ABC Family goes big with a fat camp dramedy worth catching
Well, ABC Family does, too, so they've taken that classic summer camp experience and super-sized it with their newest original dramedy, "Huge," which premieres tonight at 9 p.m. EST.
All punny-ness aside, though, this is a major development in TV land, where plus-sized generally equates anything bigger than, say, a size six. In a world where "Gossip Girl" and even ABC Family's own "Pretty Little Liars" reflects small and lithe as the norm for teens, the show is truly groundbreaking in that it features not one but a cast full of heavyset kids -- who represent nearly one out of five teens in country today.
The show, based on a teen novel by Sarah Paley and created by "My So-Called Life" co-creator Winnie Holzman and her daughter Savannah Dooley, the show focuses on Will (Broadway star Nikki Blonsky, whose big break was "Hairspray"), a fun and feisty teen who's quite the unhappy camper. See, she's comfortable in her own skin and not happy with the fact that her parents shipped her off to fat camp. Meanwhile, barely chubby blonde Amber (played by David Hasselhoff's daughter Hayley) finds herself wearing the prettiest girl at camp title, something she's totally not used to. Plus, she's got the hots for her slim-and-trim jock of a counselor, George (Zander Eckhouse, who's also celeb offspring: dad is "Beverly Hills, 90210" star Jim Eckhouse).
Here's the thing about "Huge": it's perhaps the first and only show to feature a full cast of un-skinny actors, and not only that, it doesn't make the fat thing the only thing. These kids may be overweight, but they're normal teens going through those everyday identity crises and transformations that all teens go through. Here, they're all the fat kid, so we've gotta go deeper than the surface and realize that there's different ways to be that kid, too. They're the underdogs, but at camp, they've got a level playing field on which to experience life, perhaps for the first time in their lives. Unlike its eye-candy competition, that's what will make "Huge" worth watching this summer.
Will you be tuning in?
Eric's were-withal, Tara's undead awakening, the craziest ending ever and the rest of last night's highlights
There's a reason we've suggested tuning into Season 3 of "True Blood" as an antidote to your summer TV blues. And not just because we're incredibly indifferent toward the World Cup.
It's always a couple-episode adjustment before settling into the show's harried pace, hyper-lurid storytelling and dark-as-night camp, but it's also cable's most reliably giddy fun. And following last week's s*&t-stirring second episode, "Blood" really started to show signs of life this past Sunday.
And since we at TV Buzz also prefer to glean the educational value from our favorite program, we have put together a list of the five most significant things we learned about "True Blood," life, love, death and, most importantly, ourselves in the, er, wake of Episode 3.
5. We miss the old, self-possessed Tara. Hopefully, there will be an exorcism of this uber-vulnerable version who's constantly getting literally possessed by mythical demons.
4. Jason's Season 3 arc is still hard to determine, but we do know the fangs are gonna fly when Tara finds out he killed Eggs. Which, come to think of it, will probably be about the time Tara snaps out of her doormat funk.
3. Sam's family is up to all sorts of no good. But if we were wagering men (and boy are we ever!), we'd bet a shot of Sex on the Beach that Sam's real parents will try to rip him off while his brother becomes an ally and regular fixture.
2. Despite relatively limited screen time, Eric made the most of it by chewing his way through both scenery and werewolves, as well as uttering the series' most sexually charged line in its history just prior to title credits.
1. Without getting into any spoilers, the final scene (which recalled the great cult-horror-comedy "Freaked") wasn't just impressive because of its perverse shock value, but utilized a special effect that re-imagined the way you'll think about, er, head-turning moments.
Celebrate MJ's life with a pile of goodies from the music-oriented network
On the anniversary of Michael Jackson's death, Fuse will be celebrating the iconic artist's life and legacy with two days of non-stop MJ. Beginning Friday, June 25th through Saturday, June 26th, Fuse will pay tribute to the King of Pop with programming that includes two world-premiere documentaries, "Michael Jackson: The Inside Story" and "Michael Jackson: A Tribute," as well as a biography highlighting the pop star's wildly successful career and some of his most iconic music videos.
