Archive for July, 2012

I can’t help but chuckle about the recent ballyhoo over NBC’s decision to time-delay broadcasting major Olympic events. Yes, the Peacock is guilty of a few missteps, such as spoiling the gymnastic competition in its “Today” promos, editing out a tribute portion of the Opening Ceremonies to instead show an interview between Ryan Seacrest and Michael Phelps and last but not least, inviting Ryan Seacrest to the party in the first place. But does the network’s decision to delay high-profile contests until primetime in the U.S. warrant a public outcry and the perpetual online screams of #NBCFail?

I don’t know, that’s an individual decision. As is watching the Olympics on NBC.

Despite a very loud segment of the population decrying the practice, The Peacock is still setting record viewership ratings for the Olympics telecast. Sure, they have a monopoly on coverage in the U.S., but if people were really so upset about it they could, after all, stop watching. Because what, after all, would send a better message to the programming gods at NBC? A few angry tweets and rants in the blogosphere, or a plummeting viewership?

The latter.

The fact that the ratings just seem to go up, and up, and up illustrates a simple principal that most Americans have trouble grasping. In a capitalist society such as ours, money talks and we vote with our dollars.

Americans are terrible at this. In fact, we often cast our votes for the very things we (claim) to despise. We all moan about how mad we are at NBC, but then we tune in in record numbers.

We are a society that insists on having our cake and eating it too, which is great for people that sell cake.

Take 3D movies for example. I have followed the near-unanimous distaste for the “hip new medium” ever since it first starting trickling through with B-movie trash like Journey to the Center of the Earth 3D or My Bloody Valentine in 3D. Then Avatar made a billion dollars (not an exaggeration) and suddenly studio execs saw blue and red dollars signs popping out of the screen in front of their eyes.

At first it drew curiosity, but in time the incessant barrage of “IN 3D!” at the end of trailers began to draw audible moans from cinema audiences.

It’s been decided, no one likes 3D. But with every major release anywhere from 30 to 60 percent of an opening weekend’s grosses come from 3D screenings. That is, in essence, free money in the bank for studios given the pocket change it costs to go 3D. We all complain about the surcharges and blurry heacache-producing images of 3-D movies, and yet 3-D screenings rake in tens of millions of additional dollars, effortlessly, for major releases.

Why? Mostly because we’re too lazy to find a 2D screening and partly because we’re all Justin Bieber fans — we’ll buy whatever is sold to us.

What message does this send? Each and every person who watches the Olympics or puts on a pair of 3-D glasses is sending an open letter to the decision makers that says “All is well, stay the course,” which is fine, unless you’re the one complaining.

Which brings me to Chick-Fil-A. I won’t rehash what prompted the food-chain’s controversy except to say that much of the ensuing discussion has focused on the constitutionally questionable threats that some U.S. city officials have made against the chain. Frankly, I don’t care about that.

What is interesting to me is the simultaneous response from patrons who either agree or disagree with Dan Cathy’s wildly-ill-advised comments. In the last week we’ve seen everyone from regular folk to pundits, organizations to politicians either vowing to never again partake of the original chicken sandwich, or holding up their red-and-white bags for photo ops with a sense of pride that says “Down with gays! Up with Chicken!”

I would imagine that depending on a particular location, sales have either doubled or been cut in half, or perhaps have stayed exactly the same balanced out by competing reactions. Lunch has now become politicized to the point where you can’t even drive through without intimating a position on the gay marriage debate (which as you will recall from previous posts, I struggle to even call a “debate”).

Sure, it’s too bad that the president of Chick-Fil-A had to draw a line in the sand. It’s also terrible that prejudice and inequality continue to run rampant in our country. But regardless of which side of the “debate” you land on, I find it somewhat inspiring to see that for once, Americans are (and pardon the pun) putting their money where their mouths are.


