Monday, January 29, 2007

You're the one that I want!

Anyone who has suffered through participation in any kind of show choir (or perhaps suffered through watching a show choir performance) is all too familiar with the hand jive, Grease Lightning and probably a poodle skirt or two. I'm not sure I realized how utterly annoying Grease can be until I watched "Grease!: You're the one that I want" on NBC tonight. But regardless of its high cheese factor and boppy '50s-style music, Grease holds a special place in my heart. (Maybe it was the Grease sleepover at Karli's in 7th grade, or maybe the Grease music videos we used to make... but I won't deny that I know every word and lyric to that movie.) That's why I've been wary of letting America decide who gets to star in the new revival of one of the most popular musicals on Broadway. We see what a stellar job America has done picking winners on American Idol... sigh.

I've gotta say though, my being wary of America tainting Broadway has suddenly taken a back seat to my beef with the format and style of this show itself. This is the first week I've watched NBC's latest reality-tv debacle, and I was quite taken aback. I suppose form must follow function, and Grease is the cheesiest of the cheese. ("Tell me about it... STUD!") But all I can say about NBC's show is... yikes.

I shouldn't rag on it too much... it's a great show to watch while you work out, and it's very entertaining. So in that respect -- well done, NBC. I also have to admit up front that I have a slight bias because one of the final 6 guys (Kevin) is from Tiff's high school in Greece, NY. (Yeah. Greece. Grease. Get it?) Because Tiff knows him, I feel like I know him, and I'm very excited that he's in the final 6. Way to go, upstate NY! Plus, he's a real cutie! And very talented. Okay, but all that aside, here are my issues with this show...

First of all, these people are being cast in a Broadway show. Why aren't we seeing any acting? I understand that's the philosophy behind having to hear them all sing random pop songs instead of the music from the show... supposedly they're showing us the different sides of their characters. I also understand that Olivia Newton-John was a pop singer and NOT an actress before she got cast in the movie. (Ahem... and after she got cast too.) But I'm really hoping that in order to make it to the finals they had to prove they can act, because otherwise Broadway's in trouble.

Secondly, the overly laudatory, cheery attitude of the judges is really getting to be too much. Having Olivia Newton-John as the guest judge this week was bad enough. (P.S. can anyone say plastic surgery? Holy crap. She looks like a barbie doll of herself.) But the judges are falling all over these contestants. I never thought I'd say this, but they need a Simon Cowell. The producer of Grease, who sits on the judging panel, is trying to be like Simon... but isn't even close. I mean, okay, most of these people are pretty good. But what is the point of doing this every week if they're all going to say "Great job! You're beautiful! Any of you could be the next Sandy!" And don't even get me started on the flirting that's going on between the male host and all the male contestants. Not that I have a problem with it. This is something else I never thought I'd ever say, but I actually prefer Ryan Seacrest's bisexual flirting. He flirts with the guys and the girls, no discrimination. It's actually nice and kind of refreshing to see these kind of homoerotic overtones on this kind of show... but damn. The girls are really pretty too! The playful flirting with only the guys is getting to be a bit much, man. Share the wealth!

Thirdly, speaking of the host... what is up with the nicknames he gives to each contestant? If that's supposed to be some kind of gimmick (I really don't see the point, but okay), it's pretty lame. I mean, "the sensitive Sandy!" "the spiritual Sandy!" "the ballerina Sandy!" ... Seriously?! And then there's always the host's affectionate slap-in-the-face remark to a contestant named Matt: "I was going to call you 'the man-tears Danny,'" (the contestant looks genuinely hurt... almost like he might cry. haha.) "but I thought that was probably inappropriate." Yeah, no kidding, Sherlock. I just don't understand why they're trying to add gimmicks like that. Seriously, the music of Grease is cheesy enough. Not that we're actually hearing much Grease music, since the contestants are singing pop songs. But still.

Anyway, all that aside, here's my biggest problem with this show at the moment...

WHY ON EARTH did they bring back those two contestants who lost and never made it past Grease camp?!?!?!

It's just embarrassing for them. They're both terrible, and the producer judge actually TOLD them they're terrible (thank the lord) -- which was extra embarrassing, since he and the other judges were practically licking all of the other contestants' faces.

Both of these "second chance" people are awkward on stage, and their songs were horrendous. They were singing wrong notes, they were flat, and sharp, and... yikes. I literally hid my face in my hands while they were singing. I couldn't bear to watch. What is the producer thinking?!

