TV Gal December Swag Giveaway

By Amy Amatangelo, TV Gal ®

Here’s a secret to share with all of you: I am not neat. At all.  I like to say, I’m organized in my head, everywhere else, not so much.

And as someone who writes about TV, I get a lot of fun TV swag mailed to me. As wonderful as that is, it also means a daily deluge of clutter to keep up with. My goal is to be able to see my office floor by Christmas (sadly that is only a slight exaggeration). Therefore, for the holiday season, I’ve begun clearing out my TV Swag coffers and will be giving it away to all of you.

Everyone who is a follower of my blog by 11:59 p.m. EST on Monday, December 3 will be eligible to participate (I don’t even care if you’ve been naughty or nice this year, although I prefer nice).  Beginning, Tuesday December 4, I will give away one prize every weekday until December 25.  Each day, I will pick a number at random (generated by and give a swag item to the person who matches the number on my list. For instance, if the number is 52, I will give it to the 52nd person who signed up to follow my blog. You will get to choose which TV swag item you would like until all the swag is gone.

So, if you haven’t already, sign up to follow my blog and help me clean out my office. Here’s the list of swag I will be giving away.

Glee (FOX) graduation cap (shown above)

Fringe (FOX) fedora

Kirstie Alley’s Big Life (A&E) Nesting Dolls

Shark Week (Discovery) 25th Anniversary T-Shirt

2012 Breaking Bad (AMC) Calendar

Set of 50 USA Network Characters Welcome Postcards

Bones (FOX) mouse pad

Faceoff (Syfy) Make Up kit

Bob’s Burgers (FOX) Hamburger Press

Take Me Out (FOX) Night Out Kit (contains nail polish remover, clear nail polish, double sided tape, deodorant, etc.)

GCB (ABC) kit with hairspray, self-tanner and lip gloss

Haven (Syfy) T-shirt

New Girl (FOX) bath towel

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle (Nickelodeon) action figure

Two Duck Dynasty (A&E) Willie Robertson Chia Pet (will be given as two separate prizes)

Don’t delay. Sign up to follow my blog today!

Where Have I Seen Them Before and Quotes of the Week for November 27, 2012

By Amy Amatangelo, TV Gal ®

I hope everyone had a fabulous Thanksgiving. Here’s a few weeks worth of familiar faces and quotes.

Where Have I Seen Them Before?

Molly Cheek was the woman interviewing Jess for a job on New Girl (remember Jess cried because her dog was so small). She played Jason Biggs’ mom in all the American Pie movies.

Jennifer Hasty was Henry’s biological grandmother on Private Practice. She plays Boo’s mom Nanette on Bunheads.

Mark Christopher Lawrence was Unique’s dad on Glee. He was Big Mike on Chuck.

Luke Kleintank is Grace’s new boyfriend Connor on The Good Wife. He is Finn Abernathy on Bones and was Elliot on Gossip Girl.  Haviland Morris was the member of AA who had to testify at the judge’s hearing.  To me, she will forever be Caroline Mulford from Sixteen Candles.

Valerie Cruz is the CIA agent protecting Jess and the kids in the safe house on Homeland. Cruz is a very familiar face. In addition to several guest star appearances, she was Dr. Zita Alvarez on the cancelled Shonda Rhimes series Off the Map and Kathy Sullivan on Alphas. We will see her again this Sunday and my guess is that she’ll have a lot to do because that seemed like the least safe safe house possible. What was with all the windows?

TV Gal reader Tom recognized Gary Anthony Williams as the news reporter covering the Natesville Radish Festival on Raising Hope. He was Stevie’s dad on Malcolm in the Middle.

Mary Pat Gleason was the former spy who now ran a bed and breakfast on Scandal. She was Ida on The Middleman. Sam Anderson was the former spy turned doctor.  He was Bernard (of Rose and Bernard fame) on Lost but , to me, he will always be the evil lawyer Holland Manners on Angel. Richard Gilliland was Barry, the lawyer for the hacker on Scandal.  I always remember his as J.D. on Designing Women. In real life, he’s married to actress Jean Smart.

Michael Trucco is Nate Ryan, the brother of the man who invested in Jack’s bar on Revenge (otherwise known as the most useless story line of the season). Trucco was just seen as Robin’s boyfriend Nick on How I Met Your Mother. He’s also Justin on Fairly Legal. A few seasons ago, he was Kate’s boyfriend Detective Tom Demming on Castle and he was Samuel Anders on Battlestar Galactica.

L.Scott Caldwell was the wife of the man Sam’s mother was having a long-term affair with. She was Rose on Lost, Ricky’s foster mom Margaret on The Secret Life of the American Teenager, and Lydia’s mom Enid on Southland.

And yes that was Principal Belding of Saved By the Bell as one of the judges Marshall was presenting to on How I Met Your Mother.

