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

Last Week’s Shows, Today! Season Premiere Edition

As I might have mentioned–or you’ve seen over on The Monkee Diaries–we went on vacation last week. It was a great time, but we missed a few shows here and there like the season premiere of How I Met Your Mother, though I was able to check a few things out on On Demand which I really enjoyed. Unfortunately, our building has super old cable wiring, so we can’t have anything digital. It makes me sad, but new TV makes me happy! There’s a lot here, so hit the jump to see it all! Continue reading Last Week’s Shows, Today! Season Premiere Edition

Last Night’s Shows, Today: How I Met Your Mother Season Finale, Off Limits Premiere & Castle Season Finale

HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER “Challenge Accepted” (8:00PM, CBS)How I Met Your Mother‘s sixth season finale snuck up on me this year. Part of the reason for that is because my lovely daughter was born on a Monday, we missed the previous week’s episode and our TV watching schedule has been interrupted by busts of crying every now and then. Anyway, this season has been an interesting one as it focused mainly on the non-Ted characters. Sure Ted was around with his doomed-from-the-start relationship with Zoey and the will-he-or-won’t-he plot regarding the GNB building project, but this season belonged to Marshall and Lilly dealing with Marshall’s dad’s death and Barney finding a girl who he might be able to settle down with. A lot’s been going on to widen this group’s horizons with the season premiere’s tease of a wedding in the somewhat near future. It seemed pretty clear from the beginning that it would be Barney’s wedding, but the real question was, “To who?”

This episode itself was a little disappointing, but not completely so. As always, the plot was well put together and the episode amazingly acted, but the blunder, as far as I was concerned, was the Lilly/Marshall sickness plot. The second Lilly got sick the missus and I were like “She’s totally pregnant.” The writers did an okay job masking the obviousness of this with all the grossout humor as far as Lilly’s sickness, but it feels ridiculous that no one in the episode thought “Hey, she might be pregnant.” The smokescreen didn’t work for a second on us and even though all of Marshall’s preparation for his interview was funny, it was ultimately pointless because we knew how this gag would ultimately end. It was a rare misstep as far as I’m concerned and they did an okay job of covering their tracks, but it just seemed so obvious.

Like this season as a whole, Ted took a back seat in the episode. While Lilly and Marshall dealt with their sickness, Barney and Robin were trying to stop Ted from getting back together with Zoey. It was some great stuff and those two characters and actors just murder everything when they’re together. Then, we almost end with Barney seeing that girl he had a thing for and after that the obvious reveal we’ve been waiting for: that it’s his wedding we’ve been seeing this year. I think this new girl is just a trick and that he’ll end up with Robin. Oh, also, I totally bought into the “And that was your mother” gag. All in all, it was a great season, with some Ted stuff that seemed like filler, but enough fantastic work by everyone else to really solidify this as a great season of television. Can’t wait to see what happens next!

OFF LIMITS “Las Angeles” (9:00PM, Travel Channel)I fully intended to tune into Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations last night, but Travel Channel had other plans for me. Instead, their new show Off Limits was on which was an okay replacement, but not really what I wanted to watch. As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve really grown to like No Reservations and was excited about the new season, but after a few new episodes they went right back into reruns. Now they’re messing with me again by changing the time. Not cool Travel Channel, not cool. To make matters worse, my cable guide is all weird and doesn’t have information for the Travel Channel even though we definitely it, so I can’t tell ahead of time when things are on (without looking it up online, but that’s just SO much work). Anyway, this new show Off Limits follows host Don Wildman as he basically goes places that normal people can’t go. The premiere episode focused on Las Angeles and wound up being pretty interesting. He went into the hundred year old aqueducts that no cameras have ever been inside and also included tools that were just left there when the job was done as well as a tour through a Nazi compound in the Hills. While all that stuff was cool, the most interesting bit of info I learned from the series is that LA is on top of one of the biggest oil fields around which has resulted in oil rigs all over the place, many of which are hidden, especially in the fancier parts of town. Shows like these are fun to watch on a weekend when nothing else is on, but are not the kind of thing I will make a point to watch on a weekly basis, unless nothing else is on.

