Cable 2007-2008 Winter Show Reviews
By Shawn McKenzie 01/12/2008
Here are my reviews of the 2007-2008 winter season cable shows. More reviews will be added as they premiere and are reviewed (check back to this page for those reviews.)
Go directly to my reviews of E!’s “Snoop Dogg’s Father Hood,” A&E’s “Paranormal State,” Lifetime’s “How to Look Good Naked,” Lifetime’s “Matched in Manhattan,” Lifetime’s “Top This Party,” A&E’s “Parking Wars,” VH1’s “Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew,” Bravo’s “Make Me a Supermodel,” Bravo’s “The Millionaire Matchmaker,” AMC’s “Breaking Bad,” VH1’s “Free Radio,” MTV’s “Randy Jackson Presents America’s Best Dance Crew,” Lifetime’s “Your Mama Don’t Dance,” ABC Family’s “America’s Prom Queen,” VH1’s “I Know My Kid’s a Star,” Comedy Central’s “Lewis Black’s Root of All Evil,” MTV’s “Rock the Cradle,” TV Land’s “The Big 4-0,” Bravo’s “Step it Up & Dance,” VH1’s “Viva Hollywood,” VH1’s “Celebracadabra,” and MNT’s “Under One Roof.”
Oh Ozzy…what have you done to us? Ever since rocker Ozzy Osbourne let us into the wacky antics of his messed-up but loving family in 2002 on MTV, every celebrity feels like they need a “celebreality” show. Normally they are B-list celebrities, but I’m surprised that Snoop Dogg, a.k.a. Calvin Broadus, decided to jump onto the bandwagon. I consider him a still hot rapper with a thriving musical career, but if wants to add this show to his already full plate, I’m not going to stop him. The show includes wife Shante, sons 13-year-old Corde and 10-year-old Cordell, and daughter 8-year-old Cori. Also in his life is 21-year-old Anthony, the son of Snoop’s hair-braider, Tasha, which Snoop and his family have unofficially adopted as their son. Security guard Keys and manager Kevin are frequently featured in the show. None of these shows ever portrays “real” reality, and unfortunately, Snoop’s manufactured reality is a little boring. In the first episode, Snoop takes up yoga and acupuncture, while the rest of the family makes a mess of the house. The show is similar to “Run’s House” on MTV, but Rev. Run and his family are more interesting than Snoop’s clan is. The lanky rapper is the only one who is engaging to watch. Shante, I’d be worried…celebreality shows seem to end up in divorce (MTV’s “Newlyweds,” MTV’s “‘Til Death Do Us Part: Carmen & Dave,” MTV’s “Meet the Barkers,” Bravo’s “Being Bobby Brown,” VH1’s “Hogan Knows Best,” etc.)
Don’t we get enough of this crap on the Sci-Fi Channel? When paranormal activity is portrayed fictionally in movies or on TV, it can be creepy. When it is set in the world of reality TV, it is mind-numbingly boring. The best example is Sci-Fi Channel’s “Ghost Hunters.” It looks like A&E wanted to jump on the bandwagon and teamed up with the creators of MTV’s “Laguna Beach” to create this show that follows the students at the Penn State Paranormal Research Society (PRS.) Ryan Buell founded it six years ago, and he leads his team on a mission to investigate otherworldly phenomenon. His team consists of Sergey Poberezhny, the tech specialist; Katrina Weidman, the interviewer; Heather Taddy, the documentarian; and Eilfie Music, the occult specialist. They also have Catholic priests and psychics occasionally help them on their quests. Ryan started the group after he experienced a strange phenomenon back in his teens, and he has been obsessed with it ever since. Their cases range from a boy who can see dead people, to paranormal activity in a home that has a connection to the brutal murders of an entire family in the 19th century, to a demon that may possibly following Ryan. Like “Ghost Hunters,” they try to make the atmosphere ominous in order to make the home viewers think that there is something spooky going on. It’s so dull that you don’t get a single chill…even with the lights off. Ryan doesn’t help things much by cheesily narrating the action going on through a telephone (or a bullhorn…you know what I’m talking about.) Much less to say, I won’t be haunted by this show.
