FRIDAY ROUNDUP! (June 2010, wk 5)

Every other week this summer, The Signal will be offering up a Friday Roundup: a collection of mini-reviews, TV news, interesting links and varying television-related thoughts that weren’t big enough to merit a full post on their own.

Reviews, Thoughts and Other Ruminations

Drop Dead Diva: I’ve seen the first four episodes of season 2, and the show’s doing the same thing as season one, exactly as well. Still enjoying the cast and the stories revolving around them. Fred as Kim’s assistant is a brilliant move, placing him right in the middle of the action; so is pairing Kim and Parker, as they have more chemistry than any pair the show’s attempted so far. The opening scene of 2.03 is the best the show’s had, as Stacy tries to lure her two crazy-busy roommates into some breakfast as they both rush out the door. Funny, sweet, and fast. Good, stable show.

Aliens in America: Been watching old episodes of this show this week, and reminding myself why it’s one of my favourite shows of the past few years. Hilarious writing, perfectly cast, and sentimental as anything. Wonderful stuff. 1.07, “Purple Heart”, remains one of my favourite comedic episodes ever. It’s funny, sweet, and perfectly on-tone with the rest of the show.

Hung: After reading the reviews of the second season opener, I expected to feel bored and frustrated by it. Instead, I found the two Janes, Thomas and Adams, to be largely more charming than they were in late season one. I like what they’re doing with Ray and Jessica, oddly enough, and the inclusion of Lenore is a good move. I think, even as the show becomes critically lambasted, I’m enjoying it more. I do hope they begin to move things forward; I wish they had more than just 10 episodes a season with which to work.

Huge: Excellent pilot, headed by the charming Nikki Blonsky, whose lead Will is a breath of fresh air on TV. She’s obstinate, sarcastic, vulnerable and lovable, completely commanding the screen when she steps into it. The show isn’t about pushing fat-shame or body positivity, rather allowing proponents of both sides (Will vs. Dr. Rand) to stand tall. It seems to be a great critique of the beauty standard that damages so many of these girls, who feel invisible or unlovable because of their bodies; and yet, it doesn’t shy away from either the desire to consider oneself beautiful or the health-issues that can exist with eating badly. I hope this one can continue to avoid being an argument solely for either side of the debate, and remain an engaging story about some folks played by excellent actors who otherwise would never be able to get themselves on TV beyond ‘fat sidekick’ roles.

Samantha Who?: Finally watched the last stretch of this show, and it was as good as ever. The Funk arc wasn’t the show’s best, but it worked for what they wanted, and gave the show a perfect final couple of minutes. On one hand, I would’ve really enjoyed a season three that would have likely given Jean Smart plenty of good material, but I also think the finale worked quite well, sadly, given the show’s non-continuance. It had just enough heart and love to work.


Midseason Scramble: First last chances for pilots in contention for midseason was earlier this week, when options on most pilots’ actors were set to run out. DHD’s Nellie Andreeva gives a great breakdown here (DHD 01/07/2010) of the events surrounding the run-up to the expiry. In short… At ABC, cast options were picked up for Wright vs. Wrong (just Debra Messing) and Awkward Situations For Men (star Danny Wallace kept, with Tony Hale and Laura Prepon potentially following), with How to Be a Better American still in the running but having dumped its entire cast after the pilot. At CBS, Mad Love has been picked up for midseason (with Judy Greer stepping in [DHD 26/06/2010] for Lizzy Caplan), while Team Spitzlead Rob Riggle‘s option was picked up; expected big contender Chaos is dead.  Previously, also related to the July 30 option expiry, A&E picked up Breakout Kings, ABC extended Robert Patrick on Edgar Floats and gave them a 6-script order, and Fox extended the cast of Breaking In (including star Christian Slater) while they wait on the 2-script order they gave it.

Canadian Show Pickups: A bunch of shows (Hollywood Reporter, 29/06/2010) have been picked up for the coming season, all from Canada. Here’s a rundown:

  • Blackstone: A drama looking at power and politics on a Native reserve, from creators Ron E. Scott and Gil Cardinal. 8-episode order.
  • X111: A Canada/France co-produced drama about the CIA and a governmental conspiracy from Gil Grant. 13-episode order.
  • Prize or Punishment: Comedy from Kenny Hotz. 6-episode order.
  • Untitled Jason and Ryan Belleville Project: Written by the aforementioned Jason and Ryan Belleville, comedy.8-episode order.
  • Combat Hospital: A big-budget drama about a military hospital in Afghanistan, from Julie Sereny, Jennifer Kawaja and Gub Neal. 13-episode order.
  • King: Female cop drama from Bernie Zukerman and Greg Spottiswood. 8-episode order.
  • Drunk and on Drugs Happy Funtime Hour: Comedy written by and starring Mike Smith, John Paul Tremblay and Robb Wells. 6-episode order.
  • Befriend and Betray, Jack of Diamonds and Rave Squad: Three backdoor pilots that could spawn full series. The first is a crime syndicate drama based on a book about the Hell’s Angels, from Michael Amo. The second is written by Peter Hume. The third is from Josh Kotcheff.

Casting News: Replacing My BoysKyle Howard on NBC’s Perfect Couples is Kyle Bornhemier (DHD 01/07/2010), previously of Worst Week and Romantically Challenged. Emily Van Camp is exiting Brothers & Sisters (Ausiello Files, 30/06/2010), which is a blessing for a good actress tied to a sinking ship. Starz’ series Camelot has added Claire Forlani and Peter Mooney to its cast (DHD 29/06/2010). Steve Carrell announces his exit after the coming season of The Office (Watch With Kristin (28/06/2010)

Party Down is No More: One of my favourite little-comedies-who-could, Party Down, has been cancelled by Starz (Ausiello Files, 30/06/2010), alongside their new comedy Gravity. Start the weeping, and in honour of the show, maybe rewatch “Celebrate Rick Sargulesh” (1.08).

Honesty Not the Best Policy: At least, not for the leads of Pretty Little Liars, who just scored a 12-episode extension to their first season (Mediaweek, 28/06/2010). I gave the show’s pilot a shot, but found my attention waning after 15 minutes, despite being a fan of Lucy Hale‘s work. Here’s hoping the hoards of viewers who love it can keep it a hit.

Interesting Links

Looking at Betty Draper (Open Letters Monthly): A great piece by Laura Tanenbaum on one of Mad Men‘s more polarising central figures. Very interesting look at how Betty fits into history, and what she demonstrates about women of the time.

Slaughterhouse 90210 (Tumblr): As author Maris Kreizman puts it, “Kurt Vonnegut, meet Brenda Walsh.” Daily, Kreizman offers a literary quote attached to a screencap from television, which has more than once brightened my day. It’s a delightful and thoughtful exercise which proves to expand both image and excerpt and tie them together to create almost a mini-essay in their implied connection.

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  1. […] Last Friday Roundup, I gave a breakdown of a handful of new scripted pickups from Canwest Global (Global and Showcase […]

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