Category Archives: Series Premiere

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.

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Aside

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

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.

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.

Bridalplasty keeps it tacky

Every girl dreams of looking perfect on her wedding day.  At least that’s what I have been told.  I have never been one of those girls who dreams about her wedding or wearing white.  But, no judgments here.  If you’re one of those marrying gals who dreams of a traditional, beautiful, wedding day where all eyes are on you, I say go for it.  But ladies… let’s keep it classy.

Take my friend Kelly for example.  Kelly is due to be married next October (I’m her Maid of Honor.)  Kelly has chosen a beautiful wedding gown, is taking dance classes to tone up her body before the big day and has already recruited her make-up and hairstylists to do some test runs on her so that everything is perfect on her wedding day.  This, is a classy way of looking great for your dream day.

E!’s latest television show, “Bridalplasty,” is a more in-your-face, tacky way of preparing for your wedding day.   On this show, hosted by Shanna Moakler (famous for marrying and divorcing Travis Barker,) twelve brides compete with each other to achieve the perfect wedding day and of course, that means the perfect look.  E! will throw them a beautiful, luxurious wedding and in addition, give them head-to-toe plastic surgery.  Talk about getting a make over.

The show opens with the Brides arriving, sharing their stories, and getting to know one another.  There are some sweet, heart tugging stories, like Melissa, a bride who’s fiance is currently in Iraq.  There are some camera hogs, like Alexandra, who you may recognize from “The Biggest Loser” (and if you didn’t recognize her, she said it fifty-million times.)  And there are some down right bridezillas like Janessa who proudly announces that she gave her fiance a deadline to propose because they had already been dating for four years (and c’mon, that’s like… totally crazy.)  After the brides get to know each other, Shanna comes in, looking quite botoxed and plumped in the lips herself, and tells them that the doctor is about to give them their run downs.

Personalities aside, there is not a bad looking girl in this group.  When the plastic surgeon walks in with cards of what each girl wants to have done, I’m wondering what could it possibly say.  We soon learn that this show should have been hosted by Heidi Montag because that’s who these brides seem to want to look like.  (Let’s hope for their sake they come out looking a little better than she did.)

After the doctor hands each girl her list of what surgeries she wants to have done, they get some cocktails, do some mingling and then it’s time for the first challenge.  They must put together a puzzle of what their new selves will look like.  The first 10 who finish get to go to an injection party.  The girls eye the winning syringes with longing and get started on their puzzles.  Kristen, our first winner, happily announces she will finally fix her “butt-face,” while Lisa Marie (no not that one,) our final winner, cries EXTREME tears of joy.  But two girls are left without syringes, and now a vote must be done by the other brides to see who will stay.

Based on the editing and promotion, E! seems to sell “Bridalplasty” as Bridezillas meets the Swan meets Survivor.  Who will be the last one standing?  What will they look like when this is all over?  And can anyone tame these zany brides?

But, Bridezillas are really just trying to make their day go off without a hitch and just as they want it.  And people on Survivor are literally, just trying to survive.  And the heart-tugging stories of the Swan made you sympathize with the longing these folks had for plastic surgery.  Bridalplasty, misses the mark in all these places.  The show concept doesn’t stem from a good place of trying to make some one’s life happier, all it does is exploit these ladies’ desperate need to be perfect on their wedding day.  Pretty ladies, who don’t need to change anything to look great on that day, yet clawing at each other to get plumper lips and a smaller waist.  It’s a competition that brings out the worst in the contestants and offers artificial, shallow prizes.

It’s not about being anti-plastic surgery, or anti-weddings/brides or even anti-Shanna Moakler (which I admittedly, kind of am.)  It’s about tapping into the multi-million dollar industry of brides and weddings and turning it into an all out, Janice Dickinson style cat fight.   There’s no question that it will provide entertainment (instead of Bridezillas meets the Swan and Survivor, think Bridezillas meets Flavor of Love,) but what kind of message does this send?

Wedding days are meant to be fairy-tales.  They should be filled with love, excitement, and dreams coming true.  The Wedding Channel and Lifetime are good at capturing these dreams for television.  E! is good at capturing weddings filled with insecurities and going under the knife instead of loving yourself.

I know that some brides are desperate to do whatever it takes to have their perfect wedding day.  So with that in mind, I beg of you, all brides-to-be, don’t go on “Bridalplasty.”  You can be beautiful and have your dream wedding without having to go on immediately following the Kardashians.  Let’s keep your wedding day and pre-wedding behavior classy.

Team Coco rejoyce… or not.

Somewhere in between watching my beloved Yankees lose the ALCS and watching “King of Queens” repeats, something occurred to me:  Conan O’Brien is coming to TBS.  The network placed it on the sidebars during the commercials, Craig Sager plugged it during every sporting event, and little Conan animations popped up during “House of Payne.”  The whole station just looked more orangey than usual.

This is great news for everyone who’s ever been Team Coco or better yet, anti-Leno.  Conan’s premiere on cable was to be Conan’s big redemption and revenge on the major networks that had wronged him in the past.  On top of all the hype that came with his exit from NBC and agreement with TBS, the trailers for Conan’s new show promised that the show would be EPIC.  Everyone was on the edge of their sofa’s waiting for the clock to strike 11 O’clock on Monday November 8th, 2010.

In fact, so many people were waiting and watching and clenching their pearls, that Conan trounced the competition.  Not just beating the red hot Daily Show and Colbert Report (who’s ratings last month were the highest ever for the two shows,) but also beating the big wigs of Jimmy Kimmel, David Letterman and of course, the evil Jay Leno.  Point awarded to Team Coco.

