MSN TV Blog - TV Buzz

Many fans have great 'Expectations' for the fifth and final season

By Miss Sarah Jo Apr 15, 2011 6:57PM
Right up front, it is necessary to establish my unwavering adoration for "Friday Night Lights", because there were certain plot developments tonight that called for every ounce of it. Despite all the missteps in the past, such as the disappearing Santiago character, or the ill-advised murder subplot for Landry (basically, despite all of the second season), most of the last four years have been full of extraordinary acting and writing, and a superlative sense of place rarely found on network television. For the first episode of the fifth and final season, there was still a lot more to love than hate, so let’s get right to it.

Minor shake-ups and changes were dealt with fairly deftly, although it appears Dillon is becoming the town in a Peanuts cartoon – emptied of all adult parental figures. Becky’s mother has strangely handed off her house (including the Tim Riggins’ Trailer of Sin) to her trucker ex-husband, his wife and baby daughter, and they fall somewhat short of the Cleaver family atmosphere. So Becky hightails it to the Riggins home and guilts Billy into taking her in. Mindy certainly doesn’t seem thrilled, so we’ll see how long this lasts.

Meanwhile, Jess and Vince (and the mad chemistry between Michael V. Jordan and Jurnee Smollett) are practically shacked up at her house while her father is conveniently (read indefinitely) away on business. One of my fears is that the writers won’t know what to do with Jess now that there is no love triangle to sort out, but watching her juggling school, home, Vince, etc. could be really intriguing.

There's a new guy with the amusing moniker of Hastings Ruckle.  A shy and dreamy basketball player, he is initially reluctant to play a game that "speaks to all the worst instincts in American culture", but is quickly won over by the Lions’ team spirit and embracing acceptance. At least, that is what I think happened. It wasn’t too clear really. But he’s on the team and makes a big touchdown. Yay!

Our resident goddess Tami Taylor is shocked, SHOCKED to discover that the East Dillon students have extensive police records, skip class and fail their courses.  This certainly is the hardest part of the episode to swallow, particularly since her husband has been coaching at this school for a year. The show’s creators seemed to go back and forth on whether East Dillon has been a neglected and ignored poor community of long-standing, or whether it sprang fully formed from the evil redistricting. As usual, Connie Britton sells the hell out of Tami’s naïveté and makes me root for her in spite of the shortcuts in the writing.

Finally, we get to necessary transitions for departing characters like Landry, and semi-departing like Julie. The less said about the Landing Strip farewell, the better, but the simple good-bye scene between Landry and Grandma Saracen ("Boy, I’m gonna hug your neck.") was sweetly touching, and true to both characters and their relationship. And the Taylors sending their oldest girl off to (name of school) was a heart-tugging (and completely earned) moment.

Those small human moments, combined with an eye for the down-to-earth details of typical middle-class life in a small town, are what make Friday Night Lights one of the best television series of all time. Details like the glowing light of an open garage on a muggy Texas night while a father and daughter play one last game of ping-pong, or the slight sparkle of tears in that same father’s eyes as he watches that daughter drive away to college.  It's good to see everyone in Dillon once again.

 

'Fancy Party' springs a surprise amid the usual plethora of delightful moments in Pawnee

By Miss Sarah Jo Apr 15, 2011 12:04AM

Aubrey Plaza (left), Chris PrattWeddings -- something that sitcoms traditionally have done to goose the ratings or add drama to a lackluster season. Sometimes there is a long build-up, other times it comes out of the blue. But rarely has a wedding episode felt so completely and utterly right. “Fancy Party” puts the crazy, poorly thought-out, insanely impulsive marriage of Andrew Maxwell Dwyer and April Roberta Ludgate front and center, and somehow makes it seem like incredibly sound reasoning.

 

Bing: More about 'Parks and Recreation'

 

It wasn’t all earnestness, not with Ron Swanson alternately fuming at Chris’ vegetarian loaf (“Not only does this thing exist, but now you have deprived everyone of cake!”) and gleefully looking forward to another “ex-wife effigy” after Leslie reminds him of his second marriage to the second Tammy.  There were small moments for new peripheral characters like April’s sister, who must now become the new black and cynical heart of Indiana, and old ones like Jean-Ralphio, calmly extolling the virtues of Vince Vaughn in “Fred Claus”. And of course, there was Rob Lowe break dancing to “Jump Around”. Truly something for everyone.

