Monthly Archives: October 2011

I Have a Theory on….American Horror Story

If you're a woman looking at this image, let me know if you see Ruth Fisher from Six Feet Under. Thanks.

Welcome to the inaugural edition of “I Have a Theory On…”. This is meant to be a recurring theme for some of my posts here on TVpocalypse (in theory anyway). Basically, every so often, while watching one of the seemingly 54 TV shows I watch, I’ll come upon a “theory” as to why the show is good…or why it’s bad…or why I can’t stop watching it…or why I can’t bear to watch another second…or maybe even why I love writing in ellipses so much. It’s generally not very well thought out, and it is almost certainly never deals in anything of great importance or substance. So, in essence, it’s a microcosm of this entire blog. So, with all of that out of the way, I present to you I Have a Theory On…American Horror Story.

So after 3 episodes of American Horror Story, I have a theory (hence the name) on why I’m not all too excited about this show. Actually, let me preface my rant with a warning. I am not a horror film buff. I used to love them as a kid (think Friday the 13th, Nightmare on Elm Street, Halloween…typical 12 year old boy stuff), but as I have gotten older I have found myself somewhat disinterested by the genre. Call me old fashioned, but when I sit down to watch a horror flick (or show), I like to be scared. You can scare me by startling me, or you can scare me by making me believe my house is haunted, or maybe you can even scare me into believing the guy next door is a sociopathic axe murderer. The point is, you’re supposed to scare me, and at no point during this show’s first three episodes have I been genuinely scared.

To me, the problem is that it’s WAY too over-the-top. Every week we learn of a new murder that has occurred in this house. We’re three episodes in, and I’m pretty sure they’ve exposed 6 different murder scenes over the course of the last 80 years. Well, guess what? OF COURSE THIS HOUSE IS HAUNTED! THEY HAVE MURDERS THERE SEMI-ANNUALLY!!! How am I supposed to watch this and think that maybe my house is haunted in any kind of similar way?! MAYBE there was some murder that occurred in my building that I was unaware of. Or MAYBE the building was built on the site of some ancient Native American cemetery. MAYBE I wouldn’t know anything about these things moving into my place, and thus MAYBE I could be scared that this same sequence of events could happen to me. MAYBE. But, while I didn’t due a ton of due diligence before I moved into my building, I’m fairly certain I would have heard something if 487 different murders occurred there.

I would actually argue that the writing on this show is extremely lazy. They’re using the genre as an excuse to do anything and everything they want to. LOOK! LOOK! LOOK! A creepy burn victim! LOOK! LOOK! LOOK! Scary kids who were murdered! LOOK! LOOK! LOOK! Dylan McDermott doesn’t have a shirt on again! (I don’t even know that the genre offers any sort of rational reason for this). My point is that the writers seem to go over-the-top in every minute of this show without much concern for things making sense in the context of a larger story, all the while hiding behind the excuse of “it’s a horror show”.

This is becoming frustratingly reminiscent of a show that had a similar amount of potential to be great, True Blood. Mind you, I still watch True Blood, but every season I find myself becoming more and more annoyed by the ridiculousness of the writing on that show. In True Blood, there seems to be 11 human beings left in the entire world. Everyone else is a vampire. Or a werewolf. Or a fairy. Or a sprite. Or some other mystical creature that I haven’t heard of because I didn’t lock myself in a room and play D&D for hours on end as a child. So in this world, there is no problem that can’t be written around. Killed a main character? No problem…they’ll just drink vampire blood and be good as new! Miss a character that somehow died and stayed that way? No problem…we can go visit them in the fairy world and see what they’ve been up to! Hell, they just killed Tara in last season’s finale and I didn’t even flinch since I know she’ll be back in some way, shape or form come episode 2 of the next season.

And this seems to be much the same in American Horror Story. How could he kill his ex-girlfriend and bury her under a gazebo he just built?! Why are the wife and teen daughter seemingly unaffected by the fact that they MURDERED 3 people in their house yesterday!? And what the hell is the deal with the Shallow Hal affect on Ruth Fisher (Six Feet Under reference, for those not in the know) where only men get to see her as a hot little chippy!? And of course, the lazy answer to all of those questions is “because it’s horror.” Well, if this is their interpretation of what “horror” is, I’m not sure how much I like it. And at 850+ words I don’t know that this is a theory as much as it is a theorem.

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This Week’s TVpocalypse Poll (10/24/11)

Luckily my sense of humor has not evolved one iota since this show last aired.

1. Homeland (Last Week: 1)
In a week littered with no-shows, this show was as solid as ever. I literally can’t wait to see what happens next. This is one of those rare shows where they over-deliver every week, which is incredible seeing as how the scenes from next week have me chomping at the bit for next Sunday the second they end.

2. Boardwalk Empire (Last Week: 2)
Jimmy and Robert scalped someone this week. And it make perfect sense that they would. That’s how good the writing on this show is right now.

3. Sons of Anarchy (Last Week: 4)
Speaking of shows that are on a roll….it seems like they are killing a major character or setting the table to kill one every week in Charming. Of course now that I’ve FINALLY caught up with this show and it’s on an incredible run, I’m about to lose FX thanks to the good folks at DirecTV. As if it wasn’t hard enough to keep up with 25 shows on my DVR, now I’m going to have to find bootleg versions of a half a dozen shows online. Good times.

