MSN TV Blog - TV Buzz

Information is doled out slowly on day five of the investigation

By Miss Sarah Jo Apr 24, 2011 11:13PM

Brent Sexton in Describing a television series as "slow" can be automatically be construed as a criticism in some quarters.  Using other descriptive terms such as "deliberate" or "restrained" just tarts up the fact that certain shows parcel out their information over a longer period of time, and in that sense, "The Killing is much closer in tone to AMC's stately "Mad Men" than the action-packed "Breaking Bad".  Ultimately, it may require more patience from the viewer, but the pay-offs (once they come) can be just as rewarding.  After going over the events of "Super 8", there was actually interesting movement on several fronts in solving the murder of Rosie Larsen.

The cops: Bennet Ahmed is still definitely in the mix as a suspect after a) a shaky-at-best alibi for the night of the murder, b) a pretty brunette wife who also happens to be a former student and c) a healthy supply of the same chemical found all over Rosie's body. Good for Linden for covering all her bases and building up the case, despite Holder's heavy-handed "let's get this scumbag" bulldozer techniques. Seriously, how has she not blown up at him yet; it seems only a matter of time before he alienates and/or scares away a potential helpful witness by treating everyone like a potential serial killer.  Thankfully, it now is more likely his surreptitious phone call had to do with an estranged family (wife/girlfriend? mother?) than any secret sabotage against his partner.  In any case, Sarah seems perfectly capable of screwing herself up by getting too involved with her cases; "I'm a different person now" is her weak retort to Rick's skepticism.

The campaign: Betty Draper's little brother (OK, fine…"Jamie") proves himself a good little double-agent, as he successfully ferrets out the mole as well as his backer (Nathan and Yitanes, respectively).  Too bad this whole plot line feels minor at best, a waste of time at worst.  The push/pull between Gwen and Darren about the political benefit of getting closer to the Larsens is more nuanced, and Billy Campbell does a good job of conveying the real pain underneath his attempts to decide if the ends (winning the election) justify the means (intruding on a family's genuine grief).

The family:  The deep suffering continues for both parents, with very different results. Mitch seems to be quickly losing her connection to her children, her husband, and reality itself, as she continues practically sleepwalking through her days. Meanwhile, Stan is repressing his deeply felt agony for the sake of being the "strong" father figure, but his emotions are roiling just beneath the surface. Brent Sexton absolutely killed the scene of his breakdown in the gas station bathroom, and his chilling order to Belko to go ahead and poke around the school portends some ominous developments for the future.

  • Mayor Adams still seems a bit cartoonish. "Fruits"? It's a generational thing I know, but still.
  • It is excellent that the show acknowledges how not everyone will rally around a family when tragedy strikes. Sometimes it is easier to pretend not to see you in the grocery store.
  • Most heart-breaking moment: Denny at the kitchen table, after his older brother threatens to tattle on him to their parents: "Go ahead. They don't care about us."
  • Anyone else feverishly scanning the images from that movie for clues?

The East Dillon Lions learn some hard lessons about the unfairness of life

By Miss Sarah Jo Apr 22, 2011 10:16PM
"Friday Night Lights" is a show that works best when it skates right up to the edge of sentimentality or cliché, narrowly averting both with understated writing and acting. Both were on display here in the main plotline. After winning their first game, the Lions seem to be in worse shape than before. Due to football politics, Luke's clean hit on the other team's quarterback is declared illegal, and he is suspended. Adding insult to injury, the team is not ranked despite beating a highly ranked team.  Coach Taylor's gruff instructions to his team to (basically) suck it up and play football were balanced by his dawning realization that the Lions were indeed being unfairly penalized.  It all led to that final, goose-bump inducing moment, when Coach gave an unspoken challenge to his depressed and disheartened players, by simply writing "STATE" on the whiteboard.