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As you may recall, I started the A Quarter Century series to chronicle my journey OUT of a quarter-life crises. But it has recently occurred to me that I am currently in a depressing paradigm shift regarding summers.
Just last summer I was still the “student.” I graduated in May and moved to Salt Lake City and while I did have to work full time, it did not go unnoticed that when I went home after and turned on the television I wasn’t putting off a research assignment or assigned reading: I was just watching TV. It was an intoxicating feeling.

Flash forward one year and that is gone. I don’t remember what it’s like to have homework. I don’t remember that feeling of seeing the light at the end of the tunnel as the semester’s end approaches, one crazy weekend at a time. I’m an adult now, the light at the end of the tunnel is death. My life is now just one un-ending chain of 40-hour work weeks where recreation has to be scheduled and the only marker of the passage of the time is the gradual transition from one season to another.

Summer as an adult is a perpetual disappointment.
I know I’ll adapt to this eventually. I realize that soon I’ll be content that a “good day” is one where the traffic on my morning commute isn’t congested. But until that numbing acceptance washes over me, I will bask in the memory of summer’s past.
Sonic Youth
My father is an educator. As a profession, I can understand why a lot of people might not be interested in receiving aggressively meager pay to deal with children (two bad things) but as anyone who’s ever been/had a parent who taught, it is awesome to be an adult with a summer break.
Every summer my dad would pack in a year’s worth of adventure in 2 months. From June to July the Wood family was in a constant state of vacation, often getting home on a Saturday with enough time to do laundry, go to church, buy groceries and pack up to head back out on the road Monday morning. We weren’t a particularly affluent family (and there were 7 of us) so we were always road tripping, which is why I may not have the international experience I would like, but I know Utah and the Intermountain west like the back of my hand.
Our keystone trip was a yearly voyage to West Yellowstone. Our family friends owned a cabin on Hebgen Lake and my mom reminded us every year that we were guests and were to behave as “happy slaves.” We’d go into West Yellowstone and shop for souvenirs and spend a few days wandering through the park, hiking and driving by the buffalo.

Mostly, though, the cabin was THE attraction. Nestled privately in the enormous trees with an endless amount of adventure and recreation in every nook and cranny; it was like some Shangri La.

We’d spend a week there, then fill the rest of our summer rafting on the Snake River or hiking through Zion’s and Arches National Parks.

Florescent Adolescence

One year, our family friends sold the cabin. By then my older siblings were reaching adulthood and I was near that phase where the incessant string of family trips was making it hard for me to spend time with friends.

Friends. If only I knew then what I know now, that friends are temporary fixtures in your life that fade, fray, disappear and are continuously replaced like your best pair of jeans.

The cabin trip gave way to an annual stay at Sweetwater Resort (a.k.a Ideal Beach) at Bear Lake. We’d bike into town for a shake at LaBeau’s and in the early years, before everyone started procreating, we’d rent wave runners and beat ourselves silly on the choppy, pristine water.

At home, I’d travel almost exclusively by bike and I’d fill the days rock climbing in the canyon or boating at Pineview. I’d go to scout camp, where every year someone almost died and, as a sidenote, my troop gained a reputation for being inordinately clean for a bunch of 13-year-olds sleeping in the dirt. We had a great group of guys.

Legal Adulthood

Then I got a job, and pretty soon the bulk of my summer was taken up by the pursuit of money that would allow me to not sell my body. First it was waiting tables, in high school, then it was baking bread. As a sidenote, I didn’t have enough money to not sell my body and have the plasma donation scars to prove it.

But part time work leaves a lot of time for play, and Logan is an adventurers paradise. We’d camp (what seemed like) every weekend, grabbing little more than a sleeping bag, some chex mix and pallets to burn and heading up into Green or Logan canyons. We’d cliff jump at Porcupine and just about any day there wasn’t too much wind we’d shoot a round of Disc Golf before the weasels at the Living Learning Center removed the course.

We’d play Ultimate Frisbee at least once a week, sometimes twice. We’d spelunk, or set up a projector in whatever dark space we could find to lay out under the stars and “watch a movie.” On Thursdays we’d voyage to Salt Lake for our weekly Wendy’s/Free Concert ritual.

