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Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Dancing With the Stars: Woo Hoo for the Drew Crew!

After weeks of watching celebrities shake their bootys in the ballroom, Drew Lachey and his partner Cheryl Burke were crowned the champions of Dancing With the Stars Sunday night.

Was there any doubt after that Save a Horse, Ride a Cowboy routine? Good times. In the words of Paris Hilton, “That was hot.”

As a card-carrying member of Team Lachey, I couldn’t be happier that Drew and Cheryl were the winners. They were a visual delight to watch every time they took the floor.

The former 98 Degrees boybander seemed at a disadvantage at the start of the series. He didn’t have Jerry Rice’s spectacular physique or Stacey Keibler’s sleek, long legs and elegance. Lachey, by comparison, is short. He claimed he has no neck and that his shoulders aren’t suited to ballroom posture. Yet, when it came to footwork, rhythm, jumps, and the ability to entertain, Lachey proved he was the champ.

“This is ballroom, not boy band,” his partner Cheryl humorously groused, earlier in the competition, when Lachey’s hip-hopping failed to impress. But it wasn’t long before Lachey proved his hips, and the rest of him, were adaptable to ballroom.

I still contend that the final four should have been Giselle Fernandez, Lisa Rinna, Lachey and Keibler. And if there was a prize for Mr. Congeniality, Rice could easily claim it. But all the competitors were fantastic sports, how refreshing for a reality show. Congratulations to them all.

I have only one complaint about this show: the length. Seriously, how can anyone watch this show without TiVo? The finale could have wrapped in an hour, easily. Do we really need the ridiculous recaps over and over and the long, overdramatically, pauses while waiting for the next couple’s name to be called? It’s intentionally cruel, people. I cannot watch this show live without wanting to hurt someone. I know the show ratings are excellent and the longer it stretches on, the better for the network. But I’m begging here, ABC, in the next installment, have some mercy on your loyal viewers.

For more on Dancing With the Stars, including music used, dance steps, photos and the dancers' biographies, visit the ABC web site here: http://abc.go.com/primetime/dancing/.

Tube talk girl can be reached by e-mail at jennifer@tube-talk.com.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Grey's Anatomy creator Shonda Rhimes speaks out

I’ve called her an evil genius. And you’ve called her worse. (“She killed gorgeous bomb-squad guy, that !*$#&.")

In this candid question and answer segment, Grey’s Anatomy creator Shonda Rhimes answers your most frequently asked questions. From why she killed hottie bomb-squad guy Dylan (Kyle Chandler) to why she let George get horizontal with Meredith, Rhimes tackles her toughest critics in this hilarious Q&A. In the end, I love her all the more.

Here’s an excerpt:
Q: Is Dylan dead?

A: Dylan is dead. He is not coming back. And he doesn't have a twin brother who is a surgeon. Kyle Chandler, who played Dylan, is a very nice guy but he is busy. He is, in fact, making a pilot for a TV version of the movie Friday Night Lights. Yes, he is cute. Yes, he is as nice as he seems on TV. Yes, we all want to lick him inappropriately. But that does not change the fact that Dylan is dead.

Read the complete Q&A here: http://abc.go.com/primetime/greysanatomy/faq.html

And check out Tube Talk Girl's take on killing Kyle Chandler: http://tubetalk.blogspot.com/2006/02/greys-anatomy-they-killed-kyle-those.html

Tube talk girl can be reached by e-mail at jennifer@tube-talk.com.

Farewell Barney Fife: Don Knotts dies at 81

TV legend Don Knotts died Friday night at a Los Angeles hospital from pulmonary and respiratory complications. Knotts was 81.

Knotts gave us one of television’s most memorable characters: Deputy Barney Fife on The Andy Griffith Show. His portrayal of the fumbling Fife won Knotts five Emmys. It also earned him a spot in Tube Talk Girl’s column as one of TV’s best characters of all time. http://tubetalk.blogspot.com/2006/02/tvs-all-time-best-characters.html

“Don was a small man ... but everything else about him was large: his mind, his expressions,” friend Andy Griffith told The Associated Press on Saturday. “Don was special. There’s nobody like him.”

While Barney Fife was Knotts’ most well-known character, he will also be remembered in the TV world as that silly wanna-be swinger Ralph Furley on Three’s Company.

His most recent project was voicing Mayor Turkey Lurkey in the 2005 hit animated-film Chicken Little.

For more on Knotts’ life and death, read the complete story at http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/11566794/.

As a tribute to Barney Fife and his legacy, read Tube Talk Girl’s vintage column Missing Mayberry by clicking here: http://tubetalk.blogspot.com/2006/02/missing-mayberry.html

Tube talk girl can be reached by e-mail at jennifer@tube-talk.com.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

The Beek is back and Pacey, too!

Actor James Van Der Beek could be returning to network television in a new CBS political drama. He is currently starring in the pilot Sex, Power, Love & Politics.

Van Der Beek has been absent from the small screen, since his much beloved Creek ran dry in 2003.

Van Der Beek became a fan favorite as loquacious, adolescent-dreamer Dawson Leery on the WB show Dawson’s Creek.

Get the complete story on Van Der Beek’s new pilot at Zap2it http://www.zap2it.com/tv/news/zap-pilotcastingvanderbeeklocklear,0,7687900.story?coll=zap-tv-headlines

That’s great news for Dawson fans. But I know what you’re all thinking. Where’s Pacey?

Strangely enough, the two former onscreen pals/rivals will be vying for a slot on the same network. Actor Joshua Jackson, who played Dawson’s best friend/rival Pacey Witter on Dawson’s Creek, is also starring in a new CBS pilot, as previously reported in The Hollywood Reporter http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/thr/television/brief_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1001921852.

Jackson’s pilot is a crime drama.

I know. I know. CBS and a crime drama, well, that’s just unheard of.

Will Dawson and Pacey both get picked up on the CBS schedule?

Stay tuned Creek fans.

Tube talk girl can be reached by e-mail at jennifer@tube-talk.com.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Grey's Anatomy: Ellen Pompeo interview

Can you imagine Meredith Grey as a red head or a psycho killer?

Her portrayer, Ellen Pompeo, dishes on both these topics, as well as her feelings on the McDreamy relationship in a recent interview at TV Guide.

Read it here: http://www.tvguide.com/News/Insider/default.htm?cmsGuid=

FOX announces new spin-off network

If you don’t have a TiVo, I suggest you get one. Now.

TV addicts everywhere, life is about to get more complicated.

FOX is launching a new network this fall, aptly titled My Network. It will feature original programming in the primetime hours, to compete with all our other favorites.

Just when I thought my Wednesday and Thursday night scheduling conflicts would get easier, due to the UPN/WB merger into the CW network, FOX breaks this news.

Thanks, guys.

Although, they do get points for the name. My Network is way cooler than the CW moniker. (Sorry CW, but TV fans everywhere are hoping that name doesn’t stick.)

Get the complete story about the new My Network here: http://www.tvguide.com/News/Entertainment/default.htm?rmDate=02232006

Tube talk girl can be reached by e-mail at jennifer@tube-talk.com.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Primetime Emmy voting changes

February 22, 2006

In the famous words of Rosco P. Coltrane, “Good news, good news.”

The primetime Emmy voting process is finally getting an overhaul.

Finally! Can I get an Amen?

That means, hopefully, I can stop complaining, year after year, about the ridiculous Emmy snubs, such as Veronica Mars’ Kristen Bell, Scrubs’ John C. McGinley or Smallville’s Michael Rosenbaum. Actors and shows on the smaller networks (The WB and UPN) rarely make it on the Emmy ballot, no matter how outstanding they are. (Think James Marsters from Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel and Kerri Russell of Felicity.)

Perhaps the Emmy organizers finally got a clue that there is talent beyond the big three networks and HBO.

Emmy guru Tom O’Neil explained the voting changes in detail at the Gold Derby Web site http://goldderby.latimes.com/awards_goldderby/2006/02/primetime_emmy_.html..

Check out his excellent article.

Tube talk girl can be reached by e-mail at jennifer@tube-talk.com.

Tom Selleck heads to Boston Legal

February 21, 2006

It’s true. Magnum P.I., er, Tom Selleck returned to the small screen Tuesday night.

Can I get a Woo Hoo up in here? I haven’t been this excited since, the Happy Days Reunion special. Selleck played Ivan Tiggs, the philandering ex-husband of Murphy Brown, er, Shirley Schmidt (Candace Bergen.)

