Fall TV - Week Two (almost)

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Okay well...week 2 is over. Almost. See, I haven't watched ABC's 'Pan Am' yet, but I feel like since 99% of my planned week 2 viewing is done, I can report on my findings and thoughts. I have some strong...okay, contemplative...thoughts about what shows I'm drawn to. But I'm still giving MOST shows three weeks.

MONDAY

2 Broke Girls
A show I hadn't really planned to watch, but Entertainment Weekly put it in their top 5 new shows, so I gave it a go. I like Kat Dennings, always have, and this is a perfect role for her. Beth Behrs, the blonde heiress / proto-Paris was also very well cast. She managed to be likable but daft at the same time. I also liked the concept - especially the $$$ counter at the end of the episode. BUT. I don't like sitcommy sitcoms. And this is a VERY sitcommy sitcom - playing to the camera, super obvious sets, gimmicky jokes. So while there was so much to like here, the format just doesn't fly with me.
Survey Says: Sorry girls, but I've already given you the boot. I vowed to only add one, max two comedies to my rotation this year and I know this one won't work for me. Congrats though, you've got a great career ahead of you both.

The Playboy Club
I genuinely liked this show more than I thought I would, however I suspect most of the novelty for me came from having just read "The Bunny Years". Seeing everything come to life - including the legendary 'Bunny Dip' serving move - was really cool. Eddie Cibrian's take on Don Draper was a little eh, but I'm biased because all I can see is SUNSET BEACH when I look at him. Amber Heard is stunning though. But part of choosing whether or not to watch a show is predicting whether or not it's going to stay on air. I HATE picking up shows that get insta-cancelled halfway through a season.
Survey Says: Interestingly, the boyfriend thought this had the most potential of the three dramas we'd watched to that point - The Secret Circle and Ringer being the other two - but I'm not that enthusiastic about carrying on with it. I'll watch last night's episode and probably call it quits from there.

TUESDAY

New Girl
I'm not going to lie. I only programmed in two 'Series Recordings' in my PVR going into this fall season. One of them was 'Ringer', the other was 'New Girl'. I'm a fan of Zooey Deschanel - she has an undeniable likable enviable it factor - and this show is very much a set piece for her as a person, and her as the type of character she clearly feels comfortable playing. I laughed at this show more than any other (save for Modern Family), and I feel like this is the comedy I will continue to watch.
Survey Says: Locked in kids. New Girl gets a pass from being 'on the bubble'.

WEDNESDAY

Modern Family
Lol. I just typed in 'Dude Ranch', as per the season 3 premiere episode title and this photo. Anyway. Tons of laughs, as per usual. Ty Burrell in particular proved his Emmy worthiness, but then again, he is my fave character on the show (although Cameron is a *close* second for me). My only long-term fear for this show, as with most comedies, is that they won't have room to grow. Most comedies die in the last few seasons because you know the punchlines that they love to hammer home, and each of the characters in MoFam definitely have their 'personas' nailed - like Phil, the male cheerleader that's always trying to impress his father-in-law / be a 'cool' dad. Although the boyf pointed out that the kids are still wildcards. We've got places to take them. And as long as the laughs keep coming, I'll keep buying in.
Survey Says: So far, so good. OF COURSE I'M WATCHING.

Revenge
It took me until Saturday to finally watch this show - the story of a socialite that's seemingly new to the Hamptons, but hellbent on revenge - but I have to say, this might be the surprise hit of the fall for me. It hasn't received a ton of buzz going into it, but I genuinely, genuinely enjoyed this show. The actors were all well-cast, and there was a ton of soapy, scary drama brewing. Intrigue abounds on this mix of The OC, Gossip Girl, and Desperate Housewives! Sidenote - it also reminds me of a little-watched show I once enjoyed starring Allison Lohman, called Pasadena. Look it up. I just hope this one fares better.
Survey Says: I'm SUPER tempted to give this one a pass and an official subscription on my DVR. I'm giving it this week to keep me hooked and then it's a go.

THURSDAY
The Office
Something's missing on the Office...aside from Michael Scott, that is. And I'd say, it's a sense of understanding. Namely, understanding what made the show work so well for the first three seasons, and why they're stuck. The camaraderie of the earlier seasons feels broken down in lieu of giving each character their own little bit - Stanley's new 'stuff it up your butt' was horrendously juvenile and awkward, Pam's emotional viewing of sad commercials was just sad, and Andy trying to be a good guy, Michael Scott style, was just bland. There was the occasional giggle, and Robert California's throwaway lines of mystery were a treat, but I really hope they put the show out of its misery. Soon.
Survey Says: I'm in this for the long-haul kittens. Let's end it though soon, k?

SUNDAY

Boardwalk Empire
Nucky's back! You know, as much as people complain about the 'glacial' pace of the show, I have to say that in the recap of last season, a sh*t ton of stuff happened, some of which I forgot about until this week's premiere. There are a whole lot of hot messes unfurling and getting knotted up, and although I've heard this season keeps the same trot-along pace, I'm jazzed to see it happen. I love the actors on this show so much, and the surprising levels of humour more than anything. I got nothing more to say.
Survey Says: Watching it, naysayers be damned. You just gotta be patient! Also I read the book 'Boardwalk Empire' this year. I didn't like it much, but it was neat to have that context when watching the show now.

