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Sunday Night Drama—REVENGE Premiere & 666 PARK AVENUE

**SPOILERS AHEAD**

Revenge

Back in May, Revenge had a doozy of a finale so I couldn’t wait for tonight’s season 2 premiere. I liked it overall, but not happy that Declan and Charlotte are back. Ugh. Declan is still worthless as a character, but at least Charlotte has sobered up and seems to have turned her life around. Her father is determined to keep her locked up in the rehab center so I feel a little sorry for her.

And she was the only one who knew Victoria was alive! I didn’t think producers would kill off the show’s VIP, but when I didn’t see Madeleine Stowe’s name in the opening credits, and she was absent in the first few scenes, I started to doubt. Maybe Stowe didn’t want to do TV for another year? Perhaps ABC could no longer afford her? When she opened the door to Emily, I yelped with relief.

I like Nolan’s new buff bod and shorter hairdo. The douchey, James-Spader-in-the-’80s look from last year didn’t cut it for me. He had the best line of the episode, at Victoria’s memorial: “You think she’s somewhere looking up at us?” I also think it’s fun that he and Emily are roommates for now. They could cook up a lot of trouble together. And the whale cam has been replaced by the clam cam!

I’m not sure what the deal is with Japanese-speaking British dude, and I got confused when Takeda showed up because I was all, “That’s not Takeda. Who are they trying to fool? All Asians don’t look alike!” But then I remembered that this is a soap and characters get recast all the time. Apparently Hiroyuki Sanada had scheduling conflicts so Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa will now play Em’s mentor.

Jack is such a mope now, I’m OK with it if that’s his body divers find in the opening scene at the bottom of the ocean. Better if it’s Declan’s, though. Do these characters make the show more interesting at all?

Overall, it was a good opener and I’m on board for season two.

666 Park Avenue

Taylor, who might have someone sneaking up on her

I sampled this show, based on Gabriella Pierce’s novel, right after Revenge and thought it was pretty boring. It’s not a complete disaster, but it seemed the creative team hadn’t figured out in the pilot if the show should be horror or camp. The violinist getting sucked through the door slot in the opening wasn’t the least bit scary, but the dead girl in the basement sneaking up on Jane almost made me soil my shorts.

Terry O’Quinn and Vanessa Williams are obviously the show’s strongest assets, but Williams didn’t have much to do, and O’Quinn didn’t stray much from his mysterious, slightly creepy routine. Rachael Taylor is fine, but so far Dave Annable is blander than a sandwich without bacon.

I think the problem right now is that I don’t really care about any of these people yet. So what if Louise’s Vogue shoot falls apart? She seems too controlling toward her husband, Brian. Do I care if Brian ever gets past the title page of his play? No. Was I supposed to feel something when John Barlow couldn’t keep his wife Mary alive? He had no business bringing her back from the dead.

I probably won’t watch this again, or not until it decides if it wants to be truly terrifying or campy fun.

Nerd verdict: Vacant Park

Did you watch either of these shows? What did you think? Whose body is on the ocean floor in Revenge? Did you find Park Avenue scary at all?

Photos: VanCamp and Tagawa—Karen Neal/ABC, Rachael Taylor—Patrick Harbron/ABC

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Mini Reviews of LAST RESORT, THE MINDY PROJECT, and BEN & KATE

The new shows are coming, the new shows are coming! This year, networks made several pilots available online (some have been pulled) before their premieres, which is great since I’m usually too impatient to wait for all the new series to debut. Following are a few quick thoughts of three I’ve watched.

Braugher, Speedman, Patrick. Photo: ABC/Mario Perez

Last Resort (ABC, Thursdays, 8 p.m., premieres Sept. 27)

This new series from Shawn Ryan (who also created The Shield) is easily the best of the five pilots I’ve seen. The crew of a submarine called the U.S.S. Colorado receives a suspicious order to fire nuclear missiles at Pakistan, and when Captain Chaplin (Andre Braugher) questions its validity, he’s removed from his position and First Officer Sam Kendal (Scott Speedman) assumes control of the sub. There are also some Navy SEALs on board, and an admiral’s daughter (named Shepard; ABC regulations must dictate a Shephard/Shepherd/Shepard on every show), and Robert Patrick, whom I’m always glad to see. I don’t want to reveal too much plot because there are several twists, but the pilot plays like a high-budget, high-tension one-hour feature, and was helmed by Martin Campbell, who directed Casino Royale.

