Hollywood producers, studio execs and network suits do a little mating dance every spring where they make writers, directors and actors shoot pilot episodes of potential shows. Based on these one-offs, where the creative types pour everything they’ve got into setting up a premise, it is decided what viewers will be offered on network TV in the fall.
One problem. No one in Hollywood has any clue whether a great pilot will translate into a long-lived and rewarding series. Development season is a bit like Christmas for them, except that they can’t tell if they got a present or a lump of coal in their stocking.
So, normally, I don’t pay a lot of attention to pilots. Why get excited about a premise that may never make it onto the schedule, right? But this year feels a little different. Not because the pilots sound better, but because a number of my favorite shows are ending. 24, Lost and Ugly Betty are all hurtling toward series finales. FlashForward seems to be a dead show walking. Scrubs fizzled out without much fanfare (though I suppose it could be back). So I’m starting to wonder what I’ll be watching in the fall (other than the last few episodes of Mad Men, Weeds and Entourage).
Nine finalists competed again this week after the dramatic turn of events last week in which the judges used their one get-out-of-jail card to snatch Big Mike Lynche from the jaws of elimination. Simon proved that he never gets tired of the fake-out—even taking the other judges for a ride—when announcing the unanimous decision, at which point Mike assumed a gigantic Buddha pose and Ellen did the Lindy Hop. It means that this week, we’ll cut two singers to stay on schedge, and after a lackluster round of Elvis covers, perhaps it’s a shame we can’t wipe out twice as many. Adam Lambert met the kids in Vegas to mentor them, and it’s no secret that Glambo has a little E in him, so he was the natural choice to take care of business this week.
The other story is the ongoing evolution of Tim Urban, who has become a legitimate contender by redefining the competition. This year, American Idol might not be about the greatest singer; it might be about who makes for a pop idol. Tim isn’t a singer of great skill. And neither was Shaun Cassidy or Leif Garrett or Britney Spears. Since when is awesome vocal ability a requirement for teen idolatry? Tim, by virtue of his Ringo haircut and loyal-puppy demeanor, has won over voters who have moved singing down to third or fourth place on the list of support criteria. What’s hilarious is that Vote For The Worst is claiming “victory” every week that Tim survives, which is getting to be like “saving” Crystal every week. If VFTW really wanted to prove that they’re making any difference in results, they’d put their support behind Aaron or Andrew—otherwise they’re no longer voting for the worst. Here’s what we found out Tuesday.
This week’s episode of Parenthood opened at the parent/child yoga class that Crosby was attending with his son. While he ogled the woman in front of him, reminding me of why I never do yoga in public, Jabbar befriended her son and the two quickly planned a play date. There was no mention of Kate in the whole episode, as Crosby drooled over this rich divorcee until she actually made a play for him. In an astounding show of bad parenting, the two left their kids alone with a seemingly dense pool boy. Crosby had enough sense to note that was a mistake, however, angering the yoga mom. Later on, Jasmine chastised him for using her son as “chick bait” and revoked his babysitting privileges.
He wasn’t the only Braverman that couldn’t catch a break. Adam kept trying to make quality time with his family, but Max’s tight schedule with Gabby prevented it. Then he had to impress two obnoxious clients from work at a “hip restaurant” (a Mexican-themed bar surrounded by red Christmas lights), when all he really wanted to do was spend some time alone with his wife. It didn’t much help matters much that he saw Gabby at this same bar, drinking a large quantity of alcohol. Not to mention, Kristina called him to bring home some cornflakes, because she accidentally bought the kind that comes with strawberries, which Max thinks looks like toads. (My guess is that they got “Special K: Red Berries”?) All of this led to a hung over Adam shouting at home that he has a schedule instead of a life and that he feels “like a household appliance”. Kristina just calmly told him to “take a break”, which he did at the end of the episode, by surfing. Ironically, my mom noted that he looked like a big toad then.
When Kristina wasn’t consoling Adam, she obsessed over helping Haddie with her career day assignment, following Julia at work in the law firm. Unfortunately, Haddie’s raving review of Julia’s glamorous yet meaningful work depressed Kristina, who felt that her accomplishments were ignored. Adam noticed this and took Haddie to a local park, which was only there because of Kristina’s efforts. After Haddie compared her to Erin Brockovich, she played personal assistant by bringing her mother a cup of coffee home.
Haddie’s career day assignment also got Julia thinking, as she remembered why she wanted to be a lawyer and her promise to give back. When she told Joel her plans to work in legal aid, however, he laughed them off as a good-intentioned pipe-dream.
As Mr.Cyr and Sarah started their romance, Amber crushed on her teacher by repeatedly listening to a SAT word prep playlist that he downloaded onto her i-pod. After Mark (Mr. Cyr) held her hand, sent her flowers, and kissed her a lot, Sarah giddily told all of her siblings about her new relationship. Adam realized that Amber was infatuated with Mark, so he broke the news to Sarah. Though Sarah doubted and criticized her brother, she recognized that Amber needed to know what was going on. Amber’s tearful reaction to that news painfully led Sarah to break up with Mark. But while that was happening, Amber blew off her SAT test to run away with Damien, her boyfriend from Fresno.
Finally, next week’s preview says that we’ll see Zeke make a fool of himself at Jabbar’s birthday party and that Sarah catches up to her daughter and Damien.
Am I the only person who watches HGTV? My wife has dragged me into the world of HGTV very begrudgingly, and it is only after about a year of mostly scowling acceptance that I am prepared to, very sheepishly, admit that I am actually starting to enjoy it.
If you are not watching this channel, I would encourage you to at least check it out. It is filled with a variety of shows for viewers with various interests: homeowners will find shows advising them on how to improve their resale value, how to work on their landscape, or how to fix problems that arise; prospective buyers will find shows about people trying to decide what they value as they look for their first home; even renters will find shows about how to spruce up their rentals.
The dark things behind the veil communicate via the idiot box. For confirmation, ditch the shrieking ghost hunters and mediums, with their silly trailer campaigns splashed across TV schedules. Look no further than flat-share-horror Being Human. The first series sprung from something like the set up for a bad joke: a vampire, a werewolf and a ghost commune in a house somewhere in Bristol, first broadcast on niche, youth oriented channel BBC Three.
Where the first series saw each of the characters struggling to find their place in a world which can’t or won’t acknowledge them, the second finds them fighting to protect it. Gentle, geeky werewolf George (Russell Tovey, The History Boys,Dr. Who) continues as the beating heart of Being Human, as he struggles with the repercussions of a brutal murder he committed while transformed.
Charismatic vampire Mitchell (Aiden Turner, Desperate Romantics) finds himself adrift having controlled his cravings for blood, and vanquished, for the moment at least, the vampire hordes intent on taking over the world, led by Herrick (the excellent Jason Watkins). The apparent villain of this series is both more and less overt – craggy faced scientist Kemp, first seen as a psychiatrist at the end of series one (Donald Sumpter). He’s a trench-coat wearing, Van Helsing type monster hunter working with a shadowy figure whose identity and motives remain shrouded. By contrast, Herrick’s softly-spoken, inclusive middle-manager brand of villainy is one of the most interesting facets of the first series, reinforcing the intriguing idea of unimaginable terrors hidden in the mundane.