New Shows (2013): December 1 - 7

Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens
Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens
Brown paper packages tied up with strings
These are a few of my favorite things.

The New Shows color code: red means don’t bother; blue means maybe; green means good; magenta means great.

SUNDAY, DECEMBER 1
Brody Stephens: Enjoy It (Comedy Central)
This was simply bizarre. It is a series about Stephens very public breakdown and his road to recovery. The first half hour showed us the breakdown in detail that was tough to take. Too tough for me, frankly. I admire that he is in recovery, but I don’t need to watch it.

Christmas in Conway (ABC)
Don’t judge, but I tend to love Hallmark Hall of Fame movies. Yes, they manipulate your emotions in the worst kind of way, but the stories are often nicely told and they usually star fantastic actors. This one is no different. A man builds his terminally ill wife a ferris wheel for Christmas. By the end, I was an emotional mess, but in a good way. The worst part about Hallmark movies? The Hallmark ads -- they always make me cry as well. OK, now you can judge.

Return to Downton Abbey (PBS)
An hour long special to get us ready for the January 5th launch of season four. Filled with clips from the previous three seasons and some very short teasers from season four, it’s goal was to get us excited to watch another nine episodes. It worked.

The Christmas Spirit (Hallmark)
Keeping Up With the Kardashians: A Very Merry Christmas (E!)

MONDAY, DECEMBER 2
The Battle of amfAR (HBO)
A short documentary about the organization that has done more than any other to provide HIV education and funding for research. It was a bit of a fluff piece and didn’t go into nearly enough detail about the organization or the people who defied society at the time to bring this issue to a national debate. Instead, it spent a great deal of time talking about things we already know. Shame.

Bakery Boss (TLC)
Best Funeral Ever (TLC)
CMA Country Christmas (ABC)
Rick & Morty (Adult Swim)

TUESDAY, DECEMBER 3
CMT Artists of the Year (CMT)

WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 4
Kirstie (TV Land)
Kirstie Alley, Rhea Perlman and Michael Richards have all been part of comedy series that have become classics -- Alley and Perlman on the same one. That was all I could think of watching this re-tread of old jokes and tired situations. From the coming attractions, the show has managed to corral quite a few famous faces to show up later on. They will appear without my watching them.

Mob City (TNT)
This is a hard-boiled, noir take on LA back in the good old days when Mickey Cohen was running the mob and William Parker was trying to stop him. These two are only minor characters. Instead, we have the cop, the gangster and the femme fatale, none of whom is particularly well cast. The story is fun, filled with twists in which some are obvious, some are not. If you are a fan of noir, give this a shot; but, go in expecting noir lite. If you are not a fan, skip this entirely.

State of Play: Trophy Kids (HBO)
A new HBO series about sports. This episode was about parents who push their kids into being successful in sport. Genuinely horrifying, these parents are the worst kind of bullies. I found this film incredibly difficult to watch and just wanted to give these kids a hug. After the film, a sports psychologist talked about some of the things he has seen and how he thinks parents should approach a kid who wants to play sports. In other words, he was relatively critical of the ones we have just watched.

Christmas in Rockefeller Center (NBC)
Half-Ton Killer: Transformed (TLC)
Killer Contact (Syfy)
SNL Christmas (NBC)

THURSDAY, DECEMBER 5
Comedy Warriors: Healing (Showtime)
There really is good in this world. Five comedy writers mentor five budding comedians, all of whom have been severely injured serving in the armed forces. Through this documentary, we watch them craft their act and then go on and perform. Each of them was hilarious and the rewards were more than monetary. One man, who has suffered from severe PTSD in addition to losing both of his legs, found that he could get through the night without an anxiety attack -- for the first time in ten years. I highly recommend this documentary.

The Sound of Music (NBC)
I mentioned last week that I was going into this with an open mind. Maybe not open, but at least ajar. Well, color me surprised. I loved this! Carrie Underwood was lovely and, although she is new to acting and it showed, she sang the songs beautifully. Stephen Moyer was a delight; and, as opposites attract, his acting was a step above his singing. However, their chemistry was present and I believed it when they fell in love. The kids were fun as were all the supporting cast. A huge shout-out to Audra McDonald who, no surprise here, showed us all how "Climb Every Mountain" should be sung. I have had to work all week with a horrible cold and have been grumpy as hell for days. This put a huge smile on my face and I stayed up until I had watched every second of it. And, yes, I’ve already watched it again.