For those of you who don’t remember the ‘80s and are unfamiliar with the coolness that was Magnum - (And you call yourself a TV fan. I can’t really believe you don’t know Magnum, but, whatever.) - you’ll probably recognize Selleck as Monica’s sexy, older boyfriend, Richard, on Friends. For the rest of you, I think I speak for all of when I say, “Dude, what happened to the red Ferrari?”

Candace Bergen and Tom Selleck are two of my all-time favorite television actors, and their scenes didn’t disappoint. I’m not usually a fan of stunt casting of guest stars, (Will and Grace, I’m talking to you) but in this case, it worked well.

If you missed last night’s episode, don’t despair. According to TV Guide’s supreme scoop master Michael Ausiello, Selleck will reprise his role for “at least one more episode.”

You can read Ausiello’s news here, as well as information about a possible third season for the superb Boston Legal: http://www.tvguide.com/News/Ausiello/AskAusiello

Tube talk girl can be reached by e-mail at jennifer@tube-talk.com

Grey's Anatomy: McDreamy vs. McSteamy = McFabulous

February 19, 2006

If I ever have to be admitted for hospital care, I’m going on record right now to say please take me to Seattle Grace Hospital. If I’m going to die, I at least want to go out with a smile on my face.

Seriously. Have you ever seen such a beautiful bunch of talented doctors? I’m surprised there isn’t a waiting list to get in to this place.

This week, we met Dr. Mark Sloan. (Hereafter known as McSteamy, according to our favorite group of interns.) Just when I thought this show couldn’t get any better after the past two outstanding episodes, actor Eric Dane swaggered into Seattle Grace, as Derek’s former best friend, the wife-stealing plastic surgeon. I know he’s supposed to be a cad, but I like him. Chalk it up to my fondness for bad boys. (And the TV nerd in me can’t help but chuckle that he’s named Mark Sloan, just like that brilliant Dr. Mark Sloan from Diagnosis Murder.)

So, now it’s McDreamy vs McSteamy for Addison’s affections, or is it Meredith’s affections? I’m not sure I know. No matter. There is no wrong choice here, ladies. McDreamy vs. MsSteamy is just McSexy.

Sunday’s episode also had other shocking moments. Burke busted out a boogie. Alex and Izzie fed the beast. And (gulp) George and Meredith may have got Biblical. The result: I can’t wait until next week.

As for the newest doc to hit Seattle, well, I hope he’s a keeper. They could use a plastic surgeon around, don’t you think? Should Addison stay with detached Derek or move on to Mark?

Well, I’ll just say this: Addison, your husband makes $2 million a year and makes you live in a camper. Girl, kick him to the curb already, and bring on McSteamy!

Tube talk girl can be reached by e-mail at jennifer@tube-talk.com.

Dancing with the Stars: Lisa was robbed!

February 18, 2006

Never underestimate the power of sports fans. That’s the lesson I learned this week. Jerry Rice’s popularity saved him from getting the boot on Dancing with the Stars, despite the fact that he was the weakest dancer of the gifted group.

Just like high school, I guess it all comes down to a popularity contest in the end.

Based on talent and performance, Lisa Rinna should have remained with Drew Lachey and Stacey Keibler. But, if fans are basing their votes on hard work and how much the celebrities have learned, then maybe Jerry should win. He really has turned into a great dancer.

But, he’s not in the same category as Lisa, Stacey and Drew, when it comes to dance talent. Sorry Jerry. I love and respect you, but the other couples are better.

As for the judging portion of the show, I think the celebs and dancers must have been hitting the sauce backstage. I’ve never seen so much talking back to the judges. It could have been that their nerves were frayed, after weeks of exhausting dance practice and subjecting themselves to judgment. But, everyone seemed on edge. I was shocked to hear Stacey claim that Carrie Ann had it out for her. And I actually feared for Len, when Anna erupted.

Can’t we all just get along?

With Lisa gone, I’m rooting for Team Lachey. Go Drew! Yes, Stacy is the best, but I don’t think it’s fair for her to win, since she had years of dance training. Besides, she’s a winner already with those legs, no matter what she does.

Tube talk girl can be reached by e-mail at jennifer@tube-talk.com.

You can't kill Ed! Tom Cavanagh returns to Scrubs

February 17, 2006

Despite that Love Monkey was pulled from the schedule, there is some good news for Tom Cavanagh fans. According to TV Guide online, Cavanagh will reprise his guest role as Zach Braff’s brother on Scrubs.

The episode is slated to air sometime in April.

So what if it’s not Ed or Love Monkey, I’ll take what I can get.

Tube talk girl can be reached by e-mail at jennifer@tube-talk.com.

Veronica Mars in reruns until March

February 15, 2006

Veronica Mars, why hast thou forsaken me?

Just when I got back in the groove of all things Neptune, UPN decided to change its schedule and hold the new Veronica Mars episodes until March 15.

Damn those Olympics!

I’m sure this scheduling shuffle is probably a good thing for my beloved Veronica, considering the stiff February competition, but (sniff, sniff) I miss her.

Hold me?

For those of you who haven’t listened to my constant badgering to watch this show, this is the perfect time to get on board. Here’s your assignment: go get the season one DVDs and knock them out quickly. Then, read the recaps for the previously aired season 2 episodes at the UPN Web site, so you can get caught up for this season. You’ll find them here: http://www.upn.com/shows/veronica_mars,

Why are you still reading this?

Dude. Go.

Tube talk girl can be reached by e-mail at jennifer@tube-talk.com

Grey's Anatomy: They killed Kyle. Those bastards!

February 12, 2006

It’s hard to forgive someone for blowing up Kyle Chandler.

That said, the conclusion to Grey’s Anatomy post-Superbowl episode was so gripping, I’m boldly declaring it the best hour of television I’ve seen so far this year.

Grey’s creator Shonda Rhimes is an evil genius. There is no other explanation for introducing the magnificent Chandler as the head of the bomb squad, only to have him eviscerated into pink mist in the hallway, all over Meredith.

Evil. And yes, genius.

When he took the bomb from Meredith, I was certain he was going to make it out. I had no idea he was a dead man walking. (Thank you Ms. Rhimes for spoiler-free TV!)

Chandler is an outstanding actor, and he had sparks – pardon the pun – with Meredith. He’s been sorely missed on episodic television, since his run on Early Edition ended. But couldn’t Chandler have been a recurring patient or a visiting doctor, instead of someone they have to clean off the hospital walls? I’m just saying.

The last 30 minutes of the show made me weepy. I’m talking, need-a-box-of-Kleenex, weepy. The bomb sequence, Bailey’s birth, and Derek’s surgery were beautifully choreographed to one of my all-time favorite songs: Anna Nalick’s Breathe.

From the bookend shower scene, to Burke and Shepherd finally calling one another by their first names, the storytelling was hypnotic. And the ending scene was excellent, when Burke showed up at Meredith’s house. We all expected him to kiss her, at least, after their traumatic experience. Thankfully, he didn’t. He simply recalled their last kiss and that her hair had smelled like lavender. Perfect.

But, they still killed Kyle. Those bastards!

Tube talk girl can be reached by e-mail at jennifer@tube-talk.com.

Lost: There's a new sheriff in town

February 9, 2006

Sawyer’s back. And he has guns.


With guns blazing and his cocky sneer firmly in place, Sawyer told Jack and the rest of the Lost gang that he won’t be ignored on the island of misfits.

“There’s a new sheriff in town, boys,” Sawyer declared. His “long con” to get the guns duped Jack, Locke and Kate, not an easy feat. Well done, James.

I couldn’t help but chuckle that Sawyer seemed more ticked that people took his shaving cream, batteries and beer, while he was trying to get help, than the fact that he isn’t considered the alpha-male leader of the group. “You took my stuff,” he sniffed, sounding more like a kid on the playground than a grown man. Priceless.

Sawyer is a delicious bad boy and an even better con. I can’t help but wonder if perhaps he’s somehow connected to the other deceptive con artist we’ve seen: Locke’s father. Is it possible Locke’s dad is the guy who swindled James’ mother? Could Locke’s father be the real “Sawyer?”

Not buying it?

OK, do you have a better theory? We all know these Losties are connected one way or another.

Tube talk girl can be reached by e-mail at jennifer@tube-talk.com.

CBS pulls Love Monkey

February 9, 2006

CBS yanked Love Monkey, after airing only three episodes.

Low ratings are apparently to blame for the network’s hasty decision. Love Monkey just wasn’t getting any love, except from me and the three other people watching.

What did I tell you? If I like a show, it's probably a death sentence.

I never thought Love Monkey was a good fit for CBS. CBS audiences tend to lust after procedural crime dramas, not quirky shows about thirty-somethings and their pals. Perhaps another network will swoop in and want to do some monkey business. (Hint. Hint.) A girl can hope, right?

