Category Archives: TV Recap

Throwback Thursday-Punk’d (2003-2015)

Practical jokes are funny, the only catch is that they are funny when you are not the one who the joke is being played on.

Punk’d (2003-2015) aired on MTV for most of the time that it was on television. Hosted and produced by Ashton Kutcher, it was the Candid Camera of the MTV generation. The premise of Punk’d was that Kutcher would play elaborately staged pranks on his celebrity friends while the audience got their chuckles in at home.

Among the shows that was part of the MTV lineup during the early 00’s, Punk’d ranks high (which is not saying much). It was not a mind numbing reality show, but it was enjoyable and entertaining, at least for the viewers at home.

I recommend it.

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Throwback Thursday-Date My Mom (2004-2006)

When it comes to dating and romantic relationships, our parents play a part in whom we may or may not end up with.

From 2004 to 2006, this was the premise of the MTV show, Date My Mom. The premise of the show is as follows: The subject of this particular episode goes out with three moms. During their “date”, the moms try to persuade the young man or woman to pick their son or daughter for a date. At the end of the episode, one mother is “chosen” and watches as their child goes of on their date.

Of all the reality dating shows that was on MTV back then, this show was the worst. Not only did it feel fake, but it felt like everyone involved signed up just to get on TV, not to genuinely find a date for themselves or their child.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely not.

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Flashback Friday-Shakespeare Uncovered (2012-2018)

William Shakespeare is more than a writer. He is an icon who told human stories about human characters.

The television series Shakespeare Uncovered (2012-2018)  is an in-depth exploration of Shakespeare’s work. Hosted every episode by a different actor who at one time, played a major character in a Shakespeare play, the purpose of the program is to do a deep dive into the play that is that subject of each episode. Combining interviews, performances, historical research, the host’s personal experience while playing the character and analysis of the play, the audience is introduced (or re-introduced) to Shakespeare’s work in a way that they have not seen before.

What I love about Shakespeare Uncovered is that it’s more than a dry academic blow-by-blow of his work. The program is intellectually stimulating, fascinating and mind-blowing at moments.

I recommend it.

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Throwback Thursday-The Surreal Life (2003-2006)

Many of us want our 15 minutes of fame. Reality television capitalizes on this need, for better or for worse.

Between 2003 and 2006, The Surreal Life was on the air. The premise of the show is as follows: a group of celebrities whose fame has faded live together for a short time and have their lives taped. It’s almost like The Real World, except the housemates are not a diverse group of twenty something strangers, but celebrities. Over the course of the show’s six seasons, the casts included musicians, actors, reality stars, etc.

Among reality shows, this was the most brain-dead. One did not need brain cells to watch mostly has beens trying to resuscitate careers that once burned bright.

Do I recommend it? Not really.

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Flashback Friday-Temptation Island (2001-2003)

It’s easy to stay committed to your partner when there is no one else around. But what happens when the temptation to cheat on our partner is right in front of your face?

That was the premise of the early 2000’s reality show, Temptation Island (2001-2003).  Four couples, who claim to be committed to their partners are split up. The women are housed with single men and the men are housed with single women. Will these couples stay together or will the temptation to stray outside of their relationship win over?

From my perspective, this program was the lowest of the low, even for reality television. It represents how far some will go for their 15 minutes of fame, even if it means potentially cheating on your partner.

Do I recommend it? Not really.

 

 

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Flashback Friday-Introducing Dorothy Dandridge (1999)

Dorothy Dandridge was was undoubtedly a trailer blazer in not just the Civil Rights Movement, but also in opening doors for performers of color to move beyond the stereotypical roles of servants or background characters.

Her life and work is chronicled in the 1999 television movie, Introducing Dorothy Dandridge. Halle Berry starred in the title role with Brent Spiner as Earl Mills, Dandridge’s faithful manager who stayed with her through thick and thin.

This television movie is one of the better biographies to have come out in recent years. Neither over the top or too long, it was the story of a trail blazer whose legacy will never be forgotten.

I recommend it.

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Throwback Thursday-The Avengers (1998)

In the wake of The Cold War and the success of the James Bond films, The Avengers hit our televisions in the 1960’s.

In 1998, the big screen adaptation of The Avengers was introduced to movie audiences. Taking the places of Patrick Macnee and Diana Rigg as John Steed and Emma Peel were Ralph Fiennes and Uma Thurman. They have to stop Sir August De Wynter (Sean Connery) a villain who plans to use the power of nature to destroy the world.

Before I continue with the review, I have to warn that I have not seen the original television series, so my knowledge of the narrative and the characters is strictly based on the movie and the general pop culture references from the series. Based on what little information I have, the problem I see with this film is that it is a superficial reboot without the substance or style of its predecessor. I have a feeling that fans of the original series would like to forget that this reboot was ever made.

Do I recommend it? No.

