FOX

Thoughts On Season 9 Of So You Think You Can Dance

Season 9 SYTYCD FOX

Let me first say that the new one-episode a week format of So You Think You Can Dance is a welcomed change for season 9. But besides the elimination (pun intended) of the mostly-filler results show, this season has felt a bit off*.

So before we crown two season 9 champions, here’s a quick run-down of why I think this season has been weird but also why I still love SYTYCD.

A Weekly Display of Incredible Talent

It should go without saying that the dancers (all-stars and current contestants alike) are brilliant at what they do, which is why it generally sucks to cut people each week. With such a high-caliber of talent this season and no clear front runner, I felt like a lot of dancers were sent home before their time (mostly causalties of the double elimination nights).

I would have loved to have seen more from Alexa (who was heavily touted in Vegas week), Amber (who performed an incredible routine the week of her elimination), and Will (who I felt like we never really got to see dance without any gimmicks).

With that said, I’m still happy with the final four contestants (Go Eliana!) and this season has certainly provided its fair share of memorable routines too. Allison and Cole’s Sonya Tayeh piece might be my new favorite:

Guest Judges

Kudos to SYTYCD for bringing back favorites like Christina Applegate and Jesse Tyler Ferguson, but what’s with the guest judges who have never seen the show before (Michael Nunn & Billy Trevitt) or ones who can’t speak without a script (Zooey Deschanel)?

On a related site note: Thank God for Cat Deeley. Not only does she save floundering guest judges but she keeps the show on schedule, builds a personal repertoire with all of the dancers, and keeps Mary and Nigel in check. I’m really hoping Cat Deeley wins an Emmy this year, she really deserves it.

The Return of Mia Michaels

With some of the most memorable routines to her name, I was super excited for her to come back, but the tribute show was a major mistep on SYTYCD’s part.

First of all, part of the fun of watching the show is seeing new partnerships develop and new works of art unfold in front of our eyes. If I want to watch an older number, I’ll just YouTube it. Second, some of Mia’s pieces like “Time” (about seeing her father again in the afterlife) is something that really was never critiqued the first time around because the the loss was so recent, but this time around it was like open season on the dancers since it’s been like five years. And third, some routines are just epic and any re-creation is not going to live up to what we all remember. The bench routine with Heidi and Travis and Hometown Glory with Katee and Joshua are two such examples.

FOX’s Scheduling

“Yay” for just one episode a week, “Boo” for the multiple breaks the show took to accommodate the Olympics and 4th of July. Between all of the time off and double eliminations I felt like I hardly got to know the dancers this season.

Now don’t get me wrong, I still a huge fan of So You Think You Can Dance and despite my quibbles I still think it’s one of the best reality shows on TV – so with that said, I’m just hoping they continue to make changes for the better. Until then, make sure to tune into the Season 9 finale on Tuesday September 18th at 8pm on FOX.

*Not nearly as off as the ill-conceived fall season in 2009 (season 6).

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A Preview Of New Fall TV Series

The fall TV season is quickly approaching but if you are like me, it can’t come soon enough. Summer series are winding down leaving giant gaps in my prime time schedule, but thankfully NBC and FOX are offering some pilot episodes early!

Nothing on tonight? Head on over to Hulu.com to sample some of this year’s new comedies and dramas.

FOX is showing off their new Tuesday night comedy block additions: The Mindy Project (9:30pm) and Ben and Kate (8:30pm).

Ben and Kate is about a brother-sister combo, hence the name, in which Ben moves in with his sister Kate who is a single parent. I assume since this is a comedy Ben will be left with her daughter a lot and he won’t have any idea of how to take care of kids. I could be off, guess you’ll just have to check it out to see for yourself. The pilot episode is currently streaming on Fox.com and Hulu and will premier later this month on September 25th.

The Mindy Project premiers the same night, and unlike Ben and Kate I did have a chance to check it out. It was funny but as I pilot I wouldn’t say it was anything special. The premise is rather run-of-the-mill (girl has smarts and is witty plus has her dream job, but no love life); however, I am assuming you are tuning into The Mindy Project because you find Mindy Kaling funny and there is plenty of laughs so it certainly shows potential.