Read the full story on Love Monkey’s cancellation here at E!Online http://www.eonline.com/News/Items.

Tube talk girl can be reached by e-mail at

Scrubs: Turk's air band skills - "He's so damned talented."

February 8, 2006

If you’re not watching Scrubs, then we can no longer be friends. That’s how much love I have for this show.

Last night’s episode was perhaps the funniest 30 minutes of sitcom so far this season. In short, it involved an air band, the extremely talented Donald Faison in “Spiderman and full effect,” and some most excellent music.

It started when Ted the janitor recruited co-workers for an air-band competition, so he could win tickets to a water park. Transition to Todd the surgeon, dressed in full-on '80s red leather pants, doing his best air band performance to Working for the Weekend. Turk watched the embarrassing performance and decided to school his co-workers in the skill of air banding.
“Do you think this is easy?” challenged the eternally somber Ted.

Cue the drums and Bel, Biv, Devoe’s Poison.

“Girl, I must warn you,” Turk air belted as he awed the gang. Brilliant. The janitor watched in disbelief before giving this ringing endorsement: "He's so damned talented."

Turk nailed the audition and became the lead singer for the Cool Cats air band. The Cool Cats’ final performance of Boston’s More Than a Feeling had me laughing nonstop for two minutes. Ted's guitar solo was hysterical.

Tube talk girl can be reached by e-mail at

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

ABC shelves Invasion

February 8, 2006

ABC has pulled Invasion from its schedule until March.

I have just one word: why?

OK, so when have I ever had just one word? The point is, I don’t get it. This is the best new drama of the season. (Sorry Commander in Chief.) The storytelling is top-notch and the acting outstanding.

I’m convinced it’s a government conspiracy. Dave, back me up here. (For those of you who haven’t found Dave’s blog about what’s really going on the Everglades, check it out here at http://www.didyouseethelights.com/ on the ABC home page. Funny stuff.)

Invasion hasn’t received nearly as much press as some of the season’s other new dramas (Close to Home and the aforementioned Commander.) I think Invasion was tagged at the onset as being a ripoff of Lost, which perhaps deterred people from watching. But, it's clearly its own show. It may have also gotten lost in the sea of other sci-fi dramas this season (Threshold and Surface.) But, Invasion started strong and gets better each week.

Is creepy Sheriff Tom keeping the town of “hybrid” aliens in check? Will Dave and Larkin blow the whistle on what’s happening in their small town? Is Rose Tom’s daughter? (I’m thinking that the fact that he kept that rose trinket locked away in his secret room is perhaps a sign that Rose is more than his step daughter, although I find it really hard to believe Mariel would have cheated on Russ-my-dimples-are-divine-Varon.)

We won’t begin to get answers until ABC puts this show back on its schedule. As for why ABC pulled Invasion, I went to TV Guide expert Matt Roush for answers. Here’s what he had to say:

Question: Why is ABC shelving Invasion for six weeks? It's the best new drama of the year. Period. (Sorry, I'm just not onboard with Commander in Chief, despite what the Emmys and Globes say.) Invasion isn't a Lost clone. It's unique and mesmerizing, in a freaky kind of way. Please say it's coming back. If not, I think I'll borrow a phrase from Dave and blame this on a "government conspiracy." It seems that year after year, the quality shows I love get the boot (Jack & Bobby, Freaks and Geeks, Angel and Felicity.) Just once, I'd like a quality show to get the chance to stick around as long as some of those silly, never-ending sitcoms. - Jennifer B.

Matt Roush: This is a messy mid-season, no doubt. (And, for the record, ABC is shelving Commander in Chief in March for six weeks as well.) But it's common practice for networks to pull some shows (especially shows like Invasion, which tend to repeat poorly) to make room to try out others during the spring. I agree, though, that this will do more harm than good to an already fragile franchise like Invasion. I wish they would just play all 22 of its episodes, even if that means its season would end before May. As I noted last Friday in discussing the no-show of Alias, mid-season plans are not set in stone and are likely to adjust as soon as the early returns and reviews are in on certain series, so who can say when and where the last episodes of Invasion will air? All I know for sure is that the show is continuing to produce a full season's worth of episodes, and since we've come this far with these characters, I expect we'll actually see the entire season, eventually. But again, what a drag.

This excerpt is from the Feb. 13, 2006 column Ask Matt Roush at TV Guide.com.

Tube talk girl can be reached by e-mail at jennifer@tube-talk.com.

Adios Duncan Kane!

January 26, 2006

It’s a sad day for the legions of Veronica Mars' fans that love Duncan Kane. He made a run for the border on last night’s episode and left Neptune for good.

Let’s hope that his Spanish is good and that he knows more than just, “la cerveza, por favor.” How else is he going to raise a baby, get a job, and live in Mexico? I’m worried, Tubers. Duncan isn’t exactly used to roughing it. He’s been living large at a luxury hotel for months.

I don’t want Duncan’s change of zip code to be permanent. I’ll miss Teddy Dunn. I loved Duncan and Veronica, as much as I love Logan and Veronica. Is that wrong? I can’t help it, his fortune-cookie message just got to me.

This week’s episode from start to finish was, as per usual, excellent. If there was ever a course on how to write the perfect dramedy, the Veronica Mars show honchos should teach it. There is no sharper dialogue, solid plotlines, excellent one-liners and double entendres on the tube than on Veronica Mars. Thank you! It smacks of Joss Whedon brilliance.

The cast deserves credit, too. It is so solid that even the characters I’m supposed to hate, I love. (Hello, Dick, Kendall and Sheriff Lamb.)

In the end, Veronica played her dad to make her scheme work and get Duncan and the baby out of town. That hurts. You know I don’t want my favorite detective disrespectin’ her daddy. I’m sure Keith won’t get over it easily, either.

As for Duncan Kane, well, Adios, mi amigo. Buena suerte!

Tube talk girl can be reached by e-mail at jennifer@tube-talk.com.

Love Monkey is quirky new drama

January 25, 2006

Ed’s Tom Cavanagh is back. He traded in Stuckeyville and his small town, bowling-alley-lawyer gig to be a music talent scout in New York City.

New York City? Yep. And he’s got a whole new set of pals. His best friend’s name is Mike, just like it was on Ed. (How funny is that?) Jason Priestley, of Beverly Hills 90210, plays Mike, who happens to be married to Tom’s sister. His other best friend is female - and hot. She and Tom have a Joey/Dawson dynamic going, with the banter and soul-baring scenes. I’m certain she’s supposed to be his love monkey, at some point in the future.

The rest of Tom’s pals complement his personality well and offer plenty of humorous moments, such as this gem known as “Grant’s Law.” It means that men can never be satisfied. (It’s named for actor Hugh Grant, who was busted picking up a hooker, despite dating supermodel Elizabeth Hurley.)

Tom is Ed-like, in that he wants to do his own thing and do it his way. He’s also a bit of a music snob. He loves Bob Dylan, but dissed Air Supply and Jewel. (I forgive him anyway.)

The show also gets points for casting Ivana Milicevic. Felicity fans will recognize her as Sensa, the Russian mob chick. The TV geek in me couldn’t help but laugh that her first word to Tom was “Hey”, perhaps a clever homage to Felicity’s trademark phrase. (OK, so maybe the Felicity nod was only in my own twisted mind, but it made me laugh.)

Even if the show gets canned, young musician Teddy Geiger, one of Tom’s clients, is going to be a breakout star. That voice is amazing.

I liked Love Monkey. That’s a sure sign it’s doomed.

Catch Love Monkey Tuesdays at 10 p.m. on CBS.

Tube talk girl can be reached by e-mail at jennifer@tube-talk.com.

Rest in peace, Jonathan Kent

January 27, 2006
by Jennifer Squires Biller

In the famous words of Peter Gabriel, “I grieve.” That’s the only way to describe my melancholy mood today.

Last night was the landmark 100th episode of Smallville. If you haven’t heard – and I’m not sure how that’s possible - someone major was supposed to die.

Well, someone did. In fact, two someones. Lana died, but she didn’t stay dead. In the end, it was Pa Kent who took the eternal dirt nap.

I’m sad to see the wonderfully talented John Schneider exit Smallville. He was perfectly cast as Jonathan Kent and will be missed.

His death scene was respectful to the character’s history. He didn’t go out with a campy speech full of platitudes. He simply fell over in his son and wife’s arms.

The funeral was brutal, for longtime fans. Snow fell in slow motion, as Gabriel’s “I Grieve” played in the background. As the camera panned to a beautiful shot of the Kent farm, even the cows looked sad. Talk about moo-ving. (Sorry. I couldn’t resist.)