The family would still travel and go to Bear Lake, and the gang would usually put together at least two trips: a quick backpacking venture in the Uintahs and something else more Urban out of state.


I wake up at 7:30 and jog two miles 1) because I don’t have time to run any more and 2) because I’m a weak old man who gets back to my apartment wheezing and coughing like a dog after the Iditarod. I got to work. I come home. I eat pasta (or rice). I read. I go to bed.

I haven’t played Ultimate in weeks and nearly broke my leg the last time I did. I finally got in some mountain biking with my dad last week but I haven’t camped or been on a boat in more than a year. Most egregiously, my summer has involved a criminally-low amount of general water-based recreation and beautiful women in bikinis.

But I’ve had some great pasta.

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Christopher Nolan’s third and final installment in his Batman franchise arrived Friday, marred by tragedy and bogged down by seemingly insurmountable expectations. How do you follow the greatest superhero film ever made, one of the best action films ever made, and end one of the greatest trilogies ever made? How, in essence, do you deliver perfection when only perfection will be accepted?

The task is daunting and as the millions of you who, like myself, set aside time opening weekend to see the film already know, Nolan has, for the most part, succeeded.

That’s not to say that TDKR is a better film than TDK, or that it even should be. Empire is greater than Jedi. X2 is greater than X3. Two Towers is greater than ROTK (yes it is). Second films are, typically, the strongest of a trilogy in that they raise the stakes and set the stage for the finale. The challenge, then, with a third film is to provide a satisfying conclusion to the story and also stand alone as an exceptional film. The only comparison that need be made is between the film itself and the entire library of American cinema.

Or, in other words, TDKR is not as good as TDK, but it doesn’t have to be and is still miles and miles ahead of everything else at the cinema.

Rises’ curtain opens on a peaceful, safe Gotham. Eight years have passed since the Joker’s reign of terror and the end of organized crime, thanks to a lie engineered by the caped crusader and Gotham’s police commissioner Jim Gordan. Batman is little more than a memory and Bruce Wayne has become a recluse, nursing wounds both physical and emotional in the east wing of his now-completed Wayne Manor.

But trouble is brewing. A mercenary named Bane arrives (in spectacular fashion) in Gotham with a terrorist cell-esque entourage  of religiously devoted henchman and the financial security of Wayne Enterprises is threatened after a shuttered sustainable energy project and the devious meddling of a cat burgler.

I’ll leave the synopsis at that, in part to avoid spoilers and also because you’ve all likely seen it already. Now for the analysis.

As a stand-alone film, Nolan has delivered yet another complex genre-bending film that combines originality, spectacle and emotional depth. Especially rewarding is how Nolan, while making Batman his own, still stays true to the inspiration of the source material. While the word “Catwoman” is never uttered, Selina Kyle nonetheless fulfills the role of the DC-universe frenemy, bouncing her loyalty back and forth and sparring both physically and flirtatiously with our hero.

As Bane, Tom Hardy is terrifying and (thankfully) easier to understand than the original footage made us believe. After seeing the 8-minute prologue before MI:GP last fall, it is obvious that Nolan went back in to clear up some of the dialogue from the mussled beast. Bane is an unstoppable physical force, a calculating mastermind and a ruthless killer, BUT without saying to much, his weaknesses and ultimately the motives behind his crusade hearken back to the original comics in a way that was both surprising and completely rewarding.

The action is superb, the ethos is fascinating and the sheer scope of what Nolan presents is something out of a dream (within a dream).

But it is as a finale to a larger story that Rises truly excels. Seven years after Bruce Wayne mastered his fears in Batman Begins, the theme resurfaces with an entirely new perspective on what motivates us and what role “fear” plays in our survival. A series of flashbacks both remind and inform that narrative of a man motivated first by revenge and then by the desire to become more than just a man. We are treated to old characters and old scenes that prompt both nostalgia and a sense of “oh, I didn’t realize that would be so important later.” (sidenote, keep your eyes peeled for a very small detail. When the camera shows a wide shot of the entire city, you can see where Nolan has digitally inserted the multiple-level elevated train from Batman Begins in Downtown. God is in the details and Nolan is the god of movies.)