Nerd verdict: Nerve-wracking Resort

See it now: Download it for free from iTunes

 

In back: Jarman, Anna Camp, Messina, Kaling, Ed Weeks, Amanda Setton, Stephen Tobolowsky. In front: Ike Barinholtz.Photo: FOX

The Mindy Project (FOX, Tuesdays, 9:30 p.m., premieres Sept. 25)

I really wanted to like this, but the pilot didn’t provide as many laughs as it could have. Mindy Kaling plays OB-GYN Mindy Lahiri, who believes in romantic-comedy happy endings, which is partly responsible for her making bad decisions in her love life. The character is likable, but it seems as if Kaling has taken some of the edge out of her comedy now that she’s a sitcom lead instead of a kooky supporting character. Lahiri is far from being cookie-cutter, and Kaling does slip in some un-PC jokes, but the character isn’t crazy-funny like Kelly was on the The Office. Chris Messina, as a colleague whose constant hostility toward Mindy might actually be attraction, is interesting to me for the first time; I’ve always found him completely forgettable in movies like Julie & Julia and Vicky Christina Barcelona. Also engaging is Zoe Jarman as Betsy, Mindy’s assistant. She’s just weird enough for me to want to see more of her.

Nerd verdict: This Project needs work

 

Kellum, Faxon, Jones, Johnson, Punch. Photo: FOX

Ben & Kate (FOX, Tuesdays, 8:30 p.m., premieres Sept. 25)

There’s nothing really wrong with this sitcom; it just wasn’t special enough to make me want to immediately give it a season pass on my DVR. Nat Faxon plays Ben, a dreamer who moves in with his sister Kate (Dakota Johnson) and her five-year-old kid (Maggie Jones) because he can’t seem to hold down a job. Kate works at a bar and wants to get back into the dating game. In the pilot, Ben enlists Kate and his friends to help him stop the wedding of an ex-girlfriend. As with The Mindy Project, the most interesting characters seem to be the supporting ones. Echo Kellum induces chuckles as Ben’s pal Tommy, who is hopelessly in love with Kate. And anytime Lucy Punch shows up, you know things are going to get nutty, as they do here whenever she’s on screen as Kate’s randy coworker, BJ (yes, really).

Nerd verdict: Might be funnier as Tommy & BJ

Which new series or series return are you most looking forward to?


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Satisfying REVENGE (SPOILERS)

*Don’t read any further if you haven’t seen the finale!*

 

I’m sitting here in a neck brace typing with only one hand because the other one arm isn’t working and the doctor says I really shouldn’t be on the computer. But the Revenge finale was quite good, after a few disappointing eps, so I wanted to tap out a few words about it.

Emily ninja’d White Hair with a giant ax! I don’t know why she threw it down after taking a few swings at him, and then got a good beating because of that, but her swinging that thing made her look formidable.

I like how simply Em and Daniel ended their relationship. He’s been slowly turning into a d-bag so I thought there’d be yelling or melodrama, but it was done quietly, and I believed Daniel might have even been hurt.

Loved Em’s response to Victoria when she came over to offer her “condolences” on their breakup: “I can feel your devastation.” And that engagement gift/empty box? Ice cold on V’s part.

Did anyone else think that kiss Conrad gave Lydia when he said goodbye was a total Godfather move? Could he be working with the mob?

I yelled, “Noooooo!” when Daniel and Ashley were making googly eyes at each other. She’s a backstabbing, manipulative little b. Then again, she might be perfect for him, where he’s headed.

Charlotte scrolled through a Rolodex to find the detective’s name? Was this 1996? I liked her OD at the end, though. That character has been so colossally annoying, I can only hope she doesn’t make it to next season, especially after that horrible, bullying stunt she pulled on Jaime.

Didn’t expect FauxAmanda to suddenly reappear—pregnant!—but am glad Em won’t be all happy with Jack. The show needs her to stay angry and “revenge-y,” as Nolan said. Also, I’ve never thought she had great chemistry with Jack, who’s a rather dull character. I resent him for not recognizing the real Amanda. If she’s his true love, he shouldn’t just buy a substitute so easily.

