MSN TV Blog - TV Buzz

The series wipes out any viewer good will in an exasperating season finale

By Miss Sarah Jo Jun 19, 2011 10:06PM

Billy Campell, Eric Ladin in The Killing"Trust me, Linden. I got this." – Holder

A good mystery doesn't have to be an out and out "whodunit?" Twenty years ago, the excellent BBC series "Prime Suspect" was built around the dogged police work necessary to prove a murder, as well as giving us ample time to learn about the victim's life, family and friends. It was suspenseful and exciting and most of all, did not feel it was necessary to lie to the viewers in order to keep them engaged and absorbed.  This is not to suggest that "The Killing" should have been a carbon copy of previous hard-boiled police procedurals, but rather to point out the areas where show runner Veena Sud let us all down immeasurably (and, for this viewer, irredeemably).

The most blatantly insulting reveal was that Holder apparently framed Richmond and has been working with a hidden agenda the entire time. That one moment effectively wiped out all the nuanced character development Joel Kinnaman had shown in the last twelve episodes, not to mention destroying one of the only two solid and layered relationships on the show (the other being Stan and Mitch Larsen, who had the only truly compelling interaction in tonight's episode). It is one thing to keep surprising and challenging your audience, but it is quite another to keep pulling the rug out from under them and expect them to still have any investment in your story.

The Richmond fake-out, along with the possible gunning down of Richmond by the poor man's Norman Bates (aka Belko), certainly left some threads that the show can run with next season; they are keeping a tight lid on any casting news, so everyone is fair game.  But "The Killing" has unfortunately reached the point where the creators are so overinvested in keeping everyone guessing that they stop writing characters with real depth and humanity. For example, Gwen was covering up about Darren's whereabouts on the night of the murder…until she decided not to anymore. Even the basically "good" people are liars in this world.  Inevitably, the concept of "everyone is a suspect" sadly means that eventually, all anyone IS is a suspect. It is foolish to expect viewers to remain loyal to a show that is seemingly only interested in cheap "twists" and red herrings.

Count me out for next season - how about you?


Several characters have to confront home truths about their choices in a sobering episode

By Miss Sarah Jo Jun 18, 2011 8:39AM
"Would you like me to help you? "– Tami Taylor

Contrary to the title, most of our friends experienced more of the proverbial punch to the midsection. There are only four episodes left (sob), and we are getting closer to the Lions playoff (and possibly state) game. Along that journey, either due to their own foolish actions or despite their best intentions, Vince, Julie and Tami all had a bracing fall back to reality.

The dominos are falling the fastest and most painfully for quarterback Vince Howard. Following a stylistically interesting flashback structure covering the team's first loss in the season, Eric gets a needed dose of wisdom from Crowley – "Look, we all know the problem. It's Vince. He's lost this team." It's particularly heartbreaking because Vince has come so far, mainly due to his own hard work and Coach Taylor's faith in him, and now that same respected mentor has to bench him, both for his own good, and the team's. Equally painful is the fact that Ornette's proclamation - that Eric would never bench Vince because what else do coaches care about besides winning – is perfectly logical and believable. Vince's father, however, doesn't really know our coach, the man who makes mistakes and gets blinded by expediency occasionally, but who will make the tough decisions and do what's right in the end.  Of course, it doesn't hurt that they end up winning, due to the wildcat antics of substitute quarterback Luke Cafferty. But Ornette's vitriolic and violent outburst following that game doesn't bode well for the future.

Also with a none-too-bright future ahead of her is the Gracie Belle-friendly but still troubled Epyck. Having her downfall come from a impetuous lashing out at the one supportive adult at East Dillon High was fitting for her character, but was still a sad little coda to this undercooked storyline. I suppose there is still a chance she will turn up again, but Tami's summary of her transfer to another school and foster family seemed awfully final. Was this relationship written mainly to give Tami enough despair that she is eager to move to Florida if/when Eric takes that job at Shane State?  A bit depressing if that's true.

