Thursday, February 28, 2013

The CW cancels 90210

I bet Shannen Doherty and Jennie Garth are laughing in their leopard prints.

The CW announced Thursday that the ‘90210’ reboot -- basically a really lame continuation of the original show ‘Beverly Hills 90210’ is going off the air at the end of this season.

The fact that the show lasted this long surprises me – especially given the quality of the acting, the scripts, the sets, the scripts, the dramatic arcs and, oh yeah, the scripts.

When it debuted in 2008, ‘90210’ had 4.65 million viewers. Of course, a lot of those viewers tuned in for the nostalgia factor that was Doherty, Garth and Tori Spelling.

Over the years, the older stars have been shown the door and the younger, less talented, stars have taken over. The viewership has dropped with the takeover.

For example, when the show debuted their fifth season premier, less than a million viewers watched the episode – and the most recent episode only had 580,000 viewers and a .03 rating in the 18-to-49 demographic.

“The CW has had five great seasons with America’s favorite zip code, 90210,” said CW President Mark Pedowitz in a written statement. “I’d like to thank the talented cast, producers and crew for their hard work and dedication to the series. We are very proud of the West Beverly High alumni.”

This is the third “high profile’ teenage soap the CW has lost in the last few years. This past fall, ‘Gossip Girl’ ended after five seasons. Both cancellations followed the end of the long-running ‘One Tree Hill.’

The ‘90210’ series finale is scheduled to air May 13.

What do you think? Will you miss it? Or is it good riddance to bad rubbish?

GENERAL HOSPITAL: Who should be the new Lulu?

Julie Marie Berman announced this week that her time on ‘General Hospital’ was coming to an end after eight years.

Fans immediately started freaking out. I get the feeling. Lulu is an important character.

From the minute she landed on our screens, Berman embodied Luke and Laura’s youngest child better than most could imagine. She was sassy, brave – and she had appropriate “daddy issues.”

Through the years, Lulu has been involved in a number of front burner stories -- but somehow she always managed to keep Lulu firmly anchored in reality despite the surreal nature of her storylines.

A lot of fans don’t want to see Lulu recast – but I think at least one of Luke and Laura’s offspring needs to be represented on the canvas right now. With Jonathan Jackson on ‘Nashville’ and Tyler Christopher still MIA – that leaves Lulu.

So who are fans willing to see in the role? I’ve heard a number of names bandied about. Let’s tackle them one at a time.

Bree Williamson: There’s no denying that Williamson is a powerhouse – and she already managed to take over one popular role (Jessica, ‘One Life to Live’) and make it her own. Williamson has shown a knack for making tough -- and yet vulnerable -- heroines. I think Williamson could have smoking chemistry with both Brandon Barash (Lulu’s former lover) and Dominic Zamprogna (Lulu’s current husband) -- and I think that might be a triangle worth watching. The problem is, Williamson is currently finding success in primetime -- on several different shows. Not only is she recurring on NBC’s ‘Deception,’ but she has also been a regular on SyFy’s ‘Haven.’ I can’t see Williamson coming back to soaps. At least not now.

 Jennifer Landon: Landon has proven herself to be popular and powerful. She took a character that never should have caught on (Gwen, ‘As The World Turns’) and made her a fan favorite practically overnight. Not only was she a fan favorite, but she became a beloved character in the show's history -- despite only being on 'As The World Turns' for a few years. Her stint on ‘The Young and the Restless’ was admittedly less auspicious, but Landon has multiple Emmy wins and a marked sex appeal. My only concern with the possibility of Landon taking over as Lulu would be Starr and Lulu breaking out in song at the Haunted Star. Landon is an accomplished singer – and the horror of duets between the two business owners is almost nightmare inducing.

Jen Lilley: Lilley filled in for Kirsten Storms when she was ill and was a temporary recast of Maxie (albeit, the temporary recast lasted for almost a year). While I didn’t dislike Lilley – and I know she had her fans – she was never Maxie to me. She never made the character her own. When I was watching Lilley onscreen, it was more like she was doing an impersonation of Storms doing Maxie more than anything else. Also, I think it’s probably way too soon to bring Lillley on the canvas – especially as the best friend of the character she was playing months ago. Lilley might be gun shy about taking on Lulu knowing that, should Berman opt to return, she would likely be bounced again.

Alexa Havins: She had a lot of haters when she was Babe on ‘All My Children’ – but as annoying as the character was (and she was often extremely annoying), Havins was a perennial scene stealer -- no matter who was on the screen with her. Since AMC went off the air, Havins has done periodic guest work – and a season long stint on ‘Torchwood.’ Still, since she’s a new mother, I’m guessing she might enjoy a steady gig. The problem I have with Havins is that I can see her having solid chemistry with Barash, but for some reason I can’t picture her with Zamprogna. That might be a definite drawback to her casting.