Speaking of FauxAmanda, where has she been all this time? No one bothers to ask her that? Just “Hey, I disappeared for months, but am now gonna have your baby, Jack”?

The twist about Em’s mom being alive was…interesting, though very Alias-y. Not just the previously-presumed-dead-mom-who’s-actually-alive plot line, but because Mom is apparently also a badass since White Hair said Em fights like her. Someone call Lena Olin’s agent to see what she’s doing this summer!

What did you think of the finale? Were you surprised by anything? Are you hooked for next season?

Photos: ABC/Eric McCandless

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THE KILLING Starts Again

So, did you watch the season two premiere last night, or are you still holding a grudge about last season’s finale? This post contains SPOILERS so you might not want to read further if you haven’t watched the episode.

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I wasn’t thrilled about the cliffhanger last June, leaving us with Darren Richmond getting arrested for Rosie’s murder and then shot by Belko, and Holder getting into a car with an unknown person, having just faked a photo that incriminated the councilman. But I also thought not wrapping everything up was a gutsy move, and knew I’d tune in again this season—at least until the creative team exhausts my loyalty.

This isn’t really a recap (I assume you’ve seen it since you ignored the spoilers warning), but some quick thoughts on the two-hour premiere:

  • Sometimes Linden is maddeningly uncommunicative. If she’d just talk to people, she might get more work done, or at least avoid distractions. If she’d told Jack not to trust anyone, he wouldn’t have dumped Bible study and left with Holder. Like D.A. Christina Niilsen says, it wouldn’t hurt for Linden to say thanks once in a while; she might have more people on her side that way.
  • Linden sucks at surveillance. When she was parked outside Gil Sloane’s place, she was obviously spotted by the cop who stared at her as he drove past. Then she followed Sloane to his rendezvous with Mayor Adams’s campaign director. She didn’t think that the cop might follow her? It doesn’t mean the mysterious person who took her photo was that cop, but she didn’t seem to take any precautions against being seen. And why didn’t she take her own pictures of the two men meeting in a shady manner? She might need evidence to prove they conspired against Richmond.
  • Rosie’s brothers desperately need some therapy. Their mom has temporarily bailed on them, and Dad doesn’t talk to them about the terror they must be feeling. The younger, more sensitive boy, Denny, breaks my heart, getting up in the night and listening to his sister’s music box.
  • I knew Holder wasn’t all-the-way dirty, just a green detective who went along with stronger personalities because they’d convinced him the councilman was guilty. Mr. PCN and I were debating at the top of show, with him believing that Holder was corrupt while I said Holder just did the wrong thing for what he thought was the right reason. Now that he’s told Sloane about the switched backpack, I wonder what Sloane will do to him, and how Holder will eventually get Rosie’s actual backpack processed for evidence.
  • Belko’s meltdown and suicide were awful, but storywise, his death made sense to me. He’s served his purpose.
  • It seemed some of the actors were directed to make their faces as inscrutable as possible. When Gwen asks Jamie if Richmond had been faithful to his wife, Jamie gives her a weird look and doesn’t say anything. Later, when Gwen sees that the D.A. has dropped charges against Richmond, she gets an odd expression that looks nothing like relief. I kept yelling at my TV, “What the hell was that look??”
  • I got a kick out of being Richmond’s sister. Well, her name is Elyse, anyway. I wonder why she’s incommunicado. When Jamie kept leaving messages for her while Richmond was in the hospital, Mr. PCN turned to me and asked, “Have you checked your voice mail lately?” (No, I was busy watching TV.)

What did you think? Will you stay for the season? Is it a good thing that Stan got back in touch with Janek? Who the Freud killed Rosie??

Photos: Carole Segal/AMC

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TV Review: GCB

Are y’all watching GCB Sunday nights on ABC? Would it help if I told you it stands for Good Christian Bitches, which was the original title (based on Kim Gatlin’s novel of the same name) until somebody got scared it’d be offensive? Watered-down title aside, at least the powers-that-be have left the show’s content pretty spicy.

