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SERIES PREMIERE RECAP & REVIEW: Brooklyn Nine-Nine “Pilot” S1 E1

Even better than the 3 minute previews I kept watching over and over again.  Brooklyn Nine-Nine (BNN) was fresh, funny, engaging, and touching.   Yes you read that right, touching.  I’ve heard many comparison to this show and old classic, Barney Miller.  I was too young to watch Barney Miller so I can’t comment but I do know how highly regarded Barney Miller was so for BNN to get that type of analogy is a HUGE compliment.  I just laughed the whole time and throughly enjoyed each and every character.

BNN follows Detective Jake Peralta (Andy Samberg) and his fellow team of detectives as they figure out just how their new CO, Captain Ray Holt (Andre Braugher) will lead their precinct.  See their last Captain let them have fire extinguisher races, so JP is hoping Holt will be just as deferential.   Yeah, not so much.  In a hilarious meet cute, JP is doing his best robot impersonation of the CO while Holt is standing right behind him.   You think Holt is just going to rip into him.  Instead, he tells him that he does a terrible robot impersonation and that he’d like to see him wear a tie.  This back and forth, power play between the two men continue throughout the episode with Holt telling JP he’s been doing too much manscaping and being relished to the records room by not following orders, to JP telling him he’ll dress more appropriately while he’s wearing the tie but no pants and speedo.

The best part of the Holt/JP relationship is that this isn’t the typical smart ass cop getting one over on his boss.  Holt is smart, driven, and very in tune with his crew even though he’s only been there for a few days.  So just when JP thinks he’s gotten one over on his new Captain, Holt turns the tables on him and gets the upper hand.  I love that!   And I think it helps that Samberg and Braugher have fabulous chemistry.  They play off of each other very well with Samberg’s razor-sharp wit and silliness and Braugher’s monotone and stone face delivery.   What makes this work is that Samberg is playing JP as a guy who likes to have fun yet takes his job very seriously.  And while most people want to hate the guy who’s the best and who is also a jokester, push the envelope type of guy, Samberg has such charm and a good balance between the silliness and seriousness that you can’t help but love him and wish you worked with him.   And Braugher, with his deep, commanding voice and huge presence on-screen, is able to play off that because he takes his job just as serious but also has a sense of humor that can have his people relax around him, but also know, they need to follow his command.

The touching moment came at the end of the episode when they are on a stake out and we learn that Holt captured the notorious disco killer in the 70s (loved the hair and suit on Braugher by the way) and JP wants to know why it took him so long to have his own command.   Holt tells him it’s because he’s gay and that the NYPD, at that time, wasn’t ready for a gay commanding officer but when they were, they used him as a publicity stunt and put him in roles that would promote the NYPD as a gay friendly organization.  Now that he finally has his own command, he doesn’t want to blow it.  JP, apologizes to Holt and tells him he feels like a jackass.   This is the type of scene that let’s me know what a great show this will be.   I love comedies when they have heart.  They can take a step back from the humor and give us a real moment with these characters that draw us in and then can find a way to seamlessly and subtly bring the humor back to return us to the comedic element of the show without being disrespectful to “the moment.”  And that’s what happened here.  Holt beared his soul and we got some good insight into why he is the way he is and JP was honestly upset for how he’d been behaving.   Samberg played this scene so well because it could have come off as insincere when after his apology he immediately sees the killer they are targeting and he announces how awesome he is.  But it didn’t.  JP was very genuine in his remorsefulness but Samberg found a way to make that stick when he was very careful about the tone he used in bragging about how he spotted the killer…it even made Holt laugh.

As far as the supporting cast, I was interested in each one of them and can’t wait to find out more.   You have tough as nails Det. Rosa Diaz (Stephanie Beatriz) who is as scary as they say and absolutely perfect in her delivery.  Det. Charles Boyle (Joe Lo Truglio) who has a crush on Diaz and is as clumsy and awkward as they come, but a hard worker and sweet man.  I’m sorry but that muffin scene has me howling every time I watch it. Sgt Terry Jeffords (Terry Crews) is a former field detective turned sergeant because once he had his twin girls, Cagney and Lacey (LOL!), he was fearful of losing his life…cue the scene where he shoots up a mannequin at a department store because of his sheet panic…priceless.  Gina Linetta (Chelsea Peretti) is the office manager and a civilian who is the eyes and ears of the office who has yet to learn she has a filter.  And finally Det. Amy Santiago (Melissa Fumero) who is partners with Peralta and has a contest with him to see who will have more arrests.  She’s very driven and just wants to prove she’s one of the boys and tough as they come.  I love this girl already and let’s face it, it’s only a matter of time before she and JP are together romantically.

It’s a fabulous cast, a great show, and I can’t wait for next Tuesday already.   If you haven’t checked this show out, this is a must watch!

DVR RATING: 5

 

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SEASON FINALE RECAP & REVIEW: Parenthood “Because You’re My Sister” S4 E15

I hate that it’s Jan 25th and Parenthood is over for the season.  But I’ve said it before, I’d rather have a 15 episode season of Parenthood, than no season at all.  So if 15 is all I get and it keeps Parenthood on the air, so be it.  But I’d still rather have the full 22…it has to be said!