The Amazing Race 19
I thought this was a solid premiere. Not because the events themselves were that intriguing - although the showgirls' passport moment was crazy - but because the cast is really interesting this year. I already like a lot of the teams. Ethan & Jenna (naturally, although they're longshots to win it all). The snowboarders (pictured above) have cheerful, dopey charm - it worked for the hippies remember! I always love parent / child teams and the father / son adventurers could go far. The NFL player and his wife also seem like strong competitors.
Survey Says: Oh TAR, you know I can't give you up. Not really. I love my buzzy, adrenaline-filled reality shows! And you delivered with a good cast this year.

ROUNDUP

MONDAYS
Dead & Gone
2 Broke Girls
The Playboy Club (pretty much...I'm thinking I must just skip carrying on with it altogether)

TUESDAYS
Locked In
Parenthood
New Girl

On The Bubble
Ringer - here's the thing. I don't find the show that LIKABLE. As in...I don't have an emotional connection to the characters whatsoever. I blame the duplicitous nature of the show's premise. But I DO find the show intriguing. It keeps you on the edge of your seat, it opens up tons of questions, and the cliffhangers make me want to keep on watching. I might extend my thoughts on this show for four or five weeks before making a final decision. It's hard to turn down Baze & Buffy & Richard Alpert.

WEDNESDAYS
Locked In
Modern Family
Survivor
America's Next Top Model

On The Bubble
Revenge
Up All Night - I'm leaning towards losing this one after this week. Will Arnett is consistently the only thing I laugh at, and that's not enough for me...as much as I LOVE me some WillArn. I hope the show continues on though, if only to raise Will's profile and have him get more movie love.

THURSDAYS (ps - remember when Thursdays were awesome? What happened?)
Locked In
The Office

On The Bubble
The Secret Circle - I like the soapy OTT melodramatic teendom that Kevin Williamson so expertly captures. I think the show has a lot of places it could go...but I need to give it another couple of weeks. I still feel a little *old* to be watching the show (despite being a Degrassi nerd hah)...I think right now for me it's a choice between this, Ringer, and Pan Am / Terra Nova, both of which I haven't watched yet.

WEEKENDS
Locked In
Saturday Night Live - I always forget about this one. I was ho hum about the premiere. But you don't want to be the one not watching the show and have everyone talking about that must-see moment that crops up once in awhile. Plus they'll be ramping up the political drama right away!
The Amazing Race
Boardwalk Empire

- Britt's On

Best Workout Tunes - Volume 1

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I've been meaning to write this post forever, because I love music as much as books, computer games, movies, and TV. And I love those things a LOT. Anyway. My boyfriend's work gives you free gym memberships, however we missed last year's cut-off for the year, so we didn't get them until this year...I think we got them *right* at the end of June. This gave me the opportunity to create a workout mix, load up ye ol' iPod Shuffle (because who cares what happens to a six-year-old Shuffle at this point), and sweat to the newbies, and the oldies.

Whilst drafting my mix, I did a bit of searching for ideas to populate my mix with, beyond the 439 songs I currently have on it. There were a lot of classic suggestions - Eye of the Tiger anyone? - but I have to say, I'm pretty happy with my mix.

So I'm going to add my two cents. If you're looking for workout music suggestions, look no further. For now anyway - I've got a lot of great ideas, so this is just volume 1!

My general criteria for good workout music:
- It's got a consistently upbeat tempo (i.e. you're not twiddling your thumbs through a 45-second intro or outro)

- It's distracting enough that you can sometimes forget about the fact the song is 4:38 seconds, and thus you count every. single. second. as you run

- I also love songs that surprise me with some sort of upbeat messaging - not quite as literal as 'I've Got The Powah!' but the chorus of songs like Katy Perry's "Firework", Britney Spears' "(Drop Dead) Beautiful" and Jamiroquai's "Use The Force" are all great examples.

- Of course, you've got to like the artist. If you can't stand Britney as a vocalist - ignoring the fact you might not respect her as a musician - then skip my song suggestions there.

Britney Spears
Are you surprised? I think Entertainment Weekly reviewed her last album with the words "plenty of great tunes for the treadmill" included in there. Her last three albums in particular are goldmines for upbeat, supercharged songs. Here's a quick list of my top ten Britney workout tunes, in no particular order other than my iTunes organizing stuff by album title.
10. Break The Ice (Blackout) - bit of a slower intro, but I adore this song. I dare you not to swivel your hips on the elliptical.
9. Toy Soldier (Blackout) - consistently upbeat. Army theme works well for working out.
8. Womanizer (Circus) - awesome tempo and beat. Fun to sing along to in your head as well.
7. Till The World Ends (Femme Fatale) - electric and pretty much demands a high-level of energy, particularly once the beat kicks into overdrive a minute in.
6. Hold It Against Me (Femme Fatale) - probably one of the fastest songs she's ever done, although weirdly the chorus is a little slower. Still a great one for working out.
5. (Drop Dead) Beautiful (Femme Fatale) - I love when this song comes on. It's all about 'looks' and body image, so you'll definitely feel motivated to give it when the chorus hits.
4. Toxic (In the Zone) - I mean, obviously. String quartet on acid.
3. Me Against The Music Justice Remix (B In the Mix) - For the record, the original is also good, as is the 'In The Zone' Reshi Rich remix.
2. Crazy (Baby One More Time) - you want the 'Stop' Remix here, clearly. Lots of Britney's early stuff is a touch too slow to qualify as good workout tunes, but Crazy is a classic.
1. Selfish or Up 'n' Down (Femme Fatale bonus tracks) - Torn between these two.

Honestly, I have about 25 Brit songs on my overall workout mix. Her stuff is super upbeat and energized, you really can't go wrong.

