think I’m not alone in saying this season has yet to live up to this show’s self-established extremely high standards. There are too many subplots I don’t care about, the dissolution of Gabriel & Daniels’ relationship in particular. However, this isn’t a show I’m particularly worried about.
Burn Notice (USA)
There are subtle changes in tone for season 2 of summer favorite Burn Notice, but in essence, everything is pretty much the same. Michael is still in Miami, still UST-ing with Fionna, still pals with Sam, still exasperated by his family, still helping the helpless. The difference is, there’s another layer on everything’s that’s happening, the mysterious Carla & the organization behind Michael’s burn notice. Carla affects everything that’s happened this season, despite only appearing in the first two episodes. As a result, I’ve found the episodes so far very complicated, with 3 or 4 subplots going on at once, but admirably, the show hasn’t been that confusing & all the storylines are pretty compelling. That’s not easy to do. I think the thing that Burn Notice really has over a show like In Plain Sight is consistently smart writing. The dialogue is smart, they don’t resort to campy lines or pun-y language, which is something a show like this could easily do, something that IPS does a lot & something that is an obvious indicator of bad writers. The stories are always interesting & no matter how ridiculous Michael’s accent is or how conveniently everything seems to work out, I don’t watch it thinking about how ridiculous it is. It’s just enjoyable & doesn’t take itself too seriously, & in that way, it’s almost the perfect summer show.
My Boys (TBS)
Because this show is ultimately about the friendships & not just about PJ, I guess I can understand why the writers can’t let PJ just have a BF for more than two episodes. It’s a real credit to Jordana Spiro that we would even want PJ & Brandon, or PJ & Bobby, or PJ & Thorn, or PJ & that baseball player whose name I forgot, or PJ & the botonist, to be together, when we only see any combination for so brief a time. But there I was, getting sucked right back into rooting for PJ & Bobby in Italy. I think it’s kind of remarkable, actually, that what amounts to a semi-crush/residual feelings from a total non-relationship would so dominate the emotion of this season so far, when nothing even came out of Italy, which is what they spent almost all of last season building toward. But you really feel for PJ & cringe at the realization that Bobby actually does love Elsa, that maybe her chance with him really has passed. I don’t think so though, just because you know it’s either him or Brandon (another non-relationship we never got to see played out that I desperately want them to explore again!) who will end up being her great love. The season finale, I thought, was actually kind of weak, following several solid episodes leading up to Bobby’s wedding. But one thing this show does well is cliffhangers. “I think I’m marrying the wrong woman.” DANG! When is this show coming back again?
Project Runway (Bravo)
Saved this for last since you should have a pretty good idea of what I think of Season 5 from my live-blogs. I gotta say…I’m worried, y’all. This season’s batch of designers is clearly inferior to last year’s, & it’s not even close. I mean, it’s early & I do have a lot more faith in this show than most so I’m obviously not ready to make any melodramatic jump-the-shark statements (I’ll save that for when it moves to Lifetime), but I’m really hoping they give us someone to root for—& someone to hate—soon. We might be set up for a let-down year, though. Christian Sirianos don’t grow on trees.
What have you thought of this summer’s TV plate? Drop me a comment to let me know what you’re watching. Check back in with me soon for my extensive fall TV preview.
Live-Blogging Top Chef 4.12 May 28, 2008Posted by Amy Yen in Top Chef, TV.
Tags: Allen Brothers, Amy Yen, Bravo, Kathy Griffin, live blog, Rick Tramonto, StrawGrasping, Top Chef, Top Chef live blog
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8:59 (b/c yes, I am now on Central Time) – Previously on Top Chef, Spike & Lisa are inexplicably still around at the beginning of the episode. Restaurant Wars return. Team Disaster predictably bomb. And Spike & Lisa are inexplicably still around at the end of the episode. Which mean Dale is preemptively eliminated. Aw.
9:01 – Everyone is excited that they’re close to the final 4. OMG, one of Spike & Lisa is going to make the final 4. That is so wrong!