4. The Walking Dead (Last Week: 3)
A little bit slow last week, and I have to be honest, I need more walkers.

5. Modern Family (Last Week: 5)

6. Beavis & Butthead (Last Week: NR)
Out with Jersey Shore and in with a classic that is near and dear to my heart. For the young’uns who make up a large contingent of this blog’s readership, I don’t think it’s possible to overstate the greatness of this show. And the fact that it’s animated (no actors to get old), and that it has Mike Judge on board still (no half-assed attempt to bring it back again…I’m talking to you 90210), means that you can in fact get a second chance in life. Throw in the fact that the boys now have all of the rich content of MTV’s “finest” reality programming to comment on and you might very well have the perfect storm for TV gold.

7. Happy Endings (Last Week: 6)

8. Dexter (Last Week: 7)
I have to be honest, this show is about to drop in the rankings. There are just too many ridiculous elements in this show right now. First of all, Debra’s the lieutenant. Wasn’t she backdooring her way to detective like a year ago? Isn’t she the loose cannon who, while she does a good job, certainly does not play the political games that are required to move up the ranks in the police department (if you have any friends who are “on the job”, you know what I’m talking about). My second issue is just how many serial killers can one city have in such a short amount of time? Yep, exactly….not this many.

On a completely side note, I’m going to do to all of you what I do to my girlfriend at the movies and during TV shows all the time (keep it clean people!)….I’m going to attempt to call out a very obvious plot line (that the writers think is super slick) and thus potentially ruin the show for you. I have no inside information, this is entirely based on my own hunch. Of course this hunch is born out of 37 years of relentless TV watching and movie going…so it obviously has merit. Lucky for you, unlike Kate, you have your warning. Skip ahead to the next show if you do not want to know that the old professor following Colin Hanks around does not in fact exist. You shouldn’t be reading this if you don’t want to know that he is merely a figment of his imagination similar to Dexter and Harry. Of course if you did just read this you can now consider this season of Dexter ruined for you! And welcome to the frustration that is living with me!!

9. Up All Night (Last Week: 12)
A flashback episode this early in a show’s existence could have been a disaster….but this episode was fantastic. It seems like this show is getting better every week.

10. Parenthood (Last Week: 11)

11. Blue Bloods (Last Week: 9)

12. The X Factor (Last Week: 10)
FOX and the World Series that no one is watching is wreaking havoc on my X Factor allegiance. Nice job FOX.

13. Top Chef: Just Desserts (Last Week: 13)

14. How I Met Your Mother (Last Week: 14)

15. The League (Last Week: 15)
Thank you again FX and DirecTV.

16. The Office (Last Week: 16)
Yet another show with no new episode.

17. Blue Mountain State (Last Week: 17)

18. Fringe (Last Week: 18)
And yet another show with no new episode.

19. House (Last Week: 19)
And yet another show with no new episode. World Series fever….CATCH IT!!!

20. American Horror Story (Last Week: 20)
Major post coming on this tomorrow….consider yourself teased.

21. American Chopper: Senior vs. Junior  (Last Week: 23)

22. Pan Am (Last Week: 21)
There’s talk that this show might get cancelled. There’s also talk that I don’t know if I care too much beyond the fact that I will now have to go and find yet another show to enter the TVpocalypse Top 25.

23. Gossip Girl  (Last Week: 22)

24. Whitney (Last Week: 24)
And , yes, you guessed it…another show with no new episode.

25. Hung (Last Week: 25)
Goddamn bedroom DVR.

The Weekend Rally

Nothing worse than a clinically depressed Guido

A very weak week in TV made for a very weak Weekend Rally…which is just weak. FOX essentially cancelled all original programming in lieu of a World Series that no one is watching. And for whatever reason, NBC seemed to follow suit as not only did they not put a new The Office on, but they couldn’t even bother to throw me a bone with a new Whitney (I know how heartbroken the rest of you must be). The upside to that is that I’m pretty well caught up on most of my 25 shows.*

The Unwatched List*
I just mentioned that I am all but caught up on my shows. This is only partially true. I am all but caught up on all my shows that are recorded on my living room DVR. The problem is, I have 25 shows to record, so there are inherently going to be conflicts. And this is where the bedroom DVR comes into play. There are about 2 or 3  shows that I am recording on my second DVR. The problem is I need to lie down in bed to watch these shows. And the problem with that is that I only sleep a few hours a night, so when I do lie down, I generally fall asleep. So for that reason, Hung and Pan Am are suffering, as they are currently the only two shows on this week’s Unwatched List. This is not as much an indictment on these shows as it is on my God awful sleeping habits.

Worst Episode of the Week
Jersey Shore (Ciao Italia, Season Finale)
I mentioned in last week’s TVpopcalypse Top 25 that I was beyond excited for this finale. I wanted to see lots of gym’ing. I wanted to see lots of tanning. Hell, I even wanted to see lots of laundry’ing. Instead, I saw yet another episode of a depressed Situation, going from club to club looking to pick fights with any and all Euro-trash comers. This might have been ok had the rest of the roomies done one of two things:

The “Good” Finale:
The beloved guidos uniting for one last USA “Italians” versus Real Italians in an epic battle that would somehow result in any and all of the cast being deported from the country. That would have been good.