And then it ends, in a way that is natural and predictable and yet unexpected, with Nolan hanging up his cape and walking away from the franchise he brought back from the dead.

Rises is not without its faults. The citywide battle that makes up the film’s climax does not fully deliver on the buildup and anticipation. And Bane and Batman’s final joust pales in comparison to the underground scuffle in Act II.

I preferred Gotham when it wasn’t so obviously Manhattan, as Nolan makes no attempt whatsoever at hiding the very real location where this fantasy is occurring. You would also think that a movie that is nearly 3 hours long wouldn’t leave loose ends, but I can think of a handful of questions left unanswered (One for those of you who have seen it. How exactly does a certain someone get back into a certain someplace when no one can get in or out?) and with so many new characters, I can’t help but feel that two old favorites in particular were mostly left out of the fun. Most notably, for a franchise that prides itself in the (relative) realism of its plot, I can’t help but question the city-under-siege scenario that plays out, but since the plot depends on it I’m mostly willing to let it go.

Ultimately, Rises was what I wanted it to be. Yes, I felt the absence of Heath Ledger’s joker and Bane may have been missing a certain je ne sais quoi. But I also felt myself sitting at the edge of my seat, mouth gaping open and eyes wide like a kid in a candy store. I left the theater more than 24 hours ago and I’ve had little luck since then thinking of anything else.

As a lifelong Bat-fan, I felt that my expectations were met and my passion rewarded. As a cinephile, I marveled at Nolan’s mastery. As a writer, I thought the emotional-arcs were genuine and true to the characters. As a guy that likes to watch stuff explode, Rise blew. my. freaking. mind.

Thank you Mr. Nolan. It was magical, as always. B+

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The 2012 Emmy Nominations were announced this morning and, once again, its hard to not feel a sense of crushing disappointment topped off with a sprinkle of dread. Besides the fact that excellent programming like Community and Happy Endings was completely overlooked while Kathy Bates gets yet another nomination for a show no one watches (nor should), the Big Four have once again been completely shut out of the drama competitions which means broadcast television is one year closer to its grave. Hold on to Comedy, buddy!

But mostly, my disappointment comes from the utter predictability of the nominations. With the exception of the pleasant and well deserved nod to New Girl’s M.V.P Max Greenfield (pictured above with the same expression I had this morning after reading the noms list) the major categories look like they nominators just recycled last year’s ballots. Yes, EVERYONE in Modern Family is nominated, defeating any chance of lesser-known (and arguably more deserving considering MF’s mediocre season) actors from the comedy genre to break into the pack. Jon Cryer inexplicably is included in the lead actor category (not because he isn’t a lead, but because 2.5 Men is rubbish) and whatever is left goes to big bang theory…again. Even I admit that as wonderful as Tina Fey is, this season of 30 Rock was undeserving of awards attention.

And seriously, I love Don Cheadle but…house of lies? Dear voters, I have 3 words for you: JOEL F***ING MCHALE (not actually his middle name).

I suppose I should give credit where credit is due, the nominators were smart enough to include HBO’s breakout “Girls” AND it’s writer/director/creator/muse Lena Dunham. They also came to their sense and all but excluded “Glee” except for a guest-starring role which, frankly, who cares. The temptation is always there to include shows like Glee as an appeal to the Bieber crowd and I’m glad they were not swayed.

They resisted the temptation to give Hugh Laurie a send-off nomination for House, which is the right decision. I love Hugh Laurie and, at various points during its run, have loved House, but this last season was not one of those points. Laurie, and the show as a whole, looked tired and much like how the BCS SHOULD be, we’re rewarding this year’s season, not every season that came before it.

Community also scored a writing nom, and I submit that if it does not win we Burn This Mother Down!

