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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

About: Traffic Light "Kiss Me, Kate"

After another great episode of Traffic Light last night I just had to find out if the show has any chance of renewal for the 2012 season. What I found bummed me out. According to things aren't looking so great for this show, in fact they gave it two frowny faces. I swear the site is legit though. You can check it out yourself To calculate the facial expressions and number of emoticons the site uses a ratio of a show's new episode adult 18-49 ratings relative to the new episode ratings of other scripted shows on the same network. See, it's legit. So, what do you think? Do you think Traffic Light will live to see season two?

Well now that that is out of the way, let's get into the episode. This was really funny stuff. I have to say I really liked Kathryn Hahn as Callie's sister Kate. I think she fit in pretty seamlessly with the rest of the cast. I would like to see her back again. (If the show gets a second season! Ok, I'll stop that now.)I tend to find that when famous actors and actresses do guest spots on a show it takes away from the episode because it messes with the dynamic. Kathryn Hahn didn't do that for me. It may be debatable how "famous" she is but I love her as the best friend of every lead actress in every romantic comedy.

I thought that Kate and Adam's characters played especially well off one another. Adam delivers his dry passing comments so well and Kate had a way of blowing him off that was very entertaining. I also approve of any story that involves Kev. Rob Huebel is hilarious and I think the show uses him perfectly. His character is so eccentric that he's best in small doses.

I really loved the ping pong storyline between Ethan and Mike. Long time rivalry stories can be over done in comedy and usually take a corny turn involving some slow motion final shot. Traffic light never went there which I really appreciated. Plus, I can buy that two men in their 30's are still fighting about the outcome of a ping pong tournament they played in college. And "the shirt" is a symbol of that long-suppressed rivalry. I find the whole idea completely believable. Am I wrong to think that?

There were a couple things I just wanted to mention:

*I am not 100% sold on Lisa yet. I can't put my finger on it, but there is something about the way Liza Lapira plays the character that makes me feel like she's holding back a little. I get the feeling that Lisa is a little bit like Monica Geller except she never quite embraces her crazy the way Monica did. Does that make sense? I don't want the Lisa to be a replica of Monica, I just want her to take it to the next level, whatever that may be.

*I was totally surprised at Ethan's reaction to Kate sleeping with Kev. I thought he's be ecstatic to find a woman that wasn't looking for commitment.

*Kev and the pencil in the ear. Hilarious.

Monday, March 28, 2011

About: Modern Family "Boy's Night"

This week's Modern Family was all about what crazy things can happen when you step outside of your comfort zone. Jay avoids going to the symphony with his family only to find himself in the middle of a very unlikely happy hour. Mitchell, Cam and their gay friends were all out for the night of drinks and conversation. Was the conversation a little cliche, yeah. But it was entertaining nonetheless, especially when Jay got involved. It was an obvious surprise to see Jay open up so easily in a group that would normally make him uncomfortable. Even Mitchell was apprehensive about inviting him over and seemed very surprised by his positive reaction to the group. It was sweet to see them bonding as father and son and to see Mitchell wondering if maybe their "problem" was his all along. I'm not sure he made the whole thing up but maybe this will give them the nudge they need to open up a little more often? As a side note, Nathan Lane is always great as Pepper and this episode was no different. There is just something about his character that is so lovable and so hateable (I think I just made up a word) all at once. It makes him the perfect frenemy.

Luke makes friends with the neighborhood grump Mr. Kleezak AKA Walt. Phil and Claire tell Luke that he can' be friends with Walt because he's weird and creepy. Granted, they know nothing about their neighbor who looks about as harmless old man with a breathing tube. I enjoyed this story line and I really enjoyed the reference they made to UP because I was immediately reminded of the Disney movie when Luke went over to visit Walt for the first time. Luke has that same sweet and innocent but completely oblivious personality as the little boy in UP. The whole bit about the oxygen tank is a classic example.

Luke: What's that tube in your nose?
Mr. Klezak: It's my oxygen tank.
Luke: We have that our house. But we don't need a tank for it. (Holds breath as he enters house.)

That's the thing I really like about Luke's character, though. He is so kind and trusting and just a little too innocent for his own good.