The “Great” Finale:
The Situation gets into an actual fight at the club….but still gets no back-up. He would then come home to the apartment and lose it on Ronnie for “not having my back bro”. Ronnie and Situation would then fight. Then Sammy would jump in trying to stop it. Then Ronnie and Sammy would start fighting because he was mad that she’s making him look soft (and because he’s on enough steroids to kill a horse). Sammy would hit Ronnie, and Ronnie would then throw all of her clothes and furniture into the street (except the bed, because by this time Deena was smushing a roofied and nearly unconscious Pauly D in their bed since she was inexplicably turned on by all of this guido fighting). That would have been a truly great finale. I think the “writers” dropped the ball on this one.

Instead we got depressed whining and an hour-long set-up for the next season of Jersey Shore at Seaside Heights. Actually, as I watched, I began to realize I was pretty much done with this show, and that at some level I was actually happy to see it ending. I rationalized that Jersey Shore had run its’ course. And while I knew it would be coming back for one last season at Seaside, I felt as though I was bidding a final farewell to the Jersey Shore. Unlike The Situation, I would not be joining them in Seaside (stunning that he’s going, right?!). And then I saw this…

So, obviously, I’m all in for next season. Hello, my name is Scott, and I’m addicted to God-awful, superficial, shallow TV.

This Week’s TVpocalypse Poll (10/17/11)

In her heyday (as is evidenced the "Rachel" haircut)

1. Homeland (Last Week: 4)
As you’ll notice, there’s a major shakeup at the top of the rankings this week. And at the urging of Erin, my friend and fellow blogger, I’ve decided that three episodes is enough of a sample size to go on the record and declare this the best show on TV (or at least the best show on the TVpocalypse 25). As is always the case, it comes down to the DVR. There is not a more jam packed night on my frenetic TV viewing schedule than Sunday night, and this show is always the one I’m looking most forward to. As I measure which show I will watch first, I realize that I’m always a little disappointed when I realize Homeland doesn’t go on until 10pm so I can’t watch it first. I literally can’t wait to see what happens next.

2. Boardwalk Empire (Last Week: 2)

3. The Walking Dead (Last Week: 23)
This is one of those rare cases where, despite months and months of media overhype and over-the-top word of mouth endorsements, this show didn’t only live up to the hype…it exceeded it. I am not a horror movie fanatic, nor am I a comic book maven, so it’s not like this is a show that is pandering to me.  It’s just that this show is that good. Similar to Boardwalk Empire, this show just seems to standout to a point where it’s always unfair to compare it to other mere mortal TV shows. I don’t know that it’s one of the perks of doing good TV on cable instead of network TV, but this is more like a weekly movie-going experience as opposed to a TV show. The moment I finished the sixth and final episode of season one, I was counting the moments until the season two premiere.

4. Sons of Anarchy (Last Week: 3)

5. Modern Family (Last Week: 1)
It’s not that this show has been bad lately, it’s just that the other shows have been that good.

6. Happy Endings (Last Week: 17)
Alright, so I mentioned in The Weekend Rally that this was one of the shows that I rallied big time on and completely caught up with. After pouring through about 6 episodes this weekend, I have one simple question, “How the hell is this show not bigger than it is?!” Six friends. Great banter. Plenty of inside joke-ish references for those of who are children of the 70’s. And a major point of tension that runs throughout every episode…will Alex and Dave every get back together again? Sound familiar? Yep, this show is essentially Friends before that show jumped the shark with Ross and Rachel part 87. Get on board people….this is good stuff!

7. Dexter (Last Week: 5)
Similar situation to Modern Family.  I’m not hating on Dexter, but I’m not loving on him either. There are just too many crazy-good dramas on TV right now to have this show (in its’ current state) rate any higher.

8. Jersey Shore (Last Week: 6)
Season finale coming this week, and a possible farewell to our current cast of guidos. So it goes without saying that I have some pretty high hopes for this one.

9. Blue Bloods (Last Week: 8 )

10. The X Factor (Last Week: 7)
Remember when I told you last week that I am now officially looking forward to seeing what happens next on this show. Well, I still am. Thanks FOX.

11. Parenthood (Last Week: 10)

12. Up All Night (Last Week: 12)

13. Top Chef: Just Desserts (Last Week: 11)

14. How I Met Your Mother (Last Week: 9)

15. The League (Last Week: 14)

16. The Office (Last Week: 16)

17. Blue Mountain State (Last Week: 15)

18. Fringe (Last Week: 18)
I’m back in. Another couple of solid episodes and this could start climbing again. I’m just hoping they don’t botch this Peter return.

19. House (Last Week: 20)
I might have a better idea on this had I been allowed to watch episode two. Thank you one more time FOX.

20. American Horror Story (Last Week: 24)
Much improvement from episode one into episode two, but I still have reservations. I’m sure you’ll be surprised to hear that I have a theory on this. More to come on this one later in the week.

21. Pan Am (Last Week: 13)
I’m a bit confused as to what this show is trying to be. Let’s put it this way, with 24 off the air, this is not the show I’m looking to sate my international spy games fix. Apparently, the show’s writers don’t entirely see it that way. That’s a bit unsettling. Again, I have a theory on this. And again, more to come on this one later in the week.

22. Gossip Girl  (Last Week: 19)

23. American Chopper: Senior vs. Junior  (Last Week: 25)
Someone needs to prove to me that Discovery did not in fact have an actual role in manufacturing this Senior vs. Junior riff. Without this storyline, the show would have been cancelled 2 years ago. It’s almost sad (says the guy writing this post while watching said exploitative show).

