Friday, September 27, 2013

The Good, The Bad, and The Funny: Mom Edition

Welcome to another edition of The Good, The Bad, and The Funny! This week, I'm talking about the new CBS sitcom premiere, Mom, but before I get into that, I have some fun news:

Remember a few months back when I told you about the return of the Extra Hot Great podcast? Well one of my favorite features on their show is the TV Canon - a place where listeners can send an audio recorded submission that describes their favorite episode of their favorite show. As luck would have it, the crew chose my Happy Endings submission for the podcast this week, and they inducted it into the canon (meaning the majority of the hosts voted, and felt it belonged with the best of the best)!!

What?? I know. Best. Day. Ever! Y'all know how much I love Happy Endings, so to hear everyone discussing it on the show was really special, and since I've been a fan of the podcast since its first iteration, needless to say I've been psyched beyond belief all week.

So thanks, Extra Hot Great, for making me EXTRA happy this week! 
You guys are amazing.

To listen to my submission for Happy Endings Season 2, Episode 21: (Four Weddings and a Funeral Minus Three Weddings and One Funeral) and the rest of this week's EHG episode, click here

And now, onto the business at hand: 

It's a been a big week for TV premieres, but I'm going to break it down nice and slow for ya. Today, I'm all about:

Mom (Premiered Monday, September 23rd on CBS)

The Premise

Recovering alcoholic, Christy (Anna Faris), is trying to juggle sobriety along with a dead-end waitressing job, her two kids, and her married boyfriend. But things get more challenging when her mother and former addict, Bonnie (Allison Janney), suddenly comes back into her life. 

The Good

Anna Faris and Allison Janney are both really good in this pilot, and I'm interested to see how their relationship develops over this season. Something else that usually doesn't get enough attention is the set design - you actually believe that Christy and her kids could live in this house on a waitress' salary, which is a nice change of pace from the usual TV depiction of "working class" homes which are often way too unrealistic (ex. Two Broke Girls, you definitely cannot afford that Brooklyn loft). Also, I kind of have this weird crush on Nathan Corddry (United States of Tara, Children's Hospital), so hopefully they'll figure out how to use him better (aka, put him on screen more).

The Bad

Like I said, the main actresses are both good. The problem is, they may be a little too good for the material they have to work with. A lot of these jokes are real clunkers, and as interesting as our main duo are, the supporting characters are mostly tired stereotypes: the child-support-owing dead-beat ex, the bored, angry teenager who hates her mom - come on sitcom writers, create a teenage character that's more than just a sequence of eye rolls please - and the harsh, pompous chef Christy works for are all characters we've seen a million times before.

The Funny

- Anna Faris' tearful shift at her restaurant was cringe-worthy and great. The bummed-out happy birthday song she has to sing to one of the customers is only made better by the sad "Oh no..." she delivers as soon as she sees the cake.

- I liked Christy explaining to her boyfriend's stuck-up wife, "CLOUD-ia" that her name is actually pronounced "CHRIST-y".

- Her son, Blake Garrett Rosenthal, is the kid in the deleted scenes from Bridesmaids! And he's funny!

Final Verdict: As sweet as the pilot was at times, I give this show one more episode before I'm asking for the check.

What else is new? New pilots that are worth checking out for the week of 9/23:

Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (Premiered Tuesday, September 24th on ABC)

Trophy Wife (Premiered Tuesday, September 24th on ABC)

Masters of Sex (Premieres Sunday, September 29th on Showtime)

That's it for this week, TV fans!
Fridays are the new Wednesdays: check back every Friday next month for more pilot and season premiere reviews!

Monday, September 23, 2013

BONUS: The Best Moments from the Emmy Awards!

The Emmy's were on this past Sunday, and as an award show obsessed crazy person (I prefer "enthusiast", but I'm not denying my addiction), I watched everything from the red carpet convos to the final awards. So here's a bonus post just for YOU! Below is my rundown of the 2013 Emmy Awards' Best Moments (you can find the "worst" moments all over the internet, but ain't nobody got time for that).