Quotes of the Week

“I am hopelessly, irretrievably in love with her. More than she knows.”  Barney to Nick about Robin on How I Met Your Mother. The show keeps pulling me back into this story arc.

“My mom is a little bit perky. . . She doesn’t have my dark side.” Jess  on New Girl.

“Do you think I really care what happens to me anymore?” Brody on Homeland.

“A big shot from the big city with his fine credentials and heaven-may-care grooming doesn’t have the kind of power he’s accustomed to.” The prison warden to Saul on Homeland.

Have you heard a great quote or seen a familiar face, email me and let me know. And remember if you want to be part of my December TV swag giveaway, sign up to follow my blog.  Everyone who is following by blog by December 1 will be eligible to win.

TV Throwdowns

By Amy Amatangelo, TV Gal ®

As TV viewers, we must make tough choices. In that vein, I present to you my current TV throwdowns.

New Glee Students vs. New Grey’s Anatomy Interns: Glee had an obligation to add new students. It is, after all, a show about a high school Glee Club. It would be impractical to keep the actors high school students forever especially since many of them looked as if they passed the exit to high school long before the show started. But, we didn’t really need new interns on Grey’s. We have enough doctors to keep up with as it is. On top of that, while the Glee students may be knock-offs of the originals (in the grand tradition of Valerie becoming the new Brenda and Gina becoming the new Valerie on 90210), they have made an impact. I may not like Kitty, but at least I know who she is. While watching Grey’s last week, I did not even recognize Leah (Tessa Ferrer). When she talked about having slept with Alex, I thought, “Is this girl hallucinating? She’s never been on the show before.” Turns out she’s been on the show twice before. Who knew? The rest of the interns I refer to as the crying one, Smash and Tina Majorino. Winner: The new Glee students.

Marvin “Wait For It” Erickson (How I Met Your Mother) vs. Carl Porter (Revenge): I know it’s hard to have a real baby on a TV set. If my daughter had been on any TV show as a baby, you would not have been able to hear any of the dialogue over her screaming, but I digress. Last week when Marshall was wearing a doll in a baby carrier, it was as if How I Met Your Mother wasn’t even trying.  The scene was ridiculous. Say the baby is sleeping or out for a walk or whatever, just don’t show us a lifeless baby doll. It was disturbing Baby Carl may be the easiest, most well behaved baby on the planet but at least he’s usually played by an actual baby. Winner: Carl Porter.

Nellie Bertram (The Office) vs. BJ (Ben and Kate): Who is the better saucy British sidekick? The Office has done a lot of work to make Nellie a more tolerable character this season. The smartest move the show made was to make her one of the gang. Now she’s the one colluding with Jim and Pam to play a trick on Dwight instead of the antagonist. They’ve also attempted to give Nellie a personal life to try to humanize her character. But despite her character rehabilitation, too much damage was done last season. I still prefer Lucy Punch’s absolutely outrageous BJ. Winner: BJ

The technology on Scandal vs. The technology on The Killing: Both shows seem, at times, to be stuck in the early 2000 technology wise. Rumors spread a few weeks ago that Netflix might pick up The Killing for a third season. In addition to the fact that this might not be the best idea creatively (the show struggled so in its second season), I wondered if the characters on The Killing even know what Netflix is or that’s it’s possible to watch a TV show via the Internet. This is, after all, the show that has a police detective using a flip phone and driving a car with no automatic locks. But over on Scandal, Olivia still receives photos via fax machine (I honestly thought my mother was the only person who still used a fax machine so at least she’s in good company) and Cyrus’s husband is excited about being on the front page of a newspaper (wouldn’t he be more excited about being the featured story on the paper’s website or getting his own blog for a political website?).  Meanwhile the show has Huck who can hack into anything at any time. At least The Killing was consistent with its archaic technology. Tough call but winner: Scandal.

Stockard Channing as Alicia’s mom (The Good Wife) /Adrienne Barbeau as Victoria’s mom (Revenge): Which mom am I most looking forward to meeting this Sunday? Well I already love Alicia’s brother and I’ve missed having the Former First Lady on TV. Except for the Storyline That Shall Not Be Named, The Good Wife does an excellent job with its guest stars. Revenge, however, wasted Jennifer Jason Leigh. WASTED HER. I’m not even sure of the reason for having Leigh on the show.  Winner: Stockard Channing.

Where do you weigh in on some of these TV throwdowns? Talk about it below. Have a question? Seen a familiar face? Heard a great quote? Email me and let me know.  And remember to sign up to follow my blog if you want to be part of my December TV Swag giveaway. Coming soon, my open love letter to Parenthood, Part 2.

