MSN TV Blog - TV Buzz

‘Pipeline Fever’ brings lots of banter between the two best super-spies.

By Miss Sarah Jo Feb 17, 2011 11:48PM

Can animated series have bottle episodes? Strictly speaking, it took place on another location (the Louisiana bayou) and it involved expensive set pieces (an airboat, a wounded alligator), but it focused almost exclusively on Archer and Lana, with only occasional flashes of the office folk back at ISIS. Good thing they don’t worry about “budgets” in the same way as live-action.

Truly, there were some bordering-on-deep moments, as Lana prodded Archer to reveal his three biggest fears: alligators, crocodiles and brain aneurysms (which are particularly terrifying because they can happen anywhere at anytime).  There was an origin story of sorts for Lana: apparently, she was close to dousing a fur-clad Malory with a bucket of red paint, before impressing her by ignoring the Magnum that Malory trains on her Afro-ed head. Our little ex-lovebirds (seemingly) inched closer to reconciliation before (thankfully) pulling back with Lana abandoning Archer on the pipeline platform for a date with the honey-voiced eco-terrorist. Like you do.

The bits about Malory trying to turn the ISIS office “green” were mostly tossed-off gags, but we did learn new information – Kreiger is growing his own mutant clones in the lab, the ladies have never told Pam about the women’s bathroom due to her severe intestinal issues, and Canadian light bulbs are stupid.  Good times.

  • My favorite visual gag: Pam pouring the dead batteries down the garbage disposal.
  • “It really is an emergency!”  “Of an awesome and ass-kicking nature!”
  • Duh duh duh duh duh = shut up.
  • “Whichever Hepburn; she was the queen.”
  • “Stop..”  “What? Gator?” “…. talking, but I do really wish there was a gator.”
  • “Look at me, chopping ice for a Tom Collins like a field hand.”
  • Of course, Archer doesn’t care about the Lorax. Putz.
  • “Burt Reynolds is my spirit guide.”
  • “Yes, ruiner of explanations! I was building to that, but yes.”
  • “I hope an alligator attacks you at the exact moment you have a brain aneurysm.”
  • “Why do I have to carry the toilets?” “YOU KNOW WHY.”
  • “Also, yes.”

‘Intermediate Documentary Filmmaking’ exposes the best and worst of the study group.

By Miss Sarah Jo Feb 17, 2011 11:48PM

Just how far are they are going to take the idea of Pierce as possibly the worst person at Greendale College? Last week, I said that I hoped they would complete this arc as soon as possible, but it is looking less like a story about a cranky and annoying old man whose addiction to painkillers pushed him over the edge into extreme behavior, and more like a complete personality transformation to Satan Incarnate. Entitled, selfish oafs are a staple of sitcoms, but not many of them can bounce back from the kind of cruel and mean-spirited behavior that Pierce exhibits in this episode. Although the ending seems to suggest that the gang has forgiven him, it also seemed that way in the last three episodes. I can appreciate and even admire that Dan Harmon keeps a consistent character through-line for everyone, that the show has the patience to build believable well-rounded characters over time and actions have consequences that don’t just drop out at the end of each half-hour.  But when the audience is actively rooting for the rest of the group to shun Pierce forever and move on….well, maybe that is what needs to happen. Not that it will, but it isn’t clear how this can resolve in any satisfying way.

However, a welcome side effect of that deep and steady characterization is that so many moments are hilarious and still grounded in the truth – Jeff’s freak-out about possibly meeting his father being the case in point. It is pretty rare for Joel McHale to get to show off his (considerable) acting chops but this was marvelous showcase for him; the barely repressed rage in his “Uh-huh” on the phone was stellar.  And we still got one of the funniest Britta/Jeff scenes; these two are delightful when they just bug the hell out of each other (“What do I know? I’m Jeff Winger’s big gay dad!”).  Britta’s dark night of the soul about whether to give away Pierce’s blank check to charity or keep it for herself came directly from what we know about her self-righteous personality (“It’s not that I’m selfish. It’s just that I’m really stupid with my money!”).  Despite being my least favorite character possibly ever, Chevy Chase was at his best tonight.  Everything from the fake dad phone call (“No, don’t come closer! As you were. Well, I have to catch a flight to Katmandu..”) to his interaction with Britta (or “Death”) was funny.