The Haley babysitting for Lily storyline was a little tired and didn't really add all that much to the episode, in my opinion. I just think this is something we've seen before and I would have liked to see Modern Family give this old troupe a twist. Oh well, you win some, you lose some.

Overall, I really enjoyed this episode of Modern Family. I know a lot of people have been disappointed this year because the show got off to such a strong start in its first season but it has yet to disappoint me. Some weeks are better than others, of course but no matter what I'm always laughing.

Here are some great moments I can't go without mentioning. 

*Cam: Richard Gere, I'll be the officer, don't be a gentleman.

*Manny: Hump day, am I right, Jay?
  Jay: Your day ends at 2:30.

*Phil: I love Westerns, the bloodier the better, that's my favorite type of movie - that and anything set against   the backdrop of competitive cheerleading.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

About: Traffic Light "No Good Deed"

There are a lot of things I really like about Traffic Light. The first of which is the characters. While I wouldn't say I'm completely invested in any of them just yet I can see that kind of relationship forming in the future. I enjoy the ease of the comedy. The show doesn't rely on over-contrived plots; it works well with the little quirky things that make life funny. I tend to dislike shows that rely too heavily on meta-humor or reuse the same stale tropes I've seen so many times before (with the exception of last week's "Breaking Bread" I haven't seen this as a problem for Traffic Light). I also like the natural style of the dialogue. I find that some shows use overly-manufactured language that feels like a chore rather than a conversation. Traffic Light uses a much more natural speech pattern that makes the whole thing look and feel effortlessly funny.

So after that little 'ode to Traffic Light' let's get into the meat of the episode.Overall, I really enjoyed this week's episode "No Good Deed". Adam leaves Callie's car running; keys in the ignition, doors unlocked and... it gets stolen?! In Chicago?! Maybe not his best move but his intentions were pure, weren't they? If you haven't noticed the pattern forming in my last few reviews, I'll just point it out. I like Adam. He is probably my favorite character at this point. There is something about him that is so charming and so naive that you can't help but side with the guy on pretty much everything. He gets his girlfriends car stolen and I'm still fixated on the fact that he got her an oil change. He's got that awful word vomit (Mean Girls, look it up.) quality that makes you cringe whenever he opens his mouth. Why he ever thought pulling a "Callie move" was a phrase worth coining, I will never understand. But no matter what he says he always manages to whip out a little charm and redeem himself.

So Callie's car get's stolen and the obvious next move is for Adam to take her insurance check, sneak out and buy her a new one, right? Well, maybe in Adam's world. So he brings Mike and Ethan along to do the negotiating which is probably a good idea considering his obvious gravitation toward extended warranties. Watching Mike and Ethan go head to head was entertaining. The competition was a nice way to add a little more depth to their relationship. We still don't know much about who these characters are beyond the superficial and I'm glad to see these baby steps leading in the right direction. Ethan goes straight for the sale leader board and pinpoints Glenn, the only salesman with nothing to show for it. Mike chooses to go straight for negotiation. Adam eats donuts.

I can't say I was shocked by the Callie-bought-the-same-car twist. She obviously needed a new car, she had insurance money coming in the mail and she just finished designing her dream car online the night before. So while it wasn't a surprise, it was just as entertaining to see what I feared would happen come to fruition.

The Mike and Lisa storyline left a little something to be desired but it did offer a deeper look at Mike's character and his relationship with Lisa. Frozen yogurt, huh? Who knew that could be a 'move'. More importantly we learned that Mike is the kind of person that would have a "little brother" and actually keep up with him and his accomplishments. We also learned that Mike can't stand not getting credit for his own accomplishments. This probably isn't a foreign concept to any of us. I definitely would have been pissed off if my "little brother" dedicated his book to someone else. But unlike Mike I would never have admitted it and I definitely wouldn't have tried to confront him about it. That tells us a little more about his character.Of course Charlie offered a perfect explanation for the dedication which would make anyone feel like an ass.

Ethan taking Glenn under his wing was unexpected but I really liked it. So far we know that Ethan is a bit of a womanizer and not what anyone would consider boyfriend material. But we also know that he is a loyal friend.  He seems to have a habit of befriending people that probably don't have many other companions in their lives.  He's got his faceless neighbor who he communicates with on a daily basis via the vent in his apartment. And he had Glenn for a short while until he taught him too well and lost him. While Ethan may be the most shallow of the main characters I think he's got a lot of heart that we have yet to see. I'm really interested to see how the writers develop his character over the course of the season(s) (fingers crossed!)

