Here are the major plot points you need to get by at the water cooler
In a lively episode, the group temporarily self-destructs and Chang gets a promotion
What do you really have in common with the "friends" that you are essentially forced into contact with on a daily basis? As Tim said in the original "The Office", maybe it's just that you walk around on the same bit of carpet for eight hours a day. Sometimes, it isn't the things you like that you have in common, but the things that you despise.
"Competitive Ecology" was relatively modest in scale, but the main plot was full of zingy one-liners and quirky character moments for every one of seven study group members, cumulating in the realization that their biggest bond was hating on accidental lab partner/innocent bystander/"non-grouper" Todd (and his dumb baby). It is delightful that this show keeps coming up with new ways to make each person's familiar personality traits more funny, from Abed's wackiness ("The hair color concept intrigues me because it's how I distinguish you anyway.") to Jeff's arrogance ("And who the hell are you always texting? Everyone you know is here!") to Britta's humorlessness ("If loving worms is stupid, I don't want to be smart!"). Random Todd lets them have it, speaking truth to power about how toxic the whole group is to each other, but the self-awareness only lasts as long as it takes for them all to be shuffled into one big lab group. The more things change…
In other news, Chang is still completely insane. His latest mind adventure is fancying himself a Marlowesque gumshoe detective, complete with weary voice-over and thing that are "clue-y". There was a lot of humor and good parody embedded in this "B" plot, which skated right up to the edge of how much Chang I can take (and veered over that line by the end). The worst part is that funny mustachioed ambiguously ethnic security guard is gone. There needs to be a strong voice of reason when it comes to Chang, and if he is only paired up with the equally cuckoo Dean Peldon, it may get to be too much awfully fast. That's not funny at all. That's scary.
- I could listen to Michael K. Williams expound about Legos all day long.
- "Oh no, she's got her marijuana lighter!"
- Annie fainting after hearing they all failed was hilarious.
- "How did this happen and did I miss the firemen?"
Can EJ's new campaign publicist really stop playing games?
When "Days of our Lives" was promoting last month's big Salem reboot, it was all about returning characters, behind the scenes shakeups and the new local hang out. It's quickly become clear, however, that long-time locals like Nicole are also seeing some change. She's over being with the wrong guys and playing games... for now? With Nicole signed on to work closely with EJ, portrayer Arianne Zucker isn't so sure this leopard can change her spots, but she's willing to let naughty Nicole take a stab at it.
MSN TV: How are you enjoying life in Salem after the big reboot?
Arianne Zucker: I've always been a big believer in change. I try to do something in life to create something new all the time, so it's exciting. What's cool is Nicole's going through a transition, just like the town of Salem and "Days" are. The situation with Gus made her life flash before her eyes and she realized, "I am pathetic; I've stayed in relationships that aren't good for me just for the sake of being in a relationship." It's great to say it, but can she go through with being this changed woman?
Especially now that she's working for EJ! Does she actually believe he's a good candidate for mayor?
Nicole thinks he can make a good mayor because of his connections and his pull. He has a lot of money, he's dapper, handsome and sexy and has all these qualities that can help. He could convince people in higher positions and his business partners to actually do better for the city, if she can get him to use his power in a positive way.
How dirty will this campaign get?
I think Nicole wants to make sure EJ's honest in the campaign, but someone is going to lose, and I certainly don't want it to be EJ! You have to do things to stay in the game. We're ahead now, but EJ doesn't like to lose and I can only imagine what he might do. It's exciting for Nicole to wonder, "What is this man going to do and how are we going to try to win this campaign?"
And will she be able to resist EJ's advances?
She loves the bad boys. It's hard for her to get away, but I don’t even have an answer. There's definitely a chemistry that keeps bringing these two back together, after everything they've been through. Maybe it's a past life thing, if you believe in those. (laughs) At times, they're good together and passionate, but boy, they just destroy each other and they're both guilty of it.
