The Middle

I didn’t really start watching this show until last year.  I’ve watched every episode this season.  I remember when I first saw commercials for it, it didn’t really look like something I’d want to watch.  It basically looked like they’d married off Debra from Everybody Loves Raymond with the Janitor from Scrubs and then given them three weird kids.

Taking an actor from a successful sitcom that is no longer on who played a well known character on said sitcom, and pairing them with another actor who also played a well known character on different successful sitcom often doesn’t work out so well.  Patricia Heaton had already previously tried it.  Does anyone remember the show Back to You that she did with Kelsey Grammer?  No?  Good, it wasn’t worth remembering.

But this time it worked.  Because The Middle has a great concept which is simple and well written.  When I watch it I’m able to disassociate my automatic connections to Everybody Loves Raymond and Scrubs, both of which I used to watch.  I liked Patricia Heaton and Neil Flynn both in their previous sitcom roles as well their current roles now.  In one episode, they showed a flashback to their characters Frankie and Mike Heck, going camping for their honeymoon.  Their trip is interrupted by Mike’s old annoying friend, played by Ray Romano.  At one point he asks Frankie if they’ve met before and she says “no, I think I’d remember meeting you”, which I thought was hilarious.

The show consists of Frankie and Mike trying to survive raising their three kids, Axl, Sue, and Brick, who all struggle through their own problems as well.  Axl, played by Charlie McDermott, is your typical lazy slob of a teenager.  He excels in sports but struggles with school and thinks homework is a waste of time.  He’s also full of himself and thinks he’s awesome.  His sister Sue, played by Eden Cher, is sort of the opposite, and is basically the epitome of the super awkward and neurotic teenage girl.  Despite being a total misfit, she’s optimistic and tries out for all the school activities, and more often than not fails at them.  The youngest, Brick, played by Atticus Shaffer, is a quiet kid who always has his nose in a book.  He might go unnoticed if he wasn’t so weird.  He’s pretty smart for a nine-year-old, but has a bit of social awkwardness as well.

Frankie is often saying how tired she is from trying to stay on top of the kids all the time.  In one episode, she describes their parenting style as relaxed.  In the last episode, the kids complained that she’s too much of nag and that Mike just throws out crazy punishments for them when he gets too annoyed to deal with them.  They all struggle together as a bit of dysfunctional family.  I think the reason the show is a success is because they’re a family you can sort of relate to.  Kids go through awkward phases, and think their parents are unreasonable, and parents want to make sure their kids are alright and wish they would get their act together.  And when things don’t go as we’d like, we can turn to shows like this and see characters who may be slightly more dysfunctional than we are.

The Middle

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Bomb Girls

I was confused last week when I saw a commercial for the season finale of Bomb Girls.  Season finale?  Didn’t it just start?  And then I realized it was a six part mini series.  I had pvred a few episodes, but never got around to watching them.  And when I had decided to watch, I realized that I had somehow neglected to pvr the pilot episode.  No point in watching a 6 part mini series out of order.  But as luck would have it, I found the episodes on the Global TV app on my iPad.  And I watched all 6 of them.

Bomb Girls focuses on the lives of women working in a munitions factory making bombs during World War II.  From that description, it may sound like a rather boring drama.  But it’s not.  It’s actually entertaining.  The series takes a look at the personal lives and problems that each of the women face as they do their part in the war effort.

Jodi Balfour plays Gladys Witham, a rich girl who is engaged to be married and whose family is adamant on maintaining their reputation and status in society.  She goes to work in the office of the factory doing paperwork, but wanting to do more, gets herself reassigning to the floor with the rest of the girls.  She wants to be seen as one of them, and wants to do her equal part to help.  In doing so she must lie to her controlling parents who would never allow her such a menial job.

Gladys Witham

Charlotte Hegele plays Kate Andrews who is also new at the factory, having run away and assumed a new identity to escape from her abusive father who is a preacher.  She is befriended by Betty McRae, played by Ali Liebert, the hardest worker in the factory, who helps her and looks out for her.

