Saturday, December 29, 2007

New Year's Eve Marathons

The one good thing about New Year’s Eve is you can count on the cable networks running plenty of marathons.

The Twilight Zone marathon on Sci-Fi has been an annual staple of mine. I never get tired of seeing them every year. But, in case YOU get tired of them, here’s a few other marathons I spotted, starting New Year's Eve:

TNT: Law & Order
USA: Law & Order Criminal Intent
Spike: CSI
Discovery: Mythbusters

Nothing like bring in the New Year with crime, mystery, and a few nerdy guys, I say. Have a happy New Year!

Check out my blog home page for the latest information,

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Frank TV – A short review for a short show

When I was young, there were tons of voice impersonators out there, some so good, some not so good. (I could never understand what anybody saw in Rich Little.) But Frank Caliendo, currently on the TBS show “Frank TV” is probably the best one I’ve seen in a long time. So I decided to give his TV show a try.

While it’s not sidesplitting funny, some of his impressions are so accurate that it is amazing. It’s not just the voices that he nails, but it’s the person’s mannerisms. It’s amusing that he changes his appearances to look more like the person he’s impersonating. But, I can’t get used to his Pacino look, although if I don’t look at the television while he’s on, I’d swear it was Pacino himself. His impersonation of President George W. Bush is unbelievably accurate, as is his Robert De Niro and John Madden.

The sketches that Frank performs on his show aren’t always very funny, but I have to admit that at least once in every show I laugh hard and loud. So I have been making it a point to watch every week, even though Frank needs to get better writers for the humor.

If you’ve missed episodes of Frank TV (which has been airing Tuesdays on TBS at 11:00 PM), they are available on the TBS website, link below.

Link to Frank TV TBS web site

Check out my blog home page for the latest information,

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Prime Time Game and Reality Shows: The Dumbing Down of TV

My mother had to spend the night at my house the other day. My prime time television watching doesn’t include game shows or reality shows. Once or twice, I tried watching them out of desperation, but realize usually after a few minutes that I actually have more of a brain than they realize.

Anyway, my mother WILL watch these kinds of shows, so since she was my guest, I let her have complete control over the remote control. Since she doesn’t have high definition television, I assumed she’d make a beeline for some nature show or drama that was in high def. Not my luck. In instead, she chose “Are You Smarter than a 5th Grader?” (the answer for me is yes, thankfully) and “Don’t Forget the Lyrics”.

They were mind numbing.

I wouldn’t have so many problems with the 5th grader show, had the adults not seemed so stupid and that they spent more time on asking actual questions. There was too much filler on this show. I used to watch Jeopardy as a child and felt that was a show that made me smarter, but not 5th Grader. (By the way, I don’t watch Jeopardy anymore either, unless I am at someone else’s house and I am forced to.)

As far as Don’t Forget the Lyrics, there really are no words - but I'll try. The first contestant was a mother and two sons, who seemed pretty good with lyrics. But, again, the show was a lot of filler with a lot of pauses meant to build suspense (they didn’t). The second contestant was a woman who didn’t have one clue as to any lyrics for any of the songs. Why they would have a contestant that clearly couldn’t actually have a chance is beyond me. In addition to all this, we had to sit through endless teasers about the show itself while we were watching the show. For example, I think they showed several preview of the second contestant kicking up her leg, and doing the splits. So by the time that part of the show came up, the interest in this contestant had waned.

After watching these two shows, I felt like some of my brain cells actually died.

And because of the writer’s strike, the outlook looks even worse, with more game shows and reality shows set to start in January. I suspect that the IQ of Americans who watches this programming will drop significantly after the first week. The networks should be a little more creative when thinking of filling prime time hours. An occasional broadcast of something EDUCATIONAL that was shown on PBS, or stations like Discovery, couldn’t really hurt now, could it? It’s time that the networks try “smarting up” their viewers rather than dumbing them down. Then we wouldn't have to worry about if people were really smarter than a 5th grader, would we?

Check out my blog home page for the latest information,

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

CSI: NY – The weak CSI sibling

Photo CBS/Anthony Mandler

I’ve been an on-and-off watcher of CSI: NY. I watched it for the first year, but the show was so - cold. It looked cold; everything seemed to have a bluish cast. It was the polar opposite of CSI: Miami, where everything looked warm and, well, orange. I suppose the bluish coloring was supposed to emphasize the grittiness of New York City; instead it made me feel like my body and brain was slowly being frozen.