 

The spotlight was naturally on Leslie’s increasing panic over the impending nuptials which got funnier and funnier with each desperate plea (“Why are you doing this? Why is this… great thing happening?”) and frenzied appeal (“Two boneheads, whom I love dearly, are about to sacrifice their future because they haven’t thought this thing through.”).  Her practicality finally melted when the bride entered to the lovely strains of Simon and Garfunkel’s “April” and that newfound embrace of spontaneity lasted long enough to let her get a bit closer to Ben who accepts a permanent job in Pawnee. All of these developments were super-sweet, but only a truly heartfelt show like “Parks and Recreation” would save the most touching declaration of devotion for the one between April and Leslie.  Now that’s a love story for the ages.

  • Running through the main plot was the ongoing adventures of Donna and Ann at a singles mixer. Rashida Jones has been getting more opportunities to be show off her comedy side, and her awkward interactions with the guys at the bar were pretty funny.
  • Too many amazing Donna moments to choose from, but “Are you Nell?" from the movie “Nell”?” was probably the best.
  • It probably is fun to see Tom faint.
  • Mmmmmm….Xbox pancake.
  • “Apparently, they want me to bring “Avatar”, and fifty pairs of 3D glasses, and a 3D capable television.”
  • “There’s a boy’s sale at Dillard’s.”
  • “The obligation of having your honor heretofore in the room doth right over there…hence."
  • "Ok. That one is dead; we know that.”
  •  “I can not emphasize how little we thought about this.”

 

 

'Competitive Wine Tasting' spins its wheels in a mildly funny episode

By Miss Sarah Jo Apr 14, 2011 10:22PM

Danny PudiFollowing on the heels of the excellent (if a bit controversial) “Critical Film Studies”, tonight’s episode of “Community” was destined to be a bit of a let down. Unfortunately, it was also somewhat dull and very unfocused, and toyed with sitcom tropes and meta-references to diminishing comedic effect. There was an enjoyable (and too rare) spotlight on Donald Glover, as Troy succumbs to fibbing about a childhood trauma in order to fit into his acting class; his bizarre descriptions of his inner pain (“My heart is mad at my kidneys.”) were always funny. But are they seriously setting up a love story for Britta and Troy? Isn’t he close to the same age as Annie, since she did have a crush on him in high school?  Perhaps I’m reading too much into their final exchange, but I still feel a bit wary.

 

Bing: More about 'Community'


In any case, the comedy of Troy’s plop-plop was undercut by the tired storyline of Jeff ferreting out the truth about the nefarious motives of Pierce’s new girlfriend. The bold offensiveness of “Red Dragon” was fitfully amusing, but overall it was devoid of any real emotion or any outright laughs. And the throwaway Abed plot even managed to underuse the brilliant Stephen Tobolowsky.  Let’s just hope for better things next week.

  •  “Those are just a few classes we can afford to offer if enough people pay to learn hopscotch.”
  • Any bets that that TV class (Who Indeed? A Critical Analysis of Television’s “Who’s the Boss”) exists somewhere?
  • “Please take weird haircut and stupid grin and go sniff another dog’s ass.”
  • Troy’s stage names: Trevor St. McGoodbody or DAVID
  • “My emotions! My emotions!” (“Emotalize!”)
  • Donald Glover does the best scare quotes.
  • Don’t worry Jeff, you are indeed attractive enough to get a girl like her under normal circumstances.
  • Dreidels

 

 

In the penultimate episode, ‘White Nights’ sets up a slam-bang finale

By Miss Sarah Jo Apr 14, 2011 9:01PM
Will “Archer” end next week by solving the mystery of Archer’s parentage? It’s certainly seems like that is where it’s heading, but in truth, it doesn’t really matter.  This stellar second season has been one of the most reliably and uproariously funny comedies anywhere on TV, and the intricate plotting has just been a bonus.

