The club finalizes an important decision in an uneven but engaging episode
Both the strengths and weaknesses of "Sons of Anarchy" were on display tonight. There was some tired retreading of familiar beats, an enjoyable but disposable car/motorcycle chase sequence, and some puzzling new information about certain characters. However, it did all come together in a tense and intriguing climax, with clear battle lines being drawn within SAMCRO.
Starting off with the not-so-great stuff, we got more of Gemma rifling through Tara's office like she's starring in some community theater bedroom farce, and enlisting the increasingly sidelined Wayne Unser (conveniently hanging around the hospital chapel) as an ineffectual lookout. Katy Segal always does a bang-up job, but this is Gemma at her most irritating – spouting her platitudes about "protecting our family" and going over (again) the saga of J.T. Teller with a healthy dose of self-pity. It becomes increasingly hard to take her seriously as being genuinely threatened when we do not know what secrets she is fighting so hard to conceal from her son.
Secrets also came to light about Juice, who is informed by Sheriff Roosevelt that the father he has never met is black. Bizarrely, this would (apparently) get him exiled from the Sons. Maybe I have missed some important information over the last three years, but this seemed to come completely out of left field. Certainly, the various clubs seem divided along race/ethnicity (Mexicans, African-American, etc.) but why is Puerto Rican just fine, while half black is verboten? Is this the reason for the rather clumsy insertion of Clay's racist remarks (directed at Roosevelt) in the last two episodes? This news, along with Kozik's former drug addiction, and Miles elevation to full SAMCRO member just in time for voting on the cartel business, seem more like narrative conveniences than actual character development.
Still, the interplay between the club members continues to deepen and get murkier and complicated. Bobby holds fast to his opposition, perhaps because he got a clearer picture of how much Clay's "you've got my word" means after the interaction with Charlie Horse. Opie comes around to support the drug muling, but only because he thinks he and Jax will be heading up the club in some dreamy future – a notion of which Jax pointedly does not disabuse him. And Clay chillingly threatens his old friend Piney for letting the cat out of the bag to Gemma. The leadership of SAMCRO is acting out of blatant self-interest, while paying lip service to "the good of the club". It doesn't bode well for anybody.
- The whole truck-stealing sequence was pretty ridiculous, but I was appreciative of the diversion. And CCH Pounder was on hand to complete the cast reunion of "The Shield."
- "Luther! Vandross! Get inside!"
- Hey! Buckaroo Banzai directed this episode.
- Roosevelt and his wife are having fertility issues. How is this possibly going to be used to get him out of SAMCRO's way? Stay tuned.
- Who was the poor victim of "slow death by flesh eating ants"? A leftover Russian?
- Frankly, knowing that Tara is being sought after by other hospitals makes it even more frustrating that she is going along with Jax and his "plan" to get them out of Charming.
- The "nays": Chibs, Piney, Juice, Bobby, Happy. That will make for an interesting alliance.
Baring his Ashton part of proud TV tradition
But it reminds me of a truth, a naked one: that male nudity is funny -- as long as there is a shocked foil to rebuff the buffery and pixelation or clever camera angles to hide the flesh-hued shorts.
As the great philosopher Elaine Benes once explained, the female body is art; the male body is just utility. And in ditching his stitching, Kutcher has joined this rich history of defrocked TV stars
Jerry Seinfeld, “Seinfeld,” 1997 episode: “The Apology”
Dating a nudist, Jerry decided to shed his own clothes-mindedness. (His private parts were strategically blocked by an unfolded New York Times.) This lasted until the nudist denounced male nudity as “bad naked” -- or at least Jerry’s particular brand of it.
Cobie Smulders) blind date, a man who successfully utilized shockingly quick nudity to elicit date sex. They dubbed this move “the naked man,” and Harris and Josh Radnor set about trying it themselves.
Rob Schneider, “The Sensitive Naked Man,” 1992 “Saturday Night Live” sketch
Like a nude Gabriel Byrne, all the future “Deuce Bigalow” wanted was to get to the bottom of what troubled the troubled. For some reason, however, these people all hid from their true feelings and only focused on the fact that he wasn’t wearing clothes.
R&B superstars The Lonely Island performed some unconventional rapping, and wrapping, in a digital short celebrating the special gifts Samberg and Timberlake made for their girlfriends. The beauty is how the actors went Zero Monty and yet still managed a suggestion that almost qualifies them for sexual offender status.
