‘How I Met Your Mother’ and Other Fights I am Having with TV

Photo: CBS © 2013

Photo: CBS © 2013

By Amy Amatangelo, TV Gal ®

“Our ninth season will tell the epic story of the longest wedding weekend ever.”

That’s How I Met Your Mother creator and executive producer Carter Bays in the official statement CBS released about the finale. It makes my stomach hurt. Look I completely understand artistic vision and no show runner can make all the viewers happy all of the time. Nor should they. They shouldn’t bow to viewers’ wants and desires. So if Bays and his co-creator and executive producer Carter Thomas want to spend the ENTIRE ninth season on Barney and Robin’s wedding, that’s their prerogative.

But, frankly, I don’t understand why. I was surprised to learn that Bays and Thomas had intended to end the series with viewers just getting a glimpse of the Mother as we did in the finale.  We’ve all invested eight years of our lives in this relationship and I, for one, would like to see it play out.  I want to see Ted and the Mother fall in love, maybe even get engaged. I want to see the Mother and Lily become best friends and share footwear. I want to see the Mother fully embraced by the gang.

Plus, for reasons I’ll never understand, the show has made such a big deal about the fact that Ted is still hung up on Robin. This last little do-si-do in the Ted and Robin dance is truly horrendous. Really we’re going to hold hands in the rain? The show has beaten the storyline in such a way that I’m worried there’s no way we can be happy if Robin marries Barney and no way we can be happy if she ends up with Ted.  They are slowly but surely sucking all the joy out of a show I once loved.

I get that Ted still being hung up on Robin may be somewhat realistic – some people do spend their whole lives trying to get over someone. But that truth doesn’t make Ted’s pining particularly interesting to watch.  For me to feel good about the Mother, I need to see Ted get over Robin and that can’t happen in one weekend.

In the “The Time Travelers” episode it seemed to me that the show was strongly hinting at the fact that the Mother was no longer alive. I still have this lingering fear that the Mother died when the kids were little and Ted has been married to Aunt Robin all this time. Is that what the flash forwards next season are going to tell us?

My other problem with this week’s big reveal is that it’s too little, too late. Timing is everything in romance and in television. What is arguably the show’s biggest moment happened at a time when I am past really caring who the Mother is. I am happy that she is a relative unknown. I’m happy for Cristin Milioti. TV is a tough business and it’s nice to see someone we haven’t seen before getting such a high profile role. Everyone is talking about her Broadway run in Once but I want to go back and watch the three episodes where Miloti played Johnny Sac’s daughter on The Sopranos.

How did you feel about the How I Met Your Mother finale? Talk about it below.

But it’s not just HIMYM that has irked me in the past couple weeks, I’m also bothered by the fact that:

Smash killed off Kyle: Ugh that episode was the worst. Kyle got the most amount of screen time after the show killed him off. And just a quick memo to Smash: We already get that Hit List is Rent. You really haven’t been subtle about that at all. And we already know that Jonathan Larson, who wrote Rent, tragically died the morning of the musical’s first preview. So did you really need the Rent poster in the background shot? No you did not. But if you were going to do that could you at least have the characters acknowledge Rent? The moment was already super meta because Jesse L. Martin stared in the original Broadway production of Rent. Honestly, I don’t know what the show was thinking with this maudlin VERY IMPORTANT EPISODE unless it was supposed to distract us from the rest of the show’s ridiculousness like Jimmy singing to himself or Tom becoming a different character every five minutes. Smash is in the midst of a colossal creative collapse. It’s rather fascinating to watch and see what they’ll come up with next (Derek being blackmailed?). I cannot wait until the cast is able to speak freely about what they thought about this second season.  Now that would be a show.

No closure on the Kalinda/Nick storyline on The Good Wife: I hear you. I don’t ever want to see Nick again either. But I do fear that the longer the story line goes unmentioned and unsettled, the more likely it could be that it could reappear when we least expect it. You can read my review of The Good Wife finale here.