But getting an audience after a much hyped premiere is easier than getting an audience on day two.  The first show was filled with F-U’s to Jay Leno and NBC, many jokes about getting fired, and funny thoughts about being on network cable.  But then, the second show was filled with the same thing… as was the second, and third show.  Conan is becoming Taylor Swift and NBC is looking like Joe Jonas.  But at this point, we get it.  You got dumped in a 27 second phone call; time to write a song about something else.

On top of weak and redundant jokes/sketches this week, the opening week guests were lack luster.  As per usual, Tom Hanks was a great guest.  I enjoyed Conan’s Wednesday bit on having the stars of basic cable stop by:  Bruce Jenner, a hoarder and the Alaskan crabs from “Deadliest Catch.”  But I could live without seeing Michael Cera and Charlyne Yi be their emo/awkward selves/characters two days in a row.  Are they really a great “get”?

We all know Conan’s potential.  We all remember the great things that came out of his NBC late night show, such as Triumph, the masturbating bear, hornymanatee.com, etc.  They are all still with Conan so as soon as he gets his sea legs over at TBS we should be able to see Conan and his characters be funny again, right?

It’s almost like when Conan got moved to 11:30, the funny in him got sucked out and now he’s got to find it again.  Hopefully, he finds it soon because the Jay Leno jokes are getting old.  The last thing we want to do is to have to watch Jay Leno to avoid hearing about Jay Leno.

I understand that not everyone comes bursting out of the gate at full speed.  Especially when you’re used to network executives breathing down your throat, so I am pulling for Conan to really pick up steam as his run continues.  I’ve already had to deal with a losing season for my Yankees (yeah yeah I know, I’m a spoiled Yankee fan, we spend a lot of money, yadda yadda yadda,) but I can’t handle another loss!  Team Coco needs to be a winning team.

Were you expecting sex and blood? This is Melissa and Joey, we’re talking about

Sometimes you can predict certain aspects of a show before it even premieres.  For example, if a new installment of the Bravo Housewives is starting, I can guess that there will be lots of caddy girls and drama.  If a new reality show premieres starring Rod Balgojevich and Spencer Pratt, I kind of assume it’s going to be wacky.  I don’t mind, it helps me brace myself for what is about to come when I sit down to watch these new shows.  So, when I sat down to watch the premiere of “Melissa and Joey” on ABC Family last night, I fully expected it to be cheesy.

I knew going into “Melissa and Joey” that it wasn’t going to be a gritty drama or an OH-MY-GOD-DID-THEY-REALLY-SAY-THAT comedy.  First of all, the show is on ABC Family.  This network is not known for shows with sex, blood and drugs.   Well, there is some sex on “The Secret Life.”  And I guess there is some murder on “Pretty Little Liars“.  But, still, the casting of Melissa Joan Hart and Joey Lawrence just screams TGIF throwback.  In other words, anyone that expected to be blown away by how edgy this show is, deserves to not enjoy it.

For everyone else that likes the occasional cheesiness, this is your show.  Yes, there are some people who like cheesy shows.  Cheesiness doesn’t mean bad.  In fact, I have more friends that watched “Full House” growing up than watched “NYPD Blue.”  Some people like a happy ending and a corny and predictable punch lines.

The show stars Melissa Joan Hart as Melissa (of course,) a career driven council woman who inherits custody of her niece and nephew when her brother-in-law and sister are sent to jail for being involved in a money scandal.  Melissa has a hard time communicating with her new housemates and has never had to discipline them prior to now.  She had been the cool aunt for years and suddenly has to assume the mom role.  When she begins to look for help with the children, Joe (aka Joey,)  shows up at her door.  He is looking for a city job since he is a commodities trader, but settles for a job as her nanny (a manny if you will,) since it’s the only one available and he is broke/homeless thanks to her scheming siblings.

The show deals with adjusting to a new family.  Melissa is struggling to find the balance between family and work while looking for love herself and Joe (so… is it Joe or Joey?) is learning how to care for two children.  If your household has a 7 or 8-year-old in it, it’s a pretty good family show.  It’s got the 30 minute resolution that we all grew up loving as well as predictable jokes that really only make a child laugh out loud (although may sometimes warrant a “heh” from an adult.)

There are some holes in this show that an adult would easily spot.  For example, the show seems to take place in Ohio (judging by the Ohio shirt worn by Melissa’s nephew) however, Joe and the nephew both seem to have New York accents.  In addition, Melissa’s public relations person was clearly brought in as comic relief and has yet to have a funny line.  And while I love that the show is taped before a live studio audience, the collective “awwww” appeared after Joey found out his ex girlfriend never loved him, was cringe worthy.

The show has one of those story lines that forces you to wonder when the inevitable will happen and the two of them will get together.  I don’t know how many more seasons this show can continue without there being a spark between the two, and when that happens, the whole theme of the show will change.   It won’t be like Uncle Jesse marrying Aunt Becky, it will be more like Ned falling for Stacy.  Where do you go once that happens?

One thing that seems to help the show is that both of the main actors are veterans to television.  Melissa Joan Hart convincingly portrays a stressed out but caring aunt, and Joey Lawrence (or is it Joe?) actually has pretty good comedic timing.  Melissa and Joey have a good chemistry together and the most enjoyable scenes are when the two of them are going back and forth.  Of course, that could just be because I have a soft spot for both Clarissa and Blossom’s brother.

This isn’t the show to watch if you want to have your mind blown.  We have “Dexter” and “True Blood” for that.  This isn’t the show to watch if you want to see something sexy, we have “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Nip/Tuck” for that.  It’s not even train-wrecky, we have “Jersey Shore” and “the Bad Girls” club for that.  It’s just a happy-go-lucky family sitcom that you can watch with your kids.  But, you probably predicted that.