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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Two Midwestern "Project Runway" designers talk about their experience

Channel Surfing contributor Sara Boyd has moved onto better things in her new digs at WCCO TV in Minneapolis, but that's good news for us "Project Runway" fans.

Sara did a great set of interviews with two of the designers from Minnesota, including last week's loser Ra'mon-Lawrence Coleman, that you can read here. Ra'mon and Christopher Straub discuss all aspects of "Project Runway," from the time constraints to their favorite challenges to working with Tim Gunn to the tattoos they both have. It's good stuff.

Thanks, Sara!

-- Malavika Jagannathan,


Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Week 3: "Top Chef" Power Rankings

Oddly, my handy dandy AT&T guide does not list a new episode of "Top Chef" this week. So either something is screwy on my end or Padma and Co. are taking the week off to show a repeat of the Penn & Teller episode. Blimey!

Either way, Robin shocked the world last week by not only staving off elimination, but doing it with immunity from the Quickfire. Score one for the cancer survivor.

Fate, however, did not smile kindly on Biggie Smalls Ron, who dropped a few dope rhymes for his Haitian brethren, but ultimately got capped like a fellow Big Poppa before him.

If indeed this is an off week, Evan's going to have to hope his hot streak carries the same sizzle in October. He was the only person to place Ron at the bottom, giving him a total of 10 points and the lead. Sara, Thomas and Ms. Q also nabbed 5 points thanks to Big Red Kevin's Elimination win. Mary still sits in second with six points while Kelly, MJ and Adam remain huge, huge losers. They may as well get lip rings and call it a day.

Onto this week's (or next week's) rankings:

1. Jen Carroll
2. Michael "Maverick" V.
3. Kevin "Grizzly" Gillespie
4. Bryan "Goose" V.
5. Michael "I'm a Tool" Isabella
6. Eli Kirshtein
7. Ashley Merriman
8. Laurine Wickett
9. Robin Leventhal
10. Ash Fulk

-- Evan Siegle, 10 points

1. Michael "Deconstruction is my middle name" Voltaggio
2. "I'm so good, someone might want to check to see if I have a penis" Jen Carroll
3. Kevin "I have an awesome red beard and you don't" Gillespie
4. Bryan "I may have smiled last episode" Voltaggio
5. Eli "I hate people with cancer" Kirshtein
6. Michael "I miss Mattin, but not in a gay way" Isabella
7. Ashley "I'm not really a dark horse, just extremely lucky that the three people beneath me are far worse chefs" Merriman
8. Robin "I'll stay on another week to cause some drama. Can I have my handkerchief now?" Leventhal
9. Laurine "Yes mom, I'm still on the show" Wickett
10. Ash "I'm just happy to be able to turn on an oven" Fulk

-- Thomas Rozwadowski, 5 points

1. Kevin Gillespie, aka: Zach Galifianakis
2. Jennifer "I don't move my mouth when I talk" Carroll
3. Bryan "I do not smile. Ever." Voltaggio
4. Michael Voltaggio, aka: Chef Slim Shady, aka: Tony Hawk
5. Eli "Seriously Jewish" Kirshtein
6. Ashley "Ben Kweller/Young Bob Dylan" Merriman
7. Michael "Jagga bombs!" Isabella
8. Ash Fulk, more like Ass... nevermind
9. The chick who's name I will NEVER remember (aka: Laurine)
10. Robin "Seriously, I hate you" Leventhal

-- Sara Boyd, 5 points

1. Michael "Humdrum" Voltaggio
2. Jennifer "Kitchen Boss" Carroll
3. Kevin "Bunyan" Gillespie
4. Bryan "Drab and Dreary" Voltaggio
5. Ashley "He-She" Merriman
6. Mike "Misogyny" Isabella
7. Eli "Blazer's Sous Chef" Kirshtein
8. Robin "Salad and Cobbler" Leventhal
9. Ash "Skin of his teeth" Fulk
10. Laurine "Seriously, who?" Wickett

-- Kelly McBride, zero points

(If the Top Cheffers were Dick Tracy villains ...)

1. Mumbles Malone (Jennifer)
2. The Squat Semite (Eli)
3. Bland Face (Bryan)
4. Fur Neck (Kevin)
5. Bland Face Jr. (Mike V.)
6. Comb Killer (Ashley)
7. Danny Douche (Mike I.)
8. 5-Hour Energy (Laurine) (Cuz her name sounds like taurine, get it?)
9. The Cockroach (Robin)
10. The Gargantuan Head (Ash)

-- Adam Reinhard, zero points

1. Jennifer
2. Bryan "Stop Wearing Your Baseball Hat Because I Can't Tell You Apart From Your Brother Otherwise" Voltaggio
3. "I'm A Lumberjack and I'm OK" Kevin
4. "Exploding Pressure Cooker Extraordinaire" Eli
5. Michael "I am so passionate about food... zzzzzzzzzz" Voltaggio
6. "I Am Man/Woman, Hear Me Roar" Ashley
7. "I've Run Out of Things To Mock Your Name With" Laurine
8. "Jim Gaffigan/John C. Reilly weep profusely" Ash
9. Mike "Girly Last Name" Isabella
10. "Check Out My Salad and Apple Crisp... oh and I have Cancer" Robin

-- Malavika Jagannathan, zero points

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"Jon and Kate Plus 8" to drop Jon... officially

Not to toot my own horn or anything, but I kinda predicted this would happen. In June, right as the Gosselins were set to air their "very special announcement," I guessed correctly that the show's title would eventually change.

TLC announced this morning that its hit reality show will change its name to just "Kate Plus Eight" to adapt to the impending divorce of the Gosselins. Jon will still appear on the show, but will no longer get the special privilege of being in the show's title (probably good since he's gotta spend time cultivating his next tabloid move or outing with Papa Lohan).

Here's a little something from the AP on the not-so-shocking decision:

The renamed "Kate Plus Eight," which begins Nov. 2, will continue to chronicle the lives of the Gosselin kids (5-year-old sextuplets and 8-year-old twins) but will also focus on Kate's role as a single mother.

The rupture came after weeks of tabloid reports of marital strains and infidelities, which both spouses denied. On the show, the parental co-stars barely spoke to each other.

Since then, media coverage of the squabbling exes has continued full-bore, and both Jon and Kate have made separate he-said-she-said talk-show rounds. They are in divorce proceedings.

I've caught a few episodes of the post-split episodes, but let's be honest, the only reason I was watching was to see the awkward interactions between Jon and Kate. Without the pleasure of even that, is there any purpose in watching? Will any "Jon and Kate" fans watch just Kate? Should they just cancel the show?

--Malavika Jagannathan,


Monday, September 28, 2009

The Week That Was: Scanning one blogger's DVR tally

Last week was billed as the biggest on the Fall TV schedule -- and judging by my DVR tally (and the amount of time I spent on my couch this weekend) that was all too true. Having played catch-up with most high priority premieres and returning shows, here's my quick rundown on the week's winners and losers:


"Modern Family": Very funny pilot, though I agree with Adam that its a little too cliche and familiar in spots. Particularly, the documentary style, which felt more like a distraction since it's already been beaten into the ground by NBC. Big points to ultra cool dad Phil (Ty Burrell), who managed to get the biggest laugh out of me by using the word "chillax" without a hint of irony.

