My First Look is a new blog series that takes you into the pilot episodes of long-established shows that we missed the first time around.
Watching a show for the first time after it has existed in the public consciousness for over a decade can be a pretty daunting thing. I was always dimly aware of One Tree Hill, or more accurately I was dimly aware of Chad Michael Murray’s cheekbones. Continue reading →
The charming and debonair George Clooney will be the subject of tonight’s Inside the Actor’s Studio with James Lipton. Most people think of him as a dashing international movie star, but some of us still think of him as our TV Boyfriend. Below are some of his dreamiest television roles:
Even though I grew up in Florida, I don’t swim anywhere but swimming pools, because I’m too afraid of sharks. Emily Thorne, the anti-hero of ABC’s smash soap Revenge evidently shares no such fear as she plunges into the water outside her beachfront Hamptons home for her daily swim. Perhaps it’s because she knows she’s the most dangerous thing in the water.
Revenge was a highly buzzed about show at the beginning of the fall TV season, and it has actually managed to live up to its hype. The soap operatic twists and turns are worthy of Melrose Place in its wig-ripping heyday, but even in its over-the-top escalation of stakes each week, it manages to toe the line and avoid slipping into camp. This delicate highwire act has earned the show a loyal audience; it continues to grow in the ratings each week, and has landed on the cover of this week’s Entertainment Weekly .
The doctors of Grey’s Anatomy have been through a lot: surgeries, break-ups, bomb scares and more. On the February 2nd episode of the show, viewers will get a chance to see an alternate reality for their favorite doctors had Ellis Grey never had Alzheimer’s, leading to very different life outcomes for her daughter Meredith. Let’s take a look at other shows that have ventured into “alt-reality” territory.
Always been curious about a particular TV show but don’t really know how best to start? Let our second Series Primer show you the way! (Missed our first primer? Find it here.)
Friends. It’s a show so popular and so classic that virtually every TV aficionado has seen at least one episode. But how many people have actually seen all 10 seasons? Odds are, older generations have seen most or all of the popular sit-com, while those younger folks out there have only seen snippets.
Don’t let the fact that show ended in 2004 deter you from watching one of America’s most beloved sitcoms. Even though some of their outfits in the earlier seasons may be a bit dated, that doesn’t make their jokes any less timeless. So, for those of you who are looking for 86 hours to blow (236 episodes at 22 minutes a pop), let me tell you what you can expect by making friends with Friends.
1. Joey and Chandler Bromance
Joey and Chandler are roommates and best buds. Pairing smart-ass and sarcastic Chandler with the lovable doofus Joey was a brilliant move. These two might be on opposite ends of the clever-continuum, but they’re always willing to go the extra mile for each other. In fact, Joey and Chandler were deeply in bromantic love long before the Internet coined the term. If this show were written in 2010, the writers probably would have made one or both of them gay.
2. Rachel and Ross – I Love You, I Love You Not
You sort of absorb facts about a show simply by being alive. People make popular culture references and, even if you don’t know a thing about a show, you can still puzzle out what people are talking about. Most of us have heard about Ross and Rachel, how they’re the quintessential star-crossed TV lovers – perfect for each other but unable to tie the knot. Rachel is the popular, slightly spoiled hot girl and Ross the geeky nice guy who’s had a crush on her for years. As incredibly cheesy as it sounds (and yes, I understand that it’s cheesier than Wisconsin), you can’t help but sigh, smile, and squeeze your significant other’s hand when these two kiss and make up (even if it is for the fifth time).
Their relationship is so cheesy that there are literally dozens of romantic music videos of them on Youtube. Here’s one that’s set to country!
3. Phoebe and Monica Being Borderline Insane
They writers are awfully light-hearted about it, but make no mistake: there is something clinically wrong with Phoebe and Monica, each in their own, special little way.
