Is ‘Golden Boy’ Golden?

Photo: JoJo Whilden/CBS

Photo: JoJo Whilden/CBS

By Amy Amatangelo, TV Gal ®

Often when I sit down to watch a new series, I don’t read any of the press material associate with the show. I want to watch the show not knowing exactly what it’s about or who it’s from. Given my profession, that’s not always easy to do, of course, but it happened with Golden Boy, premiering tonight at 10 p.m. on CBS.

By the time the DVD arrived, I had forgotten what the show was about. But as I began watching the pilot, something about the grittiness of New York City, the cuts between scenes, and the cadence of the characters’ dialogue seemed very, very familiar. “This show, I thought to myself, reminds me of NYPD Blue.” Turns out that’s because it’s executive produced by Nicholas Wooten, who began his career writing and producing NYPD Blue.

I should pause now to issue my disclaimer: -We all know I love TV. But sometimes my relationship with a show transcends that of viewer/TV show. There are some shows that hold a particularly special place in my life.  NYPD Blue is one of those shows. (The other four are Cheers, Beverly Hills 90210, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Homicide: Life on the Streets). I loved NYPD Blue. I never missed an episode in its entire 12 year run. I still wonder what was the deal with Danny Sorenson and those paper clips. I still get chills when I think about the screen fading to white after Bobby died. I could talk to anyone for hours about how Andy Sipowicz is one of the greatest television characters of all time.

I tell you this because it means I’m predisposed to like Golden Boy. Anything that evokes the tone of NYPD Blue already is starting off in my plus column. Add in the fact that Greg Berlanti , the man behind my beloved Everwood as well as Brothers & Sisters, Political Animals and Arrow, is the show’s other producer and it almost feels like the pitch meetings started off with “We want to make a show that Amy Amatangelo will love.”

Theo James (aka the lost Franco brother) stars as NYPD Detective Walter William Clark, Jr. Seven years from now, Clark will become the youngest police commissioner in the history of the NYPD. The series flashes back to the present as we learn about Clark’s rapid and unlikely rise from rookie detective to commissioner. What we do know is that the seven years have not been kind to him – he looks and acts much older than his years. (Perhaps he needs to invest in a good moisturizer?)

CBS is the home of crime procedurals and what I like about Golden Boy is that the drama puts an interesting and innovative twist on the standard cop drama. Yes there’s the case of the week but it’s couched in the mystery of all that transpired between the present and the future. It’s a quirky set up that totally works.

Chi McBride co-stars as Clark’s partner Detective Don Owen. I can’t think of an actor who deserves for his series to be a hit more than McBride. He starred in Pushing Daisies, The Nine and Human Target –all great shows that were cancelled way too soon. Golden Boy should not be added to the list. The rest of the cast is also strong including Kevin Alejandro (who I still miss on Southland), Bonnie Sommerville (who starred in the final season of NYPD Blue) and Holt McCallany (Lights Out).

There’s been so much talk lately about the new shows that have tanked in the ratings including Deception, Do No Harm, and Zero Hour. But those were all bad shows. Golden Boy is a good show that could become a great one. I’m rooting for it to be around for a long time. After you watch the show tonight, let me know what you think.


‘Switched at Birth’ Giveaway!



By Amy Amatangelo, TV Gal ®

As you know, I love Switched at Birth (Monday at 8 p.m. on ABC Family). The show is educational without being preachy. It pulls you into the teenage drama and angst without being tawdry. I so appreciate that  Bay (Vanessa Marano) and Daphne (Katie LeClerc) have age-appropriate problems. They’re not acting like they belong on The Real Housewives of Kansas City. The series also gives the adults on the show their own issues and problems. While the children are the center of their world, their worlds don’t completely revolve around the children. John (D.W. Moffett) is running for office. Regina (Constance Marie) struggles with sobriety. Kathryn (Lea Thompson) is carving out a career for herself and not at all happy simply being the political wife. And even when the show goes down a cliched path (Daphne’s brief romance with the chef last year), it still surprises me with the outcome.

When I was in LA last month, I had the chance to visit the set of the series with my fellow TV critics and talk to the series creator Lizzy Weiss about the show’s upcoming all American Sign Language episode (next Monday, March 4). You can read my story about my visit to Switched at Birth here.