Adam and Kristina

It’s been a pretty emotional season.  Kristina’s cancer storyline has really dominated the tear factor, with a handful of other stories vying for their Kleenex moment, so you knew there was going to be a decision at the end of the season…was Kristina going to be in remission or was she going to die?   I’m not going to lie.  I was worried Katims was going to kill Kristina off.  Because the storytelling that would happen in the build up to her death and in the preceding episodes dealing with her passing would be so incredibly powerful and interesting, I thought Katims might go that route.  At this point, luckily, he has decided not to go in that direction.  Although I fear seeing her friend Gwen might have been a foreshadowing of things to come.  Now don’t get me wrong.  I am by no means wishing for this to happen.  NO.  WAY.  I’m just putting on my forecasting hat and, as usual, reading too much into everything.

Kristina had one more scan to make sure that the cancer hadn’t spread because something looked off in her test.  But the doctor was just being cautious thinking it was probably just her body reacting to all the treatment.  Turns out that exactly what it was!    Yeah!!!  Now he did warn her that she can’t use the “C” word (cured) for 5 years but at this point, she is cancer free!!!

I’m so happy for her and for Adam.  This whole storyline was told so beautifully.  It showed how scary and lonely it can be for a cancer patient.  But it also showed how difficult it is on the spouse.  And it showed that both sides can be flawed in their actions.  There were times Adam was trying to be supportive but in his quest to support (like with bought Kristina the trip to Hawaii to celebrate her clean health), it pushed negative buttons in Kristina.  Likewise, when Adam was doing his best to be supportive (like when he bought Kristina the wig) Kristina really overreacted to what her husband’s intentions were.  Showing the side of the cancer patient in a supportive light is a dangerous and tricky storyline to go down.  You never want to show a patient unfavorably because of what they are going through but if you are going to show this as real as possible, then you have to cross that line.  But Katims did it so well that it was never disrespectful or insensitive.   But it was a perfect ending to a very well told story from start to finish.

Joel and Julia

Speaking of a well told story, this story had some mixed emotions over the course of the season.  I didn’t have as much of a problem as some people did…until the last two episodes.   Now I am going to chalk up the fast turn around to only have 15 episodes to work with and wanting to wrap this story up on a happy note this season and not drag it out into the next one.  But is that the fastest turn around you have ever seen in a kid?  He went from being really nasty and mean to Julia and Sydney to now begging Julia to adopt him and asking Sydney to show up at his adoption ceremony because she’s his sister.  This from the kid that just 2/3 weeks earlier was saying Julia wasn’t his real mother.  It didn’t make sense to me.  And there seemed to be no explanation as to what caused him to have this major change of heart.  That’s the only part that really disappointed me.  But my assumption is that Katims really wanted the adoption to happen in the finale and there was only so much time between certain episodes to make that happen.

Other than that, the adoption was wonderful and classic Braverman.  Of course the ENTIRE family would be there to support J&J.   And I LOVED how each one of them stepped up to say how they now related to Victor and how there certain areas in life where he should reach out to them for advise.  (Oh and really Sarah, YOU’RE going to suggest relationships for your area of expertise.   Ugh.)   But the best part was at the end of the scene when they were running out and Victor said to Julia “Mom can we get ice cream?”   The look on her face when he called her mom was priceless.  I love it.

Crosby & Jasmine

I still don’t agree with Jasmine on how her mom should have been handled.  Are there some sensitivities to the situation that should be respected because of who Renee is and what she has been to Jabbar?  Absolutely.  Does that give her the right to tell Crosby and Jasmine how to parent their son?  No.  And Crosby had every right to be upset with Renee interfering with their way of raising Jabbar.  Renee wasn’t happy with their routine (Crosby getting in late and having dinner as a family when he got home.)  so she just changed it.  That isn’t right and Jasmine should have put her foot down more.  She was just as much to blame in this for putting Crosby in the position of having to be the heavy and that’s why it became worse than it needed to be…because she didn’t have his back, even though she agreed with him.  Ironically, I think Renee was right that Jabbar shouldn’t be eating dinner at 8:00pm during the week.  That should be closer to a bedtime than mealtime.  But you know what, it doesn’t matter what I think or she thinks.  The only thing that matters is what his parents think because it’s their decision.  And quite frankly, I think it’s nice that they try to do what they can to have dinner as a family, no matter what time it is.   But because Jasmine didn’t have the guts to have an honest, but respectful conversation with her mother, the situation and the tension built up and exploded when it didn’t need to and Renee’s feelings were hurt.  And somehow Crosby had to apologize, which was wrong.  If anything, Jasmine should be apologizing to Crosby and her mother, because this whole thing is her fault.

I forgave Jasmine very quickly though because I LOVE the way she told Crosby she was pregnant.  Even more, I love the fact that they went to see Renee and let her be the first one they told.  And the way Crosby told her was so sweet and adorable, it just melted my heart.  So it looks like all if forgiven and another happy ending for another Braverman sibling.

