‘Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood’ – My Favorite Children’s TV Show

Daniel Tiger

By Amy Amatangelo, TV Gal ®

As you know, I watch a lot of TV. A lot.

But I’m very picky about what I allow my four-year-old to watch. My absolute favorite children’s show right now is Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood on PBS Kids. And the best part? It’s my daughter’s favorite show too.

Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood stars the four-year-old Daniel Tiger who is the son of Daniel Striped Tiger from the beloved series Mister Roger’s Neighborhood. His best friends are O the Owl (the nephew of Uncle X), Katerina Kittycat (the daughter of Henrietta Pussycat), Prince Wednesday (the son of King Friday) and Miss Elaina (the daughter of Lady Elaine Fairchilde and Music Man Stan). That’s right – some of your adored characters from the Neighborhood of Make-Believe are back.

Each episode of this fantastic program deftly tackles an issue important to preschoolers – from sharing, to coping with frustration, to jealousy, to toilet training- while creating a show that’s engaging for preschoolers to watch. Daniel is instantly relatable to children. He’s enthusiastic, clever and caring but not perfect. He makes mistakes and learns from them.

This week marked the second season premiere of Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood and a big event for the Tiger family – the arrival of Daniel’s new baby sister! I loved the way the show handled the new addition to the Tiger family.

I recently had a chance to do a short Q&A with Angela Santomero, the creator and executive producer of Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood to talk about the series.

Why did you decide to give Daniel Tiger a younger sibling? Why was the time right?

Angela Santomero: We have been getting so many beautiful letters from parents asking for Daniel to share even more experiences and challenges that their own kids are going through. One major experience that many young preschoolers deal with is having a new brother or sister in their family so we decided to address that next!

Adding a baby to the family is a momentous occasion, what were the important themes/messages you wanted to cover in these episodes and how did you decide on what to include?

Santomero: We knew that we could really do this theme justice because of the way we lovingly write Daniel and the careful research we put into every episode. We felt it was important to devote a few different episodes to the arrival of a new baby so that we could fully address many of the key issues involved in this life change. We wanted to really show how essential it is to make time to sit down and to talk to your preschooler about the impending baby, to help them prepare – and let them have a helping role in the family. It was also important that the feelings of change around a new arrival were dealt with head on and we reinforced that a preschooler needs to feel loved and important.

What do you hope preschoolers and their families take away from these episodes?

Santomero: We hope that families see themselves in our characters and celebrate right along with us! It makes us so happy when we get letters from parents telling us that they now feel like they have the words to address the things they face every day with their kids based on our episodes.

I love the musical refrains in each episode. Last night I finally got my daughter to try fish for the first time because she sang Daniel Tiger’s “Try a new food, it might taste good” to herself (and she liked the fish!). How are the songs/ musical refrains developed and why do they resonate so well with preschoolers?

Santomero: The songs – or “strategies,” as we call them – are carefully written and researched by our wonderful team at Out of the Blue and we also closely collaborate with our amazing musicians at VooDoo Highway Music. The strategy jingles are carefully crafted to tackle complex socio-emotional concepts on a preschool level. These ditties are bite-sized lessons that are easily repeatable so that toddlers and their parents can use them in their everyday lives. We think parents and preschoolers will really enjoy singing along with the new strategies we’ll introduce in Season 2: “You can be a big helper in your family,” “There’s time for you and baby too,” and “Sharing with you is fun for me too” – just to name a few!

What kind of feedback do you get from viewers of the show?

Santomero: We are thrilled that we get so much positive feedback about Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood. It’s wonderfully rewarding to meet families who love the show as much as we do. My favorite comment is when people say they can see the love we put into the show. I definitely wanted to make sure that the series was helping to promote the legacy of Fred Rogers, who taught us all so much.

What else can we expect during season two on Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood?

Santomero: Lots of ridiculously cute baby moments, fun with Daniel and his friends, and awesome music that you won’t be able to get out of your head! We also have been working on an episode that celebrates Fred’s iconic words to help kids cope in times of need, “Look for the Helpers.” Stay tuned for that very special show on PBS KIDS, as well.

