What We Watched In 2015

Back in the day, this blog got traffic boosts from the posts I wrote about Jersey Shore, The Challenge, Real Housewives and The Big Bang Theory. Taking notes while watching and posting that night got pretty exhausting and when the kids starting coming, those fell to the wayside. But, I still love television and wanted to share some of our favorite shows from this past year. Continue reading What We Watched In 2015

Casting Internets

You might have noticed a lack of Casting Internets posts lately. That’s less because I kept forgetting to do them and more because I haven’t been going through my Pocket app for ,well, most of this year. Anyway, here’s a bunch of stories from the past few months that tickled my fancy. manziel browns draft

I’m pretty excited about Johnny Manziel heading to the Browns. They’re not my main team, but I have a special place in my heart for them because my mom’s from there and my grandma was a fan her whole life. (via ESPN)

Rivers Cuomo called Rolling Stone to talk about his love of Nirvana and how the band changed his brain. Fun read for Weezer fans, especially the ones who’ve been hearing for years that he converted Kurt Cobain’s songs into an equation and then wrote his own songs with that formula.

I’m not much of a Buzz Feed fan, but I really dug Kate Aurthur’s interview with Real World San Francisco‘s Rachel about her time on the show.

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I don’t know if I’ll ever have time to go through this entire post of on StarWars.com about Ralph McQuarrie’s Star Wars art, but maybe you will!schleprock america's dirty little secret

My buddy Jesse sent me this link to Jason Heller’s AV Club piece on punk in the 90s because he talks about that band Schleprock I reviewed a while back. Even without that, it’s a really solid read on a subgenera of music I still love.

Esquire‘s Jennifer M. Wood talked to director Walter Hill about his classic The Warriors. As you might expect, this is a thing I love.

I’m a big fan of Michael Ruhlman and Anthony Bourdain, so when the former interviewed the latter about modern chefs on his blog, I was interested. Personally, I like how conflicted Bourdain is about things like authenticity. It points to the fact that these issues are trickier than some might otherwise present.

Jimmy Page told Rolling Stone that he’s going to start working on his second-ever solo album. Also, I fully support the idea of a Jimmy Page/Jeff Beck tour. Yardbirds Revisited?

What We’re Watching: Wednesday & Thursday

As it turns out, our Wednesdays and Thursdays are mixed between longtime favorites and brand new shows that are tickling our fancies these days. This batch includes mostly half hour comedies as well as my personal favorite comic book TV show Arrow. My wife also enjoyed this season of Cover Affairs, but I usually read or watching the other TV when it’s on because it just never quite grabbed me. If you’re interested, I covered Mondays and Tuesdays in a post last week.

WEDNESDAY

Arrow (8:00 PM, The CW)

arrow season 2 banner

Arrow is one of my favorite shows on TV and probably one of the ones I look forward to the most in any given week. I was cautiously optimistic when it kicked off last season, but got sucked in with the story of spoiled rich kid Oliver Queen trying to make things right in his city while also flashing back to his time on a crazy island. Sure there’s a ton of melodrama involved in the proceedings (it is a CW show after all), but I love the solid mix of action, fun stories and deep cuts when it comes to comic book references. I couldn’t help but compare Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. to Arrow and in nearly every way, Arrow came off better.

Modern Family (9:00 PM, ABC)Modern Family - Season 5

I’m not really sure what to say about Modern Family that hasn’t been said a million times. It’s so intricately written and perfectly acted that it’s impossible not to fall in love. We’ve been watching the reruns on Fox at 7:30 every day after Jeopardy and even though there aren’t a ton of episodes, it’s a welcome addition to the syndication rotation.

Super Fun Night (9:30 PM, ABC)super fun night

I wanted to like Super Fun Night, but the first episode just killed all the excitement I had going in. The basic concept of the show is cool: three 30 somethings put a bunch of ideas for ladies night in a hat, pull one out and that’s what they do that evening. The problem? Star Rebel Wilson puts on a terrible American accent throughout the entire thing. There are pretty much three things everyone knows about Wilson after watching Pitch Perfect: she’s not America, she’s super funny and she can sing incredibly well. The first episode of this series tried to get you to forget two of these things as her character is nervous about karaoke. I was pretty much done at that point and tend to flip around or read during this time slot. I really think I would be back in if they just had her speak in her regular voice.

THURSDAY

The Big Bang Theory (8:00 PM, CBS)big bang theory season 7

We’re still big Big Bang Theory fans. I love how they’ve expanded the group to fully include Bernadette and Amy. It does kind of seem like the writers aren’t quite sure what to do with Penny lately. She and Sheldon work so well together, but they seem to be writing her a bit dumber than before. It’s a minor problem and I think they’re probably ramping up for something big at the end of the season, but we’ll see.