CASTLE “Knockout” (10:00PM, ABC)I was pretty disappointed with Castle‘s season finale last night. I had my problems with the show in the early parts of this season with it’s over-use of gimmicky plots, but I found tonight’s season finale far more insulting on a creative level. The season had gotten better as far as I was concerned and I was looking forward to this episode because it looked like we’d get a few more pieces to the puzzle of what happened to Beckett’s mom. Those episodes tend to be pretty epic with a fast pace and lots of action, but instead “Knockout” seemed to meander. Worse than that they threw in some hackneyed plot stuff that gets my goat. First off, SPOILER out of nowhere it was revealed that their boss Captain Montgomery was involved with the guys that were connected with Beckett’s mom’s death (the plot has gotten so complicated that I had to have the missus explain it all to me during a commercial break). I tend not to like these twists, not because I feel betrayed, but because they seem to come out of nowhere. I’d have to go back and watch previous episodes to see if there were any hints, but I didn’t catch any. Did Montgomery get shifty when the case came up? Or possibly sweaty? It wouldn’t have to be obviously telegraphed, but something should have been there. I felt very similarly when SPOILER Zach turned out to be a bad guy on Bones. It just felt tacked on and out-of-nowhere. Once they find out that Montgomery was somehow involved with the bad guys, Ryan and Esposito have a by-the-numbers fight where one believes it’s true and the other believes it but JUST CAN’T ADMIT IT TO HIMSELF. Blech.

Even worse was the near-the-end scene between Beckett and Montgomery where he explains what he did and what he’s going to do. Of COURSE he plans on taking on the bad guys solo and of COURSE he’s got Castle there to take Beckett away from the danger, which Castle does literally picking her up and dragging her away. Now, aside from not buying the very basis of this premise and not appreciating the melodramatic nature of the performances, I don’t buy for a damn second that bad ass cop Kate Beckett couldn’t free herself from a bear hug by an out of shape mystery writer. After that, he holds her against a car while she cries and Montgomery shoots the entire group of bad guys EXCEPT the main bad guy who somehow teleports behind him. Ugh. Thinking about it this morning just makes me more upset, because the show is absolutely better than this kind of writing. By the time we got to the final scene where SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER Beckett gets shot by a sniper while speaking at Montgomery’s funeral (he died of course). They make it look like she died, but I don’t really care much anymore. They’re either faking her death to draw this assassin guy out, which might get rid of some of the hokey gimmicks they relied on earlier this season for the upcoming one, or she’s just going to be fine. Her death wouldn’t just kill the romantic chemistry between the two leads (Castle told the “dying” Beckett he loved her, so we’ll see how this works out next season, I’m guessing she won’t remember and he won’t say anything about it) but also make the proceedings just too sad to stick around for. Castle relies on Nathan Fillion’s charm and him mourning for episodes on end would destroy that charm. Boring. Yawn. When does the summer season start?

What We’re Watching: Monday & Tuesday

I find myself with a strange feeling this TV season: a lack of interest. Sure, I’ve got favorite shows I like tuning in to, but it feels like I’ve got a lot less of them to look forward to, possibly because Lost is gone. There wasn’t another show in the history of my television watching career that engrossed me as much as that one and got me so excited about an hour of TV. Maybe it’s because most of the new shows aren’t so good. Here’s the break down for the first section of the week as far as regular viewings go.

For all the years I’ve been in New York, I’ve been looking around for a good syndicated block of reruns between 6 and 8 that would stay consistent and, for the most part, I’ve been unsuccessful. That is until recently. VH1 scored Saturday Night Live reruns from the 90s which have been a lot of fun to watch, even when I’m reminded that that was an era when skits tended to run WAY too long. It’s still fun to see a lot of today’s big stars and musical acts on the show both in the cast and as hosts. It’s even more fun to see long forgotten folks like Finese Mitchel and Sysqo perform. That takes care of the 6 to 7 block and then we bounce over to a local station called My9 which runs How I Met Your Mother. The only problem I foresee is that, with only a few season under its belt, I’ll be rewatching these episodes over and over again.

MONDAY

8:00pm – HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER (CBS)
I’ve already gone on record with the potential problems I see with HIMYM, but I still enjoy this show better than most of the others I watch on a weekly basis. I’ve grown to really enjoy these characters, but I still think there needs to start being some resolution to the overhanging “mysteries” or else this one could start feeling a little tedious. Like I said though, great cast and still one of my favorite, most looked-forward-to shows.

8:30pm – RULES OF ENGAGEMENT (CBS)
Rules of Engagement is a show we only started watching because it was on right after HIMYM and nothing else was on, but I’ve actually come to enjoy it. Sure, it’s a jokier type of sitcom with lots of jokes being tossed around that aren’t hilarious, but funny enough to get a laugh. I like seeing Patrick Warburton and David Spade doing their things, plus I find the dumb neighbor/friend guy oddly charming. I’m in it with this series, though if something more interesting came on I think we’d jump ship in favor of that. 