But first, it is necessary to deal with some worrisome plot developments.  Julie Taylor has seemingly chosen the only college in the U.S. where the first week isn't filled with freshman social activities, as well as sorority pledging, athletic events, and assigned study groups. Consequently, she is feeling lonely and directionless, and sets herself up as catnip Derek Bishop, flirty TA.  Keeping Aimee Teagarden around just to have her involved in soapier romances would be quite a waste. It is extremely disappointing if the creators of such strong female characters feel like they have to go back to the (dry) well of the inappropriate student/teacher relationship for Julie

Fortunately, the Tami storyline was redeemed a bit by introducing Epyck, the "nightmare" student referred to last week.  This was a triumph of heartfelt and straightforward dialogue and performance ("If you don't have someone at home who cares about you, who cares about your grades, I'm sorry. You don't deserve that and it isn't fair.").   Now that Tami has taken a step back from her gung-ho do-gooder persona, perhaps there will be a more realistic depiction of what it takes to reach these kinds of sullen and distrustful students.

"STATE". Well, we've got our season finale, right? There's no doubt the Lions will get there, but will they win? Either way, it will be a journey worth taking right along with them.

  • The whole "rally girl" phenomenon is so distasteful, and it is good that they are presenting it clearly, as not just sunshine and cookies. It's probably too much nuance to ask of an hour-long network drama, but it would be interesting to explore how damaging it is to girls like Maura who internalize the stereotypes so blithely accepted by the entire community.
  • Sure, it's hard to swallow that major universities like USC and Georgia are aware of Vince Howard at East Dillon High, but it did give the opportunity for Michael B. Jordan to play the hell out of the heart-warming scene where he shows his mother all the letters of intent.
  • Mindy is going to be an awesomely funny substitute mother for a teenager.
  • Becky and Luke are still super-cute together, but I can't imagine his parents would be thrilled at them getting back together.
  • "Boy, I got your message loud and clear."

With one week left till Steve Carell departs, "the Office" cast offers a tearjerker of a farewell

By Sona Charaipotra Apr 22, 2011 9:46PM
Photo courtesy NBCIn the seven seasons it's existed, I never expected "the Office" to become such a tearjerker. But as the producers ramp up the emotion in Steve Carell's last few episodes, it's becoming just that. 

First there was that three-hanky proposal, and this week, a sweet send-off that may just be one of the more memorable moments the show has ever offered up. 

As Carell's Michael Scott wrapped up his final Dundie Awards, his replacement DeAngelo Vickers (guest star Will Ferrell) cohosting, Michael's long-suffering employees decided to express that vast river of emotion they'd been feeling in song -- and one from "Rent," at that (no doubt the inspiration of Broadway baby Andy Bernard, played by Ed Helms). Conspicuously missing: Scott's right-hand man Dwight Schrute (Rainn Wilson), which suggests we have another tearjerker of a goodbye coming up next week, when Carell finally walks off set for good. 

In the meantime, in case you missed it, here's the sweet send-off:

Catch Carell's final "Office" appearance next Thursday at 9 p.m. on NBC in a very special 50-minute episode.

'Double Trouble' brings the second season to a darkly amusing conclusion

By Miss Sarah Jo Apr 22, 2011 11:05AM

Can you count how many "season finale" clichés were featured and then subverted in this episode?  First and foremost, a life-changing alteration in the main character, as Sterling falls sincerely in love for the first time, and even quits drinking (kind of). Next, an "explosive" final shootout, where everyone runs out of ammunition.  And finally, a beautiful terrace wedding that ends in the tragic loss of one mad scientist's van.  Yeah, yeah - Katya also dies, but I really don't think we are meant to be too broken up about that.

All of the double-crosses, betrayals and misjudgments piled on top of each other to create more frenetic plotting than outright funny one-liners, but overall "Double Trouble" was full of the kind of outrageously shocking jokes (Pam sitting on the toilet was something we can never ever EVER un-see) and honest action sequences we have come to expect from "Archer."  Any show that inserts an extended homage to "The Six Million Dollar Man", complete with shot-by-shot remake of the opening credits and a fake Oscar Goldman voice, is automatically in the top TV comedies, animated or live-action. Kudos to Adam Reed and everyone involved for turning out a second season of endlessly quotable dialogue, ingenious spy shenanigans and non-stop perversion. See you in the danger zone again soon.