Enjoy, my fellow TV lovers. Enjoy.

The Red Carpet

My GAWD. Did everyone look extra amazing this year, or was it just me? My personal favorite of the evening was Tina Fey, who, to quote my mom "looked like a 50's bombshell" in this killer blue dress:

Of course the annoying cornball banter from the E! commentators got on my nerves as we started into the second hour (I told you, I literally watched all of this), but overall, Ryan and Giuliana managed to bring some fun to the usual celebrity awkwardness that always follows the question: "What are you wearing?". Let's hope they keep more funny, weird stuff like the "mani-cam" - a mini red carpet for the ladies to show off their manicures and jewelry - in for future broadcasts.

Plus, who doesn't love a good celebrity photo bomb? 

...Or two?

The Host

Neil Patrick Harris was just great (did you expect anything less?). With help from past Emmy hosts - including Jane Lynch, Conan O'Brien, and a tap-dancing Jimmy Fallon - and a totally game Kevin Spacey, Tina Fey, and Amy Poehler in on the bit, what started out as a weird opening became laugh-out-loud funny. Plus, the "middle of the show" number - featuring complicated backflips and a singing and dancing Nathan Fillion and Sarah Silverman - brought NPH's signature energy to what is usually the boring part of the show.

I also loved the pre-taped "Excessive Hosting Disorder" sketch, which featured Harris and the rest of the How I Met Your Mother cast (along with their signature "Intervention" banner), and a guest spot by another self-admitted hosting addict, Arsenio Hall. Of course, Harris' genuineness and commitment to everything was what really made this an A+ hosting job in my book.

The Awards

I want to apologize to anyone who actually bet money on my Emmy predictions since they were nearly all dead wrong (you can find the full list of winners here). But as our host astutely pointed out midway through the show, everyone was probably losing their office Emmy pools since there were surprises at every turn. 

This theme for the night was set early on when the first award for Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy unexpectedly went to my personal Emmy dream pick, the hilariously funny Merritt Wever, from Nurse Jackie. Wever was as surprised by her win as the rest of us, and ended up delivering what was, in my opinion, the best Emmy speech of all time:

God, I love her.

And sure, there were plenty of obviously wrong, yet predictable choices (Claire Danes for Homeland, Jim Parsons for The Big Bang Theory, and...what? Modern Family won for Best Comedy again? Come on, guys. Get with it.), but other underdog winners like Veep's Tony Hale and  The Colbert Report were what made this night interesting since it really felt like it was anybody's game for the first time in years.

While there was a certain heaviness this year from the many extra long, yet poignant "In Memoriam" segments, the show refrained from getting too sad with understated bits like Julia Louis-Dreyfus' Veep parody acceptance speech with Tony Hale, and over the top goofy moments, like Will Ferrell and his kids presenting the last two awards in shorts and crocs. Overall, a good time was had by everyone, including this award show buff. Bye for now, Emmy's - we'll see you in 2014!

Friday, September 20, 2013

Comedy Block Recap: Fox Tuesday Edition

And so it begins...the onslaught of TV ads.

They're on buses, on taxis, and in the subway. They're in magazines, in the paper, and popping up on the sides of all your favorite websites. They're even being dragged behind planes over the beach! And you thought you could have your last fudgie-wudgie bar of the summer in peace.

Finally, when you thought you were safe, a tiny ad for a new series appears during a show you already don't have time to be watching.

Don't panic - DVR was invented for a reason. Plus, I'm here to help - I'll be working overtime these next few weeks so you don't have to! Today, I'm starting off with the first big batch of network premieres:  

Fox's Tuesday Night Comedy Block!

Here's the breakdown:

8PM: Dads (New)
8:30PM: Brooklyn Nine-Nine (New)
9PM: New Girl (Season 3)
9:30PM: The Mindy Project (Season 2)

I watched the whole shebang this week, so ladies and gents, lets see how they stack up!

