Sweet, Succulent Fall TV (Part the 1st)

We’re digging into the fall TV season with both hands. So many excellent returning shows! So many new possibilities! Sadly, due to conflicting work schedules, we haven’t been able to tackle as much as we’d like. The TiVo is getting quite full. But here’s what I’ve been able to watch so far:

Survivor: Looks good so far, though we’ve only watched one episode. I don’t know about Ozzy returning, since he wasn’t one of my favorites. Apparently the rest of the viewers disagree; they love him to pieces. Also, I wish Russell’s nephew had made up a “Hantz is a common last name” lie about his tattoos, instead of always wearing his shirt. Because I’d be totally suspicious of his weird cover-up obsession, but I’d likely buy a not-related-to-Russell lie.

America’s Next Top Model: It’s all-stars, although a few of them I don’t really remember. Also, some of them are over 30. And appear to have worse skin than I. Still, they put a boatload of drama queens in the same house, so it’s kind of a hoot. If only they wouldn’t use their stupid shorthand names for things. (Ty-overs instead of makeovers, guys!)

Archer: Only 3 episodes, and we’re already down 2. Then we’ll have to wait until 2012 for the rest. And the show remains the best animated thing (and one of the few half-hours I watch) on TV. Sick, twisted, and hilarious.

Castle: The first episode back got weepy and moody and maudlin, but with last night’s episode we’re back into much of the fun dynamic that I love. Hopefully they’ll shelve the Beckett’s mom storyline for a half-season or so, and let us wallow in the witty banter and flirting.

The Biggest Loser: Oh, how I wish they would shorten the episodes. But an interesting cast so far (although I’m ho-hum about the new trainers). And they totally got rid of the right person in the first elimination. Second episode is on tonight, so it’s not too late to dig in.

New Girl: (Apparently it’s not THE New Girl, at least according to TiVo.) An interesting premise, and good chemistry between the cast so far. I’m just weirdly put out by the fact that the geeky, awkward girl is also gorgeous. You’d think she wouldn’t have that perfectly coiffed hair, for instance. It just doesn’t quite seem to jibe with every other geeky, awkward girl I’ve ever been or known. At any rate, it’s only a half-hour, so it’s like a Jell-O show.

X Factor: I’m only picking up one of these a week, because whenever else it’s on, it’s behind two other programs on the priority list. So far, it’s like American Idol — easy to fast-forward through, with a few snippets of good. Also, I’ve learned that I don’t care for singing groups. Hmm.

Prime Suspect: I wish I’d see the original. In this, an over-the-top stereotype of a hard-nosed bitch battles against some over-the-top stereotype boys-club chauvinists in their police workplace. I mean, really — it’s as realistic as the constant assaults that happen for laughs in Glee. Most of those guys would have been taken to HR way before it got as bad as they portray. Still, I’ll give it a try and hope they soften everyone up just a little. Also, I kept looking at the chief and thinking, That guy’s like an older, bloated Aidan Quinn-type. It would appear that Aidan Quinn has REALLY let himself go.

Unforgettable: Wasn’t on my to-try list, but I dropped Ringer at the last minute because I heard it was terrible. And I’m glad I added this season pass — another police procedural, but with an interesting twist and a much more likeable cast than Prime Suspect. Definitely worth continuing.

Fringe: OH, how I’ve missed you! Welcome home, weirdness. Can’t wait to see where they go with Peter (or as Scott called him, Tyler Durden) and with new agent Lincoln Lee. Whatever they do, wherever they go, I’m on board for the ride.

The Amazing Race: Another welcome old friend. I’m glad they got the Emmy back; this truly is one of the best reality shows on TV. I had to remember to set it to record an additional hour afterward; here on the east coast, sometimes the football games go long beforehand.

We still have a number of items waiting on the TiVo: the return of Body of Proof, as well as the first episodes of Person of Interest, Pan-Am, and Terra Nova.

Also coming up in October: House returns! As does Bravo’s quirky Work of Art. New to Bravo is Mad Fashion, featuring former Project Runway contestant (and all-around fascinating person) Chris March. We’re also going to try out Around the World in 80 Ways, co-hosted by Boston Rob Mariano. And later in the month, the fairy tale/fantasy doubleheader of Grimm and Once Upon a Time.

Fall 2011 TV!

I was recently reminded that the fall TV shows are a-comin’ soon. (Thanks, Christian!) Summer is all well and good with tasty morsels like Warehouse 13 and Project Runway, but in a few weeks the TiVo is going to be much, much more full. So here’s what I’ll be watching (and not watching).