9:00pm – THE EVENT (NBC)
AS regular readers might remember, I wasn’t really all that into The Event when it premiered. I’m even less so now and barely still pay attention while the missus watches. I think she’s getting pretty sick of it too. I spent way too many episodes wanting to slap Jason Ritter for saying “My girlfriend!” so much that I don’t think we can ever be okay again (at least not on this show). I appreciate that they’re trying to move things along at a faster clip, but I just do not care about any of these people or what’s going on. I have the vaguest interest in what’s happening with these supposed aliens (though my money’s on dimensional or time travelers), but I could really just look it up in Wiki at some future date and feel satisfied. Probably moreso because I wouldn’t be wasting my time watching a lackluster Lost wannabe. 

10:00pm – CASTLE (ABC)
I almost feel bad for not liking Castle more. I really like the cast and the dynamics of the characters, but it just feels so hacky lately. From the wacky set-ups for crimes this season (steampunk AND time travel in one episode?!) to the increasingly formulaic plot, I’m getting worn down. How many times can they run across a suspect who lies so well that they completely buy his story and move on only to come back to him or her later in the episode to realize he or she is really the killer? It’s boring and, personally, I expect more from a show with Nathan Fillion on it. Hopefully this one will pick up because the missus still LOVES it, while I just keep thinking about how much better Bones is and wishing Netflix would send the first disc of last season already so we can start the long road to catching up.

TUESDAY

8:00pm – GLEE (Fox)
This one’s completely because the missus likes the show. She’s a big fan of musicals and show tunes and whatnot, so this is right up her alley, which is unfortunate, because I find it to be one of the most wildly inconsistent, sloppy and increasingly gross shows around. Anyone else see the Rocky Horror episode tonight where the teacher actually considered and planned on dressing up in gold shorts and performing a sexually charged number with one of his students? Sure he practiced with the hot red head teacher, but he was actually planning on jumping in and doing that. He’s just one of the many headache-inducing characters on a show filled with them. I’ve heard the argument made that you’re not supposed to expect anything from Glee but high school drama and musical numbers, but I call bullshit on that. The very basis of ongoing fiction of any kind is based in consistent characterization and this show lacks it for the most part. However, I do love Brittany’s throwaway lines. Those are just solid and sound like they’re being written by someone from 30 Rock.

9:00pm – RAISING HOPE (Fox)
I can’t remember the last time I watched this much Fox programming on a single night, but I find myself really liking Raising Hope. It’s clear the show was created by the brains behind My Name Is Earl as both showcase small town folks without much money doing what they can to get by. Hope revolves around a guy discovering his one night stand turned out to not only be a serial killer on death row, but also pregnant with his child. Now he’s raising the kid with his parents who had him at a really young age (his dad looks about the same age as him at times) and his mom’s grandma played by Cloris Leachman. Hope can be a little too weird and a little too jokey at times, but I think it’s starting to hit its stride. Plus, the Halloween episode featured homemade Batman and Robin costumes, so bonus points for that.

9:3opm – RUNNING WILDE (Fox)
Running Wilde, on the other hand, is not a show I’m enjoying much and I’m starting to get the feeling I’m not the only one as Fox decided to run two episodes of Raising Hope tonight instead of one of each, like usual. I am a huge Arrested Development fan, so I should like this show with its use of Will Arnett, David Cross and that fact that it was co-created by Mitchell Hurwitz, but Wilde suffers from two afflictions. First off, it’s not very easy to jump into. We missed the first episode and had trouble figuring out what the relationship between Arnett and the still-hot Keri Russell was. That’s not a good thing for a new show and something that AD suffered from (I still have trouble describing it to friends who missed out the first time around). The other problem is that it just feels like a rehash of old material. Arnett’s playing GOB from AD, Russell feels like Felicity though I never watched that show, plus the premise is a more exaggerated version of Dharma & Greg without the love. I’ll be curious to see what Fox replaces this show with if it does get the axe.

10:00pm – PARENTHOOD (NBC)
Parenthood continues to be one of the best written, most solid shows on television. I’d honestly put it up there with Mad Men. There’s a lot more in Mad Men considering it’s a period piece, but like that show, the Parenthood creators do an amazing job of juggling a small army of fast talking characters, giving each their moments to shine and great lines. Great writing mixed with a great cast makes for great TV, but for some reason I don’t find myself looking forward to this show on a regular basis. I’m happy when it’s on, but never excited for it. I wonder if that’s because it’s a drama and not an action show. I’ll have to think about that. I’ll be back on Thursday with more shows I’m watching. What are you viewing on Monday and Tuesday?

