April 20, 2014

TV Season Almost Wrap Up...

How I Met Your Mother ended its run last month, and Scandal wrapped its season last week, and now we we will see endless season finales, some memorable, others deservedly under the radar (The Middle… who watches that?)..

With the advent of HBO and Netflix the TV season is no longer just September through May, and now what's left of the traditional TV season is wrapping up… here are some highlights and lowlights… what were your favourites?

The Best...

A terrific cast led by Kerry Washington leads the crazy fast West Wing meets Dynasty political soap, which just wrapped season three about the Washington 'fixer' Olivia Pope and dirty politics, terrorists, secret government spy agencies, family drama, and murder… if you are not hooked yet, go back to season one and start there. Addictive.

The Good Wife
Starting the season with a  resetting of the series by breaking up the law firm, and then killing off a central character partway through, with great cases and prickly family drama all around, this was the best season yet of a smart suspenseful award-winning modern classic. Great drama.

NBC Late Night
Things got interesting with the forcibly retired Jay Leno not giving a fuck and getting cranky and funny in his last few months, and then funny and enthusiastic Jimmy Fallon and Seth Meyers coming onto the scene with their new shows… late night is really the only time NBC is worth watching. 

Honourable Mention To…
Looking - HBO's gay Sex And The City (okay, gayer Sex And The City) started off slow but became touching and real and totally entertaining 
Mr Selfridge's much improved second season
Downtown Abbey's fourth season lacked the heartbreak of #3 but was still sudsy intriguing drama
Days Of Our Lives' charming same-sex wedding storyline

The 'Meh' Mediocrity Awards…
Two shows that were great and are now just ok...
The Voice - Looking forward to new coaches next season, as this year was too familiar -- more of the same makes it miss-able
Dallas - still sudsy fun, and the show shines when Judith Light appears as the cocaine-loving evil matriarch, but other than that are missing JR Ewing more than good writing should have let us

The Worst...
How I Met Your Mother -  many seasons of laughs and warmth were wrapped up with a claustrophobic not-so-funny season and an annoying cheat of a finale. Thumbs down.
The View… you lost me at Jenny McCarthy.
Revenge/Crisis/Hostages/ Revolution/Resurrection … aside from the soapy Revenge which I gave up on after season one, these generic names were new generic shows that were skippable even from the previews...

Gotta Catch Up On...
True Detective (never seen), Breaking Bad, and season 2 of House of Cards (loved season one)…

What is on your 'best of' TV list?

April 17, 2014

Neil Patrick Harris heats up...

Now that How I Met Your Mother has ended its long run, Emmy winner and former Doogie Howser child star Neil Patrick Harris is headed back to Broadway as the lead in a revival of Hedwig And The Angry Inch.

Harris will be wearing heels and fishnets in the play, and for the new Vanity Fair he is wearing a snake down his pants, as photographed by Annie Leibowitz.

Clearly this guy is out to change his image… and he has enough talent to pretty much pull anything off (rumour has it he was a contender for Letterman's job). Hopefully there is another sitcom on the horizon.

Here is the out actor in more typical photo, with his partner David Burtka and their kids… these guys are just way too cute together…

Now he should head back for another gig hosting the Tonys (for which he won an Emmy), and guest-starring on Glee (another Emmy)...

April 3, 2014

Holy crap! TV is killing off the all good ones!

Over the last couple of weeks two of my favourite shows, Scandal and The Good Wife, have had surprise twists and killed off major characters… both were surprising and heartbreaking and great drama. And both created really valuable social media buzz for these already buzzy shows.

The Good Wife killed off leading man Will Gardner in a truly shocking moment, as the actor playing him, Josh Charles, wanted out of the series after five seasons. While he was not the 'bad' husband, Gardner was the true love of the 'good' wife and this death will play out for the run of the series.

Scandal killed off James Novak, the White House spokesperson and husband of Chief Of Staff Cyrus Vance, as a plot twist, and therefore said goodbye to actor Dan Bucatinsky, the only actor to so far win an Emmy for Scandal.

Downton Abbey killed off two main characters in season 3, then was relatively peaceful in this year's season 4. Thankfully.

Next weekend I am binge watching House Of Cards season 2, and I know from the internet chatter I am trying to avoid that there is gonna be death there too.