Monday

House – Yeah, it’s totally formulaic. Ill person, four or five misdiagnoses, sudden epiphany, resolution. I’m still not sick of the formula, and it’s probably because Hugh Laurie is just so damned good. This season, Lisa Edelstein is on the way out, and a couple of new faces (including Odette Annable from the charming Breaking In, which we’ll totally be watching when it returns midseason) are joining the crew. (October 3)

Castle – If you don’t find Nathan Fillion charming, there may be something wrong with you. I’d advise seeing a doctor for that. Last season ended with a great cliffhanger — I know Beckett isn’t going to die, but I get to puzzle and wonder about how things will fall out with an injury, a new boss, and certain confessions. Wheeee! (September 19)

Terra Nova – Okay, so because the world is trashed, some colonists go 85 million years back in time to settle on prehistoric Earth. With dinosaurs and stuff. Say no more, sign me up. I’m just hoping I can suspend my disbelief regarding the time-travel paradox, because we haven’t found any 85-million-year-old human skeletons alongside the dinosaurs. I also hope it’s not too super-serious like Falling Skies was. (September 26)

Tuesday

The Biggest Loser – I’m not ashamed of my love for reality. Even though we only started watching this show in its 7th season, we’ve watched them all since. It’ll be weird without Jillian getting all up in the contestants’ heads. I usually disagree strongly with the nutritional aspects, but overall it’s compelling reality TV. I also wish the episodes were only an hour, but what can you do. (September 20)

Ringer – I just don’t know about this one, so I’ll give it a shot. I didn’t watch Buffy, so for me, Sarah Michelle Gellar is still Erika Kane’s daugher on All My Children. The concept is interesting, and the divinely-eyelashed Nestor Carbonell co-stars. (September 13)

New Girl – I’m so torn on this. It’s a half-hour sitcom, which I rarely watch. And I’m not all that big on Zooey Deschanel (not her fault — she was just so miscast in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy). But the promos intrigue me, so I’ll tuck it in on the side. It’ll be like TV Jell-O. (September 20)

Body of Proof – I actually didn’t expect this show to get picked up. I guess it did better than we thought. Dana Delaney’s character got a little more human throughout the first short season, which was good — she was pretty unlikeable at the start. We’ll keep it recording, but it’s probably not going to be at the top of the to-watch list. (September 20)

Wednesday

Survivor – I don’t think I’ve missed an episode of this show. Like, ever. Call it a guilty pleasure if you will. They’re continuing with last season’s trends: Redemption Island, and two returning players. Also, Russell Hantz’s nephew is playing. Will he keep that under his hipster hat? (September 14)

The X Factor – What do you think — will it suck? Will it rock? I love the idea of allowing contestants over 28. And it looks like the judges will do some mentoring (like The Voice) instead of just offering meaningless nattering (like American Idol). I’ve also missed Simon’s acid tongue. (September 21)

America’s Next Top Model – I completely missed last season, because the show was on at the same time as two other programs. But this season (or “cycle”) is all-stars, and so must not be missed. The prizes have been tweaked, and now include the potential to become a correspondent for Extra. Which is smart, because some of these chicks are 30 years old by now. (September 14)

Thursday

Grey’s Anatomy – I think I’m really watching this show out of habit by this point. They’ve jumped so many sharks, it could be a SeaWorld show. The music is always good, though. And I always enjoy McSteamy. (September 22)

Prime Suspect – Never saw the original BBC show, but I’ve heard that it’s kick-ass. How can it not be, with Helen Mirren. I’ve heard good things about the US version, which is a surprising change from how things usually go when we transport shows in from across the pond. (September 22)

Person of Interest – A show from Bad Robot starring Michael Emerson. That’s all I need to know to rush to the TiVo. Sounds like kind of a Minority Report-esque predictive crime drama. Oh, and apparently the pilot tested so well, CBS bounced CSI from the time slot it held for 10 years to make room. (September 22)

Archer – If you’re not watching this show, DO IT. NOW. The best animated show on TV, and one of the few half-hours I watch. It’s the perfect mix of brilliant, funny, and shocking. Three episodes will air in September, with the rest of the season following in 2012. (September 15)

Friday

Fringe – An awesome show where awesome stuff happens. Last season ended with a doozy of a cliffhanger, and I have NO IDEA how things are going to play out. But I can’t wait to see. (September 23)

Grimm – A cop drama that takes place in an alternate universe where Grimm’s-inspired characters exist. Extra bonus: Pacific Northwest location. My hopes are X-Files meets Eureka. My guess is, by the time this starts airing, we’ll have a spot cleared out for it due to a September show not catching our interest. (October 21)

Saturday

Um … yeah. Nothing. Which is usually the case. Looks like the networks are airing mostly football and repeats.