Do you like Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood as much as I do? Talk about it below.

A Conversation with Peter Paige, Executive Producer of ‘The Fosters’

DAVID LAMBERT, TERI POLO, SHERRI SAUM, JAKE T. AUSTIN, CIERRA RAMIREZ, MAIA MITCHELL

By Amy Amatangelo, TV Gal®

I’m kind of in love with The Fosters (Monday, ABC Family, 9 p.m.) right now. The show is a smorgasbord of social issues – adoption, same sex marriage, foster care, alcoholism – you name it, The Fosters probably has a story line about it.  But somehow, thanks to strong writing and solid performances, the show really works. The series has a lot of heart but is never treacly. And the characters rarely act stereotypically – the show constantly surprises me with its nuanced approach to complicated topics.

For those of you who haven’t watched the show, Stef (Teri Polo) and Lena (Sherri Saum) are married and raising Stef’s son Brandon (David Lambert) and their two adopted children Jesus (Jake T. Austin) and Mariana (Cierra Ramirez). Last season, Stef and Lena took in two foster children, Callie (Maia Mitchell) and her brother Jude (Hayden Byerly), who they want to adopt. Things got a little complicated when Brandon and Callie kissed and Callie ran away.  Now Callie’s living in a group home run by Rita (Rosie O’Donnell) but Brandon and Callie are IN LOVE.

A few weeks ago at the Television Critics Association Press Tour, I had a chance to talk with executive producer Peter Paige (you may remember him as Emmett on the Showtime series Queer as Folk) about the show and what’s coming up this season.

I’m fascinated by the Callie/Brandon romance because I can’t figure out what you guys are going to do. I mean, they can’t be together, right?

Peter Paige: This is the God’s honest answer. We write ourselves into corners all the time and we spend hours and hours and hours figuring our way out of it. What would you do? What would you really do if you have these two kids, you love them both. You want to adopt one. They’re in love. They’re teenagers. They’re hormonal. Is it real? Is it puppy love? Is it going away? These kids need a home. It’s a continuing conversation for us and it’s not going away any time soon.

How do you write for your teenage audience?

Paige: We don’t talk down to them. We don’t. ‘Okay you’re going to have sex for the first time and you’re not going to use a condom? Well here’s what you’re dealing with then.’ We try really hard not to be preachy and not to be after-school specially about it.

Teenagers are just adults but amped up. They’re so hormonally alive that it’s just fun to write for. They want more. They need more. They’re dreaming bigger. They hurt more than we as adults do I think and that makes it really really fun to explore.

What can viewers expect this season?

Paige: This season is an extension of last season – a lot of the issues have been brought to the table so it’s about exploring them.

The great thingis we’re very lucky and smarter than I even think we knew we were. We set this sort of trampoline in the pilot of all these stories and collisions. You can draw a line between any two characters in The Fosters and they create a dynamic and a situations that probably hasn’t been explored on television before. It gives us extraordinary opportunities.

One of the great things about the group home story is giving us a platform to tell some of the darker stories that we can’t tell with our family and our kids because our family is a primarily healthy family and a loving home and we need it to be that way so keep people watching.

We learn a whole lot more about Stef’s father this season in a way I find really compelling. It’s complicated. We never, never, never, never want to leave even our most challenging characters out in the cold. We’re all people at the end of the day so we try to treat everyone with dignity and respect.

What kind of research do you do for the show?

Paige: Fortunately the show has been very well received by both the adoption and foster communities. We have some people who work in the ABC/Disney family who grew up in foster care and made themselves available to us right away

When we decided to do this group home story line with Callie, I so happen to have a friend from the gym of all places who runs a group home so we were able to go and spend time with the girls there. It’s actually been an extraordinary gift.

Do you think a show like The Fosters can start to change people’s minds about same sex marriage and other issues?