FOX The Mindy Project

NBC is also kind enough to offer a few sneak peeks. Currently you can check out one of their new comedies – The New Normal (Tues. 9:30pm) and Revolution (Mon. 10pm), the latest show to have J.J. Abrams name attached to it.

While The New Normal looks interesting and was created by Ryan Murphy (you remember Glee, Nip/Tuck, and American Horror Story, right?) I already know its not a show I am going to watch so all I can tell you is its about a single mother who agrees to be a surrogate for a gay couple. The new comedy will occupy Glee’s old timeslot and will compete against The Mindy Project on Tuesday nights at 9:30pm. The New Normal premiers next week on September 11th.

If drama is more your thing then why wait until September 17th when you can see the new J.J. Abrams series Revolution now. The new post-apocalyptic genre series will either find success on the low rated NBC network or crash and burn quickly, so check it out while its on or watch it now so you can say you saw it first. The pilot is full of flaws (exposition heavy, lack of subtlety, an annoying heroine) and potential (J.J. Abrams) so it’s hard to see which way it will go, but based on the ending alone I recommend Revolution.

NBC Revolution

Have you checked out any of these new shows, what do you think? What else are you planning to watch this TV season? Here’s a look at some of the other new Fall 2012 TV series.

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Just One Episode Of House Left And Its Probably Not Lupus

After 8 seasons and and 177 episodes, House is slated to air its last-ever new episode this Monday at 9pm on FOX.

Part of me is like ‘Hooray!’, after all, it seems as if the series has really run out of steam and new diseases to diagnose. But as a fan of the series, I’ve run the gamut from casual viewer to obsessive viewer to bitter-ender, and at this point I’m rather invested in the endgame.House MD Cast Promo Photos

House was probably the last show I ever watched casually. Sometime in the second season I picked it up week to week and got ahold of the season 1 DVDs in order to catch up. Through seasons 4-6 I watched House obsessively. Any of my college roommates can attest to the ridiculous amount of time I spent watching the show live, on DVD, and in reruns on Bravo and the USA Network. I can still name most episodes by title and the disease in which the patient is suffering from. (When you’re in Grad School anything that isn’t course work or thesis writing is a fun and welcomed distraction.)

Even last season I watched the show live, prioritizing new episodes of House above anything else on at the same time. But this season was different, I only cared in that I wanted to know how it all ended.

Everybody Lies One Last Time

Earlier this week I read an article from the AV Club entitled What do we want from a TV finale?, which in turn really made me think about the upcoming House sendoff. Now the article was more focused on serialized shows with complex narratives, like Fringe or Lost, but it still made a few interesting observations about how viewer expectations and whether or not a series remains true to itself even in that finale hour dictate the perception of a ‘good ending’.

At its core, House has always been a procedural show, just with more sarcasm than anything airing on CSB. For a typical procedural I would be satisfied with the ‘life goes on’ ending, in which we know everyone is alright and will continue on doing what they’ve always done, just unseen on TV. The season 3 finale of Lie To Me is a great example of this – while they didn’t exactly get the chance to write a ‘series’ finale, the last episode acts well as one, but I’ve written about this before.Promo Photos House Cast

For House however, I don’t buy this scenario as a fitting ending. The character of House has never been okay on a day-to-day basis. It’s unreasonable and unsatisfactory to assume that he’ll go on working at PPTH, abusing his current team, and saving people after almost killing them a few times. House takes risks and does stupid things, he isn’t fufilled by the status-quo. Normal is not what he is looking for. After all, normal is overrated.

Some shows go out with a bang. Finales with a crazy plot twist or abrupt ending like Life on MarsThe Sopranos, or St. Elsewhere can be both mind boggling and frustrating. House has tried to employ the crazy in past season finales (hallucinations, bus crashes, more hallucinations, mental hospitals, crane crashes, and car crashes) with varying results so my fear is that this type of ending might feel more contrived than an organic result of what’s come before.