  • "What in the name of pre-paid venereal disease do you think you're doing?"
  • "Then you're as dumb as you are stupid."
  • Guys, don't hate the playa, hate the game.
  • It was great to get a featured role for Krieger, and nice to see the return of his hologram Japanese fiancée.
  • "No words. My words have failed me."
  • Lemon Party Chairman
  • "If I tell you all at once, your head might explode. Along with comb over."
  • "This deuce ain't gonna drop itself!"
  • "Something about stripes and solids?"
  • Holograms have mothers? Who knew?
  • "Don't engage him. From there, it's all just orcs and gollums and balrogs."
  • Most giggling-inducing running gag: Malory's complete ineptitude with the phones. ("I bet Mother is pressing star again.")
  • "How do explain this?" "Bad parenting?"
  • "And mustaches."
  • Sy Berg. Of course.
  • "You have sown the wind and now you shall reap…the Barry."
  • "All ashore from the SS Date Rape."
  • "Totally being sarcastic about the Georgia O'Keefe posters. Do not do that."
  • "The unholy abomination of metal fused with flesh that now stands before you."

A showcase for Aziz Ansari continues an excellent run of episodes

By Miss Sarah Jo Apr 22, 2011 10:14AM
A strong supporting cast is both a blessing and a curse in a sitcom.  Of course, it is always great to have a plethora of solid and reliable minor characters that can drop in whenever the comedy needs goosing. But it can also create unwieldy subplots and underused foils to the main players.  If balanced correctly, it results in an episode like "Soulmates", where Leslie is inexplicably matched up on a local online dating site with the annoying but endearing nitwit Tom Haverford, which gives Tom the opportunity to display his outlandish douchiness to maximum effect. The fact that this development somehow brings her closer to her real soulmate and mural-lover Ben was a sweet and lovely bonus.

It didn't seem possible that "Parks and Recreation" could top last week's touching and wildly funny wedding extravaganza, but tonight's episode may have had even more laugh-out-loud moments. Just the escalating list of Tom's dumb nicknames for seemingly everything under the sun ("I call noodles long-ass rice. Fried chicken is fry fry chickie chick…and I call forks, food rakes") had me gasping for air. It was a great combination of writing and (I'm assuming) clever improvisation from Aziz Ansari.  And his elaborate mocking of Leslie throughout the workday once she admits what happened climaxes in her inspired solution of planting a big wet one on his lips just to shut him up, with the added pay-off of Tom's description of that kiss to Ben ("As much as it pains me to admit this, it was not disgusting."). 

The ostensible "B" story was a winner as well, pitting Ron Swanson's manly read-meat-eating habits against the uber-healthy vegetarian Chris. Sure, it was predictable that a classic American hamburger would win the taste test against the fancy turkey burger concoction that Chris put together, but getting there was incredibly fun, particularly the competing excursions to "Grain N' Simple" ("I came here for the same reason people go to the zoo.") and "Food N' Stuff" ("It's where I buy most of my food. And most of my stuff.").  In the end, the super-human positivity of Chris cannot be dimmed; the commissary will continue to serve horrifying artery-clogging hamburgers, even if you have to jog while you digest them.

  • Newlywed April and Andy are more adorable than ever ("Pinwheel.")
  • "If anyone would like to join me, I will running backwards up the big hill behind the Wal-Mart."
  • Adam Scott didn't have that much to do until the end, but his stumbling, bumbling response to Leslie's date invitation was priceless.
  • "Boom, that's spaghetti.  Nachos. That's a cookie."
  • Go Ann Perkins with your newfound trampy self.
  • "Yellow-haired female likes waffles and news" becomes "Sexy well-read blonde loves the sweeter things in life."
  • "Jammin' on my planner"
  • Turtles ARE condescending.
  • The sewage department guy is comedy gold. "Would you like to talk outside in my van?" "No, here's fine."
  • Better name: Skittle Sandwich or Andy's Mouth Surprise?
  • "This tastes is as delicious as Beyonce smells. I'm guessing."
  • "It's a hamburger made out of meat on a bun with nothing. Add ketchup if you want. I couldn't care less."
  • "Cooking is dumb."

Using a familiar format, the study group recalls some meaningful events

By Miss Sarah Jo Apr 22, 2011 8:45AM
The standard sitcom "clip show" can range from mildly enjoyable to annoyingly lazy, but not usually clever or original. With lots of funny moments, self-aware comments on ongoing running gags, and some outrageous new set pieces for the tertiary characters, "Community" came up with an inspired twist on a tired concept.