Kate Andrews & Betty McRae

Meg Tilly plays Lorna Corbett who is the shift matron at the munitions factory who struggles with her personal life.  Her two sons are in the war, and her husband is a crippled war veteran who feels as though his efforts were all in vain.  She struggles with her mistrust of certain factory workers as well as trying to stand up for those who she cares about.

Lorna Corbett

After watching the first episode, I was intrigued and also angry.  I was angry and Gladys’ father for being so controlling and unreasonable, and angry with her fiance for being such an ass, and angry with her mother for only caring about social status and nothing more.  I was angry at the munitions factory boss for being so arrogant and not valuing the girls’ efforts.  I was angry at Kate’s awful abusive preacher father for what he put her through.  I was angry at what happened to Vera after an accident at the factory.  And I wanted to continue watching to see if anything would happen to make my anger subside.

As I watched the next few, complications and relationships between the characters furthered as secrets, passions, and lies were concealed and revealed.  The relationship between Gladys and James does not start out honest, as they both have things which they keep from each other which may threaten their lives together if discovered.  Kate remains fearful of her father finding her, and Betty struggles with her feelings of affection.  Lorna is suspicious of an Italian worker in the factory who she doesn’t think should be there, and then deals with the passion that develops that she is not getting from her husband.

In the commercial for the season finale, they said something like “prepare to be shocked”, as they often do when leading up to the end of a season.  The final episode did have a few surprises and things that I wasn’t expecting to happen.  I thought it was really well done.  I suppose it made sense to make this a mini series, just to try it out.  But 6 episodes is not enough to resolve issues that have only just begun, and it has been renewed for a second season.  I love it when Canadian shows do well.  I look forward to watching this and I’m glad the series succeeded and didn’t bomb.

Bomb Girls

Happy Endings

This show is in its second season.  I never watched the first season.  For some reason it just didn’t really seem like something I’d want to watch.  But at the time I didn’t really know what it was.  I’d see random commercials and scenes and just brush it off as another random show.  But then it would follow shows like Cougar Town and Modern Family, shows that I had pvred, and so at the end of watching those, I would always catch the first few minutes of Happy Endings.  And those first few minutes made me decide to give it a chance.

I’ve been watching this season and I actually really like it.  It focuses on a group of six friends, two of whom were engaged, but then she left him at the altar.  But they stayed friends.  Normally I hate that story line because I think it’s just been so overdone.  Why wait to leave someone at the altar?  You obviously knew at some point before then that this wasn’t what you wanted.  Fortunately, since I didn’t watch the first season, I missed that first episode.  I didn’t even know about the previous engagement leaving at the altar part when I first starting watching it.  Which is probably a good thing.

Six friends who are really close, two are siblings, one couple is married, one used to be a couple and there is still lingering tension, and the remaining two have their own love escapades with people who aren’t part of the group.  Sound familiar?  In today’s episode, Brad gets high from too many drugs at the dentist, and in his doped up state, points to his friends calling them Ross, Rachel, Phoebe, Monica, and Joey.  I love that they acknowledged the comparisons between the characters and even pointed it out.

Brad

Brad is played by Damon Wayans Jr., who was my favourite character on New Girl, in that one episode he happened to be in.  Happy Endings having a second season is the reason he couldn’t be on New Girl, which I was initially upset about, but I love that this show is continuing and I think he’s better on Happy Endings than he would have been on New Girl anyway.  He would be the “Chandler” of the group, I guess because of his jokes and personality, and also because he’s married to the “Monica” of the group.

Jane

Jane is Brad’s wife, played by Eliza Coupe, who I also love.  She was one of the few new additions to the last seasons of Scrubs who actually fit with the show.  She is definitely the “Monica” of the group, because she is very anal and a control freak.  Her uptight personality can be overbearing and annoying, but it suits her and she makes it funny.

