Fall TV 2014

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I know we’re still a little ways away from the beginning of the fall TV season, but I figured it’s as good a time as any to write about what I’ll be watching this upcoming season. While some of last year’s picks ultimately ended up being disappointing (I’m looking at you, “Mom” and “Once Upon a Time in Wonderland,”) here’s my best effort at predicting what I’ll be watching live, what I’ll be DVR-ing, and, most importantly, what will be entertaining me for the 2014-2015 TV season. One other note: this is just for broadcast (i.e. traditional network) shows. That’s why, say, “True Detective” season two or stand-bys like “The Soup” or “Last Week with John Oliver” or “The Daily Show” won’t make the list.

Sunday

What I’ll Watch Live: Once Upon a Time, NFL Football

What I’ll DVR: The Simpsons, Mulaney, Family Guy, Brooklyn 99

I am an admitted “Once Upon a Time” fan. Last season, the show had two half-season story arcs: a journey to Neverland to battle the evil Peter Pan, and the Storybrooke crew fighting The Wicked Witch. While the show is never going to mean as much to me (or be as well-written or well-executed) as LOST, it’s still a show I enjoy week-in, week-out, that rewards longtime viewers. As for FOX’s Sunday comedy block, Brooklyn 99 was my favorite new comedy last year; it’s a show that really clicked early on, and gained momentum as the season went on. Besides Andy Samberg’s Jake Peralta, the rest of the cast shines, but especially Andre Braugher and Chelsea Peretti.

As for “Mulaney,” having seen him do stand-up and with the knowledge that he created Stefon, he’s earned a season pass on the DVR, even if that first trailer looked rough. Besides, anybody who can write this Girl Scout Cookies monologue has my undying admiration:

https://screen.yahoo.com/weekend-john-mulaney-girl-scout-000000179.html

And “The Simpsons” and “Family Guy”? They’ve been on the air, what, a combined seventy-five years? (Approx.) And still deliver laughs. Sundays are going to be great for comedy.

Monday

What I’ll Watch Live: Gotham, Monday Night Football

What I’ll DVR: Big Bang Theory [until it moves to Thursdays at the end of October]

Wow, Mondays do not look promising. I know many people will watch “Dancing with the Stars,” “The Blacklist,” “The Voice,” and “Sleepy Hollow,” but…yikes. Not for me. Instead, I’m really looking forward to “Gotham.” Let’s be honest: when you are looking to make a TV show, and toss in Ben McKenzie, Gotham City, and multiple origin stories? Yeah, I’m there.

“Big Bang Theory” is the TV equivalent of comfort food, but I always enjoy it, and to have a few saved on the DVR makes for perfect Saturday-afternoon TV viewing.

Tuesday

What I’ll Watch Live: Selfie, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

What I’ll DVR: Marry Me, New Girl, Mindy Project

I really loved Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s last few episodes, especially they way they tied into the events happening in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (after Captain America 2). Bill Paxton as The Clairvoyant, Agent Ward as a HYDRA spy, the uncertainty surrounding Nick Fury and Fitz and Simmons…all much more enjoyable plot threads than the first few episodes, which were spent dodging the question of whether or not Coulson was a Life Model Decoy. Anyway, a show that, now that it’s entering its second season, I know what it will provide week-in and week-out. As for “Selfie,” I watched the pilot and, while I didn’t live it, the show’s creator Emily Kapnek was the showrunner on “Suburgatory,” a show I loved. Plus, John Cho. “Marry Me” has Casey Wilson, who I loved on “Happy Endings,” and Ken Marino, who I thought was contractually bound to always work with David Wain. The show is from the showrunner of “Happy Endings” (who is engaged to Wilson in real life). Should be funny.

I loved “New Girl” in its first two seasons, but last year was rough, to say the least. With “Mindy Project”, I have high hopes for it, but the show has to stop shuffling cast members and guest stars and figure out what show it wants to be. Both will still be in heavy rotation on my DVR, but I’d like to see both be more consistently funny.

Wednesday

Literally nothing.

