Hollywood Game Night – Celebrities and games and drinking

I have been in a Netflix slump lately. Well, not necessary a slump, but I’ve forgotten what real TV is. But, thanks to a phone call from my sister, I finally turned on the cable I pay $90 a month for and watched Hollywood Game Night.

Let me tell you . . . I’m glad I did!

Not only do I love host Jane Lynch in basically, well, everything, but it’s hard not to love some of the best television comedians competing against each other.

Granted, they did play interesting games like ‘Guess The Candy Bar’ and ‘Put the Picture in Order of Jennifer Aniston’s Hairstyles’, but I think that’s what made it interesting.

So this show had Amy Poehler, Maya Rudolph, Jason Sudeikis, Fred Armison, Dax Shepard & Sean Hayes. My only let down, was that they had two ‘non-celebrities’ competing with them. Which, I guess is the point of the show, but still, more celebrities!

And as the show goes on, Amy and Jason get more drunk, and it really just gets more funny. You have no idea what Amy is laughing at, but she’s so funny (and her laugh is so funny) that you’re laughing too.

Whoever had enough pull to keep getting all these awesome people on the same show, thank you, and I love you.

Sharks + a tornado = SyFy’s “Sharknado”

File under: “TV writers just aren’t trying this summer.”

On Thursday night, SyFy is airing one of its original (and terrible) movies called “Sharknado.” Yep, it’s pretty much what it sounds like – when a hurricane, or rather, a tornado, (filled with sharks) hits Los Angeles, thousands of sharks terrorize the city’s flooded streets.

No, I’m not joking. The movie airs at 8 on Thursday on SyFy. Check your TV guide.

Why should we care about something like this? Well, there’s a lot of bad TV out there this summer, especially on the big networks, and a lot of it is masquerading as good TV. “Sharknado” is bad TV, but it doesn’t pretend to be anything else. Honesty like that is almost refreshing, don’t you think?

And if you need more terrible shark-themed programming, SyFy will be airing its many other shark movies before “Sharknado.” Check out the classics like “Sharktopus,” “Swamp Shark” or “Malibu Shark Attack.”

Oh, and also “Mega Shark Vs. Giant Octopus.” How could I forget “Mega Shark Vs. Giant Octopus?”

 

The show where funny celebrities have a game night, and more to watch this summer

Bummed that “Game of Thrones” is over for another nine months? Looking for a new show to watch after you binge-viewed all 15 “Arrested Development” episodes on Netflix?  Summer is usually a pretty down time when it comes to TV, but here are a few shows coming up over the next few months that I’m particularly looking forward to:

“Crossing Lines,” June 23: Starring Donald Sutherland, this NBC crime drama, which TV Guide says was filmed in places like Paris and Prague, follows members of an elite task force as they chase criminals around the world. I’d think this show would be worth watching for Sutherland’s performance alone, if not also for the show’s foreign locations.

“Under the Dome,” June 24: CBS goes the route of Stephen King in this 13-episode series. Based on King’s novel of the same name, the show follows a Maine town that gets placed under a dome. Seems straightforward!

“The Bridge,” July 10: FX introduces a new crime drama this July about an American detective and a Mexican detective joining together to investigate a serial killer along the Texas-Mexico border. FX dramas are usually consistently good, so this should be one to check out.

“Low Winter Sun,” Aug. 11: This new crime drama on AMC was set and filmed in Detroit, and is based on a 2006 British miniseries of the same name. It follows a detective who gets pulled into the heart of the Detroit underworld after a fellow cop is murdered.

And finally…

“Breaking Bad”: Walter White, everyone’s favorite science teacher-turned meth kingpin returns for his final eight episodes. Nobody’s entirely sure what’s in store for Walt and Jesse, but it promises to be a heck of a finish.

There are a few other intriguing premises out there that may well fall flat, but may be worth checking out. Like “Whodunnit?” on ABC, debuting on June 23. It’s a reality series, a la the game “Clue,” in which 13 people try to figure out who among them is a killer. Hmmmm…..

Or, how about “Hollywood Game Night,” starting on July 11 on NBC. It’s hosted by Jane Lynch, and teams up celebrities (like Amy Poehler, Jason Bateman, Matthew Perry and more) in a cocktail party atmosphere as they play games. I feel like the show’s subtitle could be “Watch Rich Funny People Play Games.”