Paige: I think media has the power to really engage people in conversation and make them comfortable with ideas that they never felt they would be comfortable with. Having been an actor on Queer as Folk I experienced that first hand.

One of my favorite tweets that I find fascinating and we get it all the time is I love The Fosters even though I don’t believe in same sex marriage. Sometime if you can during an episode of The Fosters, hashtag The Fosters and watch the feed. It’s amazing. It’s astounding to see. The response to every moment is really fascinating to see.

What do you think of The Fosters? Talk about it below.

An interview with Craig Thomas, executive producer of ‘How I Met Your Mother’

Carter Bays and Craig Thomas at the HIMYM set visit last week

Carter Bays and Craig Thomas at the HIMYM set visit last week

By Amy Amatangelo, TV Gal ®

Last week when I was in Pasadena for the semi-annual Television Critics Association Press Tour, we all had the chance to visit the set of How I Met Your Mother. As most of you know, I’ve never missed an episode of the series. And while it has tried my patience at times (especially this season), the show remains one of my favorites. I have a deep and abiding affection for Ted, Robin, Marshall, Lily and Barney.

After the press conference, I got the chance to talk to series co-creator and executive producer Craig Thomas along with a few other critics. As always, Thomas was very gracious. In the many times I’ve talked to him over the years, one thing is abundantly clear - Thomas and his co-creator and executive producer, Carter Bays, truly appreciate their fans. The series comes to its conclusion in an one hour series finale on March 31. Read the interview with Thomas below:

It was so fun to see so many of Barney’s ex-girlfriends return in “Slapsgiving 3: Slappointment in Slapmara.” Will we be seeing more familiar faces?

Craig Thomas: We do want it to be a curtain call. How I Met Your Mother has a great guest cast. Here’s people that are definitely coming back in the remaining episodes – Tim Gunn [as himself], Roger Bart [the hotel front desk clerk], Rachel Bilson [the Mother’s former roommate], Lucy Hale [Robin’s sister Katie], Kyle MacLachlan [The Captain], Abby Elliot [Ted’s bad crazy ex-girlfriend Jeannette], Bill Fagerbakke [Marshall’s deceased dad], Sarah Chalke [Ted’s ex-fiancee Stella], Ashley Williams (Ted’s ex-girlfriend Victoria] and Jon Heder [new character]. He auditioned for The Goodwin Games, we almost cast him. He’s going to come be on the show.

Here are the remaining episode titles – “How Your Mother Met Me” [the 200th episode next week which will chronicle what the Mother has been up to for the last eight years], “Sunrise,” “Rally,” “Vesuvius” [which was the word Ted was playing in the crossword puzzle at the end of the season nine premiere], “Daisy,” “Gary Blauman” [the name of Taran Killam’s character, he's an employee at Barney's company] “The End of the Aisle” and our hour long finale is called “Last Forever.”

A lot of fans have complained that we haven’t seen the Mother as much as we thought we would. Will be seeing her more as the series heads towards its finale?

Thomas: The funny thing is we’re seeing her so much more than we would have if the series ended in year eight. Whenever we read that we’re like ‘Oh my God. We’re seeing her exponentially more. Thank God for season nine.’ People would have been so upset to get less of her.  [Cristin Milioti] is unbelievably charming and sweet and wonderful. You see this actress and you want to see more. She has helped fuel that by being so wonderful. She fits into the chemistry of this cast perfectly. I’ll say this: Some people want to see even more of her. We always wanted it to be special for year nine when you saw her. You tune in and you don’t see her in an episode and maybe you were a little disappointed but maybe that’s okay because that makes you want to see her the next week and you’re excited. Our biggest fear is what if people see too much of her and it’s not special any more. The movies Jaws worked because you were just seeing a fin for so long. We modeled season nine after Jaws basically.

Will we learn the Mother’s name?

Thomas: You’ll hear it before we’re done, I just don’t want to say exactly how and when. It’s a choice we’ve made on how to present that and I don’t want to spoil it. We’ve known it for awhile. You know I would tell you if I could.