Just about everything on The Following: I’ve been thinking a lot about why I’m so willing to allow ridiculousness on some shows and so intolerant of it on others.  For example, I don’t prefer but will allow the fact that James ended up being the one to interview Mellie on Scandal (especially because Cyrus explanation was somewhat reasonable in the Scandal world). But everything on The Following irks me. Maybe it’s because the premise to begin with is so unsavory or that the show keeps trying to find some poignancy amid all the gratuitous violence but the FBI’s utter incompetence (seriously how many times did they go places without backup?) and the show’s lack of basic logic made what was supposed to be a dramatic finale completely laughable. Obviously Joe Carroll is not dead and I’m pretty confident Ryan will survive (obviously).  Maybe the show will take a page from the 24 first season playbook and kill off Claire.  I started to wonder what would happen in season two and how the show could possible eke out more episodes on this ridiculous premise and then I remembered, oh that’s right, I DON’T CARE. I won’t be watching.

Not one but two more seasons of Glee?:  What can I even say about such absurdity? The season finale was inane even by Glee standards. As most of us had predicted but none of us cared, Unique was catfishing Ryder. Suddenly Joe and Sugar were back sans explanation. Rachel appeared to sing one song and then disappeared for the remainder of the episode. Britney got into MIT. Blaine’s still in high school but he wants to marry Kurt (what show do they think they are on? 7th Heaven?)  Next season, I must break up with this show. I must. I might need to form a support group to get me through it because when the show is good, it’s very very good (seriously that “Everything was Beautiful at the Ballet” number was splendid) and when it’s bad it’s beyond horrid.

Are you in a fight with a TV show? Talk about it below.  And don’t forget to follow up my blog by clicking on the link in the top right hand corner.


‘How I Met Your Mother,’ ‘The Good Wife,’ ‘New Girl’ and ‘Glee’ . . . this week’s TV questions

Credit: CBS

Credit: CBS

By Amy Amatangelo, TV Gal ®

Let’s turn our attention to the TV questions that are plaguing me this week.

Is Jayma Mays the mother on How I Met Your Mother?

At first, I was very excited about last night’s How I Met Your Mother. “Jayma Mays is the Mother!” I thought to myself. That euphoria lasted about five minutes before I realized that it is much more likely that Coat Check Girl as the possible mother is yet another bait and switch the comedy is pulling on its viewers.  Ted said he would have run to go see his future wife but really that could be anyone.  Besides, it would be a little confusing if the Mother we’ve been hearing about for eight seasons turned out to be Mr. Schu’s estranged fiancée. There are plenty of actresses out there and I hope that How I Met Your Mother picks a less than familiar face to play the title role. But mostly I hope we find out who the Mother is before the end of the season. I’ve looooong contended that the show was a strong enough comedy by itself and that it no longer needed the conceit of the title to keep viewers interested. Now, it’s more than a little annoying that the series keeps dragging out the big reveal.

Also, does anyone else think that by the time Ted is telling his children the story of how he met their mother that maybe the mother has died? There was something a little sad about the way he was saying he wanted those “extra 45 days” with her.  I totally get the sentiment behind what he was saying – we’ve all been waiting for a long time the next phase of Ted’s life to begin. But something about the scene didn’t sit right with me –it was as if the show was trying to hint at something else.  Like there was something more to Ted saying “I’m always going to love you til the end of my days and beyond.”  The whole scene had a slightly maudlin undercurrent.  Am I crazy for thinking this? Did this occur to anyone else? (Also if Barney and Robin’s wedding is 45 days away and they haven’t picked a caterer yet. They are in trouble.)

On a much lighter note, Ted, Barney, 20-years-from-now Barney, 20-years-from-now Ted, 20-minutes-from-now Barney and 20-minutes-from-now Ted singing “The Longest Time” is definitely one of my favorite How I Met Your Mother moments EVER.

Is Alicia truly in love with Peter on The Good Wife?