Sunday

Once Upon a Time – Somewhere in Maine, there’s apparently a town that’s a crossover point between the real world and the fairy tale world. Disney has given their blessing to use their versions of the classic fairy tale characters, and Damon Lindelof is a producer. So this could be great. It could also be a big horrible mixup of weird. (October 23)

The Amazing Race – We’re up to season 19 already?! That’s incredible. This is the best reality show on TV, and I’m nowhere near tired of it yet. Contestants this time around include former Survivor winners Ethan and Jenna, who are dating in real life. So maybe this season there will be at least one “dating couple” who I can stand. (September 25)

Pan Am – No, I haven’t seen Mad Men. So this would be my first ’60s period drama. We’ll see how long it lasts on our recording schedule — reviews so far have been very mixed. (September 25)

Not Watching

Dancing with the Stars – this show has been going downhill for me for the last few seasons, and this time I just don’t have the gumption to watch it. There’s really nobody I’m interested in watching, although if I had to throw my support behind anyone, it’d be either Carson Kressley or Chaz Bono. At least it’ll save 3 hours of TiVo space every week. (September 19)

Charlie’s Angels – I’m sure this will be a perfectly fine reboot. But the producers have gone on the record saying they refuse to do anything “campy or retro”. Where’s the fun in that? Seems like this was MADE for camp. (September 22)

Revenge – A woman moves to the Hamptons and gets … REVENGE! This looks way too serious for me. And a bit too much of the fancy-schmancy rich and famous beautiful people. (September 21)

The Playboy Club – Unlike several “family” organizations, I don’t have a problem with the content. It just doesn’t look that interesting to me. I’ll stick with Pan Am as my period-drama attempt. (September 19)

Unforgettable – A former cop with a medical condition that makes her remember everything joins her ex-boyfriend’s homicide unit to solve crimes. I have a couple of other crimey cop shows, and this sounds like it’s going to be seriously heavy. (September 20)

The Secret Circle – Teenage girl goes to small-town Washington, discovers mysterious magical heritage. Yes, it’s witches instead of vampires, but it still seems a little too Twilight for me. (September 15)

Hart of Dixie – A New York doctor moves to small-town Alabama to work. And her last name is Hart! Nothing about this one speaks to me. (September 26)

H8R – I hadn’t even heard of this show until I looked at the fall schedule. Apparently celebrities get to confront mundanes who “hate” them, to try and convince the haters that the celebrites really aren’t all that bad. This sounds like the worst possible kind of reality show. (September 14)

A Gifted Man – Self-absorbed surgeon becomes a better man when visited by his dead wife’s ghost. Never heard of this one either. Looks heavier than dark matter. (September 23)

Thoughts? Opinions? What will you be watching? What will you definitely NOT be watching?

Summer TV 2011

Ah, summer — a time when TV used to suck eggs, because all of the shows were on hiatus. Thank goodness that’s no longer the case, since the TV bigwigs realized that people like to watch their tellies year-round! Of the many shows being offered this summer, here’s what we’re checking out:

So You Think You Can Dance (FOX): We can tackle each 2-hour performance show in around 20 minutes, by only watching the dancing and fast-forwarding through everything the judges say. I do the same thing with American Idol. So while I have no idea who’s on Mary Murphy’s hot tamale train, I have my favorites. We’re rooting for Melanie (who, due to her vague Bioshocky look, we’ve nicknamed “the splicer”). We also like Jordan (codename: “Orion slave girl”) and Jess (“that broadway kid”, which is our worst nickname ever).

Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition (ABC): It’s like a whole season of The Biggest Loser every episode! Plus, this Chris guy seems much more likeable than Jillian Michaels. It’s nice to see the Extreme Makeover franchise lean back toward its roots, when it was a show about everyday people getting ten plastic surgery procedures. They’ve kept a bit of the heartwarmingness of the home edition, but not so much that it gets sugary.

Platinum Hit (BRAVO): In the same vein as Top Chef and Top Design and Work of Art, in this show you have singer/songwriters battling it out every week to craft a hit. It’s trainwrecky for the most part — contestants have a half-hour to write a hook, then get a day or two to write the rest of the song (which frequently appears to be a single verse to go with the hook). And many of those songs aren’t as good as songs I’ve seen improvised on the spot. But there are some really good drama llamas in the contestant pool, and it’s always fun to hate on the wooden performances of head judge Kara DioGuardi.

Wilfred (FX): After a failed suicide attempt, Elijah Wood sees his neighbor’s dog as a crude Australian guy in a cheap dog suit. A fascinating concept, and after 2 episodes we’re still sticking with it. My only issue is it’s too heavy on the pot use for me.