 

‘Mad Men’ conspiracy theories

As AMC’s “Mad Men” winds down its sixth season, some intriguing theories regarding Don Draper’s wife, Megan, have been making their rounds on the Internet. Specifically (warning! [potential] spoiler!), that she’s already dead, or that she’s going to die at the end of the season.

Both theories took off after some eagle-eyed viewers realized that a shirt that Megan wore in one particular scene appeared identical to a shirt once worn by Sharon Tate (Sharon Tate was an actress and wife of movie director Roman Polanski who was murdered by a follower of Charles Manson). Such a wardrobe choice couldn’t have been a coincidence, people thought.

Whether or not the theories are true are yet to be seen – viewers are anxiously awaiting the final two episodes of the season to see if their predictions hold fruit – but they at least make for some fun speculation. Here they are in more detail:

Megan Draper is already dead

Viewers started wondering about this two weeks ago, when Don hallucinated after falling face-down into a pool at a party. In his hallucination, he saw Megan, as well as a dead Private Dinkins. During that scene, Don asked Megan how she found him (since the party was in California), and she responded by saying that she lives “here.” Some people took that to mean that Don was dead as he lay in the pool (because of his interaction with the obviously dead Private Dinkins), that the “here” Megan was referring to was the afterlife, and that she’s already dead.

However, in last night’s episode, we clearly saw Megan have a conversation with, and interact with, several other living characters, which would seem to imply that she’s still very well alive. That, then, leads us to theory number two…

Megan Draper is going to die

This seems the more likely possibility, with all the evidence dug up by the Internet foreshadowing Megan’s ultimate fate. For example, her wardrobe choices lately have been a lot of black and red, which seems slightly ominous (and again, people argue that clothing on “Mad Men” is never coincidental).

Additionally, if the Sharon Tate connection was done on purpose by the show, the timing fits: Tate was killed in 1969, and this season of “Mad Men” is up through late summer/early fall of 1968 (the June 2 episode took place during the Democratic National Convention of August 1968).

Viewers have come up with other pieces of evidence as well, but that’s the overall gist of it. Thoughts? Is the whole thing irrelevant speculation? Do people have too much time on their hands? Whatever the case, I’d guess we’ll probably know more in the next two weeks…

Even more new shows and spring finales

Though this was a long and cold and long winter, it had a few upsides (like, one or two). Being cooped up inside for so long meant that I finally had a chance to watch some of those TV shows that had been on my list but that I never got a chance to see before (thanks to Netflix, mainly).

I mean, I watched a LOT of TV.

The recent warm-up was timed perfectly (or so I thought), because having watched everything I wanted to watch, I’d be able to go outside and be content that I had consumed enough pop culture until next fall.

Except…a few weeks ago NBC debuted its new “Hannibal” show on Thursday nights, which so far has been worth watching. Then Netflix released its new original series, “Hemlock Grove,” with all 13 episodes available to stream (I’m still torn on this, by the way – I intend on finishing the season, but the show is a huge step down from Netflix’s “House of Cards”). And then I realized that I get the Sundance Channel and can watch “Rectify,” a new miniseries that’s worth checking out. 

And by the time I have those finished, it’ll be time for the new season of “Arrested Development,” which is set to be released for streaming by Netflix on May 26.

Maybe it’s because of just how much television I’ve consumed over the last few months, but continuously playing catch-up with all these new shows seems more exhausting than in past years. But I suppose it’s a good thing that there are shows like these that we actually want to watch, right?

Making it easier for me to find time is the fact that starting this week and going through May, most series are actually starting to end for the season. Which means I’ll finally have time to catch up on everything else, and maybe even get outside to enjoy summer.