What about Robin’s mom? Will we meet her?

Thomas: There’s an episode coming up about the fact that Robin’s mom hasn’t come to the wedding and the entire crux of that is Lily really wants Robin to be upset about it. Lily thinks Robin needs this emotional catharsis about this fact – what a big deal for a parent not to come to their kid’s wedding.

You taped the ending to the entire series with Ted’s kids in season two?

Thomas: At the beginning of year two we realized these kids [Lyndsy Fonseca and David Henrie, who play Ted’s children] were aging. We knew what their piece of the puzzle at the very end game of the show would be and we knew we had to grab it and we did.

One of the two actors absolutely remembered the 2006 scripts that is a crucial part of how the series ends and one of them didn’t remember because we had made them sign confidentiality forms, we cleared out the set, we had one camera man, and we cleared out everybody else.

David remembered it and Lyndsy didn’t. She was like, ‘You were so adamant that we should never talk about it that I deleted it from my brain.’

And in all these years, the ending has never changed?

Thomas: That very end piece we never changed that part. We’re so glad we shot it. The last two minutes of the series is what we always planned. We hope people like it. At the very least we can stand by it, we didn’t ever change it.

Did you ever fear viewers, who are so devoted, would guess the ending?

Thomas: Of course there’s that fear. People guess every possible outcome. People were guessing post–apocalypse, they’re beneath the earth’s crust and hiding from a poison environment. Every iteration has been guessed and there are moments where we’re nervous about it.  But ultimately we didn’t want to change anything.

I’m not going to confirm or deny [anything]. What you see on March 31 has been the plan all along and we hope that people we’ll see why we did it that way. We leave the series with a certain message that we wanted to convey and ultimately we wanted the entire series to turn out to be about and it’s a very positive message.

How are you feeling as you guys head toward the finale?

Thomas: [I was writing the penultimate episode over the holidays] and I was just a mess.I was absolutely a mess. There’s some really nice Marshall and Lily stuff in it that always hits closer to home for me. It’s no longer based on my wife and I really but at the same time it was based on my wife and I. I feel like that episode especially is one of our goodbyes to them. They’re in the final hour for sure but they get a really nice send off in that episode.

What else can you tell us about the final episodes?

Thomas: We wanted all of these characters to have their proper curtain call. We wanted it to remain interesting. We didn’t want to do -it’s the end of the series and everything’s perfect and the last few episodes we’re just coasting to the finish line. We wanted to tell a dramatic story with surprises and ups and downs. You’ll see some moments of drama between these characters and then moments of deep deep connection. We’re How I Met Your Mother. We’re a time machine of a show. So you’re going to get to see their future and it makes me cry every time. I hope it makes the audience feel that way too.

How are you feeling about HIMYM these days? I loved this week’s episode – especially Barney’s shout out to the Mo Willem’s children’s book Knuffle Bunny (“Aggle, Flaggle, Klabble”). And I’m working on a new theory – maybe, as I’ve feared since last season, the Mother isn’t dead when Ted is telling Penny and Luke (!!) his story. Maybe she’s in surgery/in a medical crisis and he begins to tell his kids the story to distract them while they await news. Thomas did say last week during the press conference that we will learn why Ted started telling the story when he did.

Do you have a theory about how HIMYM will end? Did this interview make you change your mind? Talk about HIMYM below.

A Festivus Giveway!

By Amy Amatangelo, TV Gal ®

The “Festivus” episode of Seinfeld will be airing today in syndication. To celebrate, Sony Pictures Television sent me my very own “Festivus” pole. But since it is the season of giving, I’m giving away this unique holiday decoration.

As you may recall, Festivus, the holiday started by Frank Costanza, celebrates feats of strength and the airing of grievances.  It is a “holiday for the rest of us.” Post below what you and your family do to celebrate the holiday season. You have until Wednesday at 11:59 p.m. PT to post your comment. I’ll pick a winner at random from the comments. You must live in the United States to be eligible to win.