The Millers (8:30 PM, CBS)the millers

The Millers was a big surprise for me. We’ve liked previous Greg Garcia shows like My Name Is Earl and Raising Hope, but got burned out on the latter. I also didn’t much like Will Arnett’s two previous shows, Running Wilde and Up All Night. But I think this is enough of a departure for Garcia — it’s not about dumdums in a mysterious western town — and it allows Arnett to play awkward and put-upon in a way we haven’t quite seen before. I think it’s funny that last season saw all kinds of “adult kids moving back in with their parents” shows and this seasons has the reverse. Even though it’s not super original, I’m still enjoying two shows like that this season between Millers and Dads. As a nice bonus, the show features Jayma Mays who deserves a show better than Glee and Nelson Franklin who I’ve enjoyed on Traffic Light and his brief stint on New Girl. I hope the show succeeds just so I can keep seeing them all!

The Crazy Ones (9:00 PM, CBS)?????????????????????????

I’ll be honest, I wish Parks & Rec was on at 9:00 PM on Thursdays. I love that show and really miss it, but since we’re full-on into BBT, that’s the show we watch. Plus, it sounds like the schedule’s going to be all over the place. Anyway, since NBC doesn’t have much to offer, we’re watching The Crazy Ones, an ad agency comedy starring Robin Williams and Sarah Michelle Gellar as well as the guy who played Bob Benson on Mad Men and the former secretary from The Mindy Project. The dynamics on this show are a ton of fun and really carry it through. This is one of two shows that I could probably just watch the outtakes of and have a great time. New Girl is the other for what it’s worth. Still, as enjoyable as the show has been, I’d drop it in a heartbeat if it meant I could watch Parks & Rec.

The Michael J. Fox Show (9:30 PM, NBC)MichaelJFoxShow1

I think The Michael J. Fox Show is the only show we watch on NBC these days which is crazy because it used to one of the main stops for us, especially on Thursdays. As a dyed in the wool child of the 80s, I have an almost inborn love for all things Fox going back to the days of Family Ties on through Spin City. The fact that the show puts his Parkinsons right on front street and just deals with it as part of the ongoing story is an ingenious move that brings everyone in on what’s going on and deals with it honestly.

What We’re Watching: Mondays & Tuesdays

It’s been a crazy-long time since I’ve talked about TV here on UM, but that doesn’t mean we’re not watching. It’s an interesting season because there are a good deal of shows I’m really into, but also a lot of slots in the schedule that are left open. For what it’s worth, we’re still in the dark ages when it comes to cable and don’t have DVR, so all of our viewings are done the old fashion way, “live.”  Continue reading What We’re Watching: Mondays & Tuesdays

The Challenge Rivals II Episode 11

The newest installment of The Challenge: Rivals II picks up where last week’s left off. As a reminder, Cooke and Cara Maria won the challenge, so they’re going right to the final. Meanwhile, Diem and Aneesa lost which meant they’d be going up against either Jemmye and Camila or Paula and Emily. As you might expect, Diem and Aneesa wanted to go against Camila and Jemmye. Even though they wound up getting what they wanted, Diem was still peeved because CT and Wes voted for Emily and Paula to go in because they’ve had an alliance with the other team. Diem got in several different fights and acted like a crazy person, falling in my esteem a bit. Then again, I wasn’t super impressed with how CT handled their relationship either. We’l call that a draw, I guess.

We pick back up at the Jungle which is called Hanging By A Thread which, like the past five-or-so-Jungles we’ve already seen. Both teams hang upside down and have to cut through two big, thick ropes. Whoever gets done first actually drops the other team into a small pool of water. Much to my surprise, Jemmye and Camila actually come up with a pretty solid system to make up for the fact that Camila’s much shorter than her partner. Jemmye actually put her saw under the rope, grabbed both ends and pulled it up so Camila could saw through. Diem also couldn’t reach the rope with her saw, but started freaking out instead of coming up with a solution. The guys tried explaining this to them and finally she got it, but it wound up not being enough and the unlikely team of Jemmye and Camila earned their spot in the finale.