Best of all: Troy met LeVar Burton.  It did not go well. At least, it wasn’t Gregory Hines all over again.


The former "Dawson's Creek" star is set to play himself on a

By Sona Charaipotra Feb 17, 2011 12:58PM
Photo courtesy ABC
His last TV outing, the NBC hospital drama "Mercy," was quite short-lived, but that's not stopping former "Dawson's Creek" star James Van Der Beek from making another go at the small screen. 

This time around, he's taking a page from TV icon Neil Patrick Harris's hit turn in the "Harold & Kumar" movies -- he'll be playing a heightened version of himself in the ABC pilot "Don't Trust the Bitch in Apt. 23," written by Nahnatchka Khan ("Malcolm In the Middle," "American Dad") and David Hemingson ("How I Met Your Mother," "Lie To Me"). Perhaps the casting was inspired by his quirky self-parodies on Funny Or Die recently. Here's a sample.
The project focuses on June -- "The Good Wife" actress Dreama Walker has been cast -- a down-to-Earth NYC transplant from the midwest who finds herself stuck living with sexy crackpot Chloe, to be played by Krysten Ritter ("Breaking Bad," the film "She's Out of My League"). 

Van Der Beek's character -- a role originally written for former 'NSync singer Lance Bass, who's gay -- will be a made-for-TV knockoff of himself. Seems the network is cashing in on what might be the next big thing, given Harris's career upswing post "Harold & Humar" (and then repeating the amoral, womanizing cad he played as Barney on "How I Met Your Mother") and the strong start of the Showtime comedy "Episodes," which casts former "Friend" Matt LeBlanc in a similar parody or Larry David and his frequent visitors on "Curb Your Enthusiasm." Of course, it didn't work out quite as well for Jennifer Grey in her pre-"Dancing With the Stars" daze, when she pulled a similar stunt on the much-reviled "It's Like, You Know."

Here's another Van Der Beek video for good measure:


An absorbing case-of-the-week takes center stage on ‘The Life Inside’

By Miss Sarah Jo Feb 16, 2011 11:24PM

Natalie Zea, Timothy Olyphant“We’re going to continue this conversation another time” - Raylan Givens

“There’s nothing to continue because you’ll never believe me.” - Boyd Crowder


It really feels like “Justified” has hit a good balance of ongoing character development and enjoyable standalone stories.  The main plot of Raylan and Tim chasing down the pregnant fugitive before she gets killed by the psycho human trafficker contained good moments of Raylan’s cleverness (getting the bad guy to touch the handcuffs and leave a fingerprint) and a great climax for Tim the sharpshooter (taking the bad guy out by shooting him in the “apricot”). And it managed to tie back to Winona and Raylan’s tentative rapprochement in a tender scene as they talked quietly about his horrific day.


In fact, there was ample room for everyone in the regular cast to have a moment or two.  Harlan’s friendly marijuana matriarch Mags Bennett has unofficially adopted little Loretta, which I guess is the least she could do after murdering her father. Margo Martindale manages to be even more sinister when she is trying to be nice, and it does seem that Loretta is not completely in the dark about how dangerous she can be.  Lots of dread hanging over that relationship. Boyd Crowder is back in Harlan as well, working in the coal mine, wearing new spectacles and carrying a heavy air of brooding melancholy.  Just like last season, his motivations remain mysterious, perhaps even to himself.  When Ava (!!) asked him where he got his bloody face, he replies that he honestly has no idea, which seems to apply to his whole existence right now.  Walton Goggins is a wonder; dolorous and quiet, so different from the confident and focused evangelical leader he was just a few months ago.


Oh yes, did I mention Boyd is living with Ava? Huh.


Arlo is under house arrest and as ornery as ever (exceeded in that department only by Aunt Helen). Raymond Barry brings so much cantankerous hillbilly ill-temper to his role and his super-Southern line readings (“I hope you git cansuh!”) never fail to amuse. And poor pathetic little Gary is still hanging around. Of course, it is very true that Winona did indeed leave Raylan for Gary back in the day, but the chemistry between Natalie Zea and Timothy Olyphant is so vibrant it leaps right off the screen – flirting in the elevator (“You’re the one who went for the victory lap.”), bantering about memories of baby names, or just staring at each other across the room. It is going to take some extremely fancy “selling” to break up that couple.