Alex

Elisha Cuthbert plays Jane’s younger sister Alex, who leaves her fiance at the altar.  I grew up watching her on Popular Mechanics for Kids.  You may also remember her from The Girl Next Door.  She is the “Rachel” of the group, because she leaves a man at the altar.  She is sort of dumb at times and doesn’t always understand jokes.  My favourite thing about her character is when there are scenes in which she loves food, like when she gets drunk and eats ribs, or orders like three different plates when they go out for breakfast.

Dave

Zachary Knighton plays Alex’s ex-fiance Dave.  To be honest, I initially thought this guy had a really weird face.  I don’t know what it is, but something about it just wasn’t working for me.  But I got over it.  Dave owns a food truck and is moving on with his life after being left at the altar, but remains good friends with Alex.  He is the “Ross” of the group, since he dated the “Rachel” and because he’s the most depressed character of the guys.

Max

Adam Pally plays Max, Dave’s friend and roommate.  In today’s episode, Brad calls him “fat Joey”.  He’s the “Joey” of the group because he’s kind of dumb and quirky in his own way.  But unlike Joey, he’s gay.  When I first started watching this show, I found him super annoying and thought “How can the gay guy be my least favourite character on a show?  That never happens”.  But I have since changed my mind.  His character is arrogant and whiny at times but that’s just who he is.

Penny

Penny is played by Casey Wilson.  She was Max’s last girlfriend before he came out.  Yeah, there’s all sorts of love complications within the group.  But they make it work.  She is the “Phoebe” of the group because she’s fun and quirky and always an optimist.  She has her own love problems, as she gets a lot of dates, but can never seem to find the right guy for her.  In real life, I would find someone like her incredibly annoying, but on the show, I love her.

So am I saying it’s the new Friends?  No, not at all.  There are many similarities but it’s still unique in its own way.  The random story lines and the relationships and friendships within the group are just really entertaining and I enjoy watching it.  I just wonder if Dave and Alex will get together again at some point and how much of a “Ross and Rachel” type thing this really is.

I hope there's a third season

Smash

I was so sick and tired of seeing the commercials for this show.  It was always the same one every time and it made the show look boring.  It made me not even want to watch it.  But I decided to give it a chance.  But I wasn’t sure what to expect.  I don’t really care for musicals.  Which begs the question why do I watch Glee?  I don’t have an answer for that.

It’s nice to see that Katherine McPhee is doing well.  I think season 5 of American Idol was one of the last ones I watched.  It’s surprising I watched for that long.  But she’s an amazing singer and it’s great that she’s getting work.  I love it when the contestants who didn’t win American Idol do far better than the winners could even hope for.  I mean what the hell is Taylor Hicks doing nowadays?  I know, you’re thinking Taylor who?

I like Debra Messing but I was confused when I saw that this show starred her.  I was like, wait isn’t this a show about singing?  And then I realized that there’s actually a story line and everything too.  My my said that she would watch it if it didn’t have Debra Messing in it.  She’s not her biggest fan.  Although we used to watch Will & Grace together all the time.  But I guess that was more for Karen and Jack than it was for Will and Grace.  But we also watched The Wedding Date together (when it was on TV), which was a terrible movie that I loved.

When I saw Anjelica Huston in this, I just kept thinking of The Addams Family.  She still kind of has that Morticia Addams look about her.  But I guess that’s just her face.

When the show started Katherine McPhee was singing Somewhere Over the Rainbow and I thought really?  I was prepared for something boring or not to my taste.  I don’t know why, that song’s just not my favourite.  But I was delighted that her performance was cut short, as it was her auditioning for a part where she was interrupted when one of the panellist’s cell phones rings.  I thought there would be excessive singing in this show, but I think it had just the right amount, so that even someone who hates musicals can enjoy it.

Smash focuses on the making of a musical about Marilyn Monroe and the people who are involved in its creation.  Debra Messing’s character is supposed to be taking a break from writing and musicals for the year so that she and her husband can focus on adopting a baby.  But then this Marilyn idea comes up and she can’t say no.  I don’t see the whole adoption thing happening.  They already have a son.  I think the musical will be her new baby.  Which will no doubt create further tension with her and her husband.  I don’t know if things will work out for them.  She seems to spend more time with her gay song writing partner anyway, which makes me reminisce about Will & Grace, where Will was always by her side, throughout her various relationships.

