Everyone’s a Critic: Please sir, I want an encore
September 21st, 2011
05:31 PM ET

Everyone’s a Critic: Please sir, I want an encore

To paraphrase Steve Martin’s character in “The Jerk”: The new fall season is here! The new fall season is here!

Over the next few weeks, we’ll be inundated with new shows and returning favorites. For a TV junkie like me, the launch of the fall season is filled with excitement, anticipation, energy… and a fair amount of regret.

You see, I’d like to watch everything. And when I say everything, I mean EVERYTHING. There are some shows I’m looking forward to, and other shows that deserve a three-episode trial (that’s my standard). Even the shows I think are going to be horrible deserve a single viewing. After all, it’s only fair to actually watch something if you’re planning to be critical about it.

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‘Up All Night’ strikes perfect balance
September 15th, 2011
10:04 AM ET

‘Up All Night’ strikes perfect balance

After years of drama dominance, it seems like half-hour comedies are enjoying a bit of resurgence this fall. NBC’s “Up All Night,” starring Christina Applegate, Will Arnett and Maya Rudolph, may be one of the best in the bunch.

The show’s premise is simple: what happens when you go from being a couple to being a family. Applegate and Arnett play Reagan and Chris Brinkley, a television producer and lawyer whose former partying ways are thrown for a loop by the birth of their daughter, Amy.

Applegate is her usual comedic standout self, but Arnett is just as impressive. It feels like every character he’s played since “Arrested Development” has been some variation on Gob Bluth, but in “Up All Night” he’s toned that persona down to become much more relatable, and it suits both him and the show well.

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Everyone’s a Critic: How do I watch TV?
September 1st, 2011
03:10 PM ET

Everyone’s a Critic: How do I watch TV?

I am in the middle of a crisis. As I’m typing these very words, there is literally nothing for me to watch on TV. By which I mean, there is nothing on the DVR.

I was initially elated when I hit that TV junkie nirvana of having watched every program I’d recorded. And yes, I realize this says quite a bit about me.

But that joy was followed by a much darker fear: What do I do now?

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‘Top Chef: Just Desserts’ is back
August 25th, 2011
10:20 AM ET

‘Top Chef: Just Desserts’ is back

With Bravo serving up a second season of “Top Chef: Just Desserts," let's have a quick review of what we learned in the first go-round, shall we?

To recap: Pastry chefs can be major divas; plastic cups are definitely worth freaking out over; and we learned how to pronounce Yigit (your season 1 winner).

Unfortunately, we also learned that baking and pastry chef preparation don’t necessarily lend themselves well to this kind of competition with timed challenges. Let’s face it: season 1 was kind of a dud, and the drama definitely overshadowed the cooking.

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Everyone’s a Critic: Stop with the ads, please
August 23rd, 2011
04:04 PM ET

Everyone’s a Critic: Stop with the ads, please

We’re back after a brief hiatus, ready to dole out some tough love for our favorite pop culture industries. A few weeks back, I talked about the idea of proper promotion, marketing a show based on its own merits.

Today, I’m focusing on another side to that coin: Hollywood’s tendency to overload a potential audience with promos for TV shows or movies.

Whitney Cummings, a comedian who some fans might recognize from “Chelsea Lately” or the Comedy Central roasts, is the creative force behind two new sitcoms premiering this fall.

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Everyone’s a Critic: Living in 'The Real World'
August 2nd, 2011
04:08 PM ET

Everyone’s a Critic: Living in 'The Real World'

We can attribute at least one thing to MTV as it turns 30 this week: “The Real World” may not have been the first reality show, but it was arguably the most groundbreaking. In it, you can find the blueprint for many of the reality formats that dominate today’s TV landscape.

It was a simple idea - put a group of strangers together, turn on the cameras and see what happens – that yielded an addictive, engaging result. The show became a sensation, a part of our cultural consciousness that gave Generation X a rallying point and a shared experience.

I can still rattle off the names of nearly every cast member from the first 10 seasons. I can tell you when and why that famous introduction sentence changed from “seven strangers” to “seven people.” I know when producers stopped casting people who lived in the city where the season took place, and when they started forcing the cast members to work together as well as live together.

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