This may be my last blog entry for a while, maybe for always. I have some very exciting things happening in the very near future and I am trying to cut out the least important things from my schedule. This blog is one of them.

I am still writing monthly for Ms. in the Biz, so please visit msinthebiz.com for fun things from me and many other women in the industry. 

Now, here are the brand new shows I have checked out for Fall 2014:

1. A to Z:  This stars Ben Feldman and Cristin Milioti.  Cristin has made it into my blog before for her role in the How I Met Your Mother fiasco. I adored Ben in Drop Dead Diva.  I know he made many more fans in Mad Men.  I am certain these two were cast for their fan base. They are both simply adorable. They made a super cute couple. But I barely got through the pilot episode and I didn't care enough to keep up. That says a lot. And I believe in giving new shows more than just the pilot, but I just can't this time around. I am convinced that without this casting, this show goes nowhere. I am rooting for these two actors, so I am rooting for this show.

Two things that really turned me:  Ben's character gets to meet Lea Thompson (at a Back to the Future trilogy screening).  He wants to ask her a really big question, but is too afraid to speak. Ms. Thompson comforts his nerves and says she can answer his question--no, the hoverboards were not real.

Really?  Who in their right mind really needs to ask that question?  It was a weak attempt at cool nostalgia for nostalgia's sake. It meant nothing to the story. They almost redeemed themselves with the tag at the end, showing Lea Thompson in her kitchen, riding around on a hoverboard.  That was cool.

For truly cool questions and answers to Back to the Future, check out Tom Wilson's The Question Song (Tom Wilson is Biff).  http://youtu.be/iwY5o2fsG7Y

The second thing that bugged me was putting their two best friends together. I can see how it can make for a good plot device, but it was just too easy and coincidental for me. 

Bottom line:  I don't see it sticking around.

2.  Black-ish:  Ah, a controversial show, right out the gate!  I am not a fan of the title and not because I'm white. Titles tell you what to expect or what the show is about.  This tells me that every show is going to be about blacks v. whites, or something in that vein. I'm not bothered by that concept in and of itself, I just don't like shows that are about one gimmick.  I don't believe they have a strong shelf life--the gimmick gets old quick. 

However, this show is very funny!  I wasn't too sure about the casting, either.  But I am really liking it.  And it is really more a show about family than about race. I am glad for that.

Of course, that tells me that the title was meant to garner attention, and I don't care for attention seekers.  But I still like the show and will keep watching.

Bottom line: We should get a few years out of this one.

3.  Manhattan Love Story:  I just thought the show looked cute.  I watched it online. The girl is too cute---as in, who is really that sugary adorable all the time?  I think too many of our girls these days suffer from the "I'm quirky" syndrome.  Thank you, Zooey Deschanel, who even has to spell her name cutesy.  I do think you're awesome, though.  But she's the original and the original is always awesome.  My computer cut off before the show finished.  That was a week ago and I still haven't finished watching.  That tells me all I need to know.

Bottom line: Not compelling enough to draw in an audience that is bombarded by highly compelling shows already. The leads are not big enough to have brought a fan base with them. Cancelled after six episodes.

4.  Mulaney:  I love stand ups.  I love Fox.  I like sitcoms starring stand ups.  So I checked it out--online.  Same thing as Manhattan Love Story.  It cut off and I don't care enough to see what happened.  Mulaney seems funny.  He seems cool.  I like him.  But the writing felt like just a bunch of set ups for stand up.  Seinfeld kind of had that going on, too, but it was more seamless on Seinfeld.  On Mulaney, they might have well have just dimmed the lights and shone a spotlight on the star every 10 seconds for his bit. 

Bottom line:  Fox will probably give it more of a chance than a network would.  So, it could gain some traction and get a few weak legs to stand on for a few seasons.  But I doubt it will ever be a hit. 

5.  Red Band Society:  Ah, how nice--Fox got this one right. I thought an hour long show about a bunch of sick high schoolers in a hospital would be super dramatically depressing.  But it is really fun.  Not funny, but fun.  As someone I know put it, it is Scrubs meets Glee.  That is probably a fairly accurate description.  It's a bit over the top in acting sometimes and the characters so far just that, characters--almost caricatures, definitely stereotypes.  But I like it.  I like them. It's unique and interesting. 

Bottom line:  I think this will find an audience and go for a while. 

Thank you for reading, for giving me a chance.  I hope you enjoy your fall viewing. 

 

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October 16, 2014

I know this is of the utmost importance to you. I know that you're dying to plan your own T.V. viewing schedule around mine and that is why I am writing this post--because I am certain you care.

When I was much younger, I watched hours of television every day. I had quite a few shows every single night. I had my own VCR from age 14 on and I used it like crazy (moment of silence for the best VCR ever; we lost her a few years ago). 

But since I have had children, I have attempted to make wiser choices for how to spend my time and that means that I now try to limit myself to only a little bit of too much T.V. I have noticed, also, that most of my shows are comedies and I think it is because I do not have the time to devote attention to dramas.

So, in short, my returning shows are:

Big Bang Theory:  Still love it. Penny's new hair is stunning. Can't get enough of Mayim Bialik. I've been checking out reruns of Blossom lately. 

The Mindy Project: Mindy Kaling is the best.  And I have the best personal story to share about her, but I'm saving it for the Tonight Show couch. 

The Middle:  Fantastic all around.  Yay for the Year of Sue!

Modern Family: One of the best family comedies of all time. What amazing creators, writers, and actors.  I am thankful for this show.

The Goldbergs:  How does an 80's sitcom make me cry every week?

Nashville:  I am so sad over Juliette and what's-his-name. Man, I really like them together. Can't quite care about Rayna and Deacon as much, but any show about country music has me watching it. Still waiting for my scene with very special guest star Dolly Parton.

Survivor:  Currently the best show of the week--because it is my 5 year old's favorite show and I'm pretty sure she likes it partly because it is special time for just the two of us, and I will hold onto that for as many years as CBS will allow.

The Vampire Diaries:  I started watching it because it's shot in Atlanta and dagnabbit if I didn't go getting hooked on it.  I tried to let it go last season and then the season finale hooked me back in again.  Looking forward to the season premiere tomorrow night.

Shark Tank:  AAHH!!  Can't get enough of the Sharks.  Awesome drama and so educational all at the same time.

Once Upon a Time:  I did give this up last year.  I just didn't have time. And then a few weeks ago I decided to put it on in the background while I worked (thank you, Netflix) and then I got hooked again. Not a huge fan of Georgina Haig, but I'll let her prove herself as Elsa--we shall see. 

Well, the kids are at my feet wanting supper and my oldest is ready to start Survivor, so I'll bid adieu until Part 2 when I talk about the new shows I am adding. 

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October 1, 2014

It's the start of a new school year. I know a few girls who headed off to college for the first time a few weeks ago and I tried to give them all my old lady advice on how to have the best college life ever.  Thinking back on those years at the top of September, also traditionally the start of the new fall t.v. season, makes me remember fondly my last year in college, when our dorm room was where it all went down.

No, there weren't any crazy college shenanigans going on in our room. We were just a group of girls who liked to watch certain T.V. shows together. I watched quite a bit, but the one show that really drew the group each week was one I didn't expect: Beverly Hills 90210. 

I had never watched that show, other than a few episodes here and there in high school. I didn't appreciate teen dramas back then, unlike now when I crave The Vampire Diaries and Pretty Little Liars.  That year was the last year of 90210, so I did at least appreciate the historical significance of the season. And I gained a great appreciation for the hilarity of the show---I cracked up every week and my sarcasm was probably pretty rude, in hindsight, to my girlfriends who truly loved the show.  But we had a great time fist pumping to the theme song and playing the who is that guest star game (it took quite a while for me to realize that it was Josie Davis, of Charles in Charles). And I became a big fan of Jennie Garth, gladly following her to What I Like About You and even giving Mystery Girls the old college try (see what I did there?).  Oh, but Jennie, it's just not working.  You're fabulous; please go find the show that will show your talent.