Sarah/Hank/Mark

Thankfully, this storyline is over.  Sarah finally made up her mind and decided to give it a go with Hank only to have her heart-broken by him when he told her he was closing the shop and moving to Minnesota to be with his daughter.  I have to say, I can’t blame him.  But he did tell Sarah that he loved her and wants her to move with him to snowy, icy, Minneapolis.  I say, go.  I’ve said this before, I love Lauren Graham, I don’t like her character.  Sarah isn’t bringing a whole lot to the table and her stories, quite frankly, haven’t been that interesting.  So I wouldn’t mind seeing her haul off and follow Hank to Minnesota.  But that won’t happen because LG isn’t going anywhere.  I also had a MAJOR problem with how she told Mark.  Are you kidding me? You walk into his classroom and stiffer than a board, tell him you’re going to make a go of it with Hank and good-bye.  Could she have been more cold?  For God sake he was her fiance.  Didn’t he deserve a little more warmth and respect than what she gave him?   Take him for coffee, take him for a beer.  But don’t do it at work and don’t be so cold and unfeeling that we’re wondering how you two were ever together in the first place.  I assume  she was trying to play it as awkward, which I’m sure it was.  But it came off as bitter and rude, than awkward.

Amber/Drew

A quick note on these two.  I’m glad Drew got to wrap up his story with Amy and we got to see her one more time and they were able to resolve their break up in a satisfying way.  What they went through was so hard and difficult for teenagers.  For anyone really but especially teenagers.   I’m also thrilled to see his moment of joy learning he got into Berkley, after all the sadness he’s had the last few weeks.  The only thing that was disappointing is that there is still no fallout from his moment with Sarah when he fell into her arms crying after it happened.  Does she know?  Did he tell her?   We still don’t know.  My assumption is that he did because when she was congratulating him on getting into Berkley, she told him “I told you everything would be ok.”  Now was that the gentle nod to let us know that she knew?  I’m still not 100% sure.   Either way, I’m happy for Drew and I’m very excited for him.   I’m going to say something cooky, crazy now.   Is it possible Amy didn’t go through with it and is still pregnant and that we’ll see her two seasons from now where Drew bumps into her with a kid in a stroller?   I’m just, throwing it out there.  My guess is no, but you know how my mind works!

Amber and Ryan are back together…yeah!!  As they should be.  I love this relationship and it’s so nice to see how far Amber has come from when we first met her and how mature she is being.  She is getting her life together and she is being very responsible and respectful to herself and Ryan in regards to making this relationship work the right way.  The chemistry between Whitman and Lauria is incredible so I hope Ryan will be a permanent fixture on the show moving forward.

So that’s season 4 of Parenthood.  Did you love this season?  Are you sad it’s over so soon?  I hope NBC does the right thing and brings it back.  I think they will.

 
 

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RECAP & REVIEW: Parenthood

I think the people from Kleenex and Johnson and Johnson should give the producers of Parenthood a nice portion of their incremental profits from this year due to all the tissues and Tylenol I’ve been using during each episode.  I don’t know if I can take much more.  Oh who am I kidding….of course I can!!!!!

This season is really defined by Kristina’s cancer storyline and I couldn’t be happier with putting Monica Potter front and center.  Maybe now she’ll get some Emmy love.  Wait who am I kidding, she’s not on Modern Family.  Anyhoo, last week Kristina went in for her surgery only to find out that while the cancerous lump was removed successfully, the doctor still had some bad news.  The cancer found was a more aggressive form than previously thought and one of her lymph nodes also had cancer in it.  So Kristina is still up for quite a battle.

There has been a lot of discussion out there about how Adam and Kristina handled telling Haddie.  I’m torn on this one.  On one hand, how do you lie to your daughter about something so serious?  I know they don’t want her to worry, I know they want her to go to school.  But come on.  She’s an adult.  You can’t expect your daughter to act like an adult and then you treat her like a child when it really counts.  On the other hand, if that’s how Kristina wants to handle it, that’s her right.  And if they want to insist their daughter go to school that they are paying for, they have that right.   I have to imagine if things got really bad, they would tell Haddie to come home right away.  But if I had to pick one side or the other, I would have to go with they made a mistake and should have told Haddie.  What’s delaying college one semester or even a year if it means being around your mom and family if, God forbid, something happens to her.

As weird as this sounds, I love to see how this has impacted the extended Braverman family…more so Amber and Crosby.  I never really thought of Amber and Kristina as close.  But then I remembered her working for Kristina and all the times Amber was there for Max and I realized that they are pretty close.  It was painful to watch Amber on her first date with Ryan not be able to hold it together as she was thinking about her aunt.  (More on Amber and Ryan in a bit.)   But what really struck me was Crosby’s response.  Crosby and Kristina, to be kind, haven’t always seen eye to eye and gotten along.  In fact, there were times they down right disliked each other.  But Crosby was one of the first people to jump at the chance to help.  Even though in typical Crosby fashion, it had to be all about him.  When he asked Adam for something to do to help, Crosby didn’t like the task Adam gave him and wanted something more important to do.  Finally after whining for a while, Adam gave him the responsibility of getting Kristina her last meal before the surgery…which she had to eat by a certain time.  I really thought Crosby was going to be late and miss the food cut-off time but he showed up just in time and Kristina was really very sweet about it.  But the sweetest part was when Crosby hugged her, he couldn’t let go of her.  Oh, it was so touching!

I wonder where this storyline is going to go this season.  Do you think the writers would actually go down the path of killing Kristina?  Most people say no, but I don’t know.  This show has always done what’s in the best interest of the story and I think it would be an amazing story to see what would happen after losing Kristina. Not that I want ANYTHING to happen to Kristina because I would be devastated if Monica Potter was no longer on Parenthood anymore.   But you know what?  I’m not ruling it out as a real possibility!