LMFAO
Interesting story about these guys. I was watching something on my DVR, and caught about 10 seconds of the 'Party Rock Anthem' video while scanning through my playlist. I was kind of intrigued, but thought nothing of it...until I finished watching whatever show it was, and this video was on AGAIN. I sat and watched the whole thing, mesmerized. I literally listened to this song about ten times a day, and I'm STILL not sick of it. What's amazing is it's a relatively pedestrian song. It evokes so many things, yet sounds like nothing. That's good pop music.

Anyway. 'Party Rock Anthem' is a give-in, but if you haven't listened to the boys' album, I literally put the entire thing on my workout playlist. It's all thrummy, bass / electro-driven pop music at its finest. You might prefer some songs to others (I do), but it's all the right tempo for a workout mix.

Black Eyed Peas
A hybrid of Britney's pop and LMFAO's electro-thrumminess, BEP are one of my top, top, top picks for workout music ever. Their lyrics are interesting and distracting if you can focus on them instead of the painnnn, but their tunes are also super fun, upbeat, and easy to sing along to. I have a funny relationship with the Peas when it comes to workout music. The first MP3 player I ever owned was a freebie that held approximately 25 songs, via one of those little cards you put in a digital camera. I loaded up BEP's 'Monkey Business' album plus maybe five other songs. And I guess I found it such a pain, I never bothered RELOADING it, so for the year that I had a gym membership at that time, I listened to that album every. single. session. I now have really bad associations with that album and elliptical machine death, but that won't stop me from giving you 10 picks from the BEP's collection of infectious tunes.

10. Rock That Body (The E.N.D.) - Reminiscent of LMFAO (or vice versa), plus the whole 'rock your body' thing works well for working out.
9. Let's Get Retarded / Restarted (Elephunk) - It takes 30 seconds to kick into high gear, but it goes down in history as one of my fave, super upbeat, hip-shaking Peas songs. Before they remixed it to Restarted. Dammit.
8. Pump It (Monkey Business) - One of the few songs off of 'Monkey Business' I can still listen to without having painful memories of my year of working out and listening to this album. Surfer-tastic.
7. Feel It (Monkey Business) - Although this seriously brings back negative workout memories, the theme of the song is too good not to pass up for a workout mix.
6. I Gotta Feeling (The E.N.D.) - You probably think this song is done to death. And it is, but it makes for a great workout song.
5. Hey Mama (Elephunk) - Get a little reggae booty-shaking going on while you're on the treadmill.
4. Boom Boom Pow (The E.N.D.) - Not my favourite song ever, but the theme of it works well. Try and find a radio edit somewhere without the super long intro!
3. The Time (Dirty Bit) (The Beginning) - To me, the entire 'Beginning' album is a dialed down, over-produced, fuzzy electric disc that seems muted by the overuse of autotune. In fact, their singles have all been kinda ballad-like compared to the high-energy picks off of 'The E.N.D.' The Time's buzzy electro sections are good though.
2. Party All The Time (The E.N.D.) - Man the E.N.D. was jam-packed with good picks, including this alternate riff on 'I Gotta Feeling'.
1. Anything off The E.N.D. bonus disc - I believe it was only packaged with a version of the disc sold at Target, but it may be available on iTunes or the like. They basically included a few b-sides and remixed five of their classic tunes. I have 'Pump It Harder', 'Let's Get Restarted', 'Shut the Phunk Up' and 'Don't Phunk Around' - all high-octane versions of their hits - on my mix.

Basement Jaxx
I love me some BJ. Their stuff is built for working out - the other artists on this particular list are all derivative of Basement Jaxx to some degree. Here's my top 10 picks.
10. Plug It In feat JC Chasez (Kish Kash) - JC doing JT. Great theme for a workout song.
9. Good Luck feat Lisa Kekuala (Kish Kash) - One of my fave BJ songs, period. Starts a little slow, but FULL of swagger.
8. Raindrops (Scars) - One of their more recent singles, full of life and positive energy. The chorus is electrifying.
7. Do Your Thing feat Elliot May (Rooty) - I'm breaking one my rules. It has a long, quiet intro. But few songs will make you feel as upbeat as this one. I love it.
6. Red Alert (Remedy) - The boys worst album imo, was also their first one. But it includes this high-energy gym gem.
5. Where's Your Head At (Rooty) - Another song with a good theme for working out - focus!
4. Cish Cash feat Siouxsie Sioux (Kish Kash) - This song isn't for everyone, but it's definitely one of their most turbo-drive in overdrive songs.
3. Right Here's The Spot feat Meshell Ndegeocello (Kish Kash) - Another good tune about moving your body and shimmying ahoy!
2. Romeo (Rooty) - The first song I ever heard by the boys has a soft spot in my heart. It's full of East Indian-inspired fun.
1. Jus 1 Kiss (Rooty) - I can't get sick of this song. It's a little lower-key and prettier than the rest of these, but it has such a phenomenal beat, I can't not include it.