(AKA, the show I knew I was going to hate from the start, and actually promised I wouldn't watch, but stupidly did anyway)
I don't want to say I was right, so instead I'll just say I WAS SO RIGHT OH MY GOD WOW.
This show was really bad, guys. I don't even know where to start, so I'll throw it all out there at once: Dads is behind the times, stupid, badly acted, super-racist (and a complete failure at it's attempt at being ironically so), plus it's so un-funny it actually hurts. Question: Who are these characters, and why should we care? This pilot didn't provide any answers. And with great shows being cancelled, the fact that this one made it to air drives me bananas. I only watched the whole thing because I was reviewing it, but if you can make it past the first commercial break without changing the channel, you deserve a medal of honor (or a glass of cold water in the face, because you probably just fell asleep in front of the TV). I can't stress this enough: don't waste your time. Episode Grade:

Brooklyn Nine-Nine 
(AKA the new show I was most excited about this season)
And now for something completely different! It's been a while since I've seen a pilot episode of a show that's this self-assured and funny, so I have high hopes for Brooklyn Nine-Nine. Andy Samberg is hilarious as usual, but he won't be carrying this show on his own - Terry Crews, Andre Braugher, Chelsea Peretti and the rest of the talented cast bring a lot of fun and heart to this promising cop comedy. The show still has some developing to do, so let's hope Fox allows it to grow and keeps this series on the air longer than the sweet, yet short lived Ben and Kate (which occupied this time slot last year) If not, it would be a crime (I should be arrested for that one! Hey-yo!). Episode Grade: B+

New Girl  
(AKA my favorite show on TV right now)
I was so excited for this show to return after its incredible season finale last year, that naturally I couldn't help but be a little disappointed at this otherwise fine half-hour of TV. It definitely had its moments (Winston "puzzling" in his sweatshirt pants, Paradise-Nick and Paradise-Jess' attempt at leaving their troubles behind in Mexico), but I guess I was hoping to be welcomed back into New Girl world with a little more interaction between the four roommates. Still, what do I really have to complain about? My favorite ensemble on TV is back, and I'm sure they'll hit their groove within the next few episodes. I'm really interested to see how the show deals with Schmitt's romantic problems - he can't keep juggling two ladies this whole season, but man, I wish Merritt Wever could stay for all 22 episodes - and the newly formed official Jess/Nick couple. My biggest wish is that they develop Winston even more, as the brilliant Lamorne Morris deserves some juicy plot lines of his own. Perhaps when Brenda Song finally gets released from the train wreck that is Dads, she can go back to being Winston's love interest again? Episode Grade: B Show Grade: A+ times a million

The Mindy Project   
(AKA the show I didn't like in the beginning, but recently grew to love)
I am a huge fan of Mindy Kaling - she's a comic genius who wrote some of the all time best episodes of The Office, and her book is probably one of the funniest things I've ever read - but I was so disappointed by the pilot episode of this series that I didn't initially give the show a second chance. Thankfully, I was coerced into revisiting the show and I am beyond happy that I did. Things improved a lot last season - both character and plot wise - and it's one of the only shows I consistently laugh out loud at while completely alone (my test of true sitcom greatness). This season begins with our heroine's return to her beloved New York from Haiti, and her (FIRST FIVE MINUTES SPOILER) engagement to hot minister/boyfriend, Casey (am I the only person who absolutely hates this guy?). We'll see how long that lasts though, since in other news, Danny and Christina are finally dunzo. With guest star James Franco shaking up the office, I can't wait to see what's in store for Schulman and Associates this year, but I'm definitely crossing my fingers for a Morgan/Betsy hook-up - make my dreams come true, Mindy Project! Episode Grade: -A Show Grade: B+

OVERALL: Fox's Tuesday Comedy Block would have been absolute perfection if they replaced Dads with their better fitting single-camera comedy, Raising Hope (and who knows, they still might!). Until then, just watch the last three shows for the perfect laugh-filled evening. Tuesday Night's Grade: B- (Without Dads: A)

Just one more thing for all my Dome-Heads out there!

