Apologies for the sporadic Surf Reports; I’m trying to read pilots, cover events and keep up on TV which, in addition to my day job, is cutting into blogging time. Thanks for your patience.
THE GRAMMYS: A bloated show at three and a half hours (groan) but there were artists I wanted to see so I watched, in real time. The highs and lows:
–It was comforting to see Springsteen and The E Street Band opening the show but the song, “We Take Care of Our Own” seemed like a poor choice given the passing of Whitney Houston the day before the Grammys, and the constant talk of “why didn’t someone help her?” after her passing. That said, I like the song and I’m a lifelong Bruce fan so it made me happy to see them.
–Foo Fighters: it made me over the moon happy to see this band win several awards last night because they still make great rock and roll and Dave Grohl’s acceptance speech – which got CUT OFF by LMFAO (uch) – reminded everyone what music really should be: from the heart *and* from the head. Grohl’s head-bangin’, head-shakin’ performance style always makes me smile and the band performed “Walk” which remains in heavy rotation on my personal playlist.
–Bruno Mars: I haven’t bought any of his records but seeing him perform last night was a total wow. The James Brown of it, the Elvis of it, the splash of Little Richard, the man makes it all work and he made me want to see one of his live shows ASAP.
–Jennifer Hudson: she had the toughest song of the night and she knocked it outta the park. Composed, gorgeous and delivered with great strength, JHud’s performance was a lovely tribute to Houston.
–The Glen Campbell tribute: I loved this because Campbell is truly deserving, he’s in the middle of his farewell tour because his Alzheimer’s is getting worse, and the participating artists were all pretty good, especially Blake Shelton covering “Southern Nights.” I missed “Wichita Lineman” but it was nice to see Campbell having a good time onstage.
–The Beach Boys tribute: Adam Levine did his best falsetto/high register singing and it was pretty good. Foster the People were weak. The Beach Boys themselves sounded a lot better than I expected and proved (again) that most of the time, the originals are the best.
–Closing number with Paul McCartney, Springsteen, Joe Walsh, Dave Grohl: I love the “Golden Slumbers” medley so Sir Paul won me from the start even though his voice was a bit wobbly.
The low points:
–Taylor Swift: I know she sells tons of records and wins lots of awards but her singing and playing are awful. How does she have a career when Carrie Underwood is the prettier, more talented performer? Headscratcher.
–Nicki Minaj: She was going for the Gaga effect but with none of the musicality so the entire thing fell flat. I thought the concept was stupid and wished she would’ve just come out and sung a song, not tried to be a performance artist too.
–Chris Brown: Why was he given two performance spots when most people could barely stomach seeing him once? People are still disgusted with him because of the post-Grammy beating he gave Rihanna a few years ago. I guess some people think he’s rehabilitated, some people think he deserves a second chance, but did he really have to perform two times, especially when his songs are so bad? And he’s really more of a dancer – god knows he can’t sing without the help of auto-tune. Especially distressing, Buzzfeed collected a bunch of Chris Brown fan tweets during the show in which various women said they wouldn’t mind if Chris Brown beat them. It makes me fear for the future.
Did you watch the Grammy show? Love it or hate it?
THE VAMPIRE DIARIES: The Originals aka Klaus’s family are now a focal story point and all I can think is “spinoff.” How great was it to see all the glamorous men of Mystic Falls dressed in elegant finery in last week’s episode? So much handsome crammed into one episode; it was enough to make a girl short of breath. I absolutely loved the shot when Esther (the mother who rued the day she turned all of her children into vampires) performed the spell and connected all of her children with the blood tree and doomed them all to die. That wonderful shot as the blood seeped all around the page and connected the family was artful and eerie. Also, why does anyone still trust Elijah? Hasn’t he already proven himself to be the biggest doublecrosser around? Finally, I love that the transition is now complete: Stefan is now cold and unfeeling and his brother Damon has gone all soft and mushy for Elena. Klaus remains the only consistent vampire, at least for now.
THE RIVER: I did not see PARANORMAL ACTIVITY and I’m not a fan of the shaky-cam so that’s probably a main reason I didn’t respond to THE RIVER. I watched the two hour premiere and by the end of hour one, I didn’t care if they found the lost dad and I really didn’t care about any of the characters. I think the actor playing Lincoln is miscast and that’s one of the show’s key problems. The more he said, “We’re getting out of here. We’re going home” the more you knew they weren’t going anywhere except deeper into the jungle. I’ll admit: the baby dolls hanging in the trees were spooky but as this is an eight hour miniseries (for now), all I can think is that they’re going to jerk our chains for seven hours and then reveal something in the final hour. As I had zero interest in the characters or story after two hours, I won’t be sticking around to find out what’s next.
SMASH: Did you love the first episode? Are you rooting for blonde Ivy Lynn or brunette Karen to get the starring role? I liked how the pilot set everything into motion and got the exposition out of the way with a fair amount of style. I think Megan Hilty is a wonder to watch and you can tell she’s a Broadway veteran from the first time she sings the test demo. My problem is with Katherine McPhee: she looks terrific (she’s much thinner than she was during her IDOL days), she sings beautifully, but she projects no sex appeal. Even in the scene where she sang “Happy Birthday Mr. President” to director Derek, there was no heat. Male friends tell me I’m nuts. Do you think she has sex appeal/sexual charisma? Again, her vocal talent is undeniable; her pipes are pitch perfect. But the role is Marilyn Monroe; vulnerability, innocence and sex appeal. What do you think?
