Jess and Nick Kiss on ‘New Girl!’ Jim and Pam fight on ‘The Office!’ Should you watch ‘Do No Harm?’

Nick and Jess kiss

Credit: FOX

By Amy Amatangelo, TV Gal ®

Can we talk about the kiss Jess and Nick shared on this week’s New Girl? That was one excellent TV kiss. I’m blushing just thinking about it. Nick is so my new secret TV boyfriend.

I had a chance to talk to Jake Johnson when I was in LA recently. You can read my interview with him here. Johnson had really interesting things to say about whether or not Nick and Jess should get together.  Nick has really blossomed as a character this year. I like to think of him as the sleeper breakout character of the season. He’s kind of snuck up on us.

I am fascinated by how the show is handling the whole Jess/Nick “will they or won’t they” conundrum. Much like how The Office handled Jim and Pam, Jess and Nick aren’t monopolizing the story telling but they are kind of percolating underneath the roommate shenanigans at all times. I don’t want them to get together yet. And I definitely don’t want a possible romance between the two of them to dominate the show. But, like Ross and Rachel on Friends, I’m pretty sure they belong together. How about you?

And speaking of The Office, I’ve been hearing from quite a few of you who don’t like the big fight that Pam and Jim had last week. As you know, I usually like TV shows to end with  all the characters still continuing on in perpetuity. Sam is still bartending on Cheers. The Friends gang still meets up at the Central Perk except now they talk about which private school is best and how to handle the rebellious teenage years.

But with The Office, I don’t want to think of Jim still working at the Scranton branch of Dunder Mifflin forever. Since the show’s inception, Jim has been an underachiever who has never realized his full potential. I’ve liked this arc of Jim pursuing a new and inherently risky business venture.

Pam has always been the one who was happier with the status quo – the most telling insight into Pam’s character was when she was thrilled that Jim had secretly bought his parent’s house. She’s interested in pursuing her artistic ambitions locally. She painted a mural in the warehouse and applied to paint a mural for the city of Scranton.

That tension in Pam and Jim’s marriage to me is utterly believable as was their fight. Who hasn’t been in argument where you take out your anger at the wrong person when the person you are most mad at is yourself? Jim was frustrated that he had lost a key investor and upset that he missed Cece’s first dance recital. So he got irrationally angry at Pam for not taping it. I’m not saying he was right, of course, but the fight rang true. (As a side note, the only thing I didn’t find believable was that CeCe would be in a dance recital. Pam had CeCe around the same time I had my daughter so I think CeCe is about a year away from any kind of group performance, but I quibble).

I also liked that this was the way we finally got to see someone from the documentary crew. Of course if the show heads down the path of Pam and Brian (Chris Diamantopoulos) flirting or Pam considering an affair, I may never speak to the show again and I take back everything I’ve said. Because the Pam I know would never, ever do that.  But I like the idea that Jim and Pam have known Brian as long as we have known Jim and Pam. Just as we need to meet the mother before How I Met Your Mother ends, we need to meet the documentary crew before The Office signs off.

Jim and Pam have always been the heart of the series and last week’s fight hit on the crux of the tension that has always existed in their relationship. I liked it. How about you?

And finally, let’s talk about Do No Harm, premiering tonight at 10 p.m. on NBC. The drama couldn’t ask for a better lead in. It will debut after the series finale of 30 Rock and a one hour episode of The Office. NBC hasn’t had a good show in the Thursday night 10 p.m. time slot since ER went off the air. And, alas, Do No Harm continues that trend.

Steven Pasquale (Rescue Me) stars as Dr. Jason Cole, a talented neurosurgeon who suffers from multiple personality disorder. Every night at 8:25 p.m. exactly his evil alter-ego Ian Price takes over and wreaks havoc on his life. I can play it pretty loose with TV in terms of facts but seriously every night at 8:25 p.m.? Yes that’s exactly how mental illness works. It’s nothing if not precise.

I might have been able to overlook that if the whole show hadn’t played like a Saturday Night Live skit. There were so many points where I was laughing when I know that’s not the reaction the series was hoping for. I really like Pasquale and I loved him as Sean on Rescue Me (and fun fact he’s married to Go On’s Laura Benanti in real life) but these characters are not for him. He plays Ian as totally maniacal and borderline cartoony. No need to watch Do No Harm. Trust me. You can listen to me talk about the show with my friend and fellow TV critic Mekeisha Madden Toby here.