Then there’s the cast. They were cold and emotionless during the first year, and the chemistry was just not there. So after watching for a good part of the season, I gave up on it.

I picked up a few episodes in the following seasons. They appeared to add some color to the show, making it look slightly cartoonish. Still, the ambiance was a little better than the first season. But, that pesky old cast of characters remained. Despite the fact that they tried to make the show look more realistic, the actors still seemed lifeless, like they were going through the motions. I really couldn’t have cared less about any of them, and I think that is the kiss of death for a show as far as I am concerned. If I can’t get at least a little emotionally involved with the characters in a show, it makes the whole reason to watch a show disappear.

The other problem I have is the completely unrealistic story lines. Yes, all the shows in the CSI franchise seem to be afflicted with this, but CSI: NY defines the word “ridiculous.” The forensics are too outlandish and frankly just too convenient that even if they are credible explanations, they come across as being silly.

I started watching the show again toward the end of last season, and continuing this season. They had an on-going story arc with the “333” stalker who was harassing Mac. And you know what? I still could care less about what happens to Mac. In fact, I’ve come to the conclusion that Gary Sinise is just horrible in this role, always looking like he has a bad case of gas pains. The rest of the cast is, for the most part, uninteresting to me. There is just something missing in this show and I can’t quite put my finger on it. The only person where there is hope is with Stella, played by Melina Kanakaredes. (STELLA! I am compelled to yell it out like Brando in “Streetcar” every time I hear her name. It is like the strange compulsion I have to scream along with Roger Daltry after one of Horatio Caine’s one-liners in CSI: Miami. But I digress.) Stella seems to be the only person working in the New York crime lab that actually has some life to her. But I don’t think it’s enough for me in the long run.

I know CSI: NY does pretty well in the ratings, but it will be interesting to see what happens after Law & Order returns to its original time slot in January. The invigorated L&O cast, along with a much needed promotion for Jack McCoy (Sam Waterston) to District Attorney, is giving the show a lot of good buzz. The question will be, who fights crime better in New York City? My vote is with the grounded, reliable, and ever faithful Law & Order gang.

Check out my blog home page for the latest information,

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Numb3rs – I’m Lost in the Chinese Box

Friday’s (December 14) episode of Numb3ers left me a little confused. The episode was called “Chinese Box” and involved David (Alimi Ballard) being taken hostage in an elevator. The story itself was good, as is usually the case for the show.

The problem with this episode is that I still don’t have the vaguest understanding of the mathematical solution that Charlie Eppes (David Krumholtz) was proposing, called a ‘Chinese Box”. To make matters worse, Charlie seemed to be throwing quite a hissy fit that nobody (meaning his brother Don – played by Rob Morrow) would listen to his solution. And even after Charlie explained it again, I’m still not sure I get it.

The longer I watch this show, the more amazed I become at how they insert very complicated math to solve what may be very simple problems. Many times it’s interesting; sometime, like with “Chinese Box”, the math goes a little over my head and muddles the show. While I am not a math genius like Charlie, I think I can grasp a lot of the concepts most of the time.

As Charlie was having his little meltdown about being ignored, I came to the conclusion that I am really starting to dislike Charlie. There are many times that he seems to act like a petulant child. It’s not hard for me to figure out why no one will listen to him.

I think this is a great show, with a cast that seems to have the right chemistry. I think, though, for the show to go to the next level and continue to stay fresh, Charlie has to grow up and act more like a mature adult and less like a spoiled child. And I didn’t need a complex math formula to figure that out. But if someone can better explain the Chinese Box concept to me, I’d appreciate it.

Check out my blog home page for the latest information,

Thursday, December 13, 2007

"Las Vegas" - Fictional Vegas Falls Short

Last Friday, since there wasn’t a new episode of Numb3rs, I decided to watch Las Vegas on NBC. I watched the show during its first year, but stopped when I realized that there HAD to be something better available.

After watching Friday’s episode, I found myself asking, “Why is this show still on television?” It was absolutely devoid of anything substantial.

For those of you who have never watched this show (lucky you!), it revolves around various happenings at the fictional Las Vegas casino, the Montecito. In previous years, Ed Deline, played by a pasty-looking James Caan, headed the Montecito. What a comedown for Caan, I say. This season, Ed was replaced by Jim Cooper, played by Tom Selleck, who probably could stand to lose a few pounds and get in shape.