Can I just say that Sarah’s character is really annoying the crap out of me this season?  I hate to say that because I LOOOOOOOOOVE Lauren Graham.  But I just want to drop Sarah off the side of a cliff.  What a terrible parent she is sometimes.  I really don’t understand how anyone with any morsel of a brain cell would think moving in with Mark after what happened with Hank was a good idea.  AND, not only do you rush this moving in thing, you do it with your 17-year-old son and without thinking a lick of how it would impact him.  Actually, she had already thought about how it would impact Drew and she knew it would be bad.  That’s why she originally told Mark she didn’t want to move forward with anything until after Drew graduated.  So much for that.  All because of one kiss.  If that doesn’t send off warning signs and alarms, I don’t know what will.  But Lord is she driving me crazy.

I’m going to go on record right now and say that I am 100% fully on the Amber/Ryan band wagon.  I love this storyline with her.  Amber has always had MISERABLE luck with men.  And now we know why…because Matt Lauria (Ryan) had to come along with his amazing smile and looks and sweep her off my feet….oops, I mean her feet.  Amber really deserves a good guy and a good heart and even though there’s a big back story with Ryan (I think) and more layers of him to peel back, I think he’s going to be a keeper for Amber!!!

The only thing I ask the writers…please give us a little more Julia and Joel?  This is shaping up to be a really fascinating storyline and I want it to be given the respect it deserves.  So please, more J&J and less Sarah and her insanity.   Thank you!

So what are your thoughts on Parenthood so far.  And where do you think this storyline with Kristina will end up?

 
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Posted by on October 25, 2012 in NBC, Recaps and Reviews

 

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RECAP & REVIEW: Glee

I haven’t talked about Glee in a while.  Actually, I haven’t talked about anything in a while.

I was so ready to give up on Glee this season.  But the last two episodes of last season, I really enjoyed.  I thought the season finale was well done and executed and I was very curious to see how the show was going to incorporate the college lives with the high school lives.   For me, when shows go down that road, I find myself much more interested in the meat of the show vs. the periphery stories.   That isn’t the case with Glee. I’m SOOOO invested in Rachel and Kurt and their adventures in NYC than what is going on with the crew at McKinley.

I want to back up to last year’s season finale for a minute because I love the way it went down.  They finally won nationals, all the kids were getting what they wanted, kids were going to new opportunities, Mr Schu got the elusive National Championship.  And then when it looked like Rachel and Finn were going to make the horrendous mistake of getting married, Finn pulled a level of maturity out of him that most men twice his age don’t have.  Showing his true love for Rachel, he put her first, he realized what they were doing is ridiculous, and put her on a train to her dreams…NYC and NYADA.  It was such a great scene because you can tell they both want to be together yet both want to branch out and chase down their potential futures.  When she was on that train singing “Roots Before Branches” crying her eyes out with Finn running next the train as it was leaving, I couldn’t help but cry.  I always loved Rachel and Finn and it broke my heart to see them take that leap of faith, apart from each other.

Return to this season and I couldn’t wait to see how this was going to work.  I’m surprised to say that I can’t get enough of Rachel and Kurt in NYC.  When she first was there by herself….alone, scared, out of her element…I wanted to run to NYADA and give her a big bear hug.  And after the rough time at school and just when she thinks she may want to run back to Lima Ohio, she turns around and there is her BFF, Kurt.  I LOVED IT!!!!  I was so happy for both of them.

The thing I like most about the way Rachel and Kurt are being handled is that it’s the most realistic storyline I’ve seen Ryan Murphy tell on this show in a while.  Here’s the big star from Lima realizing she’s just one of many big stars from lots of small towns.  How does she react?  How does it impact her confidence?  Will it shake her?  Motivate her?   How does she handle it?  Then you have Kurt.  Without a real plan until by chance, he stumbles upon an internship at Vogue.com.   Now he’s working with one of the top designers, possibly contemplating a career change.  As Carrie Bradshaw said, many people come to New York with one dream and end up staying with a completely different dream fulfilled.  I think that’s exactly what’s going to happen with Kurt.

I’m sure what people are most upset about is the last episode before the baseball break…aptly titled “The Break Up.”   The four major couples were having problems…Rachel and Finn, Kurt and Blaine, Santana and Brittany, and Will and Emma.  Two of these couples break up by the end of the episode.  Thankfully, it wasn’t Kurt and Blaine because I think their fan group might have torched Ryan Murphy’s house.  And it wasn’t Will and Emma.  It unsurprisingly was Santana and Brittany (yawn) and Rachel and Finn.  It just goes to show you, DON’T GET MARRIED IN HIGH SCHOOL!!!!

While many shippers of Rachel and Finn and Santana and Brittany are heart-broken, I’m glad the story was told.  Why?   Because this happens more times than not.  High school couples promise to stay together and then usually by the fall break, it ends.  Sometimes sadly, sometimes happily, sometimes matter-of-factly.  But 99.9% of the time, it happens.  The scene with Rachel and Finn was fantastic.  Lea Michele really knocked it out of the park.  It was devastating to watch these two have the break up on the stage where their relationship got started.   When Rachel was crying her eyes out telling Finn what a man he was for doing what he did after graduation and what a lack of man he was for ignoring her for months after he left the Army, I couldn’t help but cry with her.  Michele was outstanding.  But college is a time to find yourself and that’s exactly what Rachel needs to do.  And honestly, so does Finn.  Unfortunately by the end of his high school career, he defined himself too much by Rachel.  Finn wasn’t Finn anymore and he needs to find that self direction again.  It looks like he will back at McKinley, which is great for him.  He needs to do what’s in his best interest first.  He needs to create a life for himself before he starts creating one with another person.    So in that sense, I’m glad he and Rachel are going their separate ways…for the time being.  We’ll see what happens.