First Quarter Report Card for ‘Elementary,’ The New Normal,’ ‘The Mindy Project’ and ‘Nashville’

By Amy Amatangelo, TV Gal ®

You can only tell so much in a show’s pilot. You can sense the potential or lack thereof. You might know at a gut level whether you’re interested in the characters or not.  But really the pilot is merely a peek into what could be. I had no idea when I watched the pilot for Buffy the Vampire Slayer that it would turn into the landmark TV. But I knew from the moment I watched the first episode of Arrested Development that it would most likely become one of my favorite TV shows of all time.

With that in mind, let’s check back in on four new shows that have been picked up for the full season.

The New Normal (Tuesday at 9:30 p.m. on NBC): To my utter surprise, I’m still watching The New Normal.  So there’s definitely something there that keeps me coming back each week. Perhaps it’s just to see what Babe Wood Shania will do next. Wood is the discovery of the season. And while the show isn’t as funny as it needs to be to actually be a comedy, it has, at times, been surprisingly poignant. I loved the episode the October 23 episode that found Bryan and David searching for godparents.  When the show tones down its preachiness, it is actually capable of providing thoughtful commentary.

But, as much as I hate to say it, Ellen Barkin’s Nana is a huge, almost insurmountable problem for the show. There’s some sort of graduate student thesis that could be written about why Sue Sylvester works as a character on Glee and Nana doesn’t.  Both women make absolutely outrageous homophobic and racist comments. Both women have no problem doling out vicious, personal attacks.  Both women are, on the surface, beyond offensive. Yet Sue has always provided great entertainment value. Nana is cringe-inducing. Perhaps it’s because The New Normal has given Nana no redeeming qualities. She is the cruelest to her own granddaughter. Seeing Sue with her sister let the audience know that she had a loving side to her and I always feel that, on some level, Sue actually cared about her students.  Nana is merely angry at the world and that much vitriol in an endless loop is tedious to watch.  Nana needs to go back to Ohio.

The Mindy Project (Tuesday at 9:30 p.m. on FOX): There is so much that is not working about this comedy and it starts with Mindy Kaling. As I said in the review I wrote for Paste Magazine this week, Kaling’s character becomes increasingly unlikeable with each passing week. The crux of the problem is that she’s playing a doctor -not just any kind of doctor, an OB/GYN.  If you want women to watch your show, you really can’t mess around with that. Most women have a trusted relationship with their OB/GYN.  These are the doctors who know your most personal information. They see you through your pregnancy and the delivery of your baby.  As I’ve always said, I don’t need a ton of realism from my TV shows. But I need to believe that Mindy actually is a doctor. (At least to the same degree I believe Phil Dunphy is actually a real estate agent or Robin Sherbatsky is actually a news anchor). So I want to watch a comedy where Mindy is actually good at her job and cares about her patients.  I want to believe the premise the show is built on – that Mindy has her professional life together but her personal life is a mess.  Dr. Lahiri and her colleagues don’t seem to ever work. Mindy is vapid and vain. I wouldn’t trust her to paint my nails.  She would probably stop half way through so she could chase a boy or try on outfits. There are so many other problems with the show (beginning with the painful underutilization of Anna Camp) but if your main character isn’t working, the rest of your show isn’t going to work.  Mindy Lahiri needs a profession where other people’s lives aren’t at stake. I fear the character’s career choice is fatal error from which the show cannot recover.

Elementary (Thursdays at 10 p.m. on CBS): The biggest problem this crime drama is facing is that it keeps casting familiar faces as the weekly bad guy.  The show films in New York City. It needs to take a page from the Law & Order playbook and start casting more theater actors – faces that viewers don’t know. Because if we see David Costabile, who has had major arcs on Breaking Bad and Damages, as a janitor, we’re not fooled. We know he is probably the bad guy.  And if we solve the crime before Sherlock does every week, we are going to get bored. My other issue with the show is that Lucy Liu and Jonny Lee Miller are giving incredibly strong performances but the series is struggling to integrate the mystery part of the show with the interpersonal aspects of the character’s lives.  It is often clumsy and awkward.

Nashville (Wednesdays at 10 p.m. on ABC): This was my favorite new show of the season and, for the most part, it has lived up to my expectations. I’m enjoying the continuing development of Rayna’s character. Given my affection for Friday Night Lights, I expected Rayna to be a tough-as-nails/heart-of-gold type character. But she’s evolved into something much more complex than that.  I like that I don’t always like Rayna. Deacon, who she clearly loves, calls her from jail and she declines the call? That seems awful but it also tells me quite a bit about their shared history. Maybe this is the fifth, tenth, or twentieth time that has happened. I would like to see Eric Close’s Teddy be less of a pawn in everyone else’s game.  But the character I’m having the biggest problem with is Scarlett. As much as I love Scarlett’s music, I’m not that into her character. Her little-girl-lost act is grating and so is her stand-by-her-man nonsense – at least she stopped standing by her man last night. It’s tricky to play a character that fragile and innocent and still make her compelling. So far Scarlett is the show’s weakest link.

