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Archive for the ‘Television’ Category

Must-Saw TV Thursday

I realize that this post is a couple days late in terms of being considered “water cooler” material but since this cold I’ve been trying to shake all week decided to hit me hardest from about Wednesday morning on through the weekend, I’m going to put it up today anyway with hopes that you all have decent enough memories to recall some of the broader details about what I watched on Thursday evening.

Wow, congratulations to me for that 74-word opening sentence.  Fehmeen will be so proud … as she edits it down to the twenty-five or so words normal people would take to convey the exact same thought.

But that’s neither here nor there.

Back to Thursday night television.

It all started around eight o’clock.  We were actually tuned in to American Idol on Fox at the time when my dad, The Italian Man Servant, yelled to us from the family room that we needed to turn it to The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony on Fuse.  When we did, we were able to catch Tom Waits giving his acceptance speech as one of this year’s new inductees.  While he performed on stage, Fehmeen told Emma that he is Daddy’s favorite singer in the world.  Emma responded by grooving a little to “Rain Dogs” — the song he was playing — and then she told Fehmeen that Tom Waits really needs to cough and clear his throat.

Do I really need to say at this point that my wife’s smile got a little bit bigger with that comment!?!

Well, I do and it did.

Moving right along now.

Once the coronation of King Tom was over, we flipped it back to Idol.  In previous seasons, A.I. results shows are serious snore-fests with little to no shock and surprise embedded between the opening credits and the final montage of that week’s losing contestant with the now-seriously bruised ego and crushed self-confidence.

But this week was different.

Replacing the typical over-hyped, flash in the pan, appealing only to teenaged youths with at least three hundred Facebook friends and the latest smartphone, the producers actually booked a band with some serious live vocal chops:  Sugarland.  With the exception of the singer’s absolutely hideous outfit, the group hit all the right notes.  And nobody was more pleased with their performance than Fehmeen:  Sugarland is a current favorite.

And when you throw in Stevie Wonder playing piano during the opening number which was topped by the surprise appearance by Hulk Hogan, who not only ripped his shirt but then punched Ryan Seacrest, and you have a show worth watching until the end.

And what an ending!  I did not see Casey receiving the fewest votes.  He is one of the most talented ones up there.  The judges had to save him.  It also was pure genius to stop him from finishing his song.  If I was able to talk, that whole final scene would have rendered me speechless.  It goes without saying that I cannot wait for this week’s episode.

Which brings us to The Office.  This show is still on our DVR-record list but I feel like I’m watching the show out of obligation as opposed to watching it expecting to be dazzled week after week.  It just doesn’t have the same energy that it used to have.  I think I continue to follow it for fear I might miss something spectacular if I bailed on it.

Which brings us to this week’s show where Michael proposed to Holly.  The setup couldn’t have been any more sweet and romantic as the happy couple strolled around the building reminiscing their relationship highlights.  When they opened the door to reveal everyone holding candles as Holly ran the gauntlet of proposals until Michael actually got on his knee in her own extremely candle-lit office, I was transported back in time when the show blew me away.  And then the overhead sprinklers went off during his actual will-you-marry-me’s, it was as if they made great just that much greater.

At that point I was more than content to just go gentle in that goodnight when Michael being Michael killed the good mood by blurting out that they were moving away from Scranton, PA.

That was when I knew that perfect just got perfecter.

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And the Oscar Goes to …

Considering I’ve seen seven of the ten films up for the Best Picture Oscar tonight, one of the following two things must be true:  Either the Academy is selecting movies that are more in the mainstream — it wasn’t all that long ago that I hadn’t even heard of half the films that were nominated, much less seen them — or that I have way way way way way too much time on my hands to see all these movies.

While I am absolutely certain that Natalie Portman and Colin Firth are stone-cold locks to win Best Actress and Best Actor statuettes, the category I’m most looking to seeing who wins is for Best Documentary.  The award typically goes to a predictably worthy endeavor about suffering but this year I hope the Oscar gets awarded to the film about art.