End times

Here are just a few of the upcoming season finale dates:

May 1: The Americans (FX)

May 2: Parks and Recreation (NBC)

May 9: Two and a Half Men (NBC), Glee (Fox), Person of Interest (CBS)

May 13: How I Met Your Mother (CBS), Castle (ABC)

May 14: NCIS (CBS), New Girl (Fox)

May 16: American Idol (Fox), The Office Series Finale (NBC), The Big Bang Theory (CBS), Scandal (ABC)

Game of Thrones, Mad Men, new Netflix shows and more

I haven’t had much to write about on here lately, so this morning I thought I’d take a look at some more upcoming midseason TV premieres as well as another new Netflix show. If you weren’t aware, there are some big heavy hitters hitting the airwaves (and computer screens) in the next few weeks.

Game of Thrones: For those lucky ducks with HBO, “Game of Thrones” comes back this Sunday, March 31: Previews make it look like this season – the show’s third – will be as thrilling and expansive as ever (also: dragons!). Seasons one and two are available on DVD if you need to catch up.

Mad Men: The sixth season of the popular AMC drama returns the following Sunday, April 7. If you need a refresher, Netflix just made all episodes of season five of “Mad Men” available for instant streaming today.

Hemlock Grove: “Hemlock Grove,” another new Netflix show a la “House of Cards,” will be released for instant streaming on Friday, April 19, with all 13 episodes being made available at once. Created by horror-master Eli Roth (“Hostel”), “Hemlock Grove” is a horror series that supposedly has something to do with a werewolf. Because it’s horror, this show certainly lacks the wider appeal of “House of Cards,” so I’m intrigued to see what kind of reception/ratings it gets. But it definitely shows Netflix’s desire to continue to be a big-time player in the original television market.

And then, of course, there’s “Arrested Development.” The cult comedy’s fourth season makes its much anticipated debut on Netflix in May, though the exact date hasn’t been confirmed (there was a rumor that the date would be May 4, but Netflix hasn’t officially announced anything yet). As with “House of Cards” and “Hemlock Grove,” all episodes of the season – 14, in this case – will be released at once.

Other premieres of note: NBC’s “Revolution” and “The Voice” return tonight.

Those dirty, rotten spoilers

Take a minute here and imagine the following situation: It’s the morning after your favorite show aired on TV, but you were busy and weren’t able to watch. You DVR’ed the show, and you plan on sitting down to watch it the next night.

But before you’re able to do that, you get on Facebook and see that someone posted the big plot twist of the night – a character was killed off at the end of the episode. Now you know what happens. Just like that.

When it comes to television, is there anything worse than having someone ruin your favorite show for you by spoiling important details?

In my opinion, definitely not. Think about all those moments of TV – or movies too, for that matter – when you’ve been made to yell out loud in shock, or to say, “What just happened!” to the person sitting next to you. Those moments are what make TV worth watching, and for example, knowing what happens during the season finale of Breaking Bad’s fourth season (the only episode I can remember that caused me to audibly yell at the TV not once, but twice) would make the episode far, far, far less enjoyable.

I posted recently about a new “watch when we want to watch” mentality of TV, represented by the new “House of Cards” program on Netflix. With this concept, when we’re watching a show on our own time – whether on Hulu, or something we Tivo’ed or DVR’ed, or on Netflix – and not on the night when it originally airs, I think we become more susceptible to having something spoiled for us.

Because let’s be honest. When something big happens on your favorite show, you want to start discussing it with your friends. But whereas in the past these discussions would happen solely around “water coolers,” now they’re happening on social media, when people Tweet or Facebook their opinions on the latest developments.

And sure, it’s possible to do this online without giving away what exactly happened. But it’s a delicate dance, and it’s likely that even the smallest detail could give something away to someone who wasn’t able to watch the episode.

And in that case, when that spoiler happens, whose fault is it? Is it the responsibility of the person tweeting and Facebooking to avoid the major details, or is it on the person who isn’t watching to avoid being around possible spoilers in the first place? That is, should people – like me – who didn’t watch a specific show – let’s say Downton Abbey’s season finale a few weeks ago – stay off of social media altogether for a few days because of the fact that there are going to be spoilers out there? Or should we not even get to that point?

As someone who’s had shows spoiled for me in the past – let’s say Downton Abbey’s season finale a few weeks ago – I believe that this doesn’t have to happen. There’s no reason why you need to go to Twitter immediately after watching a show and say, for all the world (or your followers) to see, “OMG VADER IS LUKE’S FATHER! I’m so shocked by these unexpected developments!” Rather, save those thoughts until you get to work or school the next day. They’re called “water cooler” moments for a reason – gather with your friends and co-workers and discuss it in person. Don’t ruin it for everybody else, even if that’s not your intention.