Lady Gaga
Few artists are better for making you want to get up and go. Plus the huge number of hits she has means endless stuff to sing along to in your head. Here's my top 10 Gaga workout picks.
10. Just Dance (The Fame) - Just dance or just work out? Doesn't matter. Just listen.
9. Telephone (The Fame Monster) - After the lovely harp intro the song kicks it up a few notches, but it's Beyonce's swaggerrific verse that makes this a particularly good pick to workout to.
8. The Fame (The Fame) - Not a single, but easily could have been. It's a little disco, a little 80s, a lotta fun.
7. Born This Way (Born This Way) - Yay title tracks! A positive message and upbeat vibe make this a surefire addition to your workout mix.
6. Americano (Born This Way) - I'm not a big fan of the Born This Way album, as I previously riffed - I felt like a lot of it was retakes of her existing library. But I kind of like Alejandro part 2, the Euro-trashy Americano. It's uber cheesy, but kind of transformative when listening to it as well.
5. Poker Face (The Fame) - Infectious lyrics? Crazy upbeat bassline? Non-stop energy? Sold. Also, the LLG vs. GLG Radio Mix on her remix album is quite good as well.
4. Lovegame (The Fame) - Is it a little slower than others on this list? Sure. But the on & on rhythm works well for the on & on running on a treadmill.
3. Paparazzi (Stuart Price Remix) (The Remix) - I was never a big fan of Paparazzi, and I feel like it's a little slow for working out. The Stuart Price remix however does a really nice job of reinventing the song with a sort of melancholy fallen starlet vibe.
2. Bad Romance (The Fame Monster) - Probably the synthesis of everything Gaga has stood for to date, Bad Romance is again, a touch slower than some of my other picks. But Gaga's passion will sell you on pushing harder when doing those tricep dips.
1. Alejandro (The Fame Monster) - Torn between this and another 'Born This Way' track, but this is such a fun, upbeat song I had to include it. As is the 'Sound Of Arrows' remix off her remixed album.

K well, I'm out...but those are fifty songs and five artists with many, many more tunes that what I listed here to get you started. They easily take up the most songs (per artist) on my overall playlist, but stay tuned for some great top 5's from a few others!

- Britt's On

All My Movies: Changeling

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Changeling

Starring: Angelina Jolie, John Malkovich
Costarring: Amy Ryan, Michael Kelly
Times Watched: 1
Genre: Drama / Thriller
RT/Metacritic: 62% / 63

Road to Ownership: I think I took advantage of a Blockbuster deal to score four movies for $20 (pre going out of business). This rounded out the bunch.


The Plot: Angelina Jolie is a single mom named Christine Collins, living in the 1920s and working overtime at a switchboard centre as a well-respected manager. One day she takes an extra shift and leaves her son at home. When she returns - he's gone. The cops take their sweet time in sorting out her case, but they eventually deliver good news: they've found her son. The catch? When she picks up her son from the train station...it's NOT her son. The detective assures her it is, tells her that she's simply delirious, and she poses for photos obligingly. But then she starts to gather evidence to prove that in fact, the boy they've brought home really isn't her son, and the cops better keep on looking for him - bringing the media and sympathetic radio listeners on board. What follows is a struggle between Christine being heard, and the detectives getting down to the bottom of the case of her missing son.

The Good & The Bad: I actually watched this movie a few weeks ago and forgot to post about it, but the main thing I have to say is this is soooooo not what I expected. Changeling has some mystical / folklore ties to it, and I was surprised when the movie ended up being a terse historical thriller of sorts. It's incredibly twisty-turny, and oftentimes quite sad and painful to watch, especially since it's based on a true story. It's amazing that this actually didn't happen *that* long ago either. Angelina was perfectly fine in it, and all of the supporting players (including the always awesome Malkovich) were well-cast. Amy Ryan once again proved how incredibly transformative she is as an actress.

I will say that the movie is a tad on the long side. Some parts dragged - painfully so. And there was a relatively inconclusive ending to the whole thing, but that's how these things go I suppose. I genuinely liked it more than I thought I ever would, and I'm surprised at the middling ratings.

Best Scene: Probably the big 'confession' scene towards the end, and the subsequent visit to the farm / digging stuff. Gut-wrenching and shocking.

Worst Scene: Ugh most of the stuff in the asylum was too much for me!



Best Character: I'm partial to John Malkovich's brassy Reverend Briegleb!

Worst Character: Hmmmm no one jumps out at me as being unfit for the film. I'll say the Changeling kid, whoever he was played by. Kind of stiff.

Soundtrack of Our Lives: Eh nothing to say about the soundtrack on this. I think it was all score.

If You Like This You’ll Like: Movies about unwinding a secret / conspiracy - Gone Baby Gone (more Amy Ryan!), Atonement, Mystic River.

Final Grade: 3/5

- Britt's On

Dreamcasting: Skipping A Beat

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Another book down. I read a lot. Did I mention that? And I also like the idea of casting the books I read on digital paper. Because then, maybe, on the off-chance Hollywood picks up one of the books I've read and decides to butcher it with a movie edition (okay, at least POTENTIALLY butcher it) perhaps I can have some influence on the casting. Doubtful. But let's just say the casting of 'Something Borrowed' made my heart bleed, and thus I feel the need to document someway, somewhere, my less-than-important take on book-to-film adaptations.

Today's book was Sarah Pekkanen's 'Skipping A Beat'. As far as I know, there is no movie in the works - yet. But her book had a pretty cinematic quality to it, and it has a relatively consistent following from what I've seen on the interwebs / witnessed firsthand (months and months of waiting to get the SINGLE copy of the book from my city library because there was a giant wait list in front of me). The only tricky part I can see would be the flashbacks, particularly to when the main characters, Michael and Julia, met as teenagers.

The plot, in summation: Michael is a multi-millionaire entrepreneur of a VitaminWater-type company called DrinkUp. His wife Julia is a successful event planner. As the book opens, Michael dies from a heart attack - but is miraculously revived just over four minutes later. When he awakes, he's literally awakened - he decides to give away his fortune, and repent for his sins as a well-to-do, business-obsessed workaholic, including his mistreatment of his wife.