This is the part where I usually write the lines I thought were funny or make any other random observations. Unfortunately, I only watched this episode once this week (and the review is STILL late) and I watched without a pen and paper. Rookie mistake. So feel free to remind me of anything I may have forgotten. And as always, thanks for reading!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

About: Traffic Light "Breaking Bread"

What comes out of my mouth next may offend some fans of this show so let me start by saying that I really do enjoy Traffic Light. It's a smart and engaging show with lovable, albeit underdeveloped, characters. But what's great about the show is that I don't need it to do all that much for me in order to enjoy it. Just give a story I haven't seen a million times before and make me laugh a few times and I'm good. So that's why this week's episode "Breaking Bread" was particularly disappointing.

I did laugh a few times, so they had me covered there. Adam getting a lip on lip kiss from the neighbor was pretty funny. I liked the cold open, it was amusing and believable as a topic of discussion. There were definitely a few more laughs in there, mostly at Nelson Franklin who plays Adam. His delivery is so dry and I find it hilarious.

The problem for me was the re-used story lines. Adam and Callie find the neighbor's dog alone on the street. Adam takes the credit for finding him and the neighbor showers him with gifts bread. Well, as soon as they started talking about how great the bread was I knew there would be more. I knew there would eventually be too much bread and things would get awkward. This is a story formula we've seen again and again on comedies that quite frankly aren't as entertaining as Traffic Light has been in a few short episodes. Then, there was the loud neighbor storyline which usually goes one of two ways. Either the neighbor is confronted and refuses to quiet down resulting in a battle of the wits or the neighbor somehow manages to silence the complaints before they begin by winning over one of the opposing parties. Let's see what's behind door two. Again, we've seen this formula before which is fine if you bring something new to the table. Except all we got were some second hand jokes that reminded me a little too much of I Love You, Man.

I will say that I enjoyed the Ethan storyline if only because it was the only "new" concept in the episode. Ok, so the structure is probably one that's familiar to sitcom fans but it was handled a little differently than I'd seen before so I was willing to overlook it. I like the Wilson-esque thing this show's got going on with Ethan's invisible neighbor. (If you're not a dork like me, that's a reference to Home Improvement.)I'm interested to see how much of a character he becomes.

So that's all I'm going to say about this episode, no need to beat a dead horse. "Breaking Bread" had it's moments but overall I was unimpressed. I look forward to next week's episode because it really has nowhere to go but up!

Also, did anyone else notice the palm tree in the last scene? Seriously? Even if you're not from Chicago you're smart enough to know there are no palm trees in the Midwest.

Monday, March 7, 2011

About: Supernatural "...And Then There Were None"

This week's episode "...And Then There Were None" really got the ball rolling for the last third of the season. We learned a lot of new information that is starting to tie up a few of this season's loose threads.

The "mother of all" is back in the picture and it is not looking good. Eve is her name and apparently she has the power to create evil that this world has never seen before. And we thought Lucifer was bad. In a show like Supernatural, a name like Eve can't go unnoticed. According to Judeo-Christian belief, Eve is the mother of humanity and also committed the original sin causing her to be separated from God. In this episode Eve makes a point to let the evangelizing trucker know that God has abandoned him and the human race, something a mother would never do. So if she is, in fact meant to be the Eve of the Bible then she was the first to sin against God, and the mother of all evil. And it seems this mother has a bit of an abandonment complex.
As part of her promise not to abandon her children, Eve creates a parasite that possesses its victim and forces them to kill. Unlike most demon possessions we’ve seen on the show, the vessel doesn't seem to remember being possessed by the parasite. Word of Eve’s handiwork spreads and leads to the biggest hunter's convention I think we've seen on Supernatural. Sam, Dean and Bobby cross paths with Rufus and then later with Gwen and Samuel. This encounter is one that we've been waiting for since "Caged Heat" when Samuel sold the boys out to Crowley. In that episode Dean made Samuel a promise that the next time they crossed paths, Samuel would die. A promise it seemed Dean intended to keep. When Sam stepped in and stopped Dean from killing Samuel I was reminded again of just how different soulless Sam was from the Sam we've known since season one. Soulless Sam wouldn't have needed time to think, in fact, he probably would have shot Samuel dead before Dean even had a chance to make good on his promise.