Agree? Disagree?

The Oscars: Boring, sexist and…a ratings boost?

Another year, another Oscars. After all that speculation, build up and surprises (or lack thereof – “Argo” as best picture was fairly predictable), the big movie event of the year has come and gone.

I watched parts of it on and off while I was at work last night, and I thought the first 90 minutes or so were extremely boring, with only one significant award – best supporting actor – handed out. It certainly picked up towards the end, but after 3.5 hours (the show finally ended slightly after 11 p.m. after starting at 7:30) it begins to wear on even the most patient person.

Despite its length, early viewership ratings released on Monday morning show that this year’s awards broadcast increased in viewers from last year. Interestingly, a big part of that ratings increase was among the younger 18-49 year-old demographic, which is what the Oscars were going for with a younger host like Seth MacFarlane.

However, MacFarlane’s performance was not without criticisms. Many called his jokes “sexist” – and you don’t need to look much further than his “We Saw Your Boobs” song in his opening monologue.

But is it any surprise that MacFarlane’s antics came away as insulting or sexist? After all, the man created “Family Guy,” an animated show that comes away as insulting and sexist with most of its jokes.

What do you think about the show, and about MacFarlane’s job as host? Did you watch the Oscars all the way through without falling asleep? What were some of your favorite moments?

“House of Cards” – a different kind of TV

I just realized this afternoon how bad I’ve been at posting on this lately. Sure, I have a few excuses, like a busy start to the year, and then taking vacation last month. But there’s something else that’s been occupying my time lately – “House of Cards,” the new original programming created by Netflix that the online streaming service released in January.

If you’re not familiar with “House of Cards,” here are the details: It’s a political thriller (an apt description I read calls it “West Wing meets Breaking Bad”) that stars Kevin Spacey as a conniving politician with a wonderful southern accent, and was released by Netflix in one fell swoop. That is, all 13 episodes were released at once, which meant that people could stream it at their leisure, or turn off their phones and watch it in one sitting. It cost $100 million to make, and it looks like it – it’s a beautiful, addicting and entertaining piece of “television.” And the critics mostly seem to agree.

Once I started watching last month, I couldn’t stop. And when it was finished, I wanted to know when the next season would be done, and subsequently released.

There were a lot of questions that accompanied the release of “House of Cards,” though. Some media outlets wondered if it would lead people to subscribe, and stay subscribed, to Netflix – after all, you get a free month of membership when you sign up. So, technically, someone could sign up, watch the show in that first month, then quit and not have to pay anything. For a $100 million investment, that’s a bit of a gamble.

Then, there was the question of what effect the new format would have on standard cable or network television. Some critics were concerned that if the “House of Cards” format succeeds and is embraced by viewers, it could slowly lead to the demise of the “communal” TV viewing experience – that there would be no morning gatherings at the work water cooler the next day to talk about last night’s episode because everyone is watching the show on their own time. 

But the fact is, nobody’s really sure what effect “House of Cards” is going to have. Will it pay off and be followed by a number of other shows developed in the same format? Or will Netflix decide it wasn’t worth the $100 million investment and try something else (production has already started on a second season, if that’s any indication)?

Personally, I have no idea what to think about the possible consequences the show could have. In a sense, I have to think that it’s just a natural extension of the freedom that TiVo, DVR and Hulu give us. I may not quite be so motivated to watch “Parks and Recreation” when it airs on Thursday, for example, because I know that I can just watch it on Hulu the next day.  Of course, the “watch when we want to watch” mentality leaves us vulnerable to the possibility of having the show spoiled for us before we’re able to watch, but that’s a topic for another blog post.

But does any of that mean that the future of television will be completely this “when you want it” model? Who knows. Maybe, maybe not. But I do think that there’s a part of us that enjoys tuning into a show at the same time as our friends and family, and texting, tweeting, Facebooking and calling to say “Oh my gosh, can you believe that just happened?” I doubt that part of our TV experience will go away altogether, but who’s to say for sure.