Ashton Kutcher, “Two and a Half Men,” 2011 episode: “Nice to Meet You, Walden Schmidt”Among the many things Ashton Kutcher has that Charlie Sheen doesn’t is a better bod (also Demi Moore, his sanity, and a job). But thanks to his comic timing, his looks didn’t distract. The homoerotic hug Kutcher gave Jon Cryer’s character, just as his ex-wife and son entered the room, was last night’s funniest gag.
What's in store for McKinley High's gleeful gang this fall?
- Kurt and Rachel team up to make their Broadway dreams come true (hence the maybe on revisiting New York).
- Will Schuester and Emma Pillsbury finally try to make it work as a couple.
- Two members bail on the New Directions to go out on their own. (Eeps!)
- One soon-to-be grad can't even begin to fathom life after McKinley High.
- A power-mad trifecta runs the school musical, "West Side Story," with much drama, naturally.
Saying goodbye to Greenlee and Ryan -- for now?
After more than 40 years on ABC, "All My Children" is building to its big network finale on Friday Sept. 23. MSN TV got on set to chat with Rebecca Budig (Greenlee) and Cameron Mathison (Ryan) in Pine Valley to see how they were holding up during the final countdown.
As of today, however, Mathison has signed on the proverbial dotted line, along with Lindsay Hartley (Cara). That makes them the first two locals with plans to make the move to the net, assuming their new bosses at Prospect Park can come to an agreement with AFTRA. No word yet on Budig.
MSN TV's goodbye chats with Susan Lucci (Erica Kane) & Walt Willey (Jackson) and Alicia Minshew (Kendall) & Thorsten Kaye (Zach) are already up, and there's still one more to come. In the meantime, thanks to a return from Josh Duhamel (Leo), Greenlee and Ryan may just get their happily ever after…
MSN TV: Some "AMC" fans were nervous that Josh Duhamel's return as Leo would be bad news for this couple. Instead, it seemed to bring Greenlee a sense of closure.
Budig: It took their relationship to another level, for sure.
Mathison: That's a good way to look at it. In life, we all have these clogs in the drain that we have to get through in order to move on. Greenlee has a connection with her true love Leo, so Ryan has some soul searching to do with Gillian. Ryan and Gillian have been through so much. The way I saw us wrapping up things here is: What's it going to take to get Ryan and Greenlee truly solid? I'm hoping we can get there.
So you're both looking for the happy ending?
Budig: I think so.
Mathison: As long as it makes sense and is character driven. They're making an effort to make that the case.
What is the vibe onset during these final days?
Budig: I just got a script yesterday with Kendall, and that's when it hit me: Those were our last scenes together, as friends. And we had a love scenes the other day, and I was like, "Oh my gosh, this is our last love scene!" It's weird. I've kissed this guy for how many years?
Budig: It's bizarre. I know the scent of his skin.
Mathison: We’ve known each other longer than I've known my wife. They say, "Jobs come and go," but it's a different level when you connect emotionally. Onset, we're connecting in that way, but also off set, we spend an enormous amount of time together -- more time than we spend with our family, for periods of time. Because of that, it's a big deal to say goodbye. It doesn't have to be for everybody, but for both of us, it is.
With the contracting confusion surrounding "All My Children" and it's move to the internet, have you guys returned to the audition circuit?
Budig: Oh yeah, I'm out there...
Mathison: Yes, I'm starring in my own primetime series. I mean, I haven't actually shot it or booked it yet…
Budig: Yeah, we're both starring.
Mathison: We've got our own series coming out.
That would be nice! Do you have your eye on shifting genres or staying in daytime?
Budig: Listen, I'm not delusional. I don't think I'm going to be the next movie star, but I love primetime television, comedies -- I just love acting, and I'm excited to be a part of something different, whatever that is.
Mathison: Me too. It's exciting to be going out, in this point of our careers, putting it all out there and seeing what doors are opening next. I love half-hour comedy and things like that, but who knows? I've always been a big believer in putting the effort out there, see what doors open and follow those leads and see where that takes you. We both have things that are brewing. Who knows if they'll work out or if they won't?
Rebecca, how does it feel to have returned to the show just in time to enmeshed in story and then be a part of the final days?
Budig: I am happy to be here for the ending. It's a very momentous occasion. The show's been on TV for so long, and most series don't last a season. My goodness.
