thoughts on pop culture

2009 Fall Preview – Thursday

courtesy FX Network

courtesy FX Network


Much like Wednesdays, my Thursday schedule is packed full, with 12.5 hours of programming. Unlike Wednesday, I don’t expect many of Thursday’s shows to wither on the vine.

ABCGrey’s Anatomy and Private Practice stay in the same slots as last year, with Grey’s premiering tonight and Practice joining on October 1st. The new entry from the alphabet network is an apparent attempt to give us Lost fans something to care about until the final season premieres in January. Based on Robert J. Sawyer’s novel, FlashForward’s premise is certainly interesting–a shared vision of the future causes people to question the concept of destiny and whether or not they can change their paths. I’m mostly intrigued by the talented cast, which includes Joseph Fiennes (Shakespeare in Love), Courtney B. Vance (Law & Order), Dominic Monaghan (Lost), Sonya Walger (Lost), and John Cho (Harold & Kumar), to name a few. I’ve heard the show doesn’t delve quite deep enough for some early critics, but I think that means the show has a much better chance at winning a large audience than Lost ever did, with its complex mythology. Look for an in-depth review of the premiere episode that aired tonight once I get a chance to watch it this weekend.

CBS – A seriously awesome trio of returning series cover the CBS Thursday lineup including the 19th edition of Survivor, this time in Samoa. CSI keeps its standard spot on the schedule, and now The Mentalist joins in for its sophomore season. At first, I was pissed that they moved Jane and the gang to such a crowded night, but now I see the genius. Private Practice is no match for The Mentalist, FOX doesn’t play in the 10/9 time slot, and Leno doesn’t stand a chance. I can see the CBS press releases now, celebrating their huge ratings victory.

Comedy Central – My love of Tosh.0 is no secret. I’m thrilled Comedy Central ordered more episodes, and I’m confident that Daniel Tosh will continue to bring the funny. There certainly is no shortage of moronic web video to fill his show. New episodes begin on October 8th.

CWI hated Twilight. The only reason I watched the entire movie is so no one could accuse me of giving up before “the best part”. As far as I’m concerned, the best part would have been if vampire guy had let the girl get crushed in the school parking lot 20 minutes in. When I first read the synopsis for The Vampire Diaries, I thought it would probably just be Twilight: The Series, but I’m thrilled to see these vamps don’t sparkle or play baseball in the rain. The series premiered on September 10th, but it’s not too complicated to join midstream.

FX – What’s the funniest current show on television? That’s a tough question to answer, but for me I think the answer is It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, which has now entered its fifth season. Based on the premiere last week, it’s lost none of its edge.  FX attempts to round out the rest of the hour starting October 29th, when The League premieres. I’m not sure what the title implies for you, but I was surprised to find out this show focuses not on superheroes or villains, but a group of guys and their fantasy football league. It certainly sounds more believable than last year’s Testees, and I have faith that FX wouldn’t buy into just any old sitcom.

FOXFringe baby! The first season left us wanting so much more, so I was thrilled when FOX had the brains to renew this kickass trip through the multiverse. If you’re interested in all kinds of details on the show, I recommend a trip to, While you’re there, be sure to keep an eye out for Adam Morgan’s weekly episode recaps, which are great for catching up if your DVR screwed you and you missed one.

LifetimeProject Runway premiered back in August, and continues airing its nearly-lost season on its new network. There are some seriously talented designers this year, and I would definitely recommend tuning in, especially now that some of the really shitty folks are gone. Personally, I’m looking forward to the next season, which will be able to air on time now that Lifetime is through with all the legal battles it took to win the show.

NBC – Joel McHale stars in Community, the only new show being added to NBC’s Thursday lineup–filling the hole left by last year’s dreadful Kath & Kim. The show premiered last week and my full review can be found here. Returning series include SNL Weekend Update Thursday, Parks & Recreation, The Office, and 30 Rock. Everything premiered last week, with the exception of 30 Rock, which joins the schedule on October 15th after SNL transitions off the schedule.