Meanwhile, Julie Taylor is still flailing through her post-high-school life, although she is now doing it in the more scenic environs of Chicago and with a somewhat rekindled romance with our beloved Matt Saracen. Matt is torn between expressing his real love for her and forcing her to see that she does need to deal with her own life instead of latching onto his, and Zach Gilford did such a great job conveying his conflicted feelings.  Even if this is the romance for the ages, it was extremely satisfying to see Julie drive away from the safe haven she was trying to create and perhaps actually face up to her responsibilities. After all, it is easy to believe Matt when he says, "It's going to be OK, all right? We'll figure this out."

  • So underage Becky is able to just prance out on the Landing Strip floor dressed like one of the dancers and sell alcohol to skeevy men? Where does this town of Dillon exist anyway?  And because Mindy is pregnant (congratulations!) and tired, she isn't going to stop her?  I'm sorry, but the whole thing just grosses me out. We can only hope it doesn't end badly.
  • That was an excellent fight scene between Vince and Jess, and the follow-up with her and Coach was extremely touching ("You take all the time you need"). That girl is made of awesome and I hope Vince realizes that soon.
  • Quarterback Luke is almost as amusing to me as Drunk Luke.
  • You guys! Hastings Ruckle got a line of dialogue!

With the addition of Freddie Smith, the staid soap scores its first gay storyline

By Sona Charaipotra Jun 17, 2011 11:18AM
Photo courtesy Freddie Smith
There have been some major shake-ups at NBC's venerable soap "Days of Our Lives" in the past few weeks -- from the ousting of long-time writers and producers to a revolving door of cast members (with Nadia Bjolin and Louise Sorel amongst those out and fan faves Deidre Hall, Drake Hogestyn and Matthew Ashford returning). 

And now, with its new mantle in place, it's time for some major storyline shake-ups. The first? The long-rumored introduction of a gay character to Salem's younger set. On June 23, Freddie Smith (who played Teddy's love interest on "90210") makes his "Days" debut as Sonny, a Salem heir who stirs things up by wooing one of the male characters -- but the details are being kept strictly secret, even from Smith himself.

"I'm going to be surprised," he told Entertainment Weekly earlier this week. "There are a lot of guys on the show, so it's going to be interesting to see who I end up falling for. Someone new? Someone on the show? We all make jokes, 'Who am I going to make out with first?' It's going to be fun to see."

Fans have speculated that the Will Roberts, son of Sami and Lucas, may be the lucky guy, especially given recent storyline foreshadowing that hints at a split with Will's current love interest Gaby Hernandez. But perhaps that's just a red herring to throw us off? 

In any case, said Smith, "I think it will be interesting to see how people respond to it. I truly care about the whole thing. There's been a lot of controversy about this and for me to be able to a part of it, to be able to change people and make a difference … I'm really excited to play a character with that much pull."

Smith comes to the show from the CW's "90210," which amped up the action in its second season by introducing gay characters. But while primetime shows like "90210" and "Glee" may be introducing these types of storylines now, in the beginning, it was actually the daytime soaps that more frequently delved into such controversial, ground-breaking territory with their major players, as with Luke Snyder on "As the World Turns" or Bianca on "All My Children." 

"Days," however, has long been considered to be one of the more conservative of the soaps, so this new direction should raise some eyebrows. Still, "I am confident these changes will bring back excitement and anticipation to our family of fans as they tune in each day to see what happens," creator Ken Corday said of the changes. "You won't want to miss a single episode of the new 'Days' ahead!"

Given the recently announced impending demise of ABC soaps "All My Children" and "One Life To Live," perhaps some new blood (and a good dose of old-school faves) is what these shows need.

Are you excited about "Days" recent revitalization? 
"Day of Our Lives" airs weekdays on NBC.

Celine Dion, Gladys Knight to perform

By MSN TV Jun 16, 2011 3:46PM

Celine Dion/AP

By Deanna Barnert
Special to MSN TV

With Wayne Brady set to host the 38th Annual Daytime Emmy Awards this Sunday, word comes that Celine Dion, Gladys Knight, Maria Osmond, Viva ELVIS by Cirque du Soleil, Jabbawockeez and The Blue Man Group are set to perform!

Bing: More about Wayne Brady

A new list of presenters has also dropped. Christian LeBlanc, Susan Lucci, Marlee Matlin, Kimberly McCullough, Jillian Michaels, Sherri Shepherd, Heather Tom, Arianne Zucker and more daytime faves have been added to the guest list.