Falling Skies (TNT): We tried. Honestly we did. But we stopped the pilot after the first hour. The show is utterly humorless, and I just can’t picture Noah Wyle as any kind of tough guy. I understand wanting to be a big serious show, but you need little moments of levity now and then. They need to take a lesson from The Walking Dead — even just a line here and there can break up the solid wall of serious.

Warehouse 13 (SyFy): It’s back in three days, and I can’t wait! This show is just the right mix of fun, corn, cheese, cheap special effects, steampunk, buddy cops, mystery, and history retcon.

Jon Benjamin Has a Van (Comedy Central): This show may be even weirder than Wilfred on the weird scale. Everything is an exercise in the completely unexpected. Even if you can guess where they’re headed with a joke, they put a twist on it that leaves you wondering, what kind of crazy nutso freaks wrote this? Plus, Scott has put Jon Benjamin on his list of potential Scotts for his pie-in-the-sky imaginary casting of a Basic Instructions sitcom.

Masterchef (FOX) / Food Network Star (Food): The summer cooking shows are all about winnowing down a crowd of hopefuls until we get one champion to rule them all. But what I don’t get is this: if the grand prize is either a studio cooking show or a meaningless title and a cookbook, then what on earth sense does it make to have the contestants cater meals for 200 guests in a panic-inducingly-short amount of time? I wish Masterchef would concentrate more on the actual cooking of single delicious dishes, and skip the alternate episodes where the contestants have to team up and cater large events. Likewise, FNS contestants should spend more time in performance classes and less time making huge batches of food for the fickle masses.

Alphas (SyFy): This show starts on Monday the 11th. When I first saw a preview, I was all, another Heroes, no thanks. But then I saw a later preview, in which it appears that these everyday people who discover they have superpowers … also fight crime! And solve cases! With their superpowers! So I’ll give it a chance.

Battlestar Galactica (BBCA): Okay, so this show originally aired years ago. Thing is, I didn’t see the episodes in order then. Scott watched from the beginning, but I didn’t start watching until the very end of season 2. So all of the episodes from seasons 1 and 2, I saw in scattered order afterward. Right now, BBC America is running the episodes in order from the beginning, and it’s fascinating to see the show as it was meant (although I know who all the cylons are already, but that’s still a kind of cool I-know-a-secret feeling while watching). It’s so weird for me to see episodes 1 (“33”) and 2 (“Water”) after the miniseries, since for me those stories happened way further into the show. This Sunday they’re showing episodes 5 thorugh 8, if you want to get in near the ground floor. As for why it’s on BBC America? Apparently it’s all because of Jamie Bamber.

Outcasts (BBCA): Speaking of Bamber, we’ve set episode 4 of this show to record. Missed one through three, but hopefully there’ll be enough “previously on” backstory to get us set. The entire series is only 8 episodes, since it got cancelled fairly quick. Let’s hope this coming fall’s Terra Nova (which I’m totally watching) does better in the ratings, since it has a sort of similar colonists-in-a-dangerous-land theme.

Breaking News: More TV Junk Merchants

I get the TV Guide RSS feed, so there are always little breaking news tidbits about new shows. Today there’s a post about The Great Big American Auction, which will be hosted by Ty Pennington (who looks more and more like a troll doll every time I see him).

This is a great example of how small cable shows start a trend, and then seasons later, the big networks pick up the concepts. Because auctions and memorabilia shows have been showing up all over the cable channels. Oh, I’ll totally check out this Ty Pennington one (that hopefully, Ty Pennington won’t ruin for me), but I totally dig quite a few of the other shows about junk merchants. At least with their ginormous title, this new ABC show won’t be as easily confused with some of the others.

Here’s what we watch:

American Pickers (History): Frank and Mike scour the country, looking for people with eight barns full of collected junk on their property. They buy various things (that always seem to include oil cans, bicycles, motorcycle parts, and giant old tin signs) and turn them around for resale at their store, Antique Archaeology. The show is a full hour, but there’s a lot of filler that can be fast-forwarded through — mainly the stilted phone conversations with Danielle back at the shop, and anytime Mike talks to the camera with a discomforting sales-huckster tone.

An episode of American Pickers showed some of these folk art paintings of skeletons over the top of old portraits, but they didn’t talk about them at all. The guys were more interested in their tin signs and bike parts. I wish I knew who this mysterious “BA” is, so I could acquire some of these.

Auction Hunters (Spike): Allen and Ton buy up auctioned-off storage units, then find all sorts of magnificent collectibles inside. They actually did a really nice special episode all about how they gauge how much they’ll bid on a unit, and what they’re looking for. It’s a tight half-hour show, and they almost always come up with some really cool stuff. My biggest issue is that Allen is 30 years too young to be tucking his t-shirts into his jeans the way he does. But both guys are decent, and this is the only junk show in which I don’t dislike anyone.

Auction Kings (Discovery): The day-to-day workings of a real auction house, Gallery 63. People bring in their junk, professionals are brought around to appraise, and then we see the auctions. Most of the team seems tolerable, except for the office manager — her “funny” antics are the most cringe-inducing part of the show.

Storage Wars (A&E): This was the first of the junk shows we tried. It follows a set group of storage-unit auction buyers, and the stuff they find. The buyers all have different angles (the collector, the thrift store owners, the consignment dealer) and are all looking for different things, but frequently enjoy screwing each other over in the auctions. A couple of the buyers we dislike all the time, and a couple of them we just dislike some of the time. But I still like seeing some of the cool collectibles get appraised, and it’s always nice when a character you don’t like gets stiffed on something.

We tried watching an episode of Oddities, but it didn’t capture us — the pace was too slow. We still catch the classic Antiques Roadshow now and again, but that’s pretty slow-moving too. Though you can always count on Roadshow to show you something ghastly hideous, then appraising it at $10,000.

Anyone have any other collectibles shows to recommend? Since I don’t want to live in a thrift store inside a Russian submarine, I’d like to live vicariously through other people’s junk collections.

Gary Taubes on Dr. Oz

I recorded the Dr. Oz show for the first time ever the other day, because science journalist Gary Taubes was a guest. And despite the tittilating episode title “The Man Who Thinks Everything Dr. Oz Says Is Wrong”, I hoped there would at least be a fair and free exchange of ideas and information.

What a fool I was!

To be fair, Oz did say a couple of things that weren’t moronic. One was that he respects Taubes’ opinions, even though his own differ. The other was that he approves of the fact that Taubes is challenging conventional wisdom, since that causes doctors, researchers, and scientists to take a good, hard look and double-check all of the information they’re handing out.

Not that Oz double-checked anything, or decided to revise what he’s telling people.

Things I learned from Oz:

► You should cut out added sugar, but you should then eat lots of fruit (sugar) and “healthy whole grains” (sugar).

► After living on sugar all day every day, when you don’t eat sugar for a day, you feel grumpy.

► If you’d normally eat a slab of salmon, green veggies, a salad, and some brown rice, that meal just doesn’t translate to Taubes’ vision. Why just lose the brown rice, when you can replace it all with a huge steak?

► Oz is used to eating five or six times a day. Not a surprise, since his diet of sugars would require frequent replenishment due to blood-sugar spikes and valleys.

► Oz has no problem turning to his guest, basically telling them to shut up, and then monologuing at them nonstop. When the guest might potentially bring up a salient point, it’s time to shout them down.

► The rest of the show consisted of … game shows? I never thought I’d say this, but I have more respect for the integrity of The Doctors.

Yeah, I don’t think I’ll be watching Oz’s show ever again. I don’t understand what anyone sees in him — listening to his voice is like nails on a chalkboard (I compared it to a Jerry Lewis character), and he has a permanently smug expression on his face. I was surprised to see him eat meat in his “eat Taubes’ diet for 24 hours” joke of a segment, because looking at him, I would have guessed that he’s a vegetarian — he has the same scrawny, veiny look I’ve seen a lot.

Overall, I learned that those who blindly cling to conventional wisdom aren’t going to let go anytime soon. Despite the recent wave of articles, studies, and research supporting a low-carb, high-fat diet, it’s hard as hell to battle 50 years of misinformation and lies.

Photodump: Ducks, Apostrophes, Fingerlessness!

First off, WordPress 3.1 is out. Its name is Reinhardt. If you’re a WordPresser, get some!

Secondly, The American Idol top 24 performances start tomorrow. In years past, over on LiveJournal, I used to run contests guessing who’d be eliminated every week. Is anyone out there interested in participating this year? Looks like there are some real good’uns, and some fantastic crapburgers this season.

Thirdly, as I’m previewing this post on my site, there’s an ad over to the side —> for a lawyer who looks like he wants to eat my face off. He’s staring me down with his crazy eyes. Sorry, Florida readers.

Now, to the photos. They are many.

Down below our apartment, there’s a pond and a nice stretch of grass. This trio of ducks has been waddling around a lot lately, but this was the first time our more chattery cat has been out on the deck to see them. It’s weird — normally Commie is the much bolder, braver cat. But with this new apartment with a deck, Trouble comes out to lounge around, while Commie sits just inside the door.

Like so.