Bibb and Aspen

Last week’s pilot opened with a man grabbing a whole lotta cash and making a run to Mexico with his girlfriend in his fancy car. She decides to give him some, ah, oral stimulation on the way, which causes him to drive off a cliff, crashing and burning and killing both of them.

The man was Bill Vaughan (Greg Vaughan), a Ponzi schemer who just made his wife, Amanda (Leslie Bibb), a widow, and left his family with nothing. Amanda has to move from California back to Texas to live with her controlling mother, Gigi (Annie Potts), until she can get on her feet again. Problem is, Amanda was a mean girl in high school, and the local girls she used to terrorize, now supposedly righteous Christian women, can’t wait to help her reap what she sowed. It’s like the flip side of Revenge, only the cruel person has repented and we’re laughing at the vengeful people.

As expected, most of this is over the top, but if you accept it for what it is, it’s pretty entertaining. One of the show’s writers is Robert Harling, who wrote Steel Magnolias, Soapdish, and the adaption of The First Wives Club. The man knows about soapy plotlines and saucy women.

Shor, Chenoweth, and Aspen

The cast is appealing all around, with each actress imbuing her character with a little more depth than first meets the eye. In the pilot, hotshot businesswoman Cricket (Miriam Shor) tries to prevent Amanda from getting a decent job. In the second episode, she has a moment at home with her husband that makes us look at her differently. Sharon (Jennifer Aspen) drowns her insecurities in food because she’s certain her husband Zach (Brad Beyer), who used to be in love with Amanda in high school, will leave her for the new widow. The MVP is Potts, whose signature drollness can’t disguise how much Gigi loves her daughter.

Potts and Bibb

Bibb is okay as Amanda, but she’s not the most interesting character since she has to be the straight woman. Maybe there will be a flashback episode and we’ll get to see her cut loose as that awful person everyone keeps talking about.

Nerd verdict: Funny Bitches

Photos: ABC

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AMERICAN IDOL S11: Top 12 Girls Perform

Once again, guest blogger Poncho breaks down Idol as only he can.—PCN

Before I start bashing the girls, I have to dedicate a little rant to dear ol’ dawg Randy Jackson: Stop with the freaking name dropping! Really! It’s becoming annoying. I really don’t care if you worked on a record with the pope! Arrgh.

Now that I got that out of my system, let me give my 2 cents about the girls who fought for the Top 12.

The first one was country girl Chelsea Sorrell with “Cowboy Casanova.” I kept thinking of random girls dressed in shiny outfits in karaoke bars I’ve been to. But then I noticed a cool violinist at the top of the stairs. He was rocking it!

Erika Van Pelt has a very nice old-school sound to her voice. That said, her “What About Love” was good but unimpressive. I expected a little more risk-taking in her arrangement since she’s (allegedly) a DJ.

Next, Jen Hirsh was overpowered by her song. “One and Only” showed she had a lot of trouble keeping her breath and that her range (or control) is not that much. Then, during her post-performance bit, I thought, “Why is this girl trying to play dumb when she’s seemingly a lot smarter than that?”

Fourth was a girl named Brielle Von Hugel singing Otis Redding’s “(Sittin’ On) the Dock of the Bay,” and though the song started very rough, she brought it together and I noticed a very cool rasp in her voice. But that’s about it. I was unimpressed overall.

Hallie Day has this too-cool-for-school vibe, and I liked that about her, but I wasn’t “Feeling Good” about her singing. It started well, she had nice moments in her lower register, but when she brought it up, it was so-so. By that point, I was already bored.

But then cool-named Skyler Laine brought me to tears of laughter. The second I saw her I wondered, “What is La Chilindrina doing on American Idol?” Her “Stay with Me” was fine and had a good rock-country feel to it, but I got angry at Randy when he said they have never had that rock-country sound from a girl on the Idol stage. I was like, “Really? What about Allison FREAKING Iraheta on Grand Ole Opry night in season 8?!” I get so angry at that guy all the time sometimes. (BTW, La Chilindrina is a character by Mexican actress María Antonieta de las Nieves, who both had her own show and was part of the ensemble on El Chavo del Ocho.)

Baylie Brown might have to pay for the damages caused by the train she wrecked on stage. I was certainly “Amazed” that she didn’t hit one note.