No, seriously. Take a look at this schedule:Screen Shot 2014-08-30 at 10.01.51 PM

The best show might be “Black-ish.” You could talk me into “Red Band Society,” possibly. And that “Mysteries of Laura” show? Oof. Here’s the trailer. Never have I not wanted to watch something more. It looks like a bad SNL sketch:

By the way, here’s where I remind you that NBC cancelled “Awake,” one of the best dramas I’ve ever seen, and greenlights things like “Mysteries of Laura.”

Thursday

What I’ll Watch Live: NFL Football

What I’ll DVR: Grey’s Anatomy, A to Z, How to Get Away with Murder

Grey’s is also just comfort food at this point – I don’t really like many of the characters, it’s sometimes too soapy for words, and there’s rarely a plot twist I haven’t seen coming hundreds of miles away. That said, it too makes for fine viewing on a cold Saturday when I don’t feel like leaving my couch. “How to Get Away with Murder” looks like one of the more promising new shows, with star Viola Davis as a law professor with a potential dark side.

As for “A to Z,” I watched the pilot and found it incredibly charming (I’ve embedded it below). It’s got a lot in common with “(500) Days of Summer,” especially given the close-ended nature of the central relationship. But I’m going to give it a shot. However, if the showrunners kill off Cristin Milioti like “How I Met Your Mother” did, I will be very upset.

http://www.nbc.com/a-to-z/video/a-to-z-pilot/2804273

Also, let me just bemoan the fact that “Parks and Rec” won’t be airing until winter 2015. I’m going to miss that show.

Friday

What I’ll Watch Live: Masterchef Junior

Kidding. Made the same joke last year. Will hopefully have social plans. Nothing worth DVRing on this night anyway.

Saturday

What I’ll DVR: Saturday Night Live

Even after a down season, this show still provides laughs in its best sketches. And I have high hopes for last year’s breakout stars Kyle Mooney and Beck Bennett.

https://screen.yahoo.com/beer-pong-090000354.html

Other Notables:

Whenever “Community” premieres on Yahoo; “The Cosmopolitans” on Amazon, assuming it gets picked up (because any show with Adam Brody deserves my full attention).

https://screen.yahoo.com/community-sizzle-reel-203225340.html

Any shows you think I missed? Shows that I just shouldn’t be watching? Be sure to leave a comment.

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Quick and Dirty Emmy Predictions

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I don’t care much for the Emmy’s, especially because the lion’s share of what I watch rarely gets nominated (and because it’s hard to root for an academy that failed to recognize Steve Carrell as Michael Scott, Jon Hamm as Don Draper or Jason Alexander as George Costanza). But I’ll certainly be watching (and live tweeting! @jacobsjj), and here are my quick picks. Unlike with my Oscar picks, I’m not going to do a “who will win, who should win, who I hope to win” type of break-down. I’m going to give you who I would vote for, period. Please not that these predictions aren’t likely to come to fruition, and are made based on my subjective, irrational like or dislike of the various nominees. Continue reading

RIP, Robin Williams

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As readers of this site can probably guess, some of my favorite childhood memories are being in a dark movie theater, watching something magical take place on screen. It was a common occurrence for a friend’s parents to take a group of us out to the movies to celebrate, say, a friend’s 8th birthday. In this case, the friend was Peter Borden. That’s how I found myself staring at Robin Williams as Peter Banning (nee Peter Pan) in “Hook”.

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It was only later on that I would truly appreciate the brilliance of the pre-Hook Williams: his rise to prominence as Mork from Ork: his stunning performance in Good Morning, Vietnam; and, of course, how he taught the young students how to seize the day in Dead Poets Society:

His dramatic turn astounded me in Awakenings, and then, as many kids my age did, I fell for his comedy full-bore when he voiced the Genie in Aladdin:

Williams followed up Aladdin with a movie that is very important to my family. Every year during the week of Thanksgiving, we would go see a movie, and the movie that started that tradition was Mrs. Doubtfire.

(That “hot flashes” line has been repeated many times at my house)

While Hank Azaria (in my opinion) stole the show, Robin Williams put on a masterclass of comedy in The Birdcage:

Absent one prominent role (which I’ll get to in a moment), Mr. Williams’s detours into dramatic acting was hit-or-miss for me. Jakob the Liar, Patch Adams, What Dreams May Come, One Hour Photo, and Insomnia all seemed to be attempts to justify the Oscar he had won years earlier, but failed to connect with me. Truthfully, much of his later work left me unenthused: outside of his work as Eisenhower in “Lee Daniels’ The Butler,” and Teddy Roosevelt in the “Night at the Museum” films, I can’t think of a film of his in recent years that I’ve thoroughly enjoyed. (Although, maybe if he had continued to play only presidents, that trend wouldn’t have held.)