As for the McKinley crew, I really don’t care.  Brittany, Artie, Unique, Tina…I couldn’t care less.  It’s horrible to say, but it’s true.  When they are back at McKinley, I fast forward all the scenes.  The only somewhat interesting storyline is the new Rachel and the new Puck.  Although it can’t be that interesting if I can’t remember their names!

So sadly enough, I’m on board with Glee for another season.  If only Ryan Murphy can spin-off Rachel and Kurt  into their own show so I could just watch that!  It would make me so happy!!!

 
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Posted by on October 25, 2012 in FOX, Recaps and Reviews

 

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SERIES PREMIERE RECAP & REVIEW: Go On “Pilot” S1, E1

I know we are going onto episode three tomorrow night but I’m just getting around to talking about Go On.  Go On is the return of Matthew Perry (again) to headline a show.  Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip and Mr. Sunshine failed miserably.  So will the 3rd time be the charm for Perry?  Not only do I hope so, but I believe it will be.

SYNOPSIS

Matthew Perry is leading man Ryan King…a snarky sports broadcaster who recently lost his wife in an automobile accident.  To deal with the tragedy of losing his wife, his company insists he enroll in group counseling.  The group is led by Lauren (Laura Benanti) who we learn has no background or expertise in psychiatry but has lost 40 pounds through Weight Watchers and became one of their leading motivators.  Joining Lauren is a calamity of characters with some wacky problems (like Sonya, who uses cats as a substitute for issues with her boyfriend) to serious issues (like Owen, whose brother is in a coma after a terrible accident and Owen really struggles with talking about it.)

WHAT’S WORKING

The cast is solid.  Perry is his typical charming, witty self.  I know there are many people who don’t like Perry because they feel he plays Chandler Bing with every roll.  But I don’t think that’s the case (see his guest role on The Good Wife.)  Perry is playing a beguiling, funny, witty, sharp character that was popularized by playing Chandler Bing.  And as a result, when shows are looking for someone to play a character with those types of qualities, Perry fits the bill perfectly.  It’s the same with Jack Nicholson.  If you need a womanizing asshole with a wise ass sense of humor, who’s better than Nicholson?   No one!  Same here.  And since I love Perry, I’ll watch him any day of the week.  He wasn’t what killed those last few shows….the writing did.  But that’s not the case here.

The rest of the cast is very complimentary.  It’s a fine line between quirky and lovable and annoying and stupid.  Especially when trying to write about a cast of people in group therapy for many different reasons.  It can’t be too sad, or sappy, or out there…then you turn people off.  But so far, the writers and the cast have done an excellent job of selling funny, weird, and sentimental.  I loved the scene in the second episode where Ryan takes George (who’s blind) to a Lakers game and Ryan is giving George the play-by-play.  George tells him to knock it off, because he’s driving him crazy, and to close his eyes and listen the game.  It will tell you all you need to know.  So far though, I like everyone…especially Anne, Owen, and George.

I read one review where the critic talked about this show having a Community feel to it.  And I think they’re right.  Community is about a common element bringing a group of people together who would never normally socialize with one another.  Go On has that same premise.  I love seeing all these different personalities meshing together.

WHAT’S NOT WORKING

Right now, not much.  The only thing I will say is that Benanti hasn’t had a chance to really shine yet.  So far she’s been rather boring…which pains me to say after watching her Tony Winning performance in Gypsy on Broadway.  She’s amazing!!   But in this role, she’s really dull around this wacky, motley crew.  It’s early, so I’m holding out hope she gets better as we get to know her more.

John Cho is also pretty wasted in his role.  He only shows up sparingly so I’m not sure what the direction for his character is moving forward.  Again, it’s early so they may figure something out.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Overall, I like this show and will keep watching it.  At first I thought the potential love interest for Perry’s Ryan would be Benanti’s Lauren.  After episode 2, I’m now thinking it might be his assistant, Carrie (Allison Miller) or we may have a bit of a triangle…even though there has been no indication of a romantic relationship between Lauren and Ryan yet.  It’s still way too early after the loss of his wife, but you know it’s coming.  But since I’m in no rush for that, just keep bringing on the comedy surrounding the therapy group and I’m good!

DVRs: 4 DVRs

 

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SERIES PREMIERE RECAP & REVIEW : The New Normal, “Pilot” & “Sofa’s Choice” S1, E1&2

And so it begins!!!!  The new TV is finally underway and some shows have already premiered this week.  Can you believe it?  I know I can’t.  This summer flew!!!  I’m sort of happy, though, that there are some early premieres because it will make it somewhat easier to discuss all the new shows and returning premieres, and give them their just due.  First on the 2012/2013 docket….The New Normal.

I’ve heard mixed reviews about this show.  Some people love it, some people hate it.  Some people already assumed it would be awful because it’s a Ryan Murphy show.  I have to admit, I had my reservations after he completely destroyed Glee, how this show would fair.  But my initial assessment….I liked it.