Other things are just plain ridiculous. “Missing” as a miniseries? There was a little bit of an uproar last year when Downton went the mini-series route but, at the time, it had not been renewed for a second season and was intended as a one-off. Not so with Missing. The Ashley Judd thriller was fully intended to be a multiple-season before it got yanked off the air for failing to even remotely stir the attention of the audience and just failing in almost every measurably way. Apparently we’re rewarding that sort of thing now.

The (for all intents and purposes) full list of nominees:


“The Big Bang Theory” (CBS)
“Curb Your Enthusiasm” (HBO)
“Girls” (HBO)
“Modern Family” (ABC)
“30 Rock” (NBC)
“Veep” (HBO)


Jim Parsons as Sheldon Cooper in “The Big Bang Theory”
Larry David as Himself in “Curb Your Enthusiasm”
Don Cheadle as Marty Kaan in “House of Lies”
Louis C.K. as Louie in “Louie”
Alec Baldwin as Jack Donaghy in “30 Rock”
Jon Cryer as Alan Harper in “Two and a Half Men”


Lena Dunham as Hannah Horvath in “Girls”
Melissa McCarthy as Molly Flynn in “Mike & Molly”
Zooey Deschanel as Jess Day in “New Girl”
Edie Falco as Jackie Peyton in “Nurse Jackie”
Amy Poehler as Leslie Knope in “Parks and Recreation”
Tina Fey as Liz Lemon in “30 Rock”
Julia Louis-Dreyfus as Selina Meyer in “Veep”


Ed O’Neill as Jay Pritchett in “Modern Family”
Jesse Tyler Ferguson as Mitchell Pritchett in “Modern Family”
Ty Burrell as Phil Dunphy in “Modern Family”
Eric Stonestreet as Cameron Tucker in “Modern Family”
Max Greenfield as Schmidt in “New Girl”
Bill Hader as various characters in “Saturday Night Live”


Mayim Bialik as Amy Farrah Fowler in “The Big Bang Theory”
Kathryn Joosten as Karen McCluskey in “Desperate Housewives”
Julie Bowen as Claire Dunphy in “Modern Family”
Sofia Vergara as Gloria Delgado-Pritchett in “Modern Family”
Merritt Wever as Zoey Barkow in “Nurse Jackie”
Kristen Wiig as various characters in “Saturday Night Live”


“Boardwalk Empire” (HBO)
“Breaking Bad” (AMC)
“Downton Abbey” (PBS)
“Game of Thrones” (HBO)
“Homeland” (Showtime)
“Mad Men” (AMC)


Glenn Close as Patty Hewes in “Damages”
Michelle Dockery as Lady Mary Crawley in “Downton Abbey”
Julianna Margulies as Alicia Florrick in “The Good Wife”
Kathy Bates as Harriet Korn in “Harry’s Law”
Claire Danes as Carrie Mathison in “Homeland”
Elisabeth Moss as Peggy Olson in “Mad Men”


Steve Buscemi as Nucky Thompson in “Boardwalk Empire”
Bryan Cranston as Walter White in “Breaking Bad”
Michael C. Hall as Dexter Morgan in “Dexter”
Hugh Bonneville as Robert, Earl of Grantham in “Downton Abbey”
Damian Lewis as Nicholas Brody in “Homeland”
Jon Hamm as Don Draper in “Mad Men”


Anna Gunn as Skyler White in “Breaking Bad”
Maggie Smith as Violet, Dowager Countess of Grantham in “Downton Abbey”
Joanne Froggatt as Anna in “Downton Abbey”
Archie Panjabi as Kalinda Sharma in “The Good Wife”
Christine Baranski as Diane Lockhart in “The Good Wife”
Christina Hendricks as Joan Holloway Harris in “Mad Men”


