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Friday, Jul 2, 2010
Bravo's new competitive reality show brings art into our living rooms, but do we lose some of the romance of the art world when we see it on TV?

The phrase “the art world” can conjure vague, non-specific images: galleries, standing still and speaking in hushed tones, wine, pretension, and climate controlled rooms. For many, “art” in the “high art” sense is not a part of day-to-day life, except on the rare occasions a nearby city has an interesting or controversial exhibit, or when we’re invited to a friend’s art school graduation, and on such occasions, we take the time to browse and ponder art affixed to walls, pedestals, hanging from ceilings… 


Regular exposure to such “institutionalized” art requires, for many, the concentrated effort to go off the beaten path. Luckily for those whose museum attendance record is somewhat lacking, Bravo’s Work of Art: The Next Great Artist brings that world into our living rooms in a recognizable, Bravo-styled format (Work of Art follows the successful Project Runway/Top Chef reality competition template).  What results is an art competition that marries the highbrow world of finer things with the lowbrow world of reality television for a slightly dramatic, generally pleasant evening of television.


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Thursday, Jun 3, 2010
With Heroes' descent into disappointment and, finally, cancellation, there is now room for a new show to take over the superhero mantle on television, maybe one that can prove to be a little bit more brave. (spoiler alert)

The initial success and, subsequently, the over-saturation of the superhero genre has brought us two distinct schools of thought: that of a hyperbolic superficiality that revels in its camp comic-book world or an approach directed towards realism (as close to realistic as the supernatural can conceivably be). The former has had its share of utterly forgettable fiascos—Daredevil, Elektra, The Fantastic Four—films and franchises that will continue to be made because, the sad fact is, money talks above all else. But it has also had its tongue-in-cheek successes in the likes of Iron Man and Spider-Man. They can work when they don’t take themselves too seriously and play their cards just right.


The latter category, however, has explored the human aspect in the genre, from man’s ability for good to its many flaws. This is the path explored by The Watchmen, The Dark Knight, and, to a much lighter extent, NBC’s Heroes, a show that tried to tread both paths or was confused to which group it belonged. With the show’s descent into disappointment and, finally, cancellation, there is now room for a new show to take over the superhero mantle on television, maybe one that can prove to be a little bit more brave.


I’m not talking about No Ordinary Family, the forthcoming ABC show that looks to fill this niche next fall. Instead I’m turning my attention towards the other side of the pond for the latest (and brilliant) addition to the canon—Britain’s The Misfits.


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Wednesday, Apr 14, 2010

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.


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Monday, Mar 22, 2010
As Betty Suarez rushes headlong toward her inevitable destiny of inner and outer beauty, it is time to praise all the supporting players that actually made Ugly Betty worth watching.

What do 24, Lost and Ugly Betty have in common? Nothing. Except that I’ve been watching them all from the beginning of their runs, and they’re all ending this season. 


To be honest, the way I’m watching the swan song seasons of these three shows is not even remotely similar either. Lost has taken TV storytelling to a new level with its final act, solidifying its place as one of the best shows ever. I will miss it dearly when it goes. 24 has me riveted again (against my will) with its high wire antics, even as I scorn the perpetually silly contortions required to sustain 24 episodes. I’m interested to see how the writers will get themselves to the end of another day, but am also relieved that I don’t have to spend another 24 hours in real time next year wondering why Jack Bauer never eats or goes to the bathroom.   


Then there’s Ugly Betty. Look, let’s be honest here. We all knew how Ugly Betty was going to end the day it started. You don’t call a show Ugly Betty unless the Betty in question is going to transform into something that we know is most certainly not ugly. That’s what’s been happening over this season. New glasses, new outfits, new attitude. The transformation is occurring on a weekly basis. And with two episodes left, everyone knows those braces are coming off and Betty’ll probably get contacts. Ugly Betty will end her run just as Betty (or even Attractive Betty). Finally.


Tagged as: 24, lost, ugly betty
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Thursday, Feb 11, 2010
The CW's Life Unexpected is the first series the network has created that hearkens back to the great relationship dramas that defined the WB and is their first new series that can appeal to adults as much as the teen girls the network targets.

To understand why the new CW series Life Unexpected is such a pleasant surprise, one has to consider both the long string of successful character-driven family dramas created by the earlier WB and the shorter string of unsuccessful and persistently disappointing teen-oriented dramas created by the CW, the successor network to both the WB and UPN.


Back before the CW, the WB’s many family dramas were staple viewing for viewers who preferred relationship-driven drama over reality TV and police procedurals. At the heart of shows like Seventh Heaven, Dawson’s Creek, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Felicity, Angel, Charmed, Popular, Roswell, Gilmore Girls, Smallville, and Everwood was a focus on relationships and families, even if some of the families were chosen rather than biological (family was at the heart of both Buffy and Angel, though few characters were biologically-related to one another). Although targeted at a younger demographic, these shows also appealed to adults. Some shows may have had a stronger appeal to adults than others (Buffy, Gilmore Girls, Everwood), but all of these shows handled relationships with sufficient intelligence to appeal to more than just teen girls. Even a teen drama like Dawson’s Creek had more than its fair share of adult viewers.


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