Katherine McPhee’s character is a waitress who is trying to live out her dreams in the big city.  Her parents want her to be more realistic with her goals and try to convince her to be practical about her decisions, while her boyfriend is the exact opposite, overly supportive and believes in her almost to the point where it’s sickening.  She auditions for the role of Marilyn and the director finds it refreshing that she’s the only one who doesn’t dress the part.

She gets a call back, but so does Megan Hilty‘s character, who seems to fit the part perfectly, with her blonde hair, voluptuousness, and amazing voice.  I feel like Katherine McPhee isn’t curvy enough to play Marilyn.  It seems the next few episodes will involve heated competition for the role, as it comes down to the two of them to play the part.  I feel like we’re meant to sympathize with and root for Katherine McPhee’s character, but I like Megan Hilty’s character too.

In case you were wondering, I did like the show.  It has a lot of promise.  And I have to continue watching, because I need to see who gets to play the role of Marilyn.  And how many episodes it will take before they make that decision.  I wouldn’t be surprised if they drag that out for as long as possible.

I was wrong about Work It

About a month ago, the new sitcom Work It premiered on ABC.  It was supposed to replace Man Up, which had been cancelled.  Work It was about two guys who are so desperate for jobs, that they apply to a pharmaceutical company that only hires women.  This results in them having to dress and pose as women in this job and hilarity ensues.  Or is supposed to anyway.

I have seen every episode.  My mom and I guessed that the show would only last for 3 episodes because it was such a terrible concept.  But we were wrong.  It did not last for 3 episodes.  It only lasted 2.  And yes, I saw all 2 of them.  Even though I had extremely low expectations for it, my expectations were apparently still not low enough.  The second episode was slightly better than the first, but that really wasn’t saying much at all.  I’m glad they put an end to it before airing a third one.  Because I probably would have watched it.  Dodged a bullet there.

I think it was pretty much the epitome of bad TV.  One of those shows where you laugh only because you’re baffled by how dumb it is.  There’s a lot of crap on television these days, but I’d like to think we’ve moved passed the point of thinking a man talking in a high-pitched voice and over exaggerating so-called feminine qualities is entertaining.  It seems my thinking was right, since everyone else hated it too.  I enjoy bad TV as much as the next person, but you have to draw the line somewhere.

Random and unnewsworthy

Why is cross dressing funny?  Particularly men dressing up as women?  Is it funny?  It’s long been popular in movies.  Some Like it Hot, Tootsie, Mrs. Doubtfire, and Big Momma’s House to name a few.  It’s also been popular, to a lesser extent in TV shows.  Ones that come to mind in particular are Drew’s brother in the Drew Carey show, and a particular episode of Twice in a Lifetime, where a man came back as a woman in order to help his former self (it was less complicated than it sounds).  But these shows just had certain episodes.  What about an entire TV series that revolves around this very concept?

Most people know that Tom Hanks got his big break in the movie Splash.  But did you know that prior to this role, he starred in a TV show called Bosom Buddies in 1980?  I came to this knowledge…

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Random and unnewsworthy

Yeah, that was as much of that movie as I’ve seen.  And it was enough.  I was at my friend’s place the other day and we were trying to pick a movie to watch from a somewhat crappy selection that was available to us.  We hadn’t seen Due Date so we thought alright, let’s give that a try.  We like Robert Downey Jr. and Zack Galifianakis was good in The Hangover, so how bad could it be?

Bad enough that we opted for a different movie after 15 minutes.  Okay, maybe bad isn’t the right word.  But we just didn’t feel like watching anymore of it at that point in time.  The thing is Zack Galifianakis’ character was just so annoying.  I mean I guess he was annoying in The Hangover as well, but not to this extent maybe?  I don’t know, The Hangover was a good movie.  His character…

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