I’m sure it’s not normal to be this disturbed by a fictional character’s death, but there it is. I’m sad. I’m yearning for one of those uplifting Jonathan speeches that always began with, “Son,…”

Goodbye Jonathan Kent. We’ll miss you.

To see what John Schneider had to say about his Smallville death, check out this interview at TV Guide http://www.tvguide.com/News/Insider/?cmsGuid=%7B37DF497A-8F90-462D-93C6-D1613C83C62D%7D.

The cool folks at Kryptonsite also scored an interview with Schneider about his exit. Read it here http://www.kryptonsite.com/schneiderdeath.htm

Tube talk girl can be reached by e-mail at jennifer@tube-talk.com.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Dukes reunited in Smallville

November 2, 2005
by Jennifer Squires Biller

Someone call Sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane. The Duke boys are together again. Except this time, they’re a long way from Hazzard County.

On Thursday, Tom Wopat (Luke Duke) reunites with former Dukes of Hazzard costar John Schneider (Bo Duke) on the WB series Smallville.

That’s right. Luke Duke will be mixing it up with Clark Kent, Lex Luthor, and former-cousin Bo, now known as Smallville’s most responsible father, Jonathan Kent.

Yep, I’m pretty much giddy at the thought of it.

Wopat is playing the character Jake Jennings, whose name, I’m assuming, is a clever nod to Dukes balladeer Waylon Jennings. Rumor has it that Jennings has a passion for classic cars and will be driving a ‘69 Dodge Charger. Hmmm…do you think the car doors will open, or will he have to climb through the window as an homage to the good ol’ days?

I couldn’t be more pleased that the extraordinary Smallville is the venue for this long-awaited reunion. As loyal Tube Talk readers know, Smallville is appointment TV for me. I’ve done everything short of bribery the last few years to get you to watch the young Superman in training. And I’m not above that, if it will get you to tune in on Thursday.

For those of you who have heeded my advice, thank you! Ratings for Smallville are the highest they’ve been in four years. The show is kicking butt in its new Thursday timeslot, despite stiff competition. (Sorry Everybody Hates Chris and The O.C.) For those of you who are still ignoring one of the best shows on television, you should know that I’ve reported your names to Lex Luthor, as possible candidates for scientific experiments at Luthorcorp.

Quite simply, here’s why you should make a weekly date with Smallville: it’s good. Watching young Clark Kent discover his super abilities and grapple with learning to use them is a fun-filled adventure each week. It’s a refreshing spin on the classic tale of good versus evil. Along with the weekly tales of heroism, Smallville offers humor, a superb cast, amazing special effects, and the most beautiful cinematography you’ll find on the small screen. And at the core, the story is rooted in family values.

We all need a hero to believe in. And in the capable hands of the charming Tom Welling, Clark Kent is that guy. His heroism doesn’t play as schmaltzy or insincere.

Michael Rosenbaum’s Lex Luthor is the perfect contrast to Welling. Rosenbaum’s Lex is dark at times, but played with a vulnerability and humor that makes viewers root for him, despite his dark side.

For you die-hard comic book fans who’ve refused to watch the show, I know the odds of convincing you are about as good as Lex Luthor growing hair. But, you should reconsider. Not every detail of Smallville may mesh with DC Comics history, but that shouldn’t exclude you from enjoying the magic of the show.

An added incentive this season is the addition of James Marsters, as Brainiac. I know it’s a stretch to see Spike from Buffy the Vampire Slayer as the smartest guy in the room, but, trust me, Marsters makes it work. He actually one-upped Lex Luthor last week in a game of verbal badminton. That rarely happens. And then there was the Halloween episode in which Marsters uttered, “There’s no such thing as vampires.” Sure, it was a too-obvious nod at his vampire history on Buffy, but I laughed like a hyena anyway.

For those of you who think it’s too late to get on board with Smallville, I have one word for you: DVDs. (Well, technically it’s one word, if you just say the acronym.) You can rent or buy the DVDs of all four seasons of Smallville. Some seasons have hilarious commentaries by cast members, including Lex and Clark, as well as deleted scenes and gag reels, that alone are worth the price of the DVD.

Or you can just tune in Thursday at 8 p.m. I’m pretty sure Rosco P. Coltrane will be watching, too.

Stop the annoying pop-up ads!

October 19, 2005

The latest trend in television isn’t aliens, sea monsters, or desperate suburban housewives, although, it’s just as frightening. I’m talking about those irritating pop-up advertisements during our favorite shows.

I bring up this subject for two solid journalistic reasons:
-I’m concerned about the future artistic integrity of television.
-It annoys me.

Those irksome pop-up ads are slowly driving me mad. They pop up during pivotal scenes and cover the lower quarter of the screen. They distract from the plot, change the mood and at times, can block a piece of information vital to understanding the story.

And what fundamental information do they have for us that just can’t wait until the commercial break? Well, they tell us that we’re watching NBC in high-definition format. Or just in case we’ve gotten a recent case of amnesia, they like to remind us that we’re watching Joey. They also tell us what’s coming up next, or that we don’t want to miss Everwood on its day and time.

NBC and The WB are the worst offenders of this newest advertising device. Not only do they boldly stamp their network logos on the right corner of the screen during an entire show, now the bottom left corner is a constant pop-up advertising area. The top left corner of the screen is used to display the rating block, so we know if the show is for mature audiences. The left corner is also used to tell us if the show is broadcast in high definition.

If this keeps up, pretty soon the entire screen will be inundated with network information and advertisements, and that show you’re trying to enjoy, well, you’ll just have to read about it in Tube Talk.

I understand why the networks are trying out this advertising device. We, the television viewers, have disrespected commercials. We’ve used them to take bathroom breaks, make phone calls, or raid the refrigerator. We’ve ignored them, and we’ve skipped through them with our VCR, DVR, and TiVo fast-forward buttons.

Now, the networks are getting revenge. To pay us back for our wavering attention span, they are forcing us to watch spiders crawl across Danny McCoy’s pants during Las Vegas to tell us that we shouldn’t miss Fear Factor. It has to stop, people.

As much as I love My Name is Earl, I really don’t want to see his mug shot, with the disheveled hair and unruly mustache, when I’m trying to watch The West Wing. Is there no place sacred?

I fear it may get worse. Where will networks draw the line with this invasive marketing strategy? When bald Lex Luthor appears on Smallville, will we see a pop-up ad for Rogaine? When George of Grey’s Anatomy opens his bag lunch to enjoy his peanut butter-and-jelly sandwich, will we see a pop-up ad for Jif? When plus-sized Hurley makes his way awkwardly down the beach on Lost, will we see an ad for Weight Watchers?

On the computer, at least we can install pop-up blockers or hit the big X on the pop-up ad window to close it. Television viewers don’t have that luxury.

As for the artistic integrity of television, I worry that these ads may start showing up in characters’ dialogue. I’m not joking. It’s already happening on daytime television, where I saw one character go on and on about her craving for Pringles potato chips and another character who had to run out and get some Nice ‘n Easy hair color to cover her grays before a big date. It’s awkward product placement and completely disrupts the storyline.

Just imagine UPN’s teen-detective Veronica Mars lobbying for her network by telling a prospective client she can’t go on a stakeout because she has to be home in time to watch Everybody Hates Chris. Actually, that’s kind of funny. I can see her saying that. But, you get the point. If television programs have to start incorporating ads within their writing, then we can kiss creativity goodbye.

One job of a television critic is to point out flaws within the genre and make it strive to be better. I’m sounding the warning bells. These pop-ads are a dangerous precursor to where we may be headed. The day Denny Crane of Boston Legal starts going on about how he can’t live without his Viagra, is the day I hang up my remote. Trust me, if that happens, you will hear my wrath.

The irony of the situation is that there is one place you can escape the pop-up ads: the commercials. That’s right. You don’t have to worry about the network logo or the promo for upcoming shows covering up part of the Neutrogena face-wash bottle or the gigantic Butterfinger bar. Nope. The networks reserve the pop-up ad torture for your favorite shows. The commercials are pop-up free.

I understand that networks must make money to survive. And convincing us to head to McDonalds or to reduce our fine lines with Oil of Olay is paramount to their success. But they must also realize that television is the stage for escapism and divine storytelling. Interjecting commercial information within the bodies of work disrupts the creative flow and threatens to undermine the very reason we watch in the first place.

Imagine reading a newspaper column where every few lines the name of the publication was written or there was a reminder of what was coming up for the week. It would be distracting, right? Did I mention you’re reading Tube Talk? It runs every Wednesday in The Exponent Telegram?

See, annoying isn’t it? I’m begging the networks; stop the pop-ups, for the sanity of television viewers and critics everywhere.