We've finally made it! It's time for Leah's Under the Dome SEASON FINALE Recap, Week of 9/16:

"A truly gripping finale it was this week! The butterfly finally hatched within the mini dome and started creating black splotches on all of the glass - like a voodoo doll, the same thing happened to the actual dome! Everyone was shrouded in darkness, leaving viewers struggling to make out Barbie's hot facial features. During this dark chaos, Julia walked around just fine with a shot wound in her chest, and Barbie took down two guys while wearing handcuffs! (Maybe he's used to performing feats while handcuffed...? Ok, I went too far). Amazingly the mini dome crumbled and the butterfly emerged to land on Julia - apparently SHE is the crowned monarch from the prophecy! In a practical progression of events, an alien thing communicates to the kids via Nori's deceased mom's body. At the end, we are left with Barbie dashingly standing at the gallows (Big Jim built a noose of course) while Julia made pink stars shoot in the sky when she threw the black mini egg in the lake. This was very reminiscent of the elderly lady in Titanic throwing the necklace in the water, and just as awkward...Obviously due to this amazing plot line, I can't wait for the show to return! Who am I kidding? My viewing is dependent upon Barbie's presence heating up the screen. He better survive the gallows in the next season!"

Until next summer Under the Dome, and thanks for taking one for the team, Leah!

How will NBC's Thursday Comedy Block compare? Check back later this month to find out!

Friday, September 13, 2013

The Good, The Bad, and The Funny: Trophy Wife Edition

You may know by now that when it comes to TV, I have a pretty good sense of what's worth watching.
But you might not know about my other sense. My sixth sense.

You see friends, I am a psychic.

Wait, wait! Don't go away - I have proof. Let me just get out my crystal ball and open up my third eye...

Hmm. Hmm. I see...YES.

It appears that you...did not want to get up and go to work today.

See? It's spooky how accurate my gift is, right? Maybe I should get my own show on TLC. I guess since I'm from Long Island, I can call it The Long Island Medi...wait. I think that one's taken.

Oh well, we can work out the logistics later.

 Don't worry, Theresa! I swear I won't take away any of your business.
But wait! I'm also sensing that to unwind after your crazy workday (or school day, or day in gift isn't that honed yet), you enjoy watching sitcoms. Hmm...but it appears that you are overwhelmed with the choices available to you this season, am I right? Truthfully, you don't have to be a mind reader to know that there are too many sitcoms on nowadays to waste your time with middle-of-the-road-type misadventures and shenanigans. Plus, these characters' lives better be so interesting that you can escape into their worlds and forget your problems, even for 22 measly minutes. Don't worry - I'm here to help with this new feature: The Good, The Bad, and The Funny. Each installment will give you a brief look at a new sitcom coming out this season, with the goal being to let you lovely people know: "Is it worth my time?" and most importantly, "Will it make me laugh?".

My psychic ability has allowed me to see this week's sitcom early!

It's ABC's Trophy Wife 

NOTE: Ok, I'm not that good. But ABC has released the pilot online before the show officially premieres Tuesday, September 24th. Want to see into the future? You can watch it ahead of time too at

The Premise: 
Kate (Malin Akerman), a young woman with a wild past, goes from party-girl to step-mom when she falls in love and marries Pete (Bradley Whitford), an older gentleman who already has three kids and two ex-wives, all of whom are still a big part of his life.

The Good:
Malin Akerman, who has brought charm and humor to supporting roles in the past (Couples Retreat, 27 Dresses, Burning Love), shows she can really carry a sitcom here. With her sweet yet goofy style, she elevates a premise that seems a little too familiar (it's like Step-Mom with one less wife and one less kid, right?) while proving her talent for physical comedy as well. The other characters don't feel quite as developed yet, but hopefully we'll be getting to know the rest of this great supporting cast which includes Michaela Watkins, Natalie Morales, and Marcia Gay Harden (bonus points for all the amazing ladies they got to be on this show!).

