Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Help! I've Been Trapped Under The Dome!

I have a confession to make: I am a little bit (ok, extremely) behind on Mad Men this year.

(insert studio audience collective gasp)


Yes, I know, I should be reviewing Sunday’s season finale right now.  But for whatever reason, I just haven’t been able to get into the world of Sterling Cooper Draper Price lately.  Maybe it’s because Don seems like even more of a sack of garbage this season, or maybe I’m still re-adjusting to Elizabeth Moss’ American accent now that Top of the Lake is over.  All I know is, if it weren’t for the always welcome presence of Linda Cardellini, I might have given up after that super-boring, super-long season premiere back in April.  So while I’m sure I’ll be spending a rainy weekend in the future catching up with our friends from the 60’s, this week I’ll be focusing on something completely different…




…and diving into the pilot for Stephen King’s Under the Dome which premiered this past Monday on CBS. 


**SPOILER-ALERT…ALERT: It’s a little hard to review this show without giving some important parts away, so if you feel like checking out what’s going on under the dome yourself, definitely watch the pilot (available on CBS.com) before continuing with this review**


Having never read the book that this series was adapted from, I literally had no idea what to expect from this show, other than the fact that a small town gets trapped by an invisible dome that appears from out of nowhere.  Turns out, you don’t need to know much more than that to figure out if this show is for you or not.

As Kea, my friend and fellow Dome-prisoner for the evening, wisely noted, this show seems like it would be more at home on SyFy than on CBS for a few reasons:

1.       The premise is completely bananas-crazy
 
2.       The quality of the dialogue ranges from “Ok” to “WHO TALKS LIKE THAT?"

3.       There were some actual scream-inducing moments (and one image of a sliced-in-half cow that haunted my dreams last night)

4.       Despite all of this, I actually want to watch more…?

But let’s back up a bit.  Before the dome even enters the picture, the residents of Chester’s Mill clearly have some major issues.  We’ve got councilman “Big Jim” Rennie, (Dean Norris), who is doing something sketchy with a ton of propane, and his son, James (Alexander Koch), a college drop-out and former football star whose unrequited love for candy-striper, Angie (Britt Robinson) appears to have turned him into a sociopath.  Not to mention the fact that mystery-man “Barbie” (Mike Vogel) has apparently killed a guy who we later find out was the husband of local newspaper editor, Julia (Rachelle Leferve).  Getting a little overwhelmed?  That’s not even a third of the characters we have to keep track of in the first episode!  I tried really hard not to read other reviews about this, but I can assume that the ridiculous number of characters is going to be the biggest problem (aside from the seriously-it’s-that-bad dialogue) that most people are going to have with this show.

After the dome hits, things get all kinds of crazy.  There are some pretty bloody casualties (both cow and human) due to the dome literally slicing people in half, and low flying planes exploding when they hit the invisible force field.  Most of the town’s law enforcement, including the fire-fighting fiancĂ© of police officer Linda (Natalie Martinez), have been left on the outside of the dome, leaving Sheriff Duke (Jeff Fahey) in charge of handling this disaster.  That is, until the very end when touching the dome makes his pacemaker explode, killing him right as he’s about to tell us all about the corrupt things he’s been doing!  And why they have so much propane!  No!

In this episode alone, two teenagers have dome-induced seizures, James has kidnapped Angie and locked her in his Dad’s flooded fall-out shelter against her will (in a very scream-worthy scene), and it seems like Julia and Barbie are already poised to get romantically involved (she deduces that her husband was having an affair, but only we and Barbie know he’s also dead - BUT WHY??).  It’s a lot to take in, but Dome definitely has promise, mostly due to the fact that with so many burning questions introduced the first 42 minutes, it’s going to be hard not to check in with Chester’s Mill next week to get some answers.  This is one of those shows that I’ll be happy to give a second or even third try, but if the script doesn’t improve, go grab me a shovel because I’ll be digging myself out from Under the Dome. *

Under the Dome airs Mondays at 10PM on CBS
Oh no! Linda's going to have to find a new man in the dome...

Next week, let’s talk about Showtime shows! I’ll be looking at all of the great things the channel has to offer, including maybe taking a crack at the new show Ray Donovan (premiering June 30th at 10) but more likely talking about how great Nurse Jackie is!


*Why haven’t any of the characters suggested this? Digging under the dome would be my first escape idea, but it has literally not occurred to anyone in the entire town as of yet.  Maybe next week they’ll find some power tools and give it a shot?

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Happy Summer Everyone!

Ah, summer!

My favorite season is finally here, and with it comes so many things to be thankful for.  Mister Softee is jingling down every block, outdoor concerts and festivals are popping up all over, and everyone is having a blast drinking cold beers at the beach, dancing to Macklemore and Lewis, playing cornhole and generally enjoying life.

 


And of course, summer is a great time for TV.

What? What's that you say? Liz, you must be joking with that last one. Summer is a dead zone for TV! All of my favorite shows have ended, and now I have to settle for reality shows about fishing, live broadcasts of fireworks displays, and re-runs of Rules of Engagement for the next three months!

Ok, ok, you're right. To an extent...

Yes, I know it can be difficult to wade through the crap filling the airwaves this time of year, but don't worry - I've done the "hard" work for you!  Here's a list of ten new and returning summer shows that you can enjoy with your friends on those hot summer nights when even the promise of Snowcaps, popcorn, and blasting AC can't get you motivated to see another superhero movie at the theater.



