Tag Archives: TV

September’s A Long Way Away

…and a very, very long time to wait for a new episode of Modern Family. Even though it’s only been two days since the finale, we don’t blame you if you’re in MF-withdrawal. Since September’s a long time to wait, hopefully this video of Jesse Tyler Ferguson (“Mitchell”) covering Lady Gaga’s “Alejandro” will be able to give you a quick fix:

-MK

Contact the author at mksmogger@gmail.com.

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Thank You For Being a Friend (at Any Age)

Yes, it’s true that Blanche, Dorothy, Sophia, and Rose don’t exactly make most think of fashion and fornication like the names Charlotte, Carrie, Miranda, and Samantha do. However, there’s something about these South Florida retirees that has struck a chord with viewers of almost every age for the past two decades. While the show ran initially on NBC in the 80’s and early 90’s, it has settled into a nice retirement of nearly constant reruns on Lifetime. This “second life” has given the show a whole new generation of viewers. So, when Nylon posted its thoughts on a potential cast for a younger version of  The Golden Girls, it gave me an interesting idea. Since that other foursome of (sometimes) single ladies got a prequel, why can’t the Golden Girls as well? 

Friendship is golden at any age. via NylonMag.com

Imagine this potential episode – “Pussycat” Sophia and her cross-dressing brother Phil pick up high school senior Dorothy from the prom, where Dorothy’s high school sweetheart, Stan, had just knocked her up. While driving Dorothy home, their car accidentally hits Rose, a tourist who is visiting New York from St. Olaf with her eight siblings in search of Bob Hope, who she believes is her biological father. Offering to help Rose find her father out of guilt, Sophia and Dorothy venture into the city to find Bob Hope. However, they instead confuse him with lookalike Curtis Hollinsworth. After a long conversation, Curtis introduces the three ladies to his daughter, Blanche, who lovingly only refers to him as “Big Daddy.” It could work, right? I guess it is a bit of a stretch… 

-MK 

Contact the author at mksmogger@gmail.com

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What Do We Have to Look Forward to on the Tween Networks? More of the Same. Hurray!

There are two types of shows that end up on the tween channels ABC Family and the CW — the bad ass ones like Gossip Girl, and the wimpy ones you watch with your mother, like Life Unexpected. ABC Family used to be pure wimp, CW used to be more bad ass. But it looks like they’re both taking cues from one another and blurring the lines.  Shall we take a look at what the baby cable networks decided young girls and other-people-too-old-to-watch-shit-but-somehow-we-get-sucked-in-anyway will be watching this fall?  —

Hellcats

I don’t even know if ABC Family’s boring gymnastics show Stick It is still on, nor I do care to any immense degree, but looks like the CW decided to go ahead and create the same show with cheerleaders. Watch the boring trailer full of awkward non-talking/nondescript movements, and then get excited for this gem to shine on the fall schedule–

Pretty Little Liars

So then ABC Family was like, hey, if you’re going to steal our boring gymnastics show, we’re going to make a less-intense, less-interesting version of Gossip Girl and call it Pretty Little Liars. No one will be as attractive as they are on GG, and there’s no way this show will weasel its way into pop culture like the CW hit did, but why not give it a whirl? Trailer below–

Nikita

Like.. La Femme Nikita. Upcoming CW show. Looks kind of cool, but will I watch? Nah. All this action will get in the way of the characters scheming and shopping. Let’s be honest, I can knock the CW and ABC Family shows all I want, but they’ve got me wrapped around their litttttle fingers with their formulaic soaps.

-MM

Contact the author at mmthesmogger@gmail.com.

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Looking at Lost: The Literary Connections

Sure, Lost may be regarded as one of TV’s most well-written shows, but it should also probably be crowned television’s most well-read as well. For a show that’s mostly known for its confounding mysteries and flawed characters, its packed in more literary allusions than almost any other show in TV history. Sure, some of these references have been blatantly obvious (such as Sawyer reading Richard Adams’ Watership Down early in the show’s run), but many more have gone under the radar and been left up to viewers to discover. Here are our favorites (there are way too many to include every reference):

Desmond's Odyssey. via Flickr

The Odyssey by Homer
In one of the most famous epics of all time, Greek poet Homer tells the story of Greek warrior Odysseus. After fighting in the Trojan War, Odysseus embarks on an epic journey across the Mediterranean to return home to Ithaca, and his patient wife, Penelope. In the process, he gets shipwrecked, encounters mythic monsters, and is manipulated by the Gods of Mount Olympus. Similarly, Lost tells the story of a man named Desmond (oDYSseus/DESmond?), who embarks on a journey, only to get shipwrecked, encounter monsters, and be manipulated by Jacob and the Man In Black in a long attempt to get home to his patient wife, Penny. Coincidence? (While I’d love to pretend I thought of this, it was actually TIME’s James Poniewozik who made the connection for me in this great article about Lost‘s cultural significance)

Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
Carroll’s psychedelic tale about a girl who falls down a rabbit hole has been widely interpreted in pop culture. Its veiled references to drugs, history and politics, and mathematics are all steeped in urban legend. Lost has used Alice extensively throughout the shows run, evening naming two of its episodes “White Rabbit” and “Through the Looking Glass.” In the aforementioned season three finale, we also see Dharma’s underwater Looking Glass station for the first time. The station’s logo? A rabbit with a watch – another direct reference to the novel, in a scene where Alice first encounters the White Rabbit looking at his timepiece. Along with these references and many more, the show’s manipulation of space and time is a theme that Carroll constantly explores in his work.