There was one teen drama show that my roommate and I were really into.  We couldn't wait until Thursday nights. We would watch Friends at 8 p.m. and then head to our weekly meeting, while we recorded this other show. After our meeting, we would rush back to our room to rewind the tape in the VCR, making sure to start with the theme song.  Most weeks, we would rewind the tape and listen to the theme song just one more time, trying to get the words just right. Later I saw the movie Never Been Kissed and recognized the voice in the song Closer to Myself, played at the end of the movie. Because of this, I became a fan of Kendall Payne, a singer/songwriter in L.A. 

The title of the theme song was also the title of the show: Popular. One of those shows that was canceled way too early. I mean, have you seen the cast? Amazing:  Leslie Bibb, Carly Pope, Christopher Gorham, Sarah Rue, Leslie Grossman (connecting us back to Jennie Garth in What I Like About You).

The show is about two girls in opposite cliques whose parents get married. The new stepsisters have to figure out how to hate each other while living in the same house and consequently realizing the other is not so bad after all. It sounds like it could be terrible, but I remember being very impressed with the way tough issues were handled. One episode in particular has always stuck with me--the one where Leslie Bibb's character loses her virginity. The script and the acting was done in a way that was different than any other show that has ever tackled that subject.

I think we all have shows that harken us back other times.  Times we wouldn't want to go back to, but that still make us smile to remember them. I will always remember that year in college, with my friends in my dorm room for an hour at a time, just laughing.  Nothing else pressing on us, just laughter. 

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September 2, 2014

Oh my stars!  I watched the pilot weeks ago online and have been waiting and waiting until I could publicly discuss it. I hope you loved it as much as I did.

I am a big fan of television.  I probably don’t need to make that statement, but I must start with that first and foremost.  People like me have certain expectations for t.v. shows—high expectations.  However, I am not super critical.  I can suspend disbelief regularly and I can enjoy a show simply for being a small piece of entertainment in my day.  But I do expect the creators of a t.v. show to have respect for me.  Meaning, if I am going to give you 30-60 minutes of my time, I expect for you to reward me for that.

And that is why I titled this post “A Happy Heart Have I.”  Besides the nice alliteration, I am overjoyed to report that the creators of Girl Meets World have a major Disney hit happening. 

See, after the debacle of the finale of How I Met Your Mother, I was fearful for the return of Corey and Topanga.  I mean, what if those guys trample on our hearts the way the Mother guys did (My  main point about the Mother finale is that the problem wasn’t what they did, it was how they did it—no understanding of their audience). 

When you are going to take on the great responsibility of reviving a beloved piece of history, you must take great precautions in how you do that.  I am roughly the same age as Corey and Topanga.  I followed their relationship.  I followed the entire series, many times over.  It’s one of my favorite, go-to rerun shows---something I can put on for background noise and enjoy, while also not worrying about what my little ones might see or hear.

And I’m not alone.  There are millions of other parents like me.  These days, we are glued to the Disney channel all day and now we have a chance to share a show with our children.  This isn’t just about making it through Austin and Ally because your kid likes it.  This isn’t even a great show like Good Luck, Charlie that you actually enjoy with your children.  This is a part of our youth that we can now introduce to our own youths and watch them grow up—kind of like when you and your best friend have kids that become best friends.

So, the first and most difficult decision was casting.  We already have the parents, so their daughter, who is the titular star, has to be a combination of the two.  But what does that mean?  Every family oriented show has that order to fill.  However, in every other show, you typically do not know the parents first. You get to know the entire family as a unit. 

For Girl Meets World, we, the audience, have high expectations for the offspring of our high school friends.  In this case, after only the trailer I was already in love with Rowan Blanchard, who plays Riley Matthews.  I can’t imagine a more perfect amalgamation of Corey and Topanga, with Topanga’s beautiful face and Corey’s coloring, she looks like their daughter.  She has her dad’s curls, but in beautiful long fashion like her mother.  But even more so than looks, this child had to have the essence of her parents.  And in Rowan, we see the innocence and optimism that Corey displayed throughout his show.  There were many times throughout the premiere episode that I felt like I was watching Corey in his first season.  I loved it.