In the short-term, news released in recent days makes it appear as if Netflix’s bet on “House of Cards” has paid off – a small survey of people said watching “House of Cards” has made them more likely to stay subscribed to Netflix. Additionally, the show is Netflix’s most popular programming, at least, that’s if you believe what Netflix is saying (they’re not obligated to release viewership statistics. That’s obviously different from network television, where you’re able to track how many people tune into a show on any given night).

So what do you think? Have you already checked out “House of Cards” on Netflix, or are you planning on doing so in the future? If you’re not a Netflix member now, would you be more likely to become one – and then stay a member after the free month is up?

Unrelated notes: Besides “House of Cards,” the most intriguing new show of the season (for me) has been “The Americans” on FX. I had high hopes for “The Following” on Fox, but I got turned off by the gratuitious amount of violence, though I’ve heard that’s since tapered off in the last few episodes.

My “Idol” days might be numbered

I’ve watched American Idol nearly from the start. As the mom of a newborn that summer of 2002 it was fun to watch while I fed the baby.

I was draw in by Kelly vs Justin. (Although, I’m happy to say I never did watch the movie.)

The next season, I weighed in on the Clay vs Ruben debate. I still think Clay was robbed.

I’ve been through seasons that thrilled – getting goosebumps listening to Fantasia sing “Summertime” and watched as Simon Cowell accurately predicted that Carrie Underwood would be the most successful Idol.

I also stayed loyal during those seasons that seemed a little sub-par. Season six with Jordin Sparks versus that beat boxing guy. Not real riveting.

Then there were those years of picking cute, youngish white guys. (Wait. Aren’t they still doing that?) What are their names again: David Cook, Lee Dewyze, Chris somebody. Alright. That’s okay. The voters have spoken.

I even sat through the changes in judges. I liked Ellen DeGeneres and gained a new appreciation for Jennifer Lopez. (I didn’t realize she was that nice.) And Steven Tyler….well he never really gave any feedback of any kind, but it was fun to see what he would wear or (s)wear.

But I might be calling it a day with this show. Not for the contestants, which based on last night’s show seemed pretty run of the mill. We heard from people who endured hardships to pursue singing and starry-eyed teenagers looking for a break. It’s not for them that I’ll stop watching. In fact, I’d like to see more about them.

It seems last night’s show was more about the judges: Mariah Carey, Nicki Minaj, Keith Urban and Randy Jackson. And who am I kidding? It was mostly about the first two. These two (overimpressed with themselves) women bickered most of the night. Poor Keith Urban was stuck between the two of them, squirming like a distant cousin at a dysfunctional family dinner. Poor guy. Probably questions his career decision with this one. Couldn’t he have just stayed down under with his lovely wife?

It wasn’t good TV, like some have claimed. It was irritating and obnoxious, much like Minaj herself.

This was just the first episode, so the loyal soul inside me says to give them another chance. But I’m busier now. My newborn is now almost 11 and I think we’re both a little over this.

Minnesota singer advances to ‘Voice’ finals

If you watched “The Voice” on NBC last night, you probably saw that Nicholas David, the soul singer from Minnesota, advanced to the show’s season finale next week.

It was down to the wire, as these shows usually are – it wasn’t announced until the show’s closing seconds that David would advance, thanks to his performance of Joe Cocker’s “You Are So Beautiful” on Monday night’s show.

David will compete against Cassadee Pope and Terry McDermott next Monday night at 7 p.m., and the winner will be announced on Tuesday night’s show, also starting at 7.

 

Best TV shows of 2012

Well, it’s just about the end of the year, which means it’s time to take a look back at some of the best TV of 2012.

Now, I recognize that I don’t watch nearly enough TV (or have Showtime or HBO, which often make some great shows) to call this anywhere near a comprehensive list. That being said, here are a couple of my highlights from the year:

1. “Breaking Bad” – The best show on TV continued its suspense-filled descent toward the conclusion of Walter White’s story. In the first half of the show’s final season, the former high school science teacher turned meth cook finally has the local meth business to himself, but things don’t go quite as planned. The final half of the season will conclude the show’s run this summer. My only complaint with “Breaking Bad” this year was that it was faaaaar too short. Eight episodes isn’t nearly enough.

