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Smash: will it rise and shine or crash and burn?

7 Feb

I probably shouldn’t admit this but I am not a Glee fan.  Oh I started out liking it well enough.  It was new and fresh for about five or six episodes.  I didn’t actually like the cast’s renditions of songs.  Then it hit me:  I don’t like the show because they are ruining songs I like, or performing songs I already can’t stand.  So I stopped watching Glee.  I’m very touchy about music.   And I wasn’t sure what to make of Smash.  I decided, however, to keep a very open mind when a friend of mine invited me to a private preview screening.  I’m glad I did because after watching the pilot, not only did I enjoy it, I found myself looking forward to the next episode and hoping I would not be disappointed.  And that is a tall order to fill because what tends to happen when I like the pilot is that I end up disliking the series.  Not always, but a lot.

The series, created by veteran TV producer and Pulitzer Prize nominated writer Theresa Rebeck, follows the making of a musical about Marilyn Monroe bound for Broadway.  Debra Messing plays Julia Houston, a powerhouse Broadway writer who should be taking time off to adopt a baby (not sure why she needs another child because they already have one), but gets obsessed with the idea of Marilyn, The Musical.  Her professional partner and composer, Tom Levitt (Christian Borle) hopes to help launch his old friend’s career, Ivy (Megan Hilty), who has never seemed to make it further than the chorus line or in smaller supporting roles.  Trouble ensues when Broadway producer Eileen Rand (Anjelica Houston) joins their ranks and insists on bringing in Tom’s arch rival/nemesis, Derek Wills (Jack Davenport – one of my favorite TV actors from both Coupling and FlashForward).  Personalities clash as Levitt firmly falls in the Ivy camp while Wills fights for newcomer and underdog (who won’t sleep with him – the ultimate turn on for any power player), Karen (Katharine McPhee).  It looks like it will be a battle until at least perhaps… the third or fourth episode?  Maybe it will keep it’s momentum.  And stay a well-done, top notch show.

If you have taken a film history class and remember what you studied, you will know that as a genre, musicals always do well during economic depressions.  Since we are most definitely in an economic depression world wide, Smash should be a continued success.  Until the economy turns around.  And if that is the case, it might be a hit for quite a while.

Smash airs on NBC on Mondays at 10/9 central.

NBC’s Grimm: pilot preview review

18 Oct

I just saw pilots for Once Upon a Time and Locke and Key this weekend.  Now I’ve had a chance to watch the third pilot involving fantasy and fairy talesGrimm.

While both Once Upon a Time and Grimm feature fairy tale characters as real people, the similarities stop there.  In Once Upon a Time the characters don’t realize they are actually fairy tale characters due to a curse and they live normal lives, just not very happily ever after ones.  Furthermore, the entire narrative structure of Once Upon a Time mimics the Lost structure of present time and flashbacks to explain what went wrong in the characters lives.

Grimm is about as far from that as a competing fairy tale television show can get.  The show is a police procedural that features a lead character, Nick Burckhardt (David Giuntoli), a descendant of the Grimms who wrote the fairy tales.  He inherits the ability to spot fairy tale characters, hunt them down and fight them.  The fairy tale characters know exactly who they are and what they are capable of; so, if they are bad, they will most likely fulfill their destiny to be bad with the exception of one big bad wolf, Eddie Monroe (Silas Weir Mitchell), who is reformed and attempts to eschew violence as much as possible.  So far, it is the Eddie Monroe character who makes the show.  He’s just the right combination of menacing wolf and a reformed normal guy.

There is some violence so this probably isn’t a show you want any young kids watching.  It’s not too bad but still the opening of the pilot begins with a sorority girl who gets ripped up by a big bad wolf because she’s jogging in the woods wearing a red hoodie.  The investigation reveals (SPOILER ALERT) there is more than one big bad wolf in the area.  And after Nick finds out from his terminally ill Aunt Marie (Kate Burton) his is a Grimm descendant, he spends a great deal of time in her trailer trying to make sense of all the stuff she’s brought to him:  storybooks, weapons, just about anything one needs in the vanquishment of bad fairy tale characters.