WHAT’S WORKING

The premise for this show is simple.  A gay couple is looking for a surrogate to help them start a family.  Enter Goldie Clemmons who is looking to start over after finding her husband cheating on her.  Goldie would like to go to law school and set a good example for her daughter, Shania.  Andrew Rannalls and Justin Bartha are fantastic!  Georgia King is delightful and Bebe Woods is adorable.  Rannells and Bartha are terrific as Bryan and David.  David is the partner who loves sports and was the mathlete in high school.  Bryan, I believe is a writer, who is the more flamboyant of the two, who loves to have a good time and has a great quick wit.  The thing I like most about Bryan is that he has a huge heart.  He isn’t as plastic as he appeared at times in the pilot.  I didn’t think they were going to show him in the best light for becoming a dad.   But in Sofa’s Choice, he did a great job dealing with what he thought was Shania ruining his couch as well as being there for her when she was having a rough time at school.  Bryan has a HUGE heart and you can see how David would fall in love with him.

Goldie is so sweet I get a cavity every time I watch her on-screen.  She may be a little green to the ways of the world, but she’s strong in her own way.  She has opened her eyes to the potential that is her life and she is determined to give her daughter a successful role model while keeping her own dreams still very much alive.  I love it!!!  What a great message to send.  She will do whatever it takes and work as hard as she can, on her own, to make this new life for her and Shania.  That’s something I can watch and root for every week!

Shania is also a nice ray of sunshine.  I’m usually not a huge fan of kids on-screen because they annoy me, but she is really good.  She’s smart beyond her years and has this delightful quirkiness that would normal irk me but with her I find completely charming.  And I like that she has found a kindred spirit in Bryan.

This is a show I can see watching for a while because I am truly invested in each character (save for Nana Jane) and what happens during this whole process.  How do they all get along during the pregnancy?  What happens after the baby is born?  Would Goldie consider doing this again for them?  How will this all impact Shania?   How will having a baby really impact Bryan and David and their relationship?  Will I ever see the baby in that awesome sweater Bryan bought?  If the show can keep it focused on these four and really develop these characters, I can see tuning into the New Normal for many years!

WHAT’S NOT WORKING

Do I even need to say what I have an issue with?  Let me start with the small issue before I go on to the huge bigoted one.  NeNe Leakes is my small issue.  I’m not a big fan of reality TV personalities turning into “legit” on-screen actors.   Not because they can’t, but it’s usually because they aren’t very good.  Leakes isn’t bad but I don’t understand her point on the show.  She’s Bryan’s assistant (although I’m still not 100% sure what he does for a living) and other than her few lines to him in the beginning and a punch line for Ellen Barkin’s Nana, what else does she bring to the table?   Maybe that will change overtime but I don’t like how she’s being used so far.

As for Barkin’s Jane Forest character…there are no words.  I’m serious.  I’m not naive.  I know there are racist, bigoted, homo-phobic people out there.  But you know what, I don’t find them funny.   It’s one thing if you want to have a character that pushes the envelope in their thought processes and there are ways to incorporate that stereotypical element, into a show that can be humorous.    But how Barkin’s character is written, it’s not humorous…it’s cringe-worthy.  In the pilot, she goes on and on about not liking the lesbian couple walking down the street.  Then she talks about how selling Girl Scout Cookies, one of her competition “jewed down the price so she lost.”  She calls Bryan and David “salami smokers.”  Finally, when Rocky (Leakes) walks in, she panics thinking one of “her kind of eggs” is going in her granddaughter’s body.  The second episode is worse.  Like Jane making a comment like “I studied past presidents that used to own people like our current president.”   Ouch.  But the line that had me the most pissed off from an offensive standpoint and as a TV viewer was when Jane opened the door to Bryan and David’s bathroom to see Rocky there and she says “are you sure you’re even supposed to be using this one?”  I have no way to clearly articulate how much that bothered me.  Does she really think it’s 1950?   Does she really think blacks and whites have to use separate bathrooms?  ARE YOU KIDDING ME WITH THIS?  Again, how is that funny?   Maybe I’m too uptight about this.   Maybe I’m too dumb to understand the humor.  But for me, this character is so over the top it appears more a marketing ploy than a plot driver.  And maybe that’s why I’m so annoyed with the character…because she’s so forced.  She can’t just make one comment, she has to make four or five (sometimes in the same insult.)  It’s lazy and it’s bad writing.  But it’s Ryan Murphy so of course there will be bad writing and of course he will put shock in area to create a buzz even if it doesn’t work from a storytelling perspective.  Because let’s be honest, can you name one good story he’s told on Glee the last three seasons?  Yep, me neither.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Overall, I like The New Normal.  Honestly, if they got rid of Nana Jane and found a purpose for Rocky, it would be an awesome show.  But the good parts, so far, really out weigh the bad ones so I am sticking with it.   That is until Murphy finds a way to screw this up as well.

DVR RATING:  3 1/2 DVRs

 
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Posted by on September 13, 2012 in NBC, New Shows, Recaps and Reviews

 

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SEASON PREMIERE RECAP & REVIEW: Parenthood “Family Portrait” S4 E1

This is absolutely one of my favorite shows on TV.  And every season, I can’t wait for its return.  The fourth season of Parenthood did not disappoint with a very touching episode that surprised me because I’ve never liked Haddie.  So let’s start there because there was a lot going on in this episode.

