New TV shows on the menu

I’d like to pretend that as a mature 20-something with a full time job, I’d be over all those silly American shows of my childhood. But Dawson’s Creek is currently queued on my Sky Plus box, while I’m in mourning over the end of the Gossip Girl series (recap to come). Clearly, I still care.

But with Life Unexpected and Greek (two of my favourites) canned this year,it’s time to find something new to series-link.

Every May, the US television networks announce their “fall schedules” – translation, the list of the good, bad and often horrendous television series they will be showing from September. I’ve looked through them all and it seems a good list, although there are far, far too many Lost-wannabees and sitcoms hoping to jump on the Two and a Half Men publicity bandwagon, not to mention a healthy dose of supernatural adventures. (Note to Hollywood. Get over Twilight).

The good news (in my view) is that Gossip Girl has been renewed for a fifth year, meaning that it has outlived Josh Schwartz’s previous foray into the dark underbelly of the lives of the rich and glamorous.

But one cannot dine on Gossip Girl alone (seriously, all you’d be eating is waffles), so what else is on the menu?

Hart of Dixie:

Fast-talking New Yorker and brand new doctor Zoe Hart has it all figured out…but when her dreams fall apart, Zoe decides to accept an offer from a stranger, Dr. Harley Wilkes, to work with him at his small practice in Bluebell, Alabama.   She quickly finds that Southern hospitality isn’t always so hospitable.”

This sounds a lot like something that should be on the Hallmark channel, with characters in flowery dresses going to church all the time. It may well turn out to be, but the interesting thing about this is who is involved.

Rachel  (aka Summer Roberts) will star as the newly graduated doctor who finds a last-chance job in a stuck-up southern town and has to fight her way through inevitable bitchiness and rivalry and romantic drama. So far, so yawn. I bet she meets a gorgeous stranger who looks after, I bet the mean girl isn’t so mean after all. Original. Er, no.

But she’s reuniting with Schwarz and Savage on the show, the team behind both OC and Gossip Girl, so, while it sounds like soppy drivel, it has potential.

Ringer:

“A woman who, after witnessing a murder, goes on the run, hiding out by assuming the life of her wealthy identical twin sister – only to learn that her sister’s seemingly idyllic life is just as complicated and dangerous as the one she’s trying to leave behind.” 

This is a return to television for Sarah Michelle Geller or, if you were a TV-watching teen in the noughties and spent those years watching a small blonde girl battle (and occasionally romance) the genetically blessed undead, Buffy’s back!

However, judging by the summary, this isn’t Buffy at all. Identical twins? Life on the run? Wealthy? So far, so Sunset Beach.

Not that that’s such a bad thing. Sunset Beach had its charm (no, really, remember the demonic Jesus statue and the sinful shirtless priest? Exactly) But if you’re wanting a return to Joss Whedon’s smart and knowing pop-culture genius, I don’t think Ringer will be where you will find it.

But on the plus side, it also stars Nestor Carbonel (as in, freakish ageless eyeliner man from Lost). Speaking of Lost…

Alcatraz:

“From executive producer JJ Abrams…the chilling new thriller centered on America’s most infamous prison and one-time home to the nation’s most notorious murderers, rapists, kidnappers, thieves and arsonists. ”

And guess who it stars! Hurley.Well, no, Jorge Garcia, but, but Hurley is back!! Phew, too much excitement.

Basically, the idea is: what if those creepy Alcatraz maniac inmates disappeared, then reemerged in modern life without ageing? Huh? Sounds deep.

It could be very good. After all, everyone was a wee bit sceptical when JJ Abrams said he had a show about a mysterious island, a plane crash, and the survivors’ battle to get home. (Hello, why wouldn’t they just Tweet HELP ME?). And Lost was a runaway success, not to mention the most baffling and mindboggling piece of entertainment around.

But, then there were the polar bears, smoke monsters, bearded evils and French crazies hiding in the trees. For all Lost’s awesomeness, it required a helluva lot of patience and a passion for obscure sites like Lostpedia.

So, note to Alcatraz team. Avoid the temptation to put in every ludicrous idea you have, and just stick with the really, really good ones.

Oh, and don’t kill off anyone called Charlie, either.

2 Broke Girls:

“A comedy about two strikingly different young waitresses who form an unlikely friendship.”

 This show should be crud. The premise (metropolitan waitresses with baking business plan) is ridiculous and you just know that the girls will live ridiculously lavish lives that there’s no way they could ever afford if the title were true. Ref, Carrie in Sex and the City, Rachel in Friends, or anyone in what Hollywood imagines a minimum wage life to be.

Plus, it’s about baking. I bet they’re going to make it look really easy to make beautifully iced cupcakes and perfect pies. But they so won’t show the endless washing up once your cakes are in the oven, or the fight to get flour out of your hair, or the time the icing sugar packet breaks from both ends.

That said, Kat Dennings is awesome – both in the brilliant Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist and Charlie Bartlett. Great comic timing, realistic looks, hair that you just know goes frizzy when she walks out in the rain. So, definite potential.

