Jess’s Summer TV

27 05 2010

I always think that summer TV will be lame, but then when I actually sit down and put my schedule together, it’s not bad! I’m really excited for what’s coming up. This will be MY schedule; if you want to see a full schedule, the one located here is pretty detailed.

The shows I plan to watch, ordered by premiere date:
The Bachelorette
ABC (May 24-Aug. 6). Mondays, 8 PM.

True Blood
HBO. Sundays, 9 PM. Season 3 begins June 13th.

Wipeout
ABC. Tuesdays, 8 PM. Season 3 begins June 22nd.

Futurama
Comedy Central. Thursdays, 9 PM. All-new episodes begin on June 24th.

Big Brother
CBS. The new schedule is set for Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays, with the premiere on Thursday, July 8th. Word on the street is that since the days have shifted, eliminations will take place on Thursday, nominations on Sunday, and the Power of Veto ceremony on Wednesday.

Weeds
Showtime. Mondays, 10 PM. Season 6 begins August 16th.

And I might watch The Real L Word, which starts on Showtime on June 20th. It’s a reality TV spin-off of the popular series about a group of GLBT friends in LA, which ended last year.

I would love to watch Mad Men but I’ve only seen the first three episodes of Season 1 so far. But if you’re interested, it’s back on AMC on July 25.





American Idol: I Was Wrong

26 05 2010

You can tell I didn’t watch most of this season of Idol based on my earlier prediction that Crystal Bowersox would go home last week. Last night, she blew me away. I started watching convinced that Lee would walk away the winner, but it’s a real toss-up for me now. Crystal was better than him last night—she had real confidence and she’s not afraid to be herself (proven by that awesome little “I’m beside Ryan Seacrest” joke—didja catch that?), and I love that about her. Lee did good, but not great. He seemed nervous and, to steal a word from Randy Jackson, “pitchy.” Crystal’s “Up to the Mountain” completely overpowered Lee’s “Beautiful Day.” (And I have to admit, although it may have been a cry for votes, Crystal’s send-off to Simon was touching.) If I voted, I’d have voted for Crystal last night. When it comes down to it, though, both their voices are amazing and I’d be happy with either one winning.

It hasn’t always been like that. I was devastated when Bo Bice lost in Season 4, even though I liked and continue to like Carrie Underwood. It was after his loss that I stopped voting—I put in a ton of text votes and called in a few times that night, and when he didn’t win I gave up on voting against the waves of teenyboppers who control the outcome of this show. I disliked Kris Allen last season—I still find him really, really, really boring and would have preferred to see Adam Lambert win the prize. I was rooting for Katharine McPhee over Taylor Hicks because again, the dude’s boring. But I like both Crystal and Lee a lot, so I know I can’t be disappointed tonight.

That said, we’ll know soon! Can’t wait—it’s bound to be a good show, and the last time cantankerous judge Simon Cowell will be on American Idol. Tune in tonight for Fox’s 2-hour Grand Finale, starting at 8 PM.





Lost Series Finale: Live Together, Die Together.

24 05 2010

Finale season has been a doozy this year! And tonight, we also have to bid Jack Bauer farewell, but that’s a topic for another post.

This morning, all the buzz is about Lost.

First, some background: I watched the first season and half of the second season on TV, then I moved away to college and dorm life interfered. I picked Lost up again in summer 2008 and blazed through seasons 2, 3, 4, and enough of season 5 to get caught up with the season airing on TV in March of 2009. I saw the rest of the show on TV as it aired, ending—as we all know—in an epic showing last night. Because of the inconsistent nature of my viewing, the middle seasons kind of blended together and I relied heavily on my roommate to explain certain things for me this season. It all came together and I feel like it makes sense now, but I would like to go back and re-watch the whole show at some point.

