The world and how I see it.

The Revolution Should Not Be Televised

J.J. Abrams. Torches. Nonsensical Mystery. Elizabeth Mitchell. A wisecracking fat guy who has no reason to still be fat. Yup. Welcome to LOST 2.0.

I tuned into Revolution because the promos for Life After People looked interesting but not enough for me to actually turn on the History Channel. Ick! What if I actually learned something? Watching NBC on a Monday night I was virtually guaranteed not to learn anything (whew). Plus with so many connections to LOST, I also figured I was in for an hour of more questions than answers. I just thought they would be plot intrigues, not random practicalities about life without electricity.   

Revolution is set 15 years in the future after the electricity is gone and anything mechanical doesn’t work anymore. Well, anything except whatever is making the fabric of the snug-fitting henley shirts the men are sporting this year. Seriously, all of the clothes on this show are better than anything being turned out this season on Project Runway and near as I can tell, Tim Gunn has yet to do an electricity-free challenge (just an electricity-free cast thank you very ZZzzzz).

Also, we get flashbacks to life before the blackout and the most striking thing is how the adults haven’t aged. Trust me: nothing would age you faster than going from a fabulous Chicago apartment to an ad hoc agrarian life without indoor plumbing. Have you seen the Amish? A lovely people but they do not age gracefully.   

The characters live in a former suburban neighborhood for some unexplained reason and the five house cul-de-sac weirdly has a “welcome to bullshit estates” entrance and sign to it which is the kind of thing you don’t expect to see at the entrance to the world’s smallest neighborhood. Also how come the road is dirt now but there is a curb? And as you can see, not one person on this show has a natural hair color so I guess blond doctor lady over there whips up batches of hair dye for everyone because she’s worth it. 

This guy has another one of those well-made henley shirts but the real question is: why does he have a shirt at all? Why did the show lose 18-49 viewers in the second half hour? Ask his biceps when you see them. 

Elizabeth Mitchell looks concerned and has reason to be. Apparently, she is dead in the future. Probably because they couldn’t support that hair color but come on. It’s Elizabeth Mitchell. Obviously, she isn’t dead and they really don’t care about hair continuity on this show. Or any continuity. Because if they did, the plane they climbed into at one point wouldn’t have looked more pristine inside than a current Delta flight to Atlanta. 

This is how my brain felt when it was constantly assaulted in the episode by nonsense. You have to admit it: they may not have electricity but they sure do know how to tan leather and hand stitch it beautifully. That coat fits like a glove.

I am going to make an early prediction. The mystery of this show will be in that lunch box. No seriously. The mystery is why the world’s smallest suburban neighborhood is so close to an abandoned ferris wheel inside the world’s smallest amusement park. 

Second greatest mystery is why the fat guy is still fat when everyone would be starving if all they had to live on was the amount of corn they could grow in their front yard. And as someone who has owned clothes for the better part of a decade, they don’t look as good as that AC/DC t-shirt, even with proper care and maintenance. 

See the car is useless now so they turned the disgusting oily engine block into a place you would want to eat your food from. And her hair is naturally curly and the jeans… oh I can’t. I just can’t. 

So much about this show probably seemed like a good idea at the time. Like watching it. But if you are more concerned about the nonsense than you are about the characters, that doesn’t bode well for your show. Yes, it was the highest rated new drama debut in three years. But the last show with that distinction? “V” in 2009. Starring Elizabeth Mitchell. 

So if you want to watch Revolution on NBC, better hurry before the lights go out on it. 

My Cougar Town Conundrum

So, this is how it goes: I love Cougar Town. And I have been with the cul-de-sac crew since episode one. Other people may not have enjoyed the long gone cougar side of things, but I worship at the altar of Barb (the divine Carolyn Hennesy) and really miss seeing Nick Zano shirtless. But most of all, I am completely in the tank for the core characters of the show.