Pan Am:

“Passion, jealousy and espionage… They do it all – and they do it at 30,000 feet. The style of the 1960s, the energy and excitement of the Jet Age and a drama full of sexy entanglements deliciously mesh in this thrilling and highly-original new series.”

Wednesday Adams (Christina Ricci) as fesity air hostess. Curious. You can imagine the production meetings where they came up with this.

Writer: “So, I have this idea. It’s a bit like Mad Men…” Money guy: “Sold.”

But I do adore Mad Men…


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Buffy the Gossip Girl Slayer

This week; what if Gossip Girl met Buffy the Vampire Slayer?

Two shows which, in their time, captivated teen audiences. Before there was Twilight and Tru Blood, there was Angel, Spike and all the other bloodsuckers over in Sunnydale.

 Some GG fans may not even remember the show, although a rumoured movie could change that, but long before Blair and co made high school a living hell, Buffy, Willow and the rest were taking classes in a rather more literal one.  

So, would it be a match made in heaven or the hellmouth?

And who would the slayer of Upper East Side would be? There are a few contenders for the role, to be sure.

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Gossip Girl recap: They Shoot Humphreys, Don’t They?

This was a return to the GG of old. One big party, major drama, and a few sub-plots involving Chuck and Nate on a boys weekend, and Serena finding out that while looks do get you anywhere in life, they don’t always take you to a very good place. Also, the remarkable revelation that Jenny’s middle name is Tallulah (as in…’she was a showgirl’). So, So appropriate. Oh, and of course, the event that has been scandalising parents…a certain Ménage à trois!

First stop, Jenny, who is becoming ever more of a caricature. As this weeks’ reality vacuum opens, she’s scouting out potential dates for cotillion on Facebook and rejecting them for ‘practically going to public school’. But don’t fret; if she can’t find Mr. Socially Acceptable, she plans to steal one of her lackey’s partners. Snobby and savvy, all in one scene.

Though you can kind of understand it given that as Blair says ‘this is not like your wedding day. Cotillion only happens once’. Karma being what it is, Jenny gets a touch of comeuppance minutes later for not having spent her formative years learning ballroom dancing, like all the other Park Avenue princesses. You can take the girl out of Brooklyn…

Blair, still on the outs with Serena (as Nate asks with a resigned expression, what are they fighting about this time?) is planning to forego cotillion. But as Chuck wisely remarks, ‘a cotillion without Blair Waldorf is like Tour de France without Lance Armstrong’ so she steps up to the mark. But before that, lets take a moment for some Eric appreciation. He’s acting as date to some random dateless girl, underlining exactly why so many girls have the fantasy of a GBF (gay best friend, for the uninitiated – other inspirations are Stanford from Sex and the City, or Will from Will and Grace).

But then, just when you’re ready to love him forever, he does a bit of a bitchy thing and tells the very-eligible Graham that Jenny is taken for the dance. In fairness, he’d just promised Jonathan as her date, but come on – even Eric knows the hot straight guy will still beat the GBF in the social pecking order. inevitably she finds out, gets angry at Eric and then sacks Blair as her mentor. In retaliation, Blair plays Frankenstein with some random frizzy-haired charity case to turn her into a swan, stealing away the handsome prince and leaving Jenny sans escort for the big event. At least she’s wearing a great dress.

But, as GG excruciatingly quips ‘nobody puts Jenny in the corner’ and she debuts arm in arm with, OMG, a college guy, none other than Nate Archibald. Can this finally be the resurrection of the long teased Jenny and Nate relationship? Its certainly the end of one, as Jonathan and Eric part ways, leaving Eric fuelled up to take Jenny down. Excellent.

Chuck, in the mean time, is spending his weekend ‘watching women with tramp stamps work out their daddy issues’, but not for his own benefit, mind, but for Nate. The sacrifices these Manhattanites make for friendship, I tell you. However he still finds time to deal Blair and Serena’s latest catfight, by locking them in a lift together to have a heartfelt chat and make amends. How adorable. I give it two episodes.

Big episode for Serena. Demands for the elders of GG. PLEASE stop handing Serena out jobs like they come from the bargain bin next to the till at a pound store (mind you, she’s the new ‘media relations rep for Congressman Tripp – is that what Monica Lewinsky was? – because he has a crush on her, which is really only a glorified version of her last job as professional girlfriend).

Bizarelly, in between that she was supposed to be a mentor at cotillion? Hello, reality calling. How does a girl who, in just eighteen odd years on the planet, has been implicated in a murder / sex scandal, been arrested at the behest of her own mother and played a starring role in ‘pyramid fund schemes; the teenage years’, make a good role model to anyone? Except, maybe, Jenny (who was supposed to be her mentee), herself so far down the scale of moral degradation.

