How I Met Your Mother

Things For Which The Jay Is Putting A Ring On It

After taking under advisement Beyo-err… Sasha Fierce’s sage advice that “if you like than you should have put a ring on it”, and worried that I might possibly have offended that which I hold quite dear by NOT putting a ring on it yet, even though I love it so, I would like to take this opportunity to claim full-on ring placement on the following people, places and things.

The Jay OFFICIALLY puts a ring on:

- “Sex on Fire” by Kings of Leon

- The cold, Nordic disenchantment of Betty Draper.

- The triumphant, MILF-tastic return of Britney Spears.

- Beyonce wagging her vagina at me (seconds :51 – :57).

- My friend Audiebird, currently rising the BFF charts, who not only introduced me to the Beyonce song and video in question, but carefully and patiently explained to me WHY the song and video are so great, as such is my ignorance of the language of pop music. And also for giving me 15% of all my material. And 8% of all my recent vocal mannerisms.

- The poem “Mayakovsy” by Frank O’Hara.

- Keanu Reeves (natch)

- Random text messages from friends you haven’t seen in forever that lead to spontaneous, fun plans.

- Canada Dry Diet Ginger Ale

- Chicago hot dogs with everything on it.

- My secret belief that Twilight will NOT be the megahit everyone claims it will be. Who REALLY cares about the story of a passive teen girl who falls for a vampire? Seriously, that’s a movie I need to see? Call me when someone gets attacked by a Dementor or plays some Quidditch.

- Old Barney

- Les Grossman on the phone, telling the bad guys to “take a step back… and literally fuck your face.”

- Andy Samberg as Mark Wahlberg talking to animals, resulting in Mark throwing a hissy fit in the press about being parodied, even though it’s a compliment on par with Don Draper holding the door open for you, and then mysteriously showing up on SNL days later to satirize himself, most likely at the behest of his Agent who told him: “you get your ass ON THAT SHOW and say hi to the mother of ANY animal they put in front of you. Even Fred Armisen! How DARE you get your git up about a skit about YOU when you’re BARELY an A-list star? Take a page from Alec Baldwin and go be a mensch. You got it? Good! Now take a step back and literally fuck your face!”

- The realization that if I’m white, I’m Ben Affleck.

- The 2006 Late Harvest Viognier from Zaca Mesa.

- Dermatology

- Anything KT Tunstall has sung in her entire life.

- Mad Men (super natch), and related: Don Draper’s Guide To Picking Up Women.

- Nicole Ritchie on Chuck. There, I said it.

- Gmail’s new ability to block e-mails sent late at night as a precaution against your own poor judgment, a feature I wish T-Mobile would look into (it would save Drunk The Jay from having to write so many apology texts).

- The Miami Dolphins Wildcat Formation

- Facebook status updates that are written in the correct tense.

- The trailer for Australia.

- The trailer for Bride Wars.

- All you guys being cool about me taking a small break from blogging. Recess is over, I promise.

- And of course, OF COURSE, Eddie Murphy’s Giant Head.

Bangarang!

That’sfunnysmartandgreat! Five Things I Learned From the Britney HIMYM Episode

Britney Spears - How I Met Your MotherAs predicted by me, Britney slam dunked her extended cameo on the alarmingly rapid decline of funny known as “How I Met Your Mother”. She was poised, professional and cleaned-up to the point of 1998 hotness. Every goal for the gimmick came through. The show got big ratings and was legit funny for the first time all season. Britney proved that she can be still for five minutes and speak in coherent sentences. She also proved she can look pretty and down to earth, albeit with a little make-up and favorable stage lighting. She proved that gay guys still love her (NPH was practically drooling.), and she reminded us all of something vitally important about the machine that is Britney Spears: she’s a talented performer!

When she picked up the phone to announce that “Magnum” was there to see the doctor, then silently admonished herself for a such a cheesy move? Brilliant. Michael Cera wishes he could pull off that master class in awkwardness. And if you don’t think I’m about to use “That’sfunnysmartandgreat!” about fifty times over my next twenty posts, well then you don’t know The Jay very well.

Besides learning that I have prediction skills that would make Nostradamus legally change his name to Nostradamthejayisgood, cause I am that good (also, burn!), here’s what else we learned from last night’s Britney-infused How I Met Your Mother:

1. Sarah Chalke needs to dropkick Zach Braff in the face and get her own show with a quickness. She seamlessly picked up the HIMYM rapid fire dialogue, never once made me think I was watching Elliot Reed, and looked totes fetch in the process (yes, I’m making it happen. BMA, Regina George.)

- Fun bonus story about Sarah Chalke: I did extra work on the Scrubs set a handful of times and always found Second Becky to be charming, cute and coordinated. Apparently, this is a unique observation. My fellow blogger Audiebird relayed to me a story about spotting Chalke (my new euphemism for masturbation, btdub) coming out of a restaurant. Her words: “Cute face, but the body was disgusting. She walked like her vagina was being pulled by strings. Love her, though.” Um, gross?

2. Alyson Hannigan saying five retarded lines about biting her nails is what Anthony Keidis would liken to beating up Keanu Reeves in Point Break: “That would be a waste of time.” Can someone please rescue her from CBS and start casting her in movies? Who wouldn’t go see a Alyson Hannigan/Amy Adams redheaded romcom about two sisters looking for love amidst wacky hijinks and pale skin jokes (Ellen Pompeo can play their shrewish, squinty Aunt)? Maxim Magazine’s head just exploded at the thought of putting them on the cover together.

Robin Sparkles

- Also, if Cobie Smulders doesn’t start getting more to do than make bad jokes and wait for the next Robin Sparkles episode, I may demote the show from “Save Until Delete” status to “Keep As Needed”. Why doesn’t she have a parallel finding love story with Ted? She already has the best online dating profile ever. Laser tag, cigars and former Canadian pop star? Um, yes please! I’m starting to get the feeling HIMYM hates women. Just putting it out there.

3. The two minute date idea is adorable, but could never happen in real life, and isn’t even physically possible in Los Angeles. There are no taxi’s at the ready, the restaurant would make you wait 15 minutes even with a reservation, you’d have to watch the movie at a Best Buy (which takes an hour just to get out of), and most of all, waiting outside someone’s workplace is creepy. That kind of move gets you lawyered out here. Or, depending on the fame level of the person you’re waiting for, an exclusive interview with TMZ.

- Also, Ted violated two huge guy dating rules: 1. Never spend more than $40 on a first date, and 2. Don’t date single mothers when you don’t want a kid in your life. The whole affair was doomed from the beginning. I guess if you’re gonna go down in flames, Sarah Chalke is a nice Zeppelin to crash, but still. Barney was right, after the fifth “no” it’s bang the receptionist time. Dem’s the rules.

4. If I ever grow a mustache I won’t look like a child molester (or a 70′s porn star), but instead, like Magnum P.I., only “a million times more handsome”. And dowdy receptionists who are secretly disgraced pop stars making a righteous TV comeback will want me. Of course, the real reason I’d grow a mustache is so I could speak Italian.

5 – Finally, this has nothing to do with HIMYM, so much as it does Jason Segel’s upcoming movie Forgetting Sarah Marshall. I was driving around The Valley with my younger brother this weekend and we passed one of those bus stop ads that said: “You SUCK Sarah Marshall”. I smiled, because it’s a great ad, but my brother started visibly shaking. I asked what was wrong and this was our ensuing conversation:
Forgetting Sarah Marshall Viral Ads

Lil Bro: That stupid billboard, I hate it! It’s so douche-y.

The Jay: What are you talking about? They’re hilarious.

Lil Bro: You think it’s hilarious to go around town putting up nasty billboards about your ex-girlfriend?

The Jay: Um… what?

Lil Bro: Yeah, some guy broke up with this actress and is now putting up billboards all over LA with nasty shit written on them.

The Jay: It’s a movie.

Lil Bro: What’s a movie?

The Jay: Those ads? They’re for a movie. With Jason Segel and Veronica Mars? It’s called Forgetting Sarah Marshall. Comes out in a few weeks. No? Anybody? Bueller? It’s just a marketing gimmick.

Lil Bro: No, dude! This guy has a blog about what he’s doing. And I saw the girl’s fan site. It’s real. This isn’t a movie.

The Jay: Look who you’re talking to!

Lil Bro: Look who YOU’RE talking to, ball-ass!