Wishing you all a wonderful holiday season!

The Second Annual December TV Gal Swag Giveaway!

By Amy Amatangelo, TV Gal ®

My family is coming to visit for holidays. My office doubles as a guest bedroom.

And therein lies the problem. Right now the floor to my office is covered with TV swag.

So it is time for the second annual December TV Gal Swag Giveaway. Remember, I’m helping you, help me.

Here’s how it works. Everyone who is a follower of my blog by 11:59 p.m. EST on Sunday, December 15 will be eligible to participate.  Beginning, Tuesday December 17, I will give away one prize every weekday (except Christmas Day) until I’m out of swag. Each day, I will pick a number at random (generated by random.org) and give a prize to the person who matches the number on my list. For instance, if the number generated is 52, I will give it to the 52nd person who signed up to follow my blog. The first winner will get his/her choice of all 15 prizes. The second winner will get his/her choice of 14 prizes. You will be able to pick the TV swag item of your choice until there is nothing left on the list. Think of it as a modified Yankee Swap.

It’s okay if you’ve already won before, but this giveaway is limited to residents of the United States.

If you already follow my blog, you’re eligible. If you don’t yet follow tvgal.com, enter your email address in the top right hand corner to follow this blog.

Here’s what I’m giving away:

  1. Animation Domination (Fox) t-shirt and Valentine’s Day cards
  2. Being Human (Syfy) glass,bloody mary mix, mints and tea
  3. Capture (CW) sweatshirt
  4. CBS Sports stopwatch
  5. Community (NBC) gumballs and stress ball
  6. Dads (Fox) iPhone docking station
  7. Katie (ABC) tumbler and Jimmy Kimmel Live (ABC) coffee mug
  8.  Mary and Lou and Rhoda and Ted: And all the Brilliant Minds Who Made The Mary Tyler Moore Show a Classic (book)
  9. Masters of Sex (Showtime)viewfinder
  10. Masterchef Junior (Fox) cupcake mix and muffin tin
  11. Schooled in Revenge (ABC, book)
  12. Sleepy Hollow (Fox) sweatshirt
  13. Raising Hope (Fox) soap on a rope and The Mindy Project (Fox) pencil holder
  14. Witches of East End (Lifetime) tarot card and candle
  15. X-Factor (Fox) cup and t-shirt

Remember to sign up to follow my blog by 11:59 p.m. EST on Sunday, December 15 to be eligible to win.

 

 

‘The Goldbergs’ are Golden

BACK ROW: HAYLEY ORRANTIA, GEORGE SEGAL, TROY GENTILE; FRONT ROW: SEAN GIAMBRONE, JEFF GARLIN, WENDI MCLENDON-COVEY

Photo courtesy of ABC

By Amy Amatangelo, TV Gal ®

When I was younger, my mom lost me at the grocery store and had me paged over the store’s intercom.

Did I mention that I was 15 at the time? It was mortifying. She also used to embarrass me with her overwhelming use of coupons. I distinctly remember a time the grocery store owed her money. To a teenager, there may be no greater humiliation.

I share these anecdotes with you because similar situations were the storylines for recent episodes of The Goldbergs. The new ABC comedy is quickly shaping up to be one of the fall’s best new series.

Told from the perspective of 11-year-old Adam (Sean Giambrone) and narrated by Patton Oswalt, The Goldbergs takes viewers back to the 80s and celebrates shoulder pads, Pac Man, big hair, and giant camcorders. A time before smart phones, Facebook pages and DVRs. But the series has more than just nostalgia going for it. Much like ABC’s excellent and underrated comedy The Middle, The Goldberg captures the innate hilarity and poignancy that come with day-to-day family life.

The fact that it is based on executive producer Adam F. Goldberg’s real childhood – and several episodes are capped off with actual videos from his youth – makes the series that much more relatable. As I mentioned above, in two recent episodes, it felt like Goldberg may have been spying on my family when I was growing up.