Based on a British show of the same name (broadcast on England’s Channel 4 and created/hosted by fashion stylist Gok Wan), the show is unique makeover show that I can really get behind. Carson Kressley, the former fashion expert on Bravo’s “Queer Eye” (and current judge on the CW’s “Crowned: The Mother of All Pageants”), hosts this show where average or overweight women can feel beautiful…without the aid of dieting or cosmetic surgery! His secret is that, with a little fashion advice and body image tips, you can look sexy…no matter what your body shape looks like! He starts out by taking a picture of the woman of the week in her underwear and displaying it on a big billboard in her hometown (with the woman’s head obscured.) In most cases, the passersby have nothing but compliments on her body (the first woman in the pilot episode thought that they had edited out all of the negative comments. Carson swears that they didn’t, but I bet their were at least one or two negative comments.) Then he lines up a row of plus-size women from smallest waist size to largest, and the woman of the week tries to figure out where she should be placed in that row size-wise. It’s amazing that the women in the first two episodes figured that they were much larger than they really were. He takes them bra shopping (with the assistance of Susan Nethero, an Atlanta-based intimate apparel expert) to find a perfect size bra that compliments her frame, and then he takes her shopping to find her clothes that flatter her body. After doing her hair and makeup by experts, she starts to feel good about herself. Finally, Carson makes the ultimate suggestion…do a photo shoot…naked! (Tastefully done…not Playboy style.) As a big guy who appreciates big gals, I liked the show…but I had a concern. The first two episodes were practically the same in style that I’m afraid that it could get a little boring after a while. The preview for the next episode looked different though…it’s a mother and daughter team with body issues. I do think that they will expand more with other women who are apprehensive about their looks (and not just weight-related issues.) Carson is always dependable for the great witty quips though, so this could be a fun show. I know that this is Lifetime…“television for women”…but is there any chance that Carson could help a schlubby guy in one episode? I’ll volunteer myself!
I love these matchmaker shows…mainly because I need help myself (having been recently dumped.) Earlier last year, A&E had a show called “Confessions of a Matchmaker”…but I was still in a relationship at that time. Still, I found that matchmaker Patti Novak was stern and interesting. Later last year, there was a dating/competitive reality show on VH1 that offered dating advice called “The Pick-Up Artist,” where “seduction artist” Mystery, a.k.a. Erik von Markovik, taught socially awkward guys how to date women. It was cheesy, but fun. Now this show is giving women (and gay men) advice on how to date in the Big Apple. “Dating coach” Matt Titus, along with his partner/wife Tamsen Fadal and his associate Eddie Varley, help clueless singles on how to date. Problems range from transitioning a small town woman’s dating scheme to a big city style…to getting another woman to stop bringing her little dog on dates. It’s faster paced than other shows…probably because Matt is a motor-mouth. Two small gripes though. He is so quick with doling out the “Mattisms” that I barely get a chance to process them in my brain before he is onto the next bit of advice (he has those nuggets of wisdom on his official Lifetimetv.com page, but that page is not working well as of this writing, so I can’t check them all out.) The second problem I have is that he mixes his business with tales of his home life. In the second episode, Tamsen wanted a third dog, and Matt didn’t. Do I care? No! Give me the dating advice! Otherwise, it would be cool if he did a spin-off version near my neck of the woods. “Dating in Denver” maybe?