Still, his career is more than his list of credits. He was a frequent (and funny) guest on the David Letterman show – he was the first guest on the show in 2008, after the writers’ strike, and he also welcomed Dave back in 2000 shortly after Letterman’s quintuple bypass surgery by dressing as one of Dave’s doctors.

You also know you’ve made it when SNL and its alumni have a go-to impression of you, and in Robin Williams’s case, the honor fell to Jimmy Fallon:

Keen-eyed viewers can tell that I have omitted one important role from discussing Mr. Williams: His role as Sean Maguire in “Good Will Hunting.” Not only is this the second-best movie to come out while I was in high school, it’s a movie I’ve seen countless times. It’s also, arguably, Williams’s best-known role, and the role for which he won an Oscar. Remember what I said earlier, about being in a dark theater and watching something magical take place? That, for me, was the entirety of Good Will Hunting, and specifically each and every scene that Williams was in.

Of course, the greatest irony is that the most memorable and iconic scene involves Williams’s character counseling Matt Damon’s Will, telling him repeatedly “It’s not your fault.”

While unconfirmed at this point, media reports state that Mr. Williams has died from an apparent suicide. If true, I only wish that Mr. Williams had someone in his life who could tell him it’s not his fault, who could remind him to seize the moment, who could demonstrate the wish-granting ability of the Genie or the ability to believe in happy thoughts like Peter Pan.

And while I can’t do that for him, I can at least share the number of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255. I don’t know all of you who read my blog, and I can’t imagine to know what Mr. Williams (or anyone else) struggled with on a daily basis. But the world deserved to hear more verses from Mr. Williams, to have a chance to see what other magic he had up his sleeve.

People Robin Williams

 

The Magnificent Seven

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I was texting with my friend Kevin last night, and he asked me what my favorite movie of 2014 was. Not best movie, mind you, but my favorite. And the sad thing is, after a summer filled with some real promise, there haven’t been that many entertaining movies (and I think the ledger tilts in favor of comedy, at least so far). So, without further ado, let’s talk about my seven favorite movies of 2014. Please feel free to tell me how wrong I am in the comments below. Continue reading

Another day, another sequel (UK Office Edition)

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Reports have surfaced that there will now be a standalone film sequel to the UK version of The Office. The movie will show Ricky Gervais’s character fifteen years after he’s left Slough, and will be a sort of “where are they now?”

While I’m sure Mr. Gervais can wring some humour out of more David Brent, the question is do we want to see it? For my money, this ending was pitch-perfect:

Seth Meyers had Ricky Gervais on his show recently, and even complimented him on ending “The Office” perfectly. So why go back to the well, other than a cash grab? Is there really more story to tell?

Parenthetically, I found the American version to be lacking in quality as soon as Jim and Pam got together. Three seasons of build-up led to a fantastic moment:

But the last few seasons had diminishing returns, in part because the tension between Jim and Pam was gone…until they shoe-horned in unnecessary drama for the last season.

So, now what? Will we see Tim and Dawn having issues? Will Gareth be a featured player? Or will this sequel be 90 minutes of David Brent? None of these sound particularly intriguing to me (Ed. Note: Yes, I know he has revived the David Brent character before. Short, Youtube-only videos don’t seem to be the same thing as a full-blown movie, or even another TV special, at least in my opinion). This may warrant a longer post down the road, but I wish I could call a moratorium on sequels, at least for a little while. While some sequels can outdo the original (Empire Strikes Back, Godfather Part II, X-2 – gosh, who ever puts those three movies together in a sentence?), they are exceptions proving the rule.

Of course, the irony of all of this is that David Brent never, ever, ever knew when to leave well enough alone. I loved the UK version’s awkward and cringe-worthy humor. I just don’t want to be cringing in a movie theater, wishing they had followed the advice of some other famous Brits and simply let it be.