What new shows are you still watching? How do you think they’re doing? Talk about it below. If you’ve heard a great quote or seen a terrific familiar face, email me and let me know. And remember to sign up to follow my blog (upper right hand corner) if you want to be part of my December TV Swag Giveaway.

Dysfunction Junction: TV’s Most Unhealthy Romances

By Amy Amatangelo, TV Gal ®

Love is in the air all over TV. A long simmering romance is finally blossoming on Castle. George and Dallas are positively adorable as they discover what it’s like to date after divorce on Suburgatory.  And the great tradition of falling for a former cast member of Friday Night Lights continues on Parenthood.

But while other couples are going out for fancy dinners and canoodling, several unhealthy relationships are getting plenty of screen time. A look at some of the most dysfunctional couples currently on TV:

Angela, The Senator and Oscar on The Office (Thursdays at 9 p.m. on NBC): This entire storyline is such a dark turn for The Office to take in its final season. Yes Angela isn’t the nicest character. She’s nasty to Kevin and was awful to Andy. She constantly puts down Pam and makes fun of Phyllis. But do I want to see her, as Kevin so aptly put it, discover that her entire life is a lie? Not really. I can’t find the humor in finding out that your husband is cheating on you with a man.  And after nine seasons, I would love to have Oscar find true love. But does that true love have to be at Angela’s expense? Not sure what the writers were thinking when they went down this path. There are not a lot of laughs to be mined here.

Olivia and President Fitzgerald Grant on Scandal:Just a few weeks ago I was wondering where this particular story line could go. There are only so many times a fabulously dressed Olivia can defiantly announce to Fitz that their relationship is over. There are only so many times he can give her his hurt puppy face in response. I liked the knowledge of their affair as a starting point for the series. The idea that they both want something they absolutely cannot have is a great undercurrent to all the action. But the whole thing was beginning to feel a bit redundant. Until, that is, the show hinted that Olivia, the First Lady, and Cyrus had collaborated to fix the election. I couldn’t figure out why the series kept emphasizing that the opposing candidate had lost by 4,359 votes in Ohio.  But now it definitely seems like there was some voter tampering going on and if Olivia wasn’t a part of it, she was aware of it.  And since it appears that the President was not, that should add a new interesting wrinkle to their relationship. While I’m on Scandal, as much as I love the show (it’s second on my must watch on my DVR list after Parenthood), I’m concerned that Olivia is getting duped by her clients too easily. She’s not the ultimate fixer if she discovers after the fact that the Governor did know his wife was having an affair. That kind of last minute bait-and-switch reveal reminds of what The Practice always used to do.

Carrie and Brody on Homeland: This duo is the definition of dysfunction.  Three weeks ago Carrie was triumphantly told Brody that he was under arrest for being a traitor to his country and this week she’s hungriliy making out with him in the woods.  What works about their twisted romance (if one can call it that) is that as a viewer, I never know if Carrie has true feelings for Brody, if she’s playing him or if it’s a little bit of both.  When she told him in the interrogation room that if she were being honest she would tell him she wants him to leave his wife for her, it’s hard to tell if it is some confession ploy or the real deal. And the thing is –  I don’t think Carrie knows her true feelings either. Her work and her life are so enmeshed that how she feels about Brody is part of her work.   There’s a fine line between love and hate but when it comes to Carrie and Brody, there’s a fine line between love and obsession.

Victoria and Conrad on Revenge: Since the dog died last season, there are no functional couples on Revenge. (Jack and the dog were our last hope).Everybody is using everybody. Conrad and Victoria viciously plot to bring each other down. They trade barbs and insults. But when they were both facing death,  they held hands.  It wasn’t sweet exactly but it was something. As the patriarch and matriarch TV’s most outlandish prime time soap, Victoria and Conrad are better together even if they both have a knife in the other’s back.

What couples do you think define dysfunction on TV? Talk about it below. I’m back on Thursday to check in on how some of this season’s new shows are doing (The New Normal, Nashville, Elementary). Remember to sign up to follow my blog (upper right hand corner) if you want to be part of my December TV Swag Giveaway  And if you’ve seen a familiar face or heard a great quote, email me and let me know.

Familiar Faces and Quotes of the Week November 9, 2012

By Amy Amatangelo, TV Gal ®

Where Have I Seen Them Before?

Diane recognized a slew of familiar faces on Castle.  Armin Shimerman played Benjamin, the man who sold TV replicas. He was Principal Synder on Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Quark on Deep Space Nine. Ed Quinn was Gabriel Winters, the actor who played Captain of Nebula-9. He was Nathan Stark on Eureka. Erin Way was the best friend of the victim. She’s Kat on Alphas and I remember her as the receptionist Wendy Chapin-Lomeister on the cancelled-too-soon Detroit 1-8-7. Christina Moore was Stephanie Fyre, the actress who played Lt. Chloe. She was Candy the nurse on Hawthorne and Naomi’s mother Tracy on 90210.

Afton Williamson is Makena, Juliette’s publicist on Nashville. She was Helen Walker last season on Homeland.

Angella recognized Abraham Benrubi, Jerry on ER and Ben on Men in Trees, as one of the suspects on Bones.

Anika Noni Rose was Joan’s former friend and colleague on Elementary. Last season she was Sam’s sister Corrine on Private Practice and Peter’s nemesis Wendy Scott-Carr on The Good Wife.  Rose will be back on The Good Wife later this season.

Here’s a fun why does she look familiar face: Zoe Perry played Katy, Cristina’s patient who underwent risky heart surgery on Grey’s Anatomy.  She’s the daughter of Laurie Metcalf (Roseanne) and Jeff Perry, who currently plays Cyrus on Scandal and was Meredith’s dad Thatcher Grey on Grey’s Anatomy.

Quotes of the Week

“If you remember I’m the one who came up with that theory when everyone else was calling him the patriot of the century.” Carrie on Homeland after Quentin tells her not to trust Brody.

“That’s more than a ‘no,’ that’s a never.” Peter when Maddie asks him to run as her Lieutenant Governor on The Good Wife.

“Okay if you are going to insult me, you’re going to have to use smaller words.”  Axl to his tutor on The Middle.

“Alex don’t fight with her. She might have a shiv.” Luke after Haley is arrested and kicked out of school for assaulting a police officer on Modern Family. I’m glad Haley is back home and will no longer merely be a face on the computer screen.

“I’m a fan of good sci-fi. Star Trek, Battlestar, that Joss Whedon show.” Castle to Beckett on Castle.

“I don’t want the circus. I just want you. I want us.” George to Dallas on Suburgatory. They are definitely my new favorite TV couple.

“Dance or you’re fired.” Meredith to her interns after telling them to have a 30 second dance party on Grey’s Anatomy.

Have a great weekend. Remember make sure to sign up to follow my blog so you will know every time I have a new  post.  And if you see a familiar face or hear a great quote, email me and let me know.

Bring These Actors Back to TV

By Amy Amatangelo, TV Gal ®

I get attached to TV shows and when they’re gone, I often have a hard time letting go. Until recently my TiVo still had a season pass manager to Friday Night Lights. (I liked the idea that it was constantly searching for new episodes. I held out hope that maybe it would find one).

Every year I’m thrilled when TV actors I adore are in new projects.  But the TV landscape is still missing some of my favorite actors. I’m not talking about the obvious choices. Clearly Josh Holloway and Kyle Chandler need to be back on TV. I’m talking about the lesser-known actors who played such a distinct and memorable part that their show would not have been the same without them.

Here are my picks for the faces that have been away from TV for far too long.

Amber Benson (Tara Maclay on Buffy the Vampire Slayer): Benson was utterly fantastic as Willow’s patient, loving girlfriend. She’s an actress who can express so much with her plaintive eyes. I’m perplexed that she hasn’t landed as a series regular somewhere.

Janel Moloney (Donna Moss on The West Wing): Together with Bradley Whitford’s Josh, Moloney created one of the great will-they-or-won’t-they couples of the last decade. Her rat-a-tat banter with Josh was part of the reason The West Wing was such memorable television. Aaron Sorkirn tried to recreate the same rapport with his characters on both Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip and The Newsroom but Moloney was one of a kind.

Luke Macfarlane (Scotty Wandell on Brothers & Sisters):  Is it wrong than he was my favorite Walker? With his sympathetic face and kind demeanor, Macfarlane quietly broke ground as one half of TV’s most realistic gay couples.

Keiko Agena (Lane Kim on Gilmore Girls): A girl couldn’t ask for a better best friend than Lane. She was loyal yet independent. Supportive but always willing to offer constructive criticism. Agena infused Lane with a believable likeability and also added depth to a character that could have been a TV stereotype.

Jamie Kaler and Michael Bunin (Mike and Kenny on My Boys): You know all the hilarious exchanges between the guys on New Girl? The boys on My Boys were doing that long before Jess met Schmidt and the gang. Real life buddies Kaler and Bunin have a great time riffing with each other. They had their own show last year on DirectTV, On Deck with Jamie and Mike, but I would love to see the duo whooping it up in a comedy again. Don’t tell the others, but they were always my favorite boys.

Bryan Batt (Salvatore Romano on Mad Men): Every season of Mad Men, I think “this will be the season Salvatore makes his triumphant return.” His departure from the series, while completely reflective of the time, was so abrupt. Batt brought a lovely pathos of a man leading a duplicitous life.

Who would you like to see back on TV? Talk about it below. And remember to follow my blog by entering your email in the top right-hand corner. I’m gearing up for a big December TV swag giveaway for the followers of my blog.