Don’t mind the flip-flop; it’s my high-tech doorstop.

Oooh, I think I just came up with some rap lyrics.

It’s not a home, for me, until I have some edible things growing. Unfortunately, the deck faces north, so it doesn’t get any sun. But the kitchen window gets some nice afternoon sun. Hopefully it’s enough for these plants — our last place had windows that faced roughly west-ish, and I was able to grow some herbs there. This time I went with basil (I almost always grow basil, it’s my favorite fresh herb) as well as sweet banana peppers and a strawberry plant. I’ve never tried strawberries indoors before, so we’ll see how they do.

And now, sightings out and about in the big, bad world. Scott and I were both startled by the store name “Fairvilla’s Sexy Things”. I also noticed a Fairvalla Road the other day, although it was probably 10 miles away from this store. Which isn’t quite the same name, but it was an odd coincidence. Anyhoo, it’s just a weird sounding combo — to me, “Fairvilla” sounds like a town near the little house on the prairie. Which doesn’t make me think of any kind of sexy things.

Also, I totally want to get some sexy things, then a crazy costume, then finish it off in the middle ground with a light bulb. I think with all three of those, I could put together a heck of a package.

Saw this one at the mall the other day. This is Pottery Barn, where someone named All Hanging Canopy can be bought for 79 bucks. I guess if they’re all-hanging, they might be worth that much.

This is the back of a big truck with a big … crushing thingy. Seriously, it was a truck, then this thingy, then a flatbed. I don’t know what the thingy does, but apparently there are hidden gears that have at least two distinct methods with which they can crush your fingers clean off.

The mere thought of fingerlessness makes Spidey really, really sad.

Million Dollar Money Drop

I’ll always give a new game show a chance. When Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? started, I watched Regis every single night. When Deal or No Deal did its week-long premiere, I didn’t miss a show. So this last week, the overly-literally-named Million Dollar Money Drop aired for four days in a row, and we watched them all.

The first night was the only one we watched in real-time. We discovered pretty fast that this is a show that needs to be watched from a recording, so you can fast-forward. Like so many game shows, this one could easily fit into a half-hour instead of an hour; it’s padded with long, lingering drama shots and endless bickering.

I think it’s the bickering I hate the most. The contestants have been, so far, male-female couples who are either married or dating/engaged. (And if there’s anything I’ve learned from watching every episode ever of The Amazing Race, dating/engaged couples who go on reality TV shows are irritating asshats who I want to junkpunch.) I’m pretty sure they’re encouraged by producers to talk out all of their answers, and question each other’s certainty. But what that turns into is:

Her: Are you SURE?
Him: I’m 100% sure.
Her: But … like, a million dollars sure?
Him: Yes! I’m totally, 100% sure of this answer.
Her: NO. WAIT. WAIT. I just … are you SURE SURE?

Like I said, junkpunch.

Cutting out the drama pauses, the bulk of the bickering, and most of the other filler, we’re able to get through an hour-long episode in about 15 minutes.

The good thing, I guess, about hating the contestants and their shrill screeching, is that over half of the first-week players didn’t win a single thing. They lost all of their money, and THAT was satisfying.

But the most awful thing about this show is that they’ve already had a major screw-up. Looks like their research wasn’t thorough enough, and they said a right answer was wrong, causing a couple to lose $800,000 on the fifth question (out of seven). Granted, the couple lost all their money on the last question anyway, but the show is still inviting them back to play again.

I may watch. I may not. If I do, I’ll have my junkgloves on.

Photodump: The Cinema, Floors, TV Guide

Continuing to catch up, here’s a photodump.

We went to see Harry Potter 7.1 in the theater. I dislike the cinema experience, mainly due to the other people involved. Does nobody respect the call for quiet anymore? Stop with the texting, and talking, and crinkling, and asking, “Who’s that now?”

This was the bathroom at our local Regal. It was like peeing in space.

As for HP7.1, it wasn’t that great for me. I should have realized how much of it was sullen camping. They may as well have filmed the thing in black and white, what with all the washed-out filtering. Plus, how many times can you start a shot looking at the ground, then pan up to where something magical has just happened? Apparently, MANY times. Which certainly saves on the special effects budget. Here’s hoping 7.2 is more action-packed, and less dreary.

Not a photo, but a screencap from TV Guide’s site. Instead of subscribing to TV Guide, I just get the RSS feed. It’s actually MORE news than I got from the magazine, hooray.

The Good Guys appears to be ending for good, since it’s been huddled in FOX’s Friday Night Slot of Death since it came back (that same slot Fringe is headed for come January). But if you’re a TV writer, and you’re writing about a show that you like and are going to miss, please don’t refer to the character Dan Stark as “Don Stack”. That’s right up there with people who are telling you about their “favorite” actor or movie, then mangle the name. Which happens all the time.