And did I mention that the show is funny? Laugh-out-loud funny. That, as comedies including Dads and The Millers have shown us this season, is not so easy to pull off.

In between the guffaws are nuanced moments. Last week’s episode saw eldest daughter Erica (Hayley Orrantia) accuse her stay-at-home mother Beverly (Wendi McLendon-Covey) of never having a job. Beverly promptly went on strike and the show explored the intricate relationship between mothers and daughters both touchingly and amusingly.

The performances are top notch.  McLendon-Covey is giving a transcendent performance as the family matriarch. She should already be on people’s Emmy nomination ballots. And I’m particularly partial to middle brother (and perpetual underdog) Barry (Troy Gentile) and the Goldberg grandfather Pops (George Segal). Whether you’re currently a parent or were once a child (so pretty much everyone), The Goldbergs is the little jewel in the fall schedule you may have missed. I’m on a one woman campaign trying to get people to give this show a chance. Won’t  you join me?  A new episode airs tonight at 9 p.m. on ABC.

Oh and if you’re going to buy something, check with me first. I probably have a coupon for it. That’s right. I’ve become my mother.

Are  you enjoying The Goldbergs as much as I am? What’s your new favorite show of the season? Talk about it below.

I originally wrote this post for Antenna Free TV’s list of shows to binge watch over the holidays. Check out their complete list here.

Vote for the Worst Adolescent Children on TV

Photo:  Kent Smith/SHOWTIME -

Photo: Kent Smith/SHOWTIME -

By Amy Amatangelo, TV Gal®

I usually defend the teenage characters that annoy most people. Maybe it’s something to do with being a mom myself but I tend to be more forgiving.

I root for Dana Brody and love what being a parent brings to Alicia’s character on The Good Wife. But after watching Grace wistfully eye the guns on Sunday night’s episode of The Good Wife, I began to think that maybe, like a lax parent, I’ve been a little too lenient.

Who do you think are the worst adolescent children on TV? I’m not talking about shows like Glee where teens are the main characters but show about adult characters who have teenage children. Talk about it below and vote!

Here are my picks:

Grace and Zach Florrick on The Good Wife

Pros: Zach’s great with computers and all things technical. His taste in girlfriends constantly disrupts his dad’s political life. He introduced us to Eli’s nemesis Becca.

Cons: Grace bounces from one distracting story line to the next. Now she’s going to be into guns?

Karen and Jerry Fitzgerald on Scandal

Pros: They never see their parents.

Cons: They never see their parents.

Dana Lazaro and Chris Brody on Homeland

Pros: Morgan Saylor is a great actress. She hasn’t had the best material to work with and she’s made it work.

Cons: Dana makes truly horrible decisions when it comes to dating. Has Chris had more than three words of dialogue all season?

Morgan and Jake Sanders on Hostages

Pros: Ummmmm . . . .

Cons: Just about everything that’s happened since the pilot.

I’m Running Away with ‘The Good Wife’

Photo: David M. Russell ©2013 CBS Broadcasting, Inc.

Photo: David M. Russell ©2013 CBS Broadcasting, Inc.

By Amy Amatangelo, TV Gal ®

After watching the “Hitting the Fan” episode of The Good Wife early last week, I tweeted “I want to whisk next Sunday’s episode of #TheGoodWife off to a romantic weekend in Paris. I love it that much.”

Sunday’s episode of the CBS drama was easily its best. But it was also one of the best hours of television this year and, I’ll just go ahead and say it, one of the best hours of television ever. It combined nail-biting suspense with humor and, most shockingly, the lead character’s decision to turn her back on her inner moral compass.

Not only is it rare for a series to hit such a creative high in its fifth season, but who would have thought the show would be in this position at this time last year when Kalinda was mired in a Fifty Shades of Food Products story line with her sneering ex-husband. Is this what the term October surprise really means?