Be sure to check out my review of tonight’’s 30 Rock series finale in Paste Magazine.

That’s all for today. What do you think about New Girl and The Office? Are you going to watch Do No Harm? Talk about it below.

Should you follow ‘The Following?’

Michael Lavine/FOX

Michael Lavine/FOX

By Amy Amatangelo, TV Gal ®

You know when you open a bag of potato chips telling  yourself you’re only going to have a couple and then you end up eating the whole bag? You’re not even sure why you ate them all because they didn’t taste that great. .

That’s kind of how I feel about The Following, premiering tonight at 9 p.m. on FOX. When FOX sent out the screener of four episodes last month, I sat down thinking I would only watch one episode that night. After the first episode was over, I thought, “I’ll just watch the first fifteen minutes of the next episode and then I’ll go to bed.” Cut to me up watching all four episodes in a row and staying up until 2 a.m. So there’s no way I can deny there’s something innately compelling about this drama from Kevin Williamson (Dawson’s Creek, Scream, The Vampire Diaries). I just didn’t necessarily feel that great after binge viewing the show.

Kevin Bacon stars as former FBI agent Ryan Hardy. In 2003, Hardy captured serial killer Joe Carroll (James Purefoy), who had murdered 14 female college students.  Now Carroll has escaped and the FBI calls in Hardy to once again put a stop to Carroll’s murderous spree. But it seems that former college professor Carroll, who is obsessed with the writings of Edgar Allen Poe, has been very busy in jail. He’s become something of a cult leader to depraved people seeking acceptance and a group of their own. Adding a romantic angle to all the violence, Carroll’s ex-wife Claire Matthews (Natalie Zea) and Hardy fell in love during the investigation but haven’t spoken in years.

Is it a preposterous notion that a serial killer would be able to amass followers who would want to carry out his bidding? Not necessarily. We live in a crazy world. Do I want to see these followers commit violent acts on a weekly basis? Not necessarily.

Williamson excels at creating suspense. The Following has shocking plot twists and reveals. Williamson has said he was a huge fan of 24 and you can definitely see that.  The Following has a distinct 24 feel.  Bacon, in his first foray into television, is a compelling lead. As with Kiefer Sutherland’s Jack Bauer, you’ll kind of believe Ryan can do anything.

No Ryan isn’t crossing Los Angeles in 15 minutes or uploading complicated schematics to his cell phone but like Jack Bauer, he’s the only one who can stop Joe Carroll. Like Jack Bauer, Ryan Harding is a damaged, troubled soul. He’s sacrificed everything for his job. Like 24, The Following manages to quickly get viewers invested in new characters. And like 24, you’ll start to doubt everyone. (I don’t want to spoil anything right now but in a few weeks we can discuss who I’m most suspicious of).

Purefoy plays Joe Carroll as all charm. This is a man who doesn’t feel bad about what he’s done or what he’s going to do. He feels no remorse. No guilt. That may work for a movie. But I’m not sure how it will work for a TV show, especially when this is essentially a two-man show. At some point I’m sure the series, which is already prone to flashbacks, will tell us exactly what made Joe Carroll Joe Carroll. But I don’t care about his motivations.

Even before all the most recent talk about violence in our entertainment, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to watch a weekly TV series about a serial killer with a cult following. The Following often feels like violence for violence sake. And it must be addressed how misogynistic the show is. A lot of women die and are tortured. A lot. Their deaths are gory and brutal.

Despite the talent both in front and behind the camera, the show leaves you feeling rather empty. After that bag of chips, you may vow to only eat fruit and vegetables for a week. And that’s kind of how I felt about The Following. The show made me want to sit down to a marathon of the kindler, gentler, much better series Switched at Birth.

After you have watched The Following, let me know what you think in the comments section or by emailing me through my contact page.

‘Scandal’ Giveaway!

Credit: ABC

By Amy Amatangelo, TV Gal ®

Last week I had the opportunity to visit the set of Scandal with my fellow TV critics. It was a fantastic set visit. Everyone was so delighted to talk to us about their show. They seem to have as much fun making Scandal as we have watching it. We also got a sneak peak at this week’s episode which is called “A Criminal, a Whore, an Idiot and a Liar,” (one of the best episode titles ever, don’t you think?). I can’t tell you much about it but I can say that once again Olivia is wearing some fabulous gloves and that the ending had a few rather shocking plot twists.