There’s been a lot of moaning and groaning this morning about the finale, and we all knew that it wouldn’t satisfy everyone—what ever does? I myself had some issues with what I originally perceived to be “too religious” a message for the end, but the stained glass window in the church helped me to get over that: It had symbols for all religions, and the show is more about the characters’ personal journeys and their individual quests for redemption than about sending a religious message. It all makes sense to me, too—I like that life on the Island was real and what we have lovingly dubbed “Alternate Dimension Land” (that is, the Flash-Sideways reality—hereafter referred to as “ADL”) was a sort of holding area so that the castaways could meet after “letting go” (the show’s central message) and before moving on. Time is not fixed in ADL, so the occasional feeling I got regarding events happening out of order makes sense. Also, I’m perfectly satisfied with Christian’s explanation to Jack: “We all die. Some went before you, some after.” We see that the Ajira flight makes it, because it flies over Jack’s head as he is dying with Vincent beside him, and we know that Hurley and Ben go on to protect the Island. So, even though these people all died at different times and therefore will show up in ADL at different times, the non-fixed time made this acceptable for me. The show ended with Jack because this was Jack’s story, but it doesn’t mean that the story ended with Jack.

There are still questions, sure. How can the Island move and how is it connected to the Tunisian desert? Where did Hurley’s numbers come from? How did the woman who “adopted” Jacob and the Man in Black come to be on the Island, and where does her power originate? What would have happened if the MIB/Smoke Monster/Un-Locke had been able to leave—nothing? Or would evil have escaped into the world? Would it have even mattered since the world is full of evil anyway? What’s up with the four-toed statue? Why do pregnancies fail on the Island? How did Desmond get to be so damn special? How did Jacob leave the Island to visit the future castaways and touch them? What happened to the Ajira crew and Hurley/Ben between Jack’s death and the resolution/redemption in ADL? These and other Island-centric questions were all ones I was hoping to have answered, but honestly, I’m happy to sit back and draw my own conclusions (or read message boards and let other people make suggestions for me). What it comes down to is that the producers likely didn’t have all the answers themselves, so they gave us this somewhat-predicable but ultimately satisfying ending that addresses the personal journeys more than the Island mysteries. And that’s okay. A lot of the Island-centric stuff was explained if you know where to look, or can be explained if you just think a little. And watching the whole show again will certainly clarify things some more.

I believe the Island and its power is meant to represent the “soul” of the world. Hurley was the best choice for the Island’s ultimate protector—he was the heart of this whole operation, after all. I also am fine with the concept of letting go of your flaws and your mistakes and taking the Island’s lessons and moving on. The Island chose these people because they all needed healing, and their castaway comrades helped them find it. Poor Michael and Walt, though—too bad Malcolm David Kelley (Walt) had to grow up and therefore wasn’t able to mesh into the time-stands-still idea for ADL, and his specialness was never really addressed. I think those two deserved redemption along with the rest. But it makes sense to me that Ben (and Ana Lucia?) was not ready to move on yet.

I guess I believe that Juliet setting off the hydrogen bomb worked to set up ADL (although the blast could also have nothing to do with it), where everyone could gather, but those not killed in the blast continued living their lives (on or off the Island) and eventually died and met up with their deceased comrades. And even the explosion makes sense, because they needed that to happen to both resolve the time travel plot (that is, set the Island straight) and stop the Dharma Initiative from releasing the energy that would have destroyed the Island. Somehow, even though I’m not a religious or even a very spiritual person and even though I would have enjoyed having more science fiction/fantasy elements in the finale, it all worked out for me.

I never expected all of my questions to be answered. I’ve enjoyed the Lost roller coaster for the past six years, and the characters all ended up happy, together, healed, and enlightened. Even if they’re dead, who am I to complain? I thought that they all may be dead about a billion times over the course of the show, so why not?

My major complaint was the Jimmy Kimmel Live episode at midnight! Seriously, why string us along with the promise of alternate endings if you’re just going to give us parodies? (Though I do love me some Jeff Probst.) It got me to watch Kimmel’s show for the first time ever, but I certainly won’t be tuning in again. Although, Kimmel’s chat with Matthew Fox (Jack) was excellent, and it was nice to see the cast members (anyone else think at least a few of them—Naveen Andrews [Sayid], Emilie de Ravin [Claire]—looked… kinda drunk?).