The only proper way to describe phoebe is “weird.” She cleanses auras, keeps rat families for pets, mourns Christmas trees, and seem to be utterly oblivious to how bad her singing is. If I’ve learned anything from watching 6 seasons of Criminal Minds, I believe that’s what the FBI calls a “break from reality.”
Monica, on the other hand, is the poster child for obsessive-compulsive disorder. She has an irresistible psychological drive to clean, numbers her mugs to keep them organized, and holds parties just so that she can clean them up afterwards.
4. That Warm, Fuzzy Feeling
You don’t find this too much in modern sit-coms, where a lot of writers aim for cynicism and dysfunction. Friends, however, is a show that is very aptly named. You truly get the sense that these characters are deeply connected by bonds of friendship and will stick by each other through thick and thin.
My girlfriend and I watch television shows for hours on end, running through season after season until we complete an entire series. After 10 seasons of Friends, I was literally, genuinely sad to see them go. In all honesty, it was sensation not unlike saying goodbye to a friend.
Friends will charm you, either through their quirky characters, clever writing, or that warm, fuzzy feeling.
What to Do Next
Test the waters by watching the first 3 or 4 episodes of the first season. It might not be to your tastes, but if it is, those 3 or 4 episodes will quickly turn into 3 or 4 hours, and then 3 or 4 seasons. Friends is a show that’s hard to turn off, for all the right reasons.
“Clerks:TAS” has become something of a cult classic on DVD and late night syndication. The animated version branched out from the original film by showcasing Kevin Smith’s satirical pop culture humor and comic book sensibilities.
This dark update of the 80’s comedy tells the story of a teenage boy who has to deal with the pressures of high school and his secret life as a werewolf. The original movie was a campy sports comedy while the remake has a little more horror that humor.
The series currently hold the record for longest-running primetime drama featuring a predominantly African American cast. Both the series and the film revolve around the Joseph sisters, who undergo many trials and tribulations only to find strength in the bond of family love.
Loosely based on the Academy Award winning film, “Crash” was an ensemble drama that showed how interconnected strangers can be. Unfortunately the series ended before its time when lead actor Dennis Hopper passed away.
Based on the quintessential 90’s teen comedy, “Clueless” brought back a majority of the film’s cast—minus Alicia Silverstone. While the film set out to lampoon shallow 90’s teens, the characters were fortunately a little more down-to-earth in the TV series.
Friday Night Lights
The TV adaptation of the high school football drama only borrows elements from the movie instead of being a complete adaptation. However, its memorable characters and complex drama made it a cult classic when it was continually tossed around the schedule.
“Parenthood” follows the drama in the lives of the Braverman family—a substitute for the film’s Buckman family. The characters may be different, but much of the drama– such as a father dealing with his son’s emotional issues or a mother clashing with a rebellious daughter—is pulled directly from the film.
The Odd Couple
“The Odd Couple” started out as a play before becoming a successful film and then TV show. The premise of adult male roommates with clashing personalities provided a goldmine of comedic moments for this sitcom.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer
“Buffy” was a surprise hit when you consider the original movie was barely memorable. The film that the series is based upon was more of a horror-comedy than the witty butt-kicking fantasy that kept us compelled for seven seasons.
“M*A*S*H” is often considered one of the best television programs in history for its ability to inject humor into the drama of war. The TV show wasn’t the first time audiences were captivated by the antics of these “meatball surgeons” as it was based on a dark comedy directed by Robert Altman.
With Showtime’s Shameless back on TV, the show’s Gallagher family continue their reign as television’s most dysfunctional brood. Here, we take a look at some of TV’s other dysfunctional families, past and present, judging their level of dysfunction and shamelessness on whether we would invite them over for dinner.
I have a friend who is your quintessential film student. The type who loves Ingmar Bergman and Stanley Kubrick and makes the types of films beloved by grim, Eastern European cinema teachers and overwhelmingly confusing to pretty much everyone else. We were chatting on the phone when he informed me that he’d lately taken to watching Jersey Shore. Needless to say, I was shocked. Continue reading →
We’ve all heard the story of a man named Brady, moved on up to the east side and learned the facts of life through TV theme song lyrics. In the early days of television, the theme song of any given TV show might provide you with the entire premise of the plot As long as you heard the theme song, you’d never wonder why Green Acres was the place to be or how the castaways of the S.S. Minnow wound up on Gilligan’s Island.