"Cougar Town": A little scattered and too over-the-top in its preachiness -- did they really need to spell out the double-standard with men dating younger women that demonstratively? -- but overall, quite likable and even risque. Bill Lawrence ("Scrubs") has never been one to dial back on gushy life lessons, but the pilot established a smart, snarky tone (the aging real estate cougar was especially hilarious) and offered up some fun gender headbutting that should bode well for a full season pickup.

"Community": Strong debut, solid second episode. The B-plot in Thursday's new episode -- Britta's passion for global causes -- felt flimsy and forced, but Ken Jeong's appearance as uber-defensive Senor Chang (very funny) and Pierce's (Chevy Chase) delusional presentation with Jeff (Joel McHale) was like a cough medicine hallucination come to life. Still a lot of promise here even if the second episode didn't take a big step forward.

"The Amazing Race": There's a reason "Race" wins every Emmy (and should) for Best Reality Competition. It's revolutionary television. No other reality show can compete with the production value of an ongoing global adventure -- one that in a span of two hours stretched its considerable reach to Japan and Vietnam for hilarious (a Japanese game show with contestants choking down Wasabi bombs) and hardscrabble (getting caked in mud and herding ducks) challenges. Already, some villains (professional poker players Maria and Tiffany; meathead Lance and doormat Keri) have emerged, while others (Globetrotters Herb and Nate; good guys Zev and Justin, left) have jumped out as early crowd pleasers. Despite rarely tinkering with the formula -- though they eliminated a couple this year before the competition even started -- "Race" remains compellingly authentic TV.

"The Office": Dunder Mifflin is in a nice rhythm -- and all because they've stayed in the office for two straight episodes. Mining humor from the simplicity of Michael's ever pressing need to be included has resulted in some rapid fire riffs and even better plot development. Jim stepping up career wise -- and Michael attempting to hold him back -- also had a real moment of tension attached. Maybe the bar has been lowered, but some pretty funny stuff so far. Heck, I'm even looking forward to Jim and Pam's upcoming wedding.

"It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia": Another show that's rediscovered a nice, easygoing rhythm. No one is about to accuse the "Sunny" gang of "toning it down," but the last two episodes have felt a bit more restrained compared to last season's manic undertaking (kudos to FX for not airing new episodes back-to-back). In particular, the ending to "The Gang Exploits the Mortgage Crisis" was a stroke of genius, while "The Gang Hits the Road" kept things incredibly simple by containing its madcap comedy to a crowded car and flaming trailer. Plus, there was Charlie eating an entire pear and Sweet Dee's jar of urine splashing on Mac -- two uproarious moments that rank among the best gags in five seasons. Can't wait for Episode 11 and "Kitten Mittens," though.


"Dancing with the Stars": When does 17.4 million viewers qualify as a disappointing start? When you're used to 21.4 million the year before. Tom Delay's debut certainly had some buzz Tuesday morning, but honestly, how long is the amusement of watching a creepy old man shake his diaper going to last? Confession: I tuned in to see the "Iron Chef" chairman dance and came away scarred by both Delay shaking his groove thang and the meager concept of this wretched, wretched TV show. Honestly, it isn't even the dancing, but rather those boring backstage interviews that absolutely horrify me. And really, how unbelievable is it that Delay, a man who wanted to abolish smut on television, is now bumping and grinding to "Wild Thing?"

"FlashForward": Maybe it'll get better over time, but the pilot had a chance to 'wow' and failed on every turn. Too big, too bloated and trying too hard to be "Lost." The cast -- which includes a few "Losties" -- seems solid though, and some of the future storylines carry promising bits of intrigue. It just needs to focus less on the big picture and bring character development and a more realistic pace into focus. Had higher expectations, that's all.

"The Beautiful Life": OK, so I didn't actually settle down to watch this. Then again, nobody did since it was already canceled by CW after two episodes. Sorry MJ, but even this Ashton Kutcher produced suckfest tanked faster than "Brothers." Points to everyone who picked it in the Fall TV Death Pool.

-- Thomas Rozwadowski,


Friday, September 25, 2009

"FlashForward" fizzles in first attempt

Go big or go home, right?

Well, "big" doesn't even begin to describe what "FlashForward" attempted to accomplish during its much buzzed-about pilot last night on ABC.

On paper, "FlashForward" should be epic television. After a two minute blackout puts the entire world to sleep, those who regain consciousness are forced to retrace their steps and make sense of "flash forwards" that suddenly thrust characters six months into the future.

Are the visions real? Can they be changed? Should they be embraced? Did everyone have one?

For instance, struggling to stay sober FBI agent Mark Benford (Joseph Fiennes) sees himself drinking and losing his cool while trying to make sense of the ongoing puzzle that caused the two minute snoozefest. His wife, Dr. Olivia Benford (Sonya Walger, or Penny Widmore on "Lost"), sees herself seducing another man -- despite having never met the individual in her flash. Meanwhile, Benford's partner (John Cho) doesn't see anything at all, which leads him to presume he might be dead.

It should all be riveting, edge-of-your-seat stuff, the kind of intergalactic mindf*** that should leave everyone freaking out about their lives. Having survived such a catastrophic moment of unexpected enormity, these characters must think the apocalypse is a given, right?


Except the pilot doesn't really play out that way. The "event" that knocks everyone out cold comes and goes in a matter of minutes, the rest of the episode dotted with calm and rational "What did you see? Wait, what did you see?" type discussions that suck the palpable energy from an unthinkable sequence of events. Now, I'm not a huge fan of disaster movies, but it would seem there should have been a very real 9-11 what the hell just happened quality to the worldwide blackout. Yet instead of living in that moment -- the burning buildings, the crashing helicopters, upturned vehicles on a littered freeway -- "Flash" creators skipped ahead to the meaning behind the flashes, this despite not developing any of the characters.

It's a huge mistake, one "Lost" took the opposite track on. The "Lost" plane crash was handled the right way -- mass confusion, mass hysteria, a few ominous hints about the island, but nothing that would even dare suggest that its mysterious qualities would eventually consume the entire show. What still stands out from the "Lost" pilot is genuine fear and paranoia -- passengers walking in a daze, Jack jumping into hero mode instead of worrying about his own well-being -- the characters' reactions to what just happened. Instead, "FlashForward" rushed away from the action and moved immediately to the burning questions, none of which have any established depth or emotional pull. Even the cool cliffhanger felt less dramatic because the build-up felt too ... well, normal.

Other gripes: the premise is too big. A human blackout in Los Angeles is riveting enough. Stretching it to Hong Kong, Paris, London, Sao Paulo, all parts in-between, puts everything in a grand context that's impossible to wrap your head around. Just imagine that utter carnage from having everyone black out at the same time for two minutes. Impossible.