Laura Prepon, Anne Wershling and Rachel Bilson makes small screen comebacks this fall

By Sona Charaipotra Feb 16, 2011 2:46PM
Photo courtesy FOX
As fall casting news comes fast and furious during pilot season, the networks have announced that some more familiar faces will be coming to a small screen near you come September.

Amongst them are Laura Prepon, Rachel Bilson and Anne Wersching. Here's the scoop:

Laura Prepon: The former "That's '70s Show" star has signed on to star as a twenty-something Chelsea Handler in the TV version of her hit memoir "Are You There Vodka? It's Me, Chelsea." The pilot, which landed at NBC, will be written and produced by Dottie Zicklin ("Dharma & Greg," "Caroline In the City") and Julie Larson ("Dharma and Greg," "The Drew Carey Show"), with Handler on board as exec producer. Since wrapping "That '70s Show" in 2006, the actress has starred on ABC's short-lived 2007 drama "October Road" and guested on "How I Met Your Mother."

Rachel Bilson: Former "O.C." star Bilson reunites with that show's creators, Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage ("Gossip Girl"), on the new CW drama "Hart of Dixie," which focuses on a young doctor in New York City who goes all fish-out-of-water when she inherits a medical practice down South. The actress and fashion icon has appeared on Schwartz's NBC hit "Chuck" and on "How I Met Your Mother" since "The O.C." ended in 2007. 

Anne Wersching: Fresh off her impressive stint as agent Renee Walker on "24," former soap star Wersching (she played Amelia on "General Hospital") has nabbed a spot on the Ed Bernero ("Criminal Minds," "Third Watch") ABC pilot "Partners," a cop drama centered on two female police detectives who are also -- secretly -- half-sisters. On board as the other lead is Scottie Thompson ("NCIS," "Trauma"), and Lawrence Gilliard Jr. ("The Beast") will play a doctor on the show. Since wrapping "24" last year, Wersching has done episodes of "No Ordinary Family," "CSI" and "NCIS." 


‘Combinations’ shows the start to Lights’ difficult climb back into the ring

By Miss Sarah Jo Feb 15, 2011 11:08PM

Holt McCallanyAh, training montages. It really wasn’t possible for F/X to create this series without featuring at least one; it’s really only a surprise that it took six episodes to get there. And it didn’t lead to an inspiring run up the steps of a well-known landmark, but to a middle-aged man sinking into a bathtub full of ice in a grubby motel room.


Although “Lights Out” does deal in some clichés and narrative short cuts, it does not shy away from realistically showing the harrowing effects of boxing, particularly on an aging body. “Taking a thumb” causes Lights’ vision to be so impaired that he (along with his call-girl companion) gets into a nasty car accident, which is only covered up by efforts of Johnny (and most likely Barry and/or Brennan, although this is never explicitly spelled out). But, like his little brother predicted, he has the discipline to figure out a way around it – taping an “X” on the heavy bag and adjusting his stance to find a way to focus on the right place. Pretty fancy but we’ll see if it will indeed get better.


It’s interesting to get bits and pieces of the other Leary family members’ and friends’ back-stories, particularly Johnny, who apparently was not just a good fighter, but also a potential Olympic gold medalist.  Pablo Schreiber brings so much squirrelly energy to his character; Johnny just will not acknowledge rejection even when it is staring him in the face. I mean, Lights fired him, right? But he scurries around, bribing EMT workers, hiring a couple of “Friday night girls” to help them “blow off steam”, inviting Patrick to come stay with him at his barren bachelor pad. That is one great non-manager. And Ben Shenkman as the defeated and downtrodden sports writer Mike Fomosa can say more with a raised eyebrow than an entire page of dialogue.


