Pop Cultured Summer 2013 – July

Summer is usually a time reserved for sunshine, beaches, and vacations. For pop culture fans like me, it may mean the end of my regularly scheduled TV programming but the start of a batch of other summertime shows. It also means the air-conditioned movie theaters are filled with the latest blockbusters, and live music abounds at stadiums/arenas/amphitheaters everywhere. So as we continue on with what summer brings us, here’s what I’m looking forward to this month. (Also, Happy Canada Day!)

JULY

I can’t wait for what’s in store in July!! And funny thing is a lot of the things I’m looking forward to all happen within the same week. On July 16th, two of my favourite summer shows are back for their new seasons – Suits and Covert Affairs. Both shows are coming back from their respective game-changing finales that involved revelations and new relationships being made. July 14th marks the return of The Newsroom, the Aaron Sorkin drama that divided critics and audiences alike. Personally, I enjoyed the show last season and though there were some flaws, I found it nice to have some intelligent drama. We also get to enjoy the series premieres of two other shows – The Bridge, starring Diane Kruger and Demian Bachir as two police detectives working together to solve a series of murders plaguing the Texas/Mexico border; and Camp, which stars Rachel Griffiths as the head of a summer camp and the antics that abound (both premiere on July 10th).

Also on July 16th, Sara Bareilles releases her third album, The Blessed Unrest, while Matt Nathanson releases his latest, Last of the Great Pretenders. One of my favourite artists coming out of The Voice is season 2’s Tony Lucca, who having been signed to his coach Adam Levine’s 222 Records is finally releasing an EP (I know ‘finally’ gives off the sense that it’s been a really long time, though in reality it’s only been a year since season 2 aired – not going to lie I’m already starting to feel a little bit of Voice fatigue from this 2 seasons a year thing). On the concert front, I know I’ve mentioned it before but it needs to be said again – the Justin Timberlake and Jay-Z, Legends of the Summer tour kicks off in Toronto on July 17th!!! I changed/modified my travel plans for this concert, because simply put, it’s going to be AWESOME!

On the movie side of things, there aren’t a lot of “big movies” that I’m excited about. There’s Despicable Me 2 (I’ll be honest, I can’t say Despicable Me without saying “IT’S SO FLUFFY!!!”); R.I.P.D, which stars Ryan Reynolds and Jeff Bridges as two cops protecting the living from the dead, seems interesting; and surprisingly, I’m only a little bit excited for The Wolverine, the latest movie starring Hugh Jackman’s X-Men character. The movies that I’m really interested in this month are the smaller movies. The Way, Way Back is a coming-of-age story brought to us by the Oscar-winning screenwriters of The Descendants, Nat Faxon (aka Ben Fox of the late FOX TV series, Ben and Kate) and Jim Rash (aka Dean Pelton of Community). I heard great things about Fruitvale Station, after it premiered at the Sundance Film Festival; it’s the true story of Oscar Grant, and follows his last day before he was tragically shot at the Fruitvale subway stop in the Bay Area. The other movie I’m interested in is The To Do List, which is simply due to the cast involved – Aubrey Plaza, Rachel Bilson, Scott Porter, Donald Glover, Bill Hader, Andy Samberg, Connie Britton, and Clark Gregg.

The pinnacle of July, and what ultimately got affected by JT & Jay-Z announcing their show on July 17th, is my first-time at San Diego Comic-Con! As a pop culture fan, I have spent so many years reading all the news coming out of SDCC, whether it be movie announcements or just some cool stuff having to do with my favourite TV shows, and wishing I was there taking it all in. Well this year, it’s happening! I will be getting my nerd on (no cosplay, I’m not THAT much of a nerd), hopefully getting to see some of my favourite actors/actresses, and experiencing all the craziness that is SDCC. Will I camp out for the infamous Hall H or Ballroom 20? TBD. News has been slowly trickling out as to what shows and movies will be having panels at the Con, prior to the official schedule release on July 4th, but there are some confirmations that have got me excited: new shows Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D (yeah, me and everybody else is excited for this), Sleepy Hollow, and Almost Human; How I Met Your Mother (random, I know, but I still love this show damn it!), Grimm, Arrow and Nikita. The announcement of the Nikita panel is obviously bittersweet – I’m so excited to see pretty much the entire cast (Lyndie Greenwood, who plays Sonya, was the only one not listed in the press release) but it’s a reminder that it’s for the final season. [On another note, how sad is it going to be that I would have to fly out to San Diego to meet the cast, who film the show in Toronto?!] And as part of the SDCC celebrations, I’m so excited for NERDHQ, the nerd gathering run by Zac Levi and The Nerd Machine! Because it is my first time at SDCC, my objective is obviously to have lots of fun and trying to do everything I REALLY want to do/see, but I will try to make note of my experiences and blog about it here.

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2010 Fall TV Season – Week 1 Roundup

Although some TV shows (namely CW shows and a few here and there) had premiered since early on in the month, this past week (beginning Sept. 20) was truly the official start of the fall TV season. In lieu of posting every day for the past week, this is going to be just one big megapost on the first full week of the new season. [Note: this may just end up being my thoughts on the shows than the particular episode that aired]

MONDAY

  • Dancing With The Stars: The 11th season started…and I don’t really care. I think it has a lot to do with the cast this season, which sure, got a lot of people talking but I’m not that excited to be watching it every week. If it wasn’t for the fact that we watch this sort of as a family over dinner, then I’d probably just watch it later and watch my other Monday shows in their actual time.
  • Chuck: It’s so nice to have Chuck back! So at the end of last season, Chuck promised Ellie that he was quitting the spy game for good, but that was before he was sent on a mission from his dad to search for his mom. With this first episode, it really set the story of the season. The Buy More has been rebuilt and is now CIA-operated. Chuck and Morgan are on the search for Chuck’s mom. Sarah and Casey are now on missions without Chuck, but of course, it didn’t take long for Team Bartowski to be reunited. While the quality of some shows suffer as they continue, Chuck just keeps getting better. Constant fear of cancellation assures that the writers are always on their A-game?
  • How I Met Your Mother: We’re back to actually looking for the mother! It’s an interesting dynamic to consider that the show’s about looking for the “mother” and logically speaking, when we meet the mother and Ted gets married for real, the show will be over. We want to know who the mother is, but we don’t want the show to end. With shows like this, I almost feel like they should set an end date (like Lost did), so we know it’s coming and the writers can work on getting to that end point.
  • The Event: I wanted to watch this new NBC show because of the overlying mystery surrounding it. I love watching mystery thrillers. That’s why I watched FlashForward last season…and then it got increasingly worse and eventually cancelled. It’s hard to explain the show, because the show is about finding out “What is the Event?” The style of the show is slightly different as well, in that they show what is happening in the present, and then they jump the story back to show something that led to what is happening now. With a lot of characters and individual stories, jumping back for all of them seemed like overkill. It could take some getting used to. Plus I don’t feel much for the characters. The only one that’s connected is Jason Ritter’s character, Sean. Everyone else is more like caricatures or just structures of characters; there’s no sense of character development. I’ll continue watching for a couple weeks to see if it hits its stride, but if it doesn’t pick it up and make us care, I’m gonna have to leave by the wayside.
  • Hawaii Five-O: There’s action and it’s a lot of fun to watch. I don’t watch a lot of the other CBS cop shows, so I can’t really judge them fairly. But the look and tone of the other shows seem so serious. With this show, maybe it’s the fact that it’s located in Hawaii so it gives it a more vibe-y, less serious feel, but there’s a natural humour/lightness with the chemistry of its stars, which makes the show fun to watch.
  • Gossip Girl/90210: It’s kinda hard to believe that already, in their 4th and 3rd seasons, these shows are now shows I watch out of habit. I think the thing that’s getting me to come back right now are the guest stars – Katie Cassidy on GG, Kyle Riabko on 90210.

TUESDAY

  • Glee: I’ll write more on Glee later when I discuss the Britney episode, but I’m happy it’s back. New music every week. Ryan Murphy did say that this season will go back to learning more about the characters and I really hope that’s true. But at least in the first episode back, they had a sense of humour and poked fun at themselves by addressing what others have critiqued them on (i.e. Mr. Schue’s rapping).
  • One Tree Hill: Only in the world of OTH do two people get shot, don’t get discovered for 2 days and still survive. It’s one of those things that fans of the show have come to love about it – the sometimes ridiculousness that comes with a lot of heart. Speaking of the heart of the show, the theme song’s back! I honestly forgot how much I missed hearing Gavin Degraw’s “I Don’t Want to Be” during the opening credits. And now as much as it pains me to say it, I kind of hope this season’s the last one. I love OTH, I really do, but I sort of feel like it’s time to move on. I’ll still watch if it continues obviously, but the thought of it getting a nice send-off lingers in the back of my brain.
  • Life Unexpected: The thing that gets me watching this show are the relationships. Said it before when it first premiered, but it’s like a throwback to the old WB days with shows like Felicity and Gilmore Girls. You don’t get those types of shows that often anymore. It also helps a little that Shaun Sipos is a recurring guest star this season. Melrose Place might have been predictable at times, writing decent at best, but it was a guilty pleasure.
  • Running Wilde: Will Arnett + Keri Russell + the creator of Arrested Development = comedy gold? It wasn’t as funny as I hoped it would be, but I’m willing to stick it out for a while and see if it gets better. Community was hit and miss for the first half of its freshman season, and then it hit its stride and was so consistently funny for the rest of the season. I’m holding out hope.
  • No Ordinary Family: So it didn’t premiere until last night but I look forward to watching more of it. The big thing with this show is how they find the right balance between family drama and superhero concept. And we’ve got more O.C. people back on TV; this time, Autumn Reeser aka Taylor Townsend!
  • Parenthood: Great writing, great acting, great to see it come back for a second season. Tuesday’s really become a night for some great family dramas.

WEDNESDAY

  • Survivor: It’s gonna be hard for this season to beat the Heroes vs. Villains season, but they’re trying. 2 weeks, and 2 people who got sent packing because they dug their own grave by not shutting up. Self-destruction, bad for the person, great for the game.
  • Undercovers: It’s like Mr. and Mrs. Smith but with more humour. Well, this is JJ Abrams, so let’s rephrase that. It’s like the next chapter of Sydney & Vaughn. The pilot was a little all over the place, but it’ll get better hopefully.
  • Better With You: New ABC comedy starring Joanna Garcia and Jennifer Finnigan. I want to like the show, honestly, because of the actors involved. And again, I hope it gets better because judging by the pilot alone, for one thing, they overdo the laugh track. It’s really noticeable. The writing is pretty standard relationship comedy; there’s nothing really new to it.
  • Modern Family: So full of laughter and heart, with amazing writing and acting. I mean seriously, the show completely deserved the Emmy for Outstanding Comedy. Gloria the protective Colombian mother. Mitchell, the not-so-handy man. Cameron reading celebrity gossip to Lily because he’s tired of reading “The Very Hungry Caterpillar.” Too funny.
  • Cougar Town: A show that has become something more than what it started out to be. One-two punch of Modern Family and Cougar Town is so perfect for Wednesday night. There’s just nothing else to really say about it.
  • Hellcats: I talked about the premiere and now I can honestly say, I’ve really enjoyed watching it so far. After seeing so many high school shows, it is sort of nice to have a show set in college, and to give it a different depth, set in the world of cheerleading. I think that’s what makes college-set shows stand out a little because there’s so many options as to what the back ground can be. Like Greek is settled in the world of frats and sororities, along with the usual relationships and what not. So yeah, Hellcats, will definitely keep watching.