And then we have the House finale title: “Everybody Dies”. I’m not taking this literally of course, House is not Lost but the show has long debated about the afterlife and deals with death on a weekly basis. House himself has either almost died or been clincally dead a few times. And in addition to their patients, the characters on House have lost loved ones (Foreman’s mom, Thirteen’s brother, Chase’s dad, House’s dad) as well as coworkers like Kutner and Amber. Thirteen herself is dying and Wilson, as of a few episodes ago, is too. It’s evident why FOX has never promoted House as the feel-good show of the week.

Given the current story line its not unbelievable to assume that it is Wilson who meets his demise in the finale, but where does that leave House? He admitted out loud that he needs Wilson in his life and that would certainly leave the show on a somber note. Would David Shore really create a finale in which the main character is more tormented than when we first met him? Although its perhaps inline with the morose tone that perpetually fuels the series, I don’t know if that is the finale I want to see.

I suppose in the case of House its difficult for me to resolve my conflicting feelings of wanting to see all of the characters be okay with my knowledge of the House-verse and understanding that the finale episode is not entitled “Everybody’s Okay” for a reason.

So House fans out there, what do you hope or expect to see on Monday night’s finale? Are you looking for House to find happiness, go out with a bang, deal with death, or are you one of those fans still secretly hopping to see Cuddy again?

 

*It was Lupus once, episode 8 of season 4, “You Don’t Want To Know”. 

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Welcome To The Show: Theme Songs & Opening Credits

A while back I found an impressive TV theme song medley video on YouTube; I recently came across it again and thought I should share it. After all, sharing is caring. The video is a mash-up of popular TV theme songs – all performed by one guy. Check it out:

So yeah the video is pretty awesome, but it also makes me think more about the importance and function of a TV show’s theme song and opening credit sequence.  I really find it a shame that so many new shows are going the way of boring title cards. There’s nothing like rocking out, singing along, or geeking out to a show’s opening.

Take for example a show like Fringe. It’s opening credit sequence does much more than display names of the cast and crew; it also lets viewers know which universe or decade the episode is taking place in. I am especially fond of their 1980s version:

Likewise, each episode of Jericho cleverly conveyed clues about a character or current plot via Morse code:

And any time I watch Buffy the Vampire Slayer I can’t help but launch into an air drumming session to my now-favorite Nerf Herder’s song:

Other fun or unique openings I’ve come across include Bill Lawrence perpetually apologizing for Cougar Town‘s name and Community‘s altered dungeons & dragons version as well as Abed’s Christmas intro. I also really love the look and sound of the Friday Night Lights opening sequence. I suppose I should also make some mention of The Simpsons since they’ve managed to come up with tons of new ways to get everyone on the couch each week, a pretty commendable feat even if you aren’t a fan of the show.

What are other top theme songs and openings for past and present shows?

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Lie to Me: “Truth or happiness, never both.”

It’s not a shocker and perhaps not the final nail in the coffin, but yesterday James Hibbard broke the news that FOX denied Lie to Me a back nine for its third season.

Lie to Me

With such dismal ratings many may ask themselves, how has Lie to Me even remained on the air and in such a prime Monday slot. I for one figured that when Lie to Me was relegated to burn off its season two episodes during the summer doldrums the show was done for, but FOX never ceases to surprise me.

So often they are the first network to drop the ax, but lately they’ve seemed a bit slow on the uptake. Perhaps there isn’t much on the shelf ready to go or the majority of FOX’s schedule is kind of a holding pattern until MLB playoffs begin or until American Idol comes back to fill so many unnecessary hours of programming. Either way, FOX has broken my heart so many times (see Firefly, Wonderfalls, Dollhouse, etc…) that I may be getting used to it by now.

Loving and Losing Lie to Me

Although I enjoy Lie to Me and it’s weekly scientific not-by-the-books crime solving adventures, it is a procedural at its core and that may make the end that much less painful. We won’t be left hanging, there isn’t some deep mythology waiting to be explored, and I have a fairly good feeling that the last episode won’t end on some big cliffhanger.

