Flashback Friday #1

It’s not unusual for me to start watching a show because of an actor or actress. To be honest, most shows I’ve become fans of started out as “that new show with Wendy Moniz/Simon Baker/Frank Grillo/Nathan Fillion. I’m a fan of actors and I’ll gladly follow them from project to project when I admire their work.

As soon as I heard Wendy Moniz had joined the cast of The Guardian, I was all in. Thus began three seasons of gut wrenching emotion with some really pretty(and talented) people thrown in.

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The Guardian

Fallin–the name fit.

Nicholas Fallin had truly fallen from grace. He had the money. He had the job. He had the class, but he didn’t have what he wanted most–his family. Burton Fallin, his lawyer father, loved him, but didn’t know how to show it. His mother died of cancer when he was a young boy and he had no siblings. Above all, he wanted to be wanted.

After being convicted of a drug charge, he was sentenced to community service in a legal services center–the point in the show where the fun really begins.

Let’s recap–You’ve got an emotionally stunted, recovering addict on probation who is desperate for his father’s approval. You’ve got a workaholic father who has no idea how to relate to his son. You’ve got a Legal Services Program (LSP) that specializes in the most destitute, depressing cases on earth….What more do you need?

Romance–that’s what. Enter Wendy Moniz. Louisa Archer enters the show halfway through the first season and promptly turns Nick’s world upside down The. For the next season and a half we are treated to the “will they/won’t they” dance until we finally get an answer.

And that’s just the beginning.

The Guardian wasn’t your typical feel good show. It didn’t wrap up every episode in a neat little bow. The endings weren’t always pretty. Sometimes life happened. Sometimes people got hurt. Sometimes the court got it wrong. Sometimes things happened too late. But it always felt real.

Sadly, The Guardian came to an end at the end of season three.  In the three seasons the show aired, there were truly phenomenal moments from Simon Baker (Nick) and Wendy Moniz (Lulu). Dabney Coleman (Burton) and Alan Rosenberg (Alvin) also gave stellar performances. Their talent, along with some poignant writing from the shows creator, David Hollander made the show what it was. The finale was, what most people had come to expect from the show, honest, raw, and most of all–real.

And in a world of scripted reality tv, isn’t real a nice change?

The Guardian is available on DVD and through Netflix and Amazon Prime.

And Now Back to Our Regularly Scheduled Program….

Remember me? Yes…Yes..It’s been a while. Life has a pesky way of getting in the way of the fun stuff, doesn’t it?! The truth is I’ve been crazy busy. While I’d love to sit back all day and gorge on tv, no one is offering to pay me for that yet. Until then, I keep my day job.

As my fantastic fellow tv addict has already informed you, we’re back…to stay this time! I’ll be dropping in later this week to catch you up on the shows I’ve been loving since my last post (RIP Betrayal).

Also this Friday marks the launch of a fun new feature at TV Tarts…Flashback Friday. This is a weekly feature we’ll devote to shows that we’ve loved and lost. The first post will be this Friday and will be courtesy of me!

Here’s a hint…

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Until Friday,

Lynn

We’ve returned … For good this time!!

We know, we know. Our last post on this blog was made ages ago (try nearly a year ago!). We got busy, real life intruded, etcetera etcetera. But we’re back, baby, and this time we’re here to stay!

The lineup of new fall shows looks pretty darn amazing this year, doesn’t it? We want to know what you will be watching this fall. Vote in our poll and then feel free to leave us a comment too. Thank you.

P.S. Another, new post (by moi) will be up Friday. I can’t wait to get this site going again.

Trophy Wife – An Overview of the First 3 Episodes

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While I was busy with real life or maybe, just off twiddling my thumbs, Trophy Wife somehow managed to air 3 episodes already. I finally got a chance to watch those episodes today so I’m going to do a review of all of them in one sort of jumbled up post. I will say that I don’t know exactly what I was expecting of the sitcom before I actually watched it, but it wasn’t exactly this…

 

Let’s start from the beginning, shall we? AKA, the first episode of Trophy Wife. Truth be told, the first episode was pretty bland – to the point of almost being completely not worth talking about. I’m not even going to lie here. It turns out that all of the sorta funny and charming parts we had already seen because they all played out in the promo. The rest – aka the other seventeen minutes of the pilot – were just so blah! The characters showed little depth (I still don’t know half of their names; they are just that unmemorable!), the pace was slow, and call me crazy, but I don’t find gruesome hamster deaths funny. Like, at all. We were given about a two-second look at Kate and Pete’s courtship (for lack of a better word), and then that was it. I really can’t figure out why he married her – I mean, other than the fact that she’s a gorgeous “piece of real estate”. As for her attraction to him? Well that honestly mystifies me the most. Was she looking for a sugar daddy? A substitute father? Did she just love his eyes? We don’t know! We simply weren’t shown. And going into the third episode, we still know very little about them other than their names and their occupations (he’s a lawyer; she’s a trophy wife, of course – aka jobless). Of course I don’t need to know everything at the starting gate; I don’t need the writers to hit us over the head with a major back-story right away, but come on now – give us something to work with here. Help explain what drew these two pathetic souls together, and what holds them together now. At least tell us if their sex life is good! Lol Just give us a reason to care about them. Please.

 

Okay … Now, at this point, as tempted as I was to just skip right over the next two episodes after that first piss-poor showing, I kept on. Maybe I’m just a glutton for punishment?! I do know that I liked the majority of the actors already. And I kept thinking it’s going to get better. It just has to get better.

 

And episode 2 was better. Slightly. The writing was a little less contrived anyway and it showcased the immense talents of the little boy who plays Albert aka Bert aka The Bertster. He’s freaking great! In fact, I have heard more than one person say that he’s the sole reason they watch the show (of the few people who actually openly admit to watching this, of course lol) He’s funny, energetic, hyper, clever, and just a joy to watch. He is the show’s official scene stealer-slash-future child Emmy winner, I think.

 

As for the other two kids on the show… Well, much like their parents, they mystify me. Warren seems like a stereotypical big goof and Hilary, she’s just a brat. Speaking of Hilary, they pulled a bait and switch with the actress who played her in episode 1. As in, the first Hilary is finito – as in, off the show! Suddenly Hilary isn’t a cute, willowy blonde but rather a petite brunette played by Bailee Madison. Who is of course in every Disney-related project these days. And who plays exactly the same character in every Disney-related project. I will not actor bash but the change was jarring because I can’t figure out what was wrong with the first Hilary. She didn’t seem so bad, just creatively-unchallenged – much like the other actors in the cast. None of them have exactly gotten a ton of great material to work with. Not even close, to be honest.

 

And now we’re moving on to episode 3. This I decided was to be the ‘make it or break it’ episode. If I didn’t like it, I was not going to ever watch another episode. Well, episode 3 was better than the first two in some ways but there was very little Bert and well, that is just criminal. I guess we did learn a little about Pete. I figured out that he’s a permissive, nice-guy type parent – until Wife #1 Diane tells him how its gunna be. Then he dances to the beat of her drummer. And by contrast, we learned that Diane’s a megalomaniac who “catfishes” to keep her kids in line. Alrighty then…

 

We also saw more of Kate’s friendship with that Meg person. What did I learn about Meg? Oh. That she’s as bland, predictable and cardboard as the whole of the series is thus far. Plus, I realized that she’s played by the same actress who went all Glenn Close-y on Liam in the fifth season of 90210. But I digress… Oh and I also learned that she likes booze. That’s all I got for our friend Meg. But why Kate is friends with her, I haven’t a friggin’ clue. Because I don’t know anything about Kate nor do I care about Kate. She’s the titular character and there’s just nothing about her that draws me in or makes me want to keep coming back for more episodes. I do like Malin Akerman though. I always have (she’s the new, highly improved Cameron Diaz in my mind) but this role of hers is just going nowhere fast. In fact, the whole show is going nowhere fast. I want it to get better. I honestly do. I want it to be amazing because Marcia Gay-Harden, Bradley Whitford, and Malin are faves of mine and because Bert is just so damn great. But it’s not amazing and I am not sure it ever will be amazing. It’s watchable, I guess. I mean, it is a quick half hour distraction from your life that you don’t have to over think… But as a person with a limited amount of free time, I know that I need a fairly good reason to keep tuning in week after week, investing my time and my patience in this show.

 

Now I told you already that episode 3 was the do-or-die episode for me; that I would decide after I watched it if I would ever watch again. Well, sorry but you’re going to have to check back with me next week because I’ve decided after everything to give it yet still one more chance. Seriously, one last chance though. I mean it this time. (Marcia Gay-Harden, I blame your fabulousness for entrapping me into viewing again! Lol)

 

All I can say is that Episode 4 better be off the charts epic or Trophy Wife can just go the way of many other forgettable sitcoms that came before it – into complete oblivion. I am giving the writers one more chance to make me care about these characters and this show in general! ONE CHANCE. Please don’t blow it!

My Realization, AKA The Goldbergs Episode 1×02!

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So I freely admit that I have woefully fallen behind on contributing … well, anything! … to this site as of late. Real life intruded for a bit there, but I am back now and ready to do some TV dishin’! I have lots of episodes to catch up on but I did just watch The Goldbergs ep 1×02 so let’s discuss that one first, shall we? (Yes I am more than a week behind but if you haven’t seen that episode yet; this review is new to you. And if you have seen it, reminisce with me lol Thanks!)

This episode of The Goldbergs was entitled “Daddy Daughter Day”.  The moment I saw the episode title I immediately thought “okay, how badly is Daddy Murray going to seriously eff up this special occasion with Erica?” I had many preconceptions about the episode but I am happy to say that the majority of them were wrong!

You see, being that I am an active consumer of modern-day sitcoms; I know a lot of the trends. The writers of said sitcoms seem to think “the bigger and more contrived we make [the gags], the funnier the audience will find the show and we won’t get cancelled just yet”. So I went into watching this expecting a lot of far-out, contrived and slap-sticky occurrences to happen during or even on the way to Erica and Murray’s special outing. I was truthfully expecting some seriously epic disasters. Anything for a laugh, right?

Admittedly, there were some seriously disastrous moments like Murray going into near-catatonia when Erica went on ad nauseum about her and her best friend Lainie’s wild teenage dramas. And when he forbade Erica to associate with Lainie anymore which we know is, of course, a big no-no for any teen girl, that was a disaster. And it was of course doubly disastrous that he made her so mad while they were roller-skating that Erica rolled away and left her father there, trying to “merge” into skating traffic. Which resulted in him plummeting to the floor, unable to get up.

So yes, those were disasters but they were what I’ll call “natural disasters”. They could easily happen in REAL life and they do! And that’s when I had a serious revelation. Yes, I had an “A-HA!” moment watching a TV comedy! I realized that the reason The Goldbergs is so funny is that it’s generally realistic. The writers take moments that have and do happen and will continue to happen in REAL people’s lives and put them on screen for us to watch in all their awkward glory (utter embarrassment is utter embarrassment in the 80’s and every other decade too!). It’s a highly relatable, as are the characters, and that’s the beauty of it. REAL life is disastrous and awkward too and sometimes you just have to laugh about it or you’ll just cry hysterically. There are no exaggerated stunts or gimmicks on this show designed to try to force a laugh out of you. They don’t drag out the dog and pony show or make a million and one fart jokes to cause you to chuckle. They just amp up reality and the results are hilarious. REAL life, in hindsight, is hilarious. When you’re not crying about the craziness of it all, of course.

Speaking of crying, there was some crying in this episode and again, it felt very realistic here. How many Moms have been in Beverly’s Bedazzler-accented tennis shoes, terribly sad that their kids are just growing up way too darn fast? Beverly had a very human moment in the kitchen where she was all teary eyed and lamenting that with Adam, she feels as if she is having to “say goodbye to a little boy [she] was just getting to know.” And there is Pops (boy, do I love Pops! I want a Grandpa just like him!) to give her some sage advice which forces her to immediately spring into action. She knew then that she had to give her kids growing room. She also knew that she had to give Adam what he wanted for a change. In this case he wanted a really cool back-to-school outfit that his mom had not picked out. (Yeah, I’ve so been there, haven’t you?)

The episode winds up quite nicely with Bev (played to uber-perfection by Wendi McLendon-Covey; once again, I will say she had better get an Emmy for this role!) taking Adam shopping for some “dangerous” designer duds. (She finally agreed to ditch the obnoxious and childish train-appliquéd sweater she had tried to saddle him with earlier in the episode.) She has to literally threaten the store employee who was ready to close the shop into keeping it open long enough that Adam could get some awesome jeans but she got it done. (I want to note here that the sales girl seemed truly terrified of Bev! She even agreed to honor the year-old expired coupon Bev brought with her. We all know it’s a fact that Mama Bears do attack and well, Bev is the ultimate Mama Bear. She would eat her own young before she’d let someone else hurt them! Lol)

And finally, back at the house, Murray and Erica watched an old home video of her as a kid and share a nice moment. A moment that feels authentic and real. (Awkward authenticity is basically the whole framework of this show.) And when Murray starts calling Erica a “Moron” once again, it’s deeply felt and even appreciated.

The Goldbergs has quickly become my favorite new show of the fall season. I will admit that Murray’s yelling does grate on my eardrums and nerves at times and that there are moments I find Adam oddly, highly annoying, but like with true family, sometimes you just have to love them anyway – in spite of their many flaws and hang-ups!

Betrayal 1×2

If you read my post last week, you know Betrayal and I got off to a rocky start.  As much as I wanted desperately to fall in the love with the show, I was, at best, a little smitten.  I had high hopes for this second episode and, although it wasn’t perfect, it certainly was an improvement from the pilot.

Just a couple of things…

I don’t really need to watch Sara strip.  That might work for the male audince, but it doesn’t work for me.  Also, I’m more than a little disturbed by how happily Sara seems to remember her tryst with Jack.  Your uh…husband…is in the other room.  I understand life is complicated and everyone can make a mistake, but making this look like some kind of Sleepless in Seattle moment just doesn’t quite work for me.

At least Jack isn’t smiling about his betrayal.  I can handle his late night jogging session a little better…well…until he texts his little harlot and informs her that he can’t stop thinking about her.  Really, Jack?  Really?  You send a text message?  Why not just leave a written trail of clues.  You might be the worst cheating spouse I’ve ever seen….not that there is a best, but still.

Sara, honey–throwing the bra away doesn’t change the identity of the man you let take it off.

You gotta love the way people respond to Thatcher.  “We’re gonna need this room.”, the room magically clears.  Now that’s power.

Henry Thomas really is a phenomenal actor.  Watching TJ struggle with his own limitations as his father is clearly struggling as well is heartbreaking.

I must have missed my calling.  I need to be an informant.  Jack just loves handing out hundreds.

So Jack decides to come rolling in home and his wife is waiting for him.  Wendy Moniz is gorgeous as always and I’m so ready to see what they have in store for this character.  She clearly isn’t a fan of the Karsten family drama.

The Karsten kids join the mix to add to the family fun and this should provide the final element for an enjoyable happy, family moment.  Except it doesn’t–because this isn’t supposed to be a happy family.  That’s the issue.  I can’t figure out Jack–I can’t get why he and Elaine aren’t happy.  She seems to love him.  He seems to love her.  Why does he want out?  The writers need to give me a reason.  I’m clearly supposed to want Sara and Jack to be together, so you’ve got to give me a reason to dislike Elaine.  Last night’s episode just made me feel so incredibly sad for her.  She loves her husband and wants his time and attention.  Is that her crime?

I also enjoyed watching Wendy Moniz and James Cromwell together.  I’ve long been a fan of Moniz’ work and watching her go  head to head with Cromwell was great.  She can hold her own and, if the writers allow, she can rock whatever storyline they give her.

I have to give high marks to the writers for making us believe Sara was going to meet Jack.  I’d feel a lot better about the whole situation if I didn’t recognize the outfits they were wearing as the ones from all the promos of them kissing in trains.  <sigh>

All in all, the show isn’t perfect, but it’s interesting and I’m interested enough to stick with it for the long haul….if for no other reason than to see someone put a bullet into Sara!  🙂

Until next time,

Lynn

Betrayal (Pilot)

I like soaps and I’m not ashamed to admit it.  Daytime, primetime, any old time…the campy, dramatic, somewhat unrealistic world of soaps is an escape for me–a reminder that no matter how bad my life seems, those poor suckers on that screen have it WAY worse.

Betrayal was a show I’d been looking forward to for a very long time for a few reasons. 

1)  It’s a soapy drama.  I love Revenge (more on that later) and the idea of a companion show for it made me happy.  I also love the idea of a soapy primetime show filled with all the romantic entaglements, ridiculous plot twists, and crazy characters they always provide.

2)  The cast is absolutely fantastic.  Wendy Moniz is my favorite actress of all time.  I’ve followed her career since her days on Guiding Light and I’ll watch absolutely anything she’s in.  Throw in a couple of gorgeous men and a kick butt actor like James Cromwell and I’m hooked.

3)  The show has a mystery thrown in.  I love a good mystery and some of my favorite shows are the ones that leave you guessing every week. 

I’ve followed the development of this one since the first rumblings of cast sign ons and I have eagerly awaited its premiere since the pickup annoucement was made.  Last night finally arrived and……

 

We’re starting with a flash forward.  I like it.  It’s been done…maybe overdone, but I still like it.  I also like the hushed voice calling “Sara” and the flash of the hand that we can’t quite identify.  Nice touch. 

The first look into Sara and Drew’s marriage is interesting.  I can see the writers are desperately trying to portray Drew as the husband that doesn’t have time for his wife and that clearly doesn’t concern himself with her feelings (Act like that about a gift I buy you and see what happens…you’ll be eating that tie). 

One of my favorite lines of the show and it comes so early…

Sara- Still after ten years, how does a marriage just blow up like that?

Drew- Someone lights a match.

Ouch.

Thatcher Karsten portrayed by the magnificient James Cromwell and TJ Karsten played by Henry Thomas aka….. the guy that was in E.T. have arrived on screen.  James Cromwell just won an Emmy for his work on American Horror Story and it’s not hard to understand why.  The man absolutely commands a screen from the second he appears and Henry Thomas shines in this role.  They walk away and leave us to Sara and Drew again.  Oh yeah Drew…that tie is much better.

The infamous bridge scene….and this would be where the show begins to fall apart a little for me.  Who actually starts talking to a stranger on a bridge?  And in Chicago no less?  Have you checked out the rising crime rate in that city?  This is how you get yourself shot. 

They both love the water, Of course. 

And now when they both go back inside to their respective spouses they must try and fight the almost unbreakable bond that has formed.  Instead of throwing themselves into each other’s arms (give them about twenty minutes) they instead stare each other down through as they go their seperate ways….only to run into each other again on the streets of Chicago.  Beat me over the head why don’t you?

Now we get a peek into the McAllister marriage.  Wendy Moniz back on my screen is always a treat.  I can forgive so much of the ridiculousness that plagued the last ten minutes of my life just to see her back on screen where she belongs.  Elaine clearly has issues with her mother’s death (completely understandable) and her father’s business practices make her uncomfortable (considering his one and a half minutes of screen time made the little hairs on my arm stand up, also understandable).  Her children seem caught up in their own lives and her husband seems to regard her as a bit of an ungrateful shrew.  She’s annoyed…and for good reason…besides that, she made breakfast and no one ate it! 

Back to Sara and Drew. She’s taking pictures of the kid. Jack’s meeting with Thatcher, Lou, and TJ.  We learn a couple of very important things here.  No matter how unhappy Sara may be with Drew, she’s not unhappy enough to keep her out of his bed.  Thatcher might have a bit of an anger problem. 

Sara wants to do a photography series on obsession.  Dear God. 

Agorophobia?  Really?  Really?