1. Web Therapy - Showtime - Tuesdays, 11PM (July 23rd)
To all of my fellow counseling students out there, please DO NOT take therapy advice from  "web-therapist"/narcissist/generally insane human being, Fiona Wallace.  Instead, just laugh and cringe as Lisa Kudrow and her never-ending list of improvising guest stars (like Molly Shannon, Rosie O'Donnell, David Schwimmer, and Meryl Streep) explore their issues in season 3.


2. Drunk History - Comedy Central - Tuesdays, 10PM (July 9th)
If you haven't already seen this hilarious and cameo-filled funnyordie web series, I suggest you treat yourself to a mini-marathon before the first season of the show premieres on Comedy Central this summer.  Basically, comedians get drunk and talk about historical events, then their stories get acted out by famous people with spit-take worthy results.  Check out this episode featuring Jen Kirkman first, then call me when you catch your breath and get up from off the floor.


3. Inside Amy Schumer - Comedy Central - Tuesdays, 10:30PM (currently airing)

This sketch show featuring comedian Amy Schumer will either have you laughing yourself into a stupor...or changing the channel immediately.  Just watch the first sketch from the first episode to see which camp you fall into, or click here to watch my favorite clip from the first season (ending July 2nd).  Ladies, (sadly) you will relate.



4. Under the Dome - CBS - Mondays, 10PM (June 24th)
Ok, so this Stephen King adaptation could turn out to be either amazing or terrible, but in my opinion, it's worth checking out.   Basically, a small town gets trapped under a mysterious dome that falls from the sky, and no one can get out...and that's it.  Hmm...sounds just high-concept enough to last for about a season, but this is CBS we're talking about, so let's make it ten or fifteen.


5. Camp - NBC - Wednesdays, 10PM (July 10th)
This new series featuring Rachel Griffiths is another one that could go either way, but since I'm a sucker for movies about summer camp (this may have something to do with my grandfather watching Meatballs with me when I was waayy too young), I'll be sure to give this show a shot.


6. Whose Line Is It Anyway? - CW - Tuesdays, 8PM (July 16th)
Oh. My. God. Thirteen-year-old Liz can barely contain herself with the news that this classic improv  gameshow is being rebooted with new host, Aisha Tyler (of Friends and Archer fame).  I can't wait to see veteran comedians Colin Mochrie, Ryan Stiles, and Wayne Brady back in all their singing, miming, and prop-weilding glory.


7. Graceland - USA - Thursdays, 10PM (currently airing)
If you like your summer TV with a hefty dose of sun, sand, and that USA brand (Psych, Burn Notice, Royal Pains) I think this might be the next new show for you.  Graceland centers on a group of undercover agents who have to live together in a Southern California house.  This Real World meets surfing spies dramedy was recommended to me by my good friend and fellow TV junkie, Caitlin, so I know it's going to be good.  Plus: Daniel Sunjata.  'Nuff said.


8. Shark Tank - ABC - Fridays, 9PM, (currently airing)
Take your college Marketing 101 class, add a bunch of super-filthy rich investors, new inventors, and incomprehensible amounts of money, then sprinkle liberally with dashed dreams, success stories and dramatic sound effects galore, and you've got Shark Tank.  This reality show will grab you from the first five minutes and hold on...like a...hmm...what's an animal that grabs on and won't let go?  I'll have to come back to that one.


9. Hollywood Game Night - NBC - Thursdays, 10PM (July 11th)
Jane Lynch and about A MILLION other celebrities play games together and win people money.  I am so ridiculously excited for this show, everyone.  If NBC's sneak preview doesn't make you want to fly out to LA and sign yourself up to be a contestant immediately, I don't know what will.




10. Wipeout - ABC - Thursdays, 8PM (currently airing)
Need I say more?  Listen, if you don't laugh while watching this show, I'm not sure that we can stay friends.  Just Google "best moments from wipeout" at work today and enjoy hours of fun!  Just make sure your judgmental boss is on lunch.




So that's it!  A big ol' summer TV checklist that should hold you over until the leaves start to fall, and we all need to get into our snuggies again.  I hope I've given you enough options so you won't have to settle for Tattoo Nightmares, Pregnant and Dating, or Redneck Island (three very real shows airing this summer) but if all else fails, make like Liz Lemon and watch all of the episodes of Treme you've been saving on your DVR for the past year!




Check back here next week for my review of the Under the Dome pilot episode!  Until then, someone fill up the kiddie pool and bring me a lemonade.  It's getting hot out here.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

The One with the TV Reviews

Hey you!

Oh, we haven't met?  I'm Liz, your new friend at the office who is obsessed with TV and wants to talk to you about it.  I'm just sitting in my cubicle, filing invoices and chair dancing to Marc Anthony's Pandora station when you happen to pass by and comment on my Bluth's Frozen Banana Stand mug, unaware of the magnitude of the conversation we're about to have.

It's going to be great.  Stop bringing payroll up to the 11th floor for just a second and come hang out with me!  We can eat my secret stash of Twizzlers while we discuss the relationships on Homeland, the outfits on Call the Midwife, or the music on Girls.  We can debate the symbolism of the empty elevator shaft on Mad Men, or make dorky New Girl fan vids featuring Jess and Nick getting it on.

No matter what shows are at the top of your Netflix queue, collecting dust on your DVR, or slowly buffering away on your laptop, chances are I'll be exploring it here.  Check in with me every week for TV reviews of shows that are new, old, mind-blowing and mind-numbing alike.

So go ahead, grab another Twizzler.  The staff meeting doesn't start for an hour and we've got a lot to talk about.


-LB