In the pilot, the investigation into first, the murder of the jogger and second, the disappearance of a young girl, again wearing a red hoodie, splits into two investigations with two distinct partners for Nick.  For the regular police work, he works with his partner, Hank (Russell Hornsby), who doesn’t actually notice anything too strange with his partner, only that Nick seems to be going on wild hunches.  For the supernatural fairy tale investigation, Nick solicits Eddie’s help.  It looks like this might be the way the narrative structure will work for the foreseeable future, or, at least for the initial eight episodes.  While on one level this does work, if Hank doesn’t notice strange things are up with his partner in the near future, he is going to look like the densest detective in Portland.

Overall, the story works, and while they investigate the crimes themselves, the show could be any police procedural.  It’s only when the fantasy area bleeds into ‘reality’ that the show becomes more alive.  And the investigation and ‘happy ending’ for the younger red riding hood victim left the show with a feeling of closure with trepidation, just as any fairy tale does.

Grimm premieres on NBC Friday October 28th at 9/8c.

If you want to watch the pilot early like I did, go to this article and follow the directions.  Happy watching!

The Playboy Club: whose bad idea was that?

7 Oct

Dear NBC,

What the hell were you thinking?  If you wanted to compete with Mad Men, then perhaps you should have thought a bit more about subject matter.  I’m not a prude.  Ask any of my friends or family.  I’m not even for censorship on networks.  I think your standards and practices usually screw up television shows.  For the last few years, I will admit, the networks are getting a bit edgier due to competition from cable, but I believe you have hit a sore spot.  And actually, quite insulting spot.  Do you think any female actually wants to actively be reminded of Playboy?  Because the majority of us women don’t.  We think it sucks.  Sure some women don’t mind it.  But I do.  And the reason I do is because it creates unrealistic expectations in men about how women should look and act.  This is no longer the 1960s.  Or even the 1970s.  Women have gone through a lot to get where they are so they can enjoy the privilege of working over 40 hours a week if they are lucky enough to be employed and still, for the majority of women, deal with grocery shopping, most household chores, decision making when it comes to domestic matters and child-rearing if they chose to go that route.  I’m not sure how watching a bunch of women dressing up in bunny costumes getting their asses pinched is supposed to make us feel better and apparently, neither did a lot of the American public (which restores a bit of my faith in it considering…) since The Playboy Club was the first drama you cancelled this season.   Maybe nobody told you because I know a lot of the guys in Hollywood do frequent prostitutes and go to topless bars and love to exploit women and it is like an open secret in the film and television business but it happens all the time.  So, guess what?  Women think that sucks.  And yeah, some of those Hollywood wives turn their heads the other way because they’d rather drive their new Mercedes or have their private dressing rooms at Neiman Marcus, but their economic greed ends up being bad for the rest of us females, who might actually have a bit of integrity when it comes to expectations of the opposite sex.  I don’t give a shit how many biologists and doctors and scientists tell us it’s different for men.  They are visual creatures.  Guess what all you visual creatures with penises… there is this scientific thing called evolution.  We all have to evolve.  Maybe you can evolve to not have to use porn as much and become a bit more human.  This is directed straight to the Hollywood guys who try to justify their behavior and then make it mainstream so the rest of the women in the world have to deal with it.  I, for one, am sick and tired of having to smile and nod my head and say it’s biological.  It’s called being selfish if you are in a relationship and constantly jerking off to porn.  Unless you are so gross your wife would rather have you jerking off to porn and then you might want to rethink your marriage.  Every time you take your penis in your hand and jerk off to porn, you are sending a message to a female who cares about you that they are not good enough and you would rather be with some whore.  So do us all a favor, if you want to do that, then go on and be with them but don’t waste decent women’s time with childish behavior.  And Hollywood men, stop acting like big babies who can get away with everything.   It’s really shameful and your mothers should have taught you better.  Lecture over.  See, this is why networks should not be bringing out misogynist crap.  It pisses me off.  And that was a calm rant.

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