At the end, CT and Diem both say they still have feelings for each other and TJ says they have a few days to relax and also hints that it sure is getting hot in Thailand. Back at the house there’s plenty of talk about what that means and where they’ll be going. Emily told Paula she’s worried about failing. Cara Maria practiced swimming. Paula gave Jordan and Marlon a bit of advice. And then they got the almighty text telling them they’re heading off to Tokyo. As usual, they get super excited about all this which always strikes me as odd because it’s not like you get to really enjoy the place you’re going. At this point the talk turned to how a Final in the city could actually put everyone on equal footing, something that Wes doesn’t like because he and CT have been training for the Thai climate. That’s pretty dopey considering every Finale we’ve seen in the past several years has been in a different location than the thrust of the season.

The next day everyone’s all packed up, wondering about Tokyo and getting on the bus to head to the airport. At this point, I noticed that the music was getting pretty weird. Something was clearly up. Then another van pulled up and dudes in black masks busted out on the bus. Everyone’s understandably freaked out by this, but after they come back from a well-placed commercial, we discover that it’s actually TJ and they’re not going to Tokyo.

Instead, everyone’s taken to a dock and TJ breaks down the first half of the Final for them. First, you’ve got to swim a mile from a boat to a place called Dream Island. Once you’re there, you have one hour to solve a puzzle that’s like 3D Tetris, but you have to recreate one of three shapes. When you finish the puzzle or your time is up, you can unlock a kayak and paddle out to a super yacht (if you drank every time you heard those words together you probably still have fuzzy vision). The big twist of this part of the game is that only two teams of each sex can make it on the super yacht (drink!), the other two get $15K each, but have to go home.

As it happened there was one weak swimmer of each sex: Marlon and Cara Maria. The women hopped off the boat first. Paula and Emily took off pretty quickly with Camila and Jemmye too far behind. Cooke basically had to drag CM through the water, but they were only about two minutes behind the other two teams. The guys then came out and did their thing. They were in a clump until Marlon fell behind.

The puzzle itself wound up being tough for all the teams. CT and Wes got done with it first and made it out to the super yacht (drink!), impressive considering they had to be a few minutes behind the ladies. It seemed like no one else was actually going to get done with this thing until Cara Maria and Cooke nailed it and became the first female team on the super yacht (drink!).

With four teams left, things sped up because they were fighting for their place in the next part of the Final. It seemed like it was going to be a race once the time ran out and then Paula and Emily figured theirs out, leaving Camila and Jemmye behind to feel disappointed. Seeing the two angriest people left on the Challenge lose is kind of fun. Camila kicked the crap out of those boxes, you guys! The guys couldn’t figure out the puzzle, so Jordan and Marlon worked out a plan, knowing that Johnny and Frank would be leaving first. It wound up being about a 40 second head start and, of course, it ended in a To Be Continued. But, it looked like one of the teams — we couldn’t see which — actually tipped their kayak over, which will definitely change things up. I’m actually pretty excited to see what happens next week, you guys!

The Challenge Rivals II Episode 10

Boy oh boy. This episode of The Challenge: Rivals II got pretty bonkers on the way to figuring out which three female teams would make it to the final and which would get sent home. The beginning of the episode kicked off with more flirting between Diem and CT which lead into another scene featuring Diem being told by Johnny, Frank and Camila that he’s no good for her, that he’s just using her. No shocker here, but that will come into play later.

The challenge itself is Color Correction, which made the teams run a mile while chained together, get to a board featuring four colors, memorize the flashing pattern, run back and recreate the pattern. According to some tweets I saw, they actually did this three times instead of the two shown. I’m guessing they cut the middle one out because this isn’t the most thrilling game to watch and there was a heckuva lot more shouting which we all know is more interesting.

The first race saw Paula and Emily getting a nice lead and Jemmye kind of anchoring Camila, which is no real shock. All the female teams got to the light board around the same time, but it was Cara Maria and Cooke who left first, but are closely followed by Emily and Paula. The former finish first, but it doesn’t take the latter long to meet them in the winner’s circle. Jemmye and Camila wound up leaving before Diem and Aneesa. Basically, Diem kept going back to the color box, not trusting herself or her partner. In a minor shocker, Jemmye and Camila get the pattern right first which automatically sent Aneesa and Diem in to the Jungle.

This left Paula and Emily racing against Cara Maria and Cooke for a ticket directly into the finals. Paula and Emily get out to an early lead in the race and even get to the light box a full cycle before their competitors. But, Cara Maria thinks she gets the pattern after what looks like just one cycle, so she and Cooke take off. Both teams wound up stacking colors at the same time, but it was the underdogs who got the win! With Cooke and Cara Maria no longer acting as whipping girls, the guy teams had to think a little harder about who they were throwing in.