In the end, like all other crime procedurals that have ended (weirdly I can’t actually think of any, they never seem to end) I’d like to think that Lie to Me will finish with the characters just going on with their daily lives. Working at the Lightman Group, uncovering the truth through more lies, the occasional illegal act, trickery, and maybe a side of violence.

When will FOX tell us the truth about Lie To Me? Maybe after they burn though the third season order or maybe in the spring during upfronts, either way I’ll be waiting for the answer.

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Marathoned: Fringe

A quick confession … I’ve never gotten into any series created by JJ Abrams. I know, I know, there must be something wrong with me to have never been a fan or at the very least a frequent viewer of Felicity, Alias, or Lost.

I did try, they just didn’t click for me and the same goes for Fringe when it first premiered. In fact, my distaste for Fringe ran so deep that I was excited when House moved to Monday nights just so I wouldn’t have to see the promos for Fringe throughout the hour.

Fringe – You Had Me at Alt World

I suppose I didn’t really have a solid reason to dislike the show, so when my roommate turned the second season premier of Fringe on last fall I was just lazy and interested enough to stay on the couch. She sort of filled me in during commercials breaks and I intended to keep watching but it soon became clear that I needed to see the first season first, but unfortunately I was rather busy with school. So my roommate and I made a deal. If she watched Firefly and Serenity I would watch Fringe. Well she held up her end of the bargain and I remained ‘busy’. Then the deal became if the show gets renewed for a third season I’ll watch. (I’ve been heartbroken by FOX before, a lot before.) So after May sweeps and the renewal announcement, I finally kept up my end of the bargain.

So let me first say, I was wrong.

I can admit that now and also that I’m addicted to this show. I’m eagerly awaiting its return this Thursday at 9pm. But just because I’m super excited for the new season and would classify myself as a fan doesn’t mean that Fringe is perfect by any means.

Honestly had I not know where the second season was headed when I finally put the season one disc one in my DVD player I don’t know if I would have been able to stick it out. Much of the first season reminded me of X-Files, a show I wasn’t entirely fond of, and Dark Angel, a show that had its own set of flaws. It was difficult for me to connect with any of the characters and each episode was so stand alone-y in a formulaic show kind of way. It’s not that I don’t like shows with formulas, I love House MD and still watch CSI but everyone kept talking about how awesome the mythology was and it just took a really long time for it to be built and become integral to the series and each episode’s plot.

I’m not going to go into episode details, plenty of other sites recap, but I do want to comment on what I perceive is the most fascinating aspect of the series – the threat of the two worlds colliding.

Maybe I’m a pessimist or a cynic but I’ve always enjoyed books, movies, and TV shows with a bleak outlook on the world. Not all need to involve an apocalypse of some sorts but it certainly can’t hurt to include one. Buffy and Angel’s world always ran the threat of one, Jericho started with one, Dollhouse failed to prevent one, and Fringe is facing one. It should be awesome. I think it was in one of San Diego Comic Con interviews that the cast members discussed how the goal of this season was to create two worlds, both dynamic and morally grey. The ambiguity created should make for a fascinating season three. I can’t wait!

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Glee: “The art of losing”

On the season finale of Glee, New Directions lost the regional glee club competition. In fact, they didn’t even place in the top two despite Sue Sylvester’s secret support. And to be honest prior to the episode airing I was kind of hoping, from a storytelling point of view, that they would lose. But just because I thought losing would be best for season 2 didn’t mean that I wasn’t rooting for them.

I like to support the underdog and especially after the fantastic Journey melody I really thought they had a shot at pulling off the upset. However, Vocal Adrenaline was awesome. Technically it seemed like Jesse did more of the singing then the rest of the club, but their entire performance was just better in terms of choreography and storytelling. Also Queen totally has the potential to trump Journey every time.

To my surprise though, when Sue announced Vocal Adrenaline as the winner, it was like a gut punch.