I have to be honest, I’m enjoying the McAllister family drama much more than I’m enjoying this heavy handed manufactured chemistry between Sara and Jack.  TJ clearly has some sort of brain damage from an accident and now we find out that Jack saved his life.  Clearly, Jack has been an integral part of the McAllister clan and the writers would be wise to utilize the power of the powerhouse actors they have here (Henry Thomas, Wendy Moniz, James Cromwell) and stop trying to make this some Harlequin novel. 

I can’t make myself comment on the train scene.  It’s just more than I can handle. 

The commercial gives me enough time to recover, but then we return to Sara and Jack on the beach. 

TJ and Thatcher together is magic.  Henry Thomas does an amazing job and I actually teared up at the father son moment.  The look on his face after his father’s rejection was devestating and so telling.  Thatcher has to realize, yet again, that TJ is now very much a child. What a horrifying line for any child to hear from their father…

Thatcher: TJ, stop. Know your limitations.

 

Jack and Sarah are now having a dinner by firelight.  And it’s moments like this that make absolutely no sense.  We go from meeting on bridge to going to dinner to getting a hotel room.  Clothes are flying off and then a cell phone rings.  It’s Sara’s husband and son.  That kills the moment, right?  Of course not.  Now we lay on the bed with our would-be lover and go over the details of the son’s favorite bedtime book.  Seriously? 

Uncle Lou you were not long for this world.  You were a plot point, but you did not die in vain.  Your death may have been the only salvagable plot in this show.  The ripples your death creates for the McAllister clan may just keep this show afloat.  Go with God, Lou.

Sara wants to have coffee with Drew, but he can’t do it right now.  She’ll show you. 

And now Jack’s home….far away from Sara and all those naughty thoughts.  Except Sara isn’t very far away, is she?  The photograph is hanging on the wall…right in front of him.  Enter Elaine.  You know, Wendy Moniz is a gorgeous actress and making her look like the frumpy housewife is lazy.  Jack is pained and tears up when he thinks about what he’s about to die.  You ought to cry pal, you’re an idiot. 

And here it is….what everyone has been waiting on…Sara and Jack finally sleep together and now what? 

The police are here to question TJ and Thatcher is protecting his cub.  Sara walks the street with a smile and heads home.  Drew has the pleasure of dropping the next bombshell.  He’s going head to head with her boy toy in court. 

So Sara…your little love affair seems a little less romantic now, doesn’t it? 

And the credits roll as the previews for next week flash by. 

What Worked: 

1)  The McAllister family is made up of some amazing actors.  Henry Thomas as the brain damaged moguls son is captivating and James Cromwell is nothing short of magnificient. 

2)  Liked the idea of setting up a murder mystery within the plot.  Who killed Uncle Lou?  Who shoots Sara–and if viewers had a chance, how long would the line be????

3) Chicago makes a beautiful back drop.  The city is gorgeous and it gives an air of reality to many of the shots. 

 

What Flopped:

1)  Wendy Moniz is fantastic.  I’m so sick of seeing these shows with such amazing actors that they stick in filler scenes.  You’ve got amazing actors–use them! 

2)  Sara and Jack do not have the compelling, life affirming chemistry required to explain starting an affair so quickly.  I feel like I fell asleep in the middle of the show and woke up with these two characters in bed together. 

3)  Sara is utterly unlikeable.  The character is supposed to be unhappy in her marriage and yet she has sex with her husband to try and make it better.  She gets interrupted during her would-be tryst with Jack by a phone call from her son and husband and instead of leaving, she lays on the bed and tells Jack a bedtime story. 

All in all, Betrayal has promise.  As I’ve said before, a cast can carry a show, but they need a decent story.  What we have here is a few stories, with a couple decent ones.  I care who shot Sara because I really want to myself.  I care who shot Uncle Lou because the McAllister family drama is the most compelling part of the show, but I don’t give a flip what happens between Sara and Jack.  I’d much rather watch Sara and Jack deal with the issues in their respective marriages.  That might give me a chance to find a redeeming quality in both of their characters. 

I’m in for the long haul with Betrayal simply because I respect the actors involved, but the writers need to do some serious clean up or the long haul won’t be long at all. 

What did you think of Betrayal?  Did you watch?  Will you tune in next week?  Talk to us.  We want to hear what you think. 

Until next time,

Lynn