How has the sports network not been thrown under the bus with their precious King?
Remember the golden days of self-indulgent TV spectacles? When artists like Michael Jackson would block out three separate networks to debut a multi-million dollar music-video extravaganza? Or when politicians like President Clinton would interrupt our regular programming to openly discuss his sexual indiscretions?
Alas, those good times are gone, and now we're left with LeBron James slouching in what appears to be a tiny folding chair inside a sterile and empty gymnasium, floundering as he over-justifies his decision to join Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh on the Miami Heat.
Yes, James has finally followed up his one off-the-court transgression (a certain failure to shake hands like a man following a 2009 playoff loss) with a gesture that indicates he's not quite ready to wear the throne of a King.
But where does blame fall on ESPN in all this? After all, they are the network that dedicated countless hours of superfluous micro-analysis and breathless hype for what ultimately amounted to a fairly mundane business, and severely damaged their journalistic credibility by working with LeBron to erect the inane self-parodying spectacle that was their "Decision" special. You would have thought the sports-news giant was CNN the last month and LeBron James was an election-determining non-partisan candidate.
You could tell just from watching ESPN analyst J.A. Adande these past few weeks that he was not only at a loss for new information to impart, but came close on numerous occasions to turning toward that day's Sportscenter moderator, grabbing him by the collar and screaming, "What the hell do you want me to say at this point?!"
Bottom line is, LeBron somehow manage to usurp Tiger Woods, Mark McGwire and any other 2010 sports villain with one ill-conceived promotional pyramid. And one day, he'll probably look back and realize that ESPN was the devilishly encouraging mentor reinforcing the idea that such behavior was what it took to get ahead.
Could they get any more obvious?
Like all soaps, there have been rumors of its imminent demise, despite the fact that its been on the air for more than 50 years. (The same held true for the CBS soap "As the World Turns," which took a bunch of trophies at the Daytime Emmys this year despite the fact that it was uncerimoniously canceled.)
But it seems "Days" is one of the soaps that has found new ways of making money in these tough TV times.
Today, as Sami Brady (Alison Sweeney, who also host "The Biggest Loser") and EJ DiMera (James Scott) get cozy during a family picnic, they find themselves fighting over a bag of Chex Mix. Brit villain EJ apparently has never heard of the stuff, which Sami then informs him is a classic, a burst of a million different flavors mingling in your mouth. (And this is before Sami spills Newman's Own Italian Dressing on EJ's lavender Van Heusen shirt.)
Wonder if the "Days" writers were surprised to find themselves writing such blatant product placement into their storied soap?
It's not the first time "Days" or any of the other soaps have gone this route -- after all, historically, the purpose of these daily dramas was to sell, well, soap. But it certainly is funny to see it happen so obviously and so frequently. And it's amusing to see how they try to embed these advertisements directly into the storylines, albeit so un-subtly.
Wonder how long it will take before this type of blending of church and state makes its way to prime time.
Recognizing the pleasant surprises and selection blunders
Ladies and gentlemen, thank you so much for joining us here at the first-ever TV Buzz Emmy Nominations Awards, where we recognize the finest and most dubious nominees up for that prized golden statue when the ceremony airs August 29 on NBC.
So without any superfluous sketches, dance routines or teleprompter-fed one-liners, here are our your winners for the inaugural 2010 TV Buzz EMAs:
BEST OMISSION OF AN ALLEGED DOMESTIC ABUSER
- Charlie Sheen, who was left out of the Lead Actor In A Comedy Series category for the first time in five years for "Two and a Half Men."
BEST INCLUSION OF AN UNDERRATED COMEDIC ACTRESS
- Amy Poehler, who was finally recognized in the Lead Actress In A Comedy category for "Parks and Recreation."
BEST UNEXPECTED NOMINATIONS IN ONE CATEGORY
- Outstanding Comedy Series, for giving nods to "Modern Family," "Glee" (although we'll take an individual actress win for Jane Lynch) and generally surprising Emmy contender "Nurse Jackie."
BEST DUMBING DOWN OF THE CEREMONY
- Honoring the awesome but very culty "True Blood" with a Outstanding Drama candidacy.