Last week, the internet went crazy over James Scott's (EJ) contract negotiations. Now he's re-signed with the show, but what is that like for you guys to have everyone in your business, literally, when you're dealing with this kind of stuff?
I know, right? Our world has changed so much, as far as privacy, with Twitter and Facebook. People freely put their lives out there and I do the same thing -- I've tweeted pictures of my daughter. It's a different world. You've got to go with the flow, and you're going to get so many different opinions. Twitter has become like message boards used to be, with people giving their opinion, and you have such quick access to what people are saying about you. You have to take it at face value and remember this is their opinion. Most of the time, fans are so supportive.
Supportive of you, but what about all the tension between the dueling forces behind EJOLE, EJAMI, SAFE, etc?
They're talking about the characters and I love it. It keeps up on air and we love our fans for that. I appreciate that they dive in, call or make whatever comment they make. We want to stay on air, so keep fighting for your characters!
With all this change afoot, is there something new you would like to see for Nicole?
Bren Foster is a black belt, so my storyline would be that Quinn teaches Nicole karate. Then we have some fight scenes and have to swing from wires, do splits and I kick people's butts in some crazy DiMeras versus Kariakises battle. I keep pushing that on the writers. I don't think that's ever going to happen, but you know, I can always dream...
"Days of Our Lives" airs weekdays on NBC.
Next season could be the show's last even with a settlement, characters offer reactions
"Simpsons" fans, you can finally have that cow, man. After 23 seasons, your show appears doomed.
Even if a settlement is reached in the current contract stalemate, according to a report by TheWrap.com, FOX is eyeing next season as the show's last.
For the fun to continue even that long -- and boy, won't it be fun after all this? -- the studio has demanded a reported 45 percent pay cut for all crew and cast members.
Some producers have agreed. But the six regular voice actors -- who earn $8 million each per season -- have not. They have until tomorrow.
The actors -- who commissioned a study estimating that the show has earned $1 billion in profits -- countered with an offer to accept 30 percent less in combination with a stake in a series. FOX flatly rejected it.
"We believe this brilliant series can and should continue, but we cannot produce future seasons under its current financial model," FOX said in a statement.
The actors are not commenting. (Would you if your stance was that slightly more than $4 million per year isn't enough to voice cartoons for a living?) However, when reached for comment from this blogger, the "Simpsons" characters had the following reactions …
Homer Simpson: "Dough!"
Marge Simpson: "Hmm, I don't have a good feeling about this."
Lisa Simpson: "And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you."
Bart Simpson: "Big whoop."
Maggie Simpson: (pacifier sucking noise)
Smithers: "Did someone say four million?"
"The Simpsons" airs Sundays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on FOX.
The newlyweds get silly during their first daytime interview as man and wife
On the heels of doing their first interview on "Late Night with Jay Leno" last night, newlyweds Kim and Kris Kardashian - er, we mean Humphries -- take on daytime today, Wednesday, Oct. 5, with a visit to "Ellen." With a new special to promote, the newlyweds stop by to dish wedding details and babies and renew their vows in a wacky ceremony officiated by Ellen DeGeneres.
Bing: More on 'The Ellen DeGeneres Show' | Watch clips
"We are gathered here today, because we are the only 300 people not invited to Kris and Kim's wedding," DeGeneres quips during today's mock vow renewal, and no surprise, she proves to be one entertaining master of ceremonies (see clip above).
Kim and Kris are making the rounds to promote "Kim's Fairytale Wedding: A Kardashian Event," the E! special about their original, star-studded summer nuptials, airing Oct. 9 and 10. In order to lure viewers to tune in, the couple dished with DeGeneres about being newlyweds, babies and, of course, the big day.
While Kim had one word for how she would have changed her big event -- "Elope!” -- hubby Kris reveals he would have added a bit more partying to the after party. Kim would agree, if only she'd been a bit less mental.