Best Bars in America (Esquire)
Courtney Loves Dallas (Bravo)
Panic Button (truTV)
Party On (E!)

FRIDAY, DECEMBER 6
Chris D’Elia: White Male, Black Comic (Comedy Central)
In the first ten minutes of this special, D’Elia made it crystal clear that he is a misogynist and a homophobe. I turned it off.

Grammy Nominations Concert Live (CBS)
The Improv: 50 Years Behind the Brick Wall (Epix)

SATURDAY, DECEMBER 7
Christmas in the City (Lifetime)
Pink: The Truth About Love Tour (Epix)
Santa Switch (Hallmark)
Super Comet ISON 2013 (Science)

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

Aww look at the cute kitty..
Think I'll give Mob City a miss..I like the genre but only if it's done well.
Anna

sunbunny said...

Glad to see I wasn't the only one who genuinely liked The Sound of Music! Obviously, it doesn't hold a candle to the Julie Andrews movie (what on earth could?) but it was fun and sweet and I really liked that NBC tried something new. Or, I guess, something old. :)

Josie Kafka said...

I slogged through Mob City, which I'd hoped would be good enough to review. But it's not: too slow, but not in a neat meditative way. Very little authentic noir-speak, and quite a bit of modern slang. I don't think a 1940s gangster would use the phrase "food-service industry." Ever.

I'm hoping it gets better.

Vero said...

I'm allergic to cats, but I don't think even I could resist petting that little kitty up there!

The Sound of Music should have been right up in my alley, but I admit I was going into it thinking what a huge mistake it had been to cast Carrie Underwood. And I thought she was even worse than what I had anticipated, so, yeah. The only thing I could think about was how things could have been with a real music theater actress involved (Laura Osnes came to mind, she would have been perfect... but of course, she's not a "name").

I was actually pretty bored with the whole thing. I enjoyed the supporting actors (especially the kids!), but I thought both Carrie and Stephen Moyer were terrible. I didn't see any charisma or chemistry at all. All the contrary. I commend NBC for taking such a chance, and it seems it paid off, but I was very disappointed with the result.

ChrisB said...

Vero -- you are certainly not alone. In fact, I think sunbunny and I are in the minority. The general consensus around the Internet was that it was meh and most people I have talked to thought the same. I agree that Underwood's acting was not the greatest and that Moyer's singer voice was not the greatest, but together they worked for me.

My guess is that NBC is thrilled with the result. The numbers were astonishing (18.5 million watched it live), so I'm relatively certain we will be getting more events like this in the future. It will interesting to see what changes they make to the next one. If I had a vote, I would suggest they do it in front of a live audience. As a lover of musical theater, it felt odd to me when the songs ended and there was no applause.

Josie -- I agree about Mob City. I didn't love it as much as I had hoped I would and thought that some of the "updates" were jarring. The other issue I had was that, to keep some of the twists a surprise, sometimes the dialogue was forced and odd. I read somewhere this week that TNT was hoping this would be the next great show, but even they were so disappointed in it that they chose to burn it off during the holiday season.

ChrisB said...

Audra McDonald was given TVLine's Performer of the Week for her role as the Reverend Mother. Well, well deserved.

Vero said...

Audra McDonald was indeed terrific! And, well, she does have a lot of experience in musical theater... just saying.

A live audience would be a definite improvement, the show was absolutely missing applause and laughter and other real time reactions. We have a TV show here in Qu├ębec where they comment on other TV shows, and they remarked that there was a disturbing background noise all the way through the show. I can't say that really bothered me, but at least with a live audience, the show would feel more real and there would be less empty background noise.

I guess part of my problem with Stephen Moyer is that even though I've only seen the first season and a half or True Blood, I've read nine of the books so far and I couldn't help imaging vampire Bill with his face while reading. And I can't say I'm a huge fan of Bill, so that probably didn't help seeing him as a sympathetic Captain von Trapp.