FOX's well-meaning, aggressively up-beat new comedy will impress many, exhaust some
The new FOX musical-comedy "Glee," getting a special one-night airing after "American Idol" on Tuesday (May 19) and then returning to the shelf until the fall, is a show that's all about definition. Most high school shows inevitably tend to be. They're about how characters define themselves and how they're defined by a dense caste system of students, teachers and administrators.
"By its very definition, glee is about opening yourself up to joy," the show informs us. The title refers to both the moribund, but once-great, glee club at McKinley High, but also to a certain state of delight, pleasure or euphoria. The word "glee" isn't passive or or casual. It doesn't just mean casual happiness or satiety. It isn't about general wellness, a meek grin or relaxed enjoyment. It's irrational exuberance, a toothy rictus smile, a shout to the rafters.
In that sense, FOX's "Glee" is appropriately titled. It's like being taken down a dark alley and mugged by positive feelings and hopes and dreams. It's a relentless storm-attack of pep and energy. And for more than a few viewers, the sensation will prove utterly irresistible, which is why I don't hesitate to recommend the show. That recommendation comes with the not-so-tiny caveat that personally, I felt beaten into submission by "Glee" and was left wearied rather than entertained.
[Full review after the break...]
Plus, when did FOX become the Hallucinatory Sex Network?
The water cooler buzz on Friday (May 15) morning was all about the "Grey's Anatomy" finale, unless you happen to be in a workplace where people were more interested in talking about why the Lakers and Celtics are suddenly incapable of putting forth any effort in consecutive games.
I've already done my 2000 words of due diligence on the "Grey's Anatomy" finale, voided myself of both shock and awe.
Sure. Let's talk about those...
Click through after the bump for spoilers in the order of "Bones," "The Office" and "30 Rock" (just in case you feel like reading piecemeal)...
Izzie, George, Meredith, Alex and the Seattle Grace gang faced high drama on Thursday (May 14)
There were a lot of finales on Thursday (May 14) night, including "Parks & Recreation," "The Office," "30 Rock" and "Bones." I'll try to get to those tomorrow morning. I probably won't get to "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation," "CSI: NY" or "My Name Is Earl," because there was just too much on and choices had to be made.
But the only Thursday finale that seems to require instant, immediate reaction comes courtesy of ABC's "Grey's Anatomy," which either dropped the boom on one of the most shocking season-enders in recent TV history or else set the show up for an insanely frustrating and convoluted series premiere next fall.
[Discussion of the "Grey's Anatomy" finale, with TOTAL spoilers, after the break...]
Season-enders included hallucinations, Slankets and a serial killer
I spent much of my Monday (May 11) evening interviewing the chipper young cast of FOX's "Glee" at the show's outdoor premiere at Santa Monica High School's amphitheater, a spirited event that convinced me that among a very restrictive demographic of teenagers, publicists and female reporters, "Glee" is going to be massively popular.
Those interviews and my own review of "Glee" -- Hint: I am not a teenager, a publicist or a female journalist -- will be up early next week to coincide with FOX's unconventional premiere for the show.
Anyway, because of the "Glee" premiere, I had to power-load on Monday season finales, a task that took well into Monday morning and didn't even include the fifth season finale of "Little People, Big World." Maybe tomorrow?
From Izzie and House to Agent Dunham and Agent Booth, hallucinating is all the rage this May
As I understand it, the rule has always been that one time is a happening, two times is a coincidence, three times is a trend.
Last week, by my very unscientific count, at least five characters on shows that I watch regularly found themselves hallucinating, with four of them having conversations with said hallucinations.
That goes beyond a trend into a full-blown outbreak, TV's spring equivalent of the swine flu...
The busy 'Veronica Mars' veteran proves there's more than one way to play unsavory
He may, in fact, be the industry's most prolific depicter of the species.
Best known as the lovably hatable, rarely redeemable Dick Casablancas on "Veronica Mars," Hansen is having a season to remember.
The 27-year-old actor began his spring with a turn in "Friday the 13th." Not to spoil anything, but characters like the sort Hansen specializes in rarely last long in slasher movies.