2. “Justified” – Though it was a step down from the excellent second season, this season of “Justified” brought in two new villains to keep Marshal Raylan Givens, played by Timothy Olyphant, plenty busy – Limehouse, a local butcher, and Quarles, from Detroit, trying to take over the Harlan drug trade. If you didn’t get caught up on “Justified,” season two will be released on DVD at the end of December, and season three will debut on FX a few weeks into January.

3. “Parks & Recreation” – This year, “Parks & Rec” expanded its horizons a bit by focusing on Leslie Knope’s campaign for city council, and then in the fall ventured out to Washington, D.C. The show has a great cast, and is consistently one of the funnier 20 minutes of TV out there.

4. “Game of Thrones” – This was the one HBO show I had a chance to watch this year, thanks to a friend with an HBO subscription. Based on a series of books by George R.R. Martin, “Game of Thrones” is bloody and graphic, sure, but it’s also immensely entertaining. Season two only expanded on the detailed world created in season one.

What do you think? I know there are a few fan favorites out there that I didn’t mention – like “Mad Men” or “The Walking Dead,” which I have at some point tried to watch but just couldn’t really get in to, or “Homeland,” which I couldn’t watch because I don’t get the channel – so I imagine those shows would probably fill out a lot of Top 10 lists for people.

Add your favorites of the year in the comments below!

 

 

-Sam

Minnesota singer performs tonight in ‘Voice’ semifinals

Nicholas David, from Eagan, Minn., is among the final four performers on NBC’s “The Voice,” which kicks off its semifinal round tonight.

David’s latest ‘Voice’ performance of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” which is available on iTunes, made it into the top 10 on iTunes’ singles chart.

All four semifinalists will perform on tonight’s program, which gets going at 7 p.m. The 31-year-old David is joined by 22-year-old Cassadee Pope from Los Angeles, 18-year-old Trevin Hunte from Queens, N.Y., and 35-year-old Terry McDermott from Shreveport, La.

David’s past performances can be viewed here: http://www.nbc.com/the-voice/

 

-Sam

There are made-for-TV movies, and then…

In case you missed the premiere last night, the Lifetime channel will replay its “Liz & Dick” film again tonight at 7 p.m. Normally made-for-TV movies don’t make headlines (because, as made-for-TV, they’re usually anywhere from mediocre to pretty bad), but “Liz & Dick,”  which follows the romance of Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton in the 1960s, has been an exception for one reason: Lindsay Lohan, the troubled actress who’s seemingly always in the headlines for something she did off-camera, stars as Taylor.

I don’t mean to spoil the movie for you if you didn’t watch last night, but it’s not good. In fact, depending on what source you’re reading, it’s anywhere from terrible to the worst movie of the year. And most of that falls on Lohan and her very silly, unbelievable accent. Based on reactions on the Internet today, this is the new movie that everyone loves to hate.

But, you know what? Even if it’s as bad as everyone says it is (and hold your judgment until you see Lohan yelling, “I’m bored! I’m SO bored!” and rolling her eyes), it’s been a ton of press for Lifetime (which continues, since I’m writing about the movie now). And as they say, any press is good press. Even if that press is a trainwreck of two hours that you’ll never get back.

Did you watch the movie? What did you think?

 

-Sam

Updated: Fallon, Letterman film shows without audience due to Hurricane Sandy

If you stayed up Monday night to watch the late night talk shows, you might have noticed something unusual: First David Letterman on CBS, and later Jimmy Fallon on NBC, filmed their shows without the usual studio audience in attendance.

Of course, the reason for that is that both Fallon and Letterman film in New York City, which was hit hard by Hurricane Sandy yesterday and last night. Once practically all public transportation was shut down, it became difficult – if not impossible – for the show’s audience members to make it to the respective theaters (Letterman films in the Ed Sullivan Theater at the corner of Broadway and 53rd, and Fallon films in the Rockefeller Center in midtown Manhattan).

But even without an audience, the shows’ guests still braved the elements to make it. Denzel Washington visited Letterman, and Seth Meyers chatted with Fallon.

The dynamic on the two shows was definitely different, but the two hosts made the most of it, doing their best to entertain in the midst of what is still very much a grim situation for many people on the east coast.