Originally published 10/19/05 in The Exponent Telegram newspaper.

Close to Home

October 12, 2005

Thanks to those Desperate Housewives we all know the suburbs can be a scary place. Behind those white picket fences, may lurk a psycho, child abuser or a killer.

In the latest CBS legal crime drama Close to Home, assistant prosecuting attorney Annabeth Chase takes on these white-collar criminals, who seem to have perfect suburban lives but are hiding disturbing crimes.

Annabeth is a new mother, just back from maternity leave. She’s struggling with a baby who won’t sleep through the night, raging postpartum hormones, and a boss, Maureen, who isn’t exactly warm and fuzzy about the entire situation. Working mothers everywhere will no doubt empathize with Annabeth. She’s trying to juggle her family life with her professional life, without slighting either. It’s the plight of every workingwoman. Chase does it all while looking good in her expensive suits, but not without the occasional emotional meltdown in the ladies’ room.

Close to Home is formulaic and predictable, but the kind of show CBS audiences usually devour. In my opinion, it’s not nearly as entertaining as the legal show The Guardian that CBS canned a few years ago.

The best part of Close to Home is the talented cast. Soap fans will recognize the fantastic Jennifer Finnigan from the CBS daytime drama The Bold and the Beautiful. She received three Emmys for her work there. Non-soap fans my recognize her from one of the worst sitcoms ever made: last year’s Committed. Don’t hold that against her. That horrible nasally voice she used in Committed was just for the sake of that awful sitcom. She returns to her normal voice in this new drama.

Christian Kane, of Angel, is Annabeth’s hunky, supportive husband. Kane is always a scene-stealer and doesn’t disappoint here, either. But I kept hoping he had a guitar stashed in the closet, so we could have heard him play some of that amazing Kane music.

Annabeth’s overbearing boss, Maureen, is in the capable hands of actress Kimberly Elise. You may recognize her from the film Diary of a Mad Black Woman. Maureen is career-driven and got the promotion Chase wanted, before she took time off to have a baby.

If you haven’t watched Close to Home yet, there is a good chance you’ve at least seen a commercial for it. The show received tons of promotion, starting as early as last summer. Even with all the hype, the show fell flat for me. I enjoyed the girl-power premise of a woman who wants it all, but the show in its entirety was just another ho-hum crime drama. I was bored, with a capital B.

If you love legal dramas, you may enjoy Close to Home. For me, it missed the mark. I prefer the zany Boston Legal. I give Close to Home two stars out of four. And one of those stars is just for the cast.

You can catch the show at 10 p.m. on Tuesdays on CBS.

Originally published 10/12/05 in The Exponent Telegram newspaper.

Veronica Mars rocks!

October 5, 2005

My fellow Veronica Mars fans, this year’s season opener rocked, did it not?

Just when you thought nothing could top the Lily Kane murder mystery of last season, a new whodunit emerged.

I can’t wait for Veronica to start investigating who rigged that school bus to plunge over the cliff. Not only did the premiere set the stage for a new mystery, it also explored the Logan/Duncan/Veronica triangle.

For those of you who haven’t found this modern-day Nancy Drew, I implore you, please, please tape Lost and watch Veronica live. She could use your help in the ratings. I promise you won’t be disappointed.

This show boasts some of the best-written dialogue on the tube. Here’s an example of what you’re missing. Last week, Veronica was trying to solve the case of who sabotaged the school athletes’ drug test results. “Do you have any enemies,” Veronica asked her African-American friend Wallace. “Well, there’s the Klan,” he replied, sarcastically.

It’s early in the season and a good time to jump in. The show does a decent job of recapping past episodes, prior to the start of each show.

Catch Veronica Mars at 9 p.m. on Wednesdays on UPN.

Originally published 10/5/05 in The Exponent Telegram newspaper.

Invasion: they've landed!

October 5, 2005

Remember when aliens were cute and wrinkly with big eyes and a passion for Reese’s Pieces?

Forget that image. Fast-forward to 2005 and the new ABC show Invasion. It’s safe to say that these extraterrestrials don’t ride bicycles.

Aliens now apparently fall from the sky as bright yellow lights. And of all the places in the world to inhabit, they choose the Florida Everglades. No, it’s not the retirement destination for most Americans, but at least these scary aliens will be at home among the crocodiles and alligators.

I’m OK with the premise that these modern-day extraterrestrials are disguised as bright flashes of light, living in swamp water. It may seem a little preposterous, but I’m an open-minded equal-opportunity alien watcher. It would be unfair to stereotype all invaders as little green men, with black beady eyes and antennas or as adorable, bicycle-riding aliens with glowing fingers.

These new aliens are scary. They apparently have tentacles, used to burrow into unsuspecting humans. Not that I can say for sure, since I’ve never actually seen one of the body-snatching invaders in full form yet.

Invasion presents the theory that natural disasters are somehow diversions, so that aliens can land undetected. That would mean, of course, other forms of intelligent life are already living among us.

Hmmm…That would explain a lot.

I’m betting that creepy Sheriff Tom has already been invaded. And it’s a safe bet to say that his new wife, Dr. Mariel, is no longer in control of her own destiny. After all, she was found naked in the swamp after the hurricane, without a scratch on her and no memory of the storm. And she’s acting peculiar. Her adorable daughter, Rose, even mentioned that she smelled odd.

Did the aliens kill some of the locals and invade the bodies of others? Is it a government conspiracy? Has half the town been taken over by the body-snatching extraterrestrials?

It’s a mystery to be solved. And who better to do it than the show’s main character, Russ, played by the always-wonderful Eddie Cibrian, formerly of Third Watch. Russ is a park ranger, father of two and ex-husband to Dr. Mariel. Don’t be distracted by Cibrian’s dimples and pinup-boy good looks. He is a great actor and entirely believable in the role.

Adding some humor to the show, is Russ’ sidekick, and current brother-in-law, Dave. He’s a beer-loving conspiracy theorist who chatters incessantly about government cover-ups and EBEs (extraterrestrial biological entities.) He gets points for humor, as he refers to Russ’ uptight ex-wife Mariel as “Dr. Frosty.”

Invasion is eerily hypnotic. It’s a character-driven thriller of a show, bubbling with mystery and suspense. It’s the best drama of the new season. Period. I give it three stars out of four.

The show was created and written by Shaun Cassidy. Yes, that Shaun Cassidy. Hey, he grew up solving mysteries as one of the Hardy Boys, so I’m betting Invasion continues to enthrall for the duration of the season.

In the last episode, Dave humorously warned his pals to “fight the power.” He may be on to something. There are aliens among us, at least on Invasion. So, beware of falling lights. And be alert if your co-workers start acting more bizarre than usual. If they’ve been invaded, you probably won’t notice right away. After all, there is a good chance they won’t be eating Reese’s Pieces to tip you off.

Catch Invasion at 10 p.m. on Wednesdays on ABC. You can also catch up at http://www.didyouseethelights.com/, by reading Dave’s hilarious blog of what transpired in the Everglades so far.

Originally published 10/5/05 in The Exponent Telegram newspaper.

My Name is Earl, Bones and the Lost premiere

September 28, 2005

So much to talk about, so little space. Such is the plight of the television critic. The good news is that entertaining, scripted television is back. The bad news is that you can’t possibly make time to watch all these fantastic new shows for an entire season.

But don’t worry, Tubers. I’m burning up my DVR sorting through the best and worst for you. I’ll be choosing a couple shows each week to recommend, so you can have a life.

Here are this week’s picks:

My Name is Earl – Four stars. Last season, I gave four stars to only two new shows. One of them, Jack and Bobby, was cancelled. The other one, Lost, became a monstrous hit. (Pun intended.) So, with only a 50 percent success rate, I’m a little hesitant to gush about My Name is Earl. That said, this is the funniest sitcom I’ve seen in four years.

For those of you with no experience in redneck culture, meet Earl Hickey. For those of you with redneck roots, you’ll be nodding your head in recognition, thinking of your neighbors or the guy you see at the convenience store at 10 a.m. buying beer, cigarettes, and a lottery ticket. Be warned: watching Earl can be painful. Your face may actually ache from laughing so much. The best part is that Earl isn’t the typical canned-laughter sitcom inherent to NBC. It’s original and in some ways, sweet.

The theme is karma. Earl won the lottery, got hit by a car, and lost his winning ticket. With talk-show host Carson Daly as his inspiration, Earl sets out to right his past wrongs with the belief that if you do good things, good things will happen to you, and if you do bad things, well, you’d better take cover in a lightening storm.