Because I have the great good fortune to host a radio show on SiriusXM, we had nearly the entire cast of the show (sans Courteney Cox) join us a few months ago as the latest season of Cougar Town kicked off on ABC. Everyone was great, no one disappointed. Last year, Christa Miller sent me my own personal penny can and I made sure that everyone else signed it while they were there. I am a sad nerdy fan like that.

We conducted the interviews over three days and my co-host Romaine and I are not at all shy about pitching ourselves to be extras on the shows we love. Romaine loves to make and decorate cakes so some kind of rivalry with Busy’s character Laurie seemed in order and Christa was very polite about the notion of Ellie having a gay brother. Busy Philipps was our last interview of the bunch and while she was there I told her on-air my ideas for an episode. She liked the A story idea until she heard the punch line (you’ll see why). And after all the interviews were over and aired, I settled in to watch the latest season of Cougar Town.

Well the ideas I had kept running through my head and since lately I have been writing TV scripts as a procrastination hobby whenever I am stuck working on my latest book, I decided to throw together my ideas into an episode of Cougar Town. And here it is. I even saw a bit of trivia that all of the show titles are Tom Petty song titles, so I found one of those that fit: “Inside Out”

Now, I thought about sending it directly to Christa Miller but that is VERY tacky. The absolute tackiest thing you can do in Hollywood. First of all, sending it over in the first place suggests you know how to write their show better than they do. That’s rude. Second, if your script sucks, it implies you think their show is just as bad as the horrible thing you just wrote. Finally, what would be the point? They aren’t going to produce a show emailed to the star of the show because then every nut with a typewriter would be tossing scripts left and right in the hopes of similarly catching fire. It is a lose-lose-lose scenario anyway you slice it. 

So this was my problem. I like Cougar Town and I like my Cougar Town script but there really isn’t anything to do with it. Then it hit me. I can share it with you, our Derek and Romaine show listeners. I already told my ideas on the air weeks ago so they already exist out in the public realm. It will never be produced anyway. And if you like it, it will whet your appetite for the show’s return next year to TBS. And if you hate it, well at least you aren’t poor Christa Miller forced to see her character mangled by an unprofessional hack.

And maybe it will spawn a sea of fan fiction episodes of Cougar Town on the web that will generate even more interest in this little gem of a show. But mostly I hope you will discover Cougar Town for yourself so they have big ratings next year as they move to TBS and then they can stick around for at least two more seasons. Or until Barb marries Josh in a nudist colony. Whichever comes first.

So sit back, pour yourself a bottle of wine, and check out my take on Cougar Town. I hope you like it. 

Wardrobe Malfunction At The True Blood Premiere!

On our radio show, we are big fans of Alan Ball and his hit HBO series True Blood. We are also big fans of Carolyn Hennesy, in particular her saucy portrayal of Barb on Cougar Town. So when we found out that Carolyn would be joining the cast of True Blood, it was like chocolate and peanut butter coming together! 

Recently we were joined separately by both True Blood creator Alan Ball and glamorous actress Carolyn Hennesy. Our friend Brian Gianelli from XFinityTV mentioned earlier that he had wanted to meet Carolyn at the premiere and saw that she was on the press line beforehand but was nowhere to be seen during the after party. So we decided to get to the bottom of this very mild mystery of what happened to Carolyn Hennesy.

Alan went first in our pair of interviews and revealed an important clue about what had happened: namely that one of the straps on Carolyn’s beautiful dress broke. Oops!

Days later, when Carolyn joined the show, we let her know that Alan had mentioned her wardrobe malfunction. “Thanks Alan!” she declared, adding as confirmation, “Yes, yes. The dress that I had on… well, I… oh… there is just no pretty way to say this. One of the straps broke.”

Later, Carolyn’s husband gallantly draped his suit jacket over her shoulders and sadly the two of them had to miss out on the premiere party. But, as Carolyn has revealed on Twitter, filming this season of True Blood has been something of a joyful party in and of itself. So all’s well that ends well. 

