Archive for the ‘Variety’ Category

by Judi

5. Yes, Dear (2000-2006)

I challenge you to watch more than a solid minute of this clip. IT’S NOT POSSIBLE to be more bored with a sitcom. Do you know what’s duller than watching a baby all day? Watching someone else watching a baby in the guise of entertainment. Now, I am one of those people who finds a great deal of comfort in sitcoms (the cheesier the better, let’s go), in the structure, the laugh track, the wacky neighbors, the tired plot lines. But I cannot stomach a sitcom that’s “phoning it in”, especially when there are some really brilliant shows out there that don’t get half a break. They canceled Samantha Who? after two seasons but this crime-against-sitcom-nature lasted for SIX WHOLE YEARS. Compare the two for yourself. (Clip with the dude from Boston Common and a baby or BILLY ZANE? This isn’t even a choice really)

4. Access Hollywood (1996-Present)

There’s a very solid chance that Access Hollywood will outlive me. Do you find that as depressing as I do? I understand that we, as a culture, simply can’t help ourselves when it comes to tabloid-mania and How Sad is Jen Now and PREGNANT CELEBRITIES OMG WE LOVE THEM. But at least when I read US Weekly at the supermarket, I don’t have Billy Bush’s voice yapping in my ear. (He has a radio show too, I just discovered. Who the hell is listening to that on their commute to work every day? I hope whoever he is, he doesn’t have a shotgun in the backseat). It’s all about my hatred of Billy Bush really. TiVo knows better by now, needless to say, if my yelping and constant stream of, “No no no no no no no no” when it tries to tape an episode is any indication. I’m going to put this in the simplest terms imaginable: I would rather get a gyno exam in Time Square at eight in the morning than watch Billy Bush and Teri Hatcher go shopping for bras.

3. Jon & Kate Plus 8 (2007-Present?)

I used to really enjoy Jon and Kate, back when it wasn’t completely embarrassing to declare your love for hard-ass Kate and her tyrannical ways and the way Jon just sat there like a defeated lump. Six back-to-back episodes of their eight kids roaming around the yard was solid entertainment to me on a Sunday afternoon (those kids are precious, come on). And then the SCANDAL. Which is one thing but the pair of them have suddenly morphed from decent people who stumbled into a reality show to Reality Show People who would do anything to keep their names in lights for one more week, at the expense of eight adorable nuggets. It’s nauseating. I won’t even dignify this space with a clip, that’s how disgusted I am.

2. Newhart (1982-1990)

I admit this is a bit of a jump, from reality show toads to a person who many people regard as a national treasure. And while I enjoy Elf as much as the next person, I just- I don’t get Bob Newhart. I don’t find him amusing at all. His show is kind of the equivalent of when I was a kid and we’d be driving home at night and Magic 106.7 was playing and the DJ (David Allen Bouche) had one of those voices that was supposed to be soothing but really he would stretch out the pauses to OBSCENE lengths so that every sentence took forever and it felt like any second now, someone would leap into the backseat and shove bamboo shoots up my fingernails just so I would have something else to think about. That’s what watching him on television is like for me.

1. Paris is My New BFF (2008-2009)

There will come a time, mark my words, when ALL OF US, all of us in America, will have That Moment- That Moment where we say, as a nation, that we cannot cannot CANNOT watch MTV ever ever ever again. No, not even when the Video Music Awards are on, no no no. Something will come along that is so plainly abominable that not even the value of a True Life marathon can wipe away the stench of putrid television filth.

For me, that moment came when someone at MTV said, “Let’s give Paris Hilton a TV show.” She pouts, she poses, she tortures America. And I’m just saying No.

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Two few things you might not’ve known about me.

– I have this ongoing dream (nightmare? No, dream. I think) that I wake up one morning and I’m Auntie Mame. It’s like Kafka but with a kimono and affected accent. I try to be upset about this but I can’t because HELLO? Auntie Mame is awesome. Give us a kiss.

I wonder if this is a side effect of having for close friends two gay men nearly twice my age. Does Margaret Cho have this problem?

– I am sort of crazy-obsessed with Top Gear. You know, the BBC show about cars? My friend Adam loves it and while I was staying with him and darling Lizzie last year  after I moved to Chicago, he got me hooked. Hooked enough to make sure I got BBC America with my all-too-expensive-but-worth-it cable package (ok, so the show “Robin Hood” had something to do with that decision as well. Until they killed Marian in the second season finale and now the show is dead to me. DEAD TO ME. I’m clearly still upset about it as I’ve brought it up here already once before and it’s been over a year now.)

Anyway, back to Top Gear. It’s starting a new season tonight on BBCA (although Adam thinks this might be a trick like last time and it’ll be a bunch of episodes he’s already seen) and I have to say, I was a little put out by the mention in Entertainment Weekly’s Must Watch of The Day: Top Gear
The team road tests the Aston Martin V8 Vantage, the BMW M6, and the Porsche 911 Carrera S. I’m going to TiVo and watch it the day I’m reincarnated as a millionaire who gives a hoot about cars.