Tale Of The Tape: Bones vs. Castle

When I first heard the pitch for Castle–a male writer follows around a female cop for research–I thought it sounded like a gender reversed Bones. That being said, I had only seen a few episodes of Bones and was wooed by Nathan Fillion’s charm (plus the fact that Castle doesn’t conflict with any other shows we watch) and became a regular Castle watcher. But, after watching four seasons of Bones in about a month, I figured the blogging world could benefit from a side by side, tale of the tape comparison between the two shows about crime fighting pairs in which one of the members happens to also write books. And away we go. Continue reading Tale Of The Tape: Bones vs. Castle

Season Premieres: HIMYM, Accidentally On Purpose, Big Bang Theory, Castle

Last night was a big one for TV premieres. How I Met Your Mother and Big Bang Theory being two of my favorite shows on TV, I was jazzed to see them back, plus Castle was the surprise hit of my TV watching season (and I enjoy it even more now that I’ve seen Firefly). So here goes.

HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER
I thought this was a really strong season opener. I had kind of forgotten where things left off last season and missed about the first minute of this episode, but I dug Ted’s new job as a professor (how did he get that gig?) and Barney and Robin’s relationship and Lilly’s manipulation of that. Plus, you get some awesome whip work AND Barney punching that big guy in the face! “I’ll punch a BABY!” Great line, can’t wait to see where things go from here.

ACCIDENTALLY ON PURPOSE
AOP didn’t really grab my attention thanks to the commercials, but I used to watch Dharma & Greg and nothing else was on, so what the hell? I was surprised with how much I liked it, even though it’s basically Knocked Up The Series, but without Katherine Hiegl, thank Christ. Unbeknownst to me, the show features two other amazing actors. You’ve got Ashley Jensen who was brilliant on Extras as the kinda slutty friend and Grant Show as her ex boyfriend (he was on Swingtown, which we just finished watching and I’ll get to soon enough cause it was great and so was he). Like I mentioned it feels like Knocked Up with Sex In The City thrown in (one friend’s a slut, one’s a prude!) with whatever show features young slacker dudes, but it gets a pass for now.

BIG BANG THEORY
Now, this was a season finale I knew: the guys were leaving for the arctic when Penny realized she loved Leonard. And it paid off with Penny and Leonard finally getting together…again. I hope they don’t do something weird like they did after they started dating at the end of the first season. The whole Sheldon-being-angry thing lead to some pretty funny moments and I’m always excited to see former Roseanne cast members showing up like Laurie Metcalf as Sheldon’s mom. I did notice that there didn’t seem to be as many DC Direct figures in the background, but I did see a bunch of Showcases and the four Jack Kirby Fourth World Omnibi on one of the shelves in Sheldon’s bedroom. Unfortunately, they didn’t pan up, so I couldn’t see what covers were framed above his bed. When I interviewed the producer for ToyFare, he said they actually switch those out. OH, you could also see comics in bins behind Penny sporting a Batman comic of some kind, JLA, The Demon. Good stuff.

CASTLE
I’m pretty sure Castle is the only procedural we watch at this point (does Fringe count?), but I just dig the characters. Fillion’s charming as hell, his partner’s rad and I hope they do get into the death of her mother more, because it sounds like something big is going on there. The episode itself was satisfying and sexy and what more do you want?

Mid Season Replacements

Welcome to the middle of the season folks. No, I haven’t gotten my calendar out to see how many episodes of Big Bang, How I Met Your Mother or The Office are left, but I can just tell. How? I’m a genius. Well, no, not at all. I can tell because we’re getting hit with a slew of new shows that may or may not still be here by the end of the actual season. Over the next few weeks (and the previous four-ish) you’ll see the networks put a big push behind these shows they hope will fill the gaps in their line-ups, which, let’s be honest, weren’t exactly bustling with new, innovative and interesting shows as I mentioned before.

Anyway, I’ve caught a few episodes of these new shows here and there and will be offering up my opinions on each as is my blog-given right.