The genius of the show is that it successfully mixes the courtroom drama with the work place drama with the political drama with the romantic drama with the family drama. And it’s doing that brilliantly this season. Here’s what’s going so right:

The Moral Downfall of Alicia
Alicia not only allowed Peter to threaten Neil Gross. She celebrated the fact that he did (and I’m not convinced that she didn’t explicitly ask him to make that speech). She was drinking champagne. Alicia started the series in horror of her husband’s transgressions. Now she’s embracing them. Alicia has always been a fascinatingly complex character but it’s so rare that a network show allows their main protagonist – their title character! — to break bad.

You can read the rest of this post at Antenna Free TV.

How are you feeling about The Good Wife this season? Talk about it below.

Staging an Intervention for ‘How I Met Your Mother’

Photo: Cliff Lipson/CBS © 2013

Photo: Cliff Lipson/CBS © 2013

By Amy Amatangelo, TV Gal®

When I talked to Carter Bays at TCA Press Tour (you can read that interview here), I told him that I only criticize How I Met Your Mother because I love the show so much. And it’s true. If I’m indifferent towards a show, you won’t hear me talk about it.

My affection for HIMYM runs deep. I’ve watched the show since the pilot and was an early champion of the series. True story – my husband and I talked about our love for HIMYM on our first date.  And let’s be honest, whatever happens this season and no matter how frustrated I get, I’ll be watching until the very last frame. (By the way, I remain very concerned that The Mother is dead in the future. And my interview with Bays did not assuage those fears.)

Bays and HIMYM co-creator Craig Thomas are two of my favorite people in the industry. They love talking about their show as much as we love watching it. I so admire what they’ve done with HIMYM - has any other comedy run for nine seasons on a central mystery? A mystery that was announced in the title? The intricate way they’ve told the story of five friends navigating their lives and romances in New York City truly is like nothing else on television. Over the years the show has provided me with some of my favorite laughs (I still crack up about Lily asking Marshall, “Do you want to finish your bacon first?” in “Not a Father’s Day.”), favorite scenes (I love Ted’s two minute date with Stella in “Ten Sessions”), favorite catch phrases (The show will always be legendary to me.) and favorite recurring jokes (The gang can stage an intervention for me any time). I love Bays and Thomas’ love of pop culture. Marshall’s diatribe last week about Princess Bride was the best.

But the show is testing my loyalty. After a strong premiere, these last two episodes have been ROUGH. Maybe the show is trying to distract me from worrying about Winston on New Girl or how I still can’t care about any of the interns on Grey’s Anatomy. Because this week I am consumed with concern for HIMYM.

Let’s talk about my issues:

  1. Not enough flash forwards. My anxiety about the entire season taking place over the wedding weekend was placated by the promise that the action would frequently flash forward to show Ted and The Mother’s burgeoning romance. And I loved the scene at the end of the season premiere that showed the happy couple returning to the hotel a year into their romance. There was an easy, believable rapport between Ted (Josh Radnor) and The Mother (Christin Milioti). Their chemistry was palpable. I totally believed I was watching two people in love and I was happy for Ted. Which leads to the next problem . . .
  2. Not enough of the Mother: Milioti has been missing from the last two episodes. Where is she? Didn’t The Mother arrive to play at the wedding? Wouldn’t she be staying at the hotel? I (perhaps naively) assumed that since Milioti was made a series regular this season, we would be seeing her in every episode. As Adam Vitcavage pointed out in his review of this week’s episode, Robin’s diatribe about how she doesn’t like other women would have been the perfect opportunity for the camera to at least flash to The Mother. We’ve waited eight years for The Mother. Don’t keep her from us now.
  3. Remote Marshall: We all knew this story line was going to be a concern but it’s turned out to be worse than I anticipated.  As so many of you have pointed out, maybe limited screen time was part of Jason Segel’s deal if he agreed to come back for the final season. Who knows? But the whole story line is so awkward. Marshall needs to be back with the gang and fast. And is anyone else worried about who is watching baby Marvin during all of this? He never seems to need to eat or have a diaper change or cry. Honestly the only thing that would make this story line more annoying is if Marshall and Daphne picked up Jimmy and Ellis from Smash and took them along for the ride.
  4. The show is spinning its wheels: As much as I do like the recurring joke of “Thank you Linus,” and as happy as I was to see Patrice again, these last two episodes have felt like complete fillers. Nothing is happening to move the story line forward. NOTHING.