The Bible – by ummm…
I almost didn’t include this because pretty much every great piece of art and literature has in some way been influenced by it (even when they advocate otherwise). However, since its been referenced so many times, it’s probably necessary to include. Besides the obvious episode titles (“The 23rd Psalm,” “Exodus,” “Fire + Water”, etc.), character names (Adam, Eve, Jacob, or the blatant Christian Shephard), Lost has also used biblical imagery continuously throughout the show. During season 6, young Jacob even appeared to the Man in Black with his arms outstretched and bleeding (“The Substitute”). Hmm, wonder who that could be referring to…

The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis
For a while, many people thought that the Island was merely another version of “Narnia” or “Oz.” That’s been pretty clearly disproven over the years, but he connections to C.S. Lewis’ seminal saga are still interesting nonetheless. The most obvious link? Doomed anthropologist Charlotte Staples Lewis…or should I call her “C.S. Lewis?” Also, of all the Dharma Initiative stations that we’ve seen over the years, one is unique from the rest in its site off the island. The Lamp Post station, run by Eloise Hawking, is a direct reference to the lamp-post in Narnia that marks the point which links the imaginary and real worlds together. In Lost, the Lamp Post is the real world location that tracks the Island’s position (imaginary world?).

Island by Adolus Huxley
This one is a little more obscure. In the first part of Huxley’s novel about a cynical journalist who gets stranded on an island, the protagonist is “Lying there like a corpse in the dead leaves, his hair mattered, his face grotesquely smudged and bruised, his clothes in rags and muddy, Will Farnaby awoke with a start.” Sound familiar? It’s exactly how the first episode began, with our cynical protagonist, Jack, in the middle of the jungle. I know what you’re thinking…but unfortunatley, I don’t know if Amazon’s express delivery will get you the book (and last chapter) before Sunday’s finale.

Lost's Lamp Post. via Lost-Media

Finally, Lost has been riddled with different philosophical references over time: David Hume (Desmond Hume), Rousseau, John Locke, Anthony Cooper (historically, he was John Locke’s philosophical mentor, in Lost he was John Locke’s father), Jeremy Bentham,  and even Zen-master Dogen.

For a show that has posed so many questions over the past six years, it’s a good thing we know its creators are well-read. Whoever said TV rots your brain? They were clearly lost. And while we may all be looking for some final answers and closure from Sunday’s finale, if history is any indicator, we’ll likely be asking questions for hundreds of years to come…ok, that may be an exaggeration.

-MK

Contact the author at mksmogger@gmail.com.

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Idol Hangover: The Finale Two

Somewhere, Kara DioGuardi is crying. Last night we bid adieu to country crooner Casey James as Lee and Crystal advanced to next week’s finale. Has it really been 5 months? It seems like just yesterday that we found Casey James auditioning in Dallas. Since then, “Pants on the Ground went viral, Ryan went crazy, and the show rating’s have gone away. So, before we begin discussing next week’s finale, let’s say goodbye to Casey. While it’s unclear how his post-Idol career will play out, we’ll probably remember him for now for his rendition of “Mrs. Robinson” and the dizzying effect he had over Kara. While making it to the finale might have been preferable, Casey can take some comfort in knowing third isn’t bad (if you don’t believe me, ask Season five third place-finalist Elliot Yamin).

Here's to you, Mr. Robinson. via Flickr

So with that, let’s see where the finale lies with our final two…

1. Lee Dewyze – Although Crystal had all the early heat in this season’s competition, she has cooled as Lee has gone on a hot streak. Last night he gave two of the strongest performances of the season and proved that he’s in this contest to win it. Another thing Lee has going for him is his “transformation” storyline. If there’s one thing American Idol loves, it’s a strong narrative for its winner. Carrie Underwood went from country bumpkin to world-class pop star. Same with Kelly Clarkson. Lee has a similar narrative – evolving from the shy underdog to the confident Idol-heir apparent. With that said, the title relies on next week’s show. Will he once again blow us away to claim his crown? The momentum certainly seems to be on his side… (same as last week)