News scrawls and flashing images attempt to capture the magnitude of the universal disaster, and of course, this all fails miserably. Just the L.A. hospital alone, where Sonya Walger's character is a surgeon, would be absolutely OVERRUN with potential victims. Instead, Olivia and her crew wake up from the floor, clean their hands, and go to work on a lone accident victim -- no real sense of urgency or expectation for an oncoming rush that should have been played up much more dramatically. Take your cues from Hurricane Katrina, writers! That's what happens when the world turns upside down for a day.

Then there's the dialogue, most notably from Benford's daughter. It's not cute. It's not creepy. Just incredibly forced and cheesy. Same goes for an exchange about the "flash forward" -- and seriously, they use the term about 80 times throughout the pilot -- in the FBI office, one that includes "Family Guy's" Seth MacFarlane trading notes. "This is what I saw ... Well, this is what I saw ..." It's like a bunch of school kids sitting around the cafeteria table blandly discussing whether they have bologna or peanut butter. YOU ALL BLACKED OUT! Wouldn't someone overreact? Anyone?

There are definitely intriguing parts worth exploring here, enough that would keep most "Lost" puzzle junkies hanging around. The ability to see even two minutes into future is a heady space we've all dreamed about. Me? I may DVR the next few episodes to see if the pace slows down, the requisite depth arrives, just to make sure my first impression hasn't been made in haste. Plus, Dominic Monaghan (Charlie from "Lost") is set to arrive, and that's a bonus anyway you slice it.

But for a first knockout blow, the kind of holy crap pilot I was expecting from the promos and premise, I'm simply not buying. TV is too crowded these days, and if I'm going to surrender my attention span to a show like "Flash Forward," it better be earned immediately.

Instead, "FlashForward" seems to revel in the notion that because I already love "Lost," I should also love a show that raises similar big questions. Sorry, but in this case, big doesn't mean better.

-- Thomas Rozwadowski,

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"Project Runway" recap: A Hot Mess

Rarely does "Project Runway" disappoint. The standards of the reality fashion competition are high -- and judges generally reward the best designer and discard the worst -- so when the show falters, it's usually a shock.

I'm still recovering from the travesty of last night's episode. Not only did the judges reward Nicolas Putvinski (that IS his real name), one of the least talented contestants, but they sent home Ra'mon-Lawrence Coleman. In what was one of the more interesting challenges so far (OK, the newspaper challenge was pretty cool, too, but that's because I'm a journalism nerd), contestants chose one of five movie genres and were asked to develop a character and a dress to fit the character. With the show's transcontinental move to L.A., it seemed more than appropriate to pay homage to the movie making industry.

The results varied from Ra'mon's last-minute otherworldly reptilian dress to my personal favorite, a Victorian period piece from Christopher that should have clearly walked away with the win. Instead, the judges chose to favor Nicolas who did nothing more than recreate Tilda Swinton's White Witch costume from "The Chronicles of Narnia" -- and not very well, I might add -- although he has shown nothing so far in the competition to set him apart from any other B-grade designer. Ra-mon, who has generally been a risk taker and won praise for his designs, was sent packing for arguably a last-minute effort that didn't quite fit his initial vision. The real tragedy in this is not just Ra'mon's departure -- sad as that is -- but the fact that greasy-haired Nicolas will be around for at least two more shows with the immunity he won in this round.

Come on, "Runway," I know you can do better than this. Nicolas has no personality and no talent. He talks big every week, but rarely delivers something above grade-school project quality. Ra'mon's departure was unfortunate, but if Nicolas remains on the show for more than two episodes, it's just disastrous for the show's reputation.

Anyone else as angry as I am? Please contribute below... or I can just sit here and fume all day.

--Malavika Jagannathan,


Thursday, September 24, 2009

Tom Delay on "Dancing with the Stars" is hilarious

It's been a while since I've seen something truly laugh-out-loud funny. Then, I finally watched Tom Delay's debut on "Dancing with the Stars" last night... and I still haven't stopped laughing.

Watching the conservative politician shake his groove thang to "Wild Thing" was equal parts horrific to hilarious. Even better? His awesome grandpa sweatpants paired with various Texas college t-shirts (go Aggies!) and his effort to "get in touch with his feminine side."

It's possible I'm biased. Growing up in Texas in the 1990s, the height of the former House Majority Leader's influence in the sphere of national politics, there's no one who defined the conservative movement like The Hammer. So, to watch him wear sparkly outfits and shimmy to the cha-cha isn't just irony -- it's pure, golden comedy -- and, heck, it's a pretty good way to make people forget about those pesky money laundering charges that Delay is still facing.

Delay is safe for another week -- thank goodness -- and I'm prepared to be a regular watcher of the show (on DVR, though, so I can skip through the annoying parts) for the purpose of a good belly-aching laugh. Who said comedy was dead?

Check out the video of his performance below:

Catch "Dancing With the Stars" on Mondays at 7 p.m. on ABC.

--Malavika Jagannathan,

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Take a bite out of "Vampire Diaries" -- it's campy fun

Vampires seem to be the "it" crowd nowadays, but our fanged friends have found success on the small screen as everything from bloodsucking villains to remorseful detectives.

CW's newest drama "Vampire Diaries" -- which snagged a cool 4.91 million viewers on its debut night -- is the latest in the series of vampire lore to capitalize on the "Twilight"/"True Blood" frenzy that's overtaken teenage girls, their middle-aged moms and every other female in the last few years. But truthfully, it's not all bad. In fact, it's almost good. (I say almost because I fear liking this show will ruin my credibility as a normally discerning viewer).

I haven't yet watched HBO's "True Blood," but from my brief foray into "Vampire Diaries" (which I will try not to abbreviate as VD even though I'm sorely tempted) puts it somewhere in between the campiness of "Twilight" and the darker, sexier aspects of the HBO hit. The show is based on popular books that were written well before Stephanie Meyer penned her novels, but there's a bit of a striking similarity between the stories that you'll instantly recognize, unless you've been under a rock these past few years. You know, the brooding vampire and his soon-to-be lady love are caught in the midst of star-crossed circumstances beyond their control. But comparisons should end there. By the end of the premiere and well into episode two, it's clear that this isn't just a girl-meets-vampire story, it's a girl (Elena played by Nina Dobrev of "Degrassi" fame) caught in the middle of a good-versus-evil battle between competing vampire brothers Stevan (Paul Wesley) and Damon (Ian Somerhalder from "Lost"). Oh, plus Elena has an uncanny resemblance to Stefan's ex... from the 1800s... who everything so far suggests he may have killed.

Now, doesn't that just intrigue you a little bit?

Admittedly, this is not "Masterpiece Theater" quality television. Producer Kevin Williamson, best known for his work on "Dawson's Creek," is still as soapy as ever with lots of smoldering/longing looks between Stefan and Elena. The whole "diary" bit -- both Stefan and Elena pour their hearts and souls into their journals every day and we're treated to these via Meredith Grey-esque voiceovers -- is just plain annoying. But since the show is called "Vampire Diaries," I can't really see this aspect going away.