Aaron Paul as Jesse Pinkman in “Breaking Bad”
Giancarlo Esposito as Gustavo ‘Gus’ Fring “Breaking Bad”
Brendan Coyle as John Bates in “Downton Abbey”
Jim Carter as Mr. Carson in “Downton Abbey”
Peter Dinklage as Tyrion Lannister in “Game of Thrones”
Jared Harris as Lane Pryce “Mad Men”


“American Horror Story” (FX)
“Game Change” (HBO)
“Hatfields & McCoys” (History)
“Hemingway & Gellhorn” (HBO)
“Luther” (BBC America)
“Sherlock: A Scandal In Belgravia” (PBS)


Connie Britton as Vivien Harmon in “American Horror Story”
Julianne Moore as Sarah Palin in “Game Change”
Nicole Kidman as Martha Gellhorn in “Hemingway & Gellhorn”
Ashley Judd as Rebecca Winstone in “Missing”
Emma Thompson as She in “The Song of Lunch”


Woody Harrelson as Steve Schmidt in “Game Change”
Kevin Costner as ‘Devil’ Anse Hatfield in “Hatfields & McCoys”
Bill Paxton as Randall McCoy in “Hatfields & McCoys”
Clive Owen as Ernest Hemingway in “Hemingway & Gellhorn”
Idris Elba as John Luther in “Luther”
Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock Holmes in “Sherlock: A Scandal In Belgravia”


Frances Conroy as Moira in “American Horror Story”
Jessica Lange as Constance Langdon in “American Horror Story”
Sarah Paulson as Nicolle Wallace “Game Change”
Mare Winningham as Sally McCoy in “Hatfields & McCoys”
Judy Davis as Jill Tankard in “Page Eight”


Denis O’Hare as Larry Harvey in “American Horror Story”
Ed Harris as John McCain in “Game Change”
Tom Berenger as Jim Vance in “Hatfields & McCoys”
David Strathairn as John Dos Passos in “Hemingway & Gellhorn”
Martin Freeman as Dr. John Watson in “Sherlock: A Scandal In Belgravia”


“The Colbert Report” (Comedy Central)
“The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” (Comedy Central)
“Jimmy Kimmel Live” (ABC)
“Late Night With Jimmy Fallon” (NBC)
“Real Time With Bill Maher” (HBO)
“Saturday Night Live” (NBC)


“Antiques Roadshow” (PBS)
“Jamie Oliver’s Food” (ABC)
“MythBusters” (Discovery Channel)
“Shark Tank” (ABC)
“Undercover Boss” (CBS)
“Who Do You Think You Are?” (NBC)


“The Amazing Race” (CBS)
“Dancing With The Stars” (ABC)
“Project Runway” (Lifetime)
“So You Think You Can Dance” )FOX)
“Top Chef” (Bravo)
“The Voice” (NBC)


Phil Keoghan, “The Amazing Race”
Ryan Seacrest, “American Idol”
Betty White, “Betty White’s Off Their Rockers”
Tom Bergeron, “Dancing With The Stars”
Cat Deeley, “So You Think You Can Dance”


“American Dad!” (FOX)
“Bob’s Burgers” (FOX)
“Futurama” (Comedy Central)
“The Penguins Of Madagascar: The Return Of The Revenge Of Dr. Blowhole” (Nickelodeon)
“The Simpsons” (Fox)


“Adventure Time” (Cartoon Network)
“Phineas and Ferb” (Disney Channel)
“MAD” (Cartoon Network)
“Regular Show” (Cartoon Network)
“Robot Chicken” (Cartoon Network)


“Degrassi” (TeenNick)
“Good Luck Charlie” (Disney Channel)
“iCarly” (Nickelodeon)
“Victorious” (Nickelodeon)
“Wizards of Waverly Place” (Disney Channel


“It Gets Better” (MTV)
“Sesame Street: Growing Hope Against Hunger” (PBS)
“The Weight of the Nation for Kids: The Great Cafeteria Takeover” (HBO)