Of course, finding his father matters very much to Sterling Malory Archer, even if he has to take over another agent’s assignment to sneak into Russia to confirm if the man is his mother’s longtime paramour, Nikolai Jakov, the head of the KGB (according to Malory, chances are about one in three). Being Archer, he naturally ends up captured, tortured and on the run with the bonus of some spectacularly disgusting broken glass embedded feet. To add insult to injury, rival Odin agent Barry Dylan is hired by ISIS to retrieve him, and ends up losing a leg for his troubles.  At least, Lana probably doesn’t have to keep her pledge to have sex with him when he returns with Sterling (probably).

“White Nights” was actually fairly light on laugh-out-loud moments, since it was mainly focused on Archer and his action-packed getaway from the inept target shooting of about 1,000 KGB guys.  Perhaps it is necessary to have healthy doses of the other ISIS “core group” members like Pam, Cheryl, and Krieger all bouncing off of our main hero to wring the most entertaining humor from these spy shenanigans. Hopefully, that will come together next week

  • “And y’all know me, I’m no gossip. But that is some scandalous-ass shit right there.”
  • “I was unconscious for an hour, which is super-bad for you.”
  • That whipped-cream/video sex scene between Malory and Nikolai was…disturbing.
  • Moral code according to Lana: Sex for work = OK. Sex to save Archer’s life = not OK.
  • “Can I bring you back anything from Moscow? Maybe some nesting dolls of my penis?”
  • “What am I smelling, Barry?”
  • “I thought they just wanted my hair so their scientists could unlock the secrets of its luxuriant fullness.”
  • “Bitch, I got ants all over me!”
  • Great “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” reference when Sterling and Barry jumped off the fire escape.
  • “Why are you wearing silk socks?” “Was that a joke?”
  • “How? How is this happy play time?”
 

With Will Ferrell visiting, Steve Carell's final few episodes are sure to be sweet (and funny)

By Sona Charaipotra Apr 14, 2011 2:47PM
Photo courtesy NBCTonight marks the beginning of the end -- the end of Steve Carell's run, of course -- on "the Office," and what better way to kick things off than by welcoming Carell's real-life buddy (and "Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgandy" costar) Will Ferrell, who's signed on for a TK-episode arc as DeAngelo Vickers, who, for all intents and purposes, is meant to be the new big boss. 

Ferrell's take on the character is that of a more squared-away version of Carell's nutty Michael Scott, with a similar humor but more "inspiring" persona. 

Given the long-running guessing game on who will really replace Carell, Ferrell's stint -- however long or short it may be -- should offer some entertaining interludes in the meantime. And it Vickers' grand arrival should make for some funny moments as Michael Scott tries to wrap his head around saying goodbye to the Dunder-Mifflin crew once and for all. 

Here's a quick sneak peek:
Catch Ferrell's first "Office" visit tonight at 9 p.m. on NBC. 
 

ABC Cancels 'All My Children,' 'One Life to Live'

By Sona Charaipotra Apr 14, 2011 2:18PM
Photo courtesy ABC
After weeks of speculation, ABC has gone ahead and done the unthinkable (though highly plausible): the network has announced that it's canceling long-running soaps "All My Children" and "One Life to Live."

The sole soap survivor on that network will be "General Hospital," which will be one of only four soaps remaining on TV -- along with NBC's "Days of Our Lives" (long-rumored to be on the chopping block itself), and CBS's "The Young & The Restless" and "The Bold And the Beautiful."

"All My Children" will be the first to go, wrapping up it's 41-year run in September, while "One Life to Live" -- on for 43 years -- will survive through January. The shows follow death knells for long-running soaps "Guiding Light" (wrapped in 2009) and "As the World Turns," which CBS replaced with "The Talk" last year. 

Similarly, ABC has announced, "AMC" and "OLTL" will be replaced with talk/variety shows, specifically the food-themed talker "The Chew" and the makeover-focused "The Revolution." 

"'All My Children' and 'One Life to Live' are iconic pieces of television that have made an indelible mark on our culture's history," ABC Daytime president Brian Frons (who's no doubt about to get an avalanche of hate mail) said in a statement. "Each of the shows has touched millions and millions of viewers, and informed the social consciousness. 