September 24, 2009 Posted by | Banished, Comedy, Drama, Internet, New Series, Premiere, Reality, Renewed, Scifi, Technology, Television | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on 2009 Fall Preview – Thursday

Community Episode 1: Pilot

Despite my aggravation with The Peacock, I’m happy to report that at least one of their new shows left me wanting more. The pilot episode of Community has shown us that fast-paced, smart comedy did not end when Arrested Development was cancelled. Keep in mind, the similarity between the two is no accident, considering Anthony and Joe Russo have been at the helm for both.

Joel McHale turns in a good performance as smarmy lawyer Jeff Winger, and The Daily Show’s John Oliver is a lot of fun as Jeff’s former client and college faculty member Duncan. The cast is rounded out with Chevy Chase (who is great, but I’m not sure will be content to be a bit player) and a host of fresh faces. One of those faces belongs to Danny Pudi, whose short list of credits includes appearances on ER, The West Wing, Gilmore Girls, Greek, and the recent direct-to-dvd sequel, Road Trip: Beer Pong. Pudi stole the spotlight in this pilot episode, and in the process gave us one hell of a Judd Nelson impression.

The next few weeks will paint the full picture, but at this point the ratings outlook is good, especially considering McHale & company held over 90% of the 18-49 demographic from their lead-in, The Office. As long as creator Dan Harmon and his writing staff can figure out how to let each member of this ensemble shine, I think Community has an excellent shot at filling the fourth spot in NBC’s Thursday comedy lineup.

The Onion A.V. Club has a great interview with McHale here.

September 20, 2009 Posted by | Comedy, Comedy, dvd, Home Video, Movies, New Series, Premiere, Television | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Better YouTube Filter: Web Soup or Tosh.0?

Despite all the hours I spend on the computer each week, I do my best not to get sucked down the ultimate web time warp, YouTube.  Understand, I don’t think YouTube is stupid or pointless, I just know that intending to watch one video often ends two hours later with very little to show for it. Just pulling up a few of the clips that were mentioned this week almost led me down the rabbit hole. This has inspired my quest to find a filter to do this for me, leaving me with only the videos that are actually entertaining. Enter Web Soup and Tosh.0.

Web Soup (G4, Sundays 9/8c, premieres June 7th)  
From the creators of The Soup, this show features Chris Hardwick instead of Joel McHale, and is focused specifically on web video instead of Tyra Banks and Flavor Flav. Not surprisingly, the style of humor on the show is very similar to it’s mother-program. I’ve seen Hardwick on other shows, including a recent appearance on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, and he actually seems much less comfortable on his own show than he does as a guest on someone else’s program. Sure, it could have been pilot jitters, but that’s what the editing room is supposed to be used for. Hardwick notes on his blog that he is not trying to do a McHale impression, and I think that’s true. I take him at face value when he says he’s using the same style he’s had since his first tv gig at MTV in the 90’s. Those MTV/90’s comedy roots are evident. It seems to me that his delivery is a mix of Kurt Loder and Carson Daly, with a hint of Jerry Seinfeld. Frankly, I think loyal viewers of the original don’t need to watch Web Soup since McHale’s version already includes some pretty entertaining web video alongside the latest creepy shit Willard Scott has done. The best call was putting the show on a network other than E!, giving Web Soup a chance to capture a different demographic at G4. You can view the promo video here.

Tosh.0 (Comedy Central, Thursdays 10/9c, premiered June 4th)
Comedian Daniel Tosh is the host of this show, that seems to me like a mashup of The Daily Show and The Soup, but again rooted in web video.  Tosh’s style is a bit more unique than Hardwicke’s, although I’ll admit that could be because I had never seen him before the premiere episode aired. What I really enjoyed about Tosh.0 were the differences in delivery, even on the first episode. Instead of “clip, joke, clip, joke, repeat”, Tosh mixes in an interview with the Afro Ninja as well as his own attempt to complete some of the web’s funniest challenges. It seems the later time slot also allows Tosh to be edgier with his jokes, which appeals to me as well. The Afro Ninja spot is available on the website if you missed it. 

I’m sure it’s no surprised based on my comments that I have decided to keep Tosh.0 on my DVR playlist and drop Web Soup. Ultimately, I think each person’s choice will depend on which host appeals best to their sense of humor.

Afro Ninja

Cinnamon Challenge

June 7, 2009 Posted by | New Series, Premiere, Reality, Technology, Television | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment