HEAD TO HEAD: 2 Broke Girls vs. New Girl

Written by Hunter Phillips on . Posted in TV

Every so often, we’ll take a look at two similar shows, old or new, and discuss their respective merits and flaws. This week, two new comedies centered around young, hip girls — FOX’s New Girl and CBS’s 2 Broke Girls. Next week, we’ll pit The Playboy Club and Pan Am against one another.

I think I’m over Zooey Deschanel. I know it’s blasphemous to say, and I’ll risk the little credibility I have, but she just doesn’t do it for me anymore. In 2009, sure, I would have fallen head over heels for a pilot starring everyone’s favorite Manic Pixie Dream Girl. But that was then, and this is now. We’re two years past the storm of Zooey-related fervor surrounding 500 Days of Summer, and whatever goodwill she had after that has been completely lost on me while watching FOX’s New Girl.

If only New Girl were the only pilot this year featuring a would-be indie princess, but alas, we have CBS’s 2 Broke Girls, a show I was admittedly very excited for, in no small part to the wonderful Kat Dennings, who has been relegated to supporting roles for too long and is destined for greatness. 2 Broke Girls won’t get her there.


TV: What Bentley Williams and The Bachelorette Can Teach Us About the Mormon All-Star

Written by Hunter Schwarz on . Posted in TV

The Bachelorette had what host Chris Harrison called “one of the most talked about moments we have ever had” when one of the contestants left the show, leaving bachelorette Ashley Hebert in tears.

Production was almost cancelled when Bentley Williams, a 28-year-old divorced Mormon from Salt Lake City, left the show, saying Hebert wasn’t his type. Williams was considered a frontrunner, winning coveted roses, the tokens necessary to elude elimination, in every episode. Though Hebert wasn’t his type, it didn’t stop Williams from leading her on.

Cheryl Cole Boombox X Factor US Girls Aloud

British Record Artist Cheryl Cole Tapped for U.S. X Factor

Written by Hunter Schwarz on . Posted in Music, TV

British pop star Cheryl Cole will join Simon Cowell on the American X Factor, but what does that mean for her former chart topping and critic charming group Girls Aloud?

British recording artist and U.K. X Factor judge Cheryl Cole has been announced as the third judge on the American edition of X Factor alongside Simon Cowell and record executive L.A. Reid.

It’s doubtless that many people will assume they know who Cheryl Cole is upon hearing her name. She’s the one who dated Lance Armstrong and sang that one song about soaking up the sun, right? Wrong. You’re thinking Sheryl Crow. Although both ladies make music and are known for their high profile relationships and subsequent breakups with professional athletes, the similarities end there.

Cheryl Cole rose to fame in 2002 at the age of 19 as a contestant on the reality singing competition Popstars: The Rivals. The show whittled down contestants to form two groups, the boy band One True Voice, and the girl group Girls Aloud, who competed on the British charts for the coveted Christmas No. 1 spot. One True Voice released a predictable and boring reality show single, while Girls Aloud dropped the most inventive reality show coronation song ever – “Sound of the Underground.”


TV: Sheen’s Antics Are Good for Men

Written by Jim Dalrymple on . Posted in TV

This week, CBS finally terminated its contract with Two and a Half Men lead Charlie Sheen. The move officially sends the Sheen cash cow to the slaughter house, but ultimately may prove to be the savviest way to end the show while taking it to a larger audience. In fact, the entire debacle may prove to be more beneficial to both Sheen and CBS than anything hatched by even the best celebrity handlers and PR reps out there.While the future of Two and a Half Men remains unclear — CBS may decide to replace Sheen — its glory days are now clearly behind it. Whether that would have been the case if Sheen hadn’t begun his strange, downward spiral, we’ll never know. But in any case, the time was probably right for a change. The show has aired for eight seasons, all the while dominating the ratings.And yet, neither I, nor anyone I know, ever watched it. In fact, most people I’ve talked to (not a scientific population sample by any means, but rather a bunch of twenty-somethings) were only vaguely aware the show even existed. Why is that?

Jersey Riviera: Will Anyone Notice the MTV Housemates in Italy?

Written by Jim Dalrymple on . Posted in TV

MTV’s recent announcement that the cast of Jersey Shore will head to Italy has brought mostly groans and grimaces from the blogosphere. But what many people may not realize is that crew of self-proclaimed guidos and guidettes has already been in what MTV described as the “birthplace of culture” for some time.

Before last summer, I had never seen Jersey Shore, nor did I even know anyone who watched it (or, at least, who admitted to watching it). Despite the hype and the controversy, it seemed like just another bunch of clowns in a house — entertaining, perhaps, but ultimately pretty boring too.

But then, over the summer, I went on a trip. To Italy. And I got hooked.