I’m also giving away the book “Switched at Birth: The True Story of a Mother’s Journey” by Kathryn Kennish. Post a comment about why you love the show by Friday, March 1 at 5 p.m. ET. I will pick a winner at random from all the comments.

ls ‘Glee’ Out of Ideas? Should we trust Claire on ‘The Following’ and other TV questions

CR: Bob Mahoney/FOX

CR: Bob Mahoney/FOX

By Amy Amatangelo ®

Here are my biggest TV questions this week:

1. Is Claire Matthews secretly one of Joe Carroll’s followers on The Following?

The first season of 24 changed me as a viewer. I trust no one now. No one. And just as Nina was revealed to be a traitor in the first season finale of 24, I don’t think Claire is as innocent as she seems. She was married to Joe. How is it that she suspected nothing exactly? Clearly The Following loves surprising viewers (witness the little menage-a-followers in last night’s episode). Could this be the big surprise of the season? Was Claire’s relationship with Ryan merely a ruse to distract him? I’m doubling down on this one – Claire is not what she seems. Who’s with me?

2.  Is there a more cringing inducing story line that Tina lusting after Blaine on Glee?

Honestly is Glee completely out of ideas? Shows always suffer when they’ve exhausted every possible romantic permutation and start coming up with ridiculous pairings. Finn kisses Emma? Blaine has a crush on Sam? The worst offense is Tina lusting after Blaine.  I still shudder at the thought of Tina putting vapor rub on Blaine and crying while he slept. It wasn’t sad and poignant. It was creepy and unsettling. Where did this even come from? I’m all for the underused Jenna Ushkowitz getting more screen time but this is not the way. Plus it exposes one of Glee’s worst offenses. Characters are completely and irrationally inconsistent. Why would Tina fall for a guy she knows is gay? And what exactly did Blaine have to apologize for? For being gay and not liking Tina the way she likes him? Glee doesn’t make a lot of sense most of the time. But this story line makes no sense none of the time.

3.  Does Scandal need to go back to fixing other people’s problems?

You know I love how completely nuts Scandal is. The show is ridiculous in the best, most entertaining way.  But, even for me, last week’s episode was too much. The President is now a murderer? Sure everyone on Scandal pretty much exists in a gray area. Despite all the talk about Olivia and company being “gladiators in suits” and the good guys, we know that’s not completely true. They are the good guys only in the right context.  But I still don’t want the President to be a murderer.  And I didn’t quite believe that Abby would turn on David like that. It’s a dangerous game Scandal is playing – characters should be flawed, that’s what makes them interesting. But they shouldn’t be so flawed that we are unable to root for them anymore.  Scandal needs to take a break from all the conspiracy and the back stabbing and the murder. This week’s episode (Thursday at 10 p.m. on ABC) skips ahead 10 months and begins Scott Foley’s guest star arc. The official press release for the episode says the team will be handling a new case. A few stand-alone episodes will do the show good.

4. Is there a more obvious story line than the doctors trying to buy the hospital on Grey’s Anatomy?

If it’s the settlement from the lawsuit that’s bankrupting the hospital, of course the doctors are going to try to buy it. Why did we have to spend three episodes getting to this obvious conclusion.  I’m finding Grey’s Anatomy positively tedious this season. Anyone who can name all the new interns without looking them up deserves some sort of prize. Because I call them Smash, Tina Majorino, the one I always forget about, annoying girl in love with Jackson and Lexie 2.0.

5. Is there a more annoying character on TV right now than Scarlett on Nashville?

She is so whiny and her accent is way over the top. I actually think I’m on Avery’s side which can’t be what the show intended.  Nashville is starting to become the show I hoped it would be but I always want to fast forward through the Scarlett scenes. Really the only time I want to listen to her is when she’s singing.

What do you think about what’s happening on The Following, Grey’s Anatomy, Glee, Nashville and Scandal? Talk about it below.

 Where Have I Seen Them Before?

Amy Hargreaves is Gail, the woman Tom hit with his car on The Carrie Diaries. She plays Carrie’s sister Maggie on Homeland.