But it's clear this show is going to be a hit, and it's not just because of this vampire fad. The combination of mystery, romance and a dash of slasher-suspense (the opening sequences of both episodes kick off with an unsuspecting couple getting the bite from the resident vampire, and I won't lie, I closed my eyes during them) works really well for the pacing of the show. Somerhalder is great as the bad guy (just ignore all that eye liner he's wearing) and Wesley, despite his Robert Pattinson hair, has gotten the hang of playing the tortured, remorseful anti-hero. The show is interesting and feels original amid a sea of remakes invading television this fall. With CW ordering up nine more episodes of the show, why not give in and take a bite of this fun teen drama?

"Vampire Diaries" airs on the CW at 7 p.m. on Thursdays. The first two episodes are available online.

-- Malavika Jagannathan,

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Wednesday, September 23, 2009

"The Good Wife" is pretty darn good

The legal drama has been hashed, rehashed and regurgitated several dozen times in the past decades, so why should "The Good Wife" be any different?

Well, for starters, there's the premise of the new CBS drama. The wife of a corrupt Illinois state's attorney, who finds himself in the middle of a prostitution scandal and eventually jail, is forced to return to her career as a lawyer after a decade out of the business. The first ten minutes of the premiere hearken back to those awkward press conferences we've all seen replayed on cable television -- whether it's Eliot Spitzer or Mark Sanford -- where the loyal wife stands by her husband as he explains his dalliances and missteps. Chris Noth, who has always been great at straddling the divide between handsome and sleazy, is perfect in the role as the charismatic but deceptive Peter Florrick.

The story quickly moves six months forward with Alicia Florrick (Julianna Marguilies) at her first day on the job at a firm as a junior associate while hubby Peter spends time in jail. As the clear underdog at the firm with a lot of "prominent baggage," she gets thrown a pro bono murder case that she's expected to retry and win, but she also hasn't stepped into a courtroom for more than a dozen years. The story is part legal drama, part personal as Alicia tries to pick herself up from the embarassing downfall of her husband's scandal.

In some ways, the show relies on the elements that set apart a good procedural drama -- a twist in a case or a hidden agenda -- but it's got a personal storyline that "Law and Order" could never quite master. Marguilies is intriguing as Alicia Florrick, bringing to the role the same combination of strength and vulnerability that set her apart as Nurse Carol Hathaway in "ER." It's also a timely approach to the legal drama. We've all wondered why Silda Spitzer or Dina McGreevey stood by their husbands even as they revealed some devastatingly personal scandals, but rarely do we get to hear their side of the story beyond the soundbites and interviews on Oprah.

As long as "The Good Wife" continues to balance both parts of its equation -- the procedural with the personal -- it has a good shot at success. With a strong cast -- Marguilies' colleagues at the firm include Josh Charles and Christine Baranski -- and some compelling storylines, we could finally have a drama that isn't just another procedural clone.

"The Good Wife" airs on CBS on Tuesday night at 9 p.m. Did you catch the show last night? Let me know what you think in the comments below.

--Malavika Jagannathan,


Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Cliches drag down otherwise funny "Modern Family"

Clueless dad trying to be the "cool guy"? Check. Passionate Latina trophy wife with a fiery temper? Check. Gay couple, with one flamboyant partner and one more reserved, apprehensive partner? Check.

Big laughs? Fortunately for ABC's new sitcom, "Modern Family," that's a check as well. Thanks to an online promotion by Entertainment Weekly, I was able to catch the pilot last week, and my response was favorable, if somewhat muted.

Shot in the same single-camera, documentary style as "The Office," "Modern Family" lacks some of that show's more biting, subtle humor, settling instead for broad and easy laughs. The show focuses on three seemingly disparate family units: Phil and Claire and their three brats; Mitchell and Cameron, a gay couple who has just adopted a Vietnamese baby; and Jay and Gloria, a May-December couple raising Gloria's son.

We're introduced to each of them, as they all take turns before the camera and talk about their lives. That interview technique was already tired before "The Office" drove it into the ground, and even that show has had the good sense to use it less and less. It's odd that "Modern Family's" creators felt the need to go this route, unless they were under the mistaken impression that the reason "The Office" is successful is purely due to its faux-doc format. (Played straight, however, they would have simply ended up with a clone of the superior and dearly missed "Sons and Daughters," which also ran on ABC back in 2006.)

Yet "Modern Family" has a lot going for it, particularly among its cast. "Boston Legal's" Julie Bowen (aka Jack's ex from "Lost") plays former bad-girl Claire, married to overgrown kid Phil (Ty Burrell, aping Steve Carell's brand of cluelessness.) They have two daughters -- one a tartlet whose adventures with boys makes up the majority of their family's screentime, and her younger sister who's basically a pint-sized Rachel Harris -- and a BB gun-toting son.

And yes, that's Ed O'Neill, back on TV as the cranky husband of the much-younger Gloria, played by Sofia Vergara (who was much better on the also superior and also dearly missed "Knights of Prosperity." Also ABC.) As great as it is to see Ed return to situation comedy, he largely sleepwalks through his role, and even a winking reference to his most beloved character (at one point he says to his family something to the effect of how they shouldn't listen to him, because everyone knows he's not the world's best father) can't snap him out of it. Mostly it's painful to watch him slouch around in a jogging suit, and more painful still when he decides the jogging suit makes him look old, and dresses like a rapper instead.

I did say there were funny parts, though, right? There are, like when Claire and Phil's sons shoots mini-Rachel Harris with his BB gun, and as punishment Claire tells Phil to shoot the boy as a lesson. (First they need to find time on the family's large, activity-filled white-board calendar.) Mitchell's efforts to rein in Cameron's flamboyantness in anticipation of a family get-together is amusing, and leads to the pilot's most laugh-out-loud moment: the perfect music that's played when the baby finally gets introduced to the extended family.

Yet even the way the show handles Mitchell and Cameron's relationship, let alone them as characters, feels outdated. Is a gay couple adopting a child really that shocking? Then why is Mitchell continuously on the defensive when they're bringing their baby home on the plane? One fellow passenger's comment, "Oh, look at that baby with the cream puffs," sends Mitchell into defiant speech-making, until of course Cameron points out that he's feeding the little girl a cream puff.

It's stuff like that that makes the show feel a little old, a little cliched, and far from "Modern."

"Modern Family" airs at 8 p.m. Wednesday on ABC.

-- Adam Reinhard,

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Week 2: "Top Chef" Power Rankings

The weak continue to be devoured by the strong, with Bo-ring Bryan Voltaggio earning his second straight Elimination Challenge win while the customary collection of "Top Chef" losers blandly stood by.

Chief among them, Mattin, who probably should have gone home the previous week after failing to properly cook French food. Fashionable ascots and a striking resemblance to Tintin will only carry you so far.