Live-Blogging Top Chef 4.11 May 21, 2008Posted by Amy Yen in Top Chef, TV.
Tags: Amy Yen, Bravo, live blog, Restaurant Wars, StrawGrasping, television, Top Chef, Top Chef 4.11, Top Chef live blog, TV
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9:59 – Previously on Top Chef, Andrew is crazy crazy crazy crazy CRAZY. And also Eliminated.
10:01 – Watching the title sequence, I really can’t believe Spike is still here.
Live-Blogging Top Chef 4.9 May 7, 2008Posted by Amy Yen in Top Chef, TV.
Tags: Amy Yen, Bravo, StrawGrasping, television, Top Chef, Top Chef 4.9, Top Chef Wedding Wars, TV
9:59 – Scrambling to get the live-blog set up…putting the DVR on pause, but am skipping the previously. Basically, Antonia exploits her unfair advantage of being a single mother on the way to winning the elimination challenge. Also, Crazy Mark the Crazy Australian is sent home.
10:00 – You know, usually I’m typing furiously during Padma’s little introduction before the title sequence. Wow, did not realize just how many product placements they pack into like a minute. Pretty impressive.
10:03 – The chefs head into the kitchen for the Quickfire, but instead of a guest judge, there’s Tom C standing there, looking smug. Padma tells them in a grave tone that the Quickfire winner will no longer receive immunity, which would be a lot more shocking if that didn’t eventually happen in every season of every reality show since the beginning of time. (more…)
Live-Blogging Top Chef 4.4 April 2, 2008Posted by Amy in Top Chef, TV.
Tags: Amy Yen, Bravo, Daniel Boulud, live blog, StrawGrasping, Top Chef, Top Chef 4.4, Top Chef movie challenge
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9:59 – Previously on Top Chef, I tried really hard to start caring about this season’s contestants, with little to no success. Also, Erik was sent home for soggy corn dogs.
10:00 – Was just thinking…what an awkward shoot it must have been for the chefs to film that opening sequence. Were the producers just like, “Do something that expresses your personality as a person & a chef in approximately 3 seconds…go!”? I liked CJ’s shot from Season 3, all he had to do was be tall.
10:01 – We open in the apartments, where the chefs continue to be surprised that one of them was eliminated despite the fact that I keep pointing out that they are, in fact, on a reality show. Also, the producers continue to shove the fact that there is a lesbian couple this season down our throats & America continues to not care.
Live-Blogging Top Chef Season 4 Premiere March 12, 2008Posted by Amy in Top Chef, TV.
Tags: Amy Yen, Bravo, live blog, StrawGrasping, Top Chef, Top Chef Chicago, Top Chef Season 4
9:59 – Top Chef is going to Chicago! 16 chefs…jeez, that’s a lot. Did they just say 24 challenges? Good God. Padma, Tom Colicchio, Gail Simmons & Ted Allen are all back.
10:00 – We see a bunch of chefs arrive in Chicago & hear them say their names, which I immediately forget, & they talk about themselves a little. Sorry, guys, I traditionally don’t care about the contestant’s stories until at least the top 10. Let’s be real. You’ll be lucky if I pick up a name before episode 5. If you want names, go here.
Live-Blogging Project Runway Season 4 Finale, Pt 1 February 27, 2008Posted by Amy in Project Runway, TV.
Tags: Amy Yen, Bravo, Bryant Park, Fashion Week, Heidi Klum, live blog, Project Runway, Project Runway 4.13, Project Runway finale, StrawGrasping, television, Tim Gunn, TV
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9:59 – Previously on Project Runway…the reunion show, which I didn’t care about b/c it is not the finale. But this is! At least, it’s part 1.
10:00 – So Christian, Jillian, Rami & Chris get $8K and five months to create awesometown collections. One of Chris & Rami will move on to Fashion Week based on their top three looks. Fierce, yo.