Haddie/Adam/Kristina/Max

I had a feeling Sarah Ramos wasn’t going to be back much this season once we learned she was off to Cornell.  I wasn’t all that upset either because I’ve never liked the character of Haddie.  I never liked how whiny she was and how selfish she could be.  Plus, everything is the world seemed to annoy the crap out of her.  She was written perfectly as a typical teenager and Ramos did a great job executing it to a tee.  Still doesn’t mean I have to like her!   Most of this episode revolved around Haddie leaving for college.  Here’s what I don’t understand.  This is the week before she leaves correct?  So why was Kristina and Adam trying to cram ten pounds of shit into a five-pound bag (as my husband loves to say?)  Obviously Haddie wants to spend time with her friends before she leaves and she should have the right to do that.  Why would you put shopping, parties, family visits, and immediate family time all within the course of this one week?   Couldn’t you have spread it out over the summer?  It was already going to be stressful enough for all of you that week leading to Haddie heading East.   Why make it that much more stressful on all of you?

One of my biggest pet peeves about Parenthood (really the only one) is how the show always has people talking over each other.  I hate it.  It’s one of my biggest pet peeves in reality because I don’t think there is anything ruder than talking and having someone completely disregard the fact that you are speaking and begin to speak over you.  It’s as if that person is saying “what you’re saying is so insignificant and has so little value, that I am going to begin speaking because I couldn’t care less what you have to say.”   Sorry for the mini soap box, but it had to be said.  So when it happens in Parenthood, it drives me bonkers.  Adam/Kristina/Haddie/Max have always been the worst about this on the show.  Every scene they are in it’s as if 2-3 different conversations are going on.  It’s hard to follow and not the least bit entertaining.  The scene at the burger place was awful.  First, if you want to take Haddie out to celebrate her, why not ask her where she wants to go?  Second, knowing you have a son with Aspberger’s, wouldn’t you call the restaurant ahead of time to make sure they serve the same burger that your son always gets?  You know what will happen if they don’t and if you’re trying to make a nice family outing, keeping Max in check would be a good idea.  Third, how dare Kristina yell at the people behind them.  You all know I love her character but this bothered me.  Your son is pitching a fit, your oldest daughter and yelling back at him, and your youngest baby has just burst into screaming tears.  When the man turned to look at them, Kristina yelled to have him mind his own business because that wasn’t his family.  Well guess what?  When your family disrupts other people’s families from enjoying their meals, they have the right to give you the stink eye.  If you don’t like it, then make sure all hell doesn’t break loose when you go out to dinner.  I’m not saying it’s easy and I can appreciate how challenging it can be.  But you also can’t be upset with other people who may be annoyed that your family is keeping them from having a quiet, enjoyable meal.

Even with those few annoyances, overall, it was a really sweet episode for these guys.  One of the things I think the show highlighted beautifully is just how difficult it is on the sibling of a child with Aspberger’s.  We always see and hear about the parents view-point, but it’s nice to see how hard this has been on Haddie.  Haddie tries to have a nice moment with Max telling him how much she will miss him and loves him and that she appreciates his special qualities of honesty and directness.  She even gives him a present to let him know how much she cares.  But you see her get nothing back from Max.  That has to be hard and I thought Haddie handled herself very well.   Haddie always has to be the bigger person and when her parents don’t always discipline Max the way they should (like the way the blew off him destroying her room to look for his lizard) it’s hard to not want to take it out on him and it’s understandable when she does lose it.

We also got to see Kristina’s side of her baby girl going off to college.  You see how she really wanted some girl time with her daughter before she leaves.  She really puts it in perspective when she says “she’s never going to live here again.”  Actually, that’s a good thing.  You should want your child to be self-sufficient and independent.  It’s a sign they’ll be ok.  But from a mother’s view-point, her baby is grown up and moving on.  And while she’s thrilled for her, it crushes her at the same time because everything is moving to a new stage in their lives.

The scene that really got me, was the final scene.  Even though I knew it was coming, it still got me.  Haddie is at the airport about to board her flight and her parents are keeping it together (Adam’s just fine but Kristina is really trying hard to be strong and not cry) and Haddie is also very stoic.  But as soon as Haddie gets in line, she runs back to her parents, crying her eyes out, and gives them a huge hug.  It was awesome.  And I was so happy for Adam and Kristina because they got their reassurance that Haddie is going to miss them just as much as they will miss her.  Oh man, did I cry!!!

Crosby/Jasmine/Jabbar

I’m still not happy Crosby and Jasmine are married but I guess I’ll get over it at some point.  But I thought their story of the week was very interesting.  Crosby noticed Jabbar praying and wasn’t quite sure how he felt about that.  When Jasmine and Crosby confronted her mom about it, I loved seeing them as a united front and on the same page.  It was the first sign to me that I could start to like Jasmine again because that shows she’s grown.  Before she would have taken her mother’s side but not this time.  She and Crosby were a team and told her mom that something that significant should really be up to them to teach Jabbar.  And I agree with them 100%!  But her mom had a great response…then what do you plan on telling him and teaching him because he deserves to know something.  And she’s right.