Erin Torpey: The original Jessica Buchanan grew up onscreen. A lot of fans were crushed when Torpey left the show, but she showed a great deal of loyalty by returning for guest spots from time-to-time. A spot check of Torpey’s current credits show that she’s doing mostly voice work. She might be a nice fit for Port Charles. Plus, Torpey’s Lulu owning a business with Kristen Alderson’s Starr would be kind of fun – as would her interactions with Roger Howarth’s Todd.

What do you think? Who did I miss? Who would you pick to play Lulu?

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Are this year’s Oscars more anticlimactic than previous years?

I like to watch the Oscars – most of the time.

Sure, I find the ceremony boring at times – there really are too many televised categories – and if I don’t have a dog in the fight for best picture, I’m usually less inclined to watch until the end.

Still, there’s something fun about watching Hollywood’s elite get dressed up for the evening and pretend not to be mad when they lose an award to someone else.

This year I have seen most of the nominated films – so I’m not behind the curve on that front – and I’m really interested in the best actress category (I can’t decide if I want Jennifer Lawrence or Jessica Chastain to win). And yet, still, I’m not all that excited about the Oscars.


First off, I’ve already decided that I’m switching over to watch ‘The Walking Dead’ live during the ceremony. I will watch the beginning of the show and the end of the show – but I can’t wait to watch ‘The Walking Dead’ tonight. Not only is Merle reuniting with the people he just tortured, but Andrea will meet up with the people she thought abandoned her – right after The Governor dropped a walker bomb on them. That’s just good television.

Second, while I find Seth MacFarlane entertaining – I’m guessing he’s going to be kept on a short leash (and I’m predicting at least one ‘Ted’ appearance). The Oscars are too staid to really let a funny comic do what he wants. They should stick with safer choices – like Billy Crystal.

Third, while I liked ‘Argo,’ ‘Silver Linings Playbook,’ ‘Lincoln’ and ‘Zero Dark Thirty’ -- I didn’t fall in love with any of them to the point where I will be disappointed if one of them fails to win. They’re all good, but they weren’t my favorite movies of the year. That honor goes to ‘The Avengers.’ Sue me, that movie was all kinds of awesome.

Fourth, the Academy really should cut down on some of the televised categories – because there are a whole pile of them that no one cares about. Okay, the people competing in the fields care – but they’re the only ones.

Finally, I honestly don’t think there will be that many surprises in this year’s ceremony. Daniel Day Lewis, Christoph Waltz and Anne Hathway appear to have three of the big four awards sewn up. Sure, there’s always a chance that Robert De Niro and Sally Field will sneak in for a nostalgic win – but that probably won’t happen.

The only real toss-up is the best actress category – where I’m genuinely torn. Chastain and Lawrence were both amazing this year – and it would be great if they could tie – but I’m guessing that Lawrence is going to walk away with the award. ‘Zero Dark Thirty’ was just too dark for some people.

So, in the end, I’m excited to see the dresses and the best actress category – but I’m more excited to see ‘The Walking Dead.’

Anyone else think this year’s Oscars are going to be boring?

Thursday, February 21, 2013

‘The Americans’ hits right mix of entertainment, nostalgia

FX shows are usually pretty good – ‘Anger Management’ notwithstanding.

Still, I was concerned that ‘The Americans’ might not be a good fit for the network.

Actually, I wasn’t quite sure if ‘The Americans’ would be a good fit for me – but I was intrigued by a cast that includes standouts Keri Russell, Matthew Rhys and Margo Martindale. I figured it couldn’t be that bad if it attracted those great actors.
Still, when the show debuted a couple of weeks ago, I didn’t check it out right away. I recorded each new episode on my DVR, but I never quite found the time to watch them.

This past weekend, I finally sat down and turned the first episode on. I kept telling myself, if it wasn’t good, I would just delete all the episodes. The truth is, I really don’t need to add another new show to my already full repertoire.

Imagine my surprise when, not only did I watch the first episode in its entirety, but I also rushed through the rest of the episodes I had on my DVR.

‘The Americans’ is not only well-acted – but there’s a feeling of nostalgia wrapped around it that is hard not to enjoy. As a child of the 1980s, I can’t help but love the retro music and outfits – while also embracing the serious attitude the show projects.

‘The Americans’ is about two Russian spies who are sent to the United States to act as a couple and undermine certain operations in the country. It is weird to think that I am rooting for Russian spies to take down American operatives – but the time difference gives the show a retrospective feel, so I don’t feel all that guilty about it.

Elizabeth and Phillip were placed together in their early 20s – and then sent to the United States. They’ve had two children together, but never really formed an intense bond – until now. Elizabeth and Philip are both struggling – but not for the same reasons.