Here's a preview:
And here's what we have to give away:
1 Fuse Backpack
1 Fuse Blanket
1 Fuse Waterbottle
1 DVD of "This Is It"
To enter, simply send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the answer this question:
What beverage was Michael shooting a commercial for when his hair caught fire and burned his scalp in 1984?
Seinfeld not going Gaga, Bristol Palin's dubious TV debut and the rest of your week's small-screen high(and low)lights
I know what you're thinking. Kenny! How was I supposed to be abreast of TV when it was such a gorgeous summer week outside and I was too preoccupied doing Mind Eraser shooters after the U.S.'s last-minute victory in the World Cup on Wednesday?
Fortunately for you all, Week in Review wraps up the previous several days in TV and related news, and allows us to step back from the hall of pop-culture mirrors, look at how we've spent our time and wallow in the deep, pitiable shame.
So, without further "What's up, Doc? Oh, I'm sorry to hear about your loss," here are five of the most notable small-screen-pertinent happenings for the week of June 21-25, 2010:
JERRY SEINFELD LEADS THE LADY GAGA BACKLASH
Similar to how Kanye West simmered down after President Obama called him "a jackass," the long-awaited (at least by us) backlash against Ms. Germanotta has taken on new credibility in the wake of Jerry Seinfeld's public spanking of the superstar. By turns indifferent, indignant, funny and slackly dismissive, the comedy icon's sports-talk-radio rant is the stuff of pop-diva-slaying legend.
PIPER PERABO GETS ALL HOT UNDER "WHITE COLLAR"
Our Q & A with "White Collar" star Matthew Bomer predictably steamed up some female readers' lenses. But bombshell Piper Perabo is no slouch in the sex-symbol department, as we learned from a sneak preview of "Covert Affairs," which premieres on USA following "Collar" on July 13.
CODY GIFFORD, NEPOTISM'S BASTARD SON
Next time you're tempted to tear my cultural perspectives to shreds, remember this apocalyptic footage of Kathie Lee's (admittedly stunningly good-looking) kid Cody stumbling his way through cue-card synopses of "Toy Story 3" and "Jonah Hex."
BRISTOL PALIN DOES HER BEST SARAH IMPRESSION
Well, if Bristol Palin showed us one thing in her cameo (viewable up top and here) on "Secret Life of the American Teenager," it's that her communicative prowess is about on par with mom Sarah's. But at least Bristol's bumblings only existed in a fictional world targeted toward teenage girls.
"MAD MEN" IS BACK! YAY!
You know a show's got you hook, line and Nielsens when the reveal of its Season 4 poster makes you scream "Eureka!" like you'd just discovered the secret to eternal orgasms. Speaking of which, it looks like Don Draper might be readying himself for one in that image. Naughty.
The '80s pop stars battle it out in SyFy's 'Mega Python Vs. Gatoroid'
Yeah, weird. According to a network release, the pair are set to star in a new SyFy original motion picture, "Mega Python Vs. Gatoroid" (not to be confused with Gatorade).
Gibson -- you know her best as the hat-wearing teen singer of songs like "Only In My Dreams" and "Lost In Your Eyes," although she also did a Playboy spread -- starred last year in the indie hit "Mega Shark Versus Giant Octopus" -- yes, it's a real movie (check out the trailer above) -- so she's apparently sticking with films that have word "versus" in the title.
The same goes for Tiffany -- she of "I Think We're Alone Now" and "Could've Been," and also a former Playboy model -- who starred in the indie hit "Mega Piranha," by the same producers, the Asylum.
"I know that pop culture fanatics have been dying for Tiffany and me to collaborate for the past 24 years," Gibson said in a statement released by SyFy. "What better way to do it than by battling each other in a campy romp through the Everglades?"
But she's not the only one who's excited. "Only in my dreams have I been able to have a catfight with Debbie Gibson...until now," Tiffany added in said statement. "This is so MEGA cool!" (Her caps and exclamation, not mine.)
"Mega Python Vs. Gatoroid" is scheduled for a 2011 premiere on SyFy. Will you watch?