Mathison: Who would I have wrapped up with here, on "All My Children," if you hadn't come back?
Mathison: That's weird.
Budig: You woulda been a cop.
Mathison: That's also strange. Not what I envision, so I'm happy you came back.
Budig: As for a female? Opal?
Mathison: It wasn’t a real question! But I love Opal as an answer. My favorite onscreen kiss, and I think you understand. It was spectacular.
I'll take your lead and ask: What were your favorite storylines?
Budig: I loved when I came to the show and was obsessed with Ryan and my friendship with Leo turned into a love affair. I also loved when I was with Alicia [Minshew (Kendall)] and Cameron in a love triangle, because that was hilarious and much fun.
Mathison: My two favorite times on the show were very similar. When I first came on, I had a great storyline with this princess, I thought, who had a lot of money [Gilian]. I pretended I had money, and we got married for all the wrong reasons. We were both broke and fell in love. Then, when I came back to the show, we had the Kendall/Greenlee/Ryan triangle. Literally, months and months into years, it was just the three of us working together and having a blast.
Budig: Laughing, a lot.
Mathison: And setting roots for strong friendships.
Before the show goes dark, do you have any message to fans?
Budig: How do you say thank you? The deepest, deepest gratitude for sticking by us all these years. They're the most loyal fans. Wherever we go, they support and follow us. They're amazing.
Mathison: They are directly responsible – directly! If they weren't there for us, we wouldn't have this job; and if we didn't have this job, we wouldn’t have had so many moments of happiness, so many friendships and connections. How do you say thank you to that? It goes to their passion and what they deserve that the show is going to live on. Hopefully, it will be with the same cast. Who knows? But either way, I hope it's something they get to enjoy.
"All My Children" airs weekdays on ABC through Sept. 23.
After lots of drama, the long-running CBS sitcom finally scores some Ashton action
And the joke's on FOX
Any hit to FOX TV’s reputation would have been forgotten by the first commercial of last night’s Primetime Emmy Awards. Instead, the network’s decision to censor an Alec Baldwin gag has resulted in an unremitting explosion of commentary across the blogosphere.
The gag, part of a pre-taped bit that was to open the show, ribbed FOX parent company News Corp.’s involvement in the recent British phone-hacking scandal.
"I understand NewsCorp killing that joke," Baldwin tweeted yesterday, adding: "If I were enmeshed in a scandal where I hacked phones of families of innocent crime victims purely 4 profit, I'd want that 2 go away, 2."
According poynter.org, the bit had Baldwin playing a network exec on a cell phone.
Baldwin reportedly requested that FOX delete his entire appearance rather than run the bit neutered. It complied, replacing him with king of comedy Leonard Nimoy (???). Here's the result...
In some ways, this response is funnier than the joke would have been. If anyone at FOX is reading this, you may want to brush up on the following definition the next time an issue like this comes up: comedy.
Baldwin presciently tweeted that letting the joke stay “would have made them look better." Then he added: "A little."
News outlets widely reported that Baldwin boycotted the Emmys in retaliation. However, last night, he was one of the hosts of Tony Bennett’s 85th birthday bash in New York, something to which he committed before the censorship occurred last week.
“I skipped the Emmys … because I wanted to be here,” he told Entertainment Weekly on the scene.
“Congrats to Jim Parsons and all tonight's winners,” Baldwin tweeted, but only after tweeting before that, more characteristically: “Who won the Emmys? Did I win? No?!! S***!”
Walt turns contemplative, and Gus makes a bold move
"I made a mistake. It's my own fault. I had it coming." – Walter White
There has always been plenty of heart-pounding action in "Breaking Bad", but this show has also been determined to show us the inexorable build-up to those set pieces, as well as the details of the aftermath. That hasn't changed this season, as almost everything is a direct result of Gus defying the cartel and Jesse murdering Gale. But even while ramping up the action this season, from the gruesome blood-letting in "Box Cutter" to the spectacular final scene of tonight's episode, the creators have slyly done the unthinkable: they have completely sidelined our main character, reducing him to doing a frustrated and desperate dance around the other folks in his sphere, futilely and frantically trying to push them to do his bidding. Walt has spent seven episodes sniping at Mike, pressuring Jesse, cajoling Gus and dodging Hank, and he appears to be as beaten down as he could possibly be at this point.