Imagine MTV’s “My Super Sweet Sixteen”…but with spoiled adults throwing parties instead of spoiled teenagers. The show actually airs with back-to-back episodes…“Top This Party: Orange County” followed by “Top This Party: Las Vegas”…both following the adventures of two sets of elite party planners. “OC” specifically follows the drama of blonde, curly-haired event planner Brian Dobbin and his hot-tempered chef, Robin, who together design and execute outrageous soirees that he calls the “the Bentley of parties,” for the very, very rich. “Vegas” follows Brian “Breakfast” Rice and his social coordinator Jen as they attempt to throw lavish parties in a city that is already known for outrageous celebrating. The usual problems occur (needing fireworks licenses, waiting on the delivery of jewelry for diamonds to be put into gift bags, swapping red pool chairs for blue ones, etc.), and they can be occasionally amusing…but for some reason, watching party planners deal with high maintenance adults isn’t as fun to watch as watching spoiled, whiny brats. Heck…I gave up on “Sweet Sixteen” myself a year ago when the parties started getting repetitive.
It’s funny…dealing with the service industry as a citizen can be very dramatic when the process of doing something becomes frustrating. I watched a similar show on A&E called “Airline” for three seasons that dealt with the daily problems of the staff members dealing with customers at various Southwest airlines around the country. I always sided with the staff members on that show…but I think that is because I barely ever fly, so I can’t empathize. On this show though, I find myself siding with the customers. The show focuses specifically on the employees of the Philadelphia Parking Authority (PPA) in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania as they ticket, boot, and tow cars (and the drama behind the impound lot as well.) Most customers on the show seem to feel that the PPA meter maids are out to “get” them…and in some cases, it appears to be true (there’s one officer that admits to sitting behind a bush to wait for motorists to park illegally in a handicap spot.) The maddening red tape is the aspect that I can understand though. One customer had to spend about five hours at the impound lot trying to get her car out (they ran a clock counting those hours) because she had to go through so many hoops in order to get it. I can’t directly empathize with dealing with an impound lot (because I’ve never gotten a parking ticket in my life…knock on wood), but I have had to go through so many hurdles to get my medical bills correctly paid that I can understand red tape. I would think that the PPA and the Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce would never agree to sign off on a show like this, because it makes the organization and the city look bad (the refrain “I’ll never park in Philly again” comes up frequently.) Some of the regular officers are interesting characters, and some of the people they meet even love them (I’ve noticed that they are people who don’t have a car though.) For every pleasant experience (which seems to include flirting with the meter readers or impound lot workers), there are heated and/or almost dangerous altercations with customers involving shouting or physical threats. Most of the officers seem to take it in stride. I enjoy the show though, because at least I get to see some people having worse problems in life than mine.
After four seasons of the A&E show “Intervention,” you would think that I would tire of seeing people at their worst attempting to make a valiant effort to better themselves…but I haven’t. With Britney Spears, Lindsey Lohan, Kate Moss, Amy Winehouse, and even Isaiah Washington going into rehab, rehabilitation amongst celebrities is all the rage now. Take America’s favorite celebrity doctor, Dr. Drew Pinsky (suck it, Dr. Phil)… an American board-certified internist and addiction medicine specialist, and co-host of the popular radio talk show “Loveline”…and nine B-list celebrities who are badly in need of treatment (or at least camera exposure), and you have a show that would only be on VH1…the home of “Celebreality.” With the help of his nursing assistant, Shelly Sprague (who used to be a former addict herself)…Drew helps these eight (and later nine) celebs through a 21-day treatment program in the Pasadena Recovery Center. The inpatients are: Daniel Baldwin, actor and second oldest (“Homicide: Life on the Street;” appeared on the first season of VH1’s “Celebrity Fit Club”); Mary Carey, porn star and former candidate for California governor; Joanie Laurer, a.k.a. Chyna, former professional wrestler, Playboy model, and former “Surreal