Hansen has a lower mortality rate on the small screen, where he actually seems to be multiplying. He can currently be seen on TheWB.com's Josh Schwartz-created "Rockville CA" playing Chambers, a musician and spoiled gadfly so unseemly his actual name has been replaced with the sobriquet The Douche. Simultaneously, he's co-staring as aspiring actor, relentless networker and occasional douche Kyle on Starz' "Party Down," one of the year's best new comedies.
Friday (May 8) is the season's third-to-last episode of "Party Down," while "Rockville CA" completes its first season next Tuesday. As if that isn't enough, Hansen appears on Monday's "Gossip Girl," which serves as a backdoor pilot for a possible spinoff series. We know very little about his character, but you get know points for guessing that the guy may possibly have douche-y tendencies.
With all of that on his plate, Hansen and I had plenty to talk about...
[Extended Q&A, covering "Rockville CA," "Party Down," "Gossip Girl" and various gradations of douchiness after the break...]
ABC's medical comedy shouldn't become the Brett Favre of TV
Sports legends don't all get to go out like John Elway or Jerome Bettis, walking off the field after a Super Bowl win, or like Ted Williams, homering in his final at-bat to cap off a season in which he hit .316. More go out like Steve Carlton, released by the Twins with an ERA over 16, or Willie Mays, hitting .211 for the Mets.
Or you could be like Brett Favre, retiring and threatening to retire so many times that the only way your long-time team knows how to handle you is to send you packing. And you go from the Packers to the Jets and you have some great moments, especially since we assume it's just a one-season hurrah anyway. And then you retire and everybody writes the latest in an ever-evolving series of career obituaries only for rumors to circulate that you're thinking of coming back again, this time on the Minnesota Vikings...
There's a limit to the number of times even the most passionate Favre defender can welcome him back and rave about his childlike enthusiasm for the game. Isn't there?
[Thoughts on Wednesday (May 6) night's "Scrubs" finale and the show's future after the break...]
One of TV's best comedies had its finale on Tuesday. Did anybody notice?
If you're a TV showrunner, in an ideal world, you see your season (or series) finale coming from far enough away that you can can plot out some fun stuff to make viewers early await your return. You plan a wedding or a pregnancy. You can leave your main character trapped in a car at the bottom of a freezing lake or trapped in a penthouse at the top of a burning building. You can bring in Jeffster to perform "Mr. Roboto."
Other times, alas, you see your episode order tightened abruptly and you're left with a finale that's just another episode and your network runs an ad campaign that comes dangerously close to saying, "Have you watched this critically adored series? Well, this could be pretty much your last chance."
It's sadly appropriately that "Better Off Ted," a razor-sharp comedy about retaining individuality in an uncaring corporate environment, ended up in the second boat, wrapping up its first season on Tuesday (May 5), not that most viewers probably noticed.
[Some quick thoughts on the finale and the show's future after the break...]
Will 'Terminator,' 'Fringe,' 'Privileged' or 'Dollhouse' be back? We offer our guesses...
It's a pretty exciting time to be a pop culture enthusiast. "Wolverine" marks the semi-official start of the Summer Movie Season and just because it stinks doesn't mean that it isn't a harbinger of high-budget popcorn flicks to come. It's May Sweeps and TV shows are pumping out finales and stunt episodes galore. It's also NBA and NHL playoff season, if you happen to agree with me that sports and pop culture are intermingled in this media culture.
But if you're a true television fan, you know that the most important event running through May is Upfront Season, decision time for network television hopefuls, including both the shows currently on the bubble, but also countless pilots that have been stimulating Los Angeles' economy for weeks now.
[More after the break...]
Nine years after the first 'X-Men' movie, how can Wolverine's metallic claws look so bad?
"X-Men Origins: Wolverine," which hits theaters on Friday (May 1), is the sort of movie that's likely to prompt heated debates. Unfortunately, they aren't the sort of debates 20th Century Fox is really hoping for.
When it comes to squandering the good faith left by Bryan Singer's first two "X-Men" movies, is "Wolverine" better or worse than Brett Ratner's mindless-and-souless "X-Men: The Last Stand"?
When it comes to unnecessary spinoffs of characters from comic book movies, is "Wolverine" better or worse than, say, "Elektra" or "Catwoman"?
When these are the questions you're scratching in your notebook, there's a tendency to willingly damn with faint praise.
[Review after the break...]