The Bad:
After this first episode, I'm not sure how much further Trophy Wife can take it's main premise, so something is going to have to change in order to keep things interesting. The writing could use a punch-up too, since with a cast like this, there's no excuse for the strained dialogue, flat jokes, or overly-cute, smart-alecky kid stuff and snarky teen eye roll moments we've seen a million times before.

The Funny:
When Kate has to drink the water bottle full of vodka to protect her step-daughter, Hillary, from getting caught by her mother, I was in stitches. Akerman's initial reaction to knocking back that much booze was on par with Kristen Wiig's immediate whiskey-induced cough/gag from the plane scene in Bridesmaids (and that's high praise coming from me). With more laugh-out-loud moments like this, Trophy Wife could be appointment viewing. For now, I give it 3 episodes to improve before the two of us divorce - amicably, of course. 

Just a few things before I print up my psychic business cards (they're going to say: Liz's Psychic Services. I knew you were going to read this when I handed it to you.)

Leah is BACK with a super-sized Dome update! Weeks of 9/2 & 9/9: "Things went bananas in the last two episodes. Mean lady Maxine shot Julia because she wanted Barbie to herself (again quite understandable due to his hotness). Big Jim really hates Barbie now so he got the whole town to believe that Barbie has been shooting people, including Julia, and so the hunt for the fugitive ensues! Poor hot Barbie is just so noble in the process. In other news, crazy big Jim caught on about the mini dome and is on the search for it (it's hidden at skater-boi Ben's house - how sneaky)! Within the dome there lies a mysterious trippy color-changing egg and a caterpillar ready to bloom into a butterfly. Joe thinks Barbie is the 'monarch' that will be crowned, just like the butterfly prophecy said. I say Barbie can be my monarch any day! We'll just have to wait and see what happens in this ridiculous town plauged with very bad acting."

- Also, it's football season, so to celebrate, two of my biggest crushes favorite gentlemen came together once again, this time with "The Evolution of End-Zone Dances". And the world was a wonderful place:

Join me next week for more sitcom fun as I dive into Fox's Tuesday Comedy Line-up!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Fall TV Preview Part 2: Returning Favorites!

Is everyone in a post-Labor-Day funk, or is it just me?

I'm sorry, but I just had a long, carefree weekend off, and now I'm expected to go back to work and start classes again? Preposterous.  

I wish I could say "No thank you!" to the return of real life, and jump on a plane to Hawaii where I drink pineapple smoothies all day in my beach-front hut with my pet sea lion, Fred (it took some work, but he finally knows all the basic commands: "sit", "high five", and "remind me what the wi-fi password is"). 

But while the weather here is still humid enough to be Hawaiian (SO HUMID that my shirt was spot-welded to my body yesterday and I smacked myself in the face trying to peel it off), unfortunately I'm not training a fleet of super-helpful swimming mammals in paradise. Nope - I'm in the real world where there are textbooks to be ordered, appointments to be scheduled, and extra long staff meetings to attend. Still, there is something about this time of year that I'm excited about: Fall Shows! 

This week, I'm not talking about the new shows on the block. Instead, I'm listing some of my favorite shows that are coming back this season in the order that they're set to premiere. So make room on your DVR and ask your barista for extra whipped cream on that pumpkin spiced latte. It's time for this year's Fall TV Preview Part 2: Returning Favorites!

New Girl (FOX) Tuesday, September 17th at 9

In its first year, New Girl was a funny, smart show that took the popular "hang out" premise to a new level. But Season 2 was where this series really hit its stride. Between the Nick/Jess relationship drama, The Schmit-CeCe-Elizabeth love triangle, and Winston's many ill-fated pranks, last season really delivered the funny and the romance in a way that reminded me of (and sometimes surpassed) classic Friends. Needless to say, we have a lot to look forward to this season (including the return of Damon Wayans Jr. as Coach!) so if you haven't jumped on the bandwagon yet, catch up ASAP - you won't be sorry.