CATEGORY WHERE THIS IS NO COMPETITION
- Outstanding Supporting Actor In A Comedy Series. Ty Burrell, aka Phil from "Modern Family," is in a class of funny all his own this year.
LEAST ESSENTIAL CATEGORY IN GENERAL
- Any of the groupings that award Miniseries. I mean, really, who watches traditional minsieries anymore?
What do you think were the highs and lows of this year's nominations? Let us know below.
Is the BBC America's a reality version of 'Glee'? Not quite, but still worth a viewing.
The BBC hit has been a major smash in the U.K. as feel-good reality fare. Its star, Gareth Malone, a graduate of the Royal Academy of Music, is sort of a renegade on a mission a la Jamie Oliver and school lunches -- only his cause is choirs. See, he believes music can enrich lives and bond people, so he goes from town to town starting choirs, no matter that the townsfolk have no musical inclinations or training. Here, the network knits together three seasons of the British show into a cohesive man-on-mission challenge which bears fruitful results, building confidence and community where perhaps there was none before.
The premise pre-dates "Glee," but it can't hurt that the phenom has paved a path for the BBC show here, especially in a slow summer season. But the show, which occasionally veers into "Americal Idol" audition arenas with its cat-screeching auditions in the Middlesex town of Northolt, hardly has the razzle-dazzle of a slicked up show horse like "Glee." Instead, it stays in staid documentary territory as Malone rounds u a rag-tag group of teens with hopes of making it to the choir championships in Japan. Hmmmm, wait, that does sound familiar.
The camera-hogging hairstylist unleashes more unwatchable awfulness in tonight's episode
That was until the breakup dust settled, America woke up, realized it was Wednesday, and were reminded that another episode of "Real World: Back to New Orleans" meant more of the unbearably attention-seeking Ryan.
The nonsensically inflammatory hairstylist and long-board purveyor wasted no time in last week's premiere announcing himself as the unlikely villain. After 60 minutes of his hilariously inarticulate, incoherent judgmental tangents toward virtually every roommate, it was clear that this Bieber-haired putz was already thinking ahead to his "Bad Guys" status on "The Challenge" and other reality-"star" compendium shows.
And unfortunately, tonight's second episode promises more of the same, as Ryan fakes the severity of a minor injury and goes at it once again with gentle jock-giant Knight, whom Ryan informs he doesn't "value as people." The sneak-peek above devolves from there, as Ryan eggs Knight in for a physical interaction he knows will never happen, so that his outburst is what steals headlines for the show on Thursday morning. (We beat you to the punch and did it on Wednesday afternoon, so touche!)
None of this is really of any larger consequence, except for that with "Modern Family" on hiatus, "Real World" is a hot spring in a mid-week desert of middling TV. And Ryan is not only aggravatingly calculating as a villain, but finally introduced a persona that makes the show utterly impossible to make it through.
To see our "Gay History of the 'Real World'," featuring exclusive insights from show creator Jonathan Murray, click here.
Endless re-runs finally reveal beloved sitcom's superiority
To audiences who have long cherished Ray Romano and Patricia Heaton's domestic foibles on "Everybody Loves Raymond," the very headline of this article probably makes me sound hilariously out of touch.
In actuality, my lengthy abstaining from "Raymond" was more a byproduct of believing I'd been incredibly in tune all these years about what network sitcoms were formulaic fluff ("Two and Half Men" and "According to Jim" have, of course, been two of my favorite targets from the 2000s) and which represented cunning comedy despite broadcast limitations ("Seinfeld," "Arrested Development," "Modern Family" et al).
Now, perhaps it's because I'm getting married in two months, or maybe I'm just softening up toward lighthearted laughs after a hard day of work, but omnipresent "Raymond" airings on TV Land, TBS, FOX and just about every other existing station have worn me down to its charms.
The show's central structure (put-upon family man balances quick-witted wife, dopey cop brother, kids and overbearing parents) is still its Achilles Heel, often trapping the significant talents of its cast (particularly said parents, played by the late Peter Boyle and Doris Roberts) within the unforgiving restraints of broad sitcom chicanery.
