Category Archives: New Episodes

Your new best friend… Billy Eichner

I like Fuse.  I often forget about it because it’s buried pretty deep in my channel flipping zone (somewhere before the porn channels, but after the public access channels.)  However, when I am doing a deep TV flip, I like what I see when I land on Fuse.  I like that they actually play music videos, I like that Nicki Minaj and Drake take over a fair amount, I like that they show concerts, and I like their documentaries on the music industry.  They do a good job filling the music void that MTV left. 

A few weeks ago, while I was doing a deep flip, I saw that Fuse was airing a show that wasn’t about music.  I instantly became worried.  Is this going to be the “Laguna Beach” of Fuse?  Is this show going to be the slippery slope that leads Fuse to become an all reality TV network?  I decided to watch “Billy on the Street,” knowing absolutely nothing about it.  It’s not music videos or concerts, but if this the direction the network is going towards, I’m a fan.

“Billy on the Street” claims to be a new pop-culture trivia game show where you can win money.  If you’re thinking you’ve got a fair shot at being a great contestant on this show, think again.  You have no shot at signing up to be a contestant.  Host Billy Eichner grabs his contestants off the streets of New York and they have no idea he’s coming for them.  Shocked and confused pedestrians stumble and have a hard time coming up with answers as they are suddenly ambushed with questions about Heidi Klum’s marriage and what celebrities they hate the most.  It is, quite possibly, one of the most wildly brilliant and hilarious game shows to ever grace the television set.

To call it a game show is really unfair to host Billy Eichner.  True enough, he is asking trivia questions and giving prizes to contestants who are winners (even though sometimes the prizes are as simple as a pair of shoes,) but Billy is really a character to watch.  If you are looking for Alex Trebek, keep flipping.  There are moments in the show where Billy says exactly what you are thinking; only you assumed it would be inappropriate to say on television.  “That is ridiculous” he says as a woman tells him her name is Haiyasi.  “I don’t want to hear about the exhausting gays” he groans as a woman dodges an Anne Hathaway question to speak of her gay pride.  As a group of high school girls scream their status as the best actresses and fight for camera time, Billy pushes them out of the way and screams louder and prouder that he is in fact the best actress.  Has Alex Trebek ever done that?

The host is not the only character on the show.  Once again the city of New York provides a sea of characters.  Billy runs up and down the streets of New York asking comical, yet fairly simple questions such as “scream the name of a celebrity you hate.”  On the one hand we have the hilarious expressions of people caught off guard, like the woman who looks beyond perplexed as she yells out Adam Sandler’s name.  On the other, we have a man who takes it upon himself to step into the camera and scream Marc Anthony’s name without any prompting.

The setting and host are a perfect match.  When paired with pretty funny trivia questions, we have a really fun and innovative comedy trivia show.  The show was created by the people at Funny or Die which makes perfect sense, because if you think about the funniest clips you watch during the year, I bet most of them are from something you watched online.  It’s nice to see a show on my television set that makes me laugh from the comfort of my couch (because the walk to the computer desk is oh so far.)

While I enjoy my music networks and am anxiously awaiting a Pitbull takeover, I’m okay with Fuse’s decision to add “Billy on the Street” to their line-up.  In fact, this is such a perfect pairing of music, trivia and comedy, that I think I’ll work Fuse into my regular flipping rotation.


As I have mentioned before, I’m not against a celebrity competition show.  Not only does it give the celebrities a chance to win money for a charity, but it gives us a chance to see them outside of their element.  … Continue reading

Last Jonas Standing

You never know what might lure you to watch a new TV Show. A show can catch my eye simply based on the previews, who the star of the show is, the rave reviews it has been getting and once in a while, I might just start watching because nothing else is on. However, what made me watch a recent episode of “Last Man Standing” a new ABC Sitcom starring ABC sitcom vet, Tim Allen, wasn’t my past enjoyment of “Home Improvement” or previews or even the fact that I have nothing else to watch on Tuesdays; it was a guest star that drew me in. This past week I tuned in to “Last Man Standing” because of special guest star… Nick Jonas.

Okay, so you caught me. I am a Jonas Brothers fan. (In order of how I like them: Joe, Nick, Kevin. Now you know.) So ABC lured me in by dangling Nick in front of my face.  Not only did I get to see my second favorite JoBro but I was intrigued that he was playing a teenage father who had abandoned his son. I’m so used to moral Nick with his wholesome family values; it was very appealing to think that he might play some one that was slightly imperfect.