To hear full audio of the wardrobe malfunction discussion, click the audio link above. For more dish with your favorite stars, tune in to Derek and Romaine weeknights exclusively on Sirius XM OutQ 108

Mad Men Mondays: Commissions And Fees

"Are you there, God? It’s me, Mad Men."

Lord help me, I love a diorama. Can you tell I grew up in Utah? Besides, I couldn’t open with a shot of bloody panties now could I? But let’s face it, that was one of the more amazing moments of this episode. But like always on Mad Men, big things come in small unexpected moments. I think sometimes about the way this show would have been promoted in TV Guide had it actually aired in 1967: “Lane is fired; Sally gets her period.”

Now it wasn’t exactly a December 7th style surprise watching this scene with Lane and Don unfold, and Tom and Lorenzo have been insisting from the beginning of this season that someone was going to die. But I love how simply and elegantly this episode was written. Understated! That husband and wife writing team Andre and Maria Jacquemetton sure do know how to give everyone a full character in a handful of lines, and the goods were dumped out lovingly in this one. 

Pour some sugar on me (with another Sally-centric episode)! Being a grown up means grown up responsibilities, like drinking coffee, not losing little girls in the big city or not forging checks. Grown ups have to make tough decisions, especially when they are the only grown up in the room and their wives buy crappy cars they can’t afford. Whee!

Both Lane and Sally ended up finding out that being grown up is too much of a burden and dealt with it in their own way. Lane chose to take his party elsewhere (permanently) and Sally put it in reverse and ran home to her mother like a little girl.

 This was the best mother-daughter interaction these two have had since Betty caught Sally smoking and locked her in the closet. Betty is one tough mother but she has a mushy emotional core. This scene made it so clear how much Betty sees herself in Sally and why their relationship is so complex. Their struggle is eternal, handed down from generation to generation, but so is their bond. 

There is a reason Matthew Weiner has insisted on such nonsensical promos that give nothing away. Because if you said, “On the next Mad Men, Sally gets her period,” you might not get any viewers at all. How can anyone think that’s a good reason to tune in, and yet it made for the best episode this season.

And that’s why Mad Men is the best show on television. Period. 

Mad Men Mondays: The Other Woman

Remembering the fur coat Roger gave her in a hotel room that one time…

And look where that got her! A baby. No husband. No future. A mess. Joan has had a lot of unfortunate luck when it comes to romance: Dr. Rapist. The lesbian roommate. Knocked up after a stick up. A passionless kiss with gay Sal. Even an allusion to a one night stand with Paul Kinsey in the pilot episode. Ugh. Take the money and run, lady!

Wait, Peggy! I didn’t mean you! And I said money, not red Thermos. WTF?!

This is my nightmare scenario, btw. Worse than dreading a zombie apocalypse actively forming in Miami or the sudden appearance of a new Kardashian, I have feared Peggy abandoning Don Draper. This is why The Suitcase is my favorite all-time episode. I was sweating bullets that Don was going to fire her in some nonsense fit. The kind I am prone to throw over some casually discarded litter on the street or Starbucks running out of soy milk.

The saving grace of the whole exit interview was Don practically offering to touch the hem of her garment on the way out. You think mom sharing two Popsicle sticks is Catholic, wait until you see Don kissing Peggy’s hand. Holy father! And what is so powerful in this exchange of course, is the beginning of their association in season one when Peggy puts her hand on his as a sexual overture that he rebuffs. Here, in the reversal, she offers to leave like a man and he, for perhaps the first time in the history of the show, treats her like a lady.  

And just when Don was firing on all cylinders! Even that tie is amazing and that is not the kind of thing you are going to hear me saying a lot based on the ties we have to look forward to as the 60s wind down. But to be fair, like Joan and romance, Don has not had good luck when it comes to anything having to do with cars: a blah hand job from Bethany, ditching Megan at Howard Johnson, teacher mistress hiding in the front seat, hitchhikers with roofies, barfing Betty, banged up Bobbi Barrett. It’s not worth it, Don! But then again isn’t that what you said to Joan right before she touched your face?

Okay, so that was a sweet touch, but this episode, even this season has been marked most profoundly by some literally touching moments. Don kissing Peggy’s hand, Megan touching herself while singing, Joan touching Don’s face, Megan and Don doing it on the dirty carpet, Don throwing money in Peggy’s face, Pete getting the stuffing kicked out of him by Lane (thanks GIFulmation!). Okay, so some touches were nicer than others. 

I could watch that all day. Pete was his usual terrible self and he has proven consistently this season to be a man of virtually no character. I mean, he is a rotten person, although they do a nice job on this show of tossing everyone a little sympathy now and then. Even Pete “I have nothing” Campbell. Unfortunately, it looks like all sorts of good (Megan) or simply better (Lane) people will be undone before Pete gets his necessary end. If he ever does. 

I am so upset there are only two episodes left this season. I can feel the withdrawal symptoms kicking in already. But in the meantime, Mad Men continues to be something beautiful you can truly own. Because past seasons are available now on DVD and BluRay.

Mad Men airs Sundays on AMC.

Mad Men Mondays: Christmas Waltz

On In Plain Sight, Mary McCormack’s Mary Shannon once wisely declared, “There are only two kinds of surprises: birthday and Pearl Harbor.”

"Surprise! There’s an airplane here to see you!"

I thought I already had my favorite line of the season when Roger said, “How Jewish are they? Fiddler On The Roof: audience or cast?” But then Joan found an exciting new way to commemorate December 7th on the desk of the receptionist and I was in love. 

Many other recaps (What?! You mean this isn’t my original idea?! WTF!) have compared this episode to The Suitcase last season. Most of those assessments can be summed up as “close but no cigar” and I won’t be the outlier on this one. The Suitcase was one of the great episodes of all time on TV, and clearly the high water mark of this show. The Joan/Don adventure here was a delicious treat, a tasty bon bon of wit and charm. But dragging this one out of the highest echelon of television were the two other stories: Lane as embezzler and the return of Paul Kinsey.

As unwelcome as a religious solicitation at the airport, one of the least missed characters of the old Sterling Cooper returned, just in time to pump some interest into the character arc of the least interesting character to continue through season five: Harry Crane. Krishna Krishna Hare Harry. In my head, all I could hear during the Paul Kinsey scenes was actor Michael Gladis saying, “I shaved for this!”

Don and Megan went to see a play where the actors made fun of advertising and Megan got to go all matchy matchy with her dress and lipstick. Later, when Don was late for dinner, she got to practice some scene work playing Oscar in The Odd Couple (“Now it’s garbage!”) with a hint of Betty Draper on the side, if Betty had allowed herself to be caught dead in striped pants and a green sweater. It seems all the sexiness has gone out of her rage. Too bad, because it just poured into Joan like sand in an hourglass figure. 

Don should be concerned! There has been a lot of Manhattan decay on display this season and this episode, the decay was all personal and internalized and invading the walls of SCDP! Don and Megan and the ticking time bomb they call a relationship. Lane, with his money problems, clearly headed to a day of reckoning like NYC came to when President Ford famously told the city to drop dead. Checking in on Paul Kinsey only served to show him adrift in the downward slide of the city, like the sudden appearance of Midge last season as a mess so hot you could cook a spoon of heroin over her. 

Merry Christmas, everyone! Looks like 1967 is going to be a real shit hole. But I don’t want to ruin the surprise. 

Mad Men airs Sundays on AMC.

AUDIO: Ted Allen Outs Anne Burrell?