And I don't even watch The Walking Dead, which apparently kills off main characters all the time. Man I could not take that.

High-profile deaths work on dramas -- they add surprise and drama, they give other characters a big story line to be involved  in and react to, and potentially reinvent and reinvigorate the story line with a whole new trajectory. And in an era of PVR and TV on demand and Netflix, surprise buzzy twists encourage us to watch live, to believe again in appointment television.

The risk is of course that once the character is gone and the drama has moved on, if fans were especially attached to that character will the stay with the show? If not, the show fades away, or we get a Bobby Ewing back-from-the-dead "it was all a dream" ridiculous plot twist. Lesson learned there -- mourn the character quickly and move on, don't dwell forever … if the show misses the character too long, the audience will also.

Downtown Abbey stumbled a bit in season 4 post deaths, then found its way. Brothers and Sisters handled the death of Rob Lowe's character so badly and so slowly that many of us -- or at least me -- got bored and gave up on the show. I think The Good Wife and Scandal writers are smart enough to touch our hearts and move on, but we'll see as the season plays out.

To the producers of my other favourite show, The Big Bang Theory, I say HANDS OFF, don't kill anyone, even in a super-sensitive How I Met Your Mother kind of way.

However, if the producers of 2 Broke Girls or Revolution need a jumpstart, please kill of a main character… hell, kill them all off!

March 31, 2014

How I Met Your Disappointing Series Finale

Tonight we saw the much anticipated series finale of How I Met Your Mother, the sweet funny sitcom that ran for nine years and 208 episodes.

Successful series often struggle with how to end, from St Elsewhere's 'it was all a snow globe dream' to Desperate Housewives' man-focussed dead people return, to Seinfeld's everybody goes to prison for being snarky to Lost just ending weird. Few series end well. But it can be done… Six Feet Under ended well, as did Cheers; Mary Tyler Moore had a sad funny ending. And Newhart had a classic clever throwback to the previous Bob Newhart series… so it can be done well.

This one was not a classic.

This was a big finale, with lots of social media buzz. While #HIMYM as it is now known and hash-tagged, started soft in the ratings, it become a solid player by season three and a juggernaut in syndication. I started watching it about four years ago, and caught up in syndication and on Netflix.

Besides funny story lines and great acting, the show -- created by former Letterman writers with no sitcom experience -- had a knack for doing sad and touching equally well to the funny. The whole premise - Ted telling his grown kids the long-winded story of how he met their mother - was new and different.

We met the mother at the end of season eight, and then all of this final season happened over the wedding weekend of main characters Barney and Robin, ending with Ted meeting the mother, including flashbacks and flash-forward's, and answering a lot of the series' questions and internet's hypothesizing.

The series finale answers included (spoiler alert, watch these event shows live, people): the mother's name is Tracy, Ted doesn't move to Chicago, Marshall eventually becomes a judge, the mother dies, Robin and Barney divorce (who didn't see that coming), the grown kids give Ted their blessing to date Robin.

Robin and Ted together? They were a lousy couple for years. I mean not as bad as Robin and Barney, but still, this felt desperate. Ted and Tracy were good together.

So this episode had too little of the funny, a lot of the dramatic, and felt like it was trying too hard to be memorable and significant. Twists are good, sure, but this is supposed to be a comedy, a romantic comedy, and having all the characters fast forward through dark ages of death, divorce, and disengagement from their friends is not funny. Or romantic.

This was a good sitcom that probably should have ended before its claustrophobic final season. And definitely should have ended as a comedy. How about a happy ending… with more funny and less death.

The producers are planning a sort of spin off with new characters, imaginatively titled How I Met Your Dad. Yes really.  I think I may have to pass on that one… Pharrel Williams is joining The Voice as a judge and that has way more potential.

March 30, 2014

Yep, I wrote about the Kardashians...

I used to proudly declare that while far from high-brow,  this blog was Kardashian-free…

I lied.

I wrote about the vapid one's controversial Vogue cover with fiancĂ© Kanye West on Lefty Pop. and then I saw her on Late Night With Seth Meyers promoting the cover, saying it was a highlight of her life and a dream come true. 

Maybe she was nervous, maybe she's an idiot, but Kardashian spoke slowly, used small words, and looked pretty much robotic and stunned through the whole thing. Meyers looked amused at best.