On Sunday’s The Good Wife (you can read my review of the episode here), Alicia had a heartfelt conversation with her daughter where she told Grace she was with Peter because she loves him. But I couldn’t tell if she was just telling Grace what Grace needed to hear. I believe Alicia loves Peter – they have a history and two children together. And clearly she’s still attracted to him. But is she still in love with him? I’m not so sure. There’s been a shift in the power dynamics and the way Alicia has treated Peter this season. She has the upper hand in their relationship (he needs her more than she needs him) and often it seemed like she was using their little afternoon delights to show who had the true power in their relationship (she even laughed at Peter when he said he wanted to take her out on a date).  Yes Alicia has used Peter’s political position to advance her career this season but I don’t think that’s why she is staying with him. She knows how much it would disrupt her children’s lives if she divorced Peter and pursued her relationship with Will.  And it’s hard to let go of her relationship with Peter and the family they have together. What do you think?

Will Jess and Nick hooking up ruin New Girl?

No, it will not. Plenty of comedies put their will-they-or-won’t-they couples together and it benefits the show – Pam and Jim on The Office, Sabrina and Jimmy on Raising Hope to name a few. It would be far more unrealistic if these two people, who live together and are clearly attracted to one another, did nothing about it for two years. The problem is that Nick does not have his life together – at all. He needs to figure his own stuff out before he can truly pursue a relationship. The trick will be to not make Jess and Nick like Ross and Rachel on Friends – that dragged on for way too long. Let Schmidt and CeCe be the Ross and Rachel. Nick and Jess can be the Chandler and Monica.

Does anything on Glee make sense anymore?

No, it does not. Santana and Quinn hook up? The show doesn’t have Quinn on all season and then brings her back just to fulfill a male fantasy cliché? Really Glee? Really? And it’s not like Brody was this great character, but a male gigolo? Really Glee? Really? Nothing about the characters is consistent. This has always been Glee’s Achilles’ heel. But this season the characters have been out of control. As we’ve previously discussed, witness Tina’s crush on Blaine, Blaine’s crush on Sam, and the aforementioned Quinn/Santana hook up. And the story lines are so erratic. Rachael could be pregnant! No she’s not!

And I’m wondering – is there another Glee that regularly features Sugar, Joe, Kate Hudson, and Sarah Jessica Parker? Not that Sarah Jessica Parker’s character ever made sense, but way too many characters have disappeared this season sans explanation. I still love the musical numbers. Seriously there’s not a better way to my heart than an ‘NSYNC/ Backstreet Boys mash up. At this point, the series should be a musical revue show with no dialogue and no plot.

What are your thoughts on How I Met Your Mother, The Good Wife, New Girl, and Glee? Talk about it below.

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.

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.

‘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 Vogue.com 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.

TV’s Best Tertiary Characters

By Amy Amatangelo, TV Gal®

How do you know you’re a great character?

There’s a fan outcry when you aren’t around.

Since Homeland began its second season, viewers have been plagued with questions:  Will Carrie realize she was right? Will Brody get caught? But perhaps the biggest question troubling viewers was: Where is Virgil?

The beloved surveillance expert brilliantly played by David Marciano finally returned on Sunday.  I actually clapped when he came on the screen. There is something so wonderful about Virgil and his relationship with Carrie. He’s exasperated when he should be, protective when he needs to be, and funny when the show is in desperate need of comic relief. Plus, he’s kind of the only character besides Carrie that I truly trust at this point.

But the really interesting thing about Virgil is that he’s obviously not a main character (that’s Carrie and Brody). But he’s not a secondary character either (lsuch as David Estes or Mike). He’s a tertiary character. And to make a tertiary character stand out you’ve got to be really good.

Here are some of my other favorite tertiary characters on television:

First Lady Mellie Grant (Bellamy Young) on Scandal: I adore Mellie. First of all, she’s a woman in the right. Her husband, the President of the United States, cheated on her and continues to be hung up on a woman he cannot and should not have.  Secondly, would you want to cross her? Young brilliantly pulls off the tricky act of being simultaneously sympathetic and devious. The scene in the limo where she asks her husband to forgive her? Heartbreaking. The scene where she tells her husband that she needs to start making plans for her future.  A little terrifying.  The season Young was promoted to series regular and is rightly getting so much screen time that she’s almost a secondary character.