Today's casting of Skipping a Beat will only be for Michael, Julia, and Isabelle - the best friend of Julia, an heiress with a relative heart of gold. Our characters are supposed to be in their 30s - although flashbacks take them to teenagehood and their twenties (which I'm mostly ignoring). They live in Washington. And they're all relatively average looking (by Hollywood va-va-va-voom standards).

MICHAEL

Adrian Grenier
My go-to choice for curly-haired protagonists. The thing I like about Adrian here is he polishes up nice, but also he has that bright-eyed boyish thing going for him. He's 35, which is the exact age of our male anti-hero, making him perfect for the part.


James Franco
I mean. If you had to go for another actor, James might be someone to consider...although I have yet to see him play a convincingly romantic lead, and that's sort of what Michael evolves into post-death (although the portrait painted of him by Julia is less than flattering). He could do the aloof, over-ambitious, didn't-realize-what-I-was-losing thing though. Plus I've seen him with curly hair. He's 33, a tad younger than Michael but still workable.


Ben Affleck
I have my reasons for picking and NOT picking Ben here. I honestly think he'd be fantastic in the role - definitely more subtle in the various shades of the character than the other two actors above could be, BUT my pick for leading lady makes him a longshot to do the film. He's 39, a little old, but still a good choice.

JULIA

Jennifer Garner
I vacillated between many different actresses before landing on J Garn about halfway through the book. Why? Well, Julia is a super conflicted lady. So much so that it defines her character. And no one does fierce-meets-conflicted better than Sydney Bristow I tells you. I feel like she can portray Julia's meek beginnings and sensitive heart mixed with her desire for security and anger at how her life has turned out. Again, she's also a tiny bit old for the part at 38 (and Hollywood loves to tweak the age of characters when taken from books), but I think she'd be perfect for it. Doubly so if she and Ben were co-stars!


Reese Witherspoon
The second person I had in my head for Julia before settling on Jennifer Garner - she fits the Type A event planner / socialite part of the role perfectly...but I don't know that she can do the super conflicted, angry, reluctant side of the role. I feel like she's too sweet for it almost. She would actually be a good Isabelle, if she were willing to do 'the friend' role for a change. She is 35! Right age.


Rachel McAdams
My original pick for Julia, but she was pretty quickly eliminated when I realized this wasn't about a loving relationship suddenly gone awry, but a long-crumbling relationship that had gone sour eons ago. Not really what I picture Rachel doing - too sweet for the role, like Reese. If the story were more sentimental and less complicated, she'd be great for it though.

Isabelle

Zoe Saldana
Yeah, I don't know why. I figured the casting director might want to add some diversity. Isabelle is supposed to be utterly confident but also a little frivolous. I'm not saying Zoe embodies that exactly, and it's not who I ultimately gravitated towards for this role, but she wouldn't be the worst choice EVER.


Christina Hendricks
She's still doing b-role parts right now, so she'd actually be perfect for this. She was who I ended up picturing after the first few chapters...I feel like knowing her as Joan Holloway makes me a little biased to be uncertain that she can't be so prim and proper - you need a gal that's willing to show an uglier side for this part - but I can totally picture her and J Garn laughing it up / loving it up.

There you have it! Another movie cast dreamcasting session down.

- Britt's On

Fall TV - Week One

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I've got a rule around these parts when it comes to jelly-vision watching. Basically, my aim is to watch three episodes of a show (if I can stand it) and make my decision as to whether to continue after that point. After reading EW's Fall TV Preview, a few more shows have made the cut in the last week. Only after my three-episode rule will I have the guts to turf or set up a series recording for anything that isn't part of my regularly scheduled programming.

Without further ado...

TUESDAYS

Ringer
Talk about a premiere trying to do too much...with a more experienced showrunner, the premiere probably would have been a little less ambitious (and would have had way better special FX for the damn boat scene). BUT, it definitely sparked intrigue. I do hope the show learns to gain a sense of humour at some point - right now it's all serious, all the time, which doesn't lend itself well to SMG's considerable talents, along with castmate Kristoffer Polaha.
Survey Says: I stuck with 'Dollhouse' the whole way through out of Buffy nostalgia (granted Joss Whedon was at the helm). I'm giving Ringer three episodes to *keep* me hooked as I'm not sure how this concept will work in the long, long-term.


Parenthood
A solid season premiere, although the last three minutes were cut off cause of stupid America's Got Talent, so I never saw Adam's final decision. I assume he's opening the studio with Crosby though. I'm a tad confused by Kristina's working situation, and irritated by Hattie / Alex in the premiere, but I loved the 'FNL' joke they slipped in. Altogether a promising start to another year with the Braverman clan.
Survey Says: Obviously I'm going to continue watching. I love this show. Plus...Jason Ritter!

WEDNESDAYS

Survivor: South Pacific
Interesting season premiere...Ozzy and Coach coming back are SO different than Rob and Russell. I think there are some potentially great characters among this cast, and again, Ozzy and Coach can be considered liabilities more than Russell or Rob ever was, so I'll be curious to see how this plays out for them. I predict neither one will make the finals, but one of them may make the final episode.
Survey Says: The tribe has spoken, of course I'm watching!


ANTM All Stars
*Pulls face* The season premiere did nothing to dissuade me that an all-star edition of the show was a BAD idea. Why? Well for one, these girls supposedly have careers to fall back on. Top Model works best when it rewards girls who surprise or grow with the competition. We know what these girls are capable of, and if anything, getting eliminated early on in the show may be a bigger hindrance than help to their careers. The whole thing just felt LOUD and overdone and unnecessary...everything felt like it was on warp speed. I actually like the way the characters unfurl on the show normally. I'm not sure how this one'll go...but I'll watch.
Survey Says: I'm the stalwart amongst my friends that still watches this show. I'm not about to quit now.