This particular episode involved Mike – a guy who used to be a valet but now seems to be head honcho of security – going through a Dickens-ish Christmas Carol storyline, with some of the Montecito women playing the various Dickens’ ghosts. How many ways can I say it was mind-numbingly horrible? Once is probably enough.

There were various excuses to showcase scantily clad women throughout the show, which I assume is the real purpose of the show. But, to give you a clue at how bad the show is, even with all the cleavage showing, my husband said the show was one of the worst hours on television he'd seem in a while. It seems like the show is tailored for the 14-18 year old male demographic, most of which are probably asleep or out partying at 10:00 on a Friday night.

I found myself wondering why NBC passed on Law & Order Criminal Intent for this Friday night slot, instead of moving it to the USA Network? It seems to me that CI is of much higher quality than the likes of Las Vegas and would draw more viewers.

In the case of this show, what happens in fictional Vegas should STAY in fictional Vegas, and off the TV screen.

Check out my blog home page for the latest information,

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

My View on "The View"

I am an occasional watcher of The View. I find that when I do watch, I usually only watch the Hot Topics, and change the channel when that segment is over.

I grew very tired of the show when Rosie O’Donnell was host. In fact, I renamed the show “Women Behaving Badly” because it seemed Rosie brought out the worst in everyone and in everything. For a show that was supposed to be based on the varying opinion of various women, Rosie seemed to frequently bully the conversation, and treated the her role of host as her opportunity to push her own obsessions and agendas.

So when it was announced that Rosie was leaving, I was thrilled. This was the big chance for the show to get back to some rational discussion, if the chose the right replacement.

When I heard that Whoopi Goldberg would be the new host, I was a bit skeptical. Her guest host appearances hadn’t really wowed me. But, as she settled in to the show, I have to admit that she was probably he perfect choice. Not only is she funny, but she’s rational, she’s knowledgeable, and she can control the discussion. Best of all, when someone on the show says something completely moronic (usually spoken by Sherri Shepherd), Whoopi is able to calmly show the person the error of their thinking. And in those times where the rest of the panel starts talking over themselves – or over Whoopi – she is able to bring order to the chaos.

The show still has weak spots. Joy Behar, the longest running member of the panel, is more caustic with her humor, and frankly sometimes sounds like she’s just a little to angry about things. Sherri Shepherd continues to confound with her bubble headed, idiotic comments. (Examples: when she really couldn’t say that the world was round, and recently when she indicated that Jesus predated the Romans and the Greeks.) Elisabeth Hasselback has a one track, narrow political mind, which frankly has gotten old and tiring. Let’s not forget Barbara Walters, whose repertoire seems to be filled with the words “Me” and “I”. It’s as if she sees the show as her one big chance to promote anything having to do with herself.

The bottom line is that the show is much more tolerable to watch with Whoopi as host. Still, it would be much better if the show would bring on other women to host the show that aren’t comedians, idiots, or egomaniacs.

I’d be happy to make myself available!

Check out my blog home page for the latest information,

Friday, December 7, 2007

Bobby Goren – Off the Deep End

Last night’s episode of Law & Order Criminal Intent (“Untethered”) took Detective Bobby Goren over the to dark side. The question now is, will he ever really return?

I hope for the sake of the show, yes. We used to only see snippets of the inner workings of the clearly complex mind and personality of Bobby Goren. The show now seems to be giving almost too much of a look into what may - or may not be – his unstable mind. Let’s hope the series moves away from too many personal storylines and gets back to covering crime.

Mind you, Vincent D’Onofrio was excellent as Goren, going undercover to expose a suspicious death in a mental ward of a correctional facility, reported to him from a newly found nephew. His scenes in the room called “Heaven”, strapped to a metal table in a hot room for hours on end with no water made me feel a little claustrophobic and queasy. It was the one time where Goren had virtually no control of what his mind would do. D’Onofrio always seems to excel (ok, maybe overact) in the unusual roles, and in this case his performance seemed very real. I found myself wondering how much of what we were seeing was Goren, and how much was D’Onofrio himself?

Kathryn Erbe, as always, was perfect last night, as the even-tempered Detective Eames, who always seems to be a victim of Goren’s whims. Eames may the one person who has the only chance of keeping Goren grounded.