The Jay: I can’t believe you did better on the SAT’s than me.

Bangarang!

The Jay’s Official Fall TV Schedule

Love this show

With the Fall TV season now a full month in, I have finally seen every new show (save a few insignificant ones – Cane, anyone?), passed judgment on everything and can now reveal my Official TV Watching Schedule. I’ll take you through it day by day, telling you why I like what, and what I’m not watching and why. It’s gonna be a full television disclosure. I’m gonna answer questions like a Lost season finale (only without the crazy fake ass beard).

So sit back, grab your TiVmote and prepare to bloop bloop!

MONDAY

8 p.m.

Chuck – A nice, easy way to start the primetime week. I’m not completely blown away by either the action or the comedy, but I do dig the actors and the attempt at pulling the whole thing together. “Chuck” is a good lead, it’s nice to see Adam Baldwin back on TV (I finally caught up on Firefly this summer and thoroughly enjoyed it), and I can’t get enough of Captain Awesome. I also like how the producers go out of their way to put Yvonne Strahowski in her underwear as much as humanly possible. Why did Sarah have a fight in her slinky grey ass-high robe last week when the outcome was never in jeopardy and there was no reason for the fight to begin with? Who cares, because we got to see a Strahowski blackflip backside peekaboo and it turns out the whole affair was a chickfight between a be-robed Sarah and a red-headed ninja. It’s not even possible to calculate the awesomeness of that gratuitousness. And that’s the type of thing that gets shows season pass-ed in The 209.

How I Met Your Mother – Still a solid sitcom, though they have GOT to find better things for Robin, Lily and Marshall to do. Ted and Barney are doing fine trolling for girls (I was particularly pleased that the season premiere started out with Barney finishing his “Legen… DARY”), but I can’t sit through too many more “Robin has wacky dating hijinks”. Especially if they’re gonna involve skeezy Latin pop stars. Lawyered! Oh, and don’t think for a second that me and A-Train haven’t already purchased our very own championship belt, cause we have. If they can figure out a way to make Marshall and Lily relevant, and a reason for keeping Robin around her ex-boyfriend, there may be hope for the season yet.

9 p.m.

Heroes – Here are the five things currently killing this show:

1. WAAAAAAAY too boring a storyline for Hiro. Who, by the way, could not be more useless to the overarching plot of the show, and is reaching Charlie-level heights of annoyingness. We know you’re gonna end up being Kensei, so just get it done and blink your ass back into 2007. I don’t get to see Ando if you’re not around and I need my fill of fun comic sidekicks.

2. WAAAAAAAY too lame new characters. Maya and Alejandro do not have ANYTHING interesting going on. No, not even with Sylar in the mix. Go cry me a black river and wake me when they hit New York in six episodes. This reeks of Nikki and Paolo, but without a much needed buried-alive resolution.

3. WAAAAAAAY too much Matt Parkman. Seriously. Is he really necessary? Who in their right mind would grant custody of a fugitive seven year-old to a divorced, burnt out ex-cop recovering from four gunshots to the chest and his illegal immigrant roommate (even who happens to be smart. And still boring.)? I call shenanigans.

4. WAAAAAAAY too much time spent without Kristen Bell showing up already. Let’s step to it, people. The faster we get Veronica Mars on stage, the sooner we get to see the scene where Ali Larter, Hayden Panetierre and Kristen pillow fight over who’s the hottest blonde on the show. SPOILER ALERT: The answer, by the way, is Mr. Muggles.

5. WAAAAAAAY too many characters. I can barely remember everyone’s names and I’ve seen every episode. Let’s kill off all the newbies, and Parkman and maybe Ali Larter, and get down to business with the Petrelli’s, the Bennet’s, Hiro and Sylar.

That all being said, the show still kicks ass and I wouldn’t dream of missing it.

10 p.m.

Journeyman – One of my three favorite new shows of the Fall. I didn’t realize how much I missed a time travel drama on network television till I sat down to watch the pilot. I’m intrigued by the rules of the game here, like the dynamic of Dan seeing his ex on his journeys and his wife getting pissed back at home. And I’m curious how they are going to explain his continued absences (surely SOMEONE has to see him disappear at some point). Kevin McKidd is a fantastic actor and a great, very watchable series lead. I couldn’t dig this show more.

WHAT I’M NOT WATCHING ON MONDAYS

Aliens in America – I actually liked the pilot, I just have no time for it. This, like Everybody Hates Chris, is just gonna have to be a good CW show I never get into.

The Big Bang Theory – Hate the Galecki. The Cuoco does nothing for me. And that other guy wore my awesome beige Flash shirt in all the promos and now I can’t wear it anywhere without people asking me if it’s an homage (shut up, people!). I have nothing but dislike for this show. Even if CBS were the only station you could watch on your television, I would still recommend doing something else at 8:30 on Mondays. Like watching the end of MNF, or the second half of Chuck, or Aliens in America, or internet porn.

Samantha Who? – I got burnt by a Christina Applegate sitcom once before (Jesse, anyone?), and it’s not happening again. Barry Watson doesn’t help, either.

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TUESDAY

More Missy, Less Guy That Wants To Be Jack Black

9 p.m.

House – Still plugging along on Hugh Laurie’s endless charisma. I’ve kinda missed the old team, but am buoyed by spending time with Kumar and the hot lesbian from The O.C. (rent Alpha Dog to see her get down naked-style. The movie blows, but that scene is worth it in spades. Spades, son!). My only bit of contention is that Cuddy is becoming more and more ineffectual. Can we get her a storyline, please? One that doesn’t involve her going on a date that will eventually be ruined by House? Because we’ve seen that six times already. Or her telling House he can’t do something and then totally caving. Cause we’ve seen that eleventy-billion times.

Reaper – I’m at odds with this show. I like Bret Harrison. I like Ray Wise. I have a mad crush on Missy Peregym (yes I saw Stick It in theaters. Look, it’s not called GymNICEstics!). And the presence of Kevin Smith is never a bad thing. But the formula is already played out and we’re only on episode five. The freak of the week thing never lasts, just ask The X-Files and Smallville, so here’s hoping they come up with some sort of mythology they can dip into now and then. Also, getting Missy back into her leotard for some tumbling wouldn’t hurt.

10 p.m.

Law and Order: SVU – Nothing much to say about this show. Love the Meloni and the Mariska. The Belzer still needs a chemical peels worse than Bill Murray and Tommy Lee Jones combined. And the ching ching still rocks it.

WHAT I’M NOT WATCHING ON TUESDAYS

Cane – Nothing against Jimmy Smits or Hector Elizondo, two actors I respect, but I have exactly zero interest in this show. And I’m a sugar fiend! (Cane = Sugar? No? Anyone? Bite me.)

Cavemen / Carpoolers – Yeah, right. I’d rather watch Ellen cry about dogs for an hour. At least that’s legitimately funny.

Damages – This one just got away from me. Watched the first 6 or so eps and just fell off track when the season started. The same thing almost happened with Burn Notice, but I like that show more. I’ll catch a marathon or wait for the DVD. So nobody post spoilers.

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WEDNESDAY

GREAT adult soap!

8 p.m.

Pushing Daisies – I like it, don’t love it. The whimsy is nice and all, but I feel like I ate a King Size back of jelly beans by 8:47. And a little Kristin Chenowith (pun intended) goes a LONG way.

9 p.m.

Gossip Girl – My favorite new show of the fall. I’m a sucker for a teen soap and this is trash of the filthiest order. The girls are crazy hot, the drama is ridonkulously melodramatic, the parents are all ILF’s, the clothes are ludicrous, the hair is headshakingly bad and the storylines are as old as Gabrielle Carteris. Also, Kristin Bell. I am unabashedly in LOVE this show. I don’t want to talk out of turn, and we’re gonna need to wait and see how the show falls together a bit, but this might be better than The O.C. This question definitely deserves its own column at some point.

Private Practice – Started off creaky and shameful, is slowly working its way to being credible. Could very well end up better than Grey’s (especially if Shonda keeps on with the execrable Gizzie storyline). And I’d never pass up the chance to watch Kate Walsh do anything for an hour, especially when anything includes naked towel dancing. Though I could do with a LOT less Amy Brenneman.

10 p.m.