"While we are excited about our new shows and the shift in our business, I can't help but recognize how bittersweet the change is," Frons added. "We are taking this bold step to expand our business because viewers are looking for different types of programming these days. They are telling us there is room for informative, authentic and fun shows that are relatable, offer a variety of opinions and focus on 'real life' takeaways."

What? The audience of two-million-plus viewers wasn't learning anything from the conniving Erica Kane? 

For some, it's onward and upward. "It's been a fantastic journey," Susan Lucci, who played "AMC"'s iconic diva, said in a statement today. "I loved playing Erica Kane. I'm looking forward to all kinds of new and exciting opportunities." 

Will you mourn the loss of "All My Children" and "One Life to Live?" Or are soaps a relic of TV's stiff and stogy past?
 
Tags: news

'All My Children' and 'One Life to Live' Canceled

By MSN TV Apr 14, 2011 2:05PM

After weeks of tittering, murmurings and not quite denials from ABC, the network announced today that it is cancelling two of its soap operas! "All My Children" is set to go dark in September 2011, with "One Life to Live" airing until January 2012. In their place, ABC will launch two transformation, food and lifestyle shows, "The Chew" and "The Revolution" (working title). This makes "General Hospital" the network's only remaining soap and brings the total daytime soap count down to four.

 

Bing: More about 'All My Children' | 'One Life to Live'

 

"While we are excited about our new shows and the shift in our business, I can't help but recognize how bittersweet the change is," said Brian Frons, President, Daytime, Disney ABC/Television Group. "We are taking this bold step to expand our business because viewers are looking for different types of programming these days. They are telling us there is room for informative, authentic and fun shows that are relatable, offer a wide variety of opinions and focus on ‘real life' takeaways."

 

The cancellation news is still fresh, but the tweets are already coming. "End of an era. So sad. Fond memories," posted "All My Children" vet Cady McClain (ex-Dixie), speaking for so many fans and ABC employees.

 

"Your support is overwhelming and appreciated! I'll keep you updated on other projects as they happen and still try to amuse you on Twitter," Chrishell Stause (Amanda, "All My Children") tweeted.

 

"Heartbreaking," tweeted "Biggest Loser" host Alison Sweeney, who would likely approve of ABC's health conscious replacements, but having grown up on "Days of our Lives," is a loyal soapster.

 

With the ABC affiliate SoapNet set to go dark in January 2012 as well, rumblings about ABC's soap cancellations hit a high in recent weeks. Soap opera legend and "All My Children" star Susan Lucci even took to the airwaves in March to dispel the rumors.

 

"The rumor is not coming from ABC," Lucci told Gayle King. "I'm hoping it's not true. We just received congratulations from the financial people, saying how great shape we're in."

 

Apparently, they weren't in good enough shape. The network made one last effort to save the shows back in 2009 by moving "One Life to Live" into the swankier "All My Children" studios in New York, while moving the New York-based "All My Children" cast to bigger, better sets in Los Angeles. There was also a markedly increased publicity effort, with Lucci at the center of it all.

 

Now, the network is promising to "conclude each series in a manner that respects their legacies and the longstanding hopes of many of their viewers," while fans are wondering if the remaining soaps will snap up fan faves like Lucci, Michael E. Knight, Bobbie Eakes, Ricky Paull Goldin, Cameron Mathison, Rebecca Budig, Erika Slezak, Kristen Alderson, Michael Easton, Robin Strasser, Hillary B. Smith, Trevor St. John, Gina Tognoni and Susan Haskell (to name a few!), not to mention whether all those transplanted East Coasters will return to New York or stay in Los Angeles.

 

"All My Children" premiered on January 5, 1970, while "One Live to Live" premiered July 15, 1968. With creator Agnes Nixon's vision, the shows took on social issues like AIDS, abortion, racial bias, rape, spousal abuse, homosexuality, drug abuse and much more.

 

"Each of the shows has touched millions and millions of viewers and informed the social consciousness," Frons said. "It has been a privilege to work with the extraordinary teams who brought the residents of Pine Valley and Llanview to life each day, and we thank the cast, crew, producers and most especially the fans for their commitment to the shows through their history."