Up All Night
Surprise! This is one show that sneaked its way into my fall TV preview, after the big glowing article in Entertainment Weekly. I went into it with an open mind - I'm not exactly the target demographic. My main thoughts? Will Arnett is 90% of the reason why I'd watch this show. Christina Applegate's 'smart girl in a world of insane people' one-liners fell kind of flat without character development, and Maya Rudolph's talk-show host was something we've (quite literally) seen before, but still funny. The baby was cute!! I just wonder what kind of legs this show has with only three lead characters...
Survey Says: I'm test-driving three new comedies this Fall - 'Two Broke Girls' and 'New Girl' premiere this week. I'm only willing to take on one, maybe two, new ones...and at this point, I don't know that 'Up All Night' will cut it. An admirable debut though.

THURSDAYS

The Secret Circle
How pretty is this photo? Stunning scene from the pilot episode of CW / Kevin Williamson's new paranormal drama, 'The Secret Circle'. Generally speaking, I liked it. There was a decent amount of intrigue (if slightly overdone in the way Williamson is known for) and Britt Robertson is great. The only way this show will become a casualty at this point - because I see its potential - is if I simply feel overwhelmed with other, more mature programming.
Survey Says: A show with legs beyond the initial 'what happened to the last circle?' conceit. I'm definitely willing to go past the first episode.

SUNDAY

Emmys 2011
Yeah this was a one-off, but it bears some notice:
- Why must every awards show do a musical opening? Kind of boring. Jane Lynch was an okay host, but sometimes her quips felt a little off-colour (like her attack on Tom Cruise. So five years ago). I LOVED her segment on the Mad Men set though.

- I was SO happy with some of the surprise wins. Julie Bowen seemed floored, and I was totally cheering for Ty Burrell (my fave Modern Family member) to take it as well. Melissa McCarthy ascending from 'character actor' to 'best lead actress' was precious. Margo Martindale, who I primarily know as 'Ninah' on 'The Riches' seemed just tickled. And MOST IMPORTANTLY - Kyle Chandler, the beating heart of Friday Night Lights 'Clear Eyes, Full Hearts, Can't Lose' was finally recognized for his amazing, soul-stirring turn as Coach Taylor. If I didn't talk about the finale before, it's because I watched it on DVD instead of live, week-by-week. It was amazing. I was so happy for Jason Katims to walk away with the writing award, and would have been content with that. But for them to also recognize KC was brilliant. He was so humble and sweet.

- Some great acceptance speeches this year. Ty Burrell, and the Modern Family writer / creators, stand out in particular. I barely fast-forwarded through the speeches.

- Kate Winslet now has an EGO. Not an 'ego', but she's just a 'T' away from the legendary acting quad-fecta of EGOT (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, Tony). Kudos Kate.

- Fashion. Lots of red, which I'm so bored with. I appreciated the pops of colour and there were a few truly stunning choices on the Red Carpet this year. No major disasters.

- Does anyone remember when the Housewives were the talk of the carpet? Oh how the mighty have fallen - not a single Wisteria Lane appearance this year.

- Overall I was fine with the telecast. I would have liked to see Steve Carrell and Connie Britton win their categories, but generally speaking I thought the Emmy voters did a solid, well-rounded job of awarding a very talented bunch of pretty people. Kudos.

- Britt's On

Saying Yes

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So, I've mentioned it before but...I watch 'Say Yes To The Dress'. I used to think it was the stupidest show ever, but blast that TLC, they hook me with their programs in a way few other networks can.

Anyway. There are two (technically three) incarnations of SYTTD now. The original, at New York City's Kleinfeld boutique. The spin-off, set at Brides by Lori in Atlanta. And the new spin-off, which is 'Bridesmaids' and also set at Lori's salon down in Hot-lanta as my friends and I have nicknamed it.



Let's get Bridesmaids out of the way first. It had a short order of episodes to debut this summer - maybe 4 or 5? Generally speaking, I enjoyed it, having been part of the excruciating process of picking out a bridesmaids gown. I think it's something that a larger part of the viewing audience can relate to because there are more bridesmaids than brides. Seriously.

On the flip side, there was less dramatic tension compared to the wedding dress. The budgets of the 'maids was something the brides couldn't be as flexible on as they are with their own dress. And typically only one or two of the bridesmaids, the bride, and maybe one other member of the viewing gallery said anything. But it was fun to see some truly hideous gowns walk out (and in some cases, WIN) - although I wonder if it's bad PR for Lori's salon. Anywho. I wouldn't mind seeing this return to the small screen again.



The debate for me comes from which version of SYTTD is better. I'm going to tip my hand say I probably favour the original more, but there are some things I actually like about the Atlanta incarnation. As for the original?

Well, I think they have a better selection of dresses, plain and simple. And if you (plausibly) watch the show for the pretty gowns, then Kleinfeld is your pick. Plus the budgets tend to be higher here, therefore you get to see even more insane gowns tried on. Pnina dresses are always a treat to see, although I'd never wear one myself.

Secondly, I think they have better consultants in terms of being reality show personalities. I feel like I know these ladies and they're all interesting in their own way. And I heart Randy and Nicole, although the latter has been off on Mat leave so last season was a bit weaker.

Also just generally speaking, the original series has a prettier store. Not saying that Lori's salon looks cheap or anything, but it's hard to beat Kleinfeld's majestic tall ceilings, plush white carpeting, and massive seating / viewing areas. Although Lori's catwalk is cooler than Kleinfeld's little on-the-floor podiums.