CASTLE
Monday 10:00 (ABC)
Live everyone else, I saw a TON of previews leading up to the premiere of Castle. I wasn’t really sold on the “writer teams up with a cop” shenanigans the ads were trying to sell me (it seemed like Bones with reversed genders), but I like Nathan Fillion and wished him success. Well, I found myself without anything to watch on Monday night last week so I checked it out and it wasn’t bad. This week’s episode was pretty good too, if a bit overcomplicated. Fillion’s rad and the lady copy is growing on me. There are two aspects that I really like though. First off, I like his family. His daughter is smart and kind of the anti-Gossip Girl while his mother is a former (?) New York actress who likes to party. Not exactly the most original dichtomy, but it all works well together (you might recognize the mom as Greg’s mom on Dharma and Greg). The second thing I like is seeing a writer at work on a TV show. Sure, he’s supposed to be a grocery story aisle novelist, but he thinks like a writer and I just like seeing that, being a self proclaimed writer myself.

DOGG AFTER DARK
Tuesday 8:30PM (MTV)
Dogg After Dark is kind of like Hugh Hefner’s old show where he’d just walk around a party in a loft and talk to people except this time it’s
the Dee Oh Double Gee sporting shades in a huge nightclub and “bumping into” celebrities. I’ve only seen it once, but he called a lot of dudes cousin and then someone sang at the end. I didn’t even realize until I just looked things up for this blog that it’s on Tuesdays, a day I don’t have anything to watch, so I’ll have to give it a look next week.

BETTER OFF TED
Wednesday 8:30PM (ABC)
The Better Off Ted ads did a good job of getting me to want to watch the show, mostly because they heavily featured Portia de Rossi who, aside from being SUPER hot, also gets a near-infinite pass for being on Arrested Development. I tried watching the first episode online, but it got really skippy so I quit and watched the second episode last night. Due to some phone calls, I missed the second half of the episode, but I liked what I saw. The premise is kind of tough to explain (the main character actually does a pretty good job in the opener of the first episode), but I like the fact that it focuses on characters from all over this huge research and development company. I’m not completely sold, but I’ll be back next week.

DOLLHOUSE
Friday 9:00PM (FOX)
I saw one episode of Dollhouse, the second one, and will not be watching any more. I was pretty bummed by how not-great this show was, but I wasn’t surprised. I had heard the production had hit a lot of bumps, plus I’m not an Eliza Dushku fan, so this didn’t feel like a home run from the beginning. I also felt like they didn’t do a good job of letting us know what this show was about (or even letting me know it was on). At first I thought the dolls were supposed to be some kind of super agents, but it turns out they’re kind of prostitutes? I dunno. The problem with a show where the main character is blank is that you really have to like the actor or actress because that’s all you’ve got for lack of character (though I’m sure all that will come back in the memory flashbacks that will probably become important at some point). It also seemed like all the characters were just rehashes of other Joss Whedon characters, like the nerdy tech kid. I know that Whedon has a tendency to start his series’ slow and then really kick it into gear (like Buffy and Angel, I haven’t seen Firefly yet) and I hear there was a big game changer last week (please spoil it in the comments, I’m curious), but I don’t think I’ll be coming back to Dollhouse.

KINGS
Sunday 8:00PM (NBC)
I probably shouldn’t even include Kings on this list because I saw about 20 minutes of one episode. But in that 20 minutes I saw a show that I definitely want to catch up on. There’s such a deep history to this show about America if we had kings (something I think NBC should have advertised way more clearly). The series seems taylor made for my ilk, by which I mean fans of well thought out alternate realities. There’s a ton of history ready to be mined here. Hopefully I can get caught up so I have an idea of what’s going on this week (if I remember to watch).

And a few other shows I’m looking forward to:

THE UNUSUALS
Premieres April 8, Wednesday 10:00PM (ABC)
and
THE DUEL 2
Premieres April 8, Wednesday 10:00PM (MTV)
Before realizing both of these shows will not only be on at the same time, but also starting on the same day, I was kind of looking forward to The Unusuals. Again, the concept seems a bit whacky, but I really like the cast: Michael from Lost (Harold Perrineau), Joan of Arcadia (Amber Tamblyn), one of the nerds from Dazed and Confused (aka the crazy roommate from Friends, aka Adam Goldberg) and a guy from 28 Weeks Later (Jeremy Renner). But, alas, my attention will be diverted thanks to the latest Real World/Road Rules Challenge, which starts the week after one of my top 5 favorite shows, The Real World Brooklyn, ends. This one will be dubbed The Duel 2 and promises to have a fight between Real World Paris castmates Adam and CT!!! (If that made sense to you, we can be friends forever.)

So, what shows are you watching? Seriously, please comment, I need to know that SOMEONE’s reading.