‘Once,’ ‘Glee,’ ‘Grey’s’ & ‘Up All Night’ – Has a Change Done Them Good?

Photo by: Gavin Bond/NBC

By Amy Amatangelo, TV Gal ®

TV shows must evolve. Stay in one place too long and the show will exasperate viewers (see How I Met Your Mother), change too much and viewers feel as if they’re tuning into a completely different show (see Heroes).

A look at how four shows that underwent big changes this season are faring:

Up All Night (Thursdays at 8:30 p.m. on NBC): It’s never a good sign when a show completely reinvents itself in its second season. I take it as an implicit confession. “Um you know all that stuff we did last year? It didn’t really work and we know it.” So Up All Night took away Ava’s (Maya Rudolph) talk show, put Chris (Will Arnett) back to work, had Reagan (Christina Applegate) become a stay-at-home mom and introduced the character of Reagan’s brother. None of the changes really stuck. I miss Ava and Reagan’s work environment (especially the dear, departed Missy) and Ava is stranded with no real reason for being on Up All Night except that she’s played by Maya Rudolph. (It’s a bit of a circular problem for the series since last season’s focus on Ava’s talk show stemmed from Rudolph’s Bridesmaid’s success). Now, all of Ava’s story lines are ungracefully wedged in. (Really, do we need to see Ava’s version of a haunted house?  Maybe she and Sean Hayes can spin-off into their own show. ) Without Ava’s show, it’s hard to understand why Ava and Reagan are friends. But we can’t spend any more time talking about this because Up All Night will air two more episodes this fall before returning in the spring in yet another incarnation.  This time the single camera comedy is changing to a multi-camera show  (As a point of reference, New Girl is single camera, The Big Bang Theory is multi-camera).That means a live audience and a more limited, static stage (the days of Reagan and Chris taking walks with baby Ava outside are probably over). I wouldn’t be surprised if more things changed between now and then (the show is shutting down production to redo the stage). If you want my truly fearless prediction, I’m ready to double down that the show won’t come back at all. I adore Arnett and Applegate. As a parent of a toddler, this show is made for me. However, Up All Night has always had flashes of smart humor but it’s never quite come together. And I’m not convinced the third iteration will be the charm. I am trying to think of when a show reinvented itself and it worked and the only example I could come up with was when These Friends of Mine became Ellen after one season.

Once Upon a Time (Sundays at 8 p.m. on ABC): The drama took a gamble when it blew its original premise away in the first season finale. Certainly it could have wrung a few more seasons out of everyone in Storybrooke not realizing they are actually fairytale characters. In the second season premiere, the show transported its two lead characters back to fairytale land. Now the show has three worlds – Storybrooke, the fairytale world that was and the fairytale world of the present.  That’s a lot of different worlds for viewers to keep up with in 42 minutes.  And it’s doubled the amount of special effects which I’ve always found problematic. The fairytale world looks like the characters are stuck in a video game. I now rate all special effects on a scale of 1 to Sarah Michelle Gellar’s boat scene in the Ringer series premiere (with obviously the Ringer scene being the worst.) On that scale, I would put the Once Upon a Time special effects at about a five. That combined with the idea that Jennifer Morrison can take a Clark Kent approach to looking younger (give her a pair of glasses and she’s 17 again!) often takes me out of the show. I’m nervous about the amount of characters the show continues to introduce – again it’s a lot for viewers to keep up with. But I really do appreciate that Once didn’t go the traditional route with its narrative. I love the introduction of Michael Raymond-James as Emma’s ex-boyfriend and Henry’s father. (In my world of denial, Raymond-James is on the show as part of an elaborate and belated Terriers crossover).  And putting Emma and Snow together with the mutual mission of being able to return home is a great way to quickly bond mother and daughter.  But in general my advice to the show would be the same my father used to give me when I was little and talking really fast – slow down.  We don’t need to meet every possible fairytale character this year.  Every episode does not have to take place in three worlds. Let’s leave something for season three.

Grey’s Anatomy (Thursdays at 9 p.m. on ABC): My favorite part of this whole season has been Cristina’s budding relationship with Mr. Feeny, I mean Dr. Thomas. Much like he did for Cory and Topanga, Dr. Thomas is full of sage wisdom for Cristina. He’s also softening her character and helping her realize she still has a lot to learn about being a doctor. Plus it just makes sense that Cristina would move on and leave Seattle Grace. I never truly believed Cristina and Owen as some grand star-crossed couple so I’m okay with them being apart. The biggest problem I see the show facing is what to do now. I’m fine with Cristina working and living far away but is that a sustainable model? My other big gripe with the season is the Arizona story line. I’m simply not believing that Arizona, an informed, educated doctor who has made a career out of making difficult medical decisions, would blame Callie. Yes I understand that she’s mad at what happened to her and yes Callie is the easiest person to take her anger out on but I’m still not buying it. It’s a perfectly believable reaction of someone who went through this level of trauma, but it’s not working for me. Perhaps it’s because the show spent so many seasons building Arizona up as this perpetually cheery character.