THURSDAY

  • The Vampire Diaries: Definitely keeping things interesting with not only the return of Katherine but Caroline’s now a vampire too. Plus the werewolf storyline.
  • Nikita: I love the show for the fact that we’ve got Maggie Q kicking ass every week. My only concern is the style of the episodes. For 3 consecutive episodes, it seems like the episodes are very procedural-like. Alex finds out the mission for the week, feeds it to Nikita, Nikita attempts to beat Division to the punch, some sort of altercation between Nikita and Michael, and end. There’s bits here and there of development, but I’m hoping they get further along in the storytelling.
  • Fringe: Fringe is back and soooo good. The first episode back was set “Over There” with our Olivia trying get back to our world. Our Olivia has been dosed with the memories of Other Olivia, so now she’s not entirely sure who she is. The ending minutes showed our world with Peter kissing the Alt-Olivia, so obviously he has no idea that she’s not the right Olivia. Oh Fringe, and all you’re mind-twisting and alternate universes. Just awesome.
  • The Big Bang Theory: Continuing the nerdiness of Thursdays, Big Bang is back and still funny. The awkward “date” between Sheldon and Amy Farrah Fowler, with Penny ‘chaperoning.’ Wolowitz’s robot arm used for something that it shouldn’t be used for, which resulted in a slightly overdone but still funny sight gag. The one thing I enjoy most about BBT is the slight references to things that have been mentioned in the past (i.e. the Check Engine light in Penny’s car).
  • Community: I kind of hate that Community and Big Bang are on at the same time, but thinking positively, maybe that’ll make writers of both shows stay on their A-game to see who can be funnier. Which is really hard to determine because BBT is funny for all its nerdiness and Community is funny for all its snarkiness and constant pop culture references. The premiere featured Betty White as the anthropology professor (who by the way, would also make a fantastic memaw for Sheldon) and again the ending bit during the closing credits just is so funny on so many levels.
  • The Office: It’s Steve Carrell’s last season but you couldn’t tell by the premiere that that was happening. Same old Office shenanigans with new pranks by Jim and Pam. Like OTH, I kind of hope Office ends this season. Because again, as much as I love it, it has sort of run its course. And whoever ends up replacing Michael Scott, it just won’t be the same.

SUNDAY

  • The Amazing Race: Still entertaining because you never know what’s gonna happen to these racers. First of all, producers, you gave them SMART cars to race out of Boston?! Seriously?! LOL. SMART cars are not a very smart choice for RACING. Just no. Second of all, did you see that girl get hit by the watermelon? And then she picked right up and finished the task. Crazy awesome. If the rest of the season is as good as this leg of the race, we’re in for a very fun ride.
  • Brothers and Sisters: Back to the drama of the Walker clan. Still watch this show out of habit but it was a return to form with the first episode back. We jumped forward a year after last season’s car accident and everyone’s lives has changed. And you know it had been a rough year full of change when Nora’s house had not a single bottle of wine. Walkers with no alcohol? As Justin pointed out, they were not the same Walkers. I don’t know how this season will hold up, but it was kinda nice to see the whole Walker clan back on my TV.

Other notes:

  • I forgot to watch Blue Bloods on Friday. Seriously, new show, on a Friday? That’s hard man.
  • Didn’t watch Lonestar. Didn’t intend to. Reviews were good. Ratings were weak. First cancellation of the season.
  • On the other hand, $#*! My Dad Says got good ratings, which is a little hard to believe. I guess the return of Shatner does wonders for a show that doesn’t look all that good?
  • After passing on the majority of last season, Desperate Housewives might be able to pull me back in, what with Vanessa Williams moving onto Wisteria Lane, plus Brian Austin Green romancing Marcia Cross (original 90210/Melrose Place, what what? ahaha).

HIMYM 100th Episode – Girls vs. Suits

CBS’ How I Met Your Mother hit a television milestone tonight, airing its 100th episode. For 30 minutes (22 minutes approx. without commercials), the creators of the show managed to put in 2 great storylines, 3 guest stars, 1 musical number, and general HIMYM awesomeness.

First storyline involved Ted, getting EXTREMELY close to finding the “mother”. Playing Ted’s love interest for this episode was none other than Rachel Bilson, who I totally miss seeing on television every week (yes, I’m one of those O.C. fans who are still bitter about the show being cancelled 3 years ago, just shy of its 100th episode). Anyways, when the casting news was made that Rachel was going to be in this episode, with the promise by the creators that this episode was very “mother-centric”, a lot of people thought that Rachel’s character of Cindy could quite possibly end up being the mother. Nope! Total psych-out. Turns out the “mother” is Cindy’s roommate! But we did learn some quirky things about the mother (like having breakfast foods perform showtunes lol) and we are sooo close, yet so far from actually learning her true identity. Well, at least, with this storyline, even though Rachel’s not the “mother”, there’s still opportunity for her to come back in some shape or form. (Can someone give Rachel Bilson another tv show or movie – preferably tv show – to work on already?!)