Who and why Kardashian needed up on the establishment-friendly Vogue is interesting and controversial… read my post here:

March 26, 2014

Uprising Of Love...

Here's a powerful new song and music video from out gay singer Melissa Etheridge, who uses footage of demonstrations and anti-gay violence in Russia to call for tolerance and an 'uprising of love'…

The song is to promote uprisingoflove.org which raises awareness of Russia's anti-gay laws, and the profits from the song go to charities supporting Russia's LGBT community. I'm downloading it tonight!

March 22, 2014

The future of movies...

I've seen the future of movies… 
it was entertaining, it was new, it was something I really wanted to see, and it played at my house on opening weekend… it was Veronica Mars, and I wrote about it on Lefty Pop. Click below to read more…

March 17, 2014

The Normal Heart...

Already looking forward to this one….

Here is the just-released trailer for HBO's The Normal Heart, the finally on film version of Larry Kramer's award winning 1985 play on the rise of the HIV/AIDS crisis in New York between 1981 and 1984, as seen through the eyes of writer/activist Ned Weeks, the gay Jewish American founder of an HIV advocacy group. 

A long-delayed film version with Barbra Streisand died during planning, and then a Tony-winning 2011 Broadway revival with The Big Bang Theory's Jim Parsons revived interest.

Now out director Ryan Murphy -- famous for Glee, American Horror Story, and Eat Pray Love -- is bringing The Normal Heart to HBO, with Parsons, Julia Roberts, Matt Bomer and Mark Ruffalo.

This is one of those iconic plays I have always heard of and never seen… so come May when it airs, I'll be watching!

March 15, 2014

Suck It, Barbie…!

The brave new world of “crowd funding” — raising money online from a wide range of backers, often small amounts from many non-financial people — is bringing us the new Veronica Mars movie, sleek new gizmos to charge our iPhones, and a cool new alternative to they iconic hyper-stylized body-image-fiasco Barbie doll.
Meet Lammily… she is not your average girl. Well actually she is, and that is exactly the point…
I wrote about Lammily for Lefty Pop… read this must-know post by clicking link below:

March 11, 2014

We Went To Antarctica! (…Part 3)

Since our first cruise together in 2012, K and I have explored amazing parts of the world --- the Panama Canal and area, the Mediterranean, and now Antarctica -- with more to come: Alaska, then Galapagos, then who knows where…

A lifelong travel addict, Kevin is now building a business as a travel agent, and I gotta admit that all I really do for these amazing trips is show up. Not a bad way to be! So here is my (unsponsored) plug for him… subscribe to his email newsletter through link below and you are entered to win a pretty impressive trip… check it out:

Here is part 3 of 3 of our photos -- and yes we have waaaay more than this… you're welcome for the edit:

March 9, 2014

We Went To Antarctica! (...Part 1)

I would call it the trip of a lifetime, but something tells me we will be going back…!

Last week we came back from the bucket list vacation, a 15-day cruise to Antarctica, starting and returning from Buenos Aires, with stops in Argentina (Ushuaia), Uruguay, and the Falklands Islands.

We saw amazing landscapes, met fun and interesting people, had some really great food… and had a bit more of an adventure than planned… this is a ship equipped with barf bags!

Ice ice baby…. as the weather there is severe and volatile, rough weather in Antarctica (39 foot waves, holy crap) forced a couple of changes in itinerary. We did not hit that storm, though did have a couple of rough days and nights (I popped a seasick pill or five), and some of our planned excursions ---  such as the penguin rookery visit --- were cancelled as we went to different places on different days than originally planned.

Antarctica is breathaking… the highest windiest driest coldest place on earth, it is technically a desert as does not get rain… and while no humans live there, it has tons of wildlife due to the rich oceans.

This was an amazing trip! Over the next couple of years as we explore the world more, and K builds his travel business with a cruising speciality, we are headed to Alaska, the Galapagos Islands, and then who knows where….

Pics are below, and of course do not do the real experience justice… we were jaw-dropped awe-struck more than once…

February 26, 2014

Another Reason To Love Singer Pink...

I already love Pink for her music, 
her showmanship, 
her song "Dear Mr President" written as a challenging letter to George Bush, 
her support of marriage equality, 
and then I saw this quote and it made me almost swoon….

love her!