A sharper focus on supporting characters brings more depth to ‘Lights Out’
What viable options are out there for retired fighters? So far, ‘Lights Out’ has exposed us to the sought-after (possible commentating gigs on ESPN), the demeaning (selling autographed souvenirs on HSN) and the dangerous (hired thug for local loan shark). In this episode, there was a new option: respectable. It’s clear that Patrick recognizes Omar’s talent, and he is able to communicate the stark realities of his title shot more articulately than his father or brother can. Being a trainer, a teacher, a mentor – these things are options for Patrick. But of course, they can’t keep him or his family living in the style to which they have become accustomed. Nor will it allow him to do what he really loves: hitting people.
The highlights of the episode belonged to Pablo Schreiber as Johnny Leary. He brings new meaning to the word “hustler” - BS’ing his way around Omar and his friends, seducing the receptionist into favoring him with information, promising Barry Word everything but his first-born child to secure Omar’s place in the fight. And he may be a liar but he’s no hypocrite, as shown by his hilariously direct “It’s not blow, it’s meth” in response to Patrick’s outrage regarding Omar’s drug use.
It’s not clear what Johnny had to officially promise him in order to get Omar the title shot, but Barry Word is clearly operating on a level far above everyone else. Super smooth and charismatic, he’s thinking about moves beyond the next moves. Anybody that uses “Fred Sanford” as his hotel alias is fine with me. More Reg E. Cathey please.
And then there’s Omar. Callow, obnoxious, showboating Omar the Armenian Avenger (I can’t really get used to these ridiculous boxing nicknames). His destiny was clearly to get cocky and to get knocked out, and it will be intriguing to see where he goes from here. Will the loss break him (at least for a while) or make him more determined to become an unstoppable champ? Can Lights get through to him with more hard-earned wisdom? Or will the former champ be too occupied with his mounting money troubles to help him? Good stuff for the future.
The new 'Vampire Diaries' billboards are very punny indeed
Spielberg-produced musical about a musical headed to small screen this fall
‘Parks and Recreation’ jumps right back into sweet and hilarious world of Pawnee
It was a great temptation to just throw the Ron Swanson Pyramid of Greatness in this space and call it a day. ‘Parks & Recreation’ is so enjoyable, the cast is so in tune with each other and their various relationships are so warm and engaging that it is hard to write anything other than “I laughed so much!” and “It was hilarious!” But it would be a pleasure to try to elaborate a bit on the highlights.
Leslie ‘getting the team back together’: The opening was great shorthand for new viewers, a neat showcase for Amy Poehler (“Break’s over, mofos!”) and worth it just for Leslie’s throwing poor Jerry’s painting in the water.
Humanizing Chris and letting Ann be funny: With every ‘outstanding!’, ‘phenomenal!’ and ‘Ann Perkins!’, Rob Lowe gets more endearing. It was incredibly smart of the writers to make Ann the audience surrogate: understandably wary at first about Chris’ ‘intensity’ and then gradually melting when he explains the touching reason behind his relentless positivity.
Basketball: Ron Swanson channeling Bobby Knight vs. Andy Dwyer letting his slacker flag fly was the most purely comedic segment. It was also an opportunity to see Tom as referee in his Lady Foot Locker uniform, randomly calling fouls when he sees Ron cuddling with his (Tom’s) ex-wife (“It was a technical difficulty so that means Andy’s team throws the ball from the stripey thing.”). Hopefully, there will be more for Natalie Morales to do in future episodes.
Budding relationship between Leslie and Ben: Adam Scott is great at showing the dawning respect and affection Ben is feeling for Leslie. His ‘dancing’ at the Bulge, all of the side-eye he gives Chris, his off-hand ‘yeah, okay’ after Leslie’s huge pitch to bring back the Harvest Festival – all pretty great.
Andy and April: “April. Hey! It’s me Andy. Dwyer. This is like the 200th message I’ve left you without a response, so if you’re trying to tell me something, I do not know what it is because you won’t call me back.”
Swanson Pyramid of Greatness: Enough said.
‘Community’ expands the study group in more ways than one.
Full disclosure: My favorite ‘Community’ episodes are not the high-concept, pop-culture heavy ones, clever and creative as they can be. Just throwing all of these people together and letting their individual wackitude escalate is my sitcom Kryptonite. Knowing that Dan Harmon might have spent a large percentage of the budget on zombies and astronauts is a good thing if it produces episodes as hilarious as this one.