Dot-Marie Jones as Coach Shannon Beiste in “Glee”
Maya Rudolph, host in “Saturday Night Live”
Melissa McCarthy, host in “Saturday Night Live”
Elizabeth Banks as Avery Jessup in “30 Rock”
Margaret Cho as Kim Jong-il in “30 Rock”
Kathy Bates as Charlie Harper in “Two and a Half Men”


Michael J. Fox as himself in “Curb Your Enthusiasm”
Greg Kinnear as Tad in “Modern Family”
Bobby Cannavale as Dr. Mike Cruz in “Nurse Jackie”
Jimmy Fallon, host in “Saturday Night Live”
Will Arnett as Devon Banks in “30 Rock”
Will Arnett as Devon Banks in “30 Rock”


Martha Plimpton as Patti Nyholm in “The Good Wife”
Loretta Devine as Adele Webber in “Grey’s Anatomy”
Jean Smart as D.A. Roseanna Remmick in “Harry’s Law”
Julia Ormond as Marie Calvet in “Mad Men”
Joan Cusack as Sheila Jackson in “Shameless”
Uma Thurman as Rebecca Duvall in “Smash”


Mark Margolis as Tio Salamanca in “Breaking Bad”
Dylan Baker as Colin Sweeney in “The Good Wife”
Michael J. Fox as Louis Canning in “The Good Wife”
Jeremy Davies as Dickie Bennett in “Justified”
Ben Feldman as Michael Ginsberg in “Mad Men”
Jason Ritter as Mark Cyr in “Parenthood”


Brenda Strong as Mary-Alice Young in “Desperate Housewives”
Dan Povenmire as Doctor Doofenshmirtz in “Phineas and Ferb”
Rob Riggle as Noel in “Disney Prep & Landing: Naughty Vs. Nice”
Maurice LaMarche as Clamps, Donbot, Hyperchicken, Calculon, Hedonismbot, Morbo in “Futurama”
Kristen Wiig as Lola in “The Looney Tunes Show”
Hank Azaria as Moe Szyslak, Duffman, Mexican Duffman, Carl, Comic Book Guy, Chief Wiggum in “The Simpsons”


Robert B. Weide, “Curb Your Enthusiasm ”
Lena Dunham, “Girls”
Louis C.K., “Duckling”
Jason Winer, “Modern Family”
Steven Levitan, “Modern Family”
Jake Kasdan, “New Girl”


Chris McKenna, “Community”
Lena Dunham, “Girls”
Louis C.K., “Louie”
Amy Poehler, “Parks and Recreation”
Michael Schure, “Parks and Recreation”


Tim Van Patten, “Boardwalk Empire”
Vince Gilligan, “Breaking Bad”
Brian Percival, “Downton Abbey”
Michael Cuesta, “Homeland”
Phil Abraham, “Mad Men”


Julian Fellowes, “Downton Abbey”
Alex Gansa, Howard Gordon & Gideon Raff, “Homeland”
Semi Chellas & Matthew Weiner, “Mad Men”
Andre Jacquemetton & Maria Jacquemetton, “Mad Men”
Erin Levy & Matthew Weiner, “Mad Men”

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I understand it’s easy to dismiss Grimm; I did it myself when the show first premiered. This time last year, NBC’s fairy tale project was little more than “the other one” after ABC’s media-blitz and buzz-building shenanigans for Once Upon a Time. NBC also chose to debut their monster tale on Friday, the elephant graveyard of television, signalling to the audience a subtextual message of “Don’t bother, it won’t be around long.”

Partly because of these underwhelming expectations, Grimm was assigned to the intern (moi!) for recaps on Entertainment Weekly’s website, Ideally, I wouldn’t have spent (nearly) every Friday of my 5 months in New York City at home watching television, but since I was partly antisocial and the few friends I did have didn’t start their tom-foolery until the wee hours, it ended up working out for the best.

The show’s pilot is actually one of the best of this year’s freshman offerings. After that, the show took the typical 4-5 week period to figure out what it was and find its voice. The ratings sagged, as they are wont to do, and my weekly recaps were cancelled just before the show hit creative maturity.

