From PJLifestyle: 5 Scenarios You Can Always Expect From Hell’s Kitchen

As much as I love television series with intricate plots, thought-provoking writing, and nuanced acting, when summer rolls around I find myself drawn to programming that’s, well, less mentally stimulating. That’s right — my summer TV viewing drifts toward reality shows.

Since its debut in 2005, I’ve loved Hell’s Kitchen. Like so many other summer television shows, Hell’s Kitchen is also pretty predictable. Viewers know exactly what to expect, which adds to the series’ entertainment value. Here’s a list counting down five scenarios that viewers can always expect to see without fail during Hell’s Kitchen.

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From PJLifestyle: “When The **** Hits The Fan: The Eccentrics of Doomsday Preppers

I’ll admit it: there’s nothing wrong with being prepared for emergencies. In fact, ran a helpful article just the other week about preparation. But the other side of the coin is that some people become obsessed with preparing for one implausible catastrophe or another — these folks have become the inspiration for National Geographic’s perversely fascinating documentary series Doomsday Preppers.

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From PJLifestyle: Five Reasons Why I Love To Watch BBC America On The Telly

I’ll admit that I’ve been fascinated by British culture for a long time. I’ve loved The Beatles as long as I can remember, and I’ll argue any day that much of the best music ever made has come from the UK. When other kids wanted to be superheroes, I wanted to be James Bond. But for too many years I thought British television consisted of stuffy period pieces about old people with old money. That’s what Masterpiece Theatre taught me until I discovered BBC America.

Here are the five reasons why I love to watch BBC America on “the telly.”

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Another Disney Home Run

Having three young nieces, I find myself watching a lot of Disney Channel. Not that I mind it…as a Disney fan, I’m glad to see the girls combining our family’s love for Disney with the kids’ TV shows they watch.

About a month and a half ago, Disney Channel launched its new programming block for younger kids: Disney Junior. The network kept many of their former Playhouse Disney shows, while adding a few new programs. One of the new programs, Jake and the Never Land Pirates, is a real winner.

The premise of the show is pretty simple: Jake and his friends Izzy and Cubby, along with their parrot buddy Scully fend of Captain Hook and his plans to ruin their fun. Along the way, the kids learn skills and life lessons. Jake and the Never Land Pirates is thoroughly entertaining, and adults can enjoy it (in other words, it’s not too “kiddie” and annoying).

The show’s music is one of its best features. Pirates Sharky and Bones play songs in many cartoon episodes, and they perform live action music videos at the end of every show. They’re kind of like Flight of the Conchords for kids.

I enjoy Jake and the Never Land Pirates. It’s one show I don’t mind watching with the girls. Way to go, Disney!

Here’s the cool theme song…

Friday Night Lights: The End

This is it. Tonight is the final episode on Friday Night Lights on DirecTV (it’ll air on NBC starting in April). It’s hard to believe that, after five season, this incredibly beautiful, creative television series is coming to an end.

In 2006, I remember noticing that NBC was producing a TV version of Friday Night Lights. I thought the movie was OK, but what caught my eye about NBC’s version was that they cast Kyle Chandler to play Coach Eric Taylor. Chandler was one of the stars of my (previous) all-time favorite show, Homefront, back in the early 90s. He’s also from Loganville, which is mere minutes from my home and an alumnus of the University of Georgia, my alma mater.  Continue reading Friday Night Lights: The End

Friday Night Lights, Season 4 (So Far): A Spoiler-Free Mini-Review

Let me start by saying that this is probably the most difficult thing I’ve ever tried to undertake…it’s simply impossible to write a proper review for Friday Night Lights, Season 4, without divulging important plot points. Suffice it to say that, four episodes in, FNL has not disappointed me yet this season. Here are a few quick observations, hopefully giving away nothing for those poor souls who don’t have DirecTV and must wait until after the New Year:

  • Kyle Chandler and Connie Britton give tremendous, Emmy-worthy performances every week…without fail. The fact that neither of them have won or even been nominated makes a shameful mockery of the Emmys.
  • I miss Tyra and Lyla. Adrianne Palicki was one of my favorite actresses on the show, and I miss her wisecracks as Tyra.
  • I still love the natural, loose feel to the cinematography and editing.
  • Zach Gilford and Jesse Plemons are possibly some of the most natural, gifted young actors on television today. I’m still constantly amazed by the layers they bring to their performances.
  • The new characters are terrific and bring a new dimension to the show, especially with the West Dillon-East Dillon dichotomy. New East Dillon players Vince (Michael B. Jordan) and Luke (Matt Lauria) appear to have interesting backstories.
  • D W Moffett is woefully underutilized. The producers should use Joe McCoy more; he’s a great foil for Tami. I’d also love to see Janine Turner come back. (A rare misstep on the show is Jeremy Sumpter’s performance as J D McCoy; I think he’s an especially wooden, unnatural actor.)
  • FNL still has the greatest music of any show on TV. I rarely walk away from an episode without a song to download.

There you go; this probably isn’t much of a review, but I wanted to chime in on the season so far. If you have DirecTV, please check it out; if not, please be sure to watch it when it returns to NBC after the New Year.

Life On Mars

My latest TV discovery is Life On Mars. Of course, like almost everything else I’m watching these days, it’s on Thursday night. Life On Mars is based on a BBC show; I tried to watch the original version on BBC America, but I never could remember when it came on… The premise of the show is deceptively simple: New York City detective Sam Tyler is hit by a car while pursuing a suspect and wakes up in 1973. There, he adjust to attitudes, cultures, and law enforcement techniques that seem nearly foreign to a man from 2008.

The early 1970’s is lovingly and painstakingly recreated on the show. The music is awesome, the costumes appear authentic, and the visuals have that earthy, sort of burnt-orange-filtered look that all our pictures from the same period seem to have. I have to admit, the World Trade Center was a jarring sight for me as much as it is for Sam Tyler when he first sees it in 1973 on the show… The writing is crisp and clever, with enough humor injected amongst the bleakness of some of the situations, and the acting is top-drawer stuff. Jason O’Mara presents a bemused and conflicted angst in Sam Tyler, and Harvey Keitel is amazing as Tyler’s loose cannon of a boss…in fact, the show is worth watching for Keitel alone.

The show’s central mystery is obviously trying to figure out why Sam Tyler was transported back 35 years. He puts forth several theories: paranormal activity, alien abduction, a coma, etc. For what it’s worth, my money’s on the coma theory, due to several things Tyler has seen in 1973. I feel like this conceit will add layers to the show as it goes on, and it elevates the show above what could be a simple retro procedural.

Hopefully, Life On Mars will gain some traction and be in for the long haul. Check it out on Thursdays at 10:00 on ABC. I think you can even see the first two episodes on ABC’s website.

Ahhhh, Summer TV…

That’s right, now that it’s June, it’s time for summer TV…guilty pleasures and not-so-guilty pleasures. Next Sunday, last year’s cool discovery, Ice Road Truckers, starts Season 2. Tonight, there’s a combination Season 1 retrospective/Season 2 preview. I can’t wait to see these grizzled, rough-and-tumble drivers take on the ice once again.

What’s even more exciting is that tomorrow night, The Mole returns! For those who don’t remember, The Mole is a show in which a dozen strangers work together to complete challenges, while one person…the titular Mole…is trying to sabotage the challenges, while the rest of the team tries to figure out who the Mole is. ABC ran the show for a couple of seasons a few years back, then they ruined it by filling the show with C- and D- list celebrity contestants for the third season. I’m glad that, a few years later, ABC is giving the original, smart, clever show a chance.

Yep, Sunday & Monday nights are going to be great this summer…

Big, Important TV News

The second season of Friday Night Lights…the best show on TV, in my less than humble opinion…comes out on DVD on April 22! Holy crap, I can’t wait!!!!

I read in the latest edition of Entertainment Weekly, which arrived in my mailbox today, that Friday Night Lights has been renewed! Thank You Lord! New episodes will run on The 101 on DirecTV beginning in October, and on NBC in Winter 2009. The bad news is that it’s only a 13-episode season. Sigh. Now, if only Emmy voters will wise up and give some love to Kyle Chandler and Connie Britton…