"I was so crazy for an entire month," she says. "I literally went crazy. It was so stressful.”
You can catch the full chat today on "Ellen," and per our weekly daytime celeb roundup. Kim will also be on "Today" this Friday, first as a guest, then as a co-host.
"Ellen" airs weekdays on NBC. Check local listings for airtimes.
We learn some of the truth but get many more lies in an uneven episode
It was hard to keep track of all the broken promises and betrayals on display in "Brick", both those dredged up from the past and entered into in the present. Some worked better than others, on both an emotional and logical level. Let's run through them, shall we?
So Clay slept with his best friend John Teller's wife, made a couple of unsuccessful attempts on his life, and eventually managed to kill him while using Unser to make it look like an accident. By positioning Clay as the mastermind, and putting both Unser and Gemma as willing but regretful accomplices, the series seems to be setting him up as the real new villain of the season. Unfortunately, the whole thing felt somehow anti-climactic, and the ongoing farce of The Incredibly Incriminating Letters Of Doom already seems played out. This story did allow Dayton Callie to do his usual superb job as an alternately vulnerable and angry ex-cop, and my money is on him (and Piney) as the wild card that may join forces with others against Clay.
The truth also came out about Bobby Elvis shacking up with the late Luann, and Otto seems to be at peace with that. Of course, he also thinks that Samcro killed her (alleged) murderer (porn king Georgie Caruso) instead of using him to bring down Charming Heights, in a rather convoluted plan that Clay and Jax managed to brainstorm on in roughly thirty seconds. Still, this was the strongest thread in an emotional sense: the character of Otto invokes both fear and pity in equal measure and pretty much everyone behaved and reacted to the situation with a degree of rationality.
If only the same thing could be said about the stuff going on with Juice. I am by no means an expert in the racial politics of Northern California motorcycle gangs, but from a purely practical viewpoint, what could possibly motivate this man to be so easily persuaded to turn rat. The mixed-race issue has come completely out of the blue, whereas the last three years have established beyond the smallest doubt what happens to club members who align themselves with law enforcement, not to mention ample evidence as to the false promises made in the past by Agent Stahl and her ilk. Are the consequences of being part black in a white club so dire that Juice would basically sign his own death warrant to avoid them? After what happened with the cocaine, he is in too deep to get out now. But seeing him go down (if that is what happens) will be a painful pill to swallow.
- I'm sorry Opie, what part of marrying a sweet but damaged porn star did you not understand?
- "Talk to my Mom; she knows the drill." Get out while you still can, Tara.
- David Hasselhoff and Tom Arnold would be a bit much on any other show. On "Sons of Anarchy", it's another day at the (porn) office.
- Boy, the security at this hospital is stellar.
More than just gangsters and flappers
Special to MSN TV
Ken Burns has spent all of his thirty-year (and running) career as a documentary filmmaker turning his camera back on the history of the United States: the defining people, events and accomplishments that defined, divided and united the country. From "Brooklyn Bridge" and "The Statue of Liberty" to "The Civil War" and "Jazz" and "The National Parks" (to name but a few), he has tackled subjects small and expansive with the same focus: finding the human stories that illuminate the history. His latest production, "Prohibition" (PBS/Paramount), presents a complex story of unlikely allies, disastrous political misjudgments and destructive consequences, and a political climate that is eerily familiar today.
The three-part documentary debuted over three nights on PBS and arrives on DVD and Blu-ray on Tuesday, Oct. 4. Videodrone spoke with Burns about "Prohibition," his fascination with American history and what he's been watching.
MSN TV: What have you been watching?
Ken Burns: Not much. I've been working 24/7 promoting the "Prohibition" series. Basically I've been watching "Boardwalk Empire," which is a kind of cousin of what we've done, a dramatic, fictionalized version of the themes that we tackled with our documentary on "Prohibition."
What does Ken Burns pull out of his DVD library to watch to relax after working on a documentary all day?