24. Whitney (Last Week: 22)
One of these days, you’re all going to fall in love with Whitney and you’ll have me to thank for discovering a show that you normally wouldn’t have considered. Either that or NBC will cancel it in January. Either one….but more likely the latter than the former.

25. Hung (Last Week: 21)
Wouldn’t be the worst idea if I actually got around to watching one of these episodes.

Others to Watch: Person of Interest (Still piling up on my DVR)

The Weekend Rally

Waterworld. Yep, I went there.

I took Friday off from work and, as a result, The Weekend Rally just got super-sized. So whereas the glass half-empty’ers will complain for a slow week of posts from TVpocalypse, the glass half-full’ers can rest assured knowing that having caught up with every show under the sun, I now have an abundance of superficial thoughts to offer on an array of seemingly inane topics. Translation: it’s shaping up to be a pretty busy week here at TVpocalypse.

That’s right folks, if not for a DVR malfunction that  resulted in none of the Hung episodes being recorded (don’t worry, it has since been remedied…I’m sure you were all very concerned), I would be 100% caught up on all of the shows in the current edition of the TVpocalypse Top 25.

Rally on season one leading into season two of The Walking Dead? Check. All of the back episodes of American Chopper? Cleared. Catch up on all things Gossip Girl? Check. I was a machine. I was on a roll and I literally couldn’t be stopped. I was bagging dinner and a movie plans (before you go screaming and yelling about my poor girlfriend, I’ll have you know that it was just as much her decision. We are both equally addicted to The Walking Dead now), I was staying up to all hours of the night (3:30am Thursday night, 2:30am Saturday and Sunday night…the things I do for you folks). I literally couldn’t be stopped. And then I ran into the FOX buzz saw.

In it’s mishandling of the MLB playoffs, FOX has wreaked havoc with my DVR and thus my TV viewing proficiency. As I powered through the season premiere of House and looked to continue on into episode two, I was greeted by a title on my DVR entitled House: Transplant that in actuality was 47 minutes of Terra Nova topped off with just enough of House to get me interested in the episode that I was missing and thus get me even further frustrated.

FOX’s assault on my DVR continued as they cancelled Wednesday’s The X Factor for the World Series (understandable), then mislabeled Thursday’s episode so it didn’t’ record (not so understandable), and then left Sunday’s programming labeled as MLB NLCS (a game that wasn’t happening as said series concluded the night before). This clerical error made it impossible to simply record the 8pm-10pm replay since the NLCS block ran all the way past 11pm. And this in turn made it impossible to record The X Factor replay without wreaking havoc on my already log-jammed Sunday night programming (epically not understandable). So here’s the net net…

 

The Unwatched List
The X Factor (thanks FOX)
House (and thank you once again FOX)
Hung (DirecTV’s DVR’s fault….because obviously nothing is my fault)

 

The Worst Episode of the Week
Terra Nova (What Remains)

Apparently FOX is refusing to take “no” for an answer. As anyone who has read this blog can attest to, there wasn’t a moment that I even entertained the notion that Terra Nova would be a good show or that  I would want to watch it (because, as has also been proven in this blog, one has nothing to do with the other. I am more than happy to watch bad TV that is truly great). And, I agree, there are those who would argue that it’s a little unfair to judge the merit of an episode (nevermind an entire show) on a viewing that took place in 1 minute and 37 seconds and entirely in 4x fast forward speed. Of course, I would rebuke that in that time (and even at that speed) I saw everything that I needed to see to reinforce my completely biased and prejudiced opinion of this show.

If Jurassic Park was impregnated by Waterworld and Avatar, this is what I imagine their offspring would look like. And while there are probably some of you who like the sound of that, I am not one of them. I didn’t mind Jurassic Park and that is probably the best I can say about any of them. I think we can all agree on the absurdity that was Waterworld. And finally, I am proud to declare myself a founding member of the I Refuse to Ever See Avatar Because That’s Just How Absurd It Looks Club. Mind you, there are only 17 of us members left, but I’m not caving on this one. And I’m not caving on Terra Nova either…no matter what you do to my DVR FOX!

This Week’s TVpocalypse Poll (10/10/11)

Nice to have you back Nucky.

1. Modern Family (Last Week: 1)

2. Boardwalk Empire (Last Week: 4)
Finally. After a couple of weeks of watching Nucky stagger around the ring waiting for someone to just knock him out, he finally seems to have found his footing. Bolstered by Margaret coming to his side as a more legitimately recognized partner (in crime), Nucky finally seems willing to stave off his empire from collapsing around him.

It started with the “thanks for nothing” conversation he had with Harry Daughtery (aka Shooter McGavin) as he was unable to collect on his favor of burying the news of President Harding’s love child. But his return to the old Nucky was made official when he made his way over to the Commodore’s table to put him and Jimmy in their respective places. The only thing better than the “I will ruin you….ALL of you!” declaration (yes, Jimmy, that means you too), was the “He never even asked her name… he just pointed to the one he wanted” line he dished as he left the table.

So, Jimmy, here’s what Nucky would like you to take away from that little exchange. A.) He’s going to ruin you, B.) Your mom’s a whore, C.) Your dad (who’s sitting right there) knew she was a whore, and D.) He actually chose to be with her BECAUSE she was a whore. I almost got up and cheered. Almost. I mean to actually get up would have required a physical effort of some sort and that pretty much defeats the purpose of watching 25 TV shows at once.