The second storyline involved Barney and his latest “conquest”. Stacy Keibler guest starred as McLaren’s newest bartender, and turns out, she hates guys who wear suits. So in order to get the girl, Barney does something he never does….wear normal clothes. At one point in the episode, Barney is essentially dying from not wearing a suit, and it turns out that he has a spare suit hidden in one of the bathroom stalls at McLaren’s. Unfortunately, while taking off the suit, he rips it and runs it to his personal tailor, Project Runway’s Tim Gunn. Hilarious. Towards the end of the episode, well Stacy Keibler’s character, Karina, finds out that Barney has a closet full of suits and gives him an ultimatum (hence the episode title). The ultimatum leads to a fantastic musical number entitled “Nothing Suits Me Like A Suit” which was choreographed by Glee’s Zach Woodlee.

Anyways, HIMYM’s 100th episode was a success. Incorporating so much story into that block of time was quite amazing. Here’s to hoping that the show makes it to 200 episodes! (Although that would be another 5 years before finding out exactly who the mother is….meh, if they can keep up this awesomeness for another 5 years I say “Woooooo!!”)

Random TV Watching Thoughts #3

I think these posts are becoming a recap type thing just because school is really getting all my writing attention. So random thoughts!

  • Dancing With The Stars finale was this week. And for the first time in a while, I didn’t really care who won…in the bad way. ‘Cuz like last season, I didn’t care if Shawn or Gilles or Melissa won because they were all deserving (even though yes I did really want Shawn to win). But this season, especially after the lackluster performance finale on Monday, I truly just did not care. Period. Maybe it was because of the fact that for the first time in 5 seasons we didnt have a Hough or Ballas in the finale (which always makes for completely entertaining freestyles). I dunno, overall DWTS Season 9 was just kinda meh for me
  • Speaking of meh, SYTYCD Season 6 has been off for me somehow. Maybe its the fact that I’m so used to it being a summer show that having it in the fall has thrown me off? Dancers are great, dances are good…there’s just something somewhere in this season that isn’t sitting well with me and I can’t pinpoint it.
  • FOX announced their midseason schedule and all I have to say is….I HAVE TO WAIT UNTIL FREAKIN’ APRIL FOR NEW EPISODES OF GLEE????!!!! after it’s fall finale on Dec. 9th, that’s like 4.5 months of Glee withdrawal!! DAMN YOU AMERICAN IDOL! you did this to Fringe last season too!!
  • on the upside (and completely different network) Chuck is back in January!!! YAY!!!
  • How I Met Your Mother – Slapsgiving 2: Revenge of the Slap….AWESOME!! Slapsgiving is now ranked as my 2nd favourite TV holiday, right behind Chrismukkah (although granted I don’t remember other TV created holidays lol)
  • Oh! How could I forget the American Music Awards….the awards show that no one really cares about (I blame the totally ambiguous categories…like T.I. and Eminem were nominated for Best Pop/Rock Male Artist? WTF?) Performances were pretty solid, technical sound problems here and there but overall solid. Kelly Clarkson = Amazing! Carrie Underwood = Amazing! Speaking of Carrie Underwood’s performance of Cowboy Casanova, I totally loved it solely because she hired Tracy Shibata AND Dominic Chaiduang as 2 of her dancers (YAY Paris By Night dancers!!!!) Other dancers I loved seeing on the awards show: Nico Archambault & Natalli Reznik from SYTYCD Canada S1 dancing for Janet Jackson, Courtney Galliano from SYTYCD S4 dancing for Adam Lambert, Mark Kanemura from SYTYCD S4 dancing for Lady Gaga, Zach Brazenas from Paris By Night dancing for Jennifer Lopez
  • Back to Glee…I continue to love it and their song choices. Kudos for using Jennifer Paige’s song Crush. I forgot how much I used to love that song. So damn catchy.
  • After a boring start, Survivor had 3 completely kickass episodes. Early merge was a FANTASTIC idea!
  • I’ve completely given up on Heroes. I just stopped watching/caring.
  • I’ve started watching Modern Family…HILARIOUS!

I think that’s all I’ve got. Nothing else is really standing out in my mind right now. At least, nothing TV related…maybe I’ll do a music post later if I get bored writing papers for class.