TV: Playing Catch Up: The Future of NBC

Written by Hunter Phillips on . Posted in TV

I doubt you remember Andy Richter Controls the Universe. Heck, I doubt anybody does. It was a fairly rote sitcom, unceremoniously cancelled in 2003 for its low ratings, which averaged around 8 million viewers a week. The show aired on FOX, then the fourth-place network in America. (This is a pre-American Idol world, mind you.)

In 2011, NBC’s biggest scripted hit is The Office, which averages, not kidding, 8 million viewers. The number of viewers FOX scoffed at eight years ago are now the champagne wishes of NBC executives, who hold on for dear life to any show with numbers above 4 million.

What happened to the Peacock, the network of Seinfeld, Friends and Cheers? Johnny Carson probably rolls in his grave while his beloved NBC is stuck in fourth place, only ahead of the CW (which, really, is barely a network anyway).

In NBC’s defense, there’s no denying that the TV landscape is markedly different than it was even at the conclusion of Friends in 2004. DVRs and web streaming have made appointment TV obsolete, and American Idol’s best days are still pulling in ratings that would be a disappointment for any top 20 show in the 1990s.


Darkly Dreaming Dexter: Why We Root For A Serial Killer

Written by Chase Larson on . Posted in TV

“I can kill a man, dismember his body and be home in time for Letterman. But knowing what to say when my girlfriend’s feeling insecure … I’m totally lost.”

So laments the protagonist in Showtime’s critically acclaimed Dexter — originally based on Jeff Lindsay’s novel Darkly Dreaming Dexter — one of the most imaginative, entertaining and haunting shows on television.

From its intoxicatingly visceral opening title sequence and accompanying score to the haunting end credits, Dexter has held widespread appeal. Originally premiering in 2006, the show has garnered a record-breaking audience of millions, resulting in multiple awards and nominations  — as well as some naturally apropos criticism from naysayers. I’m a latecomer to the macabre cult bandwagon, which just wrapped up its fifth season. (I recently finished the second).

For those of you heretofore unfamiliar with the show, here’s a brief description, faster than you can say, “Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there.”


American Idol To Release Greatest Hits Album, Remind America How Much It’s Underperformed

Written by Hunter Schwarz on . Posted in Music, TV

‘American Idol’ plans to release a greatest hits album despite the fact that very few ‘Idol’ artists have made an impact on the charts. Season One winner Kelly Clarkson is an exception. Clarkson has scored two No. 1s and eight top ten hits since winning the show in 2002.

American Idol is celebrating a decade of television dominance by releasing a greatest hits album. The album features songs by the winners of each season, as well as songs from some of the more successful contestants who didn’t take home the Idol crown. Although there are some big hits on the compilation, a scan through the track listing is a painful reminder of how American Idol‘s alumni have severely underperformed.

Don’t blame the show though. Idol has been a ratings juggernaut ever since it debuted in 2002. For six of the past nine seasons, in fact, it was the No. 1 show on television. You sure can’t tell that from the 12-track album. Here are the songs:


Reigning Over Glee: Why Kings of Leon Were Right to Turn Down Ryan Murphy

Written by Jim Dalrymple on . Posted in TV

This week Glee creator Ryan Murphy lashed out at indie superstars Kings of Leon for declining the show’s request to use their song “Use Somebody.” In addition to calling the band names and sounding like a spoiled three-year-old, Murphy made one curious and bizarre accusation: by turning down the chance to have a song on Glee, Kings of Leon hate arts education.

Brushing aside the obvious — that Glee is a for-profit TV show, not a school or charity — Murphy’s temper tantrum surprised me. After all, I genuinely never thought Glee was an altruistic endeavour to promote the arts. The mean-spirited characters, all the screen time spent on personal drama, and the perky-but-bitter tone led me to believe the show was aiming for satire, not didacticism. If it genuinely wanted to promote the arts, there are a lot of things it could do, but showing sexy twenty-somethings playing teenagers being mean to each other isn’t one of them.

Of course, there’s no doubt that Glee might make someone want to sing (or that it can be a fun watch). But how is it any better at that mission than other programs, like High School Musical? In fact, the satirical character of the show probably renders it less effective in that regard than more straight-faced media about the arts. I’d rather watch Glee than High School Musical any day, but I also wouldn’t necessarily use it as a marketing tool for the arts. In the end, if Glee exists just to hook people on singing, then it is truly an epic failure.

Parks and Rec

TV: The Brilliance of Parks and Recreation Returns

Written by Meg Walter on . Posted in TV

Parks and Recreation is returning to NBC tonight. This is great news.

I don’t know why it was ever missing from the Thursday night line-up. And I really don’t understand why Outsourced deserved air time while Parks and Rec was shoved into the abyss of short-lived shows.

Outsourced is abhorrently dumb. Parks and Rec is smart. Maybe not smart in the Arrested Development manner to which we television snobs have become accustomed — where every line of dialogue is a double entendre and every character is someone else and we have to chart which joke lines up with which former episode, etc. Instead, Parks and Rec is smart in its simplicity.