3. Sons of Anarchy (Last Week: 3)

4. Homeland (Last Week: 5)
Still my pick for best new show this year. I do not regret the top 5 debut at all.

5. Dexter (Last Week: 2)

6. Jersey Shore (Last Week: 6)

7. The X Factor (Last Week: 11)
I am now officially looking forward to seeing what happens next on this show.

8. Blue Bloods (Last Week: 8 ) 

9. How I Met Your Mother (Last Week: 9)

10. Parenthood (Last Week: 10)
There are some actresses who drive me nuts by doing the same thing over and over again in every role they take (see the Maya Rudolph rant a couple of lines below). Yet for some reason I always seem to like Lauren Graham. She continues to play that 30-something who is equal parts mom and friend to her children all the while partaking in run-on banter that somehow seems very real and very contrived all at once (says the guy who just rattled off a 5-line sentence). She did it for years in Gilmore Girls and it seems like she’s found that very same groove again, especially when she shares scenes with Mae Whitman (her daughter Amber). And for whatever reason, I’m good with that. For me, the way she has portrayed her character’s relationships with the rest of the family is largely responsible for the genuine likability of the Braverman clan.

11. Top Chef: Just Desserts (Last Week: 12)

12. Up All Night (Last Week: 14)
I have come to the conclusion that it is literally impossible to have too much Will Arnett in a show. This show lags a bit when he is not on the screen, and it actively suffers when they focus too much on Maya Rudolph playing the exact same character we’ve seen her play in every SNL skit she’s ever been as well as that train wreck of a movie some of you call Bridesmaids. So, for those of you scoring at home, I don’t like Maya Rudolph all too much.

13. Pan Am (Last Week: 13)

14. The League (Last Week: 15)

15. Blue Mountain State (Last Week: 16)

16. The Office (Last Week: 18)

17. Happy Endings (Last Week: 21)

18. Fringe (Last Week: 22)

19. Gossip Girl  (Last Week: 19)

20. House (Last Week: 20)

21. Hung (Last Week: 23)

22. Whitney (Last Week: NR)
And cue the angry posts in the comments section. All I can say is that I watched the third episode. It wasn’t as good as the first, and it wasn’t as bad as the second. The inclusion of this show into the Top 25 is all in the numbers. This is the TVpocalypse Top 25. Not the Top 24, and certainly not the Top 23. With the Housewives departing and Jersey Shore not too far behind, I need inventory people.

23. The Walking Dead (Last Week: 25)
Big The Walking Dead rally coming this weekend. I’ll be knocking out the entire first season before the season 2 premiere on Sunday night.

24. American Horror Story (Last Week: NR)
I had relatively high hopes for this show…and then it aired. I have theories (shocking, I know), but I’m going to hold back on the full-on 1000 diatribe until I get a second viewing.

25. American Chopper: Senior vs. Junior  (Last Week: 24)

Buh-bye: The Playboy Club (sniffle, sniffle), The Real Housewives of NJ
Other’s to Watch: Person of Interest (Jersey Shore ends soon, and beggars can’t be choosers. Plus, the entire season is still sitting piled up on my DVR)

The Weekend Rally

Don't let the smile fool you...he'll cut a bitch.

We might as well rename this post the The X-Factor Rally this week. Because obviously when a show turns out 4+ hours of programming a week, it just begs to be saved up for two weeks and powered through in an 8-12 hour marathon session…right?! Doesn’t it? No? Is it just me?

Anyway, after the afore mentioned 10 hours of The X-Factor viewing I have finally come to a conclusion on this show. I love it. And while I admit that there are plenty of parts that are almost direct lifts from American Idol (e.g. train wreck auditions, a Euro-trash version of Ryan Seacrest, Simon, the entire format), there are enough changes that make this somewhat new and interesting. In reality, this isn’t a new show as much as it is a long overdue re-boot of the Idol franchise (except Simon had to depart and start this show on his own because, as was evidenced by his fielding a call from the show’s producers aboard his 100 ft. yacht in the south of France, it’s about time he finally gets paid).

For those of you who aren’t on board just yet, here’s the upside that The X-Factor brings to the table:

1. The 30+ Group: Whereas Idol has morphed into nothing more than a Disney-type teenybopper-producing machine, I love that The X Factor opens it up to any and all comers. And while the very young contestants have also made it interesting, it’s the grizzled veterans that make this show completely unique. They’ve been around the block. They know this isn’t supposed to be handed to them. They actually have an idea as to who they are (mostly). And best of all, they’re desperate. Some of these contestants have seemingly just come in from living on the street, so you have this overwhelming sense that they might literally kill that 16 year-old kid doing his “pained” rendition of Hallelujah if that’s what it would take to move on to next week. And in my book, that’s TV gold.

2. Competition: The major point of difference between The X Factor and Idol is that the judges have a vested interest in the development of the show’s talent. Not only are they actively mentoring the contestants, but the format of the show pits the judges against each other. They are each responsible for one of the groups (Simon has the girls, LA Reid has the boys, Paula has the groups, and the waif model/singer that no one has ever heard of has the 30+ contestants). And rest assured, the pissing contest has already begun. The only thing funnier than the fact that Simon and LA have begun trash talking each other, is that neither of them has even considered for a moment the possibility that Paula or Model girl can actually lead their talent to the win. (I’m also 93% certain that neither Simon nor LA know the Model girl’s name either and actually call her Model girl as well).