The TV theme song is quickly becoming a lost art form. Nowadays many TV shows rely on quick title cards with short instrumental accompaniment to save time. Sacrificing a theme song allows producers to have more available time for the show itself, while still allowing for commercial breaks. The theme song from “Lost” wasn’t even a song—it was just one long crescendo with the title flying towards you.
Instrumental themes are a popular choice in modern television programming because they can be easily shortened whenever the producers need to save on time. “The Office” seems to have a multitude of different openings, depending on how much time they need for the episode. Reality shows get away with not needing an opening title sequence because they can rely on narration instead. Even shows about music, like “American Idol” and “Glee” have title cards instead of the full-blown musical numbers they deserve.
Since premium channels are commercial free there is more time for an opening theme, therefore more HBO and Showtime shows have longer title sequences. However, the majority of premium channel programming still relies on instrumental tracks or pre-existing pop music for theme songs, despite the extra time and budget afforded to them to create original pieces.
Theme songs could possibly be disappearing completely from premium channels too. The Showtime series “Weeds” used to play a different version of the folk song “Little Boxes” in almost every episode—for the first few seasons anyway. From the fourth season afterward, the theme has been completely replaced by a shortened title card sequence with no theme music whatsoever.
There still lies some hope for classic TV theme songs in the genre of animation. Adult animated comedies like “Family Guy” and “South Park” keep the tradition going with tongue-in-cheek theme songs reminiscent of yesteryear. Children’s shows also continue to produce catchy theme songs—after all, everybody knows who lives in a pineapple under the sea and how to get to Sesame Street.
Future generations of TV watchers may never get to experience the excitement of a good TV theme song, other than from old reruns. Cherish these moments and these catchy tunes while you still can.
It’s time for your second round of presents from your favorite TV personalities. You got plenty of great gifts in part 1, so let’s see what else is waiting for you under the tree. Unwrap your presents to find out!
1. Dr. House – House
When you want a cure for a rare and bizarre disease, come to Dr. House. When you want to feel good about yourself and hang out with a buddy, keep on walking. House isn’t exactly the friendliest guy you’ll ever meet, but he can still give a decent Christmas gift when the time comes.
Image: Web Timesharejuice
2. SVU Group – Law and Order: SVU
Working the hard crimes of the Special Victims Unit is bound to leave people a little cynical. Luckily, the holidays are all about letting go of some of that negativity to celebrate life and happiness. The crew might get a bit stressed with all of the evil they experience on a daily basis, that hasn’t stopped them from pitching in and buying you a really thoughtful – and useful – stocking stuffer.
3. Elena – Vampire Diaries
Living around a bunch of vampires is a rather exhilarating experience for a sexy young woman. On the one side of the coin, you get to be surrounded by a bunch of smoky, sexy vampire guys. On the flip side is the whole blood sucking thing. That’s kind of a buzz kill. So, how does Elena cope with all of the love triangle drama and remain sane? This year, Elena is sharing with you her personal, secret outlet for all of her pent-up sexual frustration.
4. Jayne – Firefly
Jayne can be a rough and tumble guy, but his heart’s in the right place when it matters (by that, I mean that it’s in the right place if you’ve recently paid him). Any diehard Browncoat knows that Jayne can really pull out all of the stops and give a very thoughtful gift. Just don’t expect to get Vera, his very favorite gun; he doesn’t give away things like that to just anyone.
5. The Soup Nazi – Seinfeld
When you want the best soup in all of New York, get your money ready and go over to the Soup Nazi’s place. Just don’t mess around at the cashier. But don’t worry too much, you’re on his good side! And this year he got you something special.