Sam may have a soul again but he's certainly not spineless and he can see just how dangerous Samuel really is. After Dean is possessed and kills Gwen Sam makes Samuel a little promise of his own.

"We're gonna find him [Dean] alive, Samuel. Or I'm going to put a bullet in your head."

What is interesting about Samuel is that he admits that he doesn't blame Dean for wanting to kill him but refuses to apologize for what he did.

"I don't cry over spilled blood"

I guess I always assumed that somewhere inside Samuel there was at least a shred of the Winchester moral fiber. I mean this deep appreciation for family and respect for humanity had to come from somewhere, right? But Samuel was so cold and unrelenting that he seemed barely human and he certainly didn't care about family connections unless they somehow benefited him. I should add that this exchange between Samuel and the boys happened while Samuel was possessed but I'm not sure that his reaction would have been any different if he wasn't. He was equally cold and calculated when he handed the boys over to Crowley earlier this season.

In the end though, Samuel gets what he was promised. Sam kills him in a scene that felt very reminiscent of "Fresh Blood" when Sam decapitates Gordon Walker. In both scenes Sam in separated from Dean in a booby-trapped warehouse and forced to kill the person hunting him. In this case, Sam warns Samuel repeatedly before pulling the trigger. And even after killing him, he questions what he did asking Dean what their mom would think. The line that Dean draws is a finite one.

"Just cuz you're blood doesn't make you family. You gotta earn that."

Something Samuel never did.

Speaking of earning your family, a lot of interesting facts came to light about Bobby and Rufus' past. We learned that Rufus was the hunter that saved Bobby when his wife was possessed and that they spent many years on the road as hunting partners; as family. But we also learned that Bobby made a bad call that broke that familial bond forever, something Rufus never forgave him for.

Forgiveness seems to be another recurring theme recently. Now that Sam is facing his past his guilt leaves him unable to forgive himself for his actions. Even Bobby resists forgiving Sam for what he did when he had no soul. And now Bobby finds himself unforgiven for what he did to Rufus and wracked with guilt over his death. But Dean reminds Bobby that at the end of the day, he and Rufus were a family, and Rufus should have put the past behind them and forgiven Bobby. Dean takes it one step further, making sure that Bobby and Sam know that whatever has happened in the past is forgiven and the slate is clean. Maybe this reminder is a good one for Bobby, since he still hasn't forgiven Sam for what he did when he wasn't really Sam. I'm hoping we get to see a conversation like this between the two of them soon.

So, what next? We know that Eve is cooking up a plan to rid the world of good; she sent the message along with her new creature.

"You're all gonna die."

But who, specifically, was this message for? Possessed Bobby tells us that this whole thing was a trap. But for who? Hunters in general or just Sam and Dean? And does Eve have anything to do with the civil war in heaven or are these two plot threads completely separate? What do you think?

There are a few more things that deserve mentioning...

*As much as I'm glad to have the Campbells out of our lives, I was sad to see Gwen go. The Winchesters don't have many friends to turn to for help and I thought Gwen might become one of those people for them.

* Am I the only one who found it odd that Dean didn't really beat himself up about Gwen's death? He seemed almost unmoved by it. Maybe that's something that will come up later or maybe he was just in shock. But either way it seemed uncharacteristic.

* I was also sad to see Rufus die. I really enjoyed his character and he and Bobby bickered like an old married couple, which I found hilarious. He was another one that could have filled the void left by Ellen and Joe's death.

*I was a little confused when Samuel came back to life. A shot to the head would have definitely killed him so was his dead body simply possessed by the parasite?

*Was this the first time that we saw Bobby possessed? I tried to think back and nothing else came to mind. Either way, Jim Beaver's performance was great.

This episode was a little low on humor, for obvious reasons but there were still a couple of gems worth mentioning.

*Dean: "Why don't you buy me a drink first?"
Rufus: "Second date."

*Dean: "Well hey there, you little herpe."
Sam: "Why do you keep talking about herpes?"

So what did you think of "...And Then There Were None"? Did you have the same thoughts about Eve as I did? Do you think there’s any connection between her and the civil war in heaven?