Let me just say this- I know next to nothing about cars. I could really actually care less about cars. In fact, if the choice came down to me selecting the car of my choice or being chauffeured around in a Lincoln Town Car like, say, Auntie Mame, I’d be hanging my cigarette holder out the window faster than you can say “Take me to the milliner’s, driver! And step on it!” And yet… and yet this show is amazing.

If you know nothing about the show, let me try to whittle it down to a nutshell- Jeremy, Richard and James are the hosts and basically talk about cars. They drool over cars, they race them, they harangue the poorly made ones, they share car news for car nuts and they put them through sometimes-ridiculous trials to test them out in very unlikely circumstances. Like, say, how do the cars fare playing a game of soccer. Soccer with cars and a giant inflatable ball. Hard to imagine. But you don’t have to imagine because you can watch them do it.

If you like dry British humor and watching grown men gleefully discussing their favorite subject, sometimes with cutting, competitive banter (Jeremy to the petite Richard after he’s been teasing him “You know I just read an report on short men. Turns out they’re rubbish in bed and useless at work.”), and racing each other and mocking each other and, yes, learning about cars, you should check it out. But mostly because these guys are aces at mocking each other. For instance, while trying to send an old Mini Cooper down an Olympic ski jump.

Just hands off Richard Hammond. He’s mine. I mean it.

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by Judi

sandwich-day-liz-red-dress Show: 30 Rock

Character: Liz Lemon

Actor: Tina Fey

Basically: The intrepid Liz Lemon, introduced perkily in the 30 Rock pilot as this generation’s That Girl, is the creator and head writer of Friday night sketch show TGS with Tracy Jordan, formally The Girlie Show starring her longtime friend Jenna Maroney.

As the series moves into its fourth season, we now know a little bit more about old Liz Lemon. Actually, we know a lot more. Too much, in fact. In brief, the show is pretty much her entire life. Her love life is a disaster (see Dennis, Conan, Wayne Brady, Floyd and Jon Hamm), she has the appetite of a greedy trucker, and everyone around her is either crazy or a complete mess. Oh, and her best friend/mentor is her arrogant, ultraconservative boss Jack Donaghy.

A few other things-

-Will throw a trident if you steal her food.

– When she was eight, her name was on the scoreboard at a Phillies game but they misspelled it as Lez Lemon.

– She was rejected by two men who later went to clown college

– She reads the newspaper every day (“Yeah, suck it- I DO read the paper.”)

– Allergic to dogs because she got bitten by a dog on the day she got her first period.

– Went to elementary school with Sheryl Crow (“Oh, I’m a kidney!”)

– Speaks remedial German.

– “Liz is generally pretty racist.”

– Enjoys Star Wars (to the point of dressing up as Princess Leia to get out of jury duty, which works in Chicago but, sadly, not in New York)

Why We Love Her: Old Liz Lemon represents a new kind of modern woman- the woman who throws herself completely behind her career, wakes up and realizes she’s now thirty-five and most likely missed her window to marry a cute boy and have lots of babies (“I’m going to buy the dress, have a baby and then I’m going to die and meet a super cute guy in heaven.”) Instead of handling this all gracefully, Liz is kind of a mess- grappling with the stress and daily crazy of her nonstop work life by inhaling greasy sandwiches, fastening her bra together with tape, forgetting to go to the dentist until her tooth falls out during a meeting, and then somehow pulling herself up and vowing, once more, that this will in fact be her year.

She’s also purely lovable for her outward geekiness- her Star Wars and Sims references, her awkward clothing choices (“Those shoes are definitely bicurious”), her habit of being caught in humiliating circumstances in front of a room of men, getting lettuce stuck in her hair, enjoying a bird museum in Germany, studying Theater Tech etc etc.

Favorite Moments: I honestly don’t think I can pick just one. Liz loping down the hall just like the muppet version of herself, her reaction to everyone watching her phone sex commercial (“I’m lizzing! I’m LIZZING!”), her hiss and recoil when ex-boyfriend Floyd makes an unexpected appearance at her door in the morning (“CRONE!”), her strange robot-dancing for Dr. Spacemen.

Check Tina Out In: For some reason, E! sometimes plays Saturday Night Live episodes but only the same six SNL episodes. So be sure to check out some of Tina’s Weekend Update work on the Steve Martin, Lindsey Lohan, Paris Hilton, Olsen Twins, Ashton Kutcher or Christina Aguilera episodes on E!. Mean Girls is also a classic- definitely a notch above when it comes to standard teen entertainment fare. And if you haven’t seen Tina Fey as Sarah Palin, well. Welcome back to planet Earth, friend. I’m sure you’ll enoy what you see.