I'm the first to admit that I love an underdog story. But the real underdog of this competition is Max... the guy with the big ears who "doesn't look like a Danny Zucko" and is affectionately nicknamed "the slacker Danny." That guy's outstanding, he doesn't try too hard, and he's definitely the underdog of this competition, since he doesn't have the usual "look."

Don't bring back two people who clearly shouldn't be on Broadway, just because you think "America might vote for them." This producer guy has been refreshingly blunt about how he's just trying to make more money on his show (unlike Simon Cowell, who IS just trying to make more money but pretends that's not his motivation)... so why the hell did he bring back two trainwrecks?! I don't understand it.

Anyway, if you want to see some attractive people who look vaguely like John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John (pre-plastic surgery) -- including a hottie from Rochester -- singing their little hearts out on the cheesiest show in the world, tune in to "Grease!: You're the one that I want." But don't call and order advance tickets just yet.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Social experiment gone bad

Okay, I'd just like to say... I was on board.

The last two seasons, I was the big, overly vocal champion for "Beauty and the Geek."

I overlooked that it was Ashton Kutcher's show. The guy's not so bad. I overlooked the name of the show. I mean, after all, they SAID it's a social experiment. They only used those words in the title because although the contestants might come in holding those stereotypes, the point is to figure out that they're just stereotypes. (Classic announcer voice: "Can they become more than just the beauty and the geek??") I even overlooked the fact that they give the guys makeovers during the season. First of all, I've gotta admit that I love seeing makeovers. But more importantly, they had to give the guys some confidence, right? (Eh, okay, I'm still a little shaky with that one.)

But the point is... I was on board.

Then this season reared its ugly head. No pun intended. When I watch this season, I have knots in my stomach and trouble breathing. And no, it's not because I think the guys are hot, although a few of them are actually lookers. No. It's because I'm literally having anxiety attacks FOR the brunette girls in the group.

You might be saying... "What? What did she say?? Brunette girls??!! What does she mean by that?"

I mean brunette girls. Because this season, the blondes (ahem, bottle blondes, if I do say so myself, but I don't want to get as catty as everyone else...) have teamed up against THE BRUNETTE GIRLS. This is not a joke. And as of tonight, the brunettes have been effectively ELIMINATED from the competition. Yep. Voted out. I am having flashbacks to high school when all the "cool" kids (I'm throwing up in my mouth as I even say those words) used to treat me exactly how the blondes on this show are treating the brunettes. And now not only have the brunettes been relegated to the loser table in the cafeteria and faced with catty taunting... they've actually been eliminated.

The blonde girls have decided that the brunettes aren't as cool as they are. (This is not just pent-up high school hostility talking. Tonight one of the more vile of the blonde bunch said to Andrea, one of the brunettes, that Andrea shouldn't sit around playing chess like a nerd. Yeah. Even though Andrea's partner was TEACHING her chess, and the point of the show is to learn from your partner. But the blondes don't care about that... they literally sunbathe by the pool every day. And Vile Blonde Girl even said to Andrea "Sorry I'm cooler than you." Hello? Come on, people!!! What happened to the point of this show?! It's gone! You've completely MISSED it. Ahh!)

I'm very upset about this season. I started out pretty wary when I found out in the first episode that some of the (blonde) girls were Playboy models and WWF ring girls... what happened to using regular people?

But this is beyond bad. In the past two seasons, there were usually one or two contestants who clearly only cared about winning the money and getting the hell out and didn't give a damn about Ashton's "social experiment" or breaking stereotypes, etc. There was only one from each season that I remember. Clearly this season there are ZERO girls left who care about learning anything from the experience. It's very upsetting.

I guess I'm ranting now, but I do not need to watch high school on TV. I've had confrontations before exactly like Andrea and vile girl had tonight. It's not pleasant. And vile girls like that are just plain mean. They're terrible to the guys, and they're even meaner to the other girls. And I just can't stand it. This is not high school gym class. Get over it. Participate in the spirit of this show or get out. I just feel like the producers should DO something about this. They can't have another season of this show if this is how everyone's going to play. Not only is it defeating the purpose, but it's giving TV time and prize money to cruelty. I'm OVER it.