Dirty Sexy Money – The third of my favorite new rookies. The cast is uniformly excellent, from Donald Sutherland (who rules all) to Peter Krause returning to his Casey McCall likeability to Natalie Zea being crazy, hot and crazy hot as Karen Darling to William freaking Baldwin happily throwing down with a tranny. And that’s all before we get into Tamara Feldman (who could throw down with Megan Fox, if you’re picking up what I’m putting down). I could watch the antics of the Darling family for years to come. And I hope I get that chance.

WHAT I’M NOT WATCHING ON TUESDAYS

Bionic Woman – Tried hard to like it, but eventually had to accept that the show blows ass. Michelle Ryan does nothing for me. Growing up in the Valley I’ve had my fair share of crazy blondes, so Katee Sackhoff does less than nothing for me. And I can’t stomach Isaiah Washington (even when he’s getting a Bionic beatdown). I might have slogged through it as a change of pace to Private Practice but I can only tape two shows at once and I love Gossip Girl too much.

Kid Nation – I was completely wrong about this show. I thought it would be the biggest show of the year, and as it turns out, it blows harder than Cavemen. They had the kids cutting the head’s off chickens. At 8pm! I nearly booted my Chicken Pad Thai. Child Exploitation, thy name is CBS Reality.

Life – Liked the pilot, but my Wednesdays are already too packed. I’ll catch it when Dirty Sexy Money is in repeats.

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THURSDAY

What else is on my mind grapes?

8:30 p.m.

30 Rock – I could listen to Tracy Jordan be Anne Heche-crazy for days. I am appealing to the California DMV for my very own “ICU81MI” liscense plate (hilarious!). And then there’s the Werewolf Bar Mitzvah I wish my Mom had let me have:

9 p.m.

The Office – Can we please all agree that the hour long episodes were a bad idea and move on? Thank you. So much filler I couldn’t stand it. Thought I was watching season four of Dawson’s Creek for a while there. Though I’m really liking Jim and Pam as a couple. It was a great choice to not to draw that storyline out. I particularly enjoyed this moment (I love how happy they are about the whole thing, like they couldn’t want to tell someone):

Grey’s Anatomy – OK, I’m never gonna stop watching this show, but holy jeebus, if it was ever gonna happen it would be because of the Gizzie (George & Izzie). Izzie has become such a contemptable character. After the scene of Meredith telling Lexie about her Mom’s death, I started liking Mere again (a feat I never thought possible), which makes Izzie the current worst character on network television (even worse than the ghost of Dawson Leery, Carrie Bradshaw and Ally McBeal put together). If they don’t end that ridiculous, painful, ill-conceived plotline before November sweeps I am seriously gonna consider thinking about maybe not watching every second of each episode. And I mean it!

9:30 p.m.

Scrubs – Gotta watch the final season, even if it’s not funny anymore.

10 p.m.

It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia – Just to get a base!

WHAT I’M NOT WATCHING ON THURSDAYS

Big Shots – I hated myself enough when I watched Sex and the City, I don’t need a bigger dose of self-loathing from the male version.

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FRIDAY

Clear Eyes, Full Hearts, Can't Lose!

9 p.m.

Friday Night Lights – Took me watching four straight episodes from the Bravo marathon, a plea from TwoP and Bill Simmons and my desire to have a sports show on my schedule for me to finally give this show a chance. And let me tell you, it was worth it. This is one of the best shows on television. Superbly written, directed and acted, with powerful storylines, big issues, and fascinating characters. If you can get past the football stuff and the Texas nonsense, there is a whole lot to love about FNL. Kyle Chandler and Connie Britton put on an acting clinic each week, and there skills are free. Check out everything that’s going in their eyes in this scene:

Brilliant. I picked up the first season on DVD for fifteen bucks last week (and it came with a money back guarantee), and I can’t wait to tear it open and catch up.

WHAT I’M NOT WATCHING ON FRIDAYS

Moonlight – I want to like this show so much. Sophia Myles is hot, Shannyn Sossamon is a guilty pleasure. I’d follow Jason Dohring anywhere. But the lead actor is so so so terrible. Makes me long for David Boreananas terrible. And the writing is atrocious. If Fridays are the TV equivalent of the January movie dumping ground, Moonlight is released on the 5th of the year, every month.

Women’s Murder Club – The only new show I haven’t watched yet. This could go either way. I love me some Angie Harmon, but procedurals never do it for me unless they involve Christopher Meloni punching somebody in the face. I’ll let you know…

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SATURDAY

There is nothing good on TV on Saturdays.

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SUNDAY

9 p.m.

Family Guy – The Star Wars tribute episode may be the funniest hour of entertainment of the entire year, and that includes any 60 minutes of Superbad, Knocked Up or any combination of any episode of the Thursday night NBC sitcoms.

See what I mean.

WHAT I’M NOT WATCHING ON SUNDAYS

Viva Laughlin – The only way I’m voluntarily watching Hugh Jackman sing is he if he’s doing his berserker attack with adamantium claw action (should I call you Logan, Weapon X?). And even then I’ll probably be thinking it’s gay (and by that I mean retarded) (and by that I mean I’ve been watching too much House).

So that’s the schedule. Seventeen shows, of which a whopping SEVEN are rookies! What a great slate we got this year. And it only gets better in January when Idol and the Terminator show shows up. Now if I can only find the time to watch everything. It’s a problem. But the kind of problem I don’t mind having.

Bangarang!

Robin Sparkles Was Gonna Be Wonder Woman???

Joss Whedon, creator of spunky, quip-delivering, leather-pants wearing, vampire killing, she bitch slayers, and the reason Sarah Michelle Gellar was unfortunately unleashed upon the world, has officially left the long-in-development Wonder Woman movie. Pressed for comment on his unexpected exodus, Whedon said

wonderwoman

“Hey, I already screwed up the Alien franchise and the entire last three seasons of Buffy, did you really want me ruining another iconic female character? I totally would have had her navel gazing and pining for a hammy bohunk by act two. Also, The Jay, you’re welcome for Eliza Dushku.”

I may have made some of that up. Or all of it. Here’s what he really said, courtesy of his exceedingly scary, official nob-slobbing fansite, Whedonesque (seriously, don’t click the link unless you want to see the dark side of fandom. His rapid cult of fans make Star Wars geeks look Christian Slater in Heathers-cool by comparison):

“You (hopefully) heard it here first: I’m no longer slated to make Wonder Woman. What? But how? My chest… so tight! Okay, stay calm and I’ll explain as best I can. It’s pretty complicated, so bear with me. I had a take on the film that, well, nobody liked. Hey, not that complicated.

Let me stress first that everybody at the studio and Silver Pictures were cool and professional. We just saw different movies, and at the price range this kind of movie hangs in, that’s never gonna work. Non-sympatico. It happens all the time. I don’t think any of us expected it to this time, but it did. Everybody knows how long I was taking, what a struggle that script was, and though I felt good about what I was coming up with, it was never gonna be a simple slam-dunk. I like to think it rolled around the rim a little bit, but others may have differing views.

The worst thing that can happen in this scenario is that the studio just keeps hammering out changes and the writer falls into a horrible limbo of development. These guys had the clarity and grace to skip that part. So I’m a free man.

But most importantly, I never have to answer THAT question again!!!! And you don’t have to link to every rumor site! Finally and forever: I never had an actress picked out, or even a consistant front-runner. I didn’t have time to waste on casting when I was so busy air-balling on the script. (No! Rim! There was rim!) That’s the greatest relief of all. I can do interviews again!

-j.

ps All right, it was Cobie Smulders. Sorry, Cobes.

That’s all fine and mildly witty (much like the entirety of Xander Harris), but I could care less about the entire project, so can we take notice of what was really important in that statement? He was going to cast Cobie Smulders.

Robin Sparkles as Wonder Woman!

That would have been, dare I say it, legendary! Not only is the How I Met Your Mother hottie the spitting image of the Amazononian warrior, she’s also a terrifically talented actress. Great comedic timing, has the best innocent porn name in Hollywood, knows how to use her sexuality as a weapon for both good and evil, courageous at laser tag, and to top it all of she’s great friends with Barney Stinson. And you know what that means; to get into character she would have had to Superhero Suit Up!