All of which lead to mountains of drama back at the house. Actually it started right after the losers were announced in front of that big Rivals sign as Johnny mentioned throwing Jemmye and Camila into the Jungle to Diem as Camila was standing right there. Back at the house, Diem’s got into something of a crazy rage — not a great look for her, but it got so much worse — talking about how she doesn’t like Cooke and wants to beat her in a final. Later she tells a group that includes Frank and Johnny that she’s disappointed that CT and Wes hadn’t asked who she and Aneesa wanted to go against in the Jungle to which Franks responds with some oddly personal stuff (“When was the last time he kissed you?”). That was a gross move, one that Frank couldn’t have possibly known the answer to, I don’t care how close the quarters you’re living in with other people.

Eventually, Diem does pull CT and Wes aside to talk about things. CT explains that he wants to save Jemmye and Camila because they’ve been watching each others’ backs. He also tells Diem that they can’t carry her team forever, which was a pretty crazy statement. Also, not for nothing, but what’s more important, the good, influential team that’s been watching your back or the weaksauce one that’s been doing the same? I’m not in the camp that thinks CT was using Diem the whole time — I actually think he had an interesting point when he said she’s super controlling, which is one of the reasons she got so upset — but I also don’t think he’s necessarily the right guy for her at this point, much as that pains me to type. I love those two idiots together. Seems like they could make it work if they both shed some bullshit, but maybe that’s not something either of them want right now.

Anyway, the only truly interesting talk at the house was between Paula and Emily and Marlon and Jordan. See, the guys wanted revenge on the women for voting for them twice. Paula and Emily were standing there begging and crying which was kinda gross. You’re strong competitors who won nearly every challenge set in front of you, don’t start bawling. Jemmye actually walked through this scene and said something along those lines which was hilarious. At least she’s good for something still. There’s more arguing, but it’s boring.

The actual voting found CT and Wes sticking to their guns and voting for Emily and Paula. They were followed by Frank and Johnny who voted for Jemmye and Camila. That left Jordan and Marlon with the deciding vote. Marlon even made a great speech about wanting to send a team in so they could prove themselves and then…commercial…and THEN, he said he voted for Jemmye and Camila. What caused the change of heart? Jordan explained to the camera that they respected Emily and Paula for winning something like 80% of the challenges. This seemed like an out-of-nowhere flip that could have gotten more screen time, but…

Diem went bonkers, which required more screen time. After voting there’s this great scene as a camera man is just running through the house towards the kitchen/argument between Camila and Diem. It’s not really about anything aside from Camila saying that Diem’s fake. Then Jemmye gets into it and drops some bombs about CT and whatnot. Diem gets even more pissed and spends most of the rest of the episode wandering around with a goblet of wine looking like a crazed salamander reading to strike. She gets into it with Camila, Jemmye, even Cooke for a bit which seemed odd.

Then, there was one of my favorite moments of the season because it felt really real. Diem’s sitting near the pool (with her goblet) talking to a group of other castmates hanging out in the pool. CT walked by and said something I didn’t quite catch and Diem goes after him. At that moment, all the other cast members looked directly at the camera with worried looks on their faces and pointed in the direction Diem just walked off. If I remember, I’m going to grab a screen cap from the MTV site tomorrow, but it was the kind of thing you don’t see often: true emotion aimed directly at the camera (or rather the producers)/concern for a fellow cast member. Good for them, I guess, but none of them actually got out of the pool, so not GREAT for them. In the actual conversation CT basically says he’s done playing the girlfriend game with Diem, which wasn’t cool.

The episode ended on a not-too-surprising cliffhanger with Aneesa and Diem ready to face off against Jemmye and Camila in Hanging By A Thread, the game where the teams are hanging upside down and have to cut through a huge rope with tiny saws. This will be an interesting one because size and speed don’t really come into play. It’s basically whoever can figure out the best technique and stick to it. Who will it be? I’m thinking Diem and Aneesa. Sure, Diem came off as a bit loony, but she’s also got a bunch of rage to focus right now and, so far, gets a lot pretty well with her teammate. Jemmye and Camila, meanwhile, seem to go back and forth on the ol’ hating each other scale.

The Challenge Rivals II Episodes 8 & 9

AI take more pride in these Challenge write-ups than I probably should. It might sound a bit silly, considering the subject matter, but I try to cover them like I would a sporting event that has more and more drama sprinkled in with each successive season. And yet, sometimes the review just doesn’t jump from my notes to the site, hence the lack of a post last week. So, to make up for that and keep some semblance of continuity here, I’m going to do a much quicker summation of Episode 8 and then get back into the usual detail with tonight’s latest addition to Rivals II. Read on if this is your bag, gang!  Continue reading The Challenge Rivals II Episodes 8 & 9