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by Judi

Thanks a lot, NBC, for providing me with a promising new show with a name that I have to spell-check twenty-seven times.


I’ll confess that I’m mainly checking out this drama at 10/9C (given a surprisingly positive review from Entertainment Weekly) because Neve Campbell is in it and I have a bizarre sentimental investment in all of the former Salinger children‘s careers. I applaud you, Gretchen Weiners. I’m happy for you, Jack Shephard (even though I find you a little bit insufferable). I  cheered you, Scott Wolf, when you were not terrible in Saturday Night Live (oh my God, that was in 1998) and it seems you’ve got a role in the new pilot V, I’ll probably watch that too. I wonder what baby Owen’s been up to?

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by Judi

I think one of the reasons I can’t get into American Idol is because my heart will always belong to Star Search.

Way back in the day (and by day, I mean the 1980s), there wasn’t a better way to end Saturday morning’s quality programming than with a little Star Search action. Little moppets with their taffeta dresses and tiny tuxedos, belting out a Dolly Parton song while their decked-out parents sat beaming in the audience. Hack comedians with gimmicky puppets. Dance troupes doing their own routines to classics like Footloose. Before text messages, before Ryan Seacrest, before everyone started wondering what exactly was in Paula’s cup, we had Ed McMahon classing it up, neon stars, a whole lot of lights and, oh, yes, the future stars of America.


I’m sure most people will be sorry to hear of McMahon’s passing because of The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson or his part in handing over gigantic checks to old people and women who don’t know the meaning of the word “bathrobe.” But I will always see him here, where a few stars (Justin Timberlake, Usher, and Joey Gladstone) were born.

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by Judi

A few recent musings on summer TV offerings.

More dancing, less crying...

More dancing, less crying...

  • I really, really hate these reality shows that force you to watch weeks of auditions and try-outs before they actually start the show. And do the episodes need to be TWO HOURS LONG? So You Think You Can Dance is a fine example as apparently FOX believes I have nothing better to do than watch both the contestants and panel of judges cry for two hours straight. Seriously, everyone was crying last week. My friend said it’s because dancers are basically theater students, trying to wring out emotional drama out of the smallest infraction, but I don’t care what the reason is. You’re a hot dancer. Stop crying. Nobody’s forcing you to dance on a very dangerous fishing boat or anything. Seriously, stop it.


  • Is Kathy Griffin officially off the D List? Cause, I feel like she is. Don’t you? I mean, let’s bump her up to C List at the very least. When I feel defensive of Kathy Griffin over BETTE MIDLER, it has to indicate a change in the air.


  • I’ve completely forgotten to watch Tori and Dean this season, like completely. I think sometimes you need to treat crappy TV like a crowded closet. Toss your clothes in a pile and if you’ve forgotten you own it, get rid of it.
Wow, best caption ever.

Wow, best caption ever.

  • E! has responded to my Kendra post by playing “Adventures in Babysitting” this afternoon. And, quite frankly, the ploy is working. I think I love you again, E! If this were a summer blockbuster about tornadoes, we would totally be getting back together right now. (OMG Vincent D’Onfrio with your precious blond hair. I so prefer you as Mechanic Thor to your throaty overacting on Law & Order)

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Unseen footage from when the Michaels tried out for "Party of Five"

Rare snapshot from when the Michaels apparently auditioned for "Party of Five"


I can’t wait for Michael and Michael Have Issues and, finally, this new business of tying in a series with blogs, Twitter, Facebook etc. is actually working to my advantage because it’s all actually, miraculously doing its job- ie making me very excited for the show instead of wanting to blow my brains out.

The fact that Michael (Showalter) and Michael (Ian Black) are actually funny MIGHT have something to do with it.

A recent blog posting from Michael and Michael Have Issues

Me Vs. Regular People

My compliments to Stephie Grob for posting so many terrific photos from the set of “MMHI.” If I were somebody who watched television, I would definitely check out the show based purely on the photographic evidence of excellence. Because I do not watch television, however, I will most likely stick with great works of Russian literature from the 19th and 20th centuries.

That probably sounds like I’m bragging. Like, “Oh Michael Ian Black thinks he’s go great because he has a doctorate in Russian literature.” No, that’s not what I’m saying at all. I’m just saying that because of my extensive background in studying the great Russian literary masters of the 19th and 20th centuries, I don’t enjoy watching television as much as “regular people.”

Which is NOT a put-down of people who aren’t as smart as me. It’ s just that we have different interests. Regular people watch TV whereas I prefer doing in depth literary criticism of books such as Gogol’s “Dead Souls” and Lermontov’s “A Hero For Our Times.” One activity is not better than the other. They’re just different, as different as Pushkin and Tolstoy.

Which is just a roundabout way of saying I hope you enjoy the part on our show where we kill bunnies.

Another great find- Ryan and Kelly from The Office arguing over their relationship status on Twitter. I can’t get enough.

by Judi

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