Tagged with tv shows

Kate’s Television Musings: “The Mindy Project” not just another “Neurotic Single Gal” show

By Kate Emswiler

Mindy Kaling is everywhere right now, discussing her new sitcom, “The Mindy Project” which she created, wrote, stars in and co-executive produces.  Back when we’d only heard about the show in dribs and drabs and then finally got a preview video, I thought the show looked funny and well-crafted, with some notes of cutesy silliness that appeal to my personal comedic sensibilities.  But I was curious to see what the initial response would be from others.  I scanned Twitter and Facebook, and found the reaction to be generally positive, though one comment on a friend’s Facebook post gave me pause:  “Looks alright but do we really need yet another show about a neurotic single gal and her wacky adventures?”

The thought hadn’t occurred to me, but ever since I read that comment, I have been wondering how “Mindy” might fit into the TV landscape.  It’s true that if a show has a female protagonist (and a sole protagonist — not sharing the lead spots with other characters on the show), it’s most likely that the character is single, neurotic and constantly struggles to “have it all” with a supercool career but a kooky, messed up love life.  Have the Liz Lemons, Ally McBeals and Carrie Bradshaws of the TV world wrung out all the modern single gal stories?

No way, I say.

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A Mary-Kate-less “Full House” reunion

"Full House" reunion

Here is what the cast of “Full House” looks like these days, minus Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen. While the rest of the Tanner crew gathered for a 25th anniversary reunion show, the Olsen twins didn’t make it, because they are apparently too famous and fashionable. I mean, hey ladies, John Stamos put in an appearance. [NY Daily News]

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Kate Stewart our new fave on “Dr. Who”

By Kate Torgovnick

I had an exciting moment while watching Saturday night’s new episode of “Dr. Who”—the introduction of a new character, Kate Stewart (left, played by Jemma Redgrave). Stewart is the Head of Scientific Research at UNIT and, as her name would suggest, is awesome. In fact, her bio on BBC One declares, “Kate is intelligent, quick-witted and has a dry sense of humour.” Here’s to watching her story arc develop over the next few episodes.

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Kate’s Television Musings: What Makes a Good Pilot Episode?

By Kate Emswiler

Earlier this week, I read an article in which Washington Post TV critic Hank Stuever examines what goes into a successful pilot episode — and why so many fail.  Mostly, he believes, it comes down to confidence … and not revealing all the fears and insecurities behind a show’s first wobbly steps.  So, I decided to take a look at one of this season’s newbies, “The Mob Doctor” (which has so far elicited a watery response) and juxtapose it with the pilot episode of “Grey’s Anatomy”, which I re-watched right after “Mob Doctor”.  The differences are stark, though obviously the shows are also not entirely similar. “Mob Doctor” is a crime drama, but it’s much higher on drama than it is on crime. ”Grey’s” is allowed to thread more humor throughout.  Most significantly: “Mob Doctor” follows one main protagonist, with the supporting roles silhouetted on the periphery, while “Grey’s” features a strong and varied ensemble cast.  “Grey’s” benefits from a kick-ass soundtrack, too, something that started in the pilot and has continued throughout the series.

I didn’t dislike “Mob Doctor” entirely, though it’s thinly drawn and it’s tough to care much about our protagonist, played by Jordana Spiro—she of the Chicago-based shows and Pantene-commercial hair.  Spiro plays Dr. Grace Devlin, a surgeon who got mixed up with the wrong folks and now owes a great debt to some shady Chicago mobsters.  Grace spends the whole first episode rushing around, wearing a worried expression while her gently bouncing hair adds a softness to the otherwise “gritty” situation.  She has a lot on her plate in this first episode and it ends up being exhausting, exasperating and yields little reward.

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Kate’s Television Musings: Hate-Watching — “Smash” vs. “Glee”

By Kate Emswiler

“Glee” starts up again this week, forcing me to ask myself, “To hate-watch or to not watch at all?”  Hate-watching a TV show is a strange and complicated thing.  It requires that you like a show enough (or at least have residual feelings of liking a show, as I do with “Glee”) to keep watching it, but you are also savvy enough to kind of hate it because it’s not very good.  For me, I also feel oddly betrayed, as though my viewership and loyalty have been abused or deemed worthless.  “I don’t have to be good,” the show seems to say, smugly, “I just have to have enough colors, random flashiness and pointless guest stars to keep the dumb masses distracted.”