Next, Hollie Cavanagh rushed through the beginning of “Reflection,” but then controlled it at the middle. The girl has a very beautiful voice, and she knows how to use it. But one could actually see her heart pounding through the whole performance. I want to see her through just to hear her sing without her nerves, and to look at those gorgeous eyes of hers. Other than that, she has a very thick Texas accent so I couldn’t understand one word she said to Ryan.

I think “Sweet Dreams” was not a sweet song choice by Haley Johnsen, though I was liking it at the beginning. Once the band kicked in, the arrangement sucked, the banshees drowned Haley’s voice, and I couldn’t hear the runs and voice acrobatics the judges said she did. All things considered, I think her sweet AI dream has ended.

Shannon Magrane decided to sing “Go Light Your World,” and I snored so hard I woke up everybody in my house.

Sanchez

When Jessica Sanchez started to sign “Love You I Do” from Dreamgirls, it was the fastest I’ve ever gone from groaning to picking up my jaw from the floor. I had to run to pick up my socks that had been blown off by that girl’s voice. There is nothing short of amazing about Jessica’s singing. My eyes were out of their sockets when I realized THAT voice comes from such a petite girl. Fantastic, indeed.

Closing the show was Elise Testone with Adele’s “One and Only” (again!), and I thought she was great. The first half was a lot better than the last, but she totally connected to the song and I could feel the emotion coming from her. And I love her voice, which reminds me a little of (Mexico’s) Alejandra Guzmán. And she has a room-service flower on her head!

What did you think? Were you hit any debris in Baylie Brown’s train wreck? Were you blown away by Jessica Sanchez’s huge voice? Did you feel Elise Testone?

Photo: FOX

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REVENGE: Chaos, Indeed

*SPOILERS AHEAD*

Emily VanCamp (Emily) & Josh Bowman (Daniel)

After all the buildup, the big episode, titled “Chaos,” finally arrived, showing us who got shot in the pilot episode. I refused to believe it was Daniel because, well, this isn’t MI-5 so producers weren’t going to kill off a series regular. Plus, removing Daniel from the show would seriously hamper the storyline because 1) the nasty Grayson parents would lose the pawn in their nasty game of one-upmanship (Charlotte doesn’t count; no one cares about her, certainly not her grandfather), and 2) the love triangle between Emily, Daniel, and Jack would turn into…a straight line?

So whose dead body was on the beach? Tyler’s. This is especially satisfying because when we saw he’d returned, I said, “Ugh, I hate him so much!” and Mr. PCN said, “Someone needs to put a bullet through that guy.” BAM! He got his wish. When I saw Hiroyuki Sanada’s name in the credits (Tanaka), I said, “Yay! Give me some ninja action!” Alas, I didn’t get my wish.

VanCamp & Madeleine Stowe

Speaking of Tanaka, where was he taking FauxAmanda? Whose blood did she leave on Jack’s hand after she left him on the boat? With all the running around she was doing, she certainly didn’t seem to be feeling the effects of a gunshot wound if she had been hit by Tyler. Who shot Tyler? It was someone wearing a black jacket and gloves, which—I think—eliminates Nolan (love his red jacket) and all the men wearing white. The only people I could see in black were security so…was it Ed, Nolan’s bodyguard? Maybe it’s payback for Tyler stabbing his boss a little while back.

I don’t have the answers but the fun of this show is in the guessing. What did you think of this episode? Are you glad Daniel’s alive or angry because you felt the buildup was misleading? Who do you think killed Tyler? How stunning were those red dresses Emily and Victoria were wearing?

For more info about this episode and where the show goes from here, check out this Entertainment Weekly interview with Bowman and two of the producers.

Photo: ABC/Colleen Hayes

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THE VOICE Returns

While most people were excited about the Super Bowl, I was more looking forward to the return of The Voice, the singing competition I might abandon American Idol for after the latter’s lackluster season last year and uninspired start so far this year.

My DVR started recording late so I missed the first singer to audition, whom Blake Shelton apparently snapped up. Here are some thoughts about the rest of them:

  • Mann

    Chris Mann not only surprised with his booming, operatic voice, he moved me with what he said about not wanting to shrink his voice down to make it fit the norm anymore. It takes guts to go on a show like this and sing opera, and it was gratifying to see the judges embrace him (except Blake, who said, “I know I’m country, but I couldn’t understand one word he was sayin’!”). Wish Mann had gone with Cee Lo, though, because he’s a savvy producer who could probably do more for Mann’s career than Christina Aguilera.