She’s a totally underrated TV hottie. As far as brunettes go, I’d rank Cobie slightly behind Evangeline Lilly and about nine places ahead of either Gilmore Girl. After Barney, her Robin Scherbatsky is my favorite character on How I Met. This has some to do with her hilarious newsroom scenes with the hugemongous prick from Angel, and a whole heaping lot to do with how frustrated she makes Ted (I secretly kind of hate Ted). But most of all, I heart Cobie for this video:

How awesome is that video, on a scale one to ten? Infinity. That video is infinity cool.

I can’t believe no one ever floated her name before. The race for the WW role was as hotly contested as the last Bond flick, but I definitely prefer her over the litany of starlets that were rumored to have gotten the job at one point or another. Those being: Sandra Bullock (in this version Wonder Woman is kind of annoying and has A-cups), Morenna Baccarin (who?), Katharine McPhee (hA!), Monica Bellucci (closer…), Sophia Bush (please!), Charisma Carpenter (this would have made my friend Tim deliriously happy), Jessica Biel (fine, I guess) and J.Lo (F that noise! Also, see: Bullock, Sandra).

Now let me tell you how Joss Whedon could have made me the happiest geek alive (aside from releasing a tell-all book entitled “How To Make A Hit TV Show With A Huge Beeyotch As Your Star”.

I was a moderate fan of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I followed it mostly because it was the only show on TV at the time that used modern pop culture references; it had Seth Green (and I was loyal to him for his Wiley in Airborne), I enjoyed hurling obscenities at SMG, David Boreananas (sp?) was unendingly fun to make fun of (I haven’t seen acting that stiff since Rick Solomon flipped on the night vision), and most of all, the aforementioned Eliza Dushku (who karmically balanced for The WB for foisting James Van Der EightHead on us). But the show degenerated to shit by the fifth season (when she took on a Euro-trash version of Dracula that unfortunately looked nothing like Gary Oldman). And I was never into Angel or Serenity. Basically, Joss Whedon was OK in my book, aside from the Alien: Resurrection final act debacle and of course, giving unto the world SMG. But he’s officially in my cool book for wanting to cast Cobie Smulders as Wonder Woman.

cobiesmuldersBut he could have made the most awesome moment in pop culture geekery if at one point during the flick he had Wonder Woman going to the mall (today!). I would have paid eleventy-billion dollars to see Robin Sparkles, dressed as the Amazonian Warrior, fly her invisible jet to the local mall. I would have robbed a fucking bank to fund that moment.

Robin Sparkles is just THAT awesome.

I was never that interested in a Wonder Woman movie, mostly because we already have a hot female action hero (holla, Angelina!), the film would have inevitably been as cheesy as the ‘70’s TV show (love the spinning) and because as much as I like Cobie, nothing really beats seeing Rachel Bilson don the Wonder Woman outfit on the first season of The OC in her ill-fated attempt to seduce Seth Cohen away from the obnoxious Anna Stern (reason #349 why Adam Brody pretty much sucks), but I’m one-tearing for what might have been had Joss stayed on the film. And I will always wonder what store of the mall Wonder Woman would have shopped at.

Who am I kidding? It would have so been Golden Lassoes of Truth-R-Us.

Let’s Go To The Mall, Today!

(Follow me on Twitter @jasonamatthews)

20 Thoughts On Navigating The New TV Season

Let’s do an exercise together. Imagine you’re looking at a big board, and on that board are the primetime lineups of all five major television networks. You can see all their shows, from Monday to Sunday. Scan over the names, making sure to take a moment to refresh yourself with the history of each. Done? OK, now, tell me if you can name just one hour long drama that’s past its fourth year of existence right now, and that doesn’t involve a CSI, NCIS, L&O or Keifer Sutherland. Take your time, I’ll wait. Still thinking? Alright stop, I’m going to save you the time. There’s only three of them, and they’re all on The CW: 7th Heaven, Gilmore Girls and Smallville. One stole a timeslot from a far superior show (Everwood), one needs to be put down like a sick goat (suck on that, Lorelai!) and the other is only still on because Kristin Kreuk is really REALLY pretty. Basically, none of them remain on television because of some undying loyalty to quality; the CW needed a few flagships for their underwhelming puke green-infused launch, end of story.

Here’s the point of the exercise: don’t believe the hype that television has gotten exceedingly better. It hasn’t.

Reality shows ravaged the industry. The immediate and intense success of a slew of cheap to produce reality shows (The Bachelor, Survivor, Joe Millionaire, et al) caused the premature and merciless cancellation of countless network primetime shows. When the networks saw they could retain their ratings and shares but at nearly half the cost they didn’t think twice about axing the clever, yet rating challenged budget behemoth on Tuesday nights at 9pm. And while the dumber parts of the American viewing public made away like bandits in this arrangement, the people that hope and pray for just a few hours of quality television each week were slapped in the face and made to look elsewhere. I was one of those slapees.

I tried Spike and The Shield. I watched FX and Nip/Tuck (though not Rescue Me. I can’t watch Denis Leary as a serious actor. He will always be Edgar Friendly from Demolition Man to me. Which reminds me, mmmm ratburger!). I attempted to sit through the Comedy Central rotation of mediocrity (Hey Drawn Together! What’s up? Cool. Later. P.S. You suck.). I slogged my way through the “high brow” reality crapola (basically anything on Bravo). Nothing I watched was ever as good as the top of the heap primetime dramas that reigned in the pre-Reality era. I’m talking Clooney and Goose-era ER, Franz’s ass-era NYPD Blue, Sorkin-era West Wing, anything David E. Kelly made before Calista Flockhart turned to stone, Buffy before UPN got their mitts on it, hell, even Dawson’s Creek for a little while. Good shows were all over the place back then.

And they stayed on long enough to build their worlds and attract an audience. Shows premiering today get two episodes tops before the networks pull the plug. This last spring, you couldn’t trip over a tranny on Santa Monica Blvd. without seeing Heather Graham’s smiling face blonding back at you. I didn’t even see her show and I love me some Rollergirl. Why didn’t I watch it? Cause ABC canceled it after one airing. One! Pilots suck in general. By design they’re not meant to be the best episode of the series. So how can you judge a show based on its rookie twenty-two minutes? I’m tired of getting hyped up all summer only to tune in and have my time wasted when Wonderfalls, The Inside, Karen Sisco, Surface, Threshold, Jack and Bobby, Skin, Night Stalker, Miss Match, Miracles, Lyon’s Den, Line of Fire, Life As We Know It, John Doe, Boomtown, etc get yanked almost immediately.

Yes, there is a lot of good television. HBO still makes great stuff. Two out of the three Law and Order’s are quality. House, 24, Veronica Mars, Lost, and Boston Legal all get my attention week in and week out. The networks are too gun shy right now. Remember, ABC originally gave Grey’s Anatomy a midseason nine episode run, and it’s only because they followed the first season Desperate Housewives phenomenon that the show even attracted an audience. Veronica Mars was the best show on television two years ago. Today they have a thirteen episode commitment from a network that has absolutely NOTHING to run its place should it be canceled. House is fading, nobody likes Desperate Housewives anymore, 24 is only on for half the season, NBC relegated the flagship L&O to the wasteland of Friday’s (where they’re not sure the show can even compete with Rob Morrow and the menschy jewish kid from Addams Family Values), The Sopranos is done, and ER is a mess that won’t go away.

Gone are the days when a Third Watch can survive on Mondays for six seasons. Felicity would never last today. Double that for Boston Public, Angel, Providence, Judging Amy, Charmed and Alias. The current best shows on television are in their third seasons at best. We’re only now seeing a rebirth in series loyalty and longevity. While this fall has the best new slate of shows in nearly a decade, let’s hold off announcing the awesomeness of network television until at least one of them makes it past Christmas. I refuse to get attached to another show only to see it go weakly into the May sweeps night, fading into network obscurity like so many I’ve loved before (R.I.P Undeclared).

But I think I have a solution to my problem…

I’m going to watch everything. Every single new show. I’m going to try them all once. If it doesn’t make me throw up a little in my mouth, it gets a second chance. If it never gets better I won’t watch past the third episode (peace out Justice, Happy Hour, Vanished and Til Death). But I will watch everything. And by watching everything I’ll truly know what’s worth spending my time on. The goal is to catch all 26 new shows and do a sweep of all 55 returning shows and then eventually whittle it down by quality until I’m only watching 10 on a weekly basis. Ten would seem like a lot, but I have presets built in – I’m required to watch Lost, Grey’s, House, Veronica Mars, How I Met Your Mother and in the Spring, Scrubs – so I’m really only looking to five slots. By loyalty to Aaron Sorkin I will follow Studio 60 (even though it hasn’t yet risen above the level of average). Now I’m down to four slots. I’m combining My Name Is Earl and The Office into one big mega-sitcom, so now I’m only down to three slots. Three new shows out of seventy-five choices. My TiVo is gonna get a run for its money.