Well, that won’t work with me! I think to myself.  I’m too smart to waste my time on this turd of a series.  And yet … it does work with me because I continue to watch said turd-like show.  Enter:  hate-watching, wherein I reluctantly (but diligently) watch a show, but sit there grinding my teeth the whole time.  Hating it.  Kinda hating the version of myself that is a viewer of turds.

If you type “hate-watching” into Google, the second option in the drop-down is “hate-watching smash”.  As in, that other TV musical, “Smash” on NBC.  I watched every episode of “Smash” and without fail, every week, I had a brief heart-to-heart discussion with myself on why, exactly, I was routinely watching a show I didn’t really like.  I don’t have the kind of vitriol for “Smash” that I reserve for “Glee” because in many ways, it’s a slightly better show.  It makes thismuch more sense.  There’s a relatively identifiable narrative, albeit a tired, stale one.

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Kate’s Television Musings: Happy (TV) New Year!

By Kate Emswiler

Happy new (TV) year!  Finally, the fall TV season is upon us and I cannot wait to roll around in this pile of new shows and briskly clear out my DVR in preparation for the harvest of new series.  Early fall always feels like a time for new beginnings, fresh starts, clean slates, etc.  So, like so many people do at the beginning of January, I’ve decided to make my own list of “new year” resolutions – TV-related, of course. 

Some of the most frequently declared New Year’s resolutions include:

  • Lose weight.
  • Manage stress.
  • Get a better education.
  • Be healthier/drink less alcohol.

And as it is in life, so it shall be with that box in the living room.  Thus, for the start of this 2012-2013 TV “year,” I am committing myself to the following resolutions:

Lose weight.  Every year I start new relationships with shows and inevitably, some of those relationships just don’t work out (it’s usually them, rarely me).  And yet, for some reason, I often can’t sever ties by deleting the recordings, holding on to some vestige of the hopefulness I felt at the beginning of the series – that we might work out, that we might spend many happy hours in the dark together right up to a bittersweet series finale someday.  But I should face reality:  If left unwatched, episodes just pile up on the DVR, weighing it down with unnecessary baggage and reminders of what didn’t work out.  Lose the weight!

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Catherine O’Hara to guest star on “30 Rock” as Kenneth’s mom

Catherine O'Hara on "30 Rock"By Kate Torgovnick

Catherine O’Hara — the actress who was so, so brilliant in “Beetlejuice” and, oh, every Christopher Guest mockumentary — is headed to “30 Rock.” In perhaps the best casting ever, O’Hara will be playing the mother of Kenneth (Jack McBrayer), the hyper-attentive and moraled NBC page who in my opinion is the best part of the show. Not only do O’Hara and McBrayer look a lot alike, but they both bring the same wholesome, oh-shucks energy to their roles. I can’t wait to see how this pans out.

So who, you ask, will be playing Kenneth’s father? None other than Bryan Cranston of “Breaking Bad,” writes Entertainment Weekly. Niiiice.

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Kate’s Television Musings: On “Ben and Kate” and why TV’s newest Kate is not very Kate-like

By Kate Emswiler

This fall, Fox has a few interesting new offerings, like Mindy Kaling’s series “The Mindy Project”.  The half-hour comedy “Ben and Kate”, however, is not one of these interesting offerings.  Which is a shame for folks on Kate-book, of course, because one of the two titular characters is a Kate.

Having watched the “Ben and Kate” pilot, I am sad to report that this “Kate” couldn’t be further from a real Kate.  More often than not (and yes, I pay close attention to this), Kate characters represent Kates well.  They are clever, charming, elegant and classy. They’re usually no-nonsense Type A personalities with cutting sarcastic streaks.  Almost always, they’re dark-haired, though this certainly isn’t a requirement, just a pattern.  My theory is that Shakespeare set this all up with “Taming of the Shrew”, in which Kate is (for most of the play) smart, no-nonsense, sarcastic and tough (a “ball-buster”, if you will).

The so-called Kate of “Ben and Kate” is a far cry from Shakespeare’s witty Katherine. For a TV character, she actually has precious few defining characteristics. She’s a bland blonde with little identifiable spark or passion.

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Honey Boo Boo says niece Kaitlyn is “so cute,” despite three thumbs

Here Comes Honey Boo Boo

By Kate Torgovnick

I thought it was a safe bet that I would never write about the TLC juggernaut “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo” — about the loud mouthed 7-year-old beauty queen and her proudly redneck family — on this site. But then five weeks ago, Honey Boo Boo’s sister, 18-year-old Chickadee, gave birth to a baby girl named Kaitlyn. Rumor has it that the rest of the family has been poking fun at baby Kaitlyn because she was born with two thumbs on her right hand. However, the family tells People that isn’t true.