As for our standings after one week of competition, in first place sits Mary (Thomas' wife and Channel Surfing devotee), with six points. In second with five, newcomer Evan Siegle. The rest of the pack settles at the bottom with big, fat zeroes.

Onto this week's picks. Rules refresher is here if you're joining late.

Remember to leave your picks in the comments section!

1. Michael “Maverick” V.
2. Kevin “Grizzly Adams” Gillespie
3. Jen Carroll
4. Bryan “Goose” V.
5. Michael “I’m a tool” Isabella
6. Eli Kirshtein
7. Ash Fulk
8. Ashley Merriman
9. Laurine Wickett
10. Robin L.
11. Ron “Rata-tat-tat” Duprat

-- Evan Siegle, 5 points

1. Misogynist Mikey
2. Bryan "Snoozeville" Voltaggio
3. Ashley (the dark horse?)
4. Michael "I bleed boredom" Voltaggio
5. Kevin the jolly lumberjack
6. Jennifer
7. Eli
8. Ash
9. Ron
10. Robin
11. Laurine

-- Kelly McBride, zero points

1. Kevin Gillespie, aka: Zach Galifianakis
2. Jennifer “I don't move my mouth when I talk” Carroll
3. Michael Voltaggio, aka: Chef Slim Shady, aka: Tony Hawk
4. Bryan “I do not smile. Ever.” Voltaggio
5. Eli “Seriously Jewish” Kirshtein
6. Ash Fulk, more like Ass... nevermind
7. Michael “Jagga bombs!” Isabella
8. Ashley “Ben Kweller/Young Bob Dylan” Merriman
9. Ron “Michael Clarke Duncan” Duprat
10. The chick who's name I will NEVER remember (aka: Laurine)
11. Robin “Seriously, I hate you” Leventhal

-- Sara Boyd, zero points

1. Jennifer
2. Kevin
3. Brother Mike
4. Laurine
5. Ash
6. Eli
7. Brother Bryan
8. Misogynist Mike
9. He-She Ashley
10. Ron
11. Robin

-- Malavika Jagannathan, zero points

1. "Big Red" Kevin
2. Michael Voltaggio
3. Jewwy Jewerson Eli
4. Bryan "The Human Valium" Voltaggio
5. Dopey Face Jen
6. Misogynist Mike
7. Laurine
8. Big Gay He-She Ashley
9. Big Gay Ash
10. Biggie Smalls Ron
11. Bye Bye Robin

-- Thomas Rozwadowski, zero points

1. Bland cheftestant #1 (Michael V.)
2. Bland cheftestant #2 (Bryan)
3. Bland cheftestant #3 (Kevin)
4. Bland cheftestant #4 (Jennifer)
5. Bland cheftestant #5 (Michael I.)
6. Bland cheftestant #6 (Eli)
7. Bland cheftestant #7 (Laurine)
8. Bland cheftestant #8 (Ron)
9. Bland cheftestant #9 (Ash)
10. Bland cheftestant #10 (Ashley)
11. Bland cheftestant #11 (Robin)

-- Adam Reinhard
, zero points

"Top Chef" airs at 9 p.m. Thursday on Bravo.

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TV stars take up the cause for unprotected insurance execs

Wherever your opinion may fall in the ongoing health care debate, at least take comfort in the knowledge that there will always be one certainty. EVIL HOLLYWOOD LIBERAL ELITES WITH THE BEST INSURANCE MONEY CAN BUY LOVE OBAMACARE!


Now, we don't want to turn this into a forum for all you Glenn Beck loving wackos to start openly weeping about the demise of our country. Simply put, from a pure TV standpoint, we found this video on Funny or Die amusing.

Among the Obama apologists featured in this mock PSA: Former "Saturday Night Live" funnyman Will Ferrell, "Mad Men's" Jon Hamm, "ER's" Linda Cardellini (Lindsay Weir!), "Reno 911's" Thomas Lennon and Ben Garant, "Scrubs'" Donald Faison, "House's" Olivia Wilde, "My Boys'" Jordana Spiro and "Heroes'" Masa Oki. It's also sponsored by, so that automatically makes it freedom hating, too.

Enjoy, socialists! (C'mon, people. Laugh a little.)

-- Thomas Rozwadowski,


"Community" could be your new favorite comedy

Name recognition alone doesn't provide the funny. But headed by "The Soup's" Joel McHale, "The Daily Show's" John Oliver and an ancient looking Chevy Chase, "Community" got off to a promising start last week.

The show follows several misfits in action at a beleaguered community college, most notably Jeff Winger (McHale, in a name nod to Bill Murray's "Stripes" character, no doubt.), a suspended lawyer who is about to become disbarred because of his phony credentials. While trying to woo Elizabeth Shue look-a-like Britta (Gillian Jacobs) from his Spanish class, Winger resorts to sleazy lawyer tactics, only to see his diabolical plan fall apart thanks to a motley crew study group that includes a semi-creepy seven-time divorcee (Chase), a former pill-popping underachiever (Alison Brie, or Trudy from "Mad Men"), a disgraced jockhead who won't shed his high school letterman's jacket (Donald Glover), a temperamental mom who made bad life decisions (Yvette Nicole Brown) and a fast-talking '80s movie buff with Asperger (or as Troy puts it, "assburger") syndrome (Danny Pudi).

It's a pretty straightforward pilot in terms of plot introduction, but the jokes are rapid-fire and justifiably acidic. Winger, bitter at finally being caught by the law he's supposed to uphold, wants to take every short cut in the book so he can get back to the comfort of his Lexus lifestyle. Since he's above a rinky-dink community college -- playing off that loser stereotype is a huge component of the show -- Winger figures he can bully a former client/psychology professor (Oliver) and perhaps score with Britta before going back to his old tricks.

Except everything that brought these community college rejects to this stage in their lowly life will be turned into something deeper, something redemptive they probably didn't know was there. For instance, Chase's eccentric businessman character, Pierce, seems oblivious to how he is universally perceived. Yet he's harmlessly kooky and might even be incredibly savvy. Same goes for Glover's Troy, who is aware that he's no longer a high school prom king, but still wants to cling to his glory days past while making something of himself in the future. "Community" will likely strike a balance between personal and professional maturation while also allowing its main characters to engage in "Office" like hi-jinx within the fertile community college setting.

After all, it's a half hour comedy, so I'm not sure how much meat you actually want to bite into here. "Community's" pilot already paid tribute to John Hughes (both with a hilarious "Breakfast Club" bit and with a memorial screen at the end) and its characters, while dysfunctional, appear worth rooting for. It's a premise that should work as a sort of sitcom version of "PCU" with a dose of "Revenge of the Nerds" -- and that's just fine considering NBC's Jay Leno experiment is your current alternative to original comedy on network TV.

"Community" airs at 8:30 p.m. Thursday on NBC.

-- Thomas Rozwadowski,

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Monday, September 21, 2009

It's Fall Premiere-A-Palooza This Week

Now that the Emmy Awards are over, we can focus on things more important... like more television. By my somewhat unscientific calculation,there's more than 40 hours of premiere viewing available this week. We're not exaggerating, either. Tonight alone, you have a choice of 10 different programs either debuting or premiering for the season.