Speaking of TV, eagle-eyed viewers/readers let Scott know that Adam Savage wore his Infini-tee on Mythbusters again. Thanks for this, BI readers! It tickles Scott greatly every time.

We visited Downtown Disney recently, and I fell in love with this carpet at the year-round Christmas store. If I have to have carpet (I’m not a fan), then why can’t it be cool carpet like this?!

The Fall 2010 TV Season

Every network is smothering us with ads for the new fall season, so I went to the ol’ TV Guide site to map out what we’ll be recording.

Boy, I guess scheduling the TiVo won’t be as hard as I thought it would be. What with Lost done, and must-sees like American Idol not showing up until mid-season, there aren’t really any bottlenecks. I only have two brand-new shows on my list, and I don’t necessarily expect them to stay on the list for long. Here’s what we’ll be watching this fall:

Monday
8:00 House (FOX)
10:00 Castle (ABC)

I guess I could record Dancing with the Stars in its two-hour block from 8-10, but there isn’t a single celebrity who interests me this season. I know NBC is desperate for us sci-fi fans to check out The Event, but it doesn’t look interesting either. Maybe, just maybe, we’ll check out the Hawaii Five-0 reboot in the 10pm hour.

Tuesday
8:00 No Ordinary Family (ABC)
8:00 Glee (FOX)
8:00 The Biggest Loser (NBC) (via Hulu the following week)

Here’s the one spot of the week where three shows are on at the same time. But if No Ordinary Family turns out to be a steamer, the problem is solved. Last year, because of Lost, we watched The Biggest Loser via Hulu. They have a one-week delay on the episodes, but nobody spoiled me, and the season rolled on just fine. Not to mention our antenna isn’t that reliable with NBC, so we’d be using Hulu most of the time anyway. In other news, I’m still not sure why I watch Glee. I’ve figured out that I don’t like Matthew Morrison at all, but … I guess the music is usually interesting.

Wednesday
8:00 Survivor (CBS)
8:00 America’s Next Top Model (CW)

Wednesday appears to have become reality night. Survivor moved there from Thursday, which is actually a huge help. There’s also Hell’s Kitchen on at 9, but I removed the season pass halfway through this last season. It’s just a horrible show full of horrible people. Though some might say that about ALL reality TV.

Thursday
8:30 Shit My Dad Says (CBS)
9:00 Grey’s Anatomy (ABC)
9:00 Fringe (FOX)

We’ve dropped both CSI and The Office from the Thursday at 9 spot — CSI got boring once William L. Petersen left, and The Office is an NBC show: crappy antenna reception, and available on the Hulu. We’ll try out the new Shatcom, which I prefer to keep profane, but I have a sneaking feeling I’ll find it uncomfortably unfunny, like I find most sitcoms.

Friday
9:00 The Good Guys (FOX)

Wow, Friday. That’s it? Okay then.

Saturday
(rest)

There’s not a single thing. Then again, the schedule has college football listed for ABC, “local” for CW, lots of Cops on FOX, and NBC just reads “repeats” for the whole night. I guess that will be Netflix streaming night. Bring on The IT Crowd!

Sunday
8:00 The Amazing Race (CBS)
9:00 Undercover Boss (CBS)

This is, clearly, feel-good reality night (as opposed to Wednesday, which I’m renaming backstabby reality night). The best reality show on TV (and the only one I’d want to be on), The Amazing Race will always be at the top of our season pass list. And Undercover Boss was charming last season. Hopefully they’ll adjust the formula a little bit, to make it just a splash less treacly.

So that’s what we’ll be watching this season. I keep thinking of trying out Bones, but they have so many seasons under their belt, it’d be hard to start now. Maybe we’ll check it out on DVD. I also keep hearing about Mad Men, but it doesn’t interest me. Not to mention all of the shows on HBO and Showtime, two channels we don’t get. But I think this will be more than enough.

My Big Fat Jeopardy! Audition

I put my pictures in a separate entry. Here’s the deets on the reason for the trip.

Back in January, I took the online Jeopardy! test. I’ve taken it the last couple of years. Don’t know if I’ve passed it before — usually there are too many sports or bible questions, which are my Kryptonite. I think I lucked out this time with my standard “if it’s a basketball question, the answer is Kobe Bryant” approach. Because I’m pretty sure it actually was Kobe Bryant.