I’ve seen people like Earl Hickey. It’s sort of inevitable with my redneck roots. So, I can assure you that this sitcom doesn’t come across as mean-spirited ridicule. It’s humorous and self-deprecating, without being demeaning. But most of all, it’s good, plain fun.

Here’s a sample of Earl’s humor, after his estranged, adulterous wife demands half of his lottery winnings: “Yeah, well, I wanted a legitimate baby and a wife who didn’t huff paint on Thanksgiving.”

Enjoy. The show airs at 9 p.m. Tuesdays on NBC.

Bones – Three stars. Loyal Tube Talk readers know I’d pretty much watch David Boreanaz read the phone book. Luckily, this entertaining show gives him much more to do than that.

As the lead actor in this forensic drama, he solves crimes as FBI agent Sealy Booth, while delivering hilarious one-liners with his signature aplomb. He’s teamed with forensic anthropologist Dr. Temperance Brennan (Emily Deschanel) who, of course, bristles at having to work with Booth. She’s more comfortable working with dead people, than the living.

Forensic science is a main player in this drama, too. Brennan and her team of forensic geniuses can actually reconstruct someone’s face in a cool, floating 3-d image with just skull fragments. The gadgets are cool. The ick factor isn’t over the top. And the chemistry between the two main characters is worthy of Scully and Mulder.

So Bones just happens to star one of my celebrity crushes, that’s not why I’m recommending it. The show is good, Tubers. Make no bones about it. Catch it at 8 p.m. on Tuesdays on FOX.

The Lost premiere:
How utterly amazing was the Lost season premiere? So absolutely amazing that I forgive the writers for crafting the entire hour without even so much as a glimpse of Sawyer. I barely missed him among all the Jack/hatch/Others drama.

My new theory is that Desmond somehow saved Sarah, even though the signs indicate he’s been quarantined in that hatch for the last 30 years, listening to The Mamas and the Papas and typing DOS commands on that 1980s computer.

After last week, we know that the characters are even more connected. Shannon’s father died in Jack’s emergency room from a car accident, as Jack worked to save Sarah. I still haven’t figured out the significance of those numbers, but they were cleverly littered throughout out the episode, from the time of death of Mr. Rutherford (8:15 p.m.) to the speed Desmond was riding on his stationary bike. (16 mph.)

With exploding dynamite, a hideous monster, whispering ghosts, and untrustworthy companions, Lost just keeps getting better. Hurley had the best line of the week, as he put the situation in perspective, "Life's not so bad, right? Sure the Others are coming to, like, eat us all, and every once in a while someone blows up all over you, but you do get to sleep in every morning."

If I’m ever stranded on a deserted island, I hope Hurley is there to keep my laughing. Well, and Sawyer, too, of course.

If you missed the premiere, you can catch it tonight at 8 p.m. before the new episode airs at 9 p.m. on ABC.

Originally published 9/28/05 in The Exponent Telegram newspaper.

Emmy recap 2005: Trump sings, Scrubs snubbed and other happenings

September 21, 2005

Donald Trump sang the theme from Green Acres, dressed in bib overhauls and a straw hat. And once again, the closest Scrubs got to winning an Emmy was when star Zach Braff took the stage to present an award. But overall, this year’s Emmys was a move in the right direction.

We saw some new faces collect trophies. And the new competition, Emmy Idol, where actors sing TV show theme songs, was fresh and fun. So Trump can’t carry a tune. Who cares? He gets points for the pitchfork.

The Emmys had some highs and lows. Here’s a rundown of the best and worst:

  • Best line of the night – Doris Roberts of Everybody Loves Raymond got the giggles while presenting an award with her former cast mates. After being chastised by Ray Romano that her joke “wasn’t that funny,” Doris deadpanned, “I’ve been drunk since the wrap party.”
  • Best skit – Jon Stewart’s edgy rant about Hurricane Katrina’s fallout was hilarious. The pre-taped, cleverly edited piece illustrated why Stewart’s Daily Show is deserving of the two Emmys it won. The ending line, “George Bush hates black Sabbath” was priceless.
  • Gone and apparently forgotten – After years of Emmy domination and viewer worship, NYPD Blue didn’t even score a clip in the opening musical montage. Showing even more disrespect, Blue wasn’t even mentioned during the Emmy broadcast. Somewhere, Andy Sipowicz is slamming lockers and punching perps in frustration.
  • Worst snub of the night – David Letterman introduced the memorial tribute to Johnny Carson, instead of Carson’s successor Jay Leno, who was in the audience. Adding insult to injury, Jon Stewart later compared Letterman to Carson. Ouch!
  • Funniest presenters ­– Scrubs star Zach Braff and House star Hugh Laurie were a riot. Laurie began the presentation in his normal voice, a proper British accent, and not the American accent he uses on House. Braff feigned confusion saying he didn’t realize they were doing British accents for their bit. Never one to be upstaged, Braff launched into his own version of a British accent that sounded more like Austin Powers than James Bond. Hilarious.
  • Lost wins best drama – Finally, a great show gets its due. Yes, the story arcs are incredibly complex on this island drama, and literary and theological references complicate things from time to time. But this show is a fun thriller. Perfectly cast and enthralling, Lost deserved to be found by Emmy voters. The added bonus, we got to see Hurley, Sawyer, and Jack in formal wear!
  • Apparently everybody loves Raymond – My apologies to Raymond fans, but I was pretty much praying for any show other than this one or the tired Will and Grace to win best comedy. Sadly, Scrubs was once again snubbed. And the heavily favored Desperate Housewives was overlooked, too. Never underestimate the power of Raymond with Emmy voters.
  • Best speech of the night – S. Epatha Merkerson charmed the audience when she accepted her award for best actress in a miniseries or movie for Lackawanna Blues on HBO. The buxom actress put her acceptance speech in the cleavage of her gown and was horrified as she tried to dig it out in front of millions of viewers. Finally, she gave up, saying it had slipped on down. She played off her embarrassing situation with a sweet speech and then, still in shock, abruptly said “OK, thank you” as the monitor read, “Please wrap up.”
  • Worst speech of the night – Patricia Arquette did the dreaded list of names when she accepted the award for best actress in a drama for Medium. The only thing I hate more than actors rattling off a list of names during an acceptance speech, is when they interject their political views. Reading a list of names is something done during roll call in a classroom, not on an awards show. These people are paid entertainers. Is it too much to ask that their speeches be entertaining?
  • Weirdest moment – Alan Alda of The West Wing exhibited some odd behavior after he lost best supporting actor in a drama to William Shatner of Boston Legal. The camera caught Alda angrily ripping up what appeared to be the program. Was it a joke or outright disappointment at his loss? He was later seen smiling, as Shatner concluded his speech. Very presidential of him, wouldn’t you say?
  • Emmy Idol – This fun competition was a hoot. From The Jeffersons’ theme song to Kristen Bell of Veronica Mars singing Fame, wearing a pair of leg warmers, this skit was a blast. Bell was robbed, however, not only of an Emmy nomination for her work, but she should have taken home the prize in this competition, too. She had the best voice of any of the actors and danced her heart out. And leg warmers never looked so good.
  • Musical sketches – Ever since Rob Lowe danced with Snow White at the Oscars in the late ‘80s, opening musical numbers have been risky business. Earth Wind & Fire and The Black Eyed Peas’ opening number September fell flat, but did give us this gem of a lyric: “Martha Stewart went to jail and got a show. That’s the way entertainment goes.”
    See, there are wackier things than The Donald singing in farm clothes.

For a complete list of Emmy winners, visit the Web site at http://www.emmys.org/

Originally published 9/21/05 in The Exponent Telegram newspaper.

A fall season to get excited about plus Reunion review

September 14, 2005

I haven’t been this excited about a new fall season in, well, never.

Yes, gauchos are back, but I’m talking about TV, people.

The answers to who is at Veronica’s door, what is in that blasted hatch on Lost, and who bought the casino on Las Vegas aren’t far away.

As if that weren’t enough to make me giddy, it seems the sitcom isn’t dead, after all. Some of the most promising new shows of the season are comedies. Perhaps the best news for fall is that only two new reality shows are among the lineup. That’s progress, folks.

Several new shows are premiering this week. Here’s a list of what looks interesting:

My Name is Earl – Imagine winning the lottery, then getting hit by a car and losing your ticket. It’s all about karma for Earl, the redneck who sets out to right his past wrongs. Jason Lee (Chasing Amy and Almost Famous) stars as the unlucky Earl. The show premieres Tuesday at 9 p.m. on NBC.