The Gleek in all of us

I really cared about the glee club kids, more than I thought. It’s not that I’m uncaring but I’ve tried to keep the show at an arm’s length and remain critical of it despite being a fan from the very beginning. I love TV but I try not to get too distracted by the exciting shiny things – like fun song and dance numbers when analyzing an episode, season, or series. I mean overall the first season has been all over the place in terms of storytelling, but the show is original and because it can’t be compared to anything on TV right now, or most anything at all, it seems like the show often gets a free pass for its plot inconsistencies. Glee

Despite my tendency to be critical of television, I can really relate to these characters though. I’ve never really been involved in the performing arts but as someone who grew up playing sports I know what it feels like to give it your all and still come up short. I’ve never been the MVP or part of a championship team, but that never stopped me from putting my heart and soul into every challenge despite repeatedly losing. And that’s why I think it hurt watching them come up short.

In fact, the one theme that has been consistent throughout the entire freshman season is that most of us are losers. Okay, so that might be a bit of an overstatement but since it’s not possible for everyone to be a winner, it’s more likely that many of us are far more familiar with the feeling of losing. The fact that we are not all winners is a true sentiment, but not one that is generally taught to us or even one that is so overtly perpetuated in entertainment. It’s not that Glee is the only fictional show on television to play with this theme, but the difference is in the delivery. The sad truth is sugarcoated in song and dance.

Hell, they even performed Beck’s “Loser” in the penultimate episode. Granted, the end of Glee‘s season finale veered dangerously close to an after-school special when the kids said they won because of Mr. Shue, but then again this is TV and at the end of the day I suppose its not the worst thing in the world to win a participation trophy. Plus, there’s always next season.

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House MD: “We’re not friends, we’re colleagues…”

I don’t hate House’s new team. In fact I think I probably harbor far less polarizing feelings than the majority of people voicing their opinions online; however, I still miss Chase, Cameron, and Foreman. Its not that I necessarily prefer seasons 1-3, but when I re-watch any of the older episodes there is just a different vibe to them, one that the newer seasons seem to be lacking. House MD‘s season six provided the brief reunion of the original team and after watching those few episodes I think I finally realized why I liked and missed them so much. For me, it’s their group dynamic.

House MD: Office Drama & Romance

Before Chase and Cameron were married and even before they all went their separate ways at the end of season three, they were friends. Even though Foreman may have disagreed (2.18), compared to Taub, Thirteen, and Kutner they at least acted friendly towards each other. I blame this on House. The original team was hand selected by House unbeknownst to each other; but Taub, Thirteen, and KutnerHouse MD along with all the other candidates spent months all vying for only three positions. Fierce competition and fear of being fired kept them from bonding and looking out for one another.

For instance, Kutner and Cole formed a friendship, but Cole willingly put Kutner on the weekly chopping block (4.8) in a failed attempt to secure a spot on the team for himself. Besides House’s games, other circumstances surrounding the new team also caused a less than fun work atmosphere for us to watch each week. Unlike Chase, Cameron and even Foreman in the early seasons, Taub and Foreman didn’t see diagnostics as a learning opportunity but as their only means of practicing medicine and making money. For them it was not their first choice and while it may have seemed like Kutner enjoyed every moment of it, his suicide (5.20) clearly demonstrates otherwise. And then you have Thirteen; at first she was extremely secretive and closed off and then after receiving her Huntington’s diagnosis she became understandably wrapped up in her own issues.

In seasons 1-3 of House MD we watched three young doctors experience a crazy internship under a brilliant diagnostician and learn to practice medicine in a whole new way. And through it all they had each other, but that all seemed to change with the new team. Instead, we saw four people—already unenthusiastic about their lives and jobs being abused by House on a weekly basis.

However, since the ‘musical chairs’ antics of season six I remain refreshingly optimistic about the situation. Taub and Foreman have more or less come to terms with their positions at PPTH, Chase makes Foreman less dull, Thirteen and Taub have been friendlier since Kutner’s death, and Taub has provided some much needed comic relief. And although I didn’t like Cameron’s exit, the new team, comprised of Foreman, Chase, Taub, and Thirteen, seems to be a satisfying mix of old and new.

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