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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.)

White Collar delivers a BIG season finale

It’s no secret I’m a “White Collar” fan.  I think the executive producer and writers dubbed fans of the show “Collars.”  Yep… that would be me.  I’m a collar.  Will I constantly over-load this blog with my thoughts and opinion because I am a fan?  I hope not.  But if they keep ending every season, or mid-season, with shockers, it will be very hard for me to keep my mouth shut.  Or I guess in this case, my fingers off the keyboard.

“White Collar” has brilliant writing.  The show never assumes the audience is dumb.  Plots and historical points are never over-explained, and characters are brilliantly developed.  The character’s are all likable, relatable and yet… completely mysterious.

Well, our exception is Peter Burke (played by Tim DeKay.)  He’s not as mysterious as most characters on this show.  Burke definitely plays for the good guys.  Unlike his counter parts, he’s happy to eat chinese take-out and watch a basketball game rather than visit a museum or sip fine wines.  He’s surprising at times, but not quite mysterious.  He’s level headed, a great voice of reason and incredibly likable.  He’s certainly got the tough task of trying to reel-in and manage our vaguer characters.

I know that when I say vague, our minds go right to Neal Caffrey.  Neal Caffrey (played by Matt Bomer) is a fantastic character because he does such a great job at towing the line between criminal and hero.  Actually though, I was thinking more about Mozzie.  Perhaps I had underestimated Mozzie this season.  When he showed his bravery for a woman he pined for, I was surprised.  My heart-strings were tugged a bit when he opened up about never having been adopted as a child and I was impressed by his brilliant ear when he opened that music box.  Mozzie was always a great character, but this season the audience was able to connect with him and be stimulated by him in a way that wasn’t there season one.  Perhaps in my last season finale entry, I gave Neal Caffrey too much credit for being a great character.  Perhaps Mozzie needed more acknowledgment.

Or maybe it’s a case of never knowing what I have until it’s gone.  With the way “White Collar” ended on Tuesday night, perhaps I had been taking Mozzie for granted.  He was comic relief for the show and he was a mysterious character, but maybe I didn’t realize what a strong presence he brought until he was suddenly (and shockingly) taken away from me (I know, I know… or was he?)

We’re in season two of “White Collar” and the show has  not lost its sophistication.  (Although, one could complain about the use of green screen on Tiffani Amber-Thiessen, but that’s really nit-picking.)  It’s as intelligent and exciting as it was throughout season one.  This summer we Collars got to experience investigations that ranged from a Criminology class, to a dirty politician and to an underground poker ring. We met characters that were elegantly brilliant and deceptively corrupt.  We saw places that were stunning and repulsive.  It’s amazing that after all those years of watching awful deaths and despicable crimes on “Law and Order” that I am satisfied with a simple art heist.  In fact, I’m more than satisfied, I’m excited.

“White Collar” never assumes that it’s audience is unintelligent.  This is a key to why the show is so  alluring.  It is because of this that the audience is able to make such a connection to the characters and be so excited to see story lines about ancient artifacts, priceless paintings, Spanish silver and of course, the inner workings of the FBI.  And the writers deliver.  They deliver with unbelievable endings like the one we saw this Tuesday.

I’m curious to see where the writers plan to take this ending.  On a show like this, you have to wonder if they have already seen the bigger picture in their minds.  Do they already know who “the man who pulls all the strings” is?  Do they already know Neal Caffrey’s destiny?  Or are we watching a story as it develops?  Either way, count me in for the ride.

Written by Jessie Kanev

Avoid men’s bathrooms and cotton-tops… thanks for the tip, Rob Riggle

I may have mentioned once or twice before that I have dabbled in stand-up comedy. I’ll probably keep mentioning it as often as possible so I can get the most mileage out of my three performances before I quit and decided I had stage fright. I feel it gives me a bit of comedy cred. It allows me to watch the new season of “Comedy Central Presents” with a critical eye and not be completely inept to what it actually takes for some one to have a good performance.

I was lucky enough to be apart of the audience for the taping of “Comedy Central Presents: Rob Riggle.” It was taped a few months ago but it aired this past Friday, March 5th. At the taping, I thought Rob had a great set. I laughed, everyone in the audience laughed, and Rob fed off of that. Even though actual laughing never translates quite as well on television, his “Comedy Central Presents” got the point across: Rob Riggle is a funny motha-f*cka. (I think cursing in a review is inappropriate, but placing a star over one letter makes it okay.)

Riggle’s stage persona is that he’s “a real man’s man.” In his stand-up he talks about surviving the bathrooms at football stadiums, not caring about the same things his wife cares about and in his opening line he announces who he would “do” in the audience. He calls senior citizens, “cotton tops” and dreads a 5 hour flight with a bunch of GTL-esk long island guys (can’t say I blame him on that one.) While a typically a guy like this might come off as annoying or a bit of a meat head, Riggle comes off lovable and like he could be your brother or cousin. He’s the type of guy that says something extremely disgusting with such a proud look on his face; all you can do in return is fight off the laughter instead of making gagging sounds like instinct tells you to. He makes men feel like he’s their buddy and he makes women feel like they are extremely glad not to be men (especially when he describes a football stadium bathroom.)

Rob works fairly clean, with an occasional curse word here or there. Unlike many comedians looking for an easy laugh, the set isn’t heavy with penis jokes, blow job talk or descriptions of what he’s like in bed. I was a bit sad to find out that one of my favorite bits was cut. Let’s just say it involved him being naked in the shower and avoiding a section of his bathroom named “pubic ally.” Riggle is extremely marketable. He looks like the family man that he is, and he could easily fit into a sitcom role that is reminiscent of Kevin James on “the King of Queens” or Home Simpson on “the Simpsons.”

Despite the fact that Comedy Central chops up the act, bleeps the curses and uses fake audience reaction shots (even though we were really laughing) Riggle still brings on the laughter. “Comedy Central Presents” is not the best vehicle for judging his stand-up, his live show is really the place to do it. But as far as the season goes, this was my favorite comic thus far. And I would know, I performed stand-up three times.