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Throwback Thursday-Flash Forward (1996-1997)

Our pre-teen and early teenage years are some of our most trans-formative years.  The growth from childhood to young adulthood can be traumatic, but also life changing.

The short-lived television series Flash Forward (1996-1997) told the story of four best friends, two of whom have known each other since they were little. Tucker (Ben Foster) is the goofball. His best friend, Becca (Jewel Staite) is the serious one. Miles (Theodore Borders) provides the reality check. Christine Harrison (Asia Vieira) is the listener.

While this show only lasted one season, it still stands out because it spoke to the audience, who were the same age as the characters.  It spoke to the audience because the audience understood the characters and visa versa. Unfortunately, the show was not given the opportunity it could have had.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

 

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Flashback Friday-The Real World (1992-Present)

Change often comes not when we stay in our own little bubble, but when we step out of our bubbles and into the Real World.

The Real World is the mother of the reality genre as we know it to be today and MTV’s longest running program. Premiering in 1992, the premise is simple: take a group of diverse young people who have never met before, have them live together for a short time, film them while they live together and see what happens.

No topic was off limits: sex, religion, prejudice, abortion, etc. While the original season was filmed in New York City, the show has since traveled all over the US and to parts of Europe. Over it’s 25 year history, the Real World has been the career spring-board for a handful of alumni: Jacinda Barrett and Jamie Chung both have successful acting careers. Sean Duffy, who has represented the state of Wisconsin in the House Of Representatives since 2010.


One could argue, that like every other reality television show, it is a little contrived and as scripted as a non-reality television program. But, at the same time, the show spoke to its teenage/early 20’s audience because the cast was the same age as the audience. To have a television show, when you’re at the age when you are starting to form your own opinions and build your life in your way, speak to you in a way that is unique to your age group is powerful and potentially life changing.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

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Downton Abbey Series 6 Episode 9 Recap: That’s All Folks

As usual, this recap contains spoilers. If you have not watched the episode, read at your own risk. This recap also contains tears as this was the final episode of Downton Abbey.

Here we go.

The final episode can be summed up in one word: love.

Edith finally got her happy ending. After years of playing second fiddle to Mary, Lady Edith Crawley (now known as Lady Edith Pelham,  Marchioness of Hexham), Edith has it all. A loving husband, a beautiful little girl and a solid career. We all should be so lucky.

Edith is one of those characters that has the ability to bounce back from tragedy. Lesser women would have resigned themselves to their fate, but Edith took her life in her own hands and found her way to a happy ending.  Bravo girl, you rock, may we all learn from you.

I am not the only one who found it ironic that at the end of the series, it is Edith who is grand lady of the county while Mary’s husband sells used cars. Who could have guessed back in series 1 that this would be the fates of these characters?

The love was not just between the sisters, who found a way to peacefully co-exist.

Robert finally understood Cora’s devotion to the hospital and began once more to appreciate his wife. Rose and Atticus came back for the wedding and to introduce their daughter (via pictures) to the family. Mary will be a mother once more. A hint of a future pairing existed between Tom and Edith’s editor, which might have been an interesting plot line to see in series 7, but alas, we will never know (that is, unless the rumored movie does one day hit the theaters, fingers crossed). Isobel not only rescued Lord Merton from imprisonment by his son and new daughter in law, the Downton equivalent of Sense and Sensibility’s John and Fanny Dashwood, but she also finally said yes to him.

Downstairs, like upstairs change is happening,

After years of nothing but heartache, Anna and Bates are now parents. Baby boy Bates (whose  first name the viewer is not privy to) came into the world in Lady Mary’s bedroom of all places. Welcome to the world, young man, you are blessed to have Anna and John Bates as your parents.

As much as I would have liked to see a Baxter/Molesley romance, it appears that this relationship is squarely set in the friend zone. But that does not mean that Molesley is without prospects, his career options exploded. He can now call himself a teacher.  Good for him, the downstairs Edith has a bright future.

There was some romance or at least the possibility of romance downstairs. The potential Daisy/Andy relationship is interesting, but it’s development remains strictly in the imagination of the fans and again, the possible Downton Abbey movie.

Thomas, this episode was like a boomerang.  After spending most of the season looking for other employment, he found it, only to find that he hated it and returned to Downton. He has perfect timing, because Mr. Carson is afflicted with Parkinsons and retires with a generous pension from his employers. Thomas is now butler.

Am I the only one who noticed that first time in the series, both Anna and Mrs. Hughes referred to their husbands by their first names?

So that’s it folks. Downton Abbey is over. When they announced that the sixth series would be its last, I don’t think any of us to expect it come as quickly as it did.

As both a die-hard fan and a writer, I am satisfied. Everyone had an ending, happy or semi happy. But there is also enough room for new plots and characters down the road.

Sunday nights at 9 in the winter will never feel the same again.

 

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