I had a bit of catching up to do since I hadn’t seen this show from the beginning, as I expected, it wasn’t difficult. Mike Baxter (played by Tim Allen), is a father of three and surrounded by women.  (Hence the last man standing.) The four women surrounding Tim Allen include the level-headed wife, the cliché youngest yet smartest daughter, the overdone flirty, feisty and ditzy middle daughter, and the older, down to earth, wiser daughter. The twist in this standard-for-sitcoms character development is that our eldest daughter is a single mom to a 2-year old. I’m guessing that this is an attempt at making the family seem imperfect and therefore, more relatable, but because they are so well adjusted to the baby and have little-to-no struggles, this just seems like a random addition to the cast. (There are also two guys that work with the father, however, they seem like they are just placed there for comic relief. One of the characters is played by Hector Alizando, who probably delivers the only funny lines of the show.)

In the episode I cut my teeth on, Kristen’s ex-love interest, Ryan, returns to town. Ryan (played by Nick Jonas) is the father to her son, Boyd, and he would suddenly like to join their life again. While Kristen has no plans of getting back together with Ryan romantically, she wants Boyd to have a good dad in his life.

I should mention, this is a Christmas episode. We start out with Mike Baxter rangling his family to church and telling them that the lord watches closely this year. So, when Mike rebels against Ryan’s return to Boyd’s life, it takes his daughters (especially Kristen) to teach him about forgiveness… just like God teaches them during church.

The whole episode is very predictable, cliché and cheesy.  This fits the mold for ABC sitcoms, especially the holiday.  However, I can’t help being surprised by Tim Allen, who was once a great sitcom star.  He struggles to deliver any funny lines. In the “Home Improvement” days, he would bark after mentioning “Sears” and people would be in stitches. His comical lines on “Last Man Standing” seem forced, and the laugh track seems ill-placed and obviously fake. I am all for bringing back the traditional family sitcom, but this one just isn’t it. It’s a little Waltony, and a little Just the Ten of Us. Even in the years of Home Improvement’s decline, this show pales in comparison.

As for Nick Jonas? Well, at the risk of abandoning my fandom and turning my back on my fellow fangirls, his lines are delivered a bit robotic. An out of work actor that has ditched his son for the last two years could really be played with a lot more sleeze, snide, and douchiness. Jonas seems monotone and lacks emotion. (It is entirely possible though; that the ABC executives wanted some one who would not play up to those characteristics, since it is a Disney-owned network and it is family television.) My dreams of a Camp Rock 3 are slowly fading away.

Well ABC and “Last Man Standing” you’ve won this round. You’ve taken advantage of my slightly psychotic loyalty to the Jonas Brothers and tapped into their fan base. Unfortunately, you won’t be able to keep me sticking around. I won’t be returning for another watch. (Unless of course, you get Joe Jonas. Fine… I would watch for Kevin too.)

Teen Mom 2… should have stopped at Teen Mom 1

In the past, I have given MTV a bit of a hard time on this blog.  Maybe I’m still shipping for Lauren and Stephen, maybe I just still expect music videos, or maybe I’m still incredibly bitter that “Daria” is no longer in my life.  Despite all of my gripes about MTV, I still watch it.  I should really give them some kudos here and there.  I love that “Beavis and Butthead” are back, and the teen show addict in me loves “Awkward.”  There are definitely a few gems sandwiched in between all of the vapid trash on this network.  However, last night with the premiere of one of MTV’s biggest shows, “Teen Mom 2,” I forgot about all of those gems.

“Teen Mom 2” is the follow-up to MTV’s self-proclaimed groundbreaking show, “Teen Mom.”  In it’s second season, it documents the struggles and life choices going on in the lives of MTV’s second batch of young mothers.  I believe that the show started out as a vehicle to show how difficult it is to raise a child when you’re still growing up yourself, but it has slowly turned into a train wreck, as do most reality shows on television.

However, when I watch “Jersey Shore” and I see a hot mess of people, I have no problem rolling my eyes and shutting it off.  Oh, look.  Snooki is drunk again.  No big deal.  When “Teen Mom 2” is a train wreck, my heart aches.  It’s painful to watch.  I don’t want to see a young girl’s life spiral out of control while a baby suffers the real consequences.  I don’t want to see young couples’ relationships fall apart when they need to be strong right now for their sick child.  I don’t want to see a naïve girl continuously go back to a destructive and abusive relationship in hopes that she will be able to provide her child with a father.  These are the kind of troubling story lines that we don’t want to just sit back and watch; we want to step in and help.  And we don’t want to help by bringing Dr. Drew on board.

While “Teen Mom 2” star Chelsea, seems to be a sucker for her child’s father and his abuse, and while star Kailyn has a turbulent relationship with baby Isaac’s father; it is Teen Moms Jenelle and Leah that my heart really breaks for.