Grizz (Grizz Chapman) and Dot Com (Kevin Brown) on 30 Rock: As Tracy’s entourage, the pair have provided some of the comedy’s best laughs with their droll commentary on their boss’s ridiculous antics. They’re the voice of reason not just in Tracy’s world but sometimes for the entire series. I would so watch the Grizz and Dot Com Show. Now that 30 Rock is ending, isn’t it about time for a spinoff?

Cora (Barbara Hershey) on Once Upon a Time: How do you make viewers feel sorry for the Evil Queen? Give her a mother who is worse than she is. Hershey is wonderfully evil. I’m so glad she is still around this season causing trouble. Also bonus points for the fact that Hershey actually looks like she could be Lana Parrilla’s mother.

Brad Bottig (Brock Ciarlelli) on The Middle: As Sue’s enthusiastic former boyfriend, Ciarlelli makes me smile every time he comes on the screen.  He also exemplifies what makes The Middle such a fantastic show.  Brad could have been a one note joke – Sue doesn’t realize that her boyfriend is probably gay. But he has become so much more than that. The Middle thrives because it’s a very funny show with humor based in truth and characters we know. I always say there’s a little bit of Sue in anyone who has ever been a teenage girl. And I definitely had friends such as Brad when I was in high school. He’s simply a fantastic character.

Burt Hummel (Mike O’Malley) on Glee: O’Malley provides some of Glee’s best moments. He is my favorite television dad.  Here’s hoping there’s a holiday episode in our future where Kurt goes home to see his dad.

Who are some of your favorite tertiary characters? Talk about it below.

Happy Endings, Don’t Trust the B ____ in Apartment 23 and Nashville

Here’s my three-part TV viewing assignment for the week:

There are times when I truly believe an episode of television was created just for me. It’s like television’s way of saying “thanks Amy. We’re glad you’re here.”  And the premiere of Don’t Trust the B____ in Apartment 23, which returns for its second season tonight at 9:30 p.m. on ABC, is one of those times.  James Van Der Beek, who continues to hilariously spoof himself, reluctantly decides he will do a Dawson’s Creek reunion.  I don’t want to ruin the jokes by telling you any more than that. But any show that can reference The Facts of Life Goes to Paris and stage a fame intervention is my kind of show. You must watch.

I have championed Happy Endings since it premiered. Dave writing thank you notes after being left at the alter is one of the funniest television moments ever (“Darkness reigns. Hope gurgles out its dying breath. Thank you for the beautiful crockpot.”).  As it returns for its third season (tonight at 9 p.m. on ABC), Dave (Zachary Knighton) and Elisha Cuthbert (Elisha Cuthbert) are back together but keeping it casual. They’re this decade’s Ross and Rachel if you didn’t think Ross and Rachel should actually be together. The show has become more Scrubs-like as the seasons have progressed (more totally out there flights of fancy humor) but the writing remains razor sharp. What other show has hilarious lines such as “You two have fun talking like Scott Caan’s groomsmen.”  Again, you must watch.

People, people, people. What is going on? Why oh why is Nashville (Wednesday at 10 p.m. on ABC) on the bubble? Why aren’t you watching the best new show of the season? This is starting to remind me of Lone Star. Talk to me.  Why aren’t you watching?

That’s all for today. Remember to follow my blog so you will know every time I have a new post. And on Thursday I’ll have this week’s best familiar faces and quotes so if you’re heard a great quote or seen a familiar face email me about them through my contact page.

Who needs to be Ellised? The Most Annoying Characters on TV

Photo by: Patrick Harbron/NBC

By Amy Amatangelo, TV Gal®

To Ellis: The act of removing a terrible, irritating character from a show.