Released from my Friday night bondage, I let the show pile up in my Hulu queue for a few weeks. Then, on an off day, I clicked in for a catch up and ended up burning through everything I had missed fairly quickly. Grimm had arrived, both guns blazing, as a creatively confident mythologically-heavy thriller. It has both playful lightness and twisted noir and uses some of the most beautiful cinematography on broadcast television.

The ratings stabilized, then grew, and in short order Grimm became the rare show to find a healthy, loving home on Friday nights and (against all odds) is arguably NBC’s breakout hit of the 2011-2012 season. (Good riddance, Are You There Chelsey).

Once Upon a Time and Grimm may have walked through the same woods at their inception, but they parted ways quickly when the roads diverged; OUAT to the light and Grimm to the dark. Both, however, have taken the road less traveled by.

For the uninitiated, the show follows Portland homicide detective Nick Burkhardt (former Road Rules cast member David Giuntoli) as he discovers that he is the last in family line of “Grimms,” who hunt mythical creatures hiding among us as regular people. He is aided in “secular” police business by his partner Hank, and filled in on the inner-working of the magical underground by his friend Monroe, a reformed Werewolf.

Silly? Yes. Fun? Even more so. The show follows a freak-of-the-week structure familiar to anyone who grew up on X-files or even Smallville, but in the back half of the season began introducing serial plotlines that dive further into a hidden mythology. There are dark forces swirling about Portland, and Nick begins to realize that living his double life may not only be difficult, but also dangerous for the people he cares about.

Grimm will be back in the Fall, anchored in its unfortunate (but working for now) time slot. Because of the nature of Friday nights, if you don’t seek out Grimm, you’ll probably never even realize it’s on.

Find it and give it a few episodes before you make a decision.

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For those of you unfamiliar with Messrs. Franklin and Bash, allow me to introduce you. Jared Franklin (Clueless’ Breckin Meyer) and Peter Bash (Saved By The Bell’s Mark-Paul Gosselaar) are partners in the practice of law, who specialize in a type of renegade-guerrila litigation on behalf of “the little guy”. They are also known for their daring courtroom shenanigans which constantly has them teetering on the edge of being in contempt of court.

I present to you exhibit A.

Now obviously, if any real life lawyer tried half the crap these two pull they would be held in contempt but that’s the fun of F&B, it presents an almost-fantasy version of the world where these two man-boys are able to not only survive, but thrive.

Law dramas are a dime a dozen, like medical or cop dramas. Much like how Castle brings the funny to crime, F&B brings the funny to law, only without the sporadic find-the-man-who-killed-my-mother tension that makes Castle such a great crossover blend. F&B is all fun, all the time. It’s like cotton candy in a $3,000 suit (Come on!) requesting side bars before going back to the bachelor pad for a bikini party (Which F&B do, all the time).

Gosselaar (seriously, who has a hyphenated FIRST name?) and Meyer are an addictive odd-couple bromance, and their tradeoffs between adept legal genius and juvenile tomfoolery speaks to that part of you that wishes you never had to grow up but could still get paid. The series, on a plot level, follows them as they’re picked up by a uber-corporate money bags law firm (led by an eccentric billionaire) as an experiment and are thus given the keys to the castle while still trying to keep their identity as rogue mercenaries.

They follow the typical case-of-the-week format but without even the slightest hint of seriousness, like a masculine Ally McBeal without the dancing-baby hallucinations.

Bottom line, it’s a pure, light-hearted, summer delight. It’s sleek and sexy but not trashy and it scratches your nostalgia bone watching Zach Morris and Travis quote statute (in season one James Van Der Beek shows up, it’s like a triple rainbow) between games about what Meyer would do in exchange for sex with ScarJo (hint: anything).

Since its on TNT the seasons are short (10 eps each) and we’re only 4 into the second season so don’t worry about being behind if you jump in. You might miss the odd self-referential joke here and there but at the end of the day it doesn’t matter.

Go, watch. You’ll thank me.

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