Lost: The Final Season was a winner in my book, along with the show as a whole. I don’t know when we’ll have an epic adventure like this again, and I’m eagerly anticipating having some time to re-watch the entire show at some point in the near future.

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American Idol: Drawing Me in Again

19 05 2010

I started losing interest in American Idol when Katie Stevens left, and the show lost me entirely when America sent Siobhan Magnus packing. (So what if she’s the second coming of Adam Lambert? The girl could really sing.)

Let’s face it: “Pants on the Ground” just couldn’t be topped.


Seriously? Seriously awesome.

But I also haven’t cast a vote since all of my votes for Bo Bice did not pan out in the season 4 finale (though I do like Carrie Underwood, really, I do), and I’m a proponent of the “if you don’t vote, you can’t complain” camp. So instead of complaining, I quit watching with the knowledge that my opinion and America’s opinion are often at odds.

But last night, when my roommate and I were waiting for Lost to start, we put on Idol for a few minutes. And that Lee DeWyze, man–he won me over with “Hallelujah.” Not only is the song amazing, but he did something pretty unique with it. And even if it’s not unique, as this article suggests, it’s still really, really great.

See for yourself:

And that’s why I’m going to watch American Idol next week. I might even try my hand at live blogging. I wouldn’t expect Idol to have a permanent place in this blog unless next season really blows my socks off (because really, this one was generally boring—but the Final Three all have excellent pipes, and I’m now excited to see how it turns out), but I’ll pop back in every once in awhile.

My prediction for tonight is that Crystal Bowersox will go home, because the voting populace is made up primarily of teenybopper girls, but I have not seen enough of this season to predict fairly, and females often make it far.

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Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains, Season Recap

18 05 2010

Survivor is my longest-running TV obsession. I have not missed an episode since season two (that’s nine and a half years, folks) and I own three seasons on DVD. I basically got my DVR because I had class on Thursday nights this past semester.

The word came down just after 10 PM on Sunday night: Sandra Diaz-Twine is the first-ever two-time winner of Survivor (she also won the “Pearl Islands” season). The reality TV show’s 20th season was an incredible all-star showdown between game’s greatest Heroes and Villains, and Sandra was an underdog the whole time. But fans of the show know that her under-the-radar gameplay and “lippy” attitude can be virtues in a game where bold moves can make or break a person in an instant—and indeed, they’ve gotten her to the end. Twice.

Should she have won? The simple answer is yes, because she did, and that’s how the game works—“shoulda, woulda, coulda” aside. Sandra played a good game and fought to survive when her original alliance fell apart around her, and she did it while 1) trying to help the Heroes, who were picked off one-by-one due to their own stupidity, and 2) being more honest than runner-ups Russell Hantz and Parvati Shallow. For these reasons, yes, I believe Sandra deserved to win. Despite two-time loser Russell’s assertion that America should have a say in the final vote, I agree with host Jeff Probst that such an approach is not Survivor, and if Russell wants to win, he should play a different game—one that’s designed to give America a say. (Can you imagine him on American Idol? Man, that’d be the day.)

Not that America has great taste. Russell won the $100,000 “Sprint Player of the Season” award twice—which is a prize that America does get to vote for—yet the man is nothing but a liar, a despicable little troll who would swear on his children’s lives and then go back on his word. Survivor‘s motto is “Outwit, Outplay, Outlast,” and while Russell has the first two down (he can Outwit through manipulation and fear, and Outplay via his performance in challenges), he has not yet mastered Outlasting, which involves playing the kind of social game that gets the jury to give you the money at the end. Russell backstabs and lies with no remorse, yet seems to expect that fellow castaways will overlook this when it comes down to the final Tribal Council. Some fans criticize the jury for basing votes on emotions rather than gameplay, but I would assert that their choice was a combination of both and that they made the right decision. While many people claim that Russell is the best Survivor ever, true fans know that a person does not get to be the best at this game if he cannot master the social aspect and convince the people that he voted out to give him the prize at the end.