You can watch Letterman here, and Fallon here.

Did you watch the shows live last night? What did you think?

WEDNESDAY MORNING UPDATE: Although Jimmy Fallon filmed Tuesday night’s show with an audience, Letterman went a second straight show without anybody in the seats. Ken Burns and Andrew Bird were his guests. You can watch the most recent audience-less Letterman here.

-Sam

Minnesotan advances on “The Voice;” Beyonce set to be Super Bowl entertainment

In case you missed it on Monday night, Minnesota Nick Mrozinski advanced in one-on-one competition on “The Voice,” winning judges over with his rendition of Hall & Oates’s “She’s Gone.”

The Eagan, Minn., native is a member of Team CeeLo, and performs under the name Nicholas David.

Video of the battle round can be seen here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=zXsaqfVEtng

Also, since it’s technically TV-related news, it appears that Beyonce will be the halftime entertainment for February’s Super Bowl.

While she’s definitely a huge name who’ll probably get a large number of non-football fans to tune in, I’m personally a little indifferent to the announcement. I thought the Black Eye Peas performance two years ago was one of the worst halftime shows I’ve ever seen, and I didn’t think Madonna last year was all that much better, so I was hoping for more rock than pop this year. But I guess we’ll just have to wait and see!

What are your thoughts on Beyonce being named the halftime entertainment? Do you think it’ll make you more or less likely to watch the game/halftime?

Enjoy the debate tonight! Will you be watching?

-Sam

The fall TV season is off and running

As a few more shows have debuted their season or series premieres this week, the new fall TV season is pretty much in full swing (except for NBC’s Community, which unfortunately will have its fourth season debut delayed indefinitely, the network announced earlier this month). So with a few episodes of most shows under our belts, what’s been the highlights so far?

For those of you with Showtime, I’ve heard that the Emmy-winning Homeland is off to a great start. Unfortunately, I don’t have the channel at home, so I may have to start watching at a friend’s house. If you haven’t seen Homeland yet, I’d highly recommend checking it out – the first season came out on DVD a few weeks ago. It’s an intelligent and thrilling drama, but because it’s on Showtime it probably flew under the radar a little bit.

In terms of new shows I’ve been watching this year, I’ve been enjoying The Mindy Project on Fox, which had its third episode last night. It’s a smart, well-written comedy, pairing perfectly with Fox’s New Girl, airing right before it. Thursday night, with The Office and Parks & Rec on NBC (both of which have been enjoyable so far this fall as well), used to be the comedy night of the week that I looked forward to, but Fox’s Tuesday night is rivaling that this year.

So far I’ve also enjoyed CBS’s new drama Vegas, which injects some star power into Tuesday nights with the pairing of Dennis Quad and Michael Chiklis. Should be fun to see where this one goes.

Unfortunately, I’ve missed the first few episodes of ABC’s new drama Last Resort and NBC’s Revolution, but I’m hoping to catch up on Hulu this weekend – they’re apparently two of the more exciting shows so far.

But what do you think? What’s been your favorite new show of the season – or, have they all been nothing to write home about?

-Sam

A Downton Abbey Tease

Like a morsel of food to a hungry man or a drop of water to the parched, today we Downton Abbey fans got just a small taste of what we really need.

A look ahead to season three.

During the American Film Institute’s tribute to Shirley MacLaine, actress Elizabeth McGovern introduced a clip of Maclaine’s first few moments at Downton.

You might remember it was all the buzz last year when it was announced that Maclaine would make guest appearances as Lady Crowley’s (McGovern) mother Martha Levinson.

How would she interact with the snooty but colorful Dowager Countess played by Maggie Smith?

Well, we need wait no more. Here’s a clip from the award show broadcast on TVLand courtesty MSN’s TV Buzz Blog. Forgive the poor quality. But pretend you’re watching a pirated tape from the black market. Kind of feels that way for Downton fans like me waiting for a fix.

But that’s just what this is…a small fix. After all, those of us in the United States won’t see Season three start until January of 2013 on PBS. Until then, watch and savor.

http://social.entertainment.msn.com/tv/blogs/tv-buzz-blog.aspx?blog=2080&feat=8074f259-ea02-419f-a956-4bec04943526

Your Voice Has Been Heard – Now What?