It’s time for the new fall TV season and I couldn’t be more excited to crap on all the new shows. As the NPH might say on my favorite CBS sitcom How I Met Your Mother: “Suit Up!” Here are twenty thoughts on how I’m going to navigate my three show search.

1. When choosing which of two shows to watch that are on opposite each other, always choose the serial over the procedural (i.e. Grey’s over CSI). You don’t want to fall behind on a Lost or a Prison Break or a Veronica Mars just so you can watch William Petersen shine a mini-flashlight on an overly lit, green-lens tinted dead body.

2. If you just HAVE to watch Lost, do so with a large group of people. That way, when the show ends up being predictably frustrating and disappointing (Oh, did they not explain the black smoke monster? Tell me again what the Other are up to? Did Kate not choose a boyfriend yet? They didn’t tell you anything? Well, at least we got to see another flashback of Jack’s life as a doctor. New information there.), at least you’re hanging out with cool people. So start drinking to dull the pain.

3. Any pilot that features Amy Smart ripping open her blouse and tasering a helpless woman deserves your viewing attention for at least a couple episodes (regardless of how creepy and unentertaining it is to watch Ray Liotta for forty-two minutes each week).

4. Tape or TiVo Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. It’s going to be much easier to sit through all the fast paced, oh so precious Sorkinese if you can bloop bloop through the commercials.

5. Just because Qualen from Cliffhanger and Hank Kingsley from The Larry Sander Show decide to do a sitcom together, doesn’t mean it’s going to be funny. And in this case, it means the opposite.

6. Stay away from My Network TV. A shitty soap opera is stilll a shitty soap opera, even if it has Bo Derek fighting in a public fountain (who, by the way, hasn’t been worth watching since she banged Jeff Fahey on a motorcycle in the Skinemax classic “Woman Of Desire”).

7. Remember, it may seem like a cool casting choice but NOBODY likes James Woods. He’s made a career out of playing sleazy douche bags; “lovable scoundrel” isn’t exactly in his wheelhouse. Unless he’s trying to convince Louis Gossett Jr. to fight ten guys in one night, menacing Sly Stallone, or slapping Michael J. Fox around, he’s not giving me the good times.

8. There’s nothing wrong with the philosophy of “one and done”. If you don’t like a show, stop watching immediately. There’s far too much interesting television on this fall for you to get hooked into finishing a suck ass installment of Vanished or Till Death (Hey Brad Garrett, Michael Richards is on the line, he wants me to deliver a message: “Welcome to TV Hell. Hope the house is paid off.”).

9. Ali Larter is the next big TV hottie, so make sure you’re watching Heroes. There’s always a better than average chance that an enterprising staff writer got wasted and watched Varsity Blues and the next thing we know Larter’s in a whipped cream bikini and strutting all over NBC. Unfortunately, the potential ramifications of this might be a cameo from asshat James Van Der Beek. Although if the producers decide to invent a character named Giant Forehead Boy, the Beek would be perfect casting.

10. It is OK for men to watch Grey’s Anatomy, so long as they’re doing it for one of two reasons. 1. Katherine’s giant Heigl’s, and 2. They’ve been supporting Patrick Dempsey since he nailed Carrie Fisher in Loverboy, and want to remain loyal.

11. Great shows always have a great opening credits sequence, so choosing what to watch based solely on the credits may be a better bet than banking on the acting ability of Skeet Ulrich.

12. Speaking of Skeet, if TV isn’t the most redemptive medium on the planet than nothing is. Keven Federline is guesting on CSI after ruining a beloved underage sex icon. Jon Cryer has the most popular sitcom on the planet, and he was profit poison for twenty years. Hell, Ally McBeal gave Robert Downey Jr. a job before his first parole hearing. He was still showering with clenched cheeks when he got the role. You gotta love how forgiving a medium television is. After all, the following actors are now carrying their own primetime television shows: Charlie “Bullshit! Cause I wasn’t with a hooker today! Ha Ha!” Sheen, Skeet Ulrich, Erica “Swimfan” Christensen, Taye “Kevin Hill can not come to the phone right now, on account of he sucks and his show is canceled” Diggs, Joey Lawrence, and “Don’t Call Me Celestia” Anne Heche. So if you don’t think Paris Hilton is getting her own sitcom sometime in the next two years, you’re insane. At this point, I wouldn’t be surprised if Michael Jackson did a six episode arc on The O.C.

13. Just as a reminder, Alabama Worley still has her own show on NBC (Medium). I think, after all the wonderful things she’s done for us (getting naked in Lost Highway, fighting James Gandolfini in True Romance, dumping Nicolas Cage, sweetly romancing Dule Hill in Holes), we owe her a viewing or two.

14. Another reminder: in accordance with the national vote taken this summer, we are all to ignore ER until it finally gets the point and goes away.

15. For pure cheesy terrificness, nothing beats The Shatner, The Spader and Murphy Brown fighting for scenery scraps on Boston Legal. NOTHING!

16. When an actor made famous from a now cancelled TV show decides to star in a new series your allegiance should depend solely on how much you liked their previous show. For example, Bradley Whitford ruled on The West Wing, therefore we should give Studio 60 a fair shot. Or take Scott Wolf, who gave us hours of unintentional comedy as Bailey on Party of Five (and also gave rise to the awesomeness that is the Jennifer Love Hewitt chestal region), and as such, we should do the honorable thing and tune in for his new show The Nine. However, by the end of Ally McBeal’s torturous run Calista Flockhart had become about as appealing as a penis eating banshee, so no, we’re not required to watch her new show Brothers and Sisters. In fact, as retribution for having to endure Vonda Sheppard closing out each episode, we should all avoid Brothers and Sister like a spinach-based plague.

17. Protesting 7th Heaven because its renewal caused the cancellation of Everwood and the further employment of Haylie Duff isn’t just allowed, it’s strongly encouraged.

18. Jamie Pressley has gotten naked in over three movies, did a sweet layout in Playboy, made out on camera with Tiffani Amber-Thiessen in a hot tub, viciously spoofed Kirsten Dunst in Not Another Teen Movie, AND once described Howard Stern’s looks by saying “You got slapped with a yarmulke”. I think it’s high time we reward her for her unending public service and start tuning in to My Name Is Earl (Not to mention she’s actually really funny).

19. J.J. Abrams’ name does not necessarily equal quality. Alias declined RAPIDLY in quality after a promising post-Super Bowl episode. Felicity was on The WB, so nuff said there. And he doesn’t, has not, and will never run Lost. My point here is this: Be very wary of Six Degrees. Just because Campbell Scott and the Swimfan star, it does not mean the show doesn’t royally blow (which it kinda does).

20. Trust the NPH. He won’t let you down. And on that note, the only sitcom truly worth your time is How I Met Your Mother (at least until Scrubs comes back in January). Snap a doo!

My early bet on the three shows that will round on my slate is: The Class, Heroes and Shark.

Bangarang!

Final Network TV Report Card

If you missed my Mid-Sweeps Network Report Card, CLICK HERE.

Six networks, 25 shows and a stocked TiVo’s worth of snark ahead of us. Let’s jump right into the network grades and show recaps, and I’ll see you at the bottom for a few Official TheJay.com 2006 TV Season Awards.

ABC

- Boston Legal– Too many guest stars, too many cast members, not nearly enough Bergen on Shatner action. And yet even though BL has turned into the new Will & Grace whore king of Cameoville, I cannot in good conscience hate on Spader, Shatner, Bergen or Bowen. And watching James Spader and Parker Posey go at it in the season finale was like geek candy, I could never get enough. Speaking of Posey, her race with Bowen in the finale was just about the funniest piece of physical comedy I’ve seen in years.

Grade: A

- Commander in Chief– How can a show this bad continue to get chances? ABC loves it, then puts it on hiatus, brings it back with a full press barrage, then yanks it after one episode and cancels it. And just when we thought we would never have to think about Charlie Baltimore as our President, ABC decides to bring it back as a two hour movie in the Fall. The show was never that good. It nearly killed Steven Bocho (And in only a couple months. Cop Rock couldn’t even do that!). And the ratings were terrible. At a certain point, say when C-in-C was getting crushed by House, American Idol AND Veronica Mars, you gotta just cut your losses. For the love of God, just cut your losses.