Parvati Shallow, this season’s runner-up and also a former winner, seems generally favored over Sandra. Parv played a great game this season: smart, strong in challenges, tight-lipped, and likable. I did not like Parvati in her previous two appearances on Survivor, but I adored her this time around. Overall, she played a game equal to or better than Sandra’s, and the fact that she was only two votes short of the final prize (Russell received zero votes at the final Tribal Council) proves this. She won Immunity for herself and also gave it away to others, and she made all the right moves except one: aligning herself too tightly with Russell. The jury’s negative opinion of him rubbed off on her. If she had made a greater effort to separate herself from Russell and prove that she was not riding his coattails the whole time—which we in the audience saw, but the jury likely did not—during the final Tribal Council, Parv could have easily been crowned in Sandra’s place. But with three seasons, one win, and a record 114 total days played, Parv is my Survivor Queen.

This title once belonged to Amanda—she was Survivor love at first sight for me. Strong, smart Amanda, with those doe-eyes and flirtations with the super-sexy Ozzy in Micronesia, was hands-down my favorite player (followed by Rupert and Boston Rob) when this season began. But Amanda lacks the cutthroat nature needed to survive and win; she gives in when she should not, and does not stick up for herself when she should.

Rupert was another surprise. I loved him on his previous seasons, but it seems like fame and popularity have gone to his head. Ol’ Rupe was egotistical and could not seem to either think ahead or convince others that he was right when he did try to think ahead. But he really shined when he was fighting for his life toward the end; he almost beat Parvati in a couple of Immunity Challenges, and doing so likely would have saved him. And all with two broken toes!

What happened to the Heroes? They could have had a much better game overall if JT had not given Russell his Hidden Immunity Idol, if Candice had not flipped over to the Villains after the merge, if Amanda had not given up the clue to the Hidden Immunity Idol during the catfight with Danielle, if Colby had stuck up for his team more and played a better strategic and physical game, and if Rupert could have convinced his tribe to listen to Sandra when she approached him about Russell. And man, if they had just teamed up with Sandra and/or the other Villain Girls to oust Russell, I would have been a much happier viewer. Though I was cheering the Heroes on the entire time, it’s clear that they were simply not as smart with strategy as the Villains. Colby only made it to the final five because he was not seen as a threat.

It’s become clear to me, though, that it made perfect sense to keep Russell around toward the end. He did not receive any votes at the final Tribal Council, and the other players could have speculated that taking him to the end would be worth it because no one would vote for him. If that was their thinking, they were right.

And now all we have to do is wait until Fall 2010 for the newest installment. The show’s 21st season will take place in Nicaragua, and we’ll get a new set of players to love and loathe. I’m sad to bid Survivor farewell for the summer, but I know it’ll soon be replaced by my favorite hot-weather reality show: Big Brother, set to premiere on Thursday, July 8th, on CBS.

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Welcome!

18 05 2010

I love TV. My roommate marvels at how much tube-time I’m able to cram in on top of being a full-time student, full-time proofreader, and aspiring novelist. I have cable, On Demand, DVR, and Netflix—with both an Xbox 360 and Wii for streaming. And gaming. But mostly streaming.

I’ve been meaning to start a dedicated TV blog for a long time, as I believe my Livejournal friends get tired of hearing about it. Click the “About” tab above to get an idea of what shows I like.

It’s nearly summer, so we’re actually smack-dab in the middle of finale season. Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains just wrapped up, and my first real post will be about that. We’ll have Big Brother soon (Season 12 premiere: 7/8), The Tudors is on now, and True Blood (Season 3 premiere: 6/13) and Weeds (Season 6 premiere: 8/16) will be back shortly. 24 is ending next Monday, Lost this coming Sunday, and Grey’s Anatomy this Thursday. (Private Practice ended last week.) So, really, it’s not the best time to start a TV blog. But this summer will give me some practice at keeping a regular blog before the insanity of the Fall 2010 season hits.

Welcome, and thanks for stopping by! There will be a Survivor wrap-up post later today.

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