Teen parents Leah and Corey have had their struggles in the past, but none greater than the struggle of their slow developing daughter Alianna.  Alianna is a twin to sister Aleeah who is developing at a healthy rate.  Alianna is having problems and the doctors can’t pinpoint the source.  Since Leah and Corey married and moved in together, Leah has found herself staying at home with both babies day in and day out.  She is slowly loosing her mind and getting bored.  It’s stressful enough being a young mother of multiples, I can’t even imagine what it must be like having one that needs extra care.  Throw in becoming bored and stir-crazy to the mix, I’m becoming drained just thinking about it.  Leah is actually a lot stronger than editing implies; a lot of young mothers in her situation would not handle it as well as she does.  Some even snap.

You may recognize Teen Mom Jenelle from her mug shots that are repeatedly showing up on TMZ.  Jenelle is the rebellious mother of the bunch, so much so that her mother now has full custody of baby Jayce.  Jenelle’s goal for the new season of the show is to simply not get in trouble.  That means no drugs, no alcohol, no stealing, no fighting and no breaking and entering (all of which we have seen her do in the last season.)  The key to Jenelle staying clean is avoiding ex-boyfriend and bad influence, Keifer.  Jenelle’s mother thinks that Jenelle has been doing well while Keifer is away at jail.  Unfortunately, her mother soon finds out that not only is Keifer out of jail, but it was Jenelle who bailed him out.  Jenelle’s friends think that he is a bad influence (and since he doesn’t have a job and is homeless, which is also a negative) but the heart wants what it wants.  While this is true, watching a teenage girl date a bad boy is no fun when there is a baby watching.  The fights Jenelle has with her mom are intense, loud, abusive and downright cold.  It’s a toxic environment for poor baby Jayce and it seems never ending.

A show that initially started out as a great way to shed a light on a topical subject and problem in today’s society, has turned into a very sad story.  I found last night’s season premiere particularly difficult to watch.  Not because I’m tired of seeing a bunch of drunk idiots in a Jacuzzi (although that is true), but because I don’t want to see young families that need help exploited for my entertainment.  I’d rather just help them.

I think when Teen Mom first started it was groundbreaking.  I think the first group of girls were an interesting batch of young ladies and we formed an attachment with their stories.  After a few seasons, it was time to wrap that story up and let them get back to being families without cameras constantly surrounding them.  There is no need for another group of girls.  The mission of shedding a light on a topical subject has been accomplished, now is a good time to start looking for other issues and stories to tackle.

I like MTV.  There, I said it.  I liked it when it was music television and I liked it when it was the Lauren Conrad network.  But, I definitely think that there is a certain amount of programming that deserves a second opinion.  My opinion?  Time to pull the plug.  Not just for the audience, for the stars.

Being Human… bad joke, good show.

Okay, I got one for you:  A vampire, a werewolf and a ghost live in an apartment together… I’ll stop.  It may sound like the set-up to a really corny joke (or a terrible intro to a blog entry,) but it’s actually the premise behind SyFy’s newest show, “Being Human.”

“Being Human” focuses around three beings (I believe “people” would be the wrong word here.)  Three twenty-something beings, just trying to get by, find love and live happily ever after.  These things are difficult for even the most well-adjusted human; imagine if you add super-natural into that mix.  Aidan is a vampire and Josh is a werewolf.  They’ve somehow befriended each other and taken jobs as nurses in the local hospital.  I would say “all was going well until…” but at the start of our premiere, things are not going well.  Josh is transforming into a werewolf and Aidan is on a date that leads to him killing his lady friend in exchange for her blood.

It was a rough night for both of them, but Aidan has a plan.  Why don’t they move into an apartment together and look out for one another as they just try to get by in a world dominated by humans?  Josh seems the more melancholy of the two beings- constantly mentioning how hard it is to live this life, and how much he wants to go back to just being normal.  Our emo werewolf is hesitant to come around, but eventually, with a little convincing, he does.

The guys find the perfect apartment.  The owner’s fiance died in it and he’d like to keep his distance as much as possible.  After a montage of fixing it up (that I could have lived without,) the guys learn that the apartment comes with a third roommate, Sally.  Sally is the owner of the apartment’s dead fiance.  She is a ghost, and as you know in ghost world, she cannot leave the place she died in.  Sally is confused, lonely, and slightly sassy (we get our first twilight reference thanks to her.)