SiriusXM host Romaine Patterson sat down with Chopped host Ted Allen for an interview to air on Monday, May 21st on SiriusXM OutQ 108 when talk turned to his fellow Food Network star, Anne Burrell

"I also love it when Anne Burrell is on the show primarily because I have the biggest crush on her." Patterson confided, continuing "Whether or not she’s a lesbian, I don’t care. She’s my girl!"

Burrell is well-known as the host of the Food Network series Secrets of a Restaurant Chef. To date, she has been mum about her romances, but Ted Allen gave a quick glimpse into her private life.

"I’m not going to put a label on Anne, but she is dating a woman right now." Allen went on to explain that he just met the woman in question. "She was really cool," he added. "You’ve got some competition."

The full interview airs on the Derek and Romaine Show Monday, May 21st at 9:30pm ET, with a replay on Tuesday, May 22nd at 6:30am ET, exclusively on SiriusXM OutQ 108

"I think I’ll go freshen up. The train was disgusting. I flew here but I saw one from the plane." - Diana Jessup (Mary Steenburgen) on 30 Rock

(Source: nbc.com)

What To Watch: 2012-2013

As every TV season draws to an end each May, we always get some resolution and a few cliffhangers. And sometimes that extends to the life of the show itself! As usual, the networks have canceled a bunch of shows to make way for new stuff this fall. Here is a quick glance at what I think it all means for us the viewers:

1. Fewer terrible special effects!

As I mentioned last week, some shows have had terrible effects problems and like magic, they have all been canceled. The CW gave Ringer (winner of the worst effects of the TV season) the boot so I guess now we will never know which Sarah Michelle Gellar we were supposed to care about. ABC canceled Missing. Ashley Judd stopped for a second somewhere between Italy and France to catch her breath and I guess that is when the suits caught up with her to hand over the old pink slip. Nooooooooo!

To be fair, how long could she keep running after her missing son? Six years? ABC’s answer: Six Episodes.

Also gone: Terra Nova (a collection of cheesy dinosaurs and even cheesier storylines), Pan Am (the high flying Mad Men ripoff that crashed before it barely had a chance to reach cruising altitude) and The River (I couldn’t even finish the two hour pilot it was so filled with nonsense).

2. Younger Characters = Younger Viewers!

The TV networks are starting to sweat it out and it isn’t just the menopause! Older viewers are dying off and younger people just aren’t watching TV. Those few 20-somethings managing to afford to live on their own are not blowing a week’s pay on cable, opting to watch a few shows online or worse, just catching buzzworthy clips that drop conveniently on their Facebook pages. This has sent TV executives into the kind of panic that mainlining Metamucil at their desk can’t quell. So say good bye to Harry’s Law (aka NBC’s top rated scripted show) and it’s CBS style star Kathy Bates along with Desperate Housewives and GCB on ABC (who are taking their sexy 40/50-something stars with them) and say hello to multi-generational shows for the whole family to enjoy where no one is over sixty, like The New Normal where Ellen Barkin (58) plays a great grandmother.

Because playing a grandmother twenty years after you graduated from high school is the real new normal. (Warning to TV executives: Sharply skewing down ages didn’t save The CW’s Secret Circle from remaining a secret kept from viewers).

3. The Return Of The 90s Comedy Wars

NBC is wiping the slate clean of its high brow/low rated comedies (30 Rock and company get nice short kissoffs next season) in favor of a whole heaping helping of comedy all over its schedule. CBS, which has ruled Monday night comedy since TV was invented sees an opportunity on NBC’s old must see TV stomping ground of Thursday and is moving 2 1/2 Men (down from its peak but still strong) from Monday to Thursday to establish a new beachhead. Meanwhile, ABC is putting all of its scripted drama eggs back into the old Sunday night basket with a smart move of Revenge to that popular night along with new probably going to be canceled drama 666 Park Avenue if only because viewers like reverence toward religion (Touched By An Angel) not sly tweaks (Good Christian Bitches) plus shows with Manhattan addresses in the title don’t do well. After all, even Law & Order was populated with fake addresses that put some apartments into the middle of the Hudson River. 