Bing: More on The 38th Annual Daytime Emmy Awards 


The National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (NATAS) will honor Oprah Winfrey and "The Oprah Winfrey Show" with the Crystal Pillar Award and a special tribute. There's no official word, however, on whether the Queen of Daytime will actually be on hand. 


Pat Sajak and Alex Trebek will be at the party to receive Lifetime Achievement Awards from presenters Peter Marshall and Vanna White.


New presenters announced for Sunday's show include Daytime Emmy Award nominees Christian LeBlanc ("The Young and the Restless") and Sherri Shepherd ("The View"), Marlee Matlin (Switched at Birth"), Kimberly McCullough ("General Hospital"), Jillian Michaels ("The Biggest Loser"), Heather Tom ("The Bold and the Beautiful") and Arianne Zucker ("Days of Our Lives").


Soap fans will also enjoy seeing Debbie Morgan from "All My Children," Brandon Beemer, Kim Matula and Ronn Moss from "The Bold and the Beautiful," Nadia Bjorlin from "Days of Our Lives," Kelly Monaco and Jason Thompson from "General Hospital," and Christel Khalil and Tracey Bregman from "The Young and the Restless." 


Chris Massey ("Zoey 101"), Kyle Massey ("Cory in the House"), Dr. Travis Stork, Dr. Andrew Ordon, Dr. Jim Sears and Dr. Lisa Masterson ("The Doctors"), and Ben Bailey ("Cash Cab") will also take the stage as presenters.


These new additions join previously announced presenters Rachael Ray ("The Rachael Ray Show"), Dr. Mehmet Oz ("The Dr. Oz Show"), Anderson Cooper, Shemar Moore ("Criminal Minds"), Don Diamont ("The Bold and the Beautiful"), Daniel Goddard ("The Young and the Restless"), Melissa Archer ("One Life to Live"), Galen Gering ("Days of Our Lives"), Tuc Watkins ("One Life to Live"), Darnell Williams ("All My Children"), Penn & Teller,  Meredith Vieira and Montel Williams.


The 38th Annual Daytime Emmy Awards telecast, hosted by Wayne Brady, will broadcast live from the Las Vegas Hilton, Sunday, June 19 8:00 p.m. ET/delayed PT on CBS.




Shake-ups continue!

By MSN TV Jun 15, 2011 2:49PM

'Days of our Lives'/NBC

By Deanna Barnert
Special to MSN TV

On the heels of a head writer shakeup and a serious cast reshuffle, "Days of our Lives" has announced a new team of executive producers. Former co-executive producer Gary Tomlin is officially out, with Noel Maxam and Greg Meng taking over as the new Co-Executive Producer team.


“It's time to make a more positive, romantic and intriguing show driven by the power of heroic love," said "Days of our Lives" head honcho Ken Corday. "I'm very excited about the new adventure we are about to take which is based on the show that my parents created 45 years ago."


Over the past month, "Days of our Lives" has announced a new head writing team, Marlene McPherson and Darrell Ray Thomas and major casting changes.  As an update on the casting ins and outs in Salem, so far, "Days of our Lives" has said goodbye to Louise Sorel (Vivian), Crystal Chappell (Carly), Nadia Bjolin (Chloe), Tamara Braun (Taylor), Bren Foster (Quinn) and Francisco San Martin (Dario). Casting additions include returning Deidre Hall (Marlena), Drake Hogestyn (John), Matthew Ashford (Jack) and Mark Hapka (Nathan) and newcomer Freddie Smith ("90210") are heading to town.


Now, "Days of Our lives" has given Gary Tomlin the axe -- or at least, they've replaced him with new co-exec producers. Co-Executive Producer Noel Maxam has been a producer on the show for four years, while Co-Executive Producer Greg Meng has served as Executive in Charge of Production for over ten years.


The revitalized crew at "Days of Our lives" is working together to create a "grand event in the fall," respite with big surprises.


"I am confident these changes will bring back excitement and anticipation to our family of fans as they tune in each day to see what happens," Corday teases. "You won’t want to miss a single episode of the new 'Days' ahead!"