We got a backstage glimpse at the pilot, and have some secret info on the CIA series
Because we here at TV Buzz love to love ya fellow couch potatoes, we've secured a sneak-peek at the "Covert" pilot. And while we can't share the actual episode with you (insert top-secret jokes here. or Pop-Secret jokes), we can give you some mildly cryptic clues as to what you can expect when it airs July 13 at 10 p.m.
- If you thought the notorious Post-It breakup on "Sex and the City" was harsh, wait till you see the way Perabo's character gets dumped.
- Strangely, Peter Gallagher's eyebrows appear less bushy when his hair is trimmed close on the sides.
- In real life, it's highly doubtful that the central character's sight-impaired sidekick would actually introduced himself with an irony-negating offer to insert an ironic joke about being guided by a blind CIA agent.
- My guess is the CIA doesn't have a predominantly youthful staff because of a melted post-9/11 hiring freeze, but because characters are that much more welcome on USA when they're super-hot.
- It's always a bit rough to watch ensemble casts get reduced to their stereotypical socio-political values reps in a pilot, but "Covert" shows potential for an insatiable, "Collar"-esque rhythm and style.
- Wardrobe-malfunction jokes = yikes. (It's a pilot, it's a pilot.)
- Perabo presumably will get more comfortable with the role and wisecracking script, and she is rather charming when adopting undercover personas, but the fact that she simply looks stunning will be enough to keep viewers around for a couple weeks.
- If there's one thing not even Neal Caffrey, or Batman for that matter, has at his bad-guy-bashing disposal, it's a makeup case that doubles as a rear-view mirror.
- If you get excited over flashy satellite graphics and other uber-modern spy-communication gimmicks, there will be more than just Perabo's Cheshire grin to keep you watching.
- Female CIA agents who give their younger, more attractive female recruits crap are usually projecting frustrations with their higher-up CIA husband. In case you were wondering. Draaaaammmma!
- The word "vetting" is apparently more omnipresent in both secret government agencies and real life than I ever realized.
- Unlike in the "Sex and the City" universe, where Carrie's pal Stanford has all-access to any lady's quarters, I'm not sure just because a CIA agent is blind means he can casually accompany distraught female operatives into the women's restroom.
Sugary pudding doesn't pass middle school muster
By Sora Young
Special to MSN TV
Perhaps it was being tied to each other in double-wide (and patriotic) red-and-blue aprons, perhaps it was being required to make something called a "Bipartisandwich" or perhaps the chefs were adopting the pervasive back-stabbing political culture of the Capitol, but the trash-talking has grown so fierce on "Top Chef" that I predict by next week's third episode someone will utter the time-honored reality truism, "I'm not here to make friends." But we know this phrase is also the precise moment in reality world that it is game on. Bring it, chefs.
"Top Chef" kept it fresh this week with guest judge -- and assistant White House chef -- Sam Kass and the introduction of the Bipartisandwich, which might be both the most ridiculous and most entertaining word ever coined on this show. For this Quickfire, chefs were paired up and donned the aforementioned double aprons, which forced them to use just one hand each. It was like "Stuck on You," except there was no Matt Damon and there were a lot of knives and paranoid chefs. Alex fretted to Timothy not to cut him while slicing bread. "I'm not going to cut you, dude," Timothy sighed. "Slow down, please," jumpy Alex said. At least Tracey enjoyed her snuggly situation with Angelo. "I've had this secret crush on him and all of a sudden I get to have my arm around him for 30 minutes? It couldn't be better." Yeah, adorable. She also lucked out in getting paired with the guy who has won two challenges, owns a sandwich shop in New York and pulled together their flounder sandwich lavished in "liquid love," otherwise known as fish sauce.
Once again, it came down to Angelo and Kenny (paired with Ed), who served up a Korean chili-rubbed ahi tuna with a cucumber and mango slaw. But their flavorful slaw was no match for Angelo, who won his third challenge in a row with a sandwich Sam Kass called "absolutely delicious." Three in a row must be a "Top Chef" record, and it sure didn't earn Angelo any friends (except Tracey). Tiffany snapped, "Everything he touches is that good, honestly?"