How I Met Your MotherDoogie Howser returns to TV in this new comedy. The cast alone is reason enough to tune in. Jason Segal (Freaks and Geeks), Alyson Hannigan (Buffy the Vampire Slayer) and everyone's favorite television genius, Neil Patrick Harris (Doogie Howser, M.D.) are the players in this comical, romantic retrospect of how the main character met his wife. The show premieres Monday at 8:30 p.m. on CBS.

Kitchen Confidential – Another Buffy alumnus, Nicholas Brendon (Zander), rounds out the cast of this flirty comedy about the life of a chef. Alias and Jack & Bobby fans will recognize Bradley Cooper as one of the main characters. The show seems to have all the ingredients to make a good recipe for laughter. It premieres Monday at 8:30 p.m. on Fox.

Head Cases – Big-screen star Chris O’Donnell comes to the small screen in this comedy about a hotshot attorney who has a nervous breakdown. He is teamed with eccentric partner Adam Goldberg (Dazed and Confused and Friends.) Richard Kine (Spin City) also stars, as does Krista Allen. Head Cases premieres tonight at 9 p.m. on Fox.

Reunion review:
For those of you stuck in the 1980s (you know who you are), I’ve found a new show for you. Reunion, on FOX, has enough ‘80s fashion-don’ts to make you cringe in embarrassing recognition and enough outstanding ‘80s music to make you want to dig out your old cassette collection and hum a few bars of Simply Irresistible.

Watching this show, you’ll feel like you never left the decade of decadence. The plot centers on a murder mystery involving six high school friends from 1986. As they approach their 20-year reunion, one of the friends is murdered. After watching the debut show, however, we still don't know which of them is the unlucky victim. But it was a great cliffhanger, that’s for sure. Each episode represents one year, a unique concept that promises to take us through a video yearbook of fashion, music and hairstyles.

Reunion had a decent first showing in terms of ratings. The show pulled in 6.6 million viewers. I give it two stars out of four. It’s a bit campy, and the main character reminded me too much of Tom Cruise in Risky Business.

Still, for those who love the ‘80s, check it out. Cue Careless Whisper, put on your old pink polo shirt, and flip up the collar. Reunion is a fun walk down memory lane, if nothing else.

Emmy Awards
Don't forget the 57th annual Primetime Emmy Awards at 8 p.m. Sunday on CBS. If Scrubs doesn't finally get its due and snag the Outstanding Comedy Series award, I may just give up on award shows forever.

Originally published 9/14/05 in The Exponent Telegram newspaper.

DVR goodness and The O.C.

September 7, 2005

To all my friends and family members who’ve I’ve ignored on Wednesday nights, I’m sorry.

Rest assured, I now will be taking phone calls during Lost. And there will be no more hiding, when you ring the doorbell during Veronica Mars.

You see, life, as I know it, has changed. I recently purchased a digital video recorder, more commonly known as a DVR. Or as I like to call it, the smartest machine on planet Earth.

This TiVo-esque little black box, affectionately termed FauxVo, has magical powers. You can actually pause live television for up to two hours, to take a phone call or answer the door, and then pick up where you stopped watching. I know, I always thought the ability to freeze live moments was only a fictitious ability of the Charmed Halliwell witches, too. But, that was before I met my DVR.

You can fast forward through a recorded program with the super speed of Clark Kent. You can record two programs simultaneously, while watching another one live. You can choose name-based recording, and the DVR will find all the episodes of a show, or just the new episodes, and record them, regardless of any changes in program length or broadcast schedule. Take that NBC, the network that commonly lengthens sitcoms an additional 10 minutes to discourage viewers from flipping to another network.

You can search for programs, by actors’ names or by show title or by content information. Want to record every rerun of Friends for the week? Not a problem for the DVR. How about every show featuring Tom Selleck? It’s easy for the DVR.

You can actually watch a 30-minute show in about the same time it takes to microwave a bag of popcorn. OK, so I’m exaggerating somewhat, but you get the idea. It’s fast.

Admittedly, the first few days with my DVR, I had trust issues. I set my VCR as a backup, so I wouldn’t miss Inside 9/11 or the new show Prison Break. But, the DVR didn’t let me down, despite a power outage while I was out of town.

So, call me a geek if you like. I don’t mind. For a small monthly fee, I’ll finally be able to have some peace on Thursday nights, despite the networks’ plans to make me choose between Smallville, Joey and The O.C.

Just so it’s clear, I am not getting kickbacks from Dish Network or any other company to hawk DVRs. Although, if they would like to sign me on as a spokesperson, they can send those checks to Jennifer Biller at Tube Talk.

I am available for personal appearances, even on Wednesday nights now.

The O.C. Returns! - Don’t forget The O.C. returns this week. When last we saw the Orange County gang, Marissa had just shot Trey. OK, so it wasn’t’ exactly a “Who Shot J.R.” cliffhanger, but I’m hoping the pampered princess at least gets community service – or therapy. Will Seth reunite with Summer? Will Sandy pluck his eyebrows? Will Julie Cooper-Nichol return to her wanton ways? (I just love saying that name.) It all happens in – sing it with me – “Cal-I-for-nia” at 8 p.m. Thursday on FOX.

Originally published 9/7/05 in The Exponent Telegram newspaper.

Prison Break and MTV Awards

August 31, 2005

If prison is anything like it’s portrayed on television, then I’m not sure how Martha Stewart made it out alive.

The first new drama of the fall season, Prison Break, debuted Monday, with the show’s leading man getting sent to the hoosegow. The talented Wentworth Miller plays structural engineer Michael Scofield, who gets himself thrown into the pokey, just so he can break out his innocent brother from death row. Scofield’s brother is scheduled for execution for murdering the vice president’s brother.

Prison Break has all of the mandatory ingredients of a prison drama: corrupt guards, squeamish violence, and racial tensions. Why would anyone want to go to a place like that you ask? Well, family loyalty seems to be the answer in this drama.

Scofield undergoes some serious pain to make the sacrifice to free his brother and clear his name. First, our hero goes under the needle for a little body art - make that a lot of body art. (He has more tattoos on his body than a bar full of bikers.) Of course, the tattoos just happen to be a blueprint of the prison. Handy, for the structural engineer who helped design the place, wouldn’t you say?

The premise of this show is unique, unlike anything I’ve seen on television. It gets points for that. The acting is also terrific. Miller shines, as does Dominic Purcell in the role of his incarcerated brother, Lincoln Burrows.

I give it three stars out of four. It made me want to see what happens next. The show is not a wrap-it-up-in-one-week crime drama. It has a long story arc, assuming it survives long enough for the brothers to bust out of prison.

FOX may be getting the jump on the other networks by premiering this show so early in the season. There could be one minor glitch, though. It’s up against powerhouse Monday Night Football.

For those of you who missed the premiere, catch an encore at 8 p.m. on Thursday on FOX. The show’s permanent time slot is 9 p.m. on Mondays.

MTV Video Music Awards - Did you miss the MTV Video Music Awards? If so, here’s a brief rundown of the highlights:

  • Green Day and Kelly Clarkson received well-deserved awards.
  • Desperate housewife Eva Longoria made a bold fashion statement by presenting an award in a skimpy bathing suit.
  • Gangster rappers threatened one another on stage.
  • Show host Sean “Puff Daddy” Combs, is now known as just “Diddy.”
  • And Beavis and Butthead, despite not getting any older or funnier, may be set for a comeback.

Originally published 8/31/05 in The Exponent Telegram newspaper.

Cold Case and crime dramas

August 17, 2005

Being a TV critic often involves solving mysteries. The latest: why is America so fascinated with procedural crime dramas?

I began my investigation by collecting evidence. Last week, four of the five top-rated programs were crime dramas: CSI, Without A Trace, CSI: Miami and NCIS. (Rounding out the top five was Two and a Half Men, which, frankly, is a puzzle that never may be solved.) A look at the 10 highest-rated programs last week, revealed four more crime dramas among the elite: three versions of Law and Order and the absolute best of the bunch, Cold Case.

Apparently, we are a nation obsessed with justice. We want criminals to pay for their crimes. And they do, in primetime. But it’s a little disheartening to the TV-lover in me that eight of the top-10 programs are of one genre.

Seriously, if aliens landed here and watched our most popular shows, they’d be so intimidated, they would never commit a crime. And maybe, therein, lies the attraction of these programs. The good guys usually win, and they do it with panache, earning the respect of audiences everywhere and giving us mere mortals something to believe in.

I’ve watched at least one episode of all the top-rated crime shows. Yep, I’ve tried them all. And while they’re good dramas, the only one that compels me to watch is Cold Case. It’s the standout of the bunch.