2. Crystal Bowersox – It’s hard to knock Crystal for anything terrible. If she could be summed up in one word this season, it would be “consistent.” I can’t remember a single week that she delivered a performance well below the audience’s expectations. Sure, some weren’t as great as others, but overall, she brought her best each week and competed like a star. However, the downside to consistency is that it isn’t exactly exciting. As much as they may claim to hate change or unpredictability, Americans love surprises. Crystal didn’t give us many – good or bad. And with Lee delivering his performance all season last week, it may be impossible for Crystal to reclaim any of the early buzz she had this season. (same as last week)

Sure, everything may change next week. That’s the beauty of Idol. But, if you’ve followed this season weekly like we have, you’ll know that you have two contestants in the finale with two very reliable track records. Will Crystal’s steady-and-safe approach win the race? Or will it be Lee’s dark horse-to-frontrunner momentum that puts him over the top? With two finalists who have never been in the bottom 3, it’s sure to be a nail biter either way.

-MK

Contact the author at mksmogger@gmail.com.

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Link It Up: 5.20.10

East meets rest? The once-trendy Hollywood restaurant is reducing its hours…not a good sign. [via Eater LA]

The Frank Gehry-designed Brain Health Center (appropriately in Las Vegas) will blow your mind. [via LA Times]

After 10 years, Smallville’s super run on the CW will come to an end. [via Deadline]

Double-check your ferry ticket to Catalina. A gubernatorial candidate has proposed an island for pedophiles off LA’s coast. [via LAist]

Santa Rosa Island may be getting a whole lot creepier. via Flickr

-MK

Contact the author at mksmogger@gmail.com.

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It’s Hard to Say Goodbye: TV Most Memorable Series Finales

Just like dating, watching a TV show is about keeping up a relationship. Over the years, you grow up with the characters and experience the same things they feel. The only difference? While they may let you down from time to time, they can never fight with you – making it a thousand times better than a real relationship. After so many years with 24, Lost, and Law & Order, it’s going to be hard to say goodbye. Let’s take a look at some other series finales that we still remember after all this time.

The Cosby Show – April 30, 1992
After so many years on top of the ratings, Bill Cosby’s seminal sitcom had to fall from its throne at some point. By 1992, it was clear that America was ready to say goodbye. In the last episode, Theo graduates from college and Cliff Huxtable reminisces on the past years – flashing back to scenes from the pilot. In the last scene, Cliff finally fixes the family’s doorbell (a recurring joke throughout the series), and break character by walking off to thank the audience for a long run.

M*A*S*H – February 28, 1983
Bringing this seminal series to a close was probably not easy, but the show’s producers managed to do it while attracting 121.6 million viewers to join in the 4077th’s closing party after the last cease-fire of the Korean War was signed. This episode held the record for most watched telecast of all time until it was broken earlier this year by Super Bowl XLIV.

The Sopranos – June 10, 2007
I don’t know where the time went, but three years have passed since The Sopranos signed off TV for good. For a series known for its graphic violence, often unexpected plot twists, and willingness to kill off characters both large and small, the finale was dramatic mostly for its simplicity. After playing Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin'” (and inspiring countless imitations…ahem…Glee), the show cut to black – leaving the ending completely up to viewers’ interpretations.

St. Elsewhere – May 25, 1988
This is the finale that has stirred the most discussion over the years. Whether an cop-out or a fitting end, the series ends when a father puts his autistic son, Tommy Westphall’s, snow globe of St. Eligius on a TV set and call him to dinner. Imagine that! After six years, it all ended up being a figment of a kid’s imagination. There’s probably nothing scarier to a Lost fan than this scenario. Unfortunately, the dream/imagination ending is somewhat common – it was also used to wrap up Roseanne, Life on Mars, and Newhart.

The Wonder Years – May 12, 1993
This is one that I honestly can’t watch. I tear up every time it’s on. While most family drama finales have happier endings, Kevin & the Arnold family had a sadder one than many viewers were expecting (albeit – probably a more realistic one than most other shows). After experiencing the radically changing world of the 1960’s with the Arnolds, Kevin signs off. In his last narration we learn about the fate of the family we came to care about so much – and how they all grew up after their “wonder years.”

The Golden Girls – May 9, 1992
After seven seasons, how can any ending be a fitting thank you for being our friend for so many years? While Dorothy’s departure to begin her new married life in Atlanta splinters this fearsome foursome, it ends up not being the end for this sitcom – a short-lived sitcom entitled The Golden Palace tried to relive this show’s glory, but was quickly cancelled.

ER – April 2, 2009
After 331 episodes, it was finally time to say goodbye to the doctors of County General. May of the show’s former cast members came back to pay their respects and honor the longest running cast member, Noah Wyle (who played Dr. Carter). After they performed some last life-saving techniques and shared some final emotional moments together, the show ends just as it begun – showing doctors in their typical routines during another typical day of life at the ER – and revealing the hospital’s full exterior for the only time in the entire show’s run.

With nearly 35 years of television combined between them, Lost, Law & Order, and 24 have a lot to live up to.

-MK

Contact the author at mksmogger@gmail.com.

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