I am mocking the premise because when you say it out loud, it does seem a little silly.  However, let me be clear- this show has a lot of potential.  We’re only one episode in and we are left with a cliff-hanger.  Josh’s sister has tracked him down after he went missing for two years and she locks herself in a room with him while he’s about to transform.  Aidan has been able to tame his eating habits thanks to the blood bank at the hospital, but now that he has covered up his murder tracks by making a deal with the Bishop (who seems to be the head of the Vampires) he is being seduced back into a life of killing and violence.  The saddest story, is of course, Sally who has no clue how she died or why she can’t leave.  She longs to speak to her fiance and she is the only character on the show who did not choose to live in the apartment with a vampire and werewolf.

Shows on television are constantly trying to exploit the twenty-something lifestyle.  Common themes  are usually that dating is hard, working long hours for little pay is hard, getting laid is hard, etc.  After a while, it becomes the same old story.   Taking the commonality of single twenty- somethings and mixing them with the fantasy of super-natural beings is original and intriguing.  Other than the fix-up montage and the twilight reference, I found “Being Human” to be refreshingly different and exciting.

I especially appreciated that the writers did not write for an audience they assumed to be dumb.  We’ve all heard stories of werewolves, vampires, and ghosts over the years.  We don’t need to explain them in great detail, something I have found Twilight does all too often.  We’re able to watch a ghost and know that ghosts can’t touch or be touched.  We know what a Vampire is and what it eats, and we know that werewolves transform when the moon is full.  The script is never weighed down with heavy explanations or over dramatic dialogue about their habits.  All of that would have only made the show seem slow and redundant.

I don’t think there is another channel on my dial that I would have been an acceptable home for this show.  Bravo isn’t likely to have a show with Vampires unless they are “the Vampirewives of Beverly Hills.”  The show is a perfect fit on Syfy and a nice match up with some of their other shows like “Sanctuary,” and “Warehouse 13.”  I expect this one to do well for the network.  While a lot of shows seem to just jump on the Vampire and Werewolf bandwagon, Syfy managed to find one that seems different and separates itself from the batch.

So when you hear the premise of “Being Human,” I suggest giving it a fair chance.  It’s not a joke, and it won’t be a punchline.  Hiyoooo.

Conan and TBS enjoy their honeymoon phase

It’s fair to say that this article may be a bit of a retraction from the previous thoughts I had in regard to Conan’s new TBS show, “Conan.”  As eager as I was to quickly write a review of the new show and get it on the web, the real character of a show is never apparent in its early stages.  One of the best shows in the history of television is “Seinfeld” and I hardly doubt anyone would label its pilot episode as their favorite.  A show needs a chance to grow and its star needs a chance to get comfortable.  If you’ve tuned in to TBS recently at 11pm, you’ve been able to enjoy watching a star get comfortable and a seeing a show grow.

When did a brief stint as host of “the Tonight Show,” last fall, there was something missing to his comedy.  He was still being funny and his bits were as clever and smart as they had been on “Late Night,” but something was off.  After all of the drama occurred with NBC, it was obvious what the missing piece was:  Conan had no support from his network.  Maybe it was draining him or maybe it was the suits pressuring him, but something about that show felt off compared to his “Late Night” show.

Now Conan is back on TV and he’s with TBS.  It’s not network television, it doesn’t follow Jay Leno, and it is pretty liberal about its standards and practices.  So at first, maybe around the time we wrote our first assessment of Conan’s new show, Conan was getting his mojo back.  At first, it seemed he still harbored some NBC/Jay Leno anger (and rightfully so) but to the point where it seemed to dominate the monologue.  And it seemed at first that maybe Conan was still looking over his shoulder a bit to see if anyone he had left behind was still watching over him.  So the first week, not too surprisingly, was a little lack-luster.

But week one has ended.  Nobody is trying to steal Conan’s chair, nobody is holding the spot in front of him, Jay Leno is a distant memory and Conan is making a home at TBS.  He’s starting to settle in, he’s starting to get comfortable again, and dare I say it, he’s really getting his mojo back.

This, of course, is an assessment that I have concocted in my head.  Perhaps Conan always felt comfortable on TBS and perhaps Jay Leno was always a very distant memory, but to your average, ordinary viewer, it only seems like now he’s starting to get in to the groove.  He’s going back to being Conan and to being the comic genius that recruited us all to his Coco army.

In the past month or so the bits and monologues have really hit their stride.  Conan has always been great at interacting with his audience, something that was especially apparent during the writer’s strike of ’08, and he’s doing exactly that on his TBS show.  From a man dressed as Harry Potter (who just happened to be sitting in the audience that night… no really,) to a group of girls who showed up in orange beards to a man named Jesse who was dressed so poorly that not only Conan but guest Tim Gunn had a field day with him.  Conan is brilliant at picking out the one person in the crowd in a funny costume or that refuses to laugh and stand.  He never turns the camera on some one who is hiding their face or storming out because they are offended.  He finds genuine characters and they love their little moment of Conan attention.

