Archive for September, 2008

Ugly Betty Webisodes

Posted in news, TV, Ugly Betty with tags , , on September 30, 2008 by scenescreen

Webisodes are becoming a staple of some of TVs biggest shows, like LOST, Battlestar, and The Office, and now Ugly Betty has joined in on the fun, offering a web exclusive series of shorts following the adventures of BFFs Marc and Mandy.

If you’re a fan of Betty, these shorts are totally worth you’re time. The first had me chuckling, but the second had me straight out cracking up. I think Marc and Manda’s adventures are one of the best aspects of the show, and this is them at their silliest. There’s only 2 up so far, but more are coming every Thursday, though I’m not sure how many there will be total.

So get crackin’ and go watch them and fall a little bit more in love with this quirky show.


Heroes (S03E03): “One of Us, One of Them”

Posted in Heroes, TV with tags , on September 30, 2008 by scenescreen

Grade: B

As if the creators heard my disgruntled cry, “One of Us, One of Them” is almost like the Heroes of old, full of many of the elements that work best for the show, and is surprisingly entertaining television. The spectacle that was the premiere launched too much mellow drama and too many cheap plot twists at the audience, but episode three is tamer and more focused. And save for a few seconds of voiceover, Mohinder and his bleeding eyes babe are thankfully nowhere to be found.

The stories I had the most problems with before–Mohinder in general, Nathan and his sudden religious turn, and Sylar and Future Peter being grossly overpowered–are either not focused on this week or changed up to try and resolve the issue. While Mohinder, Nathan and Peter are mostly ignored, Sylar’s quest takes an interesting turn. The cheesy and unecessary “I am your mother” twist aside, the scope of Ms. Petrelli’s schemes are unfurled more, and part of her larger, yet unknown plan involves nurturing Sylar, making him do her bidding and become the partner of a reluctant Noah Bennet. Sylar works best when he’s not pure evil, but struggling with his inner demons and revealing the complexities that make him who he is. He was back to being his relentless, evil self before, but this new development has him questioning things again. He still has a buffet of super powers at his disposal, but he feels less powerful and more interesting because of it. His new partnership with HRG is fantastic, even if we all know they have no real loyalty to one another, but I’m still not even close to sold on Sylar being the darling baby boy of Angela.

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Catching Up: True Blood (S01E01-04)

Posted in Catching Up, True Blood, TV with tags , , , , on September 30, 2008 by scenescreen

Grade: B+

Before I’d even seen a second of it, True Blood was high on my hype list for the sole reason that Alan Ball was set to work his magic on the adaptation of the southern vampire series of novels by Charlaine Harris. Ball, for anyone unfortunate enough not to know, was behind one of my all-time favorite shows, Six Feet Under, and so I knew True Blood couldn’t be just any vampire tale, but something special. Then along came the first episode and things were looking iffy. The second and I was starting to worry a little. But four episodes in now, my fears are waning and I’m finally seeing the potential for a truly great show to emerge. Thank God, Alan Ball hasn’t failed us yet.

I sat on the fence as to whether I would review this show or not, and my lukewarm reception to the first few episodes may have killed some of my drive. This review here is pretty much my impressions on the first three episodes (even though the pictures above are all from the third), so if you don’t want to be spoiled for any of what happens in the first few hours, run away now.

A little summary first. True Blood is the story of small town waitress Sookie Stackhouse (Anna Paquin) who has the ability to read minds, which has proven more of a burden to her than a gift. Vampires exist in her world and they have recently come out of the closet per say, revealing their existence to the world, and people are now having sex with vampires, killing vampires to sell their blood (a sort of illicit mind and libido altering drug for humans), and debating vampires on the evening news. One of these Vampires named Bill Compton (Stephen Moyer) strolls into Sookie’s life one night and the realization that she cannot read his thoughts draws them together and into the beginning of a complex and bizarre journey. Sookie’s sex-crazed brother and possible murderer Jason Stackhouse (Ryan Kwanton), her best friend Tara (Rutina Wesley) who is never one to censor her thoughts, and her charming boss Sam Merlott (Sam Trammell), who’s had a crush on Sookie forever, are among a few of the characters that help give this show its quirky charm, if you can call anything about this messed up world charming.