As I said. There are things I like about Atlanta. For one, I feel like Lori and Monty are WAY more candid than anyone on the NY incarnation. Sometimes they can be a little nasty and shrill, but I appreciate their honesty.

For another, the brides tend to be younger (oftentimes moreso than me) so I find I can relate to their fashion sense a lot more than the myriad of brides that parade through Kleinfeld. They also have way more reasonable budgets. This is a bit of a double-edged sword. On the one hand, I like seeing them purchase dresses that are within the realm of possibility for more people. On the other, I like the insane over-the-top extravagance of watching women try on $10,000 or $15,000 dresses. It's like window shopping for me. More often than not, the budget is below $2,000 on Brides by Lori, and the same dresses are often trotted out more than once.

I do appreciate that the alterations department takes up way less time than on the original series - although who knows, the new season could edit down the alterations portion a bit. You literally see one, maybe two sixty-second segments, while on Kleinfeld it can easily eat up five minutes of the show overall. I like seeing the finished product and all, but for me the show is really about buying the dress.

In terms of dislikes, well the consultants aren't nearly as interesting as the NY ones. Robin and Flo are probably the most notable, and while they're all very pretty and sweet and charming, there's no zing like what you get on the original series.

Altogether I'm fully aware the show is totally frivolous. But as a prospective bride-to-be, I've found it very helpful in determining what I do and don't like in a dress in terms of silhouette, details, and PRICE. I'd honestly recommend it for any soon-to-be-engaged gals, and for soon-to-be-shopping-for-a-dress gals. For me it's the equivalent of visiting open houses before you get a real estate agent and shop for a house. It may be silly and overwrought and in some cases, deranged, but in general it's a treat to see dresses on real women to understand what would work best for yourself, instead of flipping through a magazine.

- Britt's On

Dreamcasting: Looking For Alaska

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So I devoured John Green's fantastic YA debut, 'Looking For Alaska' in the last day. And lo and behold, it too is becoming a movie. Interestingly, seeing as how I 'cast' films in my head when reading books, I found this amongst the hardest to picture. About a third of the way through the book, I googled a bit to learn about the movie, see if any casting rumours had been sparked, and so far nothing...although one name from the few and far between fan cast lists I saw did stick with me and served as a very good potential casting choice, even if the movie isn't coming out till 2013. Most of the discussion on casting the movie was back in 2008, so I'm revitalizing it for 2011, since casting likely IS going to happen soon and shooting will happen in 2012. I hope. Interestingly, apparently Josh Schwartz is tied to the project...which would play in well for my number one choice for the titular Alaska.

Anyway. Here's my attempt to cast Looking For Alaska, in terms of the five main characters. The b-characters and authority figures (Mr. Hyde and 'the Eagle') could be SO many different actors, I won't bother.

MILES 'PUDGE' HALTER
Our main character and narrator is a lovable every guy - the type of wallflower that is content to fade into the background because it's easier, but is actually a pretty special person once you discover him. Needs to be tall, skinny, gangly, but also kind of good-looking.

Gahhhhhhh how I struggled with this. All of the skinny gangly types I could think of weren't good-looking enough, or were too old (and thus too bulky at this point). Adam Brody (Seth on the OC) and Penn Badgley (Dan on Gossip Girl) both would have been choice for this five to ten years ago.


Logan Lerman
Well okay. This works. Perfectly actually. I don't know how tall Logan is, I've never seen any of his movies, and I've only heard his voice in a YouTube clip I just Googled...but his look is pretty dead-on to the vaguest of vague images I had in my head. Sort of the boy next door, a sweet, vulnerable face. AND he's the right age - 19, like my primo choice for Alaska.


Justin Kelly
The actor I occasionally settled on casting in my head was Justin Kelly, who is a newcomer to the Degrassi cast this season...which is apparently my main source for 'mining' dreamcasts. Anyway. Jake might be a little beefcake-y to play 'Pudge', but he has the right look from the neck up, and could play a good little boy lost that easily slips into the crowd.



Gaelan Connell
If Hollywood wanted to get real about casting something, then Gaelan Connell would be a great choice. The character he played in "Bandslam" was pretty much Miles Halter to a tee. I'm not sure he's quite 'cute' enough for the role, given uber hot Alaska is supposed to be attracted to him whilst my casting choices for The Colonel and Takumi are both good-looking, but in terms of typecasting, he's totally your guy for the part...getting a bit old though, so act fast Hollywood!


David Henrie
Another actor I have zero experience with (but hey, if they cast Selena Gomez they could be reunited), but one that fits the bill for me physically. He's got that gawk-ward look to him that also reads charrrrrrrming. I'd need to see him act first to make sure he's not too mired in Disney slapstick drama, but watching a clip of him on YouTube he seems like an okay choice.


Matt Prokop
Apparently this kid was in High School Musical 3, which (shame) I have seen...I assume he's one of the newbies they randomly interject for a Degrassi: The Next Generation-style transition, but I don't remember him. Anyway he has the scrawny thing going for him, and he can apparently attract hot chicks if he's dating Modern Family's Sarah Hyland. Who for the record, would be a fabulous Alaska if she had a little more emotional range.

CHIP 'THE COLONEL' MARTIN
The troupe's fearless, overachieving leader with a serious chip on his shoulder. Caustic sense of humor and a passion for revenge, he's also fiercely loyal, protective, and dedicated. Should be short-ish, stocky, and commanding.