  • Juliet Simms, who performed a gravelly, achy version of The Beatles’ “Oh! Darling” had Adam Levine on his feet singing along with her. I think his rock ‘n’ roll style would have been good for her, but she went with Cee Lo. Why was everyone avoiding Adam when he coached last year’s winner, Javier Colon?
  • While fighting for Simms to join her team, Aguilera annoyed the funk out of me when she kept talking over Adam while he was making his pitch. She repeatedly called the Maroon 5 singer a used car salesman and, though she later said she was kidding, was completely charmless about it. She also needs to stop abusing the word “honestly.” Everything was “honestly” this and “honestly” that. Couldn’t she convince the singers and viewers of the sincerity of her comments without having to say that all the time?
  • Campbell

    Jesse Campbell has an incredible voice, and I’m glad all the judges fought over him, but I kept thinking he looked like Cuba Gooding Jr. Anyone else think that? And when his wife got tired of his not being able to provide for his family as a musician, why did she leave the kid with him so that the girl had to sleep in the car with her father? That’s cold.

  • Former Mousketeer Tony Lucca was fantastic in his rendition of “Trouble.” The first two notes out of his mouth and I was already yelling at the TV, “Push the button! Turn your damn chairs around!” The guy was also adorable, looking like he was having the time of his life playing his guitar and singing his heart out. And he chose Adam! Finally! Aguilera was his co-star on The Mickey Mouse Club but didn’t seem to recognize him at all until after he left the stage. I suspect someone prompted her from off camera, because she went from no recognition to a rather shocked look instead of having a slow dawning realization. She then went backstage to meet his wife and son, telling them Britney Spears used to have a crush on Lucca when they were all working together. The look on his wife’s face at the revelation was…interesting.
  • Daniel Rosa, the only wannabe whose entire audition was shown despite his not making it onto a team, was the most painful to watch. His voice actually had a nice soulful tone but he had obvious pitch problems. He performed Neon Trees’ “Animal,” which included the refrain “What are you waiting for?” which poor Rosa kept singing to the backs of the coaches’ chairs, as if begging them to turn around.

Rosa’s audition showed that even those deemed not good enough weren’t train wrecks like they are on Idol. He was also treated with respect by the coaches and producers, not humiliated on national TV. We’ll see whether that holds true as the season progresses, but tonight’s show was a good start, and it’ll have two more hours tomorrow to discover more incredible voices.

Did you watch? Who did you like? Did you think all the singers picked the right coaches for themselves?

Check out Chris Mann’s audition video below:

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TV Review: SMASH

Yeah, yeah, it’s exec produced by Steven Spielberg, stars Anjelica Huston and Debra Messing, has big musical numbers…but is it any good? Well, it’s technically impressive, but after finishing the pilot episode of Smash (premiering Monday, Feb. 6 at 10/9c on NBC), I still had a hard time locating its heart.

The story revolves around the songwriting team of Tom and Julia (Christian Borle and Messing) trying to find the perfect actress to play Marilyn Monroe in a Broadway production about her life. We see a room full of wannabes and one bad audition and by the end of the pilot, it looks like it’s down to just two contenders: blond and curvy Ivy Lynn (Megan Hilty, Wicked) and doe-eyed brunette Karen Cartwright (Katharine McPhee, American Idol). Ivy is a chorus girl itching to strut her stuff in a lead role, while Karen is a waitress from Iowa who’s so green, she immediately jumps at the chance to go over to the director’s home at 10 p.m. for a one-on-one “coaching session.” Uh huh. That’s not just being a naive actress; that’s being a stupid female.

Hilty

Both Hilty and McPhee have superb singing voices, but so far, neither Ivy nor Karen seems like a shoo-in to play Monroe. Ivy has the Broadway experience, is more dynamic while performing, looks more like the iconic actress, but there’s a been-around-the-block hardness to her character that wouldn’t be right for Marilyn, who’s softer around the edges. Karen has more of the innocence, but she’s so inexperienced as an actress that I, too, would hesitate to put my money on her to carry a big Broadway production. This is part of the conflict of Smash, since the creative team is having trouble deciding between the two. (Isn’t there a third choice? It’s New York!)