You can read my story about my Scandalous visit on Emmys.com. Since I couldn’t bring you with me on the set visit, I’m giving away the DVD of Season One of Scandal. To be eligible, post in the comment section why you love the show.  I’ll pick a winner at random. You must post by 5 p.m. EST Friday, January 18. This giveaway is limited to residents of the United States and Canada.

A Chat with Eden Sher of ‘The Middle’

Credit: ABC/Bob D'Amico

Credit: ABC/Bob D’Amico

By Amy Amatangelo, TV Gal ®

As you all know, I’m a huge fan of The Middle (Wednesdays at 8 p.m. on ABC). The show is so funny without having any snarky undertone. (If you’re not watching the show, give it a try. Have I steered you wrong before?) The comedy features two of the best teenage characters on television. When I was at the Television Critics Association Press Tour last week, I had the chance to talk to Eden Sher, 21, who plays the ever-enthusiastic, middle child Sue Heck.

Question: How much of you is in Sue?

Eden Sher:  Sue was like my Sasha Fierce. She was my alter ego. I have become more like her. I think we’ve sort of melded into one. I think it’s like if you spend enough time around another person you’ll eventually be like them and I spend so many hours of the day pretending to be Sue.

Question: I always say there’s a little bit of Sue in anyone who has ever been a teenage girl. Do you think that’s true?

Sher: I don’t think it’s a universal thing. It’s a common thing. Definitely a relatable thing among people but I have come across some cynical people who just by nature do not have any Sue in them and I always feel like those are the people who need the most Sue.

Question:  Sue is a great role model.

Sher: There are tons of arbitrary standards that specifically women are held to, held to very harshly and they don’t matter at all. Sue is the poster girl for not giving a s*** about what anyone else thinks. She is totally unapologetically her. Always. Walk into a room. Don’t care about what anyone else thinks. It’s time to do Sue.

Question: What’s coming up for Sue? Will she get a boyfriend?

Sher: Yes! It’s a real life natural progression. If there was like an older brother and a younger sister, the  younger sister is probably going to date one of the brother’s friends. The writers sort of took that dynamic and made a little story line and Sue gets an older BF. He’s kind of a dope. He’s one of Axl’s friends that you’ve seen around. [TV Gal note: Could it be Darren who took Sue to the prom last year? Or Sean who Sue had a crush on in season two?]

Question:  You wrote and directed a short film called The Suitcase. How is that coming along?

 Sher: It is 97% done, it just needs five hours in post sound but I’ve just been so busy working.

Question: What’s it about?

Sher: It’s about a girl’s journey on her way to the subway and that’s all I will say.

Question: Do you think you want to do more things behind the camera?

Sher: I would love to write or direct something in the future. I’ll probably just keep writing because that’s a compulsion. I can’t help that. The quality is not very good but the quantity is large. I would love to do something behind the camera. That’s probably what everyone says.

Question: Do you think you will always want to act?

Sher: Acting is draining. Acting is physically exhausting. It’s definitely something I want to continue to do in the very immediate future. I see no stopping that in the next two, three, four years but beyond that but I don’t know. But then I would sort of just love to be in TV forever and just love to be on this show forever. I have a personal relationship with TV. Before I was even on TV, I just always related more to TV than to movies. I like the idea of going back week to week and building a personal relationship with these people and to sort of evolve with their lives. I love that.

Question: You (@edensher) and your co-star Charlie McDermott (@charliemcdrmott)  are very funny on Twitter. How did that get started?

Sher: I’m best friends with Charlie in real life. We just rag on each other. We just make fun of each other a lot. Most of the time we’re just having these exchanges two feet away from each other. We like to make fun of each other for always being on our cell phones. He’ll call me ‘Cell Phone Sally’ but he, in fact, is ‘Cell Phone Sal.’ He’s the major culprit on set for always being on his phone.

Question: But you guys aren’t dating?

Sher: No absolutely not. We’re very, very close. I set him up with one of my best friends. He was dating her for a very long time. I’m dating someone else. We all get along like family.