 How I Met Your Mother (CBS) Monday, September 23rd at 8

Suit up! It's the final season and it's time for some answers, dammit! We now know who the mother is (I won't spoil it in case you're new to the show, but she gets my approval) and now we have one more action packed wedding weekend to go before we finally find out how Ted meets her! While the show has varied in quality over the past few years, I have a feeling HIMYM is really going to bring it home this season - and don't lie, you know you'll be reaching for the tissues when we join the gang in MacLaren's for a final beer. 

Parks and Recreation (NBC) Thursday, September 26th at 8

Parks and Recreation just brings me so much joy. No matter what's waiting on my DVR, this is the show I eagerly rush to see first, and it never disappoints. I have a hunch this season will continue last year's hot streak of great episodes, even with the eventual departure of series regulars Rashida Jones and Rob Lowe. And, as if I couldn't like this show enough, Orphan Black star Tatiana Maslany is slated to guest star as Tom's new girlfriend! If you haven't become an honorary citizen of Pawnee yet, make sure to TREAT YO' SELF to a marathon of this series before the start of Season 6.

Parenthood (NBC) Thursday, September 26th at 10

Want to watch a brilliantly written and acted drama about one of the most true-to-life families on TV (and without any violent murders)? This is the show for you. And since Parenthood gets better and better with each season, year five with the Braverman clan should be extra amazing. DISCLAIMER: You will cry. A lot. Sorry - it's par for the course.

Bob's Burgers (FOX) Sunday, September 29th at 8:30

Bob's Burgers might be one of the funniest family comedies on the air right now, but as you can see, the Belchers are a little more animated than most (BOOO!). Ok, ok - that was bad, but I honestly can't think of another cartoon that depicts family life so realistically while also making sure to take full advantage of the freedom that comes with being an animated series. Tune in for excellent voice work from pros like H. Jon Benjamin, Kristen Schaal, and Eugene Mirman, (they actually record together, so the dialogue often overlaps unlike any other cartoon on TV). BONUS: Bob's wife, Linda, is voiced by John Roberts, the YouTube sensation behind videos like "The Christmas Tree" and "Mother's Day" - go check them out for more so-close-to-home-it-hurts belly laughs.

Homeland (Showtime) Sunday, September 29th at 9

So. Many. Questions. Was Brody the real bomber, and will he really be able to disappear without a trace? Is Carrie actually in love with him, and will she lose her job because of what she's done? And the biggest one: Where do we go from here? While I wasn't one of the many vocal Season 2 haters out there, I agree that the show went more than a little off the rails last year. But who cares? I'm still counting down the days until the premiere when I'll be back on the edge of my seat, screaming at the TV again.

Scandal (ABC) Thursday, October 3rd at 10

Speaking of screaming at the TV, if you don't yell out in excitement when watching Scandal you have an amount of self-control that I can only one day hope to attain. I was a little late to the party on this excellent series, but after being told by literally ALL of my friends from high school how amazing this show was, I eagerly jumped in this summer. My goal is to be completely caught up by the premiere, mostly so I can follow along with Retta (Parks and Recreation) as she live-tweets every action-packed moment.

Raising Hope (FOX) Friday, November 8th at 9

Since Brad and Jane from Happy Endings are sadly not coming back on the air this fall, I have to give my favorite TV couple award to Burt and Virginia Chance (AKA Garret Dillahunt and Martha Plimpton). Sure, Jimmy and Sabrina are great too - in fact the whole cast of this goofy, sweet sitcom have their moments - but the older Chances and their crazy antics bring a smile to my face every week. Tune in this season to see how many comedy cameos you can spot in each episode!

It just so happens that all of the shows above (with the exception of Homeland) are available now to stream on Netflix instant, so get watching!

That's it for my Fall TV Preview! Check back for reviews, recaps, and in depth discussions of these, and other shows this season!