You know who I wanted to cast for this? A younger version of Russell Hantz (of Survivor fame), if such an actor existed. Alas...Hollywood, go with an unknown here I think. These are my two prospects for your enjoyment though.


Josh Hutcherson
I've only ever seen Josh in 'The Kids Are All Right' and I liked him well enough. In that movie he was relatively passive so not sure he'll be able to pull off the snarktastic guy in this film, but he has the right 'look' that I had in my head. Unfortunately I think his 'Hunger Games' duties will be keeping him busy for awhile.


Jeremy Sumpter
He played a SERIOUS asshat for a season and a half on Friday Night Lights as the love-to-hate baby-faced QB JD McCoy. That should disqualify him - playing a pretty boy jock type? But it doesn't. Because he was cold, and he had a stiff upper lip, and he was good at making smart cracks, and he's actually pretty small. See, I never necessarily saw The Colonel as a bad-looking dude. I saw him as a square-jawed guy with short(er) man syndrome. Jeremy Sumpter can grit his teeth and stare you down and set his jaw like few others, so I think he could rock this one out.

ALASKA YOUNG
The smokin' hot yet stupidly fucked up want-what-you-can't-have-love-interest in the book. Apparently has a rocking bod, but also needs to be extremely acerbic, dry, confident, and brainy.

A few names floated around in my head until I saw someone else's suggested cast list from years ago. The thing is, the main casting choice - the easiest one for me to picture - would actually still work in terms of age.


Willa Holland
Some keen eyes might recognize Miss Holland from her stints on The OC and Gossip Girl (both Josh Schwartz productions). At first I was like 'NO!' when I thought of her for the part...then I was like, actually yes. She's got the skinny / curvy body described in the book, and she's definitely good at playing a bit of a fucked up drama queen. The thing about Alaska is she's never entirely likable or stable in the book - but you WANT to love her, and I feel like Willa would do a bang-up job of portraying her brassy sentimentality. She's only 19-ish right now so she could totally film it in the next year and pass for seventeen.


Maiara Walsh
Seeing double? Yeah, Maiara Walsh is pretty much Willa Holland's doppelganger. So if she's not available, cast Maiara, she'll be fine enough. I've seen her on Desperate Housewives where she played a pretty thankless role as Gabby's niece. It was more of a self-entitled princess role, but she has the right 'look' - I'm sure she can pull of Alaska's complex smart-tortured-girl vibe. Willa's still my first choice though.


Aly Michalka
Aly played an awesome, mostly likable 'bad' girl in Easy A and Bandslam - I particularly liked the interesting level of gravitas she super surprisingly brought to the latter. She might be a tad old to play Alaska, but I think she'd be good at playing the bad/good/crazy/smart/dreamy/feminist multi-dimensional heroine.

TAKUMI HIKOHITO
I believe Takumi is supposed to be Japanese, although in the racist traditions of Hollywood, any Asian'll do (Hi, 'Memoirs of a Geisha'). He should be kind of laid-back and cool, and imminently likable if a little quiet.

My go-to 'Asian' at the moment is pictured below. I know. I'm as racist as Hollywood, given Shannon here is not from Japan (I feel like he's from somewhere really bizarre like South Africa), but he's a stone cold fox, and therefore I want to see him on my screen as much as possible.


Shannon Kook-Chun
See above. Shannon Kook-Chung is mesmerizing and downright dreamy on-screen. He might be a little too zen to play Takumi, who has this sorta slacker vibe circa John Cho in 'American Pie', but I think he'd make a good fifth wheel for the fab five that feature heavily in the plot.


Leonardo Nam
Quite frankly, Nam is too old at this point, but he sprung to mind while reading the book for his portrayal of Brian McBrian in the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants films - a character I felt was quite similar to Takumi. So whoever the next Leonardo Nam is, if Shannon Kook-Chung is unavailable, I nominate you.

LARA BUTERSKAYA
A tricky one as she's described as a Romanian immigrant student who, up until a few years ago, didn't speak a lick of English. All of her dialogue is modified to including soft "i's" so she speaks leek theese. She is supposed to be very beautiful and have 'perky breasts', so I picture a gal who looks doll-like, as most beautiful Russian girls do. The hard part will be to find a girl who can do a subtle accent without sounding too fluidly American, or too cheesily faux Romanian a la Shannon Elizabeth in the Pie films. Since I've never seen any of these actors portray someone with a faux accent, I'm picking them for looks alone!


Lucy Hale
This is ultimately who I pictured as Lara, as per her doll-like features. She plays a good flirty wisp of a girl on Pretty Little Liars and I think she could nail the awkwardness, aloofness, but also sweetness of Lara.


Selena Gomez
True story. I've never actually seen Selena ACT in anything - only appear on many red carpets and talk shows. Sure she's actually a quarter Mexican as opposed to Eastern European, but if she can possibly portray Charlotte York, surely she can do a Romanian girl. The main motivation here is I see a resemblance between her and Mila Kunis, who actually is from Russia.


Nina Dobrev
I like how one of the more minor characters has so many options. Anyway, Nina Dobrev is a no-brainer because she's actually Bulgarian, which is close enough to Romanian in my books. I haven't watched her on the Vampire Diaries but she's got that sort of vacant sweetness with a touch of fiery flirtiness (on Degrassi) that this role requires.

Hmmmmmmm well we'll see how Hollywood decides to fuck this one up. I really sincerely vouch for Willa Holland above all others on this list. I can't imagine another actress more suited to the part that's actually of the right age, and I hope some lovely casting director out there stumbles upon this and heeds my warning! Don't. Fuck. This. Movie. Up. Thanks.

- Britt's On

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