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Grey’s Anatomy (S05E01) “Dream A Little Dream Of Me”

Posted in Grey's Anatomy, TV with tags , on September 27, 2008 by scenescreen

Grade: C

Last year’s season finale of Grey’s Anatomy was a good bookend to a bad season, and while I had some hope for this show’s 2 hour return to TV, I felt very little excitement over it. Grey’s hooked me early on and steadily lost me more and more as it aged, to the point that I held very few expectations and was just glad when the show delivered. After watching tonight’s premiere, I must admit I’m a little embarrassed to admit I like Grey’s Anatomy, and it has very little to do with me being a guy and a lot to do with what this program has become–a medical soap odyssey populated by the most self-centered, immature bunch of fake people ever to walk the halls of a fake earth, which I am thankful does not exist.

Is the premiere a total disaster? That big hint at my overall impression aside, no it’s not, but it’s a bigger wreck than the multiple limousine accidents that the story revolved around. As with most episodes, there are scattered moments of very good things happening, and it’s all a matter of what they add up to. So does the good mixed with the bad equal out to a satisfying product? Let’s take a look.

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The Office (S05E01): “Weight Loss”

Posted in The Office, TV with tags , , , on September 26, 2008 by scenescreen

Grade: A

I could be away from my own place of work for many more months than The Office has been on hiatus and not miss it half as much as I missed the fictional faces of Dunder Mifflin. Who knew I could miss Dwight and his antics so much, like replacing the junk food in a vending machine with fresh fruit and veggies, or Jim and Pam’s toothache sweet romance that America is just as invested in as the lovers themselves. And of course there’s Michael and his many moments of awkwardness, toned down just a notch by the presence of the new HR, Holly. “Weight Loss” succeeds in finding shining moments for not only these characters, but the rest of the office gang as well, and nearly everyone gets a moment to make you remember why you love them or give you a new reason to.

The season premiere, “Weight Loss”, spends a little time focusing on newly added elements, but devotes the majority to the dynamics proven successful already. Pam relinquishes her job as secretary in order to go to school in New York, but her presence is still felt enough that the change doesn’t seem drastic. Instead, it changes thing up enough to keep the happily ever after delayed, adding the factor of a long distance relationship between her and Jim, but still gives us every reason to believe they are destined to be together. Holly’s addition to the cast might have you asking “Toby who?” after this episode, as she brings a fun new energy and makes a wonderful compliment for Michael, whose dorkdom is rivaled by the cheery blonde’s own. Amy Ryan takes this episode, makes it hers and makes us love her along the way. I said every character has their moment, but Holly is lurking around the corner of every scene and popping in to make the good even better. These are roughly the extent of the shakeups around The Office, though, and everything else is like the familiar smell of clean laundry and a big sigh of contentment.

The hour long format hasn’t always worked so well for The Office, with many feeling that the many extended episodes of the fourth season were its weakest to date, but the fourth season proves that this show can take an hour and knock it out of the park. While most of the past hours felt like two distinctly separate episodes smushed together (for the purpose of syndication, I’m sure), this felt very much like one continuous story. Since the episode takes place over 8 weeks, as the entire staff is challenged to collectively lose as much weight as possible by corporate, for once the lengthened episode really works in every way. Unlike the majority of episodes from last season, this story really needed an hour to stretch out and breathe deeply.

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Ugly Betty (S03E01): “The Manhattan Project”

Posted in TV, Ugly Betty with tags , , on September 26, 2008 by scenescreen

Grade: A-

Betty’s back after a summer full of off screen drama, sparked by the news that the show was obliterating its New York City sets in favor of the real deal, but it seems clear after the season premiere that Ugly Betty’s move to the Big Apple has infused this show with an extra dose of magic. Seeing scenes play out against the 100% real backdrop of Gotham is something no set, no matter how elaborate, can mimic, and its effect on these scenes has to be seen to be felt. Though the story continues on, such a big move in the show’s production has inspired a fresh start for the characters and their crazy storylines. For anyone that didn’t “Jump” for joy at the end of last season, I urge you to ogle Ugly Betty once more, and I think you’ll find yourself falling victim to its many charms.