Grade: F

- Desperate Housewives– I just want to say for the record that I called the sophomore slump on this one. Any show that centers on catty women will always do well on initial release (heck, even Charmed was once a hit), and then slowly degrade into nothingness. It also doesn’t help that the show added too many characters too soon, separated the girls for too long and too often, and was never able to capitalize on the buzz or goodwill it generated last year (Also, simmer down Teri. We don’t need to see you in your panties on the cover of Vanity Fair talking about getting molested. Tacky, much?). I give it one more year before ABC pulls the show of Sundays and buries it on Friday nights at ten.

Grade: C-

- Grey’s Anatomy– Katherine Heigl owned that finale, despite the storyline being the very definition of ludicrous. Meredith gets more annoying, selfish and unwatchable by the episode. And Patrick Dempsey has become the unofficial “biggest asshole on TV”, right ahead of Jack from Lost, Leah Remini and Simon Cowell. And despite all of that, the show still brings it well. The writing is crisp and unique, the acting is uniformly excellent (led by the amazing Isaiah Washington), and it makes my Lady cry once a week. Basically, it’s a great show.

Grade: A

- Lost– Terrible for most of the year, downright unwatchable for any episode geared around Charlie, Claire or Ana Lucia, but really REALLY good by season’s end. The finale was the best episode all season, and maybe the best since the beginning of the first season. It was both wildly overhyped (Sure J.J., that really was the best season finale EVER in the history of television EVER! Just like MI:3 was the best spy movie ever. Same thing.), yet oddly satisfying, it that it finally gave us answers to questions we’ve had since Day One, and gave us a brand new set of questions to ponder. They finally admitted they screwed up with the Tailies, and kicked off the trouble girls; they settled the conspiracies behind the button, the plane crash, they showed us more of the Island (a foot statue? WTF, mate?) and best of all, they destroyed the goddamn hatch. For that alone I gotta praise the show.

Grade: A-

ABC’s Overall Network Grade: B-

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CBS

- Two and a Half Men– In the face of a nasty divorce, tabloid thrashing, online sex scandals and general public unrest, Ma-Sheen still takes care of business, making this show the number one comedy on ALL of television. Which basically means one thing… nothing can kill the Ma-Sheen.

Grade: B

- How I Met Your Mother– A surprisingly young, funny CBS sitcom that is perfect to have on either in the background, or watch in closed captions at the gym while you’re on the treadmill. So essentially it’s a funny show as long as you don’t pay too much attention to it. Which is a step up for CBS, so mazel tov to the eye network!

Grade: C

- Ghost Whisperer– They killed off Aisha Tyler! How you gonna go and do that to a former Talk Soup host? What’s next, Queer as Folk giving Hal Sparks AIDS and the TV Guide Channel canning John Henson? Pray for Joel McHale people, pray for him.

Grade: C-

- CSI:Miami– What do you think the over/under is on how many times this season David Caruso ripped off his sunglasses for dramatic effect? 100? 175? He probably has arthritis up and down his arm, after wearing down his “Sunglass Rip-off Bone”. That’s a medical term, by the way.

Grade: B-

CBS’s Overall Network Grade: C+

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FOX

- 24– RIP Pedro Cerrano. Even though you only batted .091 against the curve, you were still the best fictional president since Jed Bartlett, and that goes a long way in my book.

Grade: B

- American Idol– Dude, freaking Prince showed up. That owns! Even though the hated Soul Patrol won, and my McPhee-ver has finally broken, at least I got to see Prince do his thing. As Dave Chappelle would say, “Game, blouses!”

Grade: A

- House– I’ll admit I missed more than half the season (it was on opposite Scrubs and I don’t have TiVo), but what I did see, I loved. I liked that Cameron finally moved on from House, I liked Sela Ward coming in and screwing with House, and I always like to see Lisa Edelstein get screen time. My favorite aspect of the show is seeing actors I’ve liked in other places (John Cho, for example) come on and look like crap for a full hour. There’s no better role on television that playing House’s patient of the week. You get a big sickness scene, one big emotional confession, and seven scenes of you looking ungodly bad. Makes for a nice career boost.

Grade: B+

- The O.C.– My thoughts on this show have already been well documented, so I’ll use this space to list the five things I used to love about The O.C.

1. Bilson in the Wonder Woman costume.

2. Ben McKenzie challenging Ian Ziering as the oldest looking high school student in entertainment history.

3. Waiting for the camera to explode after trying and failing to fit both of Peter Gallagher’s eyebrows in frame.

4. “Welcome to the OC, bitch!”

5. Marissa Cooper dying in a fiery car crash. What? That was awesome, and I’m going to miss seeing it every week.

Grade: C-

- Prison Break– Can you really call your show “Prison Break” if all the characters break out of the prison? Don’t you then have to change it to, I don’t know, “Not Prison Break” or “The Fugitive Rip-off”?

Grade: C+

FOX’s Overall Network Grade: B

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NBC

- The Office– I gotta throw some love The Office’s way because they cast my old acting coach, Melora Hardin, as Steve Carell’s love interest. Also, it’s a show full of geeks about people acting geeky. How can I hate on that? NBC better not screw this one up, or let Carell go.

Grade: A

- My Name is Earl– The show lost some steam after a WAAAAY too over-hyped series premiere. I don’t think it’s strong enough to anchor a night yet, and there’s a better than average chance it gets lost in the Thursday shuffle of CSI, Grey’s Anatomy, Survivor, The OC next year. But one thing remains the same: seeing Jason Lee act every week is a pleasure. One I have no intention of giving up.

Grade: A

- Scrubs– OK, so maybe Zach Braff does want to be there. But for a while he looked more bored than me during my second viewing of Magnolia. And as much as I laughed my ass of at the season finale (Zoom, zoom, zoom!), the show went back to its stupid, futile gimmick of hooking JD up with a guest star. We know Elizabeth Banks isn’t coming on as a series regular, so why should I invest in her character or in their relationship? It didn’t work with Heather Graham, Amy Smart or Mandy Moore, three actresses I dig, so it’s most definitely not going to work here, with an actress I’m indifferent too.

Grade: B

- The West Wing– Here’s what I was happy with: CJ ending up with Danny Concannon, Will going to run for Congress, Charlie getting into Georgetown, Sotckard Channing finally getting her season one haircut back. Here’s what I didn’t like: A wasted penultimate episode of Santos and Vinick, no resolution for Toby and no scenes between Sam and Toby. Here’s what I hated: No resolution to Josh and Donna, Sam getting ad-pimped by The Powers That Be and then getting wasted with three scenes over two episodes, and most of all, that I’ll never get to watch a brand new episode of this show ever again. Oh well, at least there’s Studio 60 in the fall.

Grade: B

NBC’s Overall Network Grade: B-

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The WB

- Gilmore Girls– Don’t care, don’t care, don’t care, Hate Lauren Graham, don’t care. I wish The CW hadn’t decided to bring it back, because without series creator Amy Sherman Palladino, the show’s going down the tubes. Also, did I mention I hate Lauren Graham? (One of these days I really have to write a column about all the hateful celebrities who yelled at me while I was an extra.)

Grade: C-

- Smallville– Lex hooked up with Lana? Spike came in as Braniac? Aquaman didn’t get picked up? They killed Bo Duke? Brandon Routh made Tom Welling irrelevant? Lionel Luther is banging Ma Kent? Erica Durance got another FHM cover? Can I stop asking questions now? Did I even watch this show this season? The answer to the last one is “no”.

Grade: B-

- Supernatural– I’m sure I’ll start watching this show again eventually, but since The WB decided not to market ANY of their shows this season, cut their losses and just lame duck it until the Fall, I decided not to help their final ratings. Also, screw you guys for canceling Everwood. You pissed off my Moms, and you took Treat Williams off of network TV. The man was the Substitute, for god sakes! Show some respect.

Grade: C

The WB’s Overall Network Grade: D
(Automatic half grade drop due to The CW stupidly deciding to renew 7th Heaven AFTER they had aired the season finale. You can only say goodbye once, jackasses.)