I'm a child of R&B and rock 'n' roll. I was born in the early fifties and grew up in the late fifties and early sixties, and that was my music, but in 2001 we released a 17 and a half-hour history of jazz and everything is filled with jazz, I listen to it all the time. I like the old stuff. I like the new stuff. I listen to Louis Armstrong: I think he's God. I think he is to music in the 20th century -- and I didn't say jazz -- I think he is to music in the 20th century what Einstein was to physics, what Freud was to medicine and what the Wright Brothers are to travel -- that is to say, a quantum leap in our musical understanding.
My father told me stories of my grandfather, who as a child in the Dakotas would accompany my uncle as he made deliveries of moonshine that his family made from a still in the hills.
You know what? We traveled all around the country on this promotional tour, every walk of life, and I don’t know anybody that doesn't have some related prohibition story. It's really wonderful. I love the way our films -- "The Civil War," "Baseball," "Jazz," "The National Parks" -- but this one in particular draws out stories in people quite apart from our own stories that we're trying to tell.
"Prohibition" is available on DVD and Blu-ray from PBS and Paramount Home Video.
Daytime diva responds to 'Whateverland: Learning to Live Here'
"Well there’s a real buzz in the air, can you hear it?" Stewart teased on her show. "The studio is buzzing, my blackberry is buzzing. I get a little 'ping ping' like every five minutes. The Internet is buzzing, and it's all because of my daughter Alexis. She's at it again. 'Whateverland: Learning to Live Here.' You think that now she's a mom, she's a grown-up; that she would have sort of figured it out? Well she hasn’t."
Sounds like Stewart is giving her daughter a hard time, but it's all in good fun -- just like the book. Apparently, Stewart was surprised by it, but she did get to read a preview copy a few months back and she approves, calling it "hilarious" and "enlightening."
"It's not an autobiography. Let's get that straight right now," Stewart clarified on this morning's show. "It touches on everything; food, fashion, cleaning, organizing and me. It’s irreverent and it’s lots of fun. Remember that 'Whatever, [Martha]' show that those girls had on TV? That was my idea. Making fun of good things is a good idea."
Some "Whateverland" excerpts are already raising eyebrows and when Stewart checked in with her daughter today, Alexis revealed she'd already answered to some of those inflammatory tidbits for Us Weekly, but then her responses weren't printed.
Here's what Alexis had to say about some of the controversial excerpts, and how Mom responded to those responses:
"There was never anything to eat at my house. Other people had food. I had no food . . . There were ingredients but no prepared food of any kind."
Alexis: And that is how my house is today. Turned out to be a good thing.
Stewart [to camera]: Yes if you wanted to eat when she was growing up. You had to cook something. That was the whole idea. She is a superb cook.
"Martha does everything better! You can't win! If I didn't do something perfectly, I had to do it again. . . . I grew up with a glue gun pointed at my head."
Alexis: Obviously what I say in this book is an exaggeration of the truth. I’m not sure there were glue guns when I was a kid.
Stewart: And she’s right there were not any glue guns. She was twenty-something when I first started working with glue guns and making my Christmas book. And she says, "I definitely prefer to have a mother who is good at things than the alternative."
"Halloween was also a grim affair: There were no costumes. There was no anything. We turned off all the lights and pretended we weren't home."
Alexis: Oh OK, I left out the years when my mother made me costumes on the sewing machine. Or let me wear all of my grandmother’s fabulous costume jewelry when I was very young and was a gypsy for Halloween. It was kind of fun pretending no one was home. No one else did that or would admit that they did it. And I still do it till this day.
Stewart's conclusion about all the hubbub?
"I must have instilled in her some good habits," Steward preened. "She’s tall, beautiful, gorgeous and mother of baby Jude and that’s all that counts. The book is out late October wherever books are sold. I encourage you to buy it, read and make it a best seller."
"The Martha Stewart Show" airs on Hallmark Channel. Check local listings.