Sesame Street Educates After Hurricane Sandy

Almost a week and a half ago Hurricane Sandy headed up the east coast and took a sharp left into New Jersey and New York. The super-storm took lives, destroyed homes, tossed aside boardwalks, swallowed up piers, and left millions without power. And to make matters worse, most of the region received snow last night.

My family has been lucky – our house made it through the storm unscathed and we were only in the dark for 32 hours, which means I’ve spent countless hours watching the news taking in the full scope of chaos left in Sandy’s wake. And even though I don’t live on the barrier island, I only have to walk around my neighborhood to see trees down, cars crushed, and houses flooded.Sesame Street Hurricane

It’s equally overwhelming and unbelievable, so I can only imagine how kids are coping. The barrage of images, lasting power outages, and real-life in-front-of-your-face destruction is a constant reminder of how much has changed. So when I came across an EW.com article about an upcoming Sesame Street Hurricane episode I couldn’t help but feel a little bit better to know that someone was going to take the time to present this information to kids too.

The iconic children’s series has tackled a number of tough issues before including death, ethics, and relationships. In fact, this natural disaster-themed episode was originally a 5-part series that aired in 2001. It was repeated following Hurricane Katrina in 2005, and now it will air, in an edited form, tomorrow Friday Nov. 9th. The condensed version will focus less on storm-preparedness and more on the after effects of the storm including recovery and loss.

In the episode, Big Bird’s nest is destroyed along with much of Sesame Street. While they try to repair the nest, its ultimately deemed uninhabitable by a city inspector. The scenario is surely something many can sympathize with as officials continue to condemn houses and many still struggle to get over to the barrier island and beach front to see what, if anything, still remains.

I like to think of this episode as a gesture of support from the fine folks over at PBS and Sesame Street – for kids of all ages. I’d also like to use it as a reminder that not all of TV is bad. At times it can teach, provide understanding, and offer comfort. After all, the most sound advice usually comes from trusted friends.

As long-time Sesame Street resident Gordon explains, ‘You’re right, Big Bird, it’s not all right … but it will be all right.’

Wise words for us all.

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Hurricane Sandy Is Coming – Take Shelter With Some TV

Frankenstorm coming your way? Assuming you have power and/or the Internet, why not wait out the storm with some of your favorite TV characters who are likewise feeling the effects of mother nature’s fury.

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The 2012 Halloween Episode Rundown

Trick or Treat! Halloween is almost here, which of course means it’s time for your favorite characters to get all dressed up for this season’s Halloween episodes.

To help plan out your fall-holiday viewing, here’s a rundown of upcoming Halloween specials:

ABC Family’s annual 13 Nights of Halloween kicks off this Friday, October 19th. Special new episodes of Pretty Little Liars (Tues. 10/23 8pm) and Switched at Birth (Mon. 10/22 8pm) headline the event.

PLL Halloween episode

The other 20+hours worth of programming belong to a smorgasbord of family-favorite Halloween flicks like Beetlejuice, Hocus Pocus, Coraline, Haunted Mansion, Edward Scissorhands, The Addams Family, and cable premiers of Monster House and The Sorcerer’s Apprentice.

You’ll also be able to catch offbeat movies like Alice in Wonderland, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The Mummy, and Scooby Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed.

More Halloween Laughs than Scares on TV this Year

Kids and teens aren’t the only ones getting dressed up, almost every network comedy is getting into the spirit too. Check out all of the FOX, NBC, CBS, and ABC sitcoms airing Halloween episodes this year:  The Big Bang Theory (Thurs. 10/25 8pm), The Middle (Wed. 10/24 8pm), Modern Family (Wed. 10/24 9pm), Happy Endings (Tues. 10/30 9pm), New Girl (Tues. 10/30 9pm), Suburgatory (Wed. 10/24 9:30pm), The Office (Thurs. 10/25 9pm), Up All Night (Thurs. 10/25 8:The Office Halloween Season 9 30pm), Ben and Kate (Tues. 10/30 8:30pm), The Neighbors (Wed. 10/24 8:30pm) and The Mindy Project (Tues. 10/30 9:30pm).

The 2012 TV season also provides the chance to see characters from 666 Park Avenue (Sun. 10/28 10pm), Blue Bloods (Fri. 10/26 10pm), Hawaii Five-0 (Mon. 10/29 10pm), and Hart of Dixie (Tues. 10/30 8pm) in Halloween costumes.

And Don’t Forget About the Halloween Specials

If you’re a fan of Byran Fuller’s work (Wonderfalls, Pushing Daises, & Dead Like Me) and why wouldn’t you be, than I highly recommend that you check out NBC’s special presentation of Mockingbird Lane (Fri. 10/26 8pm)This reboot of the Munsters has long been stuck in the Its the Great Pumpkin Charlie Browncreative stages of production, but now with NBC’s decision to air the “pilot” as a Halloween special, it may be all we see of Fuller’s quirky take on this famous family. The potential series stars Jerry O’Connell as Herman Munster, Portia de Rossi as Lily, and Eddie Izzard as Grandpa.

I saved the best for last – It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie BrownABC will air the timeless Halloween classic on the big night, Oct. 31st at 8pm.