Unfortunately, Theresa continues to be a drag on the entire story. Catherine McCormack is playing her exactly as written, and she even manages to bring touches of ambiguity to Mrs. Leary’s seemingly implacable resistance to her husband’s destiny. But it becomes harder and harder to justify her decision to commit her life to a professional boxer, and then insist that he not only give up his career, but transform into an entirely different person.  Lights Leary appears to be on a road back to his core, the heart of who he is as a person. Can his wife make that journey back with him? Stay tuned.


The pilot for 'Smash' lines up cast, including an 'American Idol' alum

By Sona Charaipotra Feb 15, 2011 2:12PM

Photo Courtesy Verve Forecast Records

It looks like the new NBC hour-long musical comedy "Smash" might just be the first "Glee" competitor to actually hit the air. (Not counting the BBC reality show "The Choir" or the NBC competition show "The Sing-Off," of course.)

The show centers on the behind-the-scenes lives of the cast and crew of a Broadway musical about Marilyn Monroe. 

The hour-long pilot, the brainchild of one Steven Spielberg and to be produced by his DreamWorks TV shingle, has been firming up cast commitments, starting with Debra Messing as the show's lyricist Julia. 

Now there's news that "American Idol" season five alumna Katharine McPhee -- who's acting experience is limited to guest stints on "Community" and "CSI: New York," along with a NBC pilot that didn't get picked up and a small role in the comedy "The House Bunny" -- will play a struggling actress who hopes to snag the coveted Marilyn Monroe role. Judging from the super-sultry blonde look she worked when releasing her latest record, "Unbroken," last year, she's the perfect fit. 

Also recently cast in the pilot are Jack Davenport (from the short-lived ABC drama "FlashForward") and newcomer Megan Hilty, who's done one-episode stints on shows including "Ugly Betty," "CSI," "Eli Stone" and "Bones."


'Hog Butcher' takes us a little deeper into our heroes' motivations

By Miss Sarah Jo Feb 15, 2011 1:09AM

Jason Clarke, Matt LauriaIt is a law enforcement maxim that you usually don’t have to look very far to find the perpetrator of a crime. If someone is murdered, and the victim has a violent and jealous boyfriend, nine times out of ten he’s the killer. Normally, this would make for pretty boring police procedural television, but in the second episode of “The Chicago Code”, stylishly directed by “The Wire” veteran Clark Johnson, it actually adds a couple of complicating layers.

Jarek and Caleb, using a combination of Twitter sleuthing and public misdirection, manage to make pretty short work of the investigation of the killing of Antonio Betz. Theresa Colvin has to face the fact that it was not an elaborate hit on her life, contracted out by the cold-blooded Alderman Gibbons, that killed her protégé, but the loyal and incensed friends of Don Worthen, the old-school sad-sack cop that she publicly humiliated and demoted in the pilot.  As her old partner sternly lectures her when she tries to lean on Worthen too hard to give up the names of his cronies, “there is corruption and then there is just the way things get done, and you have to know the difference.”  Although she does finally do a good job reaching out to the resentful man she previously alienated, the new superintendent has only been on the job six months, and it will be interesting to see her try to hang on to her idealistic attitude while winning the loyalty of rank-and-file officers under her command. 

Of course, Gibbons is not entirely absent from the storyline, as he smoothly maneuvers Colvin into a position of obligation after he slyly lets Antonio’s mother know about his “heroic” gesture of giving Theresa his bullet proof vest (which negates his death benefits).  This is a potentially intriguing way to keep Gibbons involved in the future arcs of the plot; it is so much more interesting if he can slowly insinuate himself into the (seemingly) good graces of the various police officers and city officials rather than have outright and ongoing hostility between him and our band of white hats.  Besides dealing with the obvious limitations of stretching his pursuit over an entire television season, of course.

Jarek’s painful memories of his brother’s death are brought to the surface during the murder investigation, resulting in the best scene of episode when he has a meaningful communion with his old Catholic school teacher Sister Paul (played by the always welcome Betty Buckley).  She trenchantly calls him out on his excuses for avoiding Mass – adultery, lying, etc.  – (“If I can’t be perfect, why bother being good?”) and cajoles him into praying with her. And his truculent request? “Grant me the wisdom and the perseverance and the ability to find my brother’s killer. And Lord, when I find him, make my aim true that I may take his life.” Yikes.


Did you come back after the pilot? What did you think?