Glee (Thursdays at 9 p.m. on FOX):  This fantasy version of New York City is a bit ridiculous. Suddenly Rachel’s waking up in the morning with hair extensions, full make up and false eyelashes. Everything that was grating about Rachel Berry has become exacerbated in New York.  But that’s nothing compared to the Kurt storyline. I could go along with the fact that he gets a job at based on his charm and edgy style. But that Sarah Jessica Parker’s Isabelle Wright would confide in him? That one’s little hard to believe. And her fairy godmother act isn’t that interesting. I keep waiting for her to steal one of Kurt’s ideas and claim it as her own.  Back at McKinley High, all the new students have edged out the adult characters. Sue Sylvester, who was a defining part of putting the show on the pop culture radar, has barely been seen this season. And Will has nothing to do. He’s to this season of Glee what Cindy and Jim Walsh were to 90210 once Brenda and Brandon graduated. Glee needs to find better, more relevant storylines for Mr. Schu and find a way to better balance its multiple characters and multiple locations.

How do you think Once, Glee, Grey’s and Up All Night are doing? What other shows do you think have undergone major changes this season and how do you think they’re doing? Talk about it below. On Thursday, I’ll have this week’s best quotes and familiar faces, so if you’ve heard a great quote or seen a familiar face email me and let me know about it.

An interview with Bellamy Young, the First Lady of ‘Scandal’

Credit – Angelo Kritikos

By Amy Amatangelo, TV Gal ®

Last week I had the chance to talk to the delightful Bellamy Young, First Lady Mellie Grant on Scandal. In case  you missed the great news, ABC recently ordered a full season of Scandal so we will get 22 episodes this season. That means viewers will be treated to much more of the First Lady’s devious scheming.

Ms. Young and I had a lovely conversation, although the North Carolina native was somewhat tight-lipped about what is coming up on the juicy drama (which airs Thursdays at 10 p.m. on ABC). She laughed and told me she’s had to go through publicity training to learn to not give away the show’s secrets. But she did have lots to say about the Grant’s turbulent marriage, where their two children are and what it’s like to be fake pregnant.

TV Gal: I’m always surprised by how much sympathy I have for Mellie. How difficult is it to play a character who can be so awful without alienating her from viewers?

Bellamy Young: I’m blessed because our writers are incredible. They always put the pain underneath the anger. It’s always coming from a place of being so hurt and there’s no one who can’t relate to that. We’re never worse than to the people that we love in those dark, dark moments. It really does feel like Tony [Goldwyn, who plays President Fitzgerald Grant] and I have decades of history between us and there have been so many good times. We have two lovely children, a third on the way and you remember that marriages go through a lot and we’re meeting them in a really ugly moment. But there have been so many other times before that. It’s just one sort of dip in the dance that they’re doing together that’s not the prettiest color on either one of them but they’re still very much a team. It’s like taffy you can pull it any direction and it stays intact.

TV Gal: Obviously you’re not a conniving First Lady, what is it about Mellie that you connect to when you play her?

Young: Mellie couldn’t be any more different than I am. On some levels that is so freeing – to be this completely self-confident, my way or the highway, women is kind of a thrill. In terms of the emotional truth so much of it resonates with me – the pain of it all. I’m human. People have hurt me and when they hurt me I lash out. There’s nothing that I don’t understand about where Mellie is coming from in those moments of abject pain and desperation.

TV Gal: This season you were promoted to series regular. What has that experience been like?

Young: It’s truly my first time as a bride. I can’t think of a way to be any luckier. It is a dream and they just keep writing incredible things for me to do. It’s so much fun it almost blows my mind.

This is an incredible next level to be able to relax into something. You never get to have these rich conversations when you’re guesting. It’s very very different when you get to build these lives with a core group of people with the writers and the actors. To live with someone for so long it starts to come from your marrow, from inside your thigh bone, what Mellie would do. You really know her. You start to speak up for yourself and  your character.

The genius and the joy of it is that with every script comes a new revelation. You kind of add that layer to the onion, you get to feel like you have a really complicated, breathing existence.

The other side of this honestly is getting talk to people like you about things like this. I’ve never had an experience and been commenting on an experience at the same time. That has been a huge learning curve.

TV Gal: You worked with [executive producer] Shonda Rhimes before on Grey’s Anatomy, right?

Young: It was actually the Grey’s Anatomy  episode that was the spin- off for Private Practice. It was a two hour episode and I was in the Private Practice part of it. My arc on that episode went from absolutely comedic to absolutely tragic.

TV Gal: You mentioned to me that you are really excited about the eighth episode of the season which you recently completed filming. Can you tell me anything about that or anything else that is coming up on the show?