When Smash returns next year, the much reviled Ellis will no longer be a part of the show.  Thankfully the new showrunner course corrected and decided to exile Ellis instead of trying to save his character. No amount of rewriting could have fixed the show’s Ellis problem.

Sometimes characters simply don’t work – a combination of a poor story arc, bad writing and questionable acting choices. They are characters who are so annoying that we fast forward through their scenes. Their presence brings the whole show down.

A few weeks ago I talked about good characters stuck on bad shows. Today, I turn my attention to bad characters who need to be Ellised out of a show.  They need to go to that great season pass manager in the sky or at least join Ellis on his Starbucks run for the creative team.

Here are the characters I would Ellis off a show:*

Hazel (Kristen Schaal) on 30 Rock: Kristen Schaal is a funny lady but I am so tired of Hazel. As a one-off joke as Kenneth’s replacement, she would have been fine. But I do not need to see her on a regular basis.  Hazel’s shtick got old very fast. Her character gets more freakishly bizarre in each episode but I’m not the least bit curious about her.  This is the final season of 30 Rock. We can’t be wasting valuable screen time on her.

Charlie Matheson (Tracy Spiridakos) on Revolution: Of my many issues with Revolution, my biggest one may be that I cannot stand Charlie. I probably should be rooting for the teen at the center of this post-apocalyptic battle but she is whiny and annoying. Honestly she could work with Emily Owens.  Revolution has been about shocking deaths lately. Let’s make Charlie one of them.

Charlotte (Christa B. Allen) and Declan (Connor Paolo) on Revenge: Sure Fauxmanda also is an annoying character but at least she serves an important plot purpose. Declan has absolutely no reason to still be on the show. The show keeps wedging him into the ongoing storyline. Really now Declan is going to become a part of a teen robbery ring? Paolo is returning to Gossip Girl for its final season. Can’t he take Allen with him and then the star-crossed duo can live out their remaining TV days on the Upper East Side.

Sam (Taye Diggs) on Private Practice: Why I’m still watching this insipid show is a blog post for another time but Sam is my pick for the worst character on TV right now. He’s an awful friend, a terrible romantic partner and a lousy brother. He’s a different character each week who is always righteously indignant about something.

Nick (Marc Warren) on The Good Wife: We can’t blame all the problems with the Kalinda storyline on Nick. The whole thing is the epitome of When Good Shows Go Bad. But Nick isn’t helping matters with his petulant sneer and penchant for food products.

Sugar (Vanessa Lengies) on Glee: When I first heard about Lengies’ casting last season, I was confused. The actress played a teenager on American Dreams, then actually got to play an adult on Hawthorne and now she was back to playing a teenager again? Her vapid character really doesn’t serve any purpose on this increasingly over-populated series. She’s not nasty enough to be fun to hate. We don’t have enough of her back story to actually care about her character. It would be easy enough to get rid of Sugar. I often forget she’s even on the show. And then Lengies, who I’ve always liked, can move on to another project.

*Please note that I decided not to pick on any child actor. I simply couldn’t do it.

Who do you think needs to be Ellised off a show? Talk about it below. And remember to follow my blog so you will know every time I have a new post.

The TV Gal Character Relocation Program

Photo by: Timothy White/NBC

By Amy Amatangelo, TV Gal®

We are a few weeks into the new television season and I believe it is time to activate the TV Gal Character Relocation Program (CRP). In the CRP, I sweep in and pluck good characters from bad shows and relocate them to a new series where their talents will be put to the best use. Really, it’s a public service.

Here are the current candidates:

Shania (Bebe Wood) on The New Normal to Glee:  The New Normal makes an Aaron Sorkin show look subtle. But aside from all the pontificating,  my main problem with the show is that it’s not funny. And, you know, I like my comedies to be funny. Sometimes I wonder if maybe I missed something and the The New Normal is actually supposed to be a half-hour drama.  But Wood is fabulous. Her impersonation of Little Edie from Grey Gardens was one of the best things I have seen on TV this year.  Let’s send Shania to Glee, another Ryan Murphy show which sure is uneven in quality but at least when it’s good, it’s very, very good. Shania could be a child prodigy who becomes the newest member of New Directions. Sure that’s a bit of an outlandish plot but is it anymore outlandish than Kurt landing a job with Vogue.com? I don’t think so.