You look like a nice older couple, both lost and desperate! Can I show you an apartment on Central Park West? Or perhaps you’d feel more at home on CBS?

4. No More Complex Storytelling

Finally the networks have acknowledged that LOST was the exception, not the rule. And most of the time, a show with complex mythology either ends up pissing off viewers (LOST), falling apart (Heroes), or not catching fire and getting canceled without resolution (Alcatraz, John Doe, Awake, Journeyman, or pretty much anything Fox puts on that isn’t Fringe or Touch although Fringe is also getting a short sendoff season next year and I’ll be surprised if Touch makes it all the way to next May at this rate). Although actors from LOST never seem to stop getting work, or DUIs.

So look for more easy to follow soap dramas for the ladies (ABC), gussied up procedurals like Person of Interest or Hawaii 5.0 for the guys (CBS), competitive reality be it sports or singing (FOX) and comedy comedy comedy for the whole family to mildly enjoy (NBC)! 

And may the best TV network win!

(Source: derekhartley.com)

Mad Men Mondays: Dark Shadows

"Mr. Draper, we regret to inform you that it is every man for himself."

Selfish people acting in their own self interest was all over Mad Men this week and why not? I can’t imagine a better way to describe the baby boomers who rocketed out of that decade and unleashed the bleak and horrible future we inhabit today. Although, Weiner and company seem to conclude that they learned from the best: their elders!

I always love the scenes on this show in elevators. It must be the confined space and the notion of people going up and people going down. It is a good cheap metaphor for life. Like ten for a dollar cheap. Peggy and Roger (not pictured) had the best scene with both of them getting A+ lines off. Peggy: “I’m not an airplane.” and Roger’s delightful: “Are we married?” when Peggy started to complain about his selfish behavior. I love how talkbacky and mouthy that Peggy has gotten this season. It has crept up on me but it is my favorite character development this season (along with her super chummy office pairing with Stan, now 50% less douche). 

I am less excited about what is behind door number two. In this case, the very confusing Betty storyline. Betty has always been the extra piece of the puzzle that sits on the edge of the table the whole time. You know it’s good, you just don’t know where it fits. Now it can’t even fit in a living room without knocking a lamp. Subtle. 

Betty attends a Weight Watchers meeting and dreads the coming food apocalypse that is Thanksgiving. But maybe if she wasn’t a gainer married to an encourager, she wouldn’t have this problem! The hallmark of the late 60s was the hippie movement but I don’t think this is the kind of hippie they were talking about:

Fortunately, we got to see some flashes of the old vindictive Betty fighting to get out. Unhappy that Megan gets a loving Don and a beautiful Manhattan apartment, Betty uses her old tricks to try to drive a wedge between Don and Megan. But second (ahem, third) wife Megan isn’t having it! And Betty resorts to the usual childish throwing of things and bitchy attitude that has been her calling card for five seasons. And that is something to be thankful for.

Overheard in a NYC Taxi: “Can I drop you on Fifth?” says Don to some sketches.

New was Don feeling threatened at work by Ginsberg, the talented copywriter who keeps hitting it out of the park. He wasn’t threatened by Peggy but perhaps it is some kind of lingering mid century sexism. No matter how talented a woman is, she will never be a man. Like Roger and Bert in the elevator(!) debating if fishing is a sport, since Bert sees it as man versus fish, not man versus man. 

But then it all ends in a big cloud of smog, once again showing how terrible and dirty the city is, and how even in a glamorous apartment, you aren’t shielded from how terrible life is down below. After all, you can act only for yourself but in the end, you exist in the larger world with everyone else (hint, hint Tea Party devotees!). And the dark clouds of ominous change continue to loom not far in the distance. 

Mad Men airs Sunday nights on AMC.