Looking for The Simpson’s latest installment of  ‘Treehouse of Horrors‘? Hate to break it to you, but it already aired on October 7th. Look for it on FOX.com, Hulu.com, or OnDemand.
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Nerding Out At New York Comic Con

New York Comic Con Sign

Yesterday morning my friend and I got up super early, hopped on a train bound for the city, and soon thereafter found ourselves immersed into the crazy awesome world that is New York Comic Con.

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Have the Twitter #Hashtags Gone Too Far On TV?

Twitter IconWithin the last two seasons of television I’ve witnessed an explosions of broadcast and network suggested Twitter #hashtags at the bottom of my TV screen. What was once a generally unobtrusive and simple hashtag (usually just a show’s name) has now become full sentences or even tweeting suggestions.

Just take a look at what appeared on the screen during the final musical number of last week’s episode of Glee:

Tweet your fave couple memories with…
#klaine, #brittana, #wemma and #finchel

Tweeting While Watching Television

In general I think its great that many TV fans and networks have embraced Twitter. If I happen to be watching live TV I enjoy the ability to participate in the Twittersphere watercooler discussion. Plus, just about every TV show has their own Twitter account and some networks even encourage actors and creators to live-tweet during new episodes.

So for TV addicts like myself, Twitter is a great way to enhance the TV watching experience, but I’m less enthused about the increased use of suggested hashtags. If you aren’t watching live TV, but happen to check Twitter during primetime, it isn’t hard to be spoiled. Also, it seems like an overt attempt at steering the online conversation by the TV network.

I understand network suggested Twitter hashtags provide shows with more opportunities to have trending topics (something The CW would be proud of) while also providing fans with a unifying hashtag to tweet with, but to me its the equivalent of using a laugh track – simultaneous distracting and irritating.

Don’t tell me when to laugh, just write a funny script. Same goes for tweeting, if an episode is good (or really bad) it will create its own buzz on Twitter. I don’t need a new hashtag for every scene, just let me watch the show and enjoy the topics of conversation that develop organically from the storyline and characters.

Not to mention the fact that I don’t need anything else taking up space on my TV screen. From the network logo to lower third graphics for upcoming shows, I think there is already enough going on. FOX does an alright job blending their hashtags into the background, but other networks like CBS haven’t learned to be as subtle. The CSI suggested hashtag from this season’s premier episode, #FindRussellsGranddaughter was impossible to ignore in its bold and bright white font.

So what do you think, how do you feel about the increased integration of Twitter hashtags into your TV shows?

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2012 Emmy Winner Wish List

Updated 9/24: Click here to see this year’s Emmy winners, or download the complete winner’s list, which includes all of the unaired and technical categories from: http://www.emmys.tv/awards/64th-primetime-emmy-awards

The 64th Primetime Emmy® Awards air tonight – Sunday, September 23rd, on ABC – so block out a few hours of your evening and enjoy one of the rare moments when we get to see the TV industry award creativity and excellence*.

Also, there are  Emmy drinking games.

Now of course not everyone I am rooting for will win, so before the awards ceremony kicks-off, here are some of my favorites that I think deserve to take home an Emmy.

Emmy Winners If It Were Up To Me

Outstanding Actress In A Comedy Series

Zoey Deschanel, New Girl
Lena Dunham, Girls
Edie Falco, Nurse Jackie
Tina Fey, 30 Rock
Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Veep
Melissa McCarthy, Mike & Molly
Amy Poehler, Parks and Recreation

Parks and Recreation should have been nominated for best comedy series, but it wasn’t, so the only way the Academy  can make up for pulling a Jerry is to give props to Amy Poehler’s brilliant work as Leslie Knope.

Outstanding Supporting Actor In A Comedy Series

Ed O’Neill, Modern Family
Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Modern Family
Ty Burrell, Modern Family
Eric Stonestreet, Modern Family
Max Greenfield, New Girl
Bill Hader, Saturday Night Live

In order to avoid a Modern Family free-for-all I am totally pulling for Max Greenfield. The first season of the New Girl may have been uneven, but Greenfield’s Schmidt was a consistent source of humor and he managed to keep the character likable despite being the biggest contributer to the douchebag jar.

Outstanding Reality Show Host

Tom Bergeron, Dancing With the Stars
Cat Deeley, So You Think You Can Dance
Phil Keoghan, The Amazing Race
Ryan Seacrest, American Idol
Betty White, Betty White’s Off Their Rockers

Betty White is probably the favorite in this category because she can do no wrong, but I whole heartily want Cat Deeley to win. She is an integral part of So You Think You Can Dance and each season she makes personal connections with the contestants, keeps the show on time, bails out incompetent guest judges when they are at a loss for words, and is funny. Also, have you seen her wardrobe?

Outstanding TV Miniseries or Movie

American Horror Story
Game Change
Hatfields & McCoys
Hemingway and Gellhorn
Luther
Sherlock: A Scandal in Belgravia

In this category I am pulling for the BBC’s Luther, mostly because I am hoping there will be more episodes and because I think more people should watch it.

So those are my top picks, who are you hoping to see win tonight?

*For the sake of not going into a rant, I’m going to largely ignore the selective and repetitive nomination process that is often frustrating.

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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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