Louis (Michael Urie) on Partners to New Girl:  Urie is trying his best with material he’s given. But honestly if you close your eyes and just listen to the show, it’s as if you’re watching a really bad version of Will & Grace. Same set-up (My analogy: Ali is to the jewelry design business as Grace was to the interior design business). Same jokes. Same elevator, even. Just a lot less charm. Louis could move into the apartment on The New Girl. He could talk fashion and, more specifically belts, with Schmidt while Nick and Winston could convince him to take his shtick down a notch or two. Now I would love to save Wyatt (Brandon Routh) too but, unfortunately, the CRP only allows me to save one character per show.

Miles (Billy Burke) on Revolution to Homeland: I’m exhausted by the fact that Revolution has been picked up for a full season.  I was really hoping the show would just go quietly to that great TV season pass manager in the sky. But no, now I’m going to have to keep up with its gaping plot inconsistencies and bad acting. Bill Burke is a great actor who has done a number of wonderful guest arcs (most recently as the nefarious Phillip Stroh on The Closer). The man deserves to be on an Emmy winning drama. On Homeland he could play a CIA agent who believes Carrie and helps bring Brody down. And then he could win an Emmy for his performance. See how well this could work out?

Dr. Brett Robinson (Zach Gilford) on The Mob Doctor to Grey’s Anatomy:  Seattle Grace needs a few new doctors and, given The Mob Doctor’s ratings, Dr. Robinson could be available very soon. Here at TV Gal, we leave no one from Friday Night Lights behind.

Marny (Tempestt Bledsoe) on Guys with Kids to The MiddleI’m delighted to have Vanessa Huxtable back on TV again. Now let’s get her on a show that’s actually funny. Marny could be one of the Heck’s new neighbors. She and Frankie could become friends. Maybe she could even help Frankie find a new job.

Which characters would you enter into the CRP and where would you relocate him or her? Talk about it below.

Grey’s Anatomy and Revenge

Last week, two shows totally tried to fake out viewers. On Revenge, the nighttime soap tried to convince viewers that Victoria Grayson was dead. While I believed there was no way that the series would kill off a character as great as Victoria, it was a very nice touch to not list Madeleine Stowe in the opening credits. It didn’t fool me, but I appreciated the effort and attention to detail.

I’m kind of disappointed that the alliance between Victoria and Emily was so short-lived. I loved the idea of the two former frenemies being in cahoots together. I do want everyone to know that Revenge is currently in my “Could So Easily Go Off the Rails” file. Revenge is great because of its over-the-top line delivery and plot twists. The show is so much fun. But I’m concerned it could start racing through plot twists and character reveals. (We’ve seen this happen before on many shows including Heroes). If Daniel is going to be evil, let him be evil. And please find some way to make Ashley useful to the plot. The show hasn’t seemed to know what to do with her since the beginning.

On Grey’s Anatomy, the show spent the entire hour trying to convince us that Arizona was dead but we’ve all watched TV long enough to know that unless there’s a funeral, he/she is probably not dead. (Unless, of course, you’re a show like Revenge when they can say you’re dead,hold a memorial services and you’re still not dead).  I knew we were going to see Arizona in the closing seconds of the episode. I holding out judgement of the Arizona as an amputee story line until I see tonight’s episode. The premiere didn’t really work for me for three main reasons:

  1. I simply can’t get too worked up about Mark Sloane dying. I never really bought Mark and Lexie as some great star-crossed couple and I’m really not that sad that McSteamy is gone.
  2. It’s annoying that now Meredith is the one terrorizing the interns. Medusa? Really? Another sign that it’s time for a show to end is when they pull an old plot line out of the bin and try to recycle it.
  3. I’m saddened by what’s become of Miranda Bailey. I’m glad she now knows that her nickname is Booty Call Bailey but the Miranda I knew would never have let it get to this point.

