Tag Archives: ABC

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.)

New game show hosted by wrestler, and throws people off buildings. Are you interested yet?

Game shows get old fast.  Regis was great but we grew tired of seeing only nerds become Millionaires on “Who wants to be a Millionaire?”  The “Weakest Link” was an angry twist on a trivia game show, but screaming the word “BANK” over and over again at my television set grew tired.  And, of course, watching “Are you Smarter than a 5th grader” would have been fun if I could stomach even a minute of Jeff Foxworthy. (Hey, I just came up with a joke! If you can watch more than a minute of Jeff Foxworthy, you might be a redneck.  Okay, not funny but I had to reference his awful stand-up.)

The bottom line is, no matter how many wheels we make people spin, no matter how many celebrities we put in squares and no matter how many doors we put their prizes behind, it’s only a matter of time before we get tired of a game show.  The problem is that game shows are games.  They are no different than video games, bored games, sidewalk games, the list goes on.  If you play them too much, they get redundant and boring.  Even Tetris, the most addicting game of my childhood, wore me down at some point.

Despite being aware of our short attention span for game shows, the TV networks keep coming up with new ways to get us to watch them.  Take “Downfall” for example, ABC’s newest prime time game show.  “Downfall” allows the contestant to choose a category, then to name the item that is being described in the category.  As they are being asked these questions, a conveyor belt of prizes passes them by.  The more correct answers the contestant gives, the more prizes stay on the belt.  The more questions they get wrong, the more prizes they watch fly off the side of the building.

That’s right.  These contestants don’t just lose the prizes, they watch them fall off the side of the building.  Interesting twist, right?  It gets better.  Lose all the prizes, and the contestant themselves get tossed off the side of the building.  And by “tossed,” I mean they are strapped to a bungee cord and gently lowered off the side of the building.

The questions are fairly easy, yet ABC has managed to find contestants that seem to have no clue what town “the Flinstones” lived in or what kind of food Kentucky Fried Chicken serves.  (The Flinstones town is IN the theme song and chicken is IN KFC’s title!!)  The show is hosted by Chris Jericho, and while he’s no Regis, he’s certainly charismatic and charming (a far cry from when he’s on Monday Night Raw telling the audience they are “gelatinous tape worms.”)  Since Chris Jericho comes from a wrestling background and Regis comes from a hosting background, the learning curve has to be put in place.

In an ironic twist, a game show filled with easy trivia, throwing prizes off a building, throwing contestants off a building and a WWE wrestler as the host, is actually enjoyable.  I yelled at my TV, I laughed at the cheesiness and I rolled my eyes at the lame jokes.  I know it sounds like a chore, but all those emotions actually make a game show… kind of fun to watch.

Is this show going to make us all smarter with its genius trivia and contestants?  No, not at all.  Is it breaking boundaries for television?  Not really.  Is it an easy summer primetime show to watch?  Yeah, it is.  When I want to watch groundbreaking television, it will not be the show I put on.  When I want to watch something I can mock around the water cooler tomorrow, it will be the show I turn to.

Throwing people off a building to get us to watch game shows again…  what will they think of next?  I’ll let you know when I get bored of watching this so we can start working on the next wacky twist.

Jamie Oliver tackles school lunches- even on pizza day!

For the most part of my schooling, I was a brown bag kid.  Once in a while, usually on pizza days, I would forget my lunch and be provided with hot lunch from the school.  This is the most thought I gave school lunches until documentaries like Super Size Me started pointing out the lack of quality foods being served in schools.  The fight for healthier lunches in our school is now coming to television, and it premiered this Friday on ABC.

“Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution” is the first show to send a real chef (Oliver) into public schools to attempt to revamp the way they serve hot lunch.  While we’re ready to welcome an enlightening show like this into our homes, it seems that the town of Huntington, WV was not ready to welcome it into their lives.

Based upon previews, I thought this show was simply going to educate the people in the town and the viewers on how to eat healthier.  But as I began to watch the show, I realized that Oliver really had a fight on his hands.  And while a bit of the show does teach healthier eating habits, it really documents Oliver’s struggle to try and change how people eat.

The town of Huntington, WV was chosen, not randomly, but because a government survey found it to be the area with the highest death rate due to heart disease.  This stat would scare most people but the people of Huntington don’t seem to want help.  In the first scene, Oliver goes to promote his mission on a local radio station and even the DJ greats him with resistance and close mindedness.  The local DJ’s attitude is nothing compared to the hard time that school cooks give Oliver (and don’t call them lunch ladies… Oliver learned that the hard way.)

The school cooks see nothing wrong with frozen, processed chicken or potato pearls.  The mere suggestion of peeling actual potatoes brings scowls on the ladies’ faces.  The comparison of potato pearls to cement is not that far off, but for some reason, Oliver is the only one that seems to know this.

The children in this school are not quite sure what an eggplant is (they suggest it  might be a pear) or that a french fry comes from potatoes.  Frozen foods, deep fried foods and processed foods seem to be the new food pyramid in this town and nobody is listening to Oliver’s pleas to change this.  It isn’t until Oliver takes his case to the parents of the school that a smidge of momentum shifts his way.

The show takes a scary look at the causes of childhood obesity and childhood diabetes.  When Jamie wants to give one family a wake up call, he actually takes them to the doctor and the doctor’s diagnosis is not perfect.  Diabetes lingers in teenager Justin Edwards’ future.  For such a young age, to have such a grim diagnosis is heartbreaking.

The people of Huntington (which seems to be a lovely town) aren’t stupid or slow- perhaps they just don’t know any other method.  Nobody seems to be doing actual cooking (and not just microwaving or adding water) but it also seems that nobody has ever taught them how to do actual cooking.

Oliver’s upbeat attitude and determination is inspiring.  Although his tears on camera may be a bit much, he truly comes off as passionate about changing this town’s health.  He constantly insists to people that he is on their side but the biggest problem is- none of them believe him.  Until this town sees results, Oliver is not going to be treated like a hero.

The show is fascinating and heart wrenching at the same time.  Everything Oliver says makes complete sense but until some one actually takes his advice, nothing will change.  I am excited and optimistic about where the next couple of shows will lead- will we see this town take a turn for the better?  Will people get healthier?  Will they follow Jamie’s methods?  But I am also nervous.  Will they ignore his advice?  Are they set in their ways?  It seems like since the show is dealing with real people, with real struggles; any outcome is possible.

Watching the show inspires me to change my own eating habits; a definite sign that the show has a positive message.  Perhaps if a young version of myself was watching this show, they would remember to take their lunch- even on processed pizza days.