McPhee

In the real world, though, Hilty is obviously the stronger actress. Putting McPhee up against her is like scheduling a fight between Jet Li and a kid who just started studying martial arts two weeks ago. The running gag in the show is that producers keep calling Karen “light” when rejecting her for roles and she doesn’t know what that means (she does eventually find out). The description is apropos, though, because McPhee is a lightweight compared to Hilty. Some of McPhee’s performance looks stilted, her movements are affectations, as if she’s not yet settled into the role.

Messing, whose work I enjoyed on Will & Grace, hasn’t found her footing, either, as Julia. She has a couple scenes in which she isn’t quite convincing as a workaholic taking on two new projects at the same time: trying to adopt a child and producing an original musical. The actress was playing Julia’s dilemma in a dramatic fashion, but it seems as if she just wanted to burst out and do something goofy. Anjelica Huston is formidable as usual, but her producer character is—as of now—secondary (she brings money to the table). It’s more about the dream and the passion and sweat and tears, and yes, some of it is kind of cheesy.

But there is a big, glossy baseball number (because Marilyn was married to Joe DiMaggio), and if you like peeking behind the curtains of a big theatrical production, seeing the training and rehearsals and possible catfights that happen along the way to opening night, this might be the ticket for you.

Note: If you can’t wait until Monday, the entire pilot is available now as a free download on iTunes.

Nerd verdict: Not quite Smashing but has potential

Photos: NBC

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Reactions to SAG Awards 2012 & Fashion Roundup

Wow, I was bored throughout this show, despite the fact it’s produced by my union and I got to vote for the awards. I can’t even do a best & worst list because the show was, ah, listless and predictable. (Except for when Tina Fey took Steve Buscemi’s wine glass from him and chugged it.) It got to the point where I was happy people didn’t show up to accept their awards because then the show could move closer to its conclusion.

I did wake up a little when Jean Dujardin won best actor for The Artist because, while I adore George Clooney, I liked Dujardin’s performance more. After he won, I crossed my fingers for Michelle Williams to pull an upset, too, for her transformative work in My Week with Marilyn, but I’m good with Viola Davis’s win for The Help.

I voted for Artist for best movie ensemble (wonder if Uggie would’ve gotten an Actor?) but Help‘s win is fine. I did wish, though, that Cicely Tyson had been allowed to make the acceptance speech since 1) she’s a legend, 2) Davis already had her moment when she won her individual award, and 3) Davis herself said Tyson was the reason she wanted to be an actor when she was eight years old.

Anyway, the rest of the winners are:

Supporting actress in a motion picture: Octavia Spencer for The Help

Supporting actor in a motion picture: Christopher Plummer for Beginners

TV drama ensemble: Boardwalk Empire

TV comedy ensemble: Modern Family

Actress in TV drama series: Jessica Lange for American Horror Story

Actor in TV drama series: Steve Buscemi in Boardwalk Empire

Actress in TV comedy series: Betty White for Hot in Cleveland

Actor in TV comedy series: Alec Baldwin for 30 Rock (he’s hilarious but pleeeease give it to someone else next year! Six is enough for this role!)

Actress in a TV movie or miniseries: Kate Winslet for Mildred Pierce

Actor in a TV movie or miniseries: Paul Giamatti for Too Big to Fail

Movie stunt ensemble: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2

TV stunt ensemble: Game of Thrones

Even the fashion was ho-hum, not many eye poppers or obvious train wrecks. Some highlights:

1. Michelle Williams. I love that she wore a bright color, and the Valentino is very pretty, but the shoes look a little mall-ish.

2. Viola Davis. Fantastic gown; not sure about the hair, though. Perhaps pulled back and sleek would have been better for a whole goddess-like look.

3. Sofia Vergara. This color is smashing on her, but she still stayed safe in the same body-hugging silhouette she usually wears.

4. Jessica Chastain. The vibrant blue is much better than the white she wore to the Globes, and it’s striking against her red hair, but overall the dress is pretty dull.

5. Shailene Woodley. This dress didn’t make sense to me at all. Maybe she was going for a Hawaiian motif to represent The Descendants?