First, we get the pay-off to Shirley and Chang’s night together on Halloween; she’s pregnant, but it isn’t clear if the father is the slow-clapper with possible brain damage, or Cosby’s son (her ex-husband). Either way, there were some nice emotional moments from Yvette Nicole Brown. Jeff and Annie still seem up in the air, although perhaps Rich simply stating that she is too young to date will put that to bed once and for all. Finally, we get to look forward to more fun with the scarily perfect Rich – doctor, seeing-eye dog trainer, master of the kettle corn. As an impossibly perfect foil for the charming but shallow Jeff Winger, he’s sure to be an asset. It wasn’t particularly clear whether Jeff was having one of his sincere fits when he said that it scared him “how good you make me wish I was”, or if he really did want to learn how to “fake being good in order to get away with doing bad things”. The show’s tag probably means the latter.
And, in addition to at least one diorama, let's hope there will be lots more Troy. Donald Glover has always been one the more underused cast members, particularly considering how hysterically weird he has been in even the smallest bits. “I wish my mouth was farther away from my brain.” – I mean, haven’t we all wished that.
- Black Michael Chiklis and White George Foreman are the same guy!
- “Not from an actuarial standpoint.” Never change, John Oliver.
- No landline for me, but I do use the word “album”.
- All in the delivery department: Troy – “The children have removed their outfits”.
- All in the delivery department, part two: Shirley “I don’t know!”
- “I wish I could give you an answer that makes sense, but relationships are complicated, and we’re in the men’s room”
After seven seasons, Patricia Arquette's crime-fighting psychic calls it a day
Under pressure from parents groups, Taco Bell pulls ads
When the Parents Television Council gets on your case, you know you're in trouble.
And two days ago, the watchdog group called for a boycott of Taco Bell, which advertised during the premiere of MTV's racy new scripted drama "Skins," which the PTC labeled "the most dangerous program that has ever been foisted on your children."
So today, the fast food chain announced it was pulling ads from the show's roster. "We advertise on a variety of MTV programs that reach our core demographic of 18 to 34 year olds, which included the premiere episode of 'Skins,'" the company said in a statement. "Upon further review, we’ve decided that the show is not a fit for our brand and have moved our advertising to other MTV programming."
The announcement comes hot on the heels of news that the PTC is calling for an investigation of whether the MTV show, based on a Brit hit by the same title, constitutes child pornography.
Not buying it? Apparently, the yet-to-air third episode has a 17-year-old talking about erectile dysfunction before running naked through a street with his bum exposed. The PTC threat and internal concerns apparently even had MTV execs considering pulling -- or at least toning down -- the program's salacious content, according to a recent New York Times report. The nudity wouldn't be such a major issue (especially given content on subscriber channels like HBO and Showtime) except for the fact that the actors cast on the show are all actual teenagers themselves, ages 15 to 19. Then there's the fact that MTV already toned down their American version considerably in comparison to it's UK counterpart, which took advantage of Brit TV culture's more flexible TV standards.
And of course, not everyone is bashing the show. In a review last week, a Newsweek critic called it perhaps "the most realistic show on television," given its portrayal of teenage drug use, sexuality, eating disorders, depression and, of course, angst. MTV credits this dose of "reality" to 30 teenaged consultants its hired to sound of in the writers' room. Still, this version of teen life earned the show a TV MA rating -- clearly not enough to satisfy the Parents Television Council.
Do you think MTV show tone down "Skins"? Or do American TV audiences need to loosen up?
Examining degrees of loyalty on another winning ‘Cougar Town’
How do you balance devotion with honesty when it comes to your friendships, your parents, or even your local bar? Can you love someone and still be up-front about the things that drive you crazy? ‘Cougar Town’ keeps slipping more astute observations about these types of questions into its usual rapid-fire silliness. And it does it while giving the delightful Busy Phillips more lovely human moments to play.
Laurie “Whap-Bam!” Keller is an over-the-top caricature of the blowsy, ditsy, dizzy blonde – necklaces that double as belt buckles, talking about a skirt that shows off her ‘drumsticks’, “Can I borrow this thong?”. But then she turns truly vulnerable. The moment where she admits to Jules that she made up a reason for them to spend more time together and then quietly added “I’m really sorry it sucked so bad for you” was simple, straightforward and completely touching.
Meanwhile, the plot about Travis needing advice and hurting his father’s feeling by going to Grayson first was pretty weak, even if it did have some choice Bobby moments (“I’m this close to a great idea, but the sound of my breath’s getting in my head, so I’m just gonna hold it for a while.”) And testing Ellie’s loyalty to the group by a tempting new wine bar run by a guy almost as bitchy as she is was only intermittently enjoyable, mostly in her random insults to people walking by off-screen. Still, it resulted in a great group photo!
- Sadly, I might also drop a friend if she named her daughter “Chesapeake”.
- “Bye bye nice moment.”
- “My nachos are great! I use three kinds of cheeses!”
- Thrilling to me: Courtney Cox’s dark blue tank top. Not thrilling to me: Dan Byrd’s center-parted hairdo
- “Starting To Own It” Cougar Town