3. Simon: If you’re an Idol fan and you have fallen out of love with it, you should get on The X Factor now. Because just in case there was any doubt, Simon is the difference. It’s amazing what a judge with an actual opinion beyond “You look great.” can make. Simon hasn’t even brought “awkwardly brutal, yet utterly brilliant and entertaining Simon” to the party just yet, and already I find myself saying “God, I missed Simon” upwards of 10 times an episode. Throw in his hysterically subtle (at times) jabs at Paula’s mental instability, and you have yet another reason that I am all in on this show.

 

The Unwatched List
There are a whole bunch of show’s on the list this week (how’s that for descriptive?). But this probably isn’t the best indicator as to whether or not a show is falling off the Top 25. And there are actually two reasons for that.

First, I’m losing so many shows from cancellations and season endings that I can’t afford to kill a show just because it sucks. That’s the kind of dedication I’m bringing to this blog for you folks.

Of course, the second reason is work. Again, until this blog develops its’ own revenue stream, there will actually be times when I’m unable to keep up for a couple of days at a time. Despite the fact that I’ve trained my body to operate on a mere 2-3 hours of sleep a day (I’m a professional….so don’t go getting any ideas), I’m still in need of a few more hours per day to stay on top of my 25 shows, and my job, and oh yeah…my actual life.

 

The Worst Episode of the Week
The Real Housewives of New Jersey (Portrait of an Italian Family)
This was the season finale. This was building off the momentum of the now legendary On Display “performance”. This should have been must-watch, save until I delete TV. But instead, it was check the DVR and make sure it recorded the entire episode TV. All of the showdowns the show’s producers worked so hard to set up over the course of the season were never fully realized. Ashley, or Ashlee as she is now called, never moved out. And what’s even more disappointing than that, is the fact that the only way I found that out was through an on-screen caption which told me so. The captions also told me that Ashley legally changed her name to Ashlee. How in the hell was this not captured on camera!? I need to know how she came up with this. I want to know how much time and money was spent to make this happen. I might need to fire off a FOIA letter to Bravo so I can personally pour over all of their footage to get these answers. I don’t think I’m overstating the importance here in the slightest.

The other annoying element of last night’s finale is the fact that the Tre-Caroline feud was teased only to lead into a fireworks filled reunion show, or worse yet, next season. If I had any self-respect, I would skip the reunion show and not allow myself to be so obviously strung along. But of course since I don’t have any self-respect, I will be there with bells on hoping for a no-holds barred, Jersey Housewives brawl.

Goodbye to The Playboy Club

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Every season there are those shows that have no hope. The shows that are DEFINITELY going to get cancelled. The shows that only got made because the network couldn’t find a reality show to slide into that time slot. You know heading in that it’s going to be gone by midseason, yet you defy all common sense and you still ante up.

This show makes those shows seem like sure things.

There is a very real chance The Playboy Club gets cancelled during its’ first commercial break. So, of course, I’m in.

That was my pre-season assessment of The Playboy Club. And while it did make it out of its’ first episode….it didn’t make too much further. So while it’s impossible to say that I didn’t see this coming, I must confess, it stings nonetheless.

But why you ask? Well, I’ve spent the last day and half trying to wrap my head around that very same question and I’m pretty sure I’ve come to a conclusion (yet another perk to my daily 3-state, 3 hour sojourn to and from work (or commute as most people call it…and yes this is another case of a parenthetical statement within another parenthetical statement)).

I guess because I’ve been able to put so much time into analyzing this (because obviously, there really aren’t any more important things I should be thinking about), I not only have one reason as to why I’m so hurt by this show being cancelled, but I actually have two of them. So without further ado (I would say 256 words is enough ado), here the two reasons why I’m so bothered by The Playboy Club being cancelled.

1. Whatever happened to bad TV?
Don’t get me wrong, this was bad TV (really bad TV actually). But I would argue that that is exactly the reason why we need this show. With the explosion of reality TV, bad TV has become a lost art form. Judging by production costs alone, the networks would obviously much rather go out with a “bad TV” reality show than a “bad TV” non-reality show. But I would argue that in that thinking, there is a massive void in our TV viewing selection.

You see, sometimes, I don’t want a sitcom that hits me with some adaptation of a joke that has been used approximately 378 times in 216 different shows since the first time it was used in a 1956 episode of The Dick Van Dyke Show.

And sometimes, I don’t want to watch a drama where I can sniff out the entire story line (definitely for the episode, and quite possibly for the season) about 7-8 seconds after the opening credits have cleared the screen (yes Grey’s Anatomy, I’m talking to you. To be honest, I actually liked Grey’s the first time it was on. I think they called it ER back then).

I don’t want it to make me a better person. I don’t want it to make some huge veiled statement about our society as a whole. But most importantly, I don’t want it to make me think.
Because, sometimes, I just want bad TV. I want mindless TV (Donna Martin graduates!). I want it to be over-the-top (the Melrose Place explosion at the pool). I want to be able to shut off my brain, watch without thinking, be completely entertained and love every ridiculously absurd minute of it.

The Playboy Club was all of those things. And now it’s gone. Thanks a lot NBC! Which is actually a good segue into my next point (it’s almost like I’m planning this as I write or something).