Nazanin Boniadi was the public relations expert following Alex around on Grey’s Anatomy. We just saw her on Go On as Hannah, Carrie’s friend who went out with Ryan. She was, of course, Barney’s girlfriend Nora on How I Met Your Mother.

Abby Elliott is Ted’s new crazy girlfriend Jeanette on How I Met Your Mother. She was on Saturday Night Live for four seasons and, interesting fact, was the original Kate in Ben and Kate before the role was recast with Dakota Johnson.

Susan Misner is having a busy TV season. She plays Louis Canning’s wife Simone on The Good Wife.  Stan Beeman’s wife Sandra on The Americans. And she was on The Following last night as Ryan’s sister Jenny.  I also recognized her as Dan and Jenny’s mother Alison on Gossip Girl.

This one was bugging me for a while. Leah Pipes was the senior who wanted Rachel to be topless in her movie on Glee.  She was Katie in the short-lived CW series Life is Wild.

Quotes of the Week

“I’m like the Joan Cusack character in the romantic comedy of your life.” Mindy to Jamie on The Mindy Project.

“Little choke doesn’t like caramel and also he’s dead.” Laurie about why the Latin Kings didn’t accept her gang initiation cake on Cougar Town.

“Child stars go downhill no matter how good they are. They could star in a Spielberg movie and still end up playing the nutty mom in some sitcom,” Virginia to Sabrina on Raising Hope in a nice little shout out to The Goonies.

“I’m a squirrel. You’re a nut. Winter’s coming and I’m going to store you in my cheek girl.” Schmidt to CeCe on New Girl.

“That’s for cancelling My Name Is Earl,” Burt as he kicked the NBC executive on Raising Hope.

“I want painful, difficult, devastating, life-changing, extraordinary love. Don’t you want that too?”Olivia to Edison on Scandal. Oh Olivia, my dear, sweet Olivia, you need SO much therapy.

“Do you think she’ll still like me now that I’m dead?” Chris after suffering food poisoning on Parks & Recreation. 

“I think you should stay and I think we should fight.” Pam to Jim on The Office.

“Rayna, I’m done talking.” Deacon to Rayna before kissing her in the elevator on Nashville.

“Not everyone in here looks like they are on the CW. Some of us are more PBS.” Artie on Glee.

What do you think about what’s happening on The Following, Glee, Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal and Nashville? Talk about it below. If you’ve seen a familiar face or heard a great quote, let me know through my comment page. And don’t forget to follow my blog by entering your email in the upper right hand corner. That way you’ll always know when I have a new post up.

Can season 2 of ‘Smash’ be a smash?

Photo by: Mark Seliger/NBC

Photo by: Mark Seliger/NBC

By Amy Amatangelo, TV Gal ®

True story: A few weeks ago  I sat down to watch the advanced screener of Smash.  I watched an ENTIRE episode before I realized I had watched the second episode of the season and not the two-hour season premiere, which airs tomorrow night at 9 p.m. on NBC.

Sure I was mildly concerned that suddenly the show featured new characters who weren’t introduced. And yes I did find it a tad annoying that so many story lines were dropped sans any explanation.  But at no point did it occur to me that I was watching the episodes out of order. I only realized it when I went to watch episode two and realized I already had. It shows just what a mess the show was by the end of last season.  I thought the looniness that defined Smash‘s freshman season was simply continuing.

I loved the Smash series premiere last year. I had such high hopes for the series.  I watched every single episode of its freshman season. I wasn’t hate watching. I was watching with the hopes that someday the show would become the series I thought it would be in the pilot. And I would see sparks of potential – musical numbers that moved me. Relationships that drew me in (I loved Christian Borle’s Tom and Leslie Odom Jr.’s Sam). Anjelica Huston’s Eileen Rand in every, single scene.

And the problem wasn’t Ellis. Or Leo. Or Dev. Or Julia’s adoption. It was the way those storylines were executed. Ellis could have been a great character if he had been better written and better performed.  Think of Nolan on Revenge. He’s an equally ridiculous character but he’s much better written and infinitely better performed and we love him.

There were two near fatal errors.  Julia (Debra Messing) had an affair almost immediately. It’s hard to root for a protagonist who is not only cheating but cheating on the couch in the rehearsal room where there are a million open windows. I had no sympathy for her plight and that’s not a good thing.