It all starts innocently enough as the gang discovers the secret of Annie's disappearing purple pens; as the audience already knew Troy's monkey has been stealing them – and lots of other items - and storing them in the air vents.  Launching off from one small "Remember when?" question, we are treated to a series flashbacks from episodes both well known (the Halloween zombie attack, the Christmas claymation adventure) and entirely new (apparently everyone got together to paint Shirley's nursery, Greendale had an odd "free Caesar salad" day, and there was a Brady Bunch-esque outing to a Western ghost town). The memories fly fast and furious, and we learn about Abed's obsession with "The Cape" ("Six seasons and a movie!"), Dean Pelton has a bottomless supply of elaborate costumes and odd ideas about campus events, and most importantly, Jeff and Britta have been having secret sex. Once it is established that you can pretty much create romantic slash fiction video montages with anybody, and after a hilarious montage of Jeff and Britta behaving incredibly insensitively in every possible situation, the gang gives their blessing to the happy couple. Of course, once they are denied the clandestine nature of their hook-ups, they don't want to do it anymore. Strange how that works.

"Paradigms of Human Memory" took every opportunity to poke fun at itself and it's standard character arcs, such as a mash-up of Jeff's "inspiring" speeches that devolved into utter nonsense but managed to bring everyone together anyway. It was chock-full of throwaway moments that were surely labor-intensive (kudos to the hardest working crew in the business), and seemed designed to please all the different fans of the show. Those fans will surely have fun deciding which "fake" episode would be the most enjoyable to see (I'm partial to whatever was going on in the haunted house), and hopefully this was the start of a strong finish to a bumpy second season.

  • Sorry, Joel McHale – your forehead is indeed that big.
  • "Is that a new stereotype?"
  • "It's like a reverse cow birth
  • "Yay. Let's find Santa some more."
  • "OK, we hooked up a few times but there's a larger issue here. We are friends with a grown man who clearly believes in leprechauns."
  • "Humanity is premiering, you jags!"
  • "You five are in big trouble. Jeff and Britta, you're free to go, since you didn't step forward and are therefore innocent."
  • "Feast your ear tongues on these memory pops."
  • "It was a particularly small egg. That's why I was asking."
  • "The show's going to last three weeks!"
  • "Those are just stories about us being cute."
  • "Abed, it's called chemistry. I have it with EVERYBODY."
  • "Fear. Anchovies. Fear."
  • "Harrison Ford is radiating our testicles with microwave satellite transmissions."



In the show's 100th episode, art imitates life -- sort of!

By Sona Charaipotra Apr 21, 2011 3:29PM
Photo courtesy NBCTonight, "30 Rock" celebrates five years and 100 episodes with an hour-long show by taking to heart Alec Baldwin's repeated insinuations that the show is coming to an end. 

In the very special episode, Baldwin's network boss Jack Donaghy announces that the network is canceling show-within-a-show "TGS," also celebrating it's 100th episode, unless it can pretty perform a miracle -- given one MIA star (Tracy Morgan's Tracy Jordan), one pregnant star (pregnant actress Jane Krakowski's Jenna Maroney) and Donaghy's decision that the network should only do shows that make sense. 

We know already that the same potential fate won't befall "30 Rock," which already has its season six renewal (and Fey's own pregnancy won't effect the show's production). 

"We want to thank NBC for being too distracted over the last several years to remember to cancel us," Frey said at the celebration of the 100th episode. "I can't believe we made it. Nobody thought we'd make it. We never had the highest ratings, but NBC stuck with us for whatever reason and we're all just so happy we've to work together for five years so far."

So sit back relax and enjoy this sneak peek:
And catch the full hour-long extravaganza tonight at 10 p.m. EST on NBC. 

The residents of Port Charles unite to confront his out-of-control drinking

By MSN TV Apr 21, 2011 3:04PM

Emmy winner Anthony Geary has seen his beloved "General Hospital" character Luke make many mistakes since he sauntered onto the canvas in 1978. Even the iconic Luke and Laura love story raised eyebrows among fans who knew the full tale. This time, however, affable Luke's drinking ways resulted in the death of his grandson, Jake. He and Lucky are taking the hit hard, but on Thursday, April 28, Lucky gathers the troops to stage a rather unique intervention for his father. Anthony Geary and Jane Elliot (Tracy) preview the intervention episode, which also stars Jonathan Jackson (Lucky), Maurice Benard (Sonny), Julie Marie Berman (Lulu), Tyler Christopher (Nikolas), Laura Wright (Carly) and other Port Charles faves.