6. Lea Michele. This made me think of Dave Matthews’s “Crash into Me” lyrics: If she hikes up her skirt a little more, she’d show her world to everyone.

7. Jennifer Carpenter. This is one of my favorites. It might be shorter and more casual, but the beading and details are beautiful, and the dress looks perfect for a sunny, almost 80-degrees day.

8. Emma Stone. She’s so adorable, she can wear whatever she wants.

9. Tilda Swinton. You know you’re in for a slow night when even her gown looks drab.

10. Angelina Jolie. The draping is very sensual, and the metallic gives it a touch of rock ‘n’ roll, but it’s black. Zzzzzzzzzz.

11. Naya Rivera. I’m tired of looking at her breasts at every award show. If it’s not front cleavage, it’s side boobs. We get that you’re hot, now try something classy next time.

12. Emily Blunt. This is a difficult color to wear, but she looks stunning in it. The fit of the gown is divine.

13. Meryl Streep. Mr. PCN said he kept expecting her to pull out a lightsaber from her Jedi-looking outfit.

14. Rose Byrne. She said she was inspired by Michelle Pfeiffer’s Scarface look. Works for me.

15. Regina King. We end with my favorite of the evening. It makes me think of spring.

Which were your favorites?

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Who’s That Actor?! Pt. 3

In the last month or so, I’ve watched a lot of films and TV and noticed how many actors show up repeatedly. I’m not talking about big stars but thespians who do a ton of work but whose names still escape you. So I decided it’s time for “Who’s That Actor? Pt. 3,” where I post pictures of actors who should look familiar to you, and ask you to name them or at least one role they’ve played (here are part 1 and part 2). I will give no hints, since it’d be too easy to Google the info and arrive at the answer. There are also no prizes, only bragging rights that you are also a pop culture nerd, which I believe will get you lots of phone numbers at a bar.

Ready? Here goes.

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How many can you name? Hit the comments and show off your nerdy stripes. If there are answers before yours, you don’t have to copy them because they’re not necessarily all right!

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Book Review: RAYLAN by Elmore Leonard

This review is by contributor Eric Edwards, a cowboy in his own way.—PCN

Raylan Givens, a U.S. Marshal whose no-nonsense way of upholding the law is viewed by his higher-ups as too reminiscent of the Old West, gets relocated from Miami, Florida, back to Harlan County, Kentucky, where the friends and enemies of his youth don’t exactly admire his current profession.

Although the dust jacket suggests a single plot involving our hero on the trail of redneck brothers Dickie and Coover Crowe when they decide to branch out from pot dealing into organ trafficking, the story actually covers multiple cases. There’s Raylan tracking down a college-poker-player-turned-bank-robber who skipped out on her arraignment, and reluctantly playing bodyguard to a sexy female spokeswoman for the coal industry as she faces down an angry crowd of Appalachian locals who suspect her of murdering one of their own. These stories play out as vignettes initially and connect as a whole by the end of the book, but the appeal for me was not so much the plot as Elmore Leonard’s mastery in putting it all together.

I was able to embrace this novel on two levels. First, as an appreciative reader of Leonard’s succinct and unique, character-tailored prose, and secondly as a fan of the current TV show based upon this character. Die-hard Leonard fans might remember Raylan from two of the author’s previous novels (Pronto, Riding the Rap) as well as a novella (“Fire In The Hole” from his collection When the Women Come Out to Dance). I was first introduced to this character via the FX series, Justified, but don’t judge me too harshly because Leonard’s name is what made me watch the show in the first place (season three premieres next Tuesday, Jan. 17, the same day the novel comes out).

Actor Timothy Olyphant’s portrayal of this righteous badass with a past is so on point with the author’s intention, it’s hard not to visualize the actor while devouring the prose. Justified fans who pick up this book will undoubtedly recognize Boyd Crowder (played by Walton Goggins) and Art Mullen (Nick Searcy), but may have a few head-scratching moments when encountering plotlines the show took creative license with during the first two seasons, and the difference in gender of one pivotal character. But hopefully, this won’t discourage watchers from becoming readers and enjoying the work of the man who created Raylan.

Buy Raylan now from Amazon| Buy from an indie bookstore

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