Walt spends all of "Salud" recovering, both physically and emotionally, from his fight with Jesse, missing his own son's birthday in the process. As was the case in "Fly", drugs tend loosen his tongue and so Walt groggily pours out his deeply repressed feelings of guilt, shame and remorse to Junior, ending with the mega-Freudian slip of calling him "Jesse". The next morning, Walt is horrified at this admission of real emotion (or what he would see as weakness), and tries to backtrack with a revealing monologue about the trauma of seeing his own father helpless and ill, dying in front of his eyes. Bryan Cranston was terrific as he told this story about real vs. manufactured memories, and we gained new insight into his horror of losing control and appearing powerless.
But you know who does not have a problem appearing to be subservient, while all the while plotting a daring take down of the entire Mexican meth cartel? Gus Fring, that's who. Everything about that storyline was great, including his usual meticulous folding of his jacket before he vomited up the poisoned tequila. His final wild man challenge to his unseen enemies, even as he was barely able to stand was incredible ("Fill your pockets and leave in peace. Or fight me and die!"), and hopefully, he (and Mike) will live for the final three episodes. We are surely in for a wild ride.
- Jesse was certainly able to intimidate the cartel chemists and gain the upper hand fairly quickly in a precarious setting. Wonder where he learned to be so arrogant to others?
- Also apparently paying off: Jesse's first person shooter video game expertise.
- Yes, there was also the Ted Beneke and Skyler White comedy hour, which is taking a strong turn toward sitcom levels of silliness. I'm not sure why I find a mass poisoning/shoot-out to be more believable than Skyler's eye-roll inducing "surprise inheritance" ruse, but at least it gave us some classic Saul Goodman moments. ("You and I don’t wear the same rose-colored glasses where Johnny Fabulous is concerned.")
- Ted went from misunderstood victim to world-class jackass with one trip to the Mercedes dealer, huh?
- I actually put my hand over my eyes with embarrassment when Skyler started going on about Jr. listening to his "tunes" while he is "cruising' around". Groan.
- "You can do this."
A look insde the HP TouchSmart Gift Lounge at the 2011 Emmy's
By Minh Nguyen
Special to MSN TV
Ever wonder what it's like to attend a gift suite for the Emmys? We went inside the HP TouchSmart Lounge, strategically located at the Nokia Theater where the Emmys are scheduled for September 18th. Celebrities were coming and going and included: David Boreanaz, Andy Sandberg and Wilmer Valderrama. David Boreanaz attended with his family where his little boy didn’t want to stop playing the Angry Birds game on the HP TouchSmart PC. HP will make a donation to The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences for every celebrity that visited the suite.
The place is airtight with security so if you even think about sneaking it, it is near impossible. The gifting lounge was right smack in the middle of all the Emmy commotion and was right across from this year's host's (Jane Lynch) dressing room. We were even escorted to and from the bathroom and told it was because they did not want people (us) to know the sitting placements of the stars or what was being rehearsed for the show.
By attending the HP TouchSmart Lounge, the invited celebrities could have their pick of lots of great stuff. Starting off, celebs got a silver Le SportSac large weekender bag and a personal attendant who would follow them around from booth to booth carrying the bags to fill with the swag they wanted. They had their choice of:
- HP Mini 210, which came in many colors
- A Tiffany spreader from “the I Can’t Believe It Is Not Butter” booth which also had a fancy rhinestone toaster
- New ProNutrients by Centrum Vitamins and a Luxurious multi-speed juicer
- A sleek Nespresso espresso/latte maker
- New Balance Sky Sneakers made out of recycled water bottles (which will come out to the rest of us common folks in October)
- A Sedu Icon Prive Hair Dryer which claims to be “the last dryer you’ll ever own,”
- Ron White Signature heels which they claim we can wear all day
- A year pass to AMC theatres for two
- Sheets Energy Strips (a breath strip with caffeine in it)
- Hasbro games
- Sarah Chloe jewelry
- 1 Year membership to Crunch and Yogaworks so they can look their absolute best
We got a chance to talk to Wilmer Valderrama who said, “I’m excited to perform for the Emmys. I’ve never performed before. I’m going to be doing some musical intros with Jane (Lynch) and some great actors.” When asked if he could sing, Wilmer replied, “Yeah, that’s the word on the street.” If Wilmer can sing the way he discoed on “That '70s Show” we’ll hold our breath with anticipation for the Emmys show tonight!