MSN TV: How is this storyline treating you?


Anthony Geary: I've loved having something to do. Something beyond drunken fun, which is what we've been doing for so long.


Jane Elliot: These two characters have been the comic relief a lot for the last few years. I'm perfectly happy to come in and make people laugh. That's the easiest way to make a living, but this is good and gut-wrenching. You toss and turn at night, thinking about what you did and what you're going to do. It's fulfilling.


Bing: Watch clips and episodes of 'General Hospital'


Anthony Geary: My favorite thing to do is rip open my heart and bleed for the people; and that's what this has been about.


Jane Elliot: Everybody brought their A-game and it shows. This group of actors has been working together for years and years. We have a strong affinity for each other and it was a pleasure to spend the day with them.


Anthony Geary: It was delicious. [Head writer] Bob [Guza] told me what he wanted to do and actually asked if I wanted to do it, which I thought was sweet. Why wouldn't I? I'm looking for something new and challenging, and this was it. It was gravy that it was well written and had all of my acting troop, my family, participating. I’m talking about the intervention, but the whole storyline has been invigorating. It's been rejuvenating to be asked to act again.


How do they get Luke to the intervention?


Anthony Geary: They do it the only way they can: They knock him out and tie him to a chair.


Jane Elliot: It's Lucky who finally says, "We have to do this," because he's not getting any better.


Anthony Geary: Luke's as close to suicide as he's ever been.


Jane Elliot: So Lucky enlists his brothers and his sister, Tracy jumps on board and we get Carly and Sonny to participate.


Anthony Geary: The entire episode takes place in one room. It's just everyone in a circle on folding chairs, with him taped to a chair in the middle. It was like doing a play.


Jane Elliot: It was just yummy.


Anthony Geary: When each person reads their intervention letter to him, we step out of reality in a very stylized way. It's flashbacks, but we're inside them.


Jane Elliot: As the audience sees it, we're watching it too.


What was it like to see that old footage? 


Anthony Geary: Brutal!


Jane Elliot: There's 20 years of flashbacks and his hair gets whiter and whiter.


Anthony Geary: Killing me! We have flashbacks of Jonathan when he was 11.


Jane Elliot: And Maurice looked like a kid.


Anthony Geary: A baby! This is the only medium where you can go back 30 years, in our case, and have the same actor playing themselves.

Luke occasionally falls off-canvas so Anthony can spend time at home in Holland. Will Luke disappear into rehab this time? 


Anthony Geary: Oh, you figured that out, did you? (laughs)


Jane Elliot: This time you go with him.


Anthony Geary: You get to see where he ends up.


Jane Elliot: The story doesn't end here.


Anthony Geary: You won't be disappointed.


Did you do any research on addiction and interventions?


Anthony Geary: I didn't, because every time Luke says, "I am not an alcoholic," I believe it. As an actor, I can't play a guy in denial. I have to play a guy who is not an addict.


Jane Elliot: Just like Tracy Quartermaine doesn't think she's a bitch. (laughs)


Anthony Geary: What's cool is it leaves people to argue about it: Is he or isn't he? I don't think any of us can say for sure.


Jane Elliot: It was also very clearly written for us. We didn't have to do any research.


Anthony Geary: They did the research and they did it well -- apart from him being tied to a chair!


Jane Elliot: We're going to be getting calls from Betty Ford, no doubt.


Anthony Geary: Betty Ford has never dealt with an alcoholic like this. (laughs)


Did you have any concerns about this story, knowing you might not play certain things "right," according to some viewers?


Anthony Geary: I'm happy as long as I have material to burn the house down. I'm not worried about where the character's going to end up or how the audience is going to take it. This is a character the audience has been loving to hate and hating to love for 30 years. He's damaged goods and they seem to like him that way, so I don't think it's a problem.


There's going to be an Al-Anon/Alateen PSA after the episode, but is there a message in this story?


Jane Elliot: No. You're just seeing life. You're seeing the guts of it, which is the best thing about soap operas. It's the opera part. You're seeing people rip their hearts open. Yippee!


Anthony Geary: If we could do that every day... This has been a great story. It's reset our bar. At a time when the medium is limping toward its extinction, to be able to surprise the audience and keep them involved, challenged and wanting to watch tomorrow is fantastic.