Even though I have no idea what other documentaries are running against it, Exit Through the Gift Shop is my hands down choice to win the golden paperweight this year.  Granted, I just saw it for the first time not even twenty-four hours ago, it’s not like I’m a newbie to the street art scene.  You can ask any of my former students (from around 2003-2008) about the OBEY sticker on the front wall near the ceiling of my classroom for verification if you don’t believe me.

Anyway, I can’t definitively tell if the movie is a hoax or not.  While I’m about 90% certain that it is an epic put-on, it wouldn’t surprise me one bit to learn that Mr Brainwash is a legitimate artist.  Click here to figure out who the heck that is and what the movie is all about.

But the main reason I’m pulling for it to win is to see if Banksy shows up to accept the Oscar.  Who will he be wearing and which party will he be attending?

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Idol Chatter

My intention going into to Season 10 of American Idol was to catch an episode or two just to see what it would be like without Simon at the judges table and then move on to some other program deserving the attention of my eyeballs.  This past season was very forgettable — who the heck won*, anyway — so my brand loyalty was at an all-time low heading into the premiere with the auditions a few weeks back.

But a funny thing happened as I tried to have someone change the channel for me (recall that I am a quadriplegic and am unable to do it on my own):  I really liked what I was seeing for several reasons.

The producers did a good job limiting the number of crappy auditions they showed on tv.  Granted, I drank the William Hung flavored Kool-Aid way back when but that was an example of catching flatulence in a bottle.  Subsequent efforts to repeat that phenomenon have been dominating recent seasons without any success, so personally, I’m pretty happy that they focused more on folks with actual talent.

And speaking of talent, most of these people who made it so far this year have some serious skills as musicians.  I find that I prefer to watch someone perform who has either played with a band or on-stage behind a guitar or as part of a theatrical production as opposed to someone who has only ever sung a tune as the lyrics scroll by on a monitor in some bowling alley lounge.

As far as the absence of Simon Cowell as a judge goes, I assumed that I would be missing his criticisms and harsh commentary but I don’t.  So far, the kinder gentler panel of Season 10 has been entertaining mainly because of Steven Tyler.  It cracks me up when he sings along with the contestants during their performances.  JLo has been more insightful than I imagined she would be and even Randy has toned-down the “Dawg” act to the occasional “Arf Arf” every once in awhile (comparatively speaking of course).

Now that they’ve narrowed the field to the top twenty-four, I am looking forward to seeing what happens performance-wise in the weeks to come.  The singing so far has been pretty darned good — especially that dude from Santa Cruz, the guy that played the upright bass while singing during Hollywood Week, and the woman who reminds me a lot of Rachel from Glee.

However it turns out, the Fox network can count on my ass being in front of the flatscreen week in week out.  Emma’s too, as long as it’s on before her bedtime.  But if one of the Real Housewives is on, that show gets priority, of course, AI goes straight to the DVR.  Happy wife, happy life, you know the drill.

In case you are interested, here is an excellent piece on the top twenty-four contestants.  It breaks each one down very succinctly and in some cases hilariously.

*And for the record, I knew that Lee DeWyze won last year but still …

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Calling All Nerds

Do you remember that old story about John Henry?  You know, the one where he uses his own body and muscles to compete against a steam-powered machine only to be victorious and collapse and die from exhaustion?

Oh yeah, that one.

Well, I had this relatively grandiose plan to use that piece of American folklore as an analogy for man versus machine until I checked Wikipedia.  I had failed to realize that that particular story is “usually seen as an archetypal illustration of the futility of fighting the technological progress that was evident in the 19th century upset of traditional physical labor roles.”  Once I read that, combined with the fact that he keels over at the end, my innocuous little idea of using the man versus machine analogy as my literary device du jour just seemed to be missing the point of what I wanted to make in the first place.

All I wanted to say is this:  If you want to see a computer named Watson compete against a pair of humans, then be sure to watch Jeopardy tonight at 7 pm.  This is the third (and final) day of their showdown and it is must see tv for nerds everywhere.

I have posted a link here so you can get your geek on about all things Watson.