The show centers on Lilly Rush, played by the wonderful Kathryn Morris. She is an investigator whose team tackles “cold cases” or crimes that have never been solved. They use modern science and their sleuthing skills to try and give families peace. Sometimes, it opens up old wounds for families and sometimes it leads to new crimes being committed.

The great thing about Cold Case is that it isn’t cold, like some of the other crime shows. Each episode feels more like a movie than a TV show. When the old cases are reopened, the time periods come alive. It plays like a video history of the decades in America, complete with music, fashions, hairstyles, and the slang of the era.

Music lovers, you will appreciate the show on a different level. No matter the year, the music is carefully chosen to reflect the time period and set the mood. A recent Cold Case set in the 1980s was like reliving my childhood all over again. The 1981 Trans Am was a key player. As the case played out, tunes from REO Speedwagon, Foreigner, Styx, Air Supply, and Kim Carnes provided the background music. If you didn’t grow up in the ‘80s, that was as good a feel as you could get. Trust me.

I don’t normally watch procedural crime shows. I prefer character-driven dramas to plot-driven, villain-of-the-week shows. But, if I want to watch a crime drama, Cold Case is my choice.

For those of you who like these types of shows, and even those who don’t, check out Cold Case. Missing this one really would be a crime.

Cold Case airs at 8 p.m. on Sundays on CBS.

Originally published 8/17/05 in The Exponent Telegram newspaper.

Dukes movie: not the Hazzard I used to know

August 10, 2005
by Jennifer Squires Biller

Yee-haw, y’all.

Forgive me. I just saw The Dukes of Hazzard movie, and I’m fondly reminiscing about one of my favorite childhood television shows.

For those of you who’ve never seen the original TV series, I’m begging you to forget what you saw at the movie theater, and check out the reason I enjoyed staying home on Friday nights, during my pathetic junior high years.

CMT is showing the original Duke boys and their legendary shenanigans in Hazzard County every weeknight at 7 p.m. I think you’ll love it as much as Boss Hogg loves white suits, cigars, and carbs. Surprisingly, it’s still funny after all these years.

As for the movie version, it was a disappointment. The film wasn’t true to the spirit of the TV show or the sweet characters. The Uncle Jesse I remember never would have dreamed of smoking the wacky weed with the governor. And movie Bo’s weird obsession with the General Lee was beyond cartoonish, as was Luke’s gigolo ways.

Bo and Luke were rebel heroes. Not idiots. Adding insult to injury, not even one of the original cast members had a cameo in the film. In the long-ago words of Rosco P. Coltrane, someone should “cuff ‘em and stuff ‘em” for that travesty.

Sure, the movie had the trademark Dukes freeze frames and the clever narration. But, without the comforting voice of Waylon Jennings, it rang empty. The TV show was a fun, family program about the “good ol’ boys” and the corrupt, silly government in the deep South. The movie isn’t that.

Since summer has little to offer in good television, unless you like reality shows, I urge you to check out the real Bo, Luke and Daisy on CMT. I’ll bet you’ll still chuckle when Rosco P. Coltrane announces “Good news, good news!” or when Enos makes eyes at Daisy. There’s something alluring about those ridiculous car chases and country bumpkins that makes you feel like a kid again.

Apparently, the rest of the nation can’t get enough of the Dukes either. CMT has been scoring incredible ratings with the repeats. (The network lured 23 million viewers when the show debuted in syndication.) And the movie was number one at the box office last weekend.

For those of you who love the show, check out the Web sites www.cootersplace.com and www.dukesonline.com. These online communities are a haven for Duke lovers. There is even an annual fan festival known as DukesFest. Cast members, the General Lee, and 40,000 people attended this year’s event. (Never underestimate the power of the Internet, the lure of a photo op with Cooter himself, and the commitment of die-hard Dukes fans.)

If you do catch the original series on CMT, be warned: it may take you back to your childhood, when CB radios were cool, and short shorts were the way to go.

This is Bo Peep to the Lost Sheep, over and out.

Originally published 8/10/05 in The Exponent Telegram newspaper.

The frog was fired!

August 3, 2005

Michigan J. Frog was fired.

He croaked his last croak last week as the WB mascot, according to WB executives.

I know, I’m hopping mad, too.

Michigan had been the cartoon mascot of the WB network since its debut in 1995. In the early years of the network, he often popped up in WB commercials, dancing across the screen with his top hat, cane and infectious smile.

Network officials decided to nix the frog as its mascot this year because the frog gave the impression that WB programming wasn’t geared toward adults, according to WB publicity director Natalie Anderson. I spoke to Anderson Monday about the move to kill the adored amphibian.

“We personally don’t hate Michigan,” she said. “We love Michigan, but we felt that he was adding a juvenile element to the network that wasn’t an accurate picture of the network.”

OK, then how do you explain Blue Collar TV?

Michigan had a longer career in television than most, almost 50 years. He made his debut in 1955 in the Looney Tunes cartoon One Froggy Evening. His affection for ragtime music and his rendition of Hello, My Baby made him a popular icon.

The WB may be trying to prove that it’s more than just a teen network by whacking Michigan, but frankly, I don’t think firing a defenseless frog is the answer. I’m in the highly coveted 25-34 age demographic they are working so hard to lure, and honestly, the first time I ever watched the WB in 1997 was because of a commercial featuring that charming frog. He’s much hipper than a peacock mascot (NBC) or an eyeball (CBS,) don’t you think?

Only time will tell if the frog-free WB will attract more adult viewers. Personally, I think it will take more than killing the mascot to get viewers to make the leap to the WB.

Meanwhile, does someone have the number for PETA?

Jack & Bobby DVD news - To those of you who’ve e-mailed me asking about the possible DVD release of Jack & Bobby, I passed on your wishes to Anderson. She said she knew of no plans yet to release it on DVD.

After passing on your comments of disappointment about the cancellation, Anderson had this to say: “It was one of those shows where the numbers weren’t there. The critics loved it, but we couldn’t get people to watch.”

Tell me about it. I tried, too.

As for this fall’s lineup on the WB, I’ll be receiving a tape soon of the pilot for Supernatural, the network’s most promising new show. It’s supposedly the scariest/creepiest thing to ever hit television. Finally, something to challenge The Surreal Life.

Originally published 8/3/05 in The Exponent Telegram newspaper.

Dr. House and Smallville news

July 27, 2005

You can learn a lot of things watching television. My latest lesson: never lie to your doctor.

Dr. Gregory House, the main character of the FOX drama House all but berates his patients into telling the embarrassing truth. Of course, he has good reason. They’re usually lying about the steroids/painkillers/etc. that they’re popping, which are causing their illnesses in the first place.

House doesn’t have a warm and fuzzy bedside manner. In fact, he’s the antithesis of every TV doctor you’ve ever seen. He’s gruff, cantankerous, antisocial, and brutally honest. Those traits make for some awkward, albeit, humorous situations. And don’t be surprised if you get the urge to send your own physician a thank-you note, after watching.

Dr. House’s attitude may need adjusting, but his medical skills are top-notch. And that’s what makes him likeable. He is a brilliant diagnostician. That skill and drive is perhaps rooted in his own medical history. He is crippled in one leg, due to his doctor’s inability to diagnose a medical problem in time.

Each week, House tackles a puzzling medical case. It sounds like a typical ho-hum medical drama, but it isn’t. Hugh Laurie plays the good doctor as a maverick, who maneuvers the clinic corridors with his cane and sharp tongue.

The result is arresting television. If you like solving mysteries and enjoy sarcasm, check out House. Catch it at 9 p.m. Tuesdays on FOX.

Smallville news:
Spike vs. Superman? Not exactly, but close.

James Marsters, a.k.a. Spike of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, will guest star this season on several episodes of Smallville. Marsters takes on the recurring role of Brainiac, one of Superman’s notorious enemies.

I can’t wait to see what Marsters does with this role, considering his Spike put the “ire” in vampire. Clark Kent, may I suggest you call in the Slayer for a little backup?

If Marsters isn’t enough to get you to tune in to Smallville this season, here’s another reason: Luke Duke, a.k.a. Tom Wopat, is heading there, too. Wopat is scheduled to reunite with his former Dukes of Hazzard costar John Schneider on the WB drama. Wopat will play the role of a powerful senator who was a childhood friend to Jonathan.

While I couldn’t be happier about that reunion, it’s this final morsel of Smallville news that is, perhaps, the best of all. My celebrity crush and the former man-of-steel, Dean Cain, will also be guest starring, according to E!Online.

I know. Two Supermen on one screen, it’s enough to make a girl giddy. Smallville returns on Sept. 29, so you’ve got plenty of time to learn to program your VCR. Go.

Originally published 7/27/05 in The Exponent Telegram newspaper.

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