That’s all for today. Make sure to follow my blog so you know every time I have a new post.  And if you see a familiar face or hear a great quote of the week, definitely email me about it through my contact page.

Who is your new favorite character on ‘Glee’

By Amy Amatangelo, TV Gal®

Last night we were introduced to a slew of new characters on Glee. Who is your early favorite? Rachel’s dance teacher Cassandra? Puck’s half-brother Jake? Fabulous singer Marley? Rachel’s new potential love interest Brody? Bitchy new cheerleader Kitty? Or the fabulous Wade/Unique (I know he’s not totally new but I’m counting him anyway since we only saw him in two episodes last season.)

Vote for your favorite and then talk about it below.

‘Glee’ Returns for Season 4!

CR: Kwaku Alston / FOX

By Amy Amatangelo, TV Gal®

Adding new characters to an existing and popular show is tough to pull off.

Sometimes it’s an absolute failure. I’m pretty sure no one shed a tear when Nikki and Paolo died on Lost.

Sometimes it just doesn’t quite work. I usually always enjoy James Spader but his character on The Office never really came together. Everyone involved with the show seemed to know from the beginning that Robert California wouldn’t be around that long.

But sometimes a character addition can take a show to a whole new level. It’s hard to even imagine Lost without Ben but Michael Emerson didn’t come to the island until the fourteenth episode of the second season.

I didn’t start really enjoying The Big Bang Theory until Mayim Bialik and Melissa Rauch joined the gang.

As the photo suggests, Glee enters its fourth season (tonight at 9 p.m. on FOX) at a crossroads. To keep the show relevant and believable (as believable as a show like Glee can be that is), the series had to let the seniors graduate. That means, of course, a whole new crop of students need to be successfully introduced in a relatively short amount of time. Will you become attached to them? Will I? I’m not sure.

The show also made the interesting, and I would say creatively brave, decision to follow the students who left the New Directions behind. So tonight you’ll see Rachel in New York where her new dance teacher (Kate Hudson) is not amused by her antics and Kurt (Chris Colfer) stuck in Lima working as a barista.

The big question is: Can the series pull off what are essentially two shows simultaneously?  Tonight’s premiere (9 p.m. on FOX) inspires confidences that it is possible while not entirely quieting all my fears. Now the Glee cast is more unwieldy than it ever was (and it was pretty unwieldy to begin with) and I’m concerned that some characters won’t get the story lines or the numbers they deserve while others will just become an afterthought (I mean how often did we see Mercedes’ boyfriend last year?). And, be forewarned, there are quite a few notable characters missing in tonight’s premiere.

But,concerns aside, I did like the premiere and here’s why:

  1. Kate Hudson is fantastic as Rachel’s dance teacher Cassandra July. Cassandra is viciously honest and it’s kind of great to have Rachel realize that her talent and charm might not be enough. Based on the premiere, I think this could be the role of Hudson’s career. I never really gave Hudson a lot of thought but I plan on paying close attention to Cassandra.
  2. There’s one new student at McKinley High that I’m VERY excited about. I won’t spoil who it is but I will say that I was so rooting for him/her to enroll this year.
  3. Mike O’Malley. Any time he’s on the show, it’s great. He’s great. The scene tonight between Kurt and his dad is so poignant that I double dare you not to cry.
  4. The musical numbers. These have always been the show’s get out of jail free card. Even the worst episodes usually have one or two great numbers. And tonight every number is pretty fantastic.

So while I’m not necessarily convinced this new format will work, I am cautiously optimistic. And I applaud the show for attempting this – for not having the students on a six year high school plan, for not trying to keep all the graduates in one place (I’m glad they didn’t all decide to go to, for example, Lima University), and for taking a realistic (again realistic as defined by Glee) approach to how life really works. People move on in new directions – to new places, new friends and new adventures.  If Glee can pull this off, it will be an impressive feat.  One worth singing about.

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