The most horrific scene of the show, however, was seeing Captain Ross (Eric Bogosian) dressed in a tux, stepping into an elevator to greet a waiting ME Rogers, dressed for a night at Lincoln Center. Maybe it’s just me, but I found the thought of those two out for a night on the town together the most sickening part of the show. What an awful couple. Although come to think of it, she deals with dead people all day, and Bogosian acts like he’s dead, so it could be a match made in heaven.

Another cause for my continued alarm is Vincent D’Onofrio’s massive weight gain this season. It appears to be visible affecting his gait. So while Goren seems to be falling into mental disrepair, I find I am more concerned with D’Onofrio’s physical health.

The good thing is that CI’s move to USA has not diminished the quality of the shows, in fact, the feel of the show seems a little more edgy, and in a good way. I’m looking forward to NBC rebroadcasting these episodes, starting in January, so those like me that don’t get USA in HD can enjoy them even more.

Check out my blog home page for the latest information,

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Heroes - The Second Volume "Generations" Finale

Some background first. I didn’t start watching Heroes right away when the series first started. I’m not quite sure why. Lucky for me, NBC decided to string a bunch of episodes together, I think over one weekend, so everyone could catch up. Afterwards, I couldn’t catch my breath – I found the show different and exciting.

Some are complaining that for this latest season of Heroes that the show has lost some momentum, but I disagree. I believe the characters only became more interesting and more three-dimensional. I admit that at first, I couldn’t understand why they spent so much time on Hiro far into the past, but in the last few weeks, it became more and more clear as to why that was necessary. I believe that this show does the best job of any television show of late in weaving complex storylines that don’t turn out to be red herrings. It’s almost as if even the most minute detail will have meaning somewhere down the road. So I’m learning to pay very very close attention.

Last night’s episode, “Powerless” was powerFUL. Claire (Hayden Panettiere) seems to have found a new resolve, but her father needed her to pull back. Hiro (Masi Oka) has become very controlled and precise in his time travel. Mohinder (Sendhil Ramamurthy) continues to unwittingly throw wrenches into everything. Sylar (Zachary Quinto) seems even MORE creepy than before, if that’s possible. Peter (Milo Ventimiglia) has become even more powerful, yet at the same time, more gullible and too trusting of the wrong people. And Nathan’s (Adrian Pasdar) shooting at the end shocked me. I knew something had to happen, but frankly I didn’t quite expect THAT. And the biggest creep-out of all was Adam (David Anders), in a coffin, buried in a grave. Personally, the thought of being buried alive is horrific to me, and while I know Adam has been up to no good, I got a little wigged out for him during that scene. And is Niki (Ali Larter) really dead?

Heroes is one show that keeps you guessing, but also give you a lot of answers. As the season started I was disappointed that they didn’t seem to close the loop with the ending of the previous season, but I was satisfied how the story played out later. The show seems to be trying to teach me some patience by telling the story in a non-linear way.

If you haven’t watched Heroes, you may want to rent Season One over the holidays to catch up. Since many shows won’t be starting up again until after the beginning of the year, or even later because of the writer’s strike, this could be a perfect time to watch. I’m looking forward to Heroes return…whenever that may be.

Check out my blog home page for the latest information,

Saturday, December 1, 2007

We now enter TV's winter doldrums

There is nothing worse than, while waiting for a preview of next week's show, to hear words like “When (fill in the blank) show returns in January…” (I think I heard it this past week for House, Bones, NCIS, and so on.) We all know what that means. We have entered TV’s winter doldrums.

Just when the nights get longer and colder, TV gets more boring. It’s bad enough that NBC already shows reruns from earlier in the week on Saturday nights. Now we probably won’t even get that.

The writers’ strike really didn’t have much to do with this, because this seems to happen every year at this time. What makes it worse is because of the strike, some of the shows we count on to start in January will likely be late, which will make getting through January even harder. You’ve heard about SAD – Seasonal Affective Disorder – where people get what is sometimes referred to as a winter depression? Well, we need an acronym for the winter TV doldrums. How about RAD – Rerun Affective Disorder? Or BORED - Boring Old Repeats Every Day? I’m sure with nothing to watch over the next few weeks, we’ll have time to come up with something.

Check out my blog home page for the latest information,