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Now that the Super Bowl is over and done with for another year, what did you think about:

The Black Eyed Peas Halftime Show.  Personally, I would have preferred to have seen them just lip-sync their set instead of actually “singing” it.  They were pretty terrible to listen to live and if they thought that a bunch of human glow sticks would provide a distraction from their lack of discernible stage presence, they most egregiously underestimated the Simon Cowell in all of us viewers.

Christina Aguilera’s Star Spangled Banner lyrical malfunction.  At the time it happened, I thought I heard something odd going on but I ignored it even after I saw a couple of the Packers players notice the same out of place line.  I didn’t think that it was a treasonable offense until I googled her name today.  Ouch.

The Game Itself.  While the game was close and came down to almost the end, it was by no means memorable.  I’m happy that Aaron Rodgers and the Packers won.

The Commercials.  With the exception of a scant handful, a vast majority were underwhelming and instantly forgettable.  Is it safe to say that the era of watching the Super Bowl for the commercials is over?

The Post-Game Episode of Glee.  Fehmeen and I (and Emma) huge fans of the show — one look at our Glee-filled DVR will provide you with plenty of evidence, as will the fact that our preschool-aged daughter can sing nearly every word of nearly every song on those episodes — and it pains me to say so but I wasn’t very impressed with last night’s offering.  The songs were great (as usual) but the story was completely lame.  Too many gimmicks for the sake of having them (like the cannon).  And besides, when does their football season end?  Isn’t high school basketball almost over now?  Oh well, at least we get a new episode tomorrow.

So now I invite you to chime in on any of these topics.

Oh yeah, lucky Leanne is buying Orange Julius’s (or is the plural form pronounced Orange Juli-eye) for everyone who comments thanks to being the big winner (winner chicken dinner) in the old office pool.

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Don’t know why this bothers me so much but it does.  I think it has to do with my general disdain for the concept as a whole when they hoisted it upon us several years ago and the fact that they decided to bring it back for another go ’round just annoys the hell outta me.  And to top it off, they throw in the old switcheroo at the end.  It’s enough to make me want to never eat at Carl’s Jr again.  And considering that I consume 90% of my daily calories down my feeding tube, it’s a stone cold 100% lock that I will make good on my previous statement.

Here’s the beef:

Don’t Bother Me, I’m Eating.  Those five little innocuous words have bugged me since they were strung together and forced unmercifully through our retinas and down our throats a bunch of years ago by the good people at Happy Star HQ.  Not satisfied with an assault on two of my senses, the only sound the viewer is subjected to for a majority of the spot is the crispity crunchity explosion of the subject biting into his burger and sipping his drink.

I thought that they had moved on marketing-wise by replacing those commercials with ones featuring Paris Hilton washing her car and Hills star Audrina Patridge sunning herself on the beach.  I was perplexed by the guy seductively staring at his dashboard hula dancer while chowing down but I let it slide.  At least it wasn’t the Don’t Bother Me dude munching away.

And then they brought it back.  If you haven’t seen it yet, here’s what you missed:  A manly-looking man has pulled his vehicle to the side of the road and is silently — except for the thousand decibel bites — enjoying a picnic while leaning on the fender of his ride.  A basso profundo voice utters my least favorite phrase — aside from You’ve Got ALS — while the fine print rolls and the commercial ends.

The first couple times I saw it, I turned away out of pure reflex.  The next half-dozen times it appeared on my screen, I paid attention a bit more.  And that’s when I got annoyed.

Apparently they are advertising two burgers for five dollars in this spot.  I must have missed that fact the first handful of times I watched it.  Then, as I read the disclaimer that appeared at the bottom of the screen and I learned that the loaded with cheese and onion rings burger Mr DBM,IE is loudly masticating on in the preceding commercial is NOT the burger being offered in the two for five bucks deal, I couldn’t believe my eyes.

I’ve seen some shady stuff on tv in my day but this was a first for me.  Why wouldn’t they show the actual hamburger in the spot?  Is it inferior to the one they showed onscreen?  Is it less crunchity?  Was it a budget issue?  Too cheap to spring for some new footage?

Whatever the reason, it has really been bugging me since I noticed it.  Thanks for letting me vent a bit on the subject.  Have you seen it?  Does it bother you or should I watch less tv?

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