That charm I speak of is a multi-layered thing on Betty, manifesting itself sometimes in the more tender moments, where characters seem like real people and their struggles are genuine and touching, and other times in the outlandish moments, where characters are caricatures and exist in a far fetched world created for our comedic benefit. It’s the Telenovela, but with the finesse of American comedy and drama. And in this episode, every character is charming, even the dastardly Wilhelmina. Henry and his baby mamma and Gio are out of the picture, and their absence is not felt in the slightest. Something about some of those characters began to interfere with the charm of this show. They all began well, but by the end of last season I had pulled a harsh 180 in regards to my feelings on Henry+Betty 4Ever. So the break in Betty’s boy drama was nice, even if its not a matter of if but when it will start back up again.

Miss Title Character, Betty, is wonderfully bumbling and fun to watch as usual, but the entire ensemble of this show continues to inch further into the spotlight. Wilhelmina (Vanessa Williams) grows more deliciously evil by the episode, Marc and Mandy’s antics are always amusing, and Daniel and his more-than-dysfunctional family are a train wreck that’s hard to grow tired of. But the character that’s grown most during this show’s evolution is Betty’s sassy sister, Hilda, played by Ana Ortiz. Her moments tend to swing from one end of this show’s spectrum to the other, allowing her to deliver some of the most touching scenes as well as some of the funniest. Her comic timing is perfect, as is her ability to tug on the old heartstrings, and she’s pulled herself up by those manicured nails of hers from being a minor side character into a position of being one of the best, whose scenes I look forward to most.

As I said before, the story for this episode is all about fresh starts. Betty wants more independence and to discover herself, Hilda begins taking steps away from Santos, Ignacio inches into realms outside of his family, Daniel takes on the new role of being a dad, and everyone else seems to be moving in new directions themselves. Yet with all this new, there’s still so much familiar. It’s as though the writer’s strike and the move allowed the staff of Betty to do some extended spring cleaning, sweeping out the dirt behind the refrigerator and cleaning up the embarrassing roach feces, and they’ve returned with a cleaned up, better focused show. Last season was good, it really was, but there were certain elements that, if dragged over into this season, could have eventually really gotten Betty off track. So by scrubbing these things out with bleach and Brillo pads early on, everything is shiny and I’m happy.

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Chuck (S02E01): “Chuck Versus the First Date”

Posted in Chuck, TV with tags , , on September 25, 2008 by scenescreen

Grade: A

I casually caught a few episodes from Chuck’s shortened first season and enoyed what I saw, but after hearing internet rumblings that the new season was amazing, even being compared to my favorite current show Pushing Daisies, I had to give it a look for myself. And the buzz was right, because Chuck’s season premiere is what all those comic spy movies wish they could be.

If, like me, you weren’t a religious follower of the show thus far, don’t worry. The recap near the beginning was more than enough to set me straight with who was who and what was going on, and after that brief recap the series glides into a new arc, that seemingly sets the stage for some big changes to come.

Zachary Levi is that kind of guy that’s a little geeky, but can easily get any hot chick he wants, and I sort of envy, admire, and hate him for that at the same time. If I were to list my TV man crushes (and there is no shame in having a couple of ’em), I’d say he might be number two on the list, right after Lee Pace. Not all shows these days have great lead characters, and often times I find myself drawn more to the supporting cast, but Chuck is the name of this show for good reason, because Levi delivers in every scene. Also, his faux/real flame, CIA agent Sarah Walker, played by the beautiful, but hard to pronounce Yvonne Strahovski, makes for nice eye candy throughout, whether she’s filling up your screen wearing only bra and panties or scissor kicking the crap out of evil villains. And the rest of the cast is charming as well, though I can only stand so much of Chuck’s long time pal and co-worker, Morgan.

The story for season wastes very little time kicking off the parking break after a writer’s strike induced hiatus, and details of the episode can be found below.

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