And on a final note, please don't be like this to other people. If you're someone who acts like these girls act, you make the rest of us feel pretty crappy. And please don't try out for a TV show that's supposed to be a social experiment where you're supposed to learn that there's more to everyone than you thought before. Cuz clearly you don't care. It's never okay to make someone feel like a piece of crap just because you think you're cooler or more attractive than they are.

Okay, I'm done. And I'm officially OFF board.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Chloe! I need it NOW!!!

In the first four hours of the sixth day of 24...

-The U.S. government frees Jack from a Chinese prison only to hand him over to terrorists to be killed.
-Jack bites a terrorist in the neck (blood dripping down chin included).
-The guy who plays Taj in the Van Wilder movies and Kumar in "Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle" holds up a neighboring family at gunpoint while bleeding to death in their living room.
-Assasinated president David Palmer's brother Wayne is now president, and his sister Sandra is a senator/lawyer. (What are they, the Kennedys? Not that I'm complaining -- Wayne makes a much better president than that slimeball Logan last season. And I like that when he gets angry he speaks in quiet, low tones. Very nice. But nobody's as great as David Palmer. Not even his brother.)
-The guy who played quirky, stuttering John Cage on Ally McBeal has his Texan claws into Palmer and underhandedly tries to convince him to lock everyone with Middle-Eastern-sounding names up in some kind of Gitmo-like "terrorist detention facility." (He's been partially successful, too. And I fear he's only just begun.)
-Apparently Karen Hayes works in the White House now, and somewhere between seasons 5 and 6 she and Buchanan got hitched. (Better match than Michelle, I must say. Much closer to his AGE. Ahem.)
-Chloe's ex-husband Morris is back and working at CTU. His sauciness is much appreciated, since they've toned the now-brunette Chloe down a bit (boo) -- and hey, why is Milo back - and in a managerial position? Talk about nine lives. I liked him better as a pot-smoking peon. (OK, they never SAID he smoked pot. But I mean, come on.)
-Jack actually works WITH a former terrorist to catch another terrorist. Yes, you heard me right.
-Jack shoots and kills his friend and fellow CTU agent Curtis to protect the former terrorist guy. (Not as shocking as the deaths of Edgar, Tony and Michelle last season, but still. Nobody's safe on this show!)
-Oh, and Jack quits his job. (Not that I'm actually sure he was ever getting a paycheck.)
-And at the end of the two-night season premiere filled with bomb after bomb, the ultimate nightmare happened -- a nuclear explosion in Los Angeles County.

Talk about a jam-packed four hours. (And there's plenty I left out!)

I thought I'd be remiss if I didn't mention 24 in this little blog, since I know that some of my friends who occassionally read this like when I talk about TV -- and also like 24. I'm going to have a hard time waiting until next week to see what happens! (I've never watched it on TV before, only on DVD.) I'm very concerned that Jack was in the radiation zone of that bomb. I saw on the preview that he calls Buchanan up and un-quits his job. But I heard that Kiefer told Larry King in a recent interview that the show is well-equipped to go on without Jack Bauer. (Please! No!! Say it's not so!!!)

So what say you, 24 viewers? Will they kill off Jack at the end of this season? And I don't mean "kill" him, like at the end of most of the other seasons. I mean KILL him. Or will they be smart and either not have had him in the radiation zone or give him a miraculous recovery?

By the way, I agree with Entertainment Weekly that I am not looking forward to having to see the aftermath of the explosion. I've seen enough propaganda videos from WW2 and the Red Scare to know that I have no interest in seeing people's skin melting off of them and whatnot... here's hoping they keep it clean. Although they did have Jack very graphically bite someone to death just a few hours earlier.

And hey, you have to give it to 24 for going there. On basically every show that involves a nuclear attack, the attackers are stopped in the nick of time. 24 has never been afraid to have bombs go off (even in CTU), to have deadly gas permeate buildings, and to show bioterrorist threats fully executed, even at the peril of CTU's own staff. I guess that's part of the draw of the show. But I'm having trouble thinking of any show on TV at all that actually has had a nuclear attack happen.

By the way, if you're wondering whether or not I'm becoming more paranoid by the day, the answer's yes. But, as Charles Schultz says, "Don't worry about the world coming to an end today. It's already tomorrow in Australia." I'm just hoping against hope that there's someone like Jack Bauer out there, biting people's necks and deactivating bombs and kicking ticking people through subway doors right as they push the trigger.