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UPN

- Veronica Mars– Uh oh… another question barrage coming… can’t stop it…. Here we go! Veronica was raped again? Cordelia was laundering what now? Wallace has a police daddy? Enrico Colantoni can kick people’s asses? Lisa Rinna shot herself on a freeway? Steve Guttenberg is still alive? Series killer Paula Marshall is Veronica’s friend now? Iceman from X-Men got it on with Veronica? Is this the weirdest how on television? Do I need to rewatch the entire season just to make sense of it all? Is Veronica Mars maybe a bit too confusing for it’s own good? The answer to the last one is “yes”.

Grade: A

- Everybody Hates Chris– The CW decided to bury this awesome show on Sundays at 7pm, why now? Do they have that much other content that’s better than this? Did we really need a 37th cycle of America’s Next Top Model? Did Beauty and the Geek need to get re-aired four times? What was it that made them think this show wasn’t good enough for true primetime? Was it the awesome critical reception? Was it the star power of series creator Chris Rock? Was it the fact that it was one of the funniest new shows of the season? Probably all of the above. Way to go, CW. I see you have more UPN in you than I originally thought.

Grade: A

UPN’s Overall Network Grade: B
(Automatic one grade drop because these are only two shows on the entire network worth watching at all.)

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So here’s how the final network report card looks: ABC dropped hard with a sophomore dramatic slump, NBC stayed solid with their slew of quality comedies and look to have the most promising fall lineup (Sorkin’s back, Tina Fey’s on the way and the NFL is finally back on NBC). CBS is still old but is trying to get younger, FOX made some traditional bonehead moves (I still can’t believe they canceled Arrested Development), but they did some good to (They renewed The Loop, just like I said they should.). And UPN and The WB got married, killed some of their kids (RIP Everwood), resurrected a beast (You suck, 7th Heaven!) and decided that it was easier to suck as one network, then it would be as two.

I’m awarding the 2005-2006 Network TV Season to FOX, for 24, House, Idol, Family Guy and The Loop. Congratulations to FOX; I can’t wait to see what’s in store for the Fall. And now for some meaningless awards.

The “Official” 2006 TheJay.com TV Season Awards:

Biggest Shocker of the Season: Did they just kick off Chris Daughtry? You mean I get more McPhee? Suh-WEET! Peace out, bald guy! Go have fun fronting Creed.

Worst Shocker of the Season: Oh wait, you mean Henry Gale really WAS an Other? You’re kidding me!

Best New Show: My Name is Earl

Worst New Show: The Book of Daniel

Best Returning Show: Scrubs

Worst Returning Show: Desperate Housewives

Best Reason To Watch TV This Season: Watching Kiefer Sutherland yell at people. “WHERE IS THE FILE?” “TELL ME WHAT I WANT TO KNOW?” “DID YOU LIKE ME IN FLATLINERS?” TELL ME NOW!!!!”

Final Word on the Season: Wait, tell me again why that statue had four toes?

Bangarang!


The Case Against: 25 Shows On The Bubble

With the summer movie season fast approaching TheJay.com will be going into blockbuster movie critique mode for a while. But before I do, I wanted to touch base in the world of television. May sweeps are just around the corner; the TV playoffs, where each show makes the final push for ratings gold. It’s also the time when networks begin announcing which shows will get renewed, and which get the axe. Right now there are slightly more than twenty shows that are on the bubble; they could go either way, depending on what type of mood Jeff Zucker or Les Moonves is in. I want to examine those bubble shows and decide whether or not they are worthy. After all, the networks don’t choose which shows to bring back, the viewers do. So let’s dive right in…

The Case Against: 25 Shows on the Bubble (in alphabetical order):

American Dad

I know FOX likes their animation domination block so much, but American Dad is not worthy enough to follow in the tradition of The Simpsons, Family Guy and King of the Hill. The jokes are more derivative than Family Guy, but not nearly as funny. And moreover, why do we need this when we have the far superior Family Guy? Dump it, and bring back Futurama.

Verdict: BIG FAT CANCEL

Arrested Development

This is just frustrating. Showtime was ready to do the deal and then creator Mitch Hurwitz says no and cancels the show. I don’t understand. You create what is widely considered the best show on television, you generate a rapid, ultra-loyal fanbase and then just when the show was going to get the home it needed to be a sensation, you pull the plug. Why? Why walk away from greatness? There better be something more to this than money. Hurwitz better have a good reason, or the next time he develops a TV show none of his Arrested fans will watch.

Verdict: SOMEBODY CONVINCE HURWITZ TO LET SHOWTIME HAVE IT!

Commander in Chief

At some point you just have to shoot the dying horse. You can’t keep watching it twitch on the ground, helplessly clinging to a life it can’t lead. Commander has already lost two show runners, most of its writing staff and the majority of it’s audience. It was a good concept, but with bad execution and even worse show management. ABC, please, cut your losses, cancel the show and give the timeslot to a worthy pilot.

Verdict: CANCEL (and merciful death)

Courting Alex

CBS took this off the air after only a few airings, but have not yet dropped the official axe. Jenna Elfman is a mediocre comedienne at best, but makes a fine TV actor for people who like their sitcoms stale, predictable and safe as a Mormon girl on prom night. The Eye tends to stick with safe sitcoms, as evidenced by their awkward faith in that horrible new Elaine Benes show, and the unbelievable six-year run of The King of Queens. I say give it the boot and give the time to another CSI show. Maybe this one gets set in, like, Wisconsin, and headlined by Jeff Daniels or Dylan McDermott.

Verdict: CANCEL

Everwood

This is the only real unfortunate casualty of the WB / UPN merger. Everwood is a good, wholesome drama that appeals to the family demographic that the WB was able to pull in by pairing it with the departing 7th Heaven. Unfortunately, The CW is pushing for a teen and urban demographic and has no desire to push the fam angle. The show’s only hope is to nail the finale, pray for a ratings bump and hope Treat Williams has enough goodwill to last through the launch of the new network. Although I doubt it, after all, he was in Deep Rising.

Verdict: CANCEL

E-Ring

Why keep this troubled show when The Unit is so much better and has a network that actually supports it. NBC beat the hell out of E-Ring, continually moving the timeslot, giving it a short-shrift marketing push and allowing the producers to call the show E-Ring (Just an awful title. Even something as stupid as Pentagon Wars would have been better). This was a botched operation from the beginning; a major blunder by NBC who needs to keep Benjamin Bratt in their stable. He will crush a TV series eventually, so you gotta keep him around until he finds his House or Medium. Also, don’t cast Dennis Hopper unless you’re going to let him be a villain. Any other role and you’re just kidding yourself.

Verdict: CANCEL

Four Kings

I like this show. Having Seth Green on my television is always a treat and it was cool to see a “guys” show that let their characters be real “guys”. Yes the three-camera sitcom is a dying art, but Four Kings could have been a last gasp of greatness. NBC used to make their money with the three-camera, so it’s sad to see them abandoning it just because My Name is Earl is popular right now. They better develop something better or the premature axe for this show will seem doubly stupid.

Verdict: RENEW

Freddie

Heck if I don’t want to see this show get renewed. Everything in me says not to endorse Freddie Prinze Jr., and yet I like this show. Brian Austin Green rules all and you know I support my 90210 alumni. Freddie works for me because the five minutes I catch while waiting for Lost to start are always filled with two things: a consistent hearty laugh and good times remembering Brian back when he was deflowering Donna Martin. And that’s always good times.

Verdict: RENEW

Free Ride

Never watched it, don’t care about it. I could go either way. But since they have a similar themed sitcom on the air that I do watch (see below), my feeling is to get rid of this one, stop splitting their audience base and throw all the support onto the more promising The Loop.

Verdict: CANCEL

Gilmore Girls

With creator Amy Palladino leaving it doesn’t seem that smart to bring the show back. Like Sorkin leaving The West Wing, Palladino was the heart of the writing staff, creating the language of the show and the voice of the characters. Her departure will mark a period of confusion, exasperated by the move to a new network and the likely understanding that the show will have one farewell season left. So what’s better, having your farewell season tempered by the needs of a network launch, or to go off the air in style, going down with The WB ship, so to speak? If it were me, I’d go out in a blaze of glory.