Despite those constraints, "Raymond" manages to slip in several insightful, hearty laughs per episode about the disorienting world of domesti-tude, through the man-child muse of Romano himself, who's Ray Barone alter-ego is a thinly veiled exaggeration of the standup/actor's own dubious dealings with adulthood. Which, when you think about it, isn't that dissimilar a conceit from Larry David's hyper-curmudgeonly catharsis via his "Curb Your Enthusiasm" doppleganger. (Coincidentally, "Curb" co-star Cheryl Hines can be seen in the below "Raymond" excerpt.)
So for those of you who already own every box set and were devoted real-time viewers during its original run, this post does not so much apply to you. And kudos for being vastly less judgmental than myself. But if you're a fellow committed cynic and admitted comedy elitist, and maybe even finding yourself relating more closely to couples like Romano and Heaton's "Everybody" protagonists, you may find it shocking how enjoyable (and comparatively effortless) a late-night marathon of "Raymond" can actually be.
The real fireworks come after the rose ceremony
Here's What You Need to Know About Season Three So Far
And looking back at the season so far, things have moved at a dizzying pace. Here's a quick update, in case you've just started tuning in. Plus, a sneak peek at next week's all-new episode!
-Vampire hook-ups are uber-violent. Our genteel Bill Compton (Stephen Moyer) turns heads -- literally -- when he gets down and dirty with his maker, Lorena (Mariana Klaveno) after telling her he'll never ever love her. Right. Because he's supposed to love our heroine Sookie Stackhouse, no? So what's with the cheating, Mr. I'm-From-the-1800s-and-So-Such-A-Gentleman? This hook-up doesn't bode well for the future of Bill and Sookie -- who's been going around wearing his engagement ring.
-Despite being a stone cold Nordic God, Eric Northman (Alexander Skarsgard) does have feelings. The badass bloodsucker is clearly, truly smitten with Sookie (Anna Paquin), not just concerned about what she can do for him. To protect her from her newfound werewolf foes -- and there are a plenty -- he's lined up a hunky werewolf bodyguard Alcide (Joe Manganiello). And things are about to get even more complicated here, because we can expect some sizzle between Sookie and Alcide, too. Yay!
-Once an idiot, always an idiot. In one the classic scenes from season three thus far, Jason Stackhouse (Ryan Kwanten), having shot and killed Tara's love Eggs (Mehcad Brooks) in order to protect his pal, Detective Andy Bellefleur (Chris Bauer), has some weighty issues on his mind. He finds himself in his dream scenario -- with too slick city co-eds very willing to commit to a raunchy threesome, but can't perform under pressure. Why? Because he just keeps imagining the two pretty girls with bullet holes in their foreheads. When he tells them as much, well, that's the end of that. Look for Jason to try his hand at becoming a Bon Temps law enforcement official -- or to get his butt kicked when Tara finds out he's really the one who killed Eggs.
-Tara (Rutina Wesley), meanwhile, has hooked up with a shady vampire named Franklin (James Frain), whom we discover has some sinister plans of his own. At least, that's what I'm getting from the dour persona he presents to stressed-out newbie vampire Jessica (Deborah Ann Woll), who's still split with her sweet human boyfriend Hoyt (Jim Parrack).
-Now we know where Lafayette (Nelsan Ellis) got that super-feisty spirit from. In episode two, we met his mama, Ruby Jean Reynolds, played by the powerhouse Alfre Woodard as a racist, homophobic nutcase of a woman. We also got a gander at Lafayette's new love interest Jesus, an orderly (Kevin Alejandro) at the mental institution who's taking care of Ruby Jean.
-Family'll screw ya, no matter that they're a bunch of shape-shifters. Sam Merlott (Sam Trammell) went looking for the Mickens clan in Arkansas, and he found them alright. His brother Tommy (Marshall Allman) nearly got him killed. So Sam headed back to Bon Temps to ground himself in work, hoping things would get back to normal. But wouldn't you know it, trouble followed him home. And from the looks of it, they're planning to suck him dry.
What's your favorite "True Blood" plotline this season?