Another difficult task is to explain to your viewers that this show is not a continuation of Corey and Topanga’s relationship.  We want to know how they’re doing; we want to see them still in love.  While that has to be shown, this show has to be about Riley.  We have to have a chance to let go.  And the writers gave us that chance in a beautiful very first scene, when Dad tells Daughter she needs to make it her world.  In a sense, we were also seeing Ben Savage hand his show to Rowan Blanchard, into her very capable hands.  A virtual thank you I send to the writers:  Thank you!

There were a few things I did not expect, but still liked.  I expected the writers to let us have Corey and Topanga for a few lines here and there, but to mostly ignore them. However, they let us have Corey as Riley’s  teacher—and history teacher at that!  Taking over for Mr. Feeney.  This means our favorite parents will play an actual, concrete role in the series and us as parents won’t be disappointed in their lack of screen time. 

I also liked the supporting cast just as much as I loved the others.  We have Riley’s crush. Not yet sure if he is reminiscent of Topanga; we’ll see.  We have Riley’s best friend, who is an obvious Shawn Hunter, and there is the adorable Farkle Minkus, son of the original Minkus (who will show up in an episode this year!!). 

Additionally, you can’t revive a beloved show without reviving its main characters.  I waited the entire episode to catch a glimpse of someone, or at least a mention of someone, from the original series.  The final scene with Mr. Feeney was possibly the most beautiful, touching, appropriate gift we could have received from the writers and creators of Girl Meets World.

But all of these wonderful things I can say don’t mean a thing if the new show itself isn’t well written, well-acted, and simply fun to watch.  Remember, as I said earlier, sometimes with t.v. you have to be willing to suspend your disbelief.  You also have to recognize that the channel will dictate the tone of the show.  Knowing this is a family sitcom on the Disney channel, I would give this show a high report even if it were on network television, albeit maybe in a revived TGIF line up.  But what’s so wrong with that?  My daughters can have as many warm memories of Girl Meets World as I do of Boy Meets World, and for that I am grateful, thankful, and have a happy heart. 

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June 27, 2014

Entertainment Weekly just called this show "The Best Show Not on T.V." 

I was introduced to this show by a Facebook friend's post in Season One.  I watched the pilot episode, which was over 20 minutes long---an eternity in the world of indie web shows. Instead of watching the clock for when it would end, I was astonished at how quickly the time had passed and how I wished it had not ended so soon. 

Immediately I was in love with all of the characters and was, like everyone else, especially taken in by the incredibly quirkable Kate Wetherhead, who plays the lead girl.  The writing is superb (written by Kate and her acting friend Andrew Keenan-Bolger).  The acting is exceptional---all actors were cast through their circle of acting friends. 

They filmed season one with a budget of only a few thousand dollars.  Season Two brought some more money.  Season Three (already filmed and currently airing) saw the addition of a big Broadway producer who was able to secure a $200,000 budget.  But even with the big money, the quality of season one was so exceptional that I can't tell the difference. 

The show's premise centers around actors in the world of NYC theatre.  However, just as you don't need to be a doctor to enjoy Grey's Anatomy, you don't need to be in the industry to watch and love Submissions Only. 

Kate plays the lead actress who is trying to book jobs, nothing more.  She is a reader for her best friend, who is a casting director.  Through this, she meets her love interest.  Her agent is the ex-boyfriend of her best friend, the casting director.  After some time where both are touring the country in different productions, both of the love interests find themselves back in New York, except HE currently has a very talented, very successful girlfriend.  Then, the girlfriend and...well, I don't want to tell you more.  You should watch the show. 

The show is so awesome that they have been able to get some really amazing guest appearances:  Kristin Chenoweth, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Rachel Dratch, Linda Lavin, Joel Gray, Kristen Johnston, to name a few.  So many stars can't be wrong. 

This blog post is not really about my opinion on anything in particular, rather it's a plea to get you watch this great show.  When I really, really like something, I like to tell others about it.  And I really, really like this show. 

So, www.SubmissionsOnly.com  for a really great story--the best show you're not watching.

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May 3, 2014