Young: We have another flashback episode coming up. That was one of everybody’s favorite episodes last year to do and to watch. And again it just delivers in spades this year. It just informs all the drama and wonderment that’s going on in real time so much. The history just makes it that much more angsty and intense.

Mellie has her fingers in some very important pies coming up.  There’s some Abby and David juiciness. We’ll see if there’s any future for Senator Edison Davis and Olivia. We have more Cyrus and James to look forward.

TV Gal: What about Fitz and Mellie’s children? Where are they?

Young: It will be explained in an upcoming episode and hopefully we will see them. They’re in boarding school. Tony and I think outside of Santa Barbara where my family is from. I get that question increasingly. There’s a baby inside of Mellie so people think, “Um is she going to be an okay Mom?”

TV Gal: What’s it like being pregnant on the show?

Young: I love being fake pregnant. As an actor you’re always flummoxed about what to do with your hands, and you can put them on your belly, rub your belly. You can rub that belly and sort of look beatific and say the most hideous things.  It’s a joy plus you don’t have to worry about what you ate, if your belly is fat , if your butt is big. It’s just sort the greatest sort of gift.

TV Gal: Have you filmed the arrival of the blessed event yet? Will we get to see Mellie deliver the baby?

Young: I have to plead the fifth on that one.

TV Gal: The entire cast is very active on Twitter when the episodes air you tweet in both east coast and west coast time.

Young: It’s just incredible to talk to people who are watching the shows in real time. It’s almost like theater again. You get to  really see how it’s all landing with people. (You can follow her @BellamyYoung)

TV Gal: I know Scandal keeps you very busy. Is there anything else  you are working on?

Young:  I will be back sometime this season for two more episodes of Criminal Minds [as Hotchner’s love interest Beth]. And I executive produced and co-starred with David Arquette in the movie The Cottage which is now out on DVD.

Familiar Faces and Quotes of the Week for November 1, 2012

By Amy Amatangelo, TV Gal ®

Here are this week’s familiar faces and favorite quotes.

Where Have I Seen Them Before?

Harvey Guillen was Elijah, the boyfriend of Sabrina’s gay best friend on Raising Hope. He was Alistair on Huge and, as I believe I’ve already told you, no one on Huge will go unrecognized on my watch.

Lindsay Sloane was Ben’s crazy ex-girlfriend Louise on Ben and Kate.  She will always be Marcy on Grosse Pointe to me.

I want to apologize for not figuring out this one earlier. Carter MacIntyre, who plays Luke, Jane’s new guardian angel on Drop Dead Diva, is Nick Calhoun, Sheldon’s suicidal patient on Private Practice. I didn’t love Luke. I missed Fred too much. How about you?

Matt Long is the new ER doctor on Private Practice. He was Jack on Jack & Bobby and Joey, one of the copywriters on Peggy’s team, on Mad Men.  We just saw him on an episode of The Newsoom as one of Leona’s (Jane Fonda) employees. Charlie Hofheimer, Peggy’s boyfriend Abe Drexler on Mad Men, was the father of the missing girl. Years ago I saw Hofheimer in a play at the Williamstown Theatre Festival and he was amazing. I’m still waiting for him to become a breakout star.

Eve Gordon was the mom of the missing girl on Scandal. She will always be Felicity’s mom on Felicity to me but she’s also currently playing June’s mom on Don’t Trust the B__ in Apartment 23.

Ethan Embry is Arizona’s new physical therapist on Grey’s Anatomy. We saw him this summer in the season finale of Drop Dead Diva as the husband who wanted his wife to have brain surgery.  He was also Declan on Brotherhood and will forever be remembered as Preston in Can’t Hardly Wait. Embry will soon be seen on Once Upon a Time.

Molly Price was the secretary who had been systematically killing people so her boss would advance on Elementary. Price was Officer Faith Yokas on Third Watch.

Quotes of the Week

“He relieved the pain and then he put you back together as someone else.” Carrie to Brody about Abu Nazir on Homeland.

“Don’t give up. That’s not the Lisa Loeb I know.” Tracy to Liz on 30 Rock.

“I’m letting you go. That’s what you want , right?” The President to Olivia on Scandal.

“Father, sometimes I read US Weekly and I’m so concerned for the state of the world.”  Bryan to his priest on The New Normal. By the way, The New Normal is getting better. Discuss.

“It’s so weird being my own role model. I recommend it.” Mindy on The Mindy Project.

“I’m just 90% sure, he’s 100% gay.” Claire about Alex’s new boyfriend on Modern Family. This storyline was brought to you by The Middle.

“Doesn’t society degrade you enough? The beer ads, the wage gap, and the chart-topping return of Chris Brown.” Tessa to her classmates who want to dress like sluts for Halloween on Suburgatory.

Remember if you’ve seen a familiar face or heard a great quote, email me through my contact page and let me know about it. I’ll include them in next week’s post.