And its almost, but not quite, farewell to Hillary Duff. ‘Do you think you can get brain damage from learning too much too fast?’ she ponders in a fit of existential musing, stressed out by some previously unheard of concept called studying. Dan, typically, gets it wrong. ‘You’re the one who wanted the real college experience,’ he replies.

Oh Dan. Are you so clueless that you are unaware of the precedent set by the Olsen twins for celebrity studentage – i.e. roaming around the city with huge sunnies, a straggly do, bohemian outfits and a giant latte?

Luckily, she doesn’t have to worry. Endless Nights 4 is calling, so the poor dear might just have to abandon ship for Hollywood. What a loss. Vanessa makes one of the wisest comments yet; ‘college is about more than just classes’. True anywhere, never more so than on GG, where we are yet to see any of them spend time in a place of learning. So to send Olivia off in style, Dan and Vanessa take her on a whirlwind tour of college ‘experiences’ involving shots and dancing in fountains.

And, lest we forget, the steamy threesome that has been so-talked about (and will mean there can never, ever be another series of Lizzie McGuire), which was mostly unremarkable except for the fact that Dan and Vanessa got cosy!! Oh, and Olivia’s movie got tanked (did the producers realise Twilight already had the lock on the vampire / high school market?). So, she’s staying.

Can’t wait for the awkwardness.

Gossip Girl ‘How to succeed in Bassness’

Gossip Girl has always been built on one implausible storyline after the next, but this week the space between Manhattan and reality got whole lot bigger.  It was Halloween, and that meant frightening times on the Upper East Side.

Taylor Momsen, Connor PaoloScariest of all was Jenny, who appeared as a manifestation of every parents Halloween nightmare.  Her Machiavellian rule the school tactics have got her slowly morphing into bride of Frankenstein, hair and all.  The big question with her was ‘in costume or not in costume?’ – blood-red lips, black eyes, electric shock hair, fishnets – and that was just for school.

With mascara as a weapon and teenage hooker as her look, she continued a descent into despotism that would have made Blair proud.  Threatened by coated almonds and a coup from Jonathan (Eric’s boyfriend, keep up) involving him sitting, like, OMG, higher than her on the Met steps, she of course had to plot his absolute destruction.   And so came what will henceforth be known as ‘the great yoghurt incident of 2009’. 

Meanwhile, in a bid to do one up on daddy, Chuck was inexplicably set on opening up a fashionable club but, with impeccable judgement, chose help from Serena over Blair, because apparently there aren’t any other imbecilic blondes in Manhattans publicity business.  Blair is predictably narked, so Serena explains ‘maybe todays not all about you’.  Oh silly Serena.  Don’t you know the world revolves around Blair Waldorf.  It spins around on its axis powered by her bitchy energy. 

For Serena, it’s a big deal, a moment for her to impress her scary fem-bot like boss (much easier to do when you don’t have your best friend hiding in your office as you work, sweetheart).  Clearly, she’s in way over her head, and it becomes clear that it was not such a great move for Chuck to choose Barbie over brains.  Luckily he came to his senses just in time and Blair was back in the game, backstabbing Serena in the process.  Ergo, Chuck’s prohibition era party (essentially an excuse for the wardrobe department to have some fun with hats and flapper dresses) got closed down by the authorities, obviously making it SO legendary Perez Hilton cried because he wasn’t there.  rufushumphrey

For lighter comedy we had Dan at his ultimate awkward best, variously freaking out when Olivia gets papped with her hand in the condom jar and because he finally watched her lame Twilight copy film and saw the chemistry between Lizzie McGuire and her Robert Pattinson knock-off ex.   We also learnt Rufus is a GREAT BIG HALLOWEEN GEEK, right down to the fetching wig he wore as part of his Ramones costume.  But Rufus is not in Brooklyn anymore, and apparently trick or treating doesn’t happen in swanky NYC apartment blocks.  So in true Lily style, she hires three kids to pose as trick or treaters, coming round several times in different costumes (including a freakishly good Lady Gaga outfit).  Rufus wasn’t fooled, but it made for a very touching moment.  Only in the GG world is paying child actors to cheer up your new (sixth?) husband what amounts to true love. 

Why so implausible?  Well, for starters, WHAT is with everyone going to the same party always.  Thank you Rufus, for stating the obvious point that troubles all GG watchers – and for that matter OC watchers – there is nothing classy (or cool) about going to a party with your parents.  In no reality after barmitzvah age does that happen, and just because the actors are all in the mid twenties does not mean it should. 

And for that matter, WHY are Jenny and her minions going to this prohibition party?  Aren’t they like, eleven.  Just because you wear drag queen make up doesn’t make it legal.  In fact, how does an eighteen year old get a liquor license in super-strict over 21-years only Manhattan.  I’ve been out in the city, and they ID.  So ridiculous. 

As for Serena’s supposed job – much to comment on, from the fact that she has apparently been delivering James Franco’s underwear, or best of all that she is now dating someone (Olivia’s Z list ex) for work.  Hmmm. 

In most places, they call that something a little different…