Elizabeth is still loyal to Russia above all else – but she’s also loyal to Phillip and their two children.
Phillip, on the other hand, is loyal to his family first and is willing to defect because he believes it will keep everyone safe.

The first episode explores some of Elizabeth’s issues – including the fact that she was raped by one of the men who trained her as a teenager.

Phillip, who up until that point had been willing to deal with the man to get his family to safety, turns into a blood thirsty maniac when he realizes what was done to his wife.

One of the interesting conceits about ‘The Americans’ is that Elizabeth and Phillip are still out having sex with other people (to get information), but they are starting to consider themselves committed to each other. It’s an interesting dichotomy, and Russell and Rhys have palpable chemistry.

The two children – a boy and a girl – are also a source of great strain between the couple. Elizabeth wants to raise them as Socialists – but since they have to go along with the American façade, she cannot teach the children as she would like to.

Elizabeth’s struggle to understand her teenage daughter – and how things are totally different in America (vs. the way she grew up) is one of the central themes in ‘The Americans.’

For his part, Rhys obviously loves his wife and children – but he’s also capable of great violence. It doesn’t help that the FBI agent that lives next door is somewhat suspicious of his neighbors.

While Phillip struggles to hold on to what he’s got, he also has a strange sense of right and wrong. When a man hits on his 13-year-old daughter in a store, for example, Phillip is enraged. Since he’s undercover, though, he can’t do anything about it.

Cut to the end of the episode, where he dresses up in a different disguise, and pays a visit to the man he believes is preying on young girls. Not only is the fight impressive, but the timing Rhys delivers as he completes the beating is actually quite humorous.

The other interesting factor about ‘The Americans’ is the political aspect. In the time frame that is being portrayed, Ronald Reagan is president – and Elizabeth, especially, has a true dislike of him and his “megalomania.” That will probably tick off quite a few Reagan lovers, I'm sure.

Essentially, ‘The Americans’ is a character study of a particular snippet in our country’s history – only we’re looking at it from the point-of-view of the enemy.

It’s well worth the time to check out, though.

What do you think? Do you like ‘The Americans’?

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Does ‘Game of Thrones’ need a creative rebound already?

‘Game of Thrones’ is one of those genre shows that inspires an entire regiment of angry fans whenever you dare call its quality into question.

Still, I was surprised yesterday when I was debating about purchasing season two for my video collection and I heard a couple voicing the thoughts I was internalizing.

“I don’t know if we should get it. It wasn’t as good as the first season.”

Now, it’s important to note that ‘Game of Thrones’ will probably never be able to live up to its first season because that was one of those rare perfect seasons. When a show doesn’t make one wrong turn in an entire season – you know you have something special.
I think that’s why the second season was so disappointing to me. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t a bad season of television. In fact, it was still better than a good 75 percent of what’s out there – it just wasn’t as good as it should have been.

I think the biggest problem with ‘Game of Thrones’ is that the cast is simply too big.

This is an interesting and expansive universe, but there were times when I found myself struggling to remember exactly who was who – and what ties they had to others on the canvas – when it came time to fight for the throne.

I am invested in a lot of the characters – especially Arya and Tyrion, who both steal every scene they’re in – but there are a lot of secondary characters that start to drag momentum down.

Sure it was interesting watching the red witch give birth to the smoke monster from ‘Lost’ last season – but the outcome of that story was so boring that I couldn’t really get into it.

The other problem ‘Game of Thrones’ has is that they have a few weak actors in very important parts. The two biggest are Emilia Clark as Daenerys and Kit Harington as Jon Snow. Maybe I just didn’t notice how weak this duo was in the first season – after all, I was distracted with Daenerys getting naked every five seconds and Jon Snow was hidden behind all that hair.

Their shortcomings could not be ignored in the second season, though, and things stalled when either of them was on the screen.

Side note: If you think Harington is bad as Jon Snow, you should have seen him in the new ‘Silent Hill’ movie – it was almost painful to watch, but I digress.

‘Game of Thrones’ has a lot to offer. I’m invested in Tyrion and his ongoing struggles with his family. I desperately want to see both Joffrey and Cersei get what is coming to them. I’m even intrigued by what’s to come for Jamie Lannister.

To get back on track, though, ‘Game of Thrones’ needs to narrow their focus and zoom in on what is important. I understand book purists are going to cry like little babies, but if they don’t reign in the show a little bit – people are going to feel overwhelmed by the world and start tuning out.

Oh, and for those that are curious, I opted not to get the second season of ‘Game of Thrones.’ I may buy it down the line, but when I honestly sat down and thought about it – there was only one episode I had any interest in rewatching (I bet everyone knows which one).

What do you think? Does ‘Game of Thrones’ need some tweaking for the third season?