How are you feeling about HIMYM so far? Talk about it below.

My Irrational Anger Towards ‘Betrayal’

ABC/Jean Whiteside

ABC/Jean Whiteside

By Amy Amatangelo, TV Gal®

Into every new TV season, a show I’m irrationally angry about must fall.

Last year it was Emily Owens, M.D. I still have PTTD (post-traumatic TV disorder) over that show. I shudder every time I think of it. Back in 2008, I couldn’t stand The Ex List.

This season, I’m BEYOND annoyed with Betrayal, premiering Sunday at 10/9c on ABC. (What is with TV shows and the one word titles? Coming soon on Sunday night Embezzlement followed by Annoyance).  Yes, clearly there are more offensive shows this season (that would be Fox’s Dads). There are ones that are more laughably bad (that would be the CW’s Reign). And there are certainly ones that are a more egregious waste of talent (I’m talking to you CBS’s The Millers). But those are all shows I can calmly and reasonably dislike. They make me want to turn off my TV, not throw something at it.

In Betrayal, professional photographer Sara (Hannah Ware)  and lawyer Jack (Stuart Townsend) meet cute on a rooftop over looking Chicago. They talk at the same time. He gives her his coat because she’s cold. The only problem? They’re both already married to other people. (Warning to husbands everywhere – if you’re wife gives you a new tie, you better pretend to like it. And you better not work too hard or care about your career too much.)

Now I’m not a fan of adultery in real life (obviously) but I don’t mind it on my TV shows. Sure, we don’t need another ruthless man and the woman who-can’t-help-loving-that-man-of-mine. That kind of couple already permeates nearly every cable TV series. But sometimes adultery can make for fascinating story telling. Part of the reason Scandal is such a fun, over the top show is because the President is in love with Olivia Pope.  And my favorite Sex and the City story line occurred when Carrie cheated on Aidan with Big. The complex fallout from Carrie’s indescretion resonated for many seasons. And Nurse Jackie wouldn’t be Nurse Jackie without her affair with Eddie.

But Betrayal played it all wrong. The set up for the show doesn’t make for a legitimate serious drama.  And instead of treating the show like campy fun, it takes itself way too seriously and seems to think adultery is an IMPORTANT topic. And that they are telling an important story. The music is dramatic. Their conversations are dramatic. (Sample line: “After the first betrayal, there is no other.” Well, okay then!) The slow motion is dramatic. The dramatic pauses are dramatic. It’s all utterly exhausting.

A show like Betrayal has got to immediately make viewers sympathize with the two characters who are about to do something very bad. Do I feel for Sara because she is the good girl who never did anything wrong until now? Not really. Do I sympathize that Jack fell into a marriage because he was grateful to his wife’s family? Not particularly. Did I buy that each of them never realized that something was missing in their marriage until they met each other? Um, no.

The pilot also sets up a Revenge like scenario involving Jack’s ruthless father-in-law Thatcher (James Cromwell) and the episode begins with Sara being shot and then immediately flashing back six months. Who is holding her hand as she is rushed away in the ambulance? Her husband or her boyfriend? Yeah, I so don’t care. And this whole “let’s begin and the end” storytelling device is so overdone.

There are a few bright spots – Henry Thomas (E.T.) stars as Jack’s brother-in-law.  Wendy Moniz (The Guardian) is Jack’s wife and Merrin Dungey (Alias) is Sara’s boss Alissa. I like all of those actors and am delighted to see them. I just wish it was on a better show.

Are you planning on watching Betrayal? Are there TV shows you are irrationally angry about? Talk about it below.