The second was that Ivy (Megan Hilty) didn’t just change episode to episode. She changed scene to scene, sometimes sentence to sentence. Was she a vixen? Nice? Were we supposed to feel sorry for her? Hate her? Like her? Root for her? Was she strong? Weak?  By the end of last season when Ivy was overdosing, I said out loud to the TV, “Oh come on!” The disaster of a character I had come to know the first season wouldn’t even do that.

So Smash begins its second season hitting the reset button and hoping that viewers don’t have much of a long term memory. Dev is gone.  Ellis is gone. Julia’s family is gone (although poor Frank does get a send-off)  and so is Michael. That frees Julia up to date which is probably where the show should have had her in the first place (enter Rescue Me’s Daniel Sunjata). Storylines are completely dropped –usually with a mere throwaway line. Julia’s possible pregnancy? Gone. Ivy’s suicide attempt? Explained away.  Julia’s scarves? Gone, but strangely her clothes are still shapeless.

New characters abound. Jennifer Hudson joins the cast as Ronnie Moore, a Broadway star looking to change her good-girl image and Derek (Derek (Jack Davenport) is just the man to do it. Broadway stars Jeremy Jordan (Newsies) and Andy Mientus come aboard as singer/songwriters Jimmy Collins and Kyle Bishop who befriend Karen (Katharine McPhee). Hudson is predictably fantastic. She was my favorite years ago on American Idol and I always love to hear her sing. But her character is clichéd. Jordan’s Jimmy is a little too petulant and so far Mientus’ Kyle doesn’t really leave an impression. And we are still hearing about what an amazing talent Karen is and how she has that indescribable star quality.  The only problem is it still seems that Ivy is the one bursting with talent.

Anytime a show hits the reset button, it’s starting from a disadvantage.  New showrunner Joshua Safran is trying to fix the problems he inherited. It’s too soon to tell if he’ll succeed.   Did you watch Smash last season? Are you going to watch this season? Talk about it below.

‘Monday Mornings’ – Not a Good Way to Start Off Your Week

Monday Morning

By Amy Amatangelo, TV Gal ®

You’ve seen Monday Mornings, premiering tonight at 10 p.m. on TNT, before – ER, Grey’s Anatomy pick a medical drama, any medical drama.  Except Monday Mornings is much more depressing and so much more affected. The new series, from executive producers David E. Kelley and Sanjay Gupta, who wrote the book the series is based on, is exhaustingly melodramatic.  Ex-haus-ting. The action moves in excruciating slow motion. There are close ups that make no sense whatsoever. The actors contort their faces into exaggerated expressions as if playing to the last row of the theater.There are bizarre distractions that take you out of the action. (Ving Rhames spends the first two episodes with glasses on his head. They could hang out with the hat Maria Bellow wore on Prime Suspect last year.)

The title of the series refers to the morbidity and mortality conference the doctors have every week. Except on Monday Mornings, it’s not a place for the doctors to share their experiences and learn from their mistakes. The conferences exist so the chief of surgery, Dr. Harding Hooten (Alfred Molina), can berate and humiliate his staff.  Dr. Hooten is so nasty to his colleagues that it’s hard to believe it when he’s nice to his patients. (Also watch how much time the show spends on Hooten pouring a glass of water. Again –ex-haus-ting.)

The rest of the doctors are all types we’ve seen before – they’re pretty, they’re stressed, their personal lives are a mess and they care deeply about their patients. You could drop them into another medical drama and they could just keep going (if that could happen I’d send Jamie Bamber’s Dr. Tyler Wilson to Grey’s. He’s the only doctor I’m interested in seeing again.)

I must call attention to Dr. Sung Park (Keong Sim, who will look familiar because he played Mike’s dad on Glee). Dr. Park is a brilliant neurosurgeon who speaks in broken English.  When a patient asks him for advice, he says “Not do. Die.” He mixes up clichés and gets words wrong. It’s played for laughs but it’s offensively stereotypical.

Kelley is known for pushing TV boundaries – this is the man that gave us the dancing baby and Denny Crane.  But Monday Mornings is trite and no amount of medical intervention can bring it back to life.  After you’ve watched Monday Mornings, let me know what you think.