 

In the past few years, daytime has seen the demise of "Guiding Light," "As the World Turns" and "Passions". The end of "All My Children" and "One Life to Live" leaves just four daytime soaps on the dial, including CBS's "The Young and the Restless" and "The Bold and the Beautiful," ABC's "General Hospital" and NBC's "Days of our Lives."

 

FOOD TALK AFTER "THE VIEW"

More is sure to come on ABC's new talk shows, but here's a first look at "The Chew" and "The Revolution."

 

"The Chew" is set to be all about food, from a social angle. Hosts Mario Batali (Restaurateur, "Iron Chef America"), Clinton Kelly ("What Not to Wear"), Carla Hall ("Top Chef"), Michael Symon (Restaurateur and "Iron Chef America") and Daphne Oz will talk every angle of food, "a source of joy, health, family ritual, friendship, breaking news, dating, fitness, weight loss, travel adventures and life's moments."

 

"The Revolution" is about getting healthy and comes from the producers of "The Biggest Loser," "Masterchef" and ABC's upcoming "Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition". With Tim Gunn at the hosting helm, the team includes celebrity trainer Harley Pasternak and "American Idol" alum Kimberley Locke. Each week will follow one woman's five-month weight loss journey, with daily results and a final transformational reveal on Friday.

 

 

Some folks try to change, while others return to their roots in ‘Debts and Accounts’

By Miss Sarah Jo Apr 13, 2011 10:31PM

Tonight, we saw every character (with one major exception) struggling with his or her past, and striving to change the future for the better (again with that one glaring exception).  Winona and Raylan were front and center, hashing out their recent adventure with the stolen money as well as their tumultuous history together.  After a decidedly un-whitewashed dressing down by Art (“I thought at one point that maybe someday you and I would be able to look back on all this and laugh, but I don’t think you’re gonna live that long.”) and some honest self-examination about his tendency to lean more towards “outlaw” than “lawman”, Raylan comes clean and admits he is still in love with Winona (her characteristically tart reply: “And I love you back. Now what?”). Their mutual decision to leave Harlan and head back to Glynco for a quieter life is sealed during an impromptu shootout with two mysterious gunmen (Dixie Mafia maybe, sent by Wynn Duffy and his best bud Gary?) Of course, no one is really leaving Kentucky, but it is refreshing that see actual adults grappling with an impossible situation.

Also attempting to move into a different life – Harlan matriarch extraordinaire Mags Bennett.  After confirming that Helen and Arlo did indeed sell their land to complete her Black Pike windfall, Mags proceeds to coldly and methodically cut off her son Dickie (with a parting gift of the marijuana business to run) while delivering the final insult that she has given free rein to Boyd Crowder to run all other illicit activity in Harlan County. Jeremy Davies does a great job portraying a man who is just crafty enough to get along and rise to a certain level, but is always brought down by both his inability to let go of old grudges and his compulsion to wildly overestimate his own authority. Without the real threat of his universally feared mother, he is destined to meet a sad end, either at the hands of the law or the newly regenerated Crowder crime family.

Which brings us to the exception. The one person who has wholeheartedly embraced his true nature is the new and most definitely not improved Boyd, who behaved throughout the episode like a man finally awaking from a long coma. He reunites with cousin Johnny (in a wheelchair after being shot and left for dead last season), recruits an old white supremacist buddy during a poker-game robbery that sets them up with a little walking-around money, and starts laying out the nefarious plan to succeed his Daddy as the kingpin of Harlan County. Walton Goggins seems utterly transformed; his wicked glee is palpable as he taunts the card-players to come after him if they dare.  Who knows? Maybe crime really does pay. At the very least, you get to make out with Ava under a star-filled sky.

  • “Now you know that thing that never happened that we never talked about? We’re not going to talk about it.”
  • Just a few moments with Margo Martindale, but she makes every one count.
  • Very affecting scene between Raylan and Loretta when he persuades her to meet her new foster family – both of them realistically hardheaded and unsentimental, but still full of emotion.
  • Gorgeous lighting in the barn full of hanging marijuana plants.
  • “Alacrity.” That’s just a funny word to use.
  • “Should I grow a mustache?”