Monday, October 21, 2013

Television's Amusements of the Week (10/13-10/19)

Most weeks, a handful of amusing moments from TV shows stick out at me. Sometimes these moments are intentional; many times they're not. Regardless of their intent, here are five that caught my eye last week.

1) Silas Goes Greek (The Vampire Diaries)

Ancient Greece Silas Two Thousand Years Ago from Vampire Diaries
The flashback styling on The Vampire Diaries never fail to amuse me, but Silas's ancient Greek style might take the cake for funniest costuming yet. Forget the outfit; the curls alone would have earned this moment a spot on the list.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Early Previews of Fall 2013 TV Pilots

For the past several television seasons, a number of shows have released their pilots online prior to the shows' actual premiere dates. These pilots tend to sporadically pop up over a period of weeks. So to make things easier for you, I'll be keeping a running list of the 2013 fall pilots you can preview before their television premieres.

Early Pilot Previews
Bonus

You can also watch The Mindy Project's second season opener a week before its premiere date Tuesday September 17th.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Who's laughing now?: The use of laugh tracks on broadcast television last season

Laugh tracks have their fair share of critics. They're often derided as outdated, obnoxious and even insulting to the audience's intelligence. Yet it's hard to argue that they're a relic of the past when the highest rated comedy this past season, The Big Bang Theory, heavily features one. Given these conflicting sentiments, I thought it would be interesting to examine the use of laugh tracks on television last season.

Before I get to the laugh track breakdown, I'd like to make a few clarifications about the data I used. First of all, I only examined live action comedies on the big five U.S. broadcast networks. Second, the shows used are from the past 2012-2013 TV season (including mid-season shows that aired at least one episode), not from the upcoming 2013-2014 season. Finally, by using the term "laugh track" I'm referring to both canned and audience laughter.


Here's a chart demonstrating the split between comedies with laugh tracks and those without them.
Pie Chart of Laugh Tracks in Comedies in 2012-2013

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Review: Man of Steel

The following review, while containing no major spoilers, may reveal some plot details. If you’ve yet to see the movie, read at your own risk. 

Man of Steel has been a divisive movie. A quick look at the movie's Rotten Tomatoes scores reveals a pretty big gap between critics' (56% fresh) and the general audience's (82% fresh) scores. Even within the two groups, reactions range from awesome to awful. But I think we can all agree on one thing: Henry Cavill is a very attractive man.

There’s some enjoyment in just watching an attractive man on the big screen, and Henry Cavill certainly provides that. With a dashing performance and good looks, Cavill is the perfect Superman, and that’s a pretty big part of the puzzle when you’re making a superhero movie. However, it’s not the only piece of the puzzle, and Man of Steel falters when it came to some of the other pieces.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

7 Reasons to Watch Hannibal

I'll admit it; Hannibal sounded like a terrible idea for a TV show. A prequel to Silence of the Lambs?  Really? Upon hearing the premise, I rolled my eyes and prepared myself for some snark upon its premiere. Then I read that Bryan Fuller was the creator. And it was starring Hugh Dancy. And then an intriguing trailer was released. And then positive reviews started rolling in.

So I entered the pilot with pretty positive expectations, but even so, I've been blown away by how good Hannibal is. Not only is it absorbingly entertaining, but it's also a really high quality show. Rather than just focusing on Hannibal the cannibal (Mads Mikkelsen), the show also pushes Will Graham (Hugh Dancy) to the forefront as a special agent to the FBI who uses his ability to empathize with murders to help solve their crimes. Hannibal serves as Will's unofficial psychologist, helping him deal with the emotional toll of the job. The dual leads provide variety to the show and have led to a far more interesting story arc than I'd expected.

Unfortunately Hannibal's ratings haven't correlated with its quality. For some reason, a lot of people just aren't watching. If you're one of these people, I'm here to convince you why you should start watching.

However, I will give one caveat; if you can't handle gore, don't watch Hannibal. It's such an excellent show that I don't mind a little bit of cringing, but if you're easily grossed out, Hannibal probably isn't the show for you. That being said, if you can handle some gore, Hannibal is excellent and well worth your time for many reasons including these seven.

1) It's visually beautiful.

Gina Torres as Bella Crawford in therapy with Hannibal

Friday, February 1, 2013

4 of the Worst Wigs on TV This Season

If you've read much of this blog, you've probably come to realize that I love to make fun of things. One of the things I've enjoyed laughing at this television season is bad wigs. I'm definitely no hair expert, so if I've managed to notice someone wearing a wig, it's got to be pretty bad. I've put together a short list of some of the latest fake hairdos I've enjoyed mocking.

1. Carrie Bradshaw from The Carrie Diaries
AnnaSophia Robb as Carrie Bradshaw from The Carrie Diaries in curly hair wig
"What? This one's not that bad," you may say. Don't worry. I thought I'd ease into some of the more horrific hair. Carrie's bouncy curls from The Carrie Diaries pilot looked notably different by the second episode. That's because Carrie's wig first made its appearance then. Admittedly, the wig looks okay enough to me in some scenes (although see my "definitely no hair expert" comment above), but when it's clearly standing apart from her scalp, as in the still above, it's hard to take it seriously.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Some Thoughts on The Following 1x01, "Pilot"

If you're planning to watch The Following but haven't yet, this isn't the review for you. There are spoilers in this post for the first episode, and it doesn't contain a rehash of the show's plot. If you have watched the first episode, please read along and share your thoughts.

Even though the trailers weren't particularly appealing to me, I was excited for The Following. The premise of a serial killer leading a cult intrigued me, the show seemed to generate a fairly positive buzz early on (although that buzz has become more divisive in the past few weeks), and most of all, Kevin Williamson, known for Scream and The Vampire Diaries is the show's creator.

The Following wasn't as original as I was hoping it would be (especially given Scream's fresh take on the horror genre), but I feel like it's still different from a lot of shows on television at the moment. In fact, it had a cinematic feel to it. The show is largely a crime thriller, but it also has a dash of horror movie in its DNA. The scene where Kevin Bacon's Ryan Hardy searches for Sarah in her house and then her neighbors' house genuinely held me in suspense. While I suppose it could veer off into disjointed follower of the week stories, The Following appears as if it's going to stick largely to an cohesive and overarching story of Joe Carroll and his followers. If so, the shortish episode order (I believe the promo said fourteen or fifteen episodes) could lead to an solid, connected story told in weekly increments.