But, that's why TiVo/DVR were invented, so choose wisely as you survey the offerings.

Today: "Accidentally on Purpose," 7:30 p.m. (CBS), "The Big Bang Theory," 8:30 p.m. (CBS), "Castle," 9 p.m. (ABC), "CSI: Miami," 9 p.m. (CBS), "Dancing with the Stars," 8 p.m. (ABC), "Heroes," 7 p.m. (NBC), "House," 7 p.m. (Fox), "How I Met Your Mother," 7 p.m. (CBS), "Two and a Half Men," 8 p.m. (CBS)

Tuesday: "The Forgotten," 9 p.m. (ABC), "The Good Wife," 9 p.m. (CBS), "NCIS," 7 p.m. (CBS, "NCIS: Los Angeles," 8 p.m. (CBS)

Wednesday: "Cougar Town," 8:30 p.m. (ABC), "Criminal Minds," 8 p.m. (CBS), "CSI: NY," 9 p.m. (CBS), "Eastwick," 9 p.m. (ABC), "Gary Unmarried," 7:30 p.m. (CBS), "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit," 8 p.m. (NBC), "Mercy," 7 p.m. (NBC), "Modern Family," 8 p.m. (ABC), "The New Adventures of Old Christine," 7 p.m. (CBS)

Thursday: "CSI," 8 p.m. (CBS), "FlashForward," 7 p.m. (ABC), "Grey’s Anatomy," 8 p.m. (ABC), "The Mentalist," 9 p.m. (CBS)

Friday: "Brothers," 7 p.m. (Fox), "Dollhouse," 8 p.m. (Fox), "Ghost Whisperer," 7 p.m. (CBS), "Law & Order," 7 p.m. (NBC), "Medium," 8 p.m. (CBS), "Numb3rs," 9 p.m. (CBS), "Smallville," 7 p.m. (The CW)

Saturday: "Saturday Night Live," 10:30 p.m. (NBC)

Sunday: "The Amazing Race," 7 p.m. (CBS), "American Dad," 8:30 p.m. (Fox), "Brothers & Sisters," 9 p.m. (ABC), "Californication," 9 p.m. (Showtime), "The Cleveland Show," 7:30 p.m. (Fox), "Cold Case," 9 p.m. (CBS), "Desperate Housewives," 8 p.m. (ABC), "Dexter," 8 p.m. (Showtime), "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" (ABC), "Family Guy," 8 p.m. (Fox), "The Simpsons," 7 p.m. (Fox)

Here's what Channel Surfing bloggers will be tuning into this week:

Malavika: "How I Met Your Mother," "Dancing with the Stars," "The Good Wife," "Law and Order: SVU," "Desperate Housewives" and "Brothers and Sisters"

Kendra: "Dancing with the Stars,'' "The Good Wife,'' "Cougar Town,'' "FlashForward,'' "Brothers & Sisters''

Adam: "Modern Family," "FlashForward," "Dollhouse"

Thomas: "FlashForward," "Modern Family," "Cougar Town" and "The Amazing Race."

Let us know what you'll be watching this week in the comments below.

--The Channel Surfing Staff


The Morning After... The Primetime Emmy Awards

In case you didn't watch the 61st annual Primetime Emmy Awards, you missed... well, nothing much. Although the hosting was far superior this year -- thanks to the well-rounded talent of Neil Patrick Harris -- the results of the actual awards were underwhelming at best. A few well-deserving new winners emerged like Michael Emerson and Toni Colette, but most of the winners were repeats from last year.

Miss our live post-Emmy chat this morning? Shame on you!

Here's the full transcript. Stay tuned to other chat opportunities in the future.

-- Malavika Jagannathan,


Friday, September 18, 2009

About those live chat details ...

Addicted to “Mad Men” or “Lost?” Tired of Tina Fey winning every award in sight? Pumped about Neil Patrick Harris’ hosting abilities? Related to that Tony Shalhoub guy?

Join the Press-Gazette’s Channel Surfing TV bloggers Monday at 11 a.m. to talk about the highs and lows from Sunday’s Primetime Emmy Awards. We’ll also be making snarky observations about new and returning fall TV shows -- yay for "Community," boo for "Melrose Place" -- so get your questions ready!

Go to Monday to join the chat. You can even sign in as Art Vandelay or Vincent the Dog if you'd like. We don't care!

-- Channel Surfing staff


Emmy Awards Predictions Part III: Variety/Reality

And, finally, the best for last.

Reality/variety shows have often been relegated to the backburner of the Primetime Emmy Awards for good reason. Do you recall last year's disastrous attempt to ad-lib almost the entire Emmy show with five reality show hosts at the helm? It was hideous.

Still, some of our favorite shows and popular shows fall into one of these categories.

REALITY COMPETITION PROGRAM: "The Amazing Race," "American Idol," "Dancing With The Stars," "Project Runway," "Top Chef"

Will Probably Win: "The Amazing Race" is popular without being soul-sucking like fellow nominee "American Idol" and has always had the Academy's love. They haven't lost the category in almost six years.

Should Win: Bravo TV has produced two of the finest reality competitions on the planet. Both "Top Chef" or "Project Runway" deserve a chance in the spotlight.

HOST FOR A REALITY OR REALITY-COMPETITION PROGRAM: Tom Bergeron, "Dancing With the Stars," Phil Keoghan, "The Amazing Race," Heidi Klum, "Project Runway," Padma Lakshmi (Host) and Tom Colicchio (Co-Host), "Top Chef," Jeff Probst, "Survivor," Ryan Seacrest, "American Idol"

Will Probably Win: Someone lame. This includes Tom Bergeron, Jeff Probst and Ryan Seacrest.

Should Win: Padma Lakshmi and Tom Colicchio keep "Top Chef" rolling. They're the yin and the yang of food.

REALITY SERIES: "Antiques Roadshow," "Dirty Jobs," "Dog Whisperer," "Intervention," "Kathy Griffin: My Life On The D-List," "MythBusters"

Will Probably Win: This is the strangest category by far, but I am feeling some weird level of love from the Academy for "Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List."

Should Win: Cesar Millan and "Dog Whisperer." The man's a genius. Plus, it's a show about dogs.

VARIETY, MUSIC, OR COMEDY SERIES: "The Colbert Report," "The Daily Show With Jon Stewart," "Late Show With David Letterman," "Real Time With Bill Maher," "Saturday Night Live"

Will Probably Win: "The Daily Show With Jon Stewart" will likely get a repeat win for its "Indecision 2008" election coverage, although "Saturday Night Live" revived its image with standout political satire.

Should Win: "The Colbert Report" has long stood in the shadow of its lead-in "The Daily Show," but the faux conservative talk show had one hell of a year. Stephen Colbert's Doritos-fueled bid for the South Carolina primary alone deserves an award.

And... that's a wrap.