What Conan’s show is probably most famous for is his bits.  I have seen so many great bits on this show lately, it’s hard to pin point just a few.  He debuted a web show/vlog, he created commercials for his show aimed at a black audience and he even reenacted fights between him and sidekick, Andy Richter, through Taiwan animated news segments.  But perhaps the most stand-out bit came from his interaction with the always over-the-top Gary Busey.  Conan has been tracking his bright orange blimp around California as it floats by Gary Busey… no matter where he is, no matter how many times he tries to relocate.  Busey completely freaks out anytime he spots the blimp and screams at the sky, begging for some kind of answers.  While it’s obviously a staged reaction, because it’s Busey, you know it could be real.  I wonder just how much of it is staged?

It wasn’t until last week when Conan decided to host the entire show in jeggings, that I realized that I needed to take to this blog and point out that the awkward, getting-to-know-you phase with his TBS show was gone.  TBS and Conan have become a serious relationship, and ya know what?  They make a great couple.

Strange days are happening to Bob Saget

The new A&E show, “Strange Days”, has some familiar and not so familiar aspects.  The familiar:  Bob Saget.  He’s no stranger to our television sets.  From his memorable role on “Full House,” to “America’s Funniest Home Videos”, to being the voice on “How I met your Mother”, to countless other appearances… the man has been a staple on American television.   It’s nothing new to see Bob Saget on television.  The unfamiliar:  the sub-cultures that Bob visit’s in each episode.  On its premiere episodes Bob visit’s a motorcycle brotherhood known as the Iron Order and in its second episode Bob joins Bigfoot hunters known as the members of the Bigfoot Field Researchers Association.  Yeah, I would say this half is the unfamiliar.

Watching Bob Saget join a tough group of motorcyclist that party hard and wear mostly leather, should be, above everything, interesting.  It starts out mildly amusing because Bob is relegated to ride sidecar instead of riding an actual motorcycle and is also subjected to getting the members coffee.  If he wants to be initiated, he’s got to start on the bottom of the totem pole.  After a series of voice overs and shots of women flashing their boobs, the boredom sets in.  Not much is really happening, and we’re not really seeing the bonding that Bob is, or should be doing with this group of men.  When Bob attends the wedding of one of the brothers, followed by the memorial and funeral of another, smiles and tears on the faces of all of the people indicate that a lot of emotions are being felt.  Bob’s emotional too.  By the look of things, we the viewers should be moved.  But because little to no interviews are done with the members of the brother hood and not much is done to show why the gentleman who passed, Killer, was so celebrated.  It’s admittedly sad to see Little Killer, Killer’s son, crying over the loss of his father, but because the moment is hidden behind yet another voice over, it’s again, just dull.

In the second episode, Bob visits Squatchers: Sasquatch watchers.  The Bigfoot Field Researchers Association take Bob into the woods with them as they attempt to call and lure the illusive Bigfoot to where they are.  Yet again, short and hardly inquisitive interviews keep us from ever really connecting with these people or understanding why they do what they do.  Some things I would have loved to have known that were never touched upon:  How is this organization funded?  What do these people do for a living?  What does their families think of what they do?  Instead, the group is exploited by the show as nerdy and a bit looney.  Another opportunity to get to know a normally unexposed subculture is lost.

“Strange Days” was filled with the potential to explore something not normally brought to our attention.  A show like “Hoarders”, for example, does a great job at shining a light on a subject or a group of people who viewers know little about.  Bob Saget’s show however, fails to really draw viewers to the characters that they are exploring.

Part of the problem lies in the fact that the show doesn’t really know whether it wants to take a comedic look at the groups or a serious look.  Bob was looked silly riding in that tiny sidecar, but was beyond touched when he met Little Killer.  He raised an eyebrow at the Twinkies that were purchased to lure the Bigfoot, but yet seemed moved and excited when he heard the Bigfoot call out to him.   So which is it?  Should we be fascinated and connect with these groups?  Or should we point and laugh because we don’t understand them?  I’m sure they were going for the first option, but unfortunately, touched upon the latter.

Perhaps the problem lies in the time constraints of the show.  An hour episode with the same amount of voice overs, but more footage of the groups that Bob is exploring, would definitely help the audience feel more emotionally attached.  Perhaps the real success of this show lies on the cutting room floor.

I’m not worried for Bob Saget.  He has a habit of finding steady work (and if not, he’s probably the king of syndication checks.)  “Strange Days” may not make the cut though.  The unfamiliar territory isn’t really working.