Thanks to the thousands of you who voted in “ON TV’s” latest polls on who should win American Idol and Dancing with the Stars. It’s always fun to hear from readers on who their choice would be.

To recap: On TV readers chose Jessica Sanchez over Phillip Phillips to take the crown 54% over 46%. America obviously disagreed giving Phillips the edge.

The Dancing with the Stars vote was even closer. Get this: Katherine Jenkins beat out her male challengers in the narrowest of margins. She had 33.79% of the vote compared to 33.33% for Donald Driver and 32.88% for William Levy. A razor thin victory that didn’t translate to the real competition (Driver beat Jenkins who finished in 2nd with Levy in 3rd).

My point is with all of this. We need to do more polls. It was fun! Now I want to know what you want to talk about.

I’ll warn you this blog tends to reflect the things I like to watch. That’s what you can do with a blog. (If you don’t like the shows I write about, you can start your own blog with Areavoices. Just leave a comment here and I’ll tell you how. End of shameless plug.)

So what will you read about here in the future? In addition to Dancing with the Stars and Idol, I like Modern Family, Smash, Castle, Hot in Cleveland, Ghost Hunters, Who do you think you are, Survivor and just about anything on the Food Network. I abhor The Bachelor franchise. More on that in a later post.

But let me know what shows you like. I’ll try to oblige you and write about them. But again, if I don’t, I’d love to read what you have to say about them. (Okay, sorry that was one more shameless plug, wasn’t it?)

American Idol: The Voice vs The “It” Factor

American Idol has set its final and ironically the two people standing at the end could be the poster children for two other singing competition shows.

Jessica Sanchez:

Throughout the season, the 16-year-old California native has been “The Voice.” From her early days of slaying Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You” to last night’s performances of Michael Jackson and Mariah Carey, she’s proven no one has stronger pipes. Both sweet and powerful, it’s amazing to think that ginormous voice comes from such a tiny little body!

If American Idol picked its’ winners solely on voice (more along the lines of what NBC’s “The Voice” does) Sanchez would be a lock. But as we’ve seen for years on AI, it’s not just about the voice. Contestants such as Jennifer Hudson and Chris Daughtry were sent home before their time. While the angelic-voiced Katherine McPhee finished second to Taylor “Personality Plus” Hicks in season 5.

So while Randy Jackson might have called Sanchez, “one of the best singers in the entire world” her victory is not a lock. In fact, she was set to be eliminated earlier this season only to be rescued by the judges. Will her fan base be there this time?

Phillip Phillips

From day one of the competition, no contestant better defined themselves than Phillip Phillips. The pawn shop worker from Georgia knew who he was and hesitated veering from it. Even saying a polite “no” to a shocked (but still dapper) Tommy Hilfiger’s wardrobe suggestions.

And while he has defined himself as Phillip Phillips, the audience is still trying to figure him out. Is he part Dave Matthews, part Bruce Springsteen? No matter the case, fans like what they see. In fact, he’s one of the few contestants who has never been in the bottom three. (Carrie Underwood boasted a similar honor the year she won.)

His strength is not the voice. Sometimes, he sounds great. But other nights frankly, it’s been a little cringeworthy. But Phillips seems to get away with it because, in my opinion, he has the “it” factor. (Close enough to Simon Cowell’s “The X Factor” for me). Phillip is the good-looking, aw-shucks, guy next door. But there’s more. A certain star power, charisma that was perhaps most evident in last night’s rendition of “We’ve got tonight” by Bob Seger. Swoonworthy, for sure.

“OnTV’s” Bottom line:

Jessica Sanchez: Sanchez will benefit from the loss of Joshua Ledet. She’s more likely to pick up his voters than Phillips who isn’t know for his vocal strength. She also benefits from Hollie Cavanaugh’s departure two weeks ago.

Phillip Phillips: Phillips has recent history on his side. Since 2008, voters have awarded top honors to cute, young guys. Some of whom, didn’t boast the best vocal chops in their seasons either. Will Idol voters carry on their streak?

What wins this year? The Voice or The “It” Factor? You decide.