‘The Following’ kiss

Kevin Bacon and James Purefoy kiss

CR: Frank Micelotta/FOX

By Amy Amatangelo, TV Gal ®

Thought you all might like to see the kiss Kevin Bacon and James Purefoy, who star in the new FOX series The Following (premiering January 21 on FOX), shared on stage this morning at the Television Critics Association Press Tour in Pasadena. This was their response when a reporter asked about their on-screen chemistry.

On ‘Bunheads,’ Boo and Booooooo

SUTTON FOSTER

By Amy Amatangelo, TV Gal ®

Hello and Happy New Year! I hope everyone had a great holiday season. I’m pretty sure I spent 50% of my time between Christmas and New Year’s doing dishes. How about you?

After taking a long winter’s nap, TV is back in the full swing of things this week so let’s get to it.

Bunheads returns tonight at 9 p.m. on ABC Family. As you know, I can’t decide if I love or hate the fact that the series is basically Gilmore Girls Redux. When The Newsroom premiered, someone clever put together a video clip of how Aaron Sorkin often uses the same dialogue. I’m fairly confident someone could do the exact same thing with Amy Sherman–Palladino. Whole scenes from Bunheads seem directly lifted from Gilmore Girls. The series gives me a sense of déjà vu every time I watch it.

On Bunheads, Michelle is Lorelai. Fanny is Emily Gilmore (she’s even played by the same actress). Paradise is Stars Hollow. Sasha, Boo, Ginny and Melanie are Rory and her friends. (With Boo being my favorite. I love her.) I understand Sherman-Palladino’s desire to recreate the magic of Gilmore Girls and not veer too far outside her comfort zone. (Anyone remember The Return of Jezebel James?) The acting on the show is terrific. I like that, like Gilmore Girls, it’s a show that can play to multiple generations. We really don’t have enough of that on TV. (ABC Family really excels in this area. Switched at Birth, which also returns at 8 p.m. tonight, is another show multiple generations can watch together).

I  also like that the show has teenage characters who aren’t vampires and aren’t behaving older than they should be for their age.  And like Gilmore Girls, Bunheads does a great job of making even the show’s secondary and tertiary characters fantastic. I’m particularly fond of Truly (Stacey Oristano, who played Mindy Riggins on Friday Night Lights) and Boo’s mother Nanette (Jennifer Hasty).

However, Bunheads is missing any real conflict. The entire premiere is spent with Michelle back in Vegas living with her friend and performing with a cheesy magician in Henderson. But here’s the thing: We all know there’s no way Michelle is staying in Vegas. We all know she’s going to return to Paradise. There wouldn’t be a show if she didn’t. So despite the enjoyable performance and fun banter (seriously I would watch the fabulous Kelly Bishop have a tete-a-tete with anyone),  the whole hour feels like we’re just biding our time until Michelle makes her inevitable return. The trick on a TV show is to make something the audience knows is going to happen interesting (see what How I Met Your Mother did with Barney’s proposal to Robin) and the Bunheads premiere doesn’t pull that off.

Bunheads is also missing its Luke. I enjoy still getting to see Alan Ruck in flashbacks but with Hubbell dead, Michelle needs a romantic interest, one that the audience can root for.  What do you think about Bunheads? Are you going to watch tonight’s premiere? Talk about it below.

NBC premieres Deception tonight at 10 p.m. The hour long drama plays out like someone said “Hey, you know how ABC has a hit on its hands with Revenge? We should totally do that.” The series is a blatant, but not at all clever,  attempt to capitalize on Revenge’s popularity last season. Detective Joanna Locasto (Meagan Good) returns to place she grew up to investigate the death of her former best friend Vivian Bowers.  The FBI has been investigating the Bowers family and is convinced that Vivian’s death wasn’t an accidental overdose.

There are plenty of bad shows on TV but I always get particularly upset when I don’t like a show that features so many actors I do like.  Deception stars Victor Garber (Alias), Tate Donovan (Damages) and Marin Hinkle (Once & Again). That’s a lot of great talent to waste on such a boring show. And the kicker is that the series gets even more dull in next week’s episode.  My official review is: BOOOOOO!

I’m at the Television Critics Association Press Tour this week. I’ll be gathering as much fun TV information as I can to share with all of you. Have a question? Seen a familiar face? Hear a great TV quote? Email me through my contact page and let me know.