Gary Tomlin has been at the helm in Salem since 2008. While often credited with getting "Days" finances in order, his start as an actor also made him a favorite of some Salem locals. Tomlin's history in daytime goes back to a 1973 acting gig on "Search for Tomorrow." He made his move to the other side of the camera after his 1979 stint on "Another World" and has since served as a director, writer and producer on soaps like "All My Children," "Passions," "One Life To Live," "Search for Tomorrow" and "Sunset Beach." He also created the animated series "W.I.T.C.H."


"General Hospital" recently made news with its own head writer shakeup and with the Daytime Emmys set for this weekend in Las Vegas, stay tuned for more big daytime soap and talk show news! 


"Days of our Lives" airs weekdays on NBC.





HBO offers up a full eight minutes of the 'True Blood' Season 4 premiere

By Sona Charaipotra Jun 15, 2011 10:44AM

Photo courtesy HBO
OK, so last week HBO served up a six-minute sneak peek of the Season 4 premiere, set to air June 26. And in water-torture fashion, this week they've offered up another little slice, bringing the count up to a full eight minutes. 
When we left off, Sookie Stackhouse was discovering that the fairy land she'd disappeared to wasn't quite what it was cracked up to be. In fact, there was something downright sinister about it. Also, she ran into her long-missing grandfather, Earl Stackhouse (Gary Cole, "Desperate Housewives," "Entourage"), who thought he'd only been MIA a few short hours. Then Queen Mab (yes, really!), played by Rebecca Wisocky ("90210," "The Mentalist"), got all up in Sookie's grill, telling her she'd better stop mucking about with those evil vamps, who previously almost drank the fairies to extinction. She suggested Sookie eat some of the fairies forbidden fruit, but Sookie sensed that this was what had everyone under the evil fairies spell, so instead she threw it, shattering the illusion. 

So what do we learn this time around? Sookie and Granddaddy Earl make a run for it as Mab and the gang start throwing fireballs at them, trying to prevent them from escaping. Sookie and Granddaddy almost get fried several times before they are rescued by Sookie's fairy godmother Claudine's brother Claude (Neil Hopkins, "Lost"), who disagrees with Mab's mission to seal of the fairy plane from the human world. He brings the pair to the edge of a cliff, where Sookie -- who's still not eaten the forbidden fruit -- must decide whether to make a jump for the human world, leaving grandpa behind, or stay stuck in fairy land forever. 

Check it out!

"True Blood" premieres Sunday, June 26, at 9 p.m. ET/PT on HBO.

The ABC Family hit's second season premiere left us with more questions than answers

By Sona Charaipotra Jun 14, 2011 9:13PM
Photo courtesy ABC Family
"Pretty Little Liars" second season premiere packed a mighty punch last night -- leaving us, as usual, with more questions than answers.

When we left our fearful foursome last season, Spencer, Aria, Emily and Hanna had just apparently accidentally knocked off Ian, Spencer's brother-in-law and possible "Gossip Girl"-from-the-grave stalker A, as he tried to take her out in a church steeple. Their saving grace? There was no body to be found. So is Ian dead? If so, where's the body? If not, where'd he go? And is he really A? 

While Rosewood newspapers and teenagers alike gossiped about the possible murder, the girls, feeling the social outcast burn, tried to go about their daily drama -- which, true to form, largely centered around boys (or men, as the case may be). Spencer was all about reuniting with Toby -- despite her parents' continued warning that they were bad news. Hanna got a visit from her spy-turned-flame Caleb, but didn't quite reignite that. Aria doubted Mr. Fitz's commitment, given the return of his former fiance, who seemed to be semi-in-the-picture. And Emily, sans girlfriend at the moment, worried about the fact that her parents were selling her childhood home.

But there was plenty of A-related drama cooking, too. Friendly copper Garrett, whom we all know is bad news, told the girls to keep lying about the videos -- which later mysteriously got erased from Emily laptop by a "potential buyer" touring the house. Later, we saw Garrett cozy up to blind baddie Jenna, and Noel was getting cozy with Hanna's soon-to-be ex-BFF Mona. Meanwhile, Spencer's pregnant sister Melissa was flipping out over her MIA husband -- and the fact that her sister might have killed him. 