Tune in at 7 p.m. on Sunday to watch the Emmy Awards live on CBS, then come back to the Press-Gazette on Monday at 11 a.m. to discuss the night's shenanigans with me, Thomas Rozwadowski and Kendra Meinert. It'll be a blast, and we don't just want to talk to ourselves.

Got any predictions of your own? Drop us a comment below.

-- Malavika Jagannathan,


Thursday, September 17, 2009

Emmy Awards Predictions Part Deux: Drama

Let's get dramatic, folks.

Yesterday I laid out my predictions for potential winners (and those who should win) in the comedy category. Today, it's a whole different animal: the drama. I will admit that my knowledge in this category is slightly less comprehensive because I only watch three out of the seven shows listed for best drama series. However, that makes me about as qualified as those in the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, so here goes...

BEST DRAMA SERIES: "Big Love," "Breaking Bad," "Damages," "Dexter," "House," "Lost," "Mad Men"

Who Will Probably Win: The Academy's love for "Mad Men" only rivals its love for "30 Rock," but I'm not complaining. This AMC drama surprised a lot of folks in its first year, when it emerged as an awards dark horse, but the critically-loved show is a shoo-in for another win.

Who Should Win: Having just rewatched some of Season 2 of "Mad Men," I continue to be blown away by the show. It deserves all the accolades it gets.

BEST ACTOR IN A DRAMA SERIES: Simon Baker, "The Mentalist," Gabriel Byrne, "In Treatment," Bryan Cranston, "Breaking Bad," Michael C. Hall, "Dexter," Jon Hamm, "Mad Men," Hugh Laurie, "House"

Who Will Probably Win: This is a hard category to call because all the nominees are well-deserving in some aspect, but this might be Hugh Laurie's year to finally get his hands on an Emmy. Unless Bryan Cranston does a repeat win for "Breaking Bad."

Who Should Win: Any of them, really.

BEST ACTRESS IN A DRAMA SERIES: Glenn Close, "Damages," Sally Field, "Brothers & Sisters," Mariska Hargitay, "Law & Order: SVU," Holly Hunter, "Saving Grace," Elisabeth Moss, "Mad Men," Kyra Sedgwick, "The Closer"

Who Will Probably Win: With plenty of ex-movie stars to choose from on the list (TV awards often skew towards former movie stars... don't ask why, it's scientific), Glenn Close is probably the odds-on favorite to win for "Damages."

Who Should Win: The youngest of the nominees, Elisabeth Moss deserves a win for "Mad Men." The 27-year-old actress dazzled as Peggy Olson, climbing the corporate ladder one step at a time even as she's dealing with the aftermath of her unexpected pregnancy.

Most egregious oversight: Connie Britton as Principal Tami Taylor from "Friday Night Lights."

SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A DRAMA SERIES: Christian Clemenson, "Boston Legal," Michael Emerson, "Lost," William Hurt, "Damages," Aaron Paul, "Breaking Bad," William Shatner, "Boston Legal," John Slattery, "Mad Men"

Who Will Probably Win: I'm still confused why "Boston Legal" got so many nominations this year. Wasn't that show cancelled? In keeping with my ex-movie star theory, this year's Emmy will probably go to one of the Williams -- Shatner or Hurt.

Who Should Win: John Slattery is the consummate supporting actor and will get his due eventually, but it's almost shocking that Michael Emerson has never won an award for his creepy and complicated Benjamin Linus on "Lost."

SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A DRAMA SERIES: Rose Byrne, "Damages," Hope Davis, "In Treatment," Cherry Jones, "24," Sandra Oh, "Grey’s Anatomy," Dianne Wiest, "In Treatment," Chandra Wilson, "Grey’s Anatomy"

Who Will Probably Win: Chandra Wilson for "Grey's Anatomy," but who knows -- maybe Dianne West will repeat for her somewhat surprise win last year for "In Treatment."

Who Should Win: January Jones for "Mad Men," but, wait, she wasn't nominated. Yet another egregious oversight from our friends in the Academy.

Come back tomorrow for the final installment of this short series of predictions and rantings -- the variety/reality categories! And, don't forget, we will be hosting a post-Emmy Awards live chat on Monday at 11 a.m. at the Green Bay Press-Gazette site. We'll make sure to link it here, too.

Feel free to add your predictions in the comments, by the way.

-- Malavika Jagannathan,


Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Emmy Awards Predictions Part I: Comedies

Let's hope no one invited Kanye to the Emmy Awards... although I would like to see him wrestle the microphone away from Alec Baldwin and scream, "Charlie Sheen had the best comedy OF THE YEAR!"

Most likely, the Emmy Awards this Sunday -- set your DVRs, people -- will be about as interesting as Jay Leno's new show (zing!) and less controversial than, say, kittens. But you never know. Every year, someone walks away with an award you know they don't deserve. Plus, there's always the stupid comment or inappropriate boob grab on the Red Carpet from the lovely folks at E! we can count on for entertainment.

Anyway, your resident curmudgeon and awards show expert Malavika Jagannathan will prepare you this week for what to expect Sunday night and who you should be cheering for in some of the major categories (and, no, it's not Charlie Sheen).

Today, it's the comedies. Let's laugh, people!

BEST COMEDY SERIES: "Entourage," "Family Guy," "Flight of the Conchords," "How I Met Your Mother," "The Office," "30 Rock," "Weeds"

Who Will Probably Win: With 22 nominations and lots of love for this NBC show, "30 Rock" is a shoo-in.

Who Should Win: "30 Rock" has been consistently hitting its mark this season without sacrificing quality. It deserves a win.

BEST ACTOR IN A COMEDY SERIES: Alec Baldwin, "30 Rock," Steve Carell, "The Office," Jemaine Clement, "Flight of the Conchords," Jim Parsons, "The Big Bang Theory," Tony Shalhoub, "Monk," Charlie Sheen, "Two and a Half Men"

Who Will Probably Win: Alec Baldwin's work on "30 Rock" is an easy favorite among Academy voters.

Who Should Win: No disrespect to Bret, but Jemaine Clement and his sideburns ruled this season of "Flight of the Conchords." It's nice the show got a nod, but it'd be sweeter if Jemaine got a much-deserved win.

BEST ACTRESS IN A COMEDY SERIES: Christina Applegate, "Samantha Who?" Toni Collette, "United States of Tara," Julia Louis-Dreyfus, "The New Adventures of Old Christine," Tina Fey, "30 Rock," Mary-Louise Parker, "Weeds," Sarah Silverman, "The Sarah Silverman Program"

Who Will Probably Win: Unless the Academy is feeling sorry for Christina Applegate, whose show was canceled and who underwent treatment for breast cancer, Tina Fey will probably get another Emmy for her work on "30 Rock."

Who Should Win: As much as I love Tina Fey, the few episodes of "Weeds" I saw last season were enough to convince me that Mary-Louise Parker is long overdue an Emmy for her work on that show.

SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A COMEDY SERIES: Jon Cryer, "Two and a Half Men," Kevin Dillon, "Entourage," Neil Patrick Harris, "How I Met Your Mother," Jack McBrayer, "30 Rock," Tracy Morgan, "30 Rock," Rainn Wilson, "The Office"

Who Will Probably Win: Is it weird to award the host of the show? Probably, but when have the Emmy Awards cared about that? Neil Patrick Harris is a standout comedian -- did you see "Dr. Horrible?" -- and will probably get his due this year for his ridiculous but quotable Barney on "How I Met Your Mother."

Who Should Win: How has Rainn Wilson never won an award for playing the lovable but demented Dwight Schrute on "The Office?" Please, someone, correct this oversight!

SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A COMEDY SERIES: Kristin Chenoweth, "Pushing Daisies," Jane Krakowski, "30 Rock," Elizabeth Perkins, "Weeds," Amy Poehler, "Saturday Night Live," Kristin Wiig, "Saturday Night Live," Vanessa Williams, "Ugly Betty"

Who Will Probably Win: From her tortured Hillary Clinton impersonation to her Sarah Palin rap on Weekend Update, Amy Poehler's work on her final season of "Saturday Night Live" was arguably brilliant. Plus, she was pregnant for most of it! It's a long shot for a variety show to walk away with this prize, but I think there's enough love there for Poehler to make it happen.

Who Should Win: You really can't beat Poehler, who held together "SNL" even while overall ratings for the show continued to slip.

That's all folks. Tomorrow, I'll tackle the dramas, and I'll leave the really delicious reality/variety stuff for Friday. By the way, on Monday, Channel Surfing bloggers will be hosting a LIVE chat to discuss the Emmy Awards, so check back with us for more details.

The Primetime Emmy Awards air on CBS on Sunday at 7 p.m.

-- Malavika Jagannathan,


Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Patrick Swayze, comedy star?

Most people remember Patrick Swayze for his butt-kicking role in "Road House" or his fancy dance moves and sensual ceramics skills in "Dirty Dancing" and "Ghost," but I tend to skew towards both TV and comedy while remembering the late actor.

TV? Comedy? Swayze?

Believe it.

It's probably already been written about on the blogosphere and the Twitter-verse, but this classic "Saturday Night Live" clip from 1990 is always worth revisiting. In fact, it might be one of the five greatest "SNL" skits of all-time. After all, a shirtless Swayze + a shirtless Chris Farley + Loverboy = comedy gold.

Now, this second clip is much more obscure, but no less inspired. "Mystery Science Theater 3000" fans will recall Patrick Swayze's name used in a classic Christmas carol that no one but Crow T. Robot would ever imagine singing publicly. The brainchild of Ashwaubenon native Joel Hodgson, "MST3K" was a true rarity -- as the following song clearly demonstrates. Technically, Swayze doesn't appear in the clip, but his extreme manliness did inspire the sing-a-long. That's definitely a legacy worth saluting.

-- Thomas Rozwadowski,

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"Top Chef" Power Rankings are back!

The sun has set on Jesse and her tattooed cleavage. Alas, Hector has to return home secure in the knowledge that he cannot properly cook or cut meat.

Several ugly weeds have been pulled from the "Top Chef" garden of eatin', which means it's finally time for Channel Surfing's annual power poll of deliciousness.

Rules are same as last year: Rank all the remaining contestants from top to bottom. If someone in your top three wins the Quickfire this week, you get a point. If your No. 1 seed wins the Elimination Challenge, you get 5 points. Each week, you also have to designate someone to sit at the bottom, and if that person is eliminated, you also get 5 points.

New to the festivities this year: Press-Gazette photojournalist and avid foodie, Evan Siegle (in both hair and talent, he's like the Richard Blais of our photo staff.) Winner gets bragging rights and a free Channel Surfing neck tattoo courtesy of Press-Gazette editorial cartoonist Joe Heller (OK, maybe not).

Can't remember what happened last season: Blog reader Livin' La Vida Dusty grabbed the crown in the final week after being the only person to correctly pick the entire order -- Hosea, Stefan, Carla -- netting him a whopping 25 points. Up until that point, Kelly McBride and Thomas Rozwadowski were deadlocked at 29 points (Kelly picked Stefan, Thomas went with Crazy Eyes Carla).

Now, let the ranking begin! Trash talk, as always, is highly recommended.

1. Michael V, you bore me
2. Jennifer
3. Kevin the jolly lumberjack
4. Misogynist Mike
5. Bryan
6. Eli
7. Ash
8. Ron
9. Robin
10. Mattin
11. Laurine
12. Ashley

-- Kelly McBride

1. Michael Vottaggio, aka: Chef Slim Shady, aka: Tony Hawk
2. Kevin Gillespie, aka: Zach Galifianakis
3. Jennifer “someone needs braces” Carroll
4. Bryan “I do not smile ever” Voltaggio
5. Eli “Seriously Jewish” Kirshtein
6. Ash Fulk, more like As... nevermind
7. Michael “Jagga bombs!” Isabella
8. Ashley “Ben Kweller/Young Bob Dylan” Merriman
9. Mattin “red scarf = French” Noblia
10. Ron “Michael Clarke Duncan” Duprat
11. Laurine "So forgettable, I initially left her off this list" Wickett
12. Robin “She’s still on?” Leventhal

-- Sara Boyd

1. Jennifer
2. Kevin aka Lumberjack
3. Bryan, the boring-er brother
4. Ash (aka if John C. Reilly and Jim Gaffigan mated)
5. Misogynist Mike
6. Brother Mike
7. Eli (Jonah Hill)
8. Robin
9. Laurine
10. Ron
11. Mattin

-- Malavika Jagannathan

1. Kevin Gillespie
2. Michael V.
3. Bryan V.
4. Eli Kirshtein
5. Jen Carroll
6. Ron Duprat
7. Ash Fulk
8. Robin Leventhal
9. Michael Isabella
10. Laurine Wickett
11. Ashley Merriman
12. Mattin Noblia

-- Evan Siegle

1. "Big Red" Kevin
2. Michael Voltaggio, the less bo-ring brother
3. Dopey Face Jen
4. Eli aka "Jewwy Jewerson"
5. Bryan Voltaggio, the more bo-ring brother
6. Misogynist Mike
7. Biggie Smalls Ron
8. Big Gay Ash
9. Big Gay He-She Ashley (Ben Lee/Young Paul Westerberg)
10. Laurine, so forgettable she doesn't deserve a nickname
11. Mattin, the Frenchy who can't make French food
12. Talky Talk Robin

-- Thomas Rozwadowski

1. Jennifer
2. Kevin
3. Michael V.
4. Bryan
5. Michael D. (the D. is for douchebag)
6. Ron
7. Mattin
8. Laurine (What kind of name is that? She sounds like she belongs on the periodic table, right between selenium and bromine.)
9. Eli
10. Ash
11. Ashley
12. Robin

-- Adam Reinhard

Leave your own below! You have until tomorrow's episode begins. And be sure to stay with us every week to keep pace!

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