2. Fear of Commitment
How many times have you gone against your better judgement and gone all in on a show? You knew from the moment they announced it that the network wasn’t entirely sold on it. You knew they were just looking for a reason to cancel it. You knew that the only reason they put it in the fall lineup was because they’re already having trouble justifying 7 hours of The Biggest Loser a week on top of the 4 hours of Minute to Win It, and they figured that had to have some original programming…right? Didn’t they?

You knew all of this, yet you still went in on The Black Donnellys, and Journeyman, and Southland, and Kidnapped, and Pushing Daisies, and The Event, and Flash Forward, and Detroit 1-8-7, and of course on The Playboy Club.

And then the network did exactly what you knew they would they do. At the first sign of distress, they cancelled it. And in its’ place, they created a new SVU or they extended Deal or No Deal another hour longer. They got nice and safe…and lazy. Of course, these are the same folks who tried to cancel possibly the greatest TV drama of all time (Friday Night Lights) and the greatest TV comedy of all time (Arrested Development) every single season they were on.

So let me save you all the time since I have a good eye for these doomed shows. If you happen to be watching Terra Nova….yep…you already know…don’t you? Maybe Netflix (or whatever they call it now) an old season of The Wire or something. Sorry to be the bearer of bad new, I guess I just miss The Playboy Club.

Am I the only one? Was I the only one watching the shows mentioned above? Did I happen to miss any? I would love to hear about them..

This Week’s TVpocalypse Poll (10/3/11)

Hey! Look! House is in prison!

1. Modern Family (Last Week: 1)

2. Dexter (Last Week: 4)
Dexter is back…and it came out flying. Colin Hanks’ character was utterly creepy from second he walked on screen, and the dueling faith/religion storylines seem like a really interesting place for this show to play this season. And from what was shown in the original crime scene (not to mention from the crime scenes shown in the season’s upcoming scenes), the depraved/warped factor of Travis Marhsall’s (Colin Hanks) MO is off the charts. Which is a good thing in my book (not really sure what that says about me).

3. Sons of Anarchy (Last Week: 3)

4. Boardwalk Empire (Last Week: 2)
This. Show. Has. Been. (Pause). A. (Pause). Little. Bit. Slow. (Pause). (Pause). Thus. (Pause). What was I saying? Oh yeah…Far.

5. Homeland (Last Week: NR)
You will see throughout the course of these new rankings that the Whitney effect has wreaked havoc with my ability to trust my judgment. With that being said, this show was SO good that, unlike some of the other promising shows I’ve only seen one episode of, I’m all in on this one. Amazing cast. An ingenious story line. And a collection of flawed, yet compelling characters. Throw in a Band of Brothers connection….and you have a recipe for a top 5 show. The episode alone had it’s hooks in me from the word go, but when I saw the scenes from the upcoming season…it was borderline unfair. Besides, when have I been wrong about a show after watching just one episode? Don’t answer that.

6. Jersey Shore (Last Week: 5)

7. Real Housewives of New Jersey (Last Week: 6)
I still have On Display rattling through my head. I’m not really sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing.

8. Blue Bloods (Last Week: 8 )

9. How I Met Your Mother (Last Week: 7)

10. Parenthood (Last Week: 10)

11. The X Factor (Last Week: 9)
Let me reiterate, four hours of almost any show in one week is a bit much. But with that being said, I’m withholding a final verdict until this show gets beyond the auditions. Up until this point, this has essentially been an Idol knockoff. Apparently though, the format of the show gets much different once we get to the Idol equivalent of Hollywood week. We’ll see…

12. Top Chef: Just Desserts (Last Week: 11)

13. Pan Am (Last Week: 15)
Due to the now infamous Whitney episode, I’m trying not to get excited by one episode these days, but this was pretty f’n good. The whole CIA/MI5 storyline was completely unexpected. Nothing in any of the previews gave even a hint of this show being anything more than some romanticized period show that was a borderline Mad Men knockoff. But it seems like this might actually be more than that. Might.

14. Up All Night (Last Week: 12)

15. The League (Last Week: 13)

16. Blue Mountain State (Last Week: 14)

17. The Playboy Club (Last Week: 21)
Textbook guilty pleasure. It’s a modern day Melrose Place….and I mean that in the best possible way.

18. The Office (Last Week: 17)
I’m thinking that last season set the bar so low for this show that I’m not fully aware of this season’s mediocrity.

19. Gossip Girl  (Last Week: 18)

20. House (Last Week: 17)
The season premiere is airing tonight, but I’ve decided to go ahead and drop this show a few spots based on the success of some other shows that are already airing, as well as the sheer travesty they seem to be propagating every time they air another one of those ridiculous prison-themed spots for this season. Why do I have the funny feeling that if John Hein hadn’t already invented Jump the Shark, we would be talking about shows that House Went to Prison’ed?

21. Happy Endings (Last Week: 22)
I finally watched an episode of this show. I liked it. Of course, I also liked the first episode of a certain show about certain comedienne that I watched, and I think we all know how that turned out. I’ll be coming back, but I’ve learned my lesson for sure. We’re in a probationary period still.

22. Fringe (Last Week: 24)
Just because it didn’t die this week, doesn’t mean I’m all the way back on board. They better get Peter out of that mirror or I’m going to start get pissy again.

23. Hung (Last Week: 20)
This week’s premiere episode is still sitting unwatched on my bedroom DVR (the back-up DVR). I realize it’s only Monday and there’s a Yankee game on right now, but I’m just saying.