It was all just a bit too much, so the girls got sent to group therapy to figure everything out. Secure in the knowledge that the very well-dressed therapist played by guest star Annabeth Gish (Hanna particularly admired her boots) couldn't spill their secrets, they almost told her everything. But then A sent a very pointed message: he/she/it was always watching -- by leaving Mr. Fitz's college degree, lifted from teacher Ezra's apartment, in the doc's office. Creepy! A really is everywhere. So there was really nothing the girls could do except keep their mouths shut.

But the therapist made a phone call or four, and now the girls are banned from seeing each other -- lest they fall into some kind post-traumatic group-think or whatever. That didn't really stop the girls, who were all together when they saw a cryptic message on big sis Melissa's cell -- one that seemed could only be from MIA hubby Ian. The girls did a little fishing to find out if it was really him by asking him about the name he and Melissa had chosen for the baby: Taylor. And the mystery texter answered correctly. 

So is Ian alive? Or is this another ploy by know-it-all A? As always, "Liars" leaves us hanging -- but that's what keeps us tuning in. 

What to watch during the lazy days of summer

By Miss Sarah Jo Jun 14, 2011 7:39PM

Summer used to be the time when "There's nothing on" was actually true. Sure, there was some baseball and maybe the three (3) networks would showcase some rejected pilots as one-hour "special movies". But mostly, June, July, and August were the months when Americans could catch up on repeats of shows they had missed during the regular TV season, a quaint concept in those pre-DVR/Hulu days.  Now basic cable, along with HBO and Showtime, offers a healthy choice of new and potentially interesting shows. Here are some that we're looking forward to in the next few weeks.

Falling Skies (TNT, premieres Sunday June 19, 9/8 Central)
Pros: Noah Wyle stars as a father struggling to hold his family together after an alien attack pretty much destroys our civilization. End-of-the world survival stories are pretty irresistible ("The Stand" being the most obvious example), and the producers come with impressive resumes on other projects, notably"Justified" and "Battlestar Galactica". The buzz has already been building around this show a perfectly enjoyable summer adventure.

Cons: Despite "executive produced by Steven Spielberg" above the title, TNT is not known for having the necessary budget to do these kinds of effects-heavy series.

Blogging rotation chances: 30/70. Like "Burn Notice" and other lighter summer fare, this may be a show to watch with your brain turned off.

Wilfred (F/X, premieres Thursday June 23, 10/9 Central)

Pros: Joining the line-up of edgy comedies on F/X ("It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia", "Archer"), "Wilfred" looks like a cross between "Harvey" and "Donnie Darko". Elijah Wood plays a depressed young man who sees his neighbor's dog as a large man in a dog suit (Jason Gann, reprising the role he created in the original Australian series). Normally, this would mean "wacky hi-jinks ensue" but the tone seems to be more caustically droll than aggressively whimsical.

Cons: From the executive producer of "Family Guy". Yikes.

Blogging rotation chances: 50/50. We’ll see if there is anything more to say than "That was funny."

Louie (F/X, premieres Thursday June 23, 10:30/9:30 Central)

Pros: In its first season, Louis C.K. created a singular piece of television - more like a series of experimental short films than a classic sitcom. Some episodes lean more heavily on his much lauded stand-up, while others delved into his relationships with family, fellow comics, and his new life as a single father. Frequently bizarre, regularly cringe inducing, and profane even by the standards of late night basic cable, "Louie" is the true vision of its star (who is also the writer, director and even editor of most episodes). 

Cons: Not everything that comes out of C.K.'s fertile imagination always connects with his intended audience and the depressive elements can sometimes overwhelm the comedy.

Blogging rotation chances: 70/30. Even when "Louie" doesn't stick the landing, there is always juicy stuff to talk about.

Breaking Bad (AMC, premieres July 17, 10/9 Central)

Pros: Bryan Cranston. Aaron Paul. Bob "Better Call Saul" Odenkirk. Three seasons of some of the most exciting, audacious, and mesmerizing television ever.

Cons: None. Zip. Nada. It's all good.

Blogging rotation chances: 100%. July cannot get here fast enough.

So what are you looking forward to watching?