SHAMELESS: William T. Macy wrote this week’s episode that featured Louise Fletcher as Frank’s mother. To say Frank and his mother have a dysfunctional relationship would be glossing over the sheer rage between the two. The episode made clear that Frank learned absolutely no parenting skills from his mother and that’s definitely a reason he can’t parent his own kids. While Frank’s meltdown scene when he finally told his mother how she messed him up was very strong, the scene following it when Fiona went outside to check on him, and handed him a beer saying, “Yeah, I know, my parents suck too” was the moment that summed it all up beautifully. Still a standout: Jeremy Allen White as Lip, angry and frustrated as he watched Karen, the girl he got pregnant, marry another guy. White manages to show Lip’s anger in a variety of ways: his restlessness, his acting out with brother Ian, and good old-fashioned fighting. I’m still rooting for Lip because of his intelligence, and hoping there will be a good turn of events for him sometime this season.
HOUSE OF LIES: I’m still liking the messed-up quality of Marty Caan and his unwillingness to talk about his son Roscoe’s identity issues; the feminine dressing, the fact that Roscoe admits he likes both girls and boys. It was fascinating to watch Marty go after Roscoe’s principal and the school instead of talking through this issue. Even more surprising was the moment when the principal brought up Marty’s loss of his mother when she committed suicide. The action halted at that moment and this is the second time the suicide has been mentioned; I’m wondering when they’ll play that story note out. I’m hoping the show doesn’t just repeat beats like CALIFORNICATION.
JUSTIFIED: The show is tighter than ever and Neal McDonough as the villain is a real highlight. If you’re not already watching, dig in and enjoy your time in the Kentucky holler. Tuesdays, 10pm, FX.
SOUTHLAND: Tomorrow night’s episode, “Legacy” has John Cooper (Michael Cudlitz) trying to help a suicidal teen. Meanwhile, Officer Tang (Lucy Liu) is visited by someone from her past. Lydia (Regina King) is still pregnant. I visited the SOUTHLAND set last week and I’ll have some quick interviews with the actors for you soon. I spoke to Ben McKenzie and Shawn Hatosy at the set and I’m hoping to get Michael Cudlitz and Lucy Liu on the phone soon. SOUTHLAND has become the E.R. of cop shows; it’s the gold standard and it’s Must See TV in every respect. Tune in tomorrow, Tuesday, 10pm, TNT.
DOWNTON ABBEY: I’m still in shock at the Lord Grantham story with the maid. And then there’s the continued emotional back and forth between Matthew and Mary, further complicated by the Spanish flu. And I still don’t trust Thomas, but really, does anyone? I’m hoping he gets the boot next episode. I wasn’t crazy about Branson but watching him stand up proudly to Lord Grantham about his love for Sybil has made him a lot more likable; I think he cinched it with me when he said he wanted to be worthy of her. The language in DOWNTON makes me giddy; I love when Mrs Hughes described Lady Mary as “a spoiled minx who is the author of her own misfortune.” I also melt whenever Lord Grantham shows compassion and empathy for the servants; he’s such a kind man and watching him with his much more practical and pragmatic wife Lady Cora, I momentarily wondered last night what brought them together, but then she got well and apologized for neglecting him, so all’s well again. Maybe.
WHAT I’VE STOPPED WATCHING: RINGER, ALCATRAZ, HOUSE, THE WALKING DEAD (yeah, I know the show’s return scored 8.1 million viewers last night which is HUGE, but I’m just not interested in zombies or any of the characters, for that matter)
I keep meaning to get into PRETTY LITTLE LIARS and SWITCHED AT BIRTH but my DVR always seems to be almost full so that’s not working out as planned.
Tonight’s rundown: Note: The Westminster Dog Show starts on USA tonight at 8pm, then moves to CNBC at 9pm. Tomorrow night, USA has the conclusion of the show from 8-11pm. Release the hounds!
8:00 p.m. The Bachelor (two hours)
10:00 p.m. Castle – Jennifer Beals guests in tonight’s episode
8:00 p.m. How I Met Your Mother – Becki Newton guests in tonight’s episode as Barney’s blind date
8:30 p.m. 2 Broke Girls
9:00 p.m. Two and a Half Men
9:30 p.m. Mike & Molly
10:00 p.m. Hawaii Five-O
8:00 p.m. The Voice (two hours)
10:00 p.m. Smash
8:00 p.m. House
9:00 p.m. Alcatraz
8:00 p.m. Gossip Girl
9:00 p.m. Hart of Dixie
BET: 9pm – BET Honors
BRAVO: 9pm: Real Housewives of Beverly Hills Reunion (final part with Kim Richards interview), 10pm: It’s a Brad, Brad World
USA: 8pm: Westminster Dog Show, 9pm: Dog Show continues on CNBC
Oxygen: 10pm: Bad Girls Club
Syfy: 9pm: Being Human, 10pm: Lost Girl
TCM: 31 Days of Oscar continues
That’s a wrap for now.