Verdict: CANCELLATION BY CHOICE

How I Met Your Mother

The buzz is strong on renewal for this one, and frankly CBS would be stupid not to bring it back. It’s the only Monday night sitcom that appeals to people under 30, with the bonus attraction of the show starring both Doogie Howser M.D. and Willow, the nerdy / lesbian / computer whiz / evil supreme witch from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The show has great potential, a solid cast and consistent laughs. Bring it back and let Doogie loose. The Doogie will not disappoint.

Verdict: RENEW

Invasion

Boring. That’s the problem with this show. I watched the pilot, was not wowed and decided to check out. But now the plot has become so impenetrable that new viewers have to actively campaign for story information. It’s too insular, not dynamic enough and the only reason the show is still around is because Lost is its lead-in. Put on any other night and this show falls faster than Lohan after Mean Girls.

Verdict: CANCEL

The Loop

I don’t know why I like it, but I do. Maybe it’s because the Supertroopers team has their fingerprints all over it. Maybe it’s because Eric Christian Olsen is funny as hell. Maybe it’s because the girls on the show are crazy hot. Or maybe it’s because the show is just flat out funny. This could be the next Scrubs, if only FOX would give it the chance. I got a feeling a cancellation is imminent; after all, this is the same network that canceled the superb Undeclared and the even more superb Parker Lewis Can’t Lose. I say give it one more season to grow and then make a decision. What else does FOX have to put on? They already canceled Arrested Development.

Verdict: RENEW

Love Monkey

The forecast is grim for this Tom-Cavanaugh music dramedy. I think it’s a shame that Jason Priestley is getting canceled twice in two years (this and Tru Calling). I need regular doses of the man who would be Brandon Walsh, or the cheesy drama show lover in me might die. He’s all I have left, and Tori’s antics aren’t making things any better. I only got to see the show a few times (Mostly when I was on the treadmill at the gym. TV is hard to watch on mute. Closed captioning is sorely lacking in comedic timing.), but what I saw I liked. Tom is a worthy TV actor who deserves a good vehicle. The occasional Scrubs guest spot is not enough (especially if Scrubs gets yanked due to Zach Braff’s burgeoning film career). I say bring it back for one last chance, but give the show a time slot it may have a chance to win.

Verdict: RENEW (On the condition of only a 5 episode trial run in a good timeslot.)

Malcolm in the Middle

The show is going off the air, the decision has been made, I just wanted to say my goodbyes to the show. Malcolm ushered in the age of the one camera sitcom, paving the way for the success of Scrubs, My Name is Earl and The Office. I will always be grateful to the show, no matter how infrequent I watched it. Congratulations on a great run.

Verdict: ETERNAL LIFE IN RERUNS

The O.C.

I tried to watch this show a couple weeks ago and not even the awesomeness of Rachel Bilson could keep me interested. No show in recent history has fallen as far creatively as The O.C. I was a rabid fan of the first season and a good chunk of the second season, but now I don’t even recognize it. Ben McKenzie is the most unbelievable high school student since Steve Sanders enrolled in West Beverly High. Adam Brody has become his own self parody. Don’t even get me started on the travesty that is Mischa Barton. And Bilson is headed for big screen stardom, and as such, does not deserve to have her time wasted on the likes of this. I know the show still has their fans, but the best thing executive producer Josh Schwartz can do is not continue to destroy the legacy of the first season and just kill his baby now. It was fun while it lasted, but now it’s just sad.

Verdict: WELCOME TO CANCELLATION, BITCH!

Out of Practice

This is the ultimate CBS sitcom: the cast is somewhat appealing in a plain vanilla way, the writing is only mildly edgy (just enough to keep the median age above 50), and whenever you watch it, you find yourself inexplicably laughing out loud at least once an episode. Plus, any show that gainfully employs Jennifer Tilly can’t be all bad. Let The Fonz and The First Lady have their day in the sun.

Verdict: RENEW

Pepper Dennis

On paper, casting Rebecca Romijn-Stamos-O’Connell and Brooke Burns as sisters is a good idea. On screen, it just looks odd. The producers did realize that Rebecca is a toehead and Brooke is latin, right? Well, if only that were the least of the show’s problems. I watched two minutes and turned it off. I wasn’t the only one. A huge marketing push for this turkey of a show makes me feel like the WB was cutting its losses and clearing its docket for the CW launch.

Verdict: CANCEL

Scrubs

Word has been that Scrubs was going off the air not because Zach had gotten bigger than his TV bridges, but because their deal with NBC was coming to an end and the network has been notoriously fickle about the most excellent comedy. But ABC is apparently coming to the rescue, offering to pick the show up for multiple years and promising to give the show the type of support it has earned over the last five years. And all that is nice and dandy, assuming Zach decides to come back. I think they only have him for one more season before the features finally take hold of him (he has two films due out by the end of the year), so they should cash in while the ante is so low. But whatever they do, they better fix the writing, which has gotten thin and shallow this season. The goofy dream sequences have gotten old, and as much as I love John C. McGinley, I’ve been tuning out his Dr. Cox rants since season three. They got me for one more year, so they better make it good.

Verdict: RENEW (On ABC, with an improved writing staff)

Sons & Daughters

Never seen an episode, but I support it nonetheless. Primetime needs to have an improv show somewhere on the schedule, and producers should rally to support all the fantastic comedians on the show. There’s nothing else like this on television, so canceling it and replacing it with a repeat of Extreme Makeover or some other gratuitous reality show is akin to admitting that ABC wants nothing to do with comedy, and gives it’s support only to mediocre dramas that pull in great publicity because its stars are figurative whores (ahem, Desperate Housewives).

Verdict: RENEW

Stacked

It just never seemed right setting a Pamela Anderson sitcom in a bookstore. Yeah, it’s campy and all, but really, even at 40, wouldn’t you rather see her running down a beach in slow motion? The girl’s gone to seed, but she’s still Pamela Anderson for god sakes! Even a Pam at 7 is still like a 9.2 on regular girl’s terms. Also, she can’t act, so asking her to deliver jokes seems like an exercise in futility.

Verdict: CANCEL

Supernatural

This show is not going anywhere, trust me. It’s a perfect show for The CW’s demographic, it stars two attractive, popular leads and it’s the only sci-fi show on television. Sure it’s a little amateurish, but then again, so was The X-Files in it’s first season. I’m not saying Supernatural is even a bump on the road to The X-Files, but it’s definitely got promise.

Verdict: RENEW

The Unit

David Mamet writing, Pedro Cerrano starring and a timeslot to beat the band… this is how you launch a new drama. The cast rocks, the action is first rate (for TV) and it’s a breath of fresh air from all the boring procedural shows that have infected primetime lately. Also, I feel bad for Scott Foley. He lost Jennifer Garner to Michael Vartan, then Felicity ended, his own sitcom was canceled, Scrubs wrote his character off and the movies scripts aren’t getting sent his way. He deserves a break and I’m inclined to give him one.

Verdict: RENEW

The West Wing

This one isn’t real because NBC already decided not to bring the show back, but I wanted to drop some knowledge on it nonetheless. Bringing back Rob Lowe was a bit underwhelming, yet at the same time evoked memories of the glory days of seasons one and two. I’m intrigued by what the show would become if it followed the Santos administration, and have a feeling the show would probably return to its roots and focus on the staff instead of on the President and global affairs. Like I said, this is all meaningless, but I started watching the show again a few weeks ago after a two season lay-off and I’m all bummed that my formerly favorite show is going off the air. Deep down I’d like to see the show continue in any form, just to know that it was still there. Kinda like not wanting your ex’s to ever get married, just so you can know the door hasn’t closed, regardless if you ever want to open the door again or not. My only consolation is that Bradley Whitford just signed on to do Sorkin’s new show, so I know I’ll be taken care of in the fall. The Wing may be coming to an end, but the era of Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip has just begun.

Verdict: KEEP AIRING THE RERUNS

What About Brian

This show is like a master class in how NOT to launch a drama at the end of a bad TV season. The cast is uniformly bland, led by the super-bland Barry Watson (who has Helen Hunt head going on). The plot is trite, cliché and wholly unoriginal, but moreover, it was boring. I’ll forgive a show that it trite and clichéd as long as it’s fun to watch (Heck, I do own the first season of The O.C.), but What About Brian has nothing to keep me coming back. Not even good TV-style nudity. Which is the ultimate save for a bad show. You show me the backside of a hot TV actress and you got my TiVo time for at least four episodes.

Verdict: CANCEL

Bangarang!