24. American Chopper: Senior vs. Junior  (Last Week: 19)
How many times can one man watch almost the identical bike build out on a weekly basis? The Teutel’s either need to throw down in a steel cage match or end this show.

25. The Walking Dead (Last Week: NR)
Thanks to last week’s poll, I have officially downloaded season 1 of this show so that I may properly ramp up for this coming season. THANK GOD! I was beginning to get worried that I didn’t have enough things to watch.

Buh-bye: Harry’s Law, Person of Interest
Other’s to Watch: American Horror Story

The Weekend Rally

Annyong again Arrested Development

We are now in full swing for the fall season, and that means that Sunday night TV makes for one helluva marathon Weekend Rally. Five and a half hours of shows to power through, and I have somehow justified that I should really make every effort to watch all of them tonight. I can’t see how that would be a bad idea. So with that in mind, I’ve taken to writing this post as I watch my TV. No worries kids, I’m a professional. My ADHD lends itself perfectly to writing a TV watching/Facebook checking/Diet Coke drinking /Get Glue-ing/Tweeting-fueled new post for the TVpocalypse blog.

So with that, I give you a rapid fire representation of my stream of consciousness as it relates to the past couple of days of TV. How is this different than any other post you ask? Well, it’s not too different actually…but this one will have bullets!!

• First of all, I’d like to thank those of you who took the time to weigh in and vote on the inaugural TVpocalypse Queue Poll. It seems as though 25 shows really isn’t enough, and I will no doubt have a couple of new entries on the TVpocalypse Top 25…and then some. Be sure to check back tomorrow to see the latest and greatest poll (yet another shameless plug than you every much).

• And while I never had any intention of this blog being anything more than my seemingly incoherent musings on my obsessive TV habits, never mind a new breaking outlet, tonight I simply can’t help myself. CUE THE BREAKING NEWS SCREEN GRAPHIC AND THEME MUSIC!!! Arrested Development is BACK! And not only a movie, but 10 episodes to catch up with the Bluth’s and lead into the long-awaited movie (coming early 2013….ugh). And TMZ said it’s true…so you know it HAS to be real. Plus, Will Arnett later confirmed it on Twitter. To say that I’m excited would be an understatement in the neighborhood of saying Tony Romo seems to have some issues late in games in a big spot. I now have two hopes. One is that the ratings on these episodes go through the roof so FOX will be forced to bring them back for many, many, many more seasons. And two is that Dr. Tobias Funke has his Analrapist practice up and running.

• I might have been slightly dramatic in posting my Fringe obituary. While I still miss both the Peter/Olivia and Peter/Walter dynamic (not to mention the Olivia/Walter dynamic), I will admit that the second episode was a marked improvement over the first one. Consider the deathwatch called off. I’m giving Fringe a stay of execution.

• As I sit here watching Real Housewives NJ, awaiting the long-teased On Display performance, I have come to the realization that if someone were to tell me that Caroline snapped and killed Teresa on this Punta Cana trip….I wouldn’t necessarily not believe it.

• OK, I just watched the afore mentioned On Display performance. Ummmm….a-maz-ing. The pre-performance prayer to her father and to baby Jesus (out loud for the cameras….of course). The lip-syncing, which begs to be examined. In my mind, Melissa lip-synced for one of two reasons. She either bombed the sound check so bad that they said, “no f’n way you’re singing live, we’re putting a track on for the performance”, OR she bombed the performance so bad that she said “no f’n way your airing that horrific sound on the show” and had Bravo place the track over it.  Either way, it’s off the charts hysterical. Big season finale next week! Say it loud and say it proud, “YOU’RE MY F#$%N FATHER!”

 

The Unwatched List

Just a reminder for the newbies, the Unwatched List is the list of shows which remain on my DVR unwatched at the end of the week. If a show remains unwatched by the time I go to bed on a Sunday night, odds are it won’t be on the TVpocalypse Top 25 Poll for very long.

This week’s list is really a collection of two types of shows. There are those that were forgotten due to the limitations of the time space continuum (translation: there are only so many hours in a Sunday night), and there are those other shows that were simply forgotten (on purpose).

This week’s Pan Am and Hung have yet to be watched. I will get to them tomorrow for sure. Or Pan Am for sure, and Hung….probably (maybe Hung is somewhere in  between the two sections of the list). As for the forgotten side of the list, no shocker there really. Harry’s Law and Person of Interest, it was nice not knowing you.

 

The Worst Episode of the Week
Whitney (First Date)

Remember that whole post last week about Whitney really finding it’s sweet spot and staying there, and capturing the whole guy point of view through the eyes of woman? And remember when I said this would be on the TVpocalypse Top 25 without a doubt? And remember when I said this show was good? Yeah….ummm….nevermind.

As pitch perfect as this show was in its’ pilot episode, it was the exact opposite in episode two. This show failed the laptop test worse than Vince Young failed the Wonderlic test. Nevermind popping open my laptop, if I could have gotten up from the couch and started a kitchen makeover I would have done that before watch the rest of this show with any kind of concerted effort.

I’ll give Whitney an episode or two to pull itself out of the Bridesmaids trap, but unless it does, I don’t think you guys will be hearing a whole lot about this show here at TVpocalypse.

Be sure to come back tomorrow to see this week’s TVpocalypse Top 25 Poll…I have a feeling you’ll barely recognize it from last week. Another shameless plug. Aaaaaand scene.