Anyhoo, got an email back in March letting me know I’d passed the test, and I’d been chosen randomly from among the test-passers to go to the in-person audition. I immediately wrote back saying yes, please, thank you. Booked the vacation time, booked a cheap hotel (well, cheap for the Miami beach area) and this past Thursday, we hit the road.

We killed thousands of lovebugs on the way down. The trip was a little over 200 miles each way, and I have to admit, I’m not up to distance driving anymore. It’s hard to believe that back in 2007, we drove anywhere from 9 to 13 hours per day to get from Seattle to Orlando in 6 days. Even 4 hours on the road (we made several stops to clean off bug bodies) is too much now.

Got to our hotel, checked in, scouted the area. Hoofed over to the Atlantic:

Then we rustled up some dinner, and visited a local mall so I could look for a shirt. I’d brought a shirt with me, but I wasn’t entirely happy with it — the paperwork asked for us to dress as we would if we were appearing on Jeopardy!, so I wanted to make sure I looked the part. Happily, I found a great item on the clearance rack at The Limited — a dark blue button-down. Plain and classy.

Back to the room, and then we suited up and visited the pool for some night swimming. Not only did we have a pool and a whirlpool available, but there were also ladders down to the Intracoastal Waterway. Scott wouldn’t let me even climb down and dip my toe in, since it was 8 to 10 feet down a slimy ladder into questionable and very dark public waters. Full of wildlife. Oh well.

Friday, we kicked around the room for much of the morning, and managed to catch some Lazy Town dubbed into Spanish (WTF that show, I don’t even know) and part of The Abyss (in which the effects don’t hold up). Then I put on my fancy pants (and new shirt, and shoes with heels), we checked out, and we ambled down to the Westin.

Scott set up with his gadgets and headphones in the beautiful lobby, and I headed upstairs. There were a couple of guys there already, but I was one of the first, since I’m always way too early for everthing. I filled out my application form, with full disclosure that I work for WDW (the rules state that nobody can be on the show who works for CBS/Sony Pictures, but this application also asked about anyone working for ABC (Disney), NBC (Universal), or any local TV stations. So I don’t know what kind of grey area I’m in as far as eligibility.

Eventually, there were 20 of us. Some dressed appropriately, some not so much. A t-shirt with a cute skirt? Not good. Ren-faire-inspired clothes? Not good. A ratty, beat-up golf shirt — well, at least it had a collar. But not good. We got checked in, had our Polaroids taken, and moved into the conference room. The casting folks, all very nice, talked a little about what to expect in the audition, and then we took the written exam. Just like the online test, it was a 50-question exam, with 8 seconds to answer eash question. They collected our tests, went out to score them, and the room exploded into “what was the answer to this one?”

We’ll never find out our scores, by the way. It’s totally pass/fail — get 35 or more right, you pass. 34 or less, you fail. Period. And I think I cut it pretty close. I aced the pop music and movies stuff, but there were some sports and poetry and such that I know I got wrong.

Either way, pass or fail, nobody found out their results. We all moved on to the mock game, and they explained that the audition process used to have everyone who failed go home, but they decided to invite fewer people and let them experience the entire process instead. I applaud the choice. So onward to the fake game! We got up in groups of three, and got to use the genuine buzzers. I’m delighted to say, I got the country music question correct. A fluke!

At the end of a dozen or so questions, we got to do a little one-to-two minute interview. And I know I aced this part — clear eye contact, enunciation, personality. It was kind of shocking to me how many people mumbled their answers while staring at the wall above the casting peoples’ heads. But I guess the ultra-smart sometimes aren’t known for their social skills.

They asked me what I do at WDW, and I told them that I host a game show about Velcro. At which, the other woman in my group laughed out loud and said, “Oh my god, that’s where I know you from! We did that show when we went to Epcot for my birthday!” As they say, it’s a small world after all.

It took a little over 2 hours for everything, then we were set free. I gathered up Scott, changed out of my fancy duds into shorts, and we hit the road back to Orlando. We could have stayed another day, but we opted to get back home so we could have a leisurely Saturday off here. And happily, there were a LOT fewer lovebugs on the way home. I don’t know if the swarm moved on, or if they’re more active in the mornings, or what. But we didn’t have anywhere near the same death counts on the return trip.

So now, the waiting game. None of us will know if we passed the test or not, or if we made the contestant pool or not, until we maybe possibly get a phone call at some point in the next 18 months inviting us to LA to appear on the show. So for all I know, I’m in. But for all I know, I failed the test. Or it may be that my employer eliminates me from consideration. I’m not going to wait by the phone with bated breath; if a call comes, it’ll just be a fantastic surprise.

In the meantime, we had a fun road trip with many a laugh, and I got to walk on some beach. And have a fun experience that few people get a chance to have.