“We have embraced it,” says family matriarch June. “It makes Kaitlyn more special to us.”

Adds Honey Boo Boo, “Baby Kaitlyn’s so cute.”

Check out a photo after the jump.

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Kate’s Television Musings: The Complexities of Relationships . . . with TV Shows

Kate's Television Musings: The Office

By Kate Emswiler

The end of a beloved TV series can be deeply disappointing or sometimes bittersweet, and I responded accordingly to the news that some of my favorite shows like “30 Rock” would be ending after this upcoming season.  However, I had a strangely relieved reaction to the news this week that Dunder-Mifflin will finally be shuttered after this upcoming ninth season of “The Office”.  After all, it’s easy to understand why the show is ending.  I no longer consider “The Office” to be a great show, or even a very good show, as over recent years it seems the characters have devolved into caricatures, storylines have weakened and the actual office itself just feels sad and boring.

Some of the seasons have been better than others, and season eight over 2011-2012 was especially uneven and bizarre.  The show went on a plummeting nosedive with occasional bouts of outrageous, triumphant hilarity from some of the weird newcomers like James Spader and, of course, fellow “Kate” Catherine Tate.  And yet, every single week, I put myself through the grinding task of watching “The Office” — even making a point of watching it before I watched drastically higher quality shows like “Community” and “Parks and Recreation”.

Indeed, there are plenty of other shows that I like and, frankly, respect more than “The Office”, but I don’t watch those shows nearly so regularly.  Why?  I don’t know.  I can’t explain it besides that there’s something comforting and familiar about “The Office” and checking in with it each week (or watching a whole slew of episodes in a row on a lazy day off) feels like visiting my old neighborhood or checking in on a relative whom I might not like very much, but whose company feels homey.

Or in other words, I love “The Office”, but I don’t really like “The Office”.

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Kate’s Television Musings: ABC Family’s family values give me hope for the future

By Kate Emswiler

As it is used today, the phrase “traditional family values” is baffling, and grows ever stranger the more it is trumpeted as part of a political agenda. Imagine saying this phrase to someone who knows the English language but not much about America — he/she might presume that “traditional family values” would be things like love and acceptance, inclusion and respect. But bizarrely enough, this phrase is now associated with anti-gay sentiment and fried poultry. It’s bewildering to say the least, and a disgrace to be more accurate.

And yet, at least within the TV world, there’s one network that manages to have “family programming” that also happens to feature positive, well-rounded gay characters. Turns out, ABC Family is one of the most gay-friendly networks around, a fact that has not gone unnoticed by GLAAD, apparently, as the network has repeatedly been honored for its inclusion and depiction of gay characters on shows like “Greek” and “Pretty Little Liars”.

“Greek”, a startlingly clever show for being about a bunch of kids in sororities and fraternities (the one quote on my Facebook page for a long time was from “Greek” — Rusty: “It’s like we’re a boy band and I’m the fat one.” Casey: “It’s pronounced ‘Fatone.’”), featured one of my favorite gay characters ever: Calvin Owens, a black, gay member of the Omega Chi Delta fraternity. He was good-natured, comfortable in his own skin, a fan of sports and other typical guy stuff. He didn’t have an angst-ridden past or heart-wrenching coming-out story; his parents were understanding and accepting of their homosexual son. Calvin’s bigger issue with his parents had to do with the fact that he was a “legacy” in the frat and strove to live up to his father’s aspirations for him at Omega Chi.

In other words, Calvin was a typical college kid . . . who happened to be gay.

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Kate Flashback: Kate Walsh checks into Seattle Grace Hospital

Kate Walsh, who plays neonatal surgeon Dr. Addison Montgomery Shepherd, has become a fan favorite over her years on “Grey’s Anatomy” and its spin-off, “Private Practice.” But when she first strolled into Seattle Grace Hospital in 2007, wearing a fur-collared coat and pearl earrings, she was an out-of-left field game-changer. Let’s take a moment to look back at the final moments of the season one “Grey’s Anatomy” finale when Walsh first appeared, sashaying over to Meredith Grey and Derek Shepherd, and announcing, “Hi, I’m Addison Shepherd. And you must be the woman who’s been screwing my husband.” Walsh single-handedly turned “Grey’s Anatomy” must-see TV.

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