But the chefs couldn't spend too much time seething because Padma was already on to the next challenge: creating healthy lunches for kids, a topic made hot by Jamie Oliver. There was no surprise Jamie Oliver appearance for the challenge, but there was still Sam Kass and that was plenty of chef candy to go around for one episode. Give that guy his own show!
For the Elimination Challenge, the chefs were broken into groups of four, with winner Angelo and Tracey allowed to choose their team. Angelo naturally picked arch-adversary Kenny and his partner Ed. But first, before we get into the nitty-gritty of what went down, we must state the obvious. When you're tasked with making healthy lunches for kids, it would be wise to pay attention to these three words: "healthy," "lunch" and "kids." Selective hearing will not win you the title of "Top Chef." Trust me.
The chefs were given just $2.68 per child, for a total of 50 kids, and they were expected to make four courses, including a main course, two sides and a dessert. Selective hearing kicked in shortly after. Amanda inexplicably decided to braise her chicken in sherry. Wine in a dish for children totally makes sense! Angelo's team decided nutrition-light celery was enough for vegetables. And when Jacqueline, she of the "light" liver mousse from last week, encountered starchy bananas for her banana strawberry pudding, she added two pounds of sugar. Just what those kids need.
Infighting looked like it might take down the team led by Kelly. She decided without much team input to make carnitas tacos, and Arnold accused her of taking too much credit. "Everything I would hear out of your mouth would be, ‘I, I, I, I, I,'" he protested. Nonetheless, Kelly's freshly-made tortillas piled with carnitas, pickled onions and cilantro surpassed other creative, healthy choices like coleslaw with yogurt and grilled apple cider barbecue chicken, and Kelly took the first win that was not Angelo's, whose team ended up on the bottom. Ah, but Angelo had immunity. Kenny and Ed were criticized for not taking the lead on adding more vegetables to their team's meal, while Amanda, who sniped at another team's use of processed, sugar-filled peanut butter, was taken to task for choosing sherry. She limply defended the choice by saying she liked sherry-braised chicken. Gail responded tartly, "There are a lot of things I like. I love vodka. Not cooking with it."
But it was Jacqueline's sugary pudding that did not pass Sam Kass' healthy food muster. He scolded her, "That's what happens when we don't use good ingredients, you add a lot of sugar or fat to make them taste better." Au revoir, Jacqueline. We hardly knew ya and probably won't remember ya.
Here are two other hot spot stars we think should score their own shows
So remember that super-funny Old Spice ad with the hot guy in a towel, on a horse, etc., declaring that it's just too bad that your man is not him?
His name is Isaiah Mustafa, and he just scored himself a talent holding deal at NBC. That means the network will likely place him as a guest star on some of their existing shows -- like "Chuck" -- or on one of their fall premieres, like the ensemble "Love Bites."
In any case, Mustafa -- who's appeared on "NCIS" and "Ugly Betty" -- is sure to end up on a comedy, given the chops he showed off in the Old Spice spot.
"I grew up in that 'Cosby Show,' 'Family Ties' era, and kept that going even through college with 'Seinfeld' and 'Friends,' " he told Variety this week. "To me, they controlled comedy and dictated my life on Thursday nights. And I think that's my strength, doing comedy."
Here are a pair of other commercial talents worth locking in for the Fall:
Best known as the Fiber One guy -- you know, "delicious yes, cardboard, no." -- Indian-American actor Mehta has also done time on "24," "Eli Stone" and "Royal Pains."
An obvious fit for fall? NBC's "Outsourced," in which an American company manager gets shipped off to run a telemarketing outfit in India.
As Flo, the Progressive insurance monger, she's had us skipping the forward button on the DVR. You may recognize comedienne Stephanie Courtney from turns on Lisa Kudrow's "The Comeback" and "Mad Men." And ironically, the Groundlings theater vet also ended up on "Cavemen," the short-lived show inspired by those Geico cavemen ads.
For fall? She'd be an interesting foil on "Chuck," but could also serve up some inspired one-liners as a geek girl on "Big Bang Theory."