Crosby goes to see his mom and dad and asks them about their spiritual background and how they handled this with them.  I was conflicted about this because in one sense, shouldn’t Crosby know his parents view points on religion and spirituality?  Wouldn’t that have already been discussed and wouldn’t he know the results of those conversations?  In another sense, I really respected how Crosby took this seriously.  Seriously enough to go to his parents and ask their advise since they didn’t grow up in a house where religion was prevalent.  He and Jasmine talked about it and he asked her what about her religious upbringing did she like.  Now of course Crosby said something that made me want to smack him upside the head (he’s usually good for at least one of those per episode) which was “well I don’t want my son belonging to some club I’m not apart of.”    Oh really?  So if Jabbar wants to be on the football team or a mathlete or part of the German club or drama club, you won’t let him because you won’t be part of it too?   That’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard!    Ultimately, I think Crosby made the right decision and followed his mom’s advise in letting Jabbar figure out for himself what religion and spirituality will mean to him.   It’s a fascinating debate because can children really figure that out for themselves?  Probably not.  But there is nothing wrong with opening him up lots of different faith-based religions, learning about them, understanding them, and letting them choose which speaks the most to them…especially if religion isn’t a huge presence in your life.

Sarah/Mark/Amber/Drew

I’ll run through this part quickly.  I’m not sure why Mark was brought back.  Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE Jason Ritter.  But it’s pretty well-known that he’s going to be in another show mid-season that Jason Katims is creating specially for him.   So he’s not going to be around.  At this point, I don’t know why Sarah just couldn’t have denied the proposal off-screen and she comes back this season single.   I though his speech to Camille was sweet about being in the picture but at the same time I was just screaming at my TV: “come on!!”  It’s a picture!!!!  I can see if other fiances were included in the picture and now he isn’t but Kristina wasn’t allowed in until she and Adam were married.  Jasmine wasn’t allowed in.  So why should it be any different?  I don’t agree with Camille’s stance, but if that’s her decision, so be it.  She should have held her ground.  Seriously though, I can see not wanting random girlfriends and boyfriends in the picture but fiances?  That doesn’t make any sense to me.  And what if one of her children didn’t believe in marriage and lived like Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell?  Does that make the significant other any less family?  I think not.  Also, why not take two pictures?  One with mom, dad, and the kids and one with mom, dad, kids, significant others, and grandkids?

Sarah is searching for a new job outside of bartending and when scheduling the photographer for the family picture, noticed a Help Wanted picture in the window.  She asks Hank Rizzoli (guest star Ray Romano) if she can put her hat in the ring for the job.  I have to say, I wasn’t thrilled with the addition with Ray Romano because I was not a fan of his.  I never found him particularly funny and I hated his sitcom.  So I was nervous. I am shocked to say that I was pleasantly surprised how much I enjoyed his character.  I liked his banter with Sarah.  I thought they had a nice connection…he’s the grumpy curmudgeon while she’s the bubbly, aloof, optimist.  She has no experience and she lies to get the job.  It fails horribly (from a logistical standpoint) but the family loved her and Hank couldn’t help but notice how great she was with the clients.  So he decides to hire her full-time to be the client liaison while she learns more about the photography business.  And I like where this is going!

Amber continues to make bad decisions but I don’t care because I love her character.  But I do have to ask, what happened to her job with Kristina?  I thought she was seeing that through and now she’s working at the Luncheonette?  I hope that gets explained (and I hope Kristina still has her job!)  But she sleeps with the lead singer of this band only to find out he has a girlfriend.  She tells Crosby, who tells Adam, who decides to fire the band.   (Loooooooooooooooong deeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep breath and siiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiigh.)  I was with Amber, I can’t believe Adam fired a paying customer because he upset Amber.  If anything, he should have been upset with Amber for AGAIN mixing work and pleasure to disasterous circumstances.  But at the same time, I LOVED how protective he was of her.  Ultimately, she’s still his niece.  And as he explained to Crosby who was giving Adam a hard time “you don’t have a daughter.”  I get that.  I still think it was absurd that a 20-year-old with no business experience had to explain to a 40+ year old with 20+ years of business experience that he can’t make business decisions on his personal feelings.  But I still loved the scene with Peter Krause and Mae Whitman.

Drew, kind of bores me.  I don’t know if it’s the character or the actor, but Drew is a drip.  I’m sorry.  And it looks like Amy will be breaking his heart next week.

Joel/Julia/Victor/Sydney

Wow, this is tough.  Joel and Julia are really struggling incorporating Victor into the family.  I like this storyline because I think it’s fascinating to see how you bring a child into your family who is much older.  I would guess Victor is around 7-8 years old?  So Victor has thoughts, feelings, and opinions already developed.  This isn’t something J&J can develop from scratch like they did with Sydney.  I can’t even imagine how difficult that is.  And I can appreciate the predicament of letting Victor do things they wouldn’t normally do to make him feel loved and wanted yet needing to discipline him to the point that you are truly treating him like family (to Joel’s point.)  How do you know that line?  When is the right time to stand up and say you’re in my house you need to live by my rules?   Each kid is different so how do you know?    And it just broke my heart when Julia said “I’m trying to fall in love with my son.”   You can see this is killing her.  You can see how badly she wants this but it’s hard.

I have no doubt this will work out because I think J&J are great people who want this child to have a great life.  But the process to get there will be amazing to watch.  And I’m sure it will get worse before it gets better.

Whew!!!  What a premiere!  I know it sounds like I’m being really hard on the show.  Maybe I am, but I just love it so much that when there is something I don’t like, it usually hits me harder than it should!  The ratings have me nervous, they always do so I hope Parenthood continues to have enough of a following to last a few more seasons.  Because I LOVE the Bravermans!!!

 

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