Life” cast member; Jeff Conaway, actor (Grease, “Taxi;” appeared on VH1’s “Celebrity Fit Club 3,” but left after three episodes to enter rehab); Jaimee Foxworth, former child actress (Judy Winslow on “Family Matters”); Brigitte Nielsen, actress/model (Red Sonja, Cobra, appeared with Flavor Flav in both “The Surreal Life” and “Strange Love”); Jessica Sierra, singer and former “American Idol 4” contestant; Seth “Shifty” Binzer, singer/frontman of CA-based rapcore outfit Crazytown; and Ricco Rodriguez, mixed martial artist and former Ultimate Fighting Champion (he arrived in a later episode.) Conaway is the one on the show in the most need of help. He arrived wasted out of his mind, with his enabling girlfriend Vicki in tow. He seems to be confined to a wheelchair, and he babbles like a child. Baldwin needs the least amount of help because he has been sober for two years now, though he is still having his share of run-ins with the law. I think that he is here for face time, but I’m sure he has legitimate reasons as well. One highly publicized tragedy is Sierra’s arrest on charges of misdemeanor disorderly intoxication and resisting an officer without violence following the taping of the show. After Drew pleaded on her behalf that she should be in court-ordered rehab for at least a year…and the judge agreed to it. I would like to see these people get their life together, and it’s interesting to see the process firsthand. I have to warn the squeamish though…detoxing isn’t a pretty picture. If this show effectively serves as a deterrent to others considering taking up the drug life…then cool. For the rest of us, it’s just an interesting look into the dark side of celebrity life.
It’s like they aren’t even trying now! With this rash of competitive model/fashion reality shows, there has to be a factor that makes them stand out, since most of them are the same. Obviously the first show of this reality sub-genre that came along is the CW’s “America’s Next Top Model,” but it was the judges that made that show interesting…not the models (honestly…other than “My Fair Brady’s” Adrianne Curry, I don’t remember the name of most of the models that ever appeared on the show.) Next, we had Bravo’s “Project Runway,” and despite being nominated for several Emmys, it isn’t the most exciting show in the world. Several copycat shows followed with various degrees of quality (VH1’s “America’s Most Smartest Model” has to be the most amusing.) Bravo’s latest entry is essentially the same as “ANTM,” except the home viewing audience gets to boot off the models (both female and male this time) instead of the judges. Supermodels Niki Taylor and Tyson Beckford host the show (based on the UK Channel Five original series of the same name that premiered in 2005) and are two of the judges. They did a casting special where they chose 24 finalists, which were then whittled down to the 14 models competing for $100,000 and a modeling contract with New York Model Management. The models go through a series of model challenges, and the judges pick a winner and three losers (shades of “Project Runway.”) America then decides who should go home. The voting aspect is supposed to be the thing that makes this show differ from “ANTM” (that and the co-ed model thing), but Taylor and Beckford are boring as hosts/mentors/judges (like “PR’s” Heidi Klum…sorry!) The third episode was a little interesting when they had the models do a fetish shoot to test their sexual chemistry with other models (including a couple of same-sex pairings), but I’m still bored by the show. I miss Tyra and Miss J!
Why am I constantly suckered into these matchmaker shows? Is it because I am currently single again? Even though this one is the least relatable of the sub-genre (following A&E’s “Confessions of a Matchmaker” and Lifetime’s “Matched in Manhattan”), the show is fascinating nonetheless. Third generation matchmaker Patti Stanger is the founder and CEO of the Millionaire’s Club, an exclusive service in L.A. designed to match successful men to their prospective wives. Along with her office team featuring Destin Pfaff, her office manager and right-hand man, Chelsea Autumn, the Vice President of Matchmaking, and Allison Standish, Millionaires Club Rep in Sales, Patti matches millionaires who don’t have the time to do the traditional dating with beautiful, smart, and classy women who aren’t gold diggers. The reason I can’t relate is because her rules for the men are a little different than your average Joe. For one thing, she insists that they take their dates to a 5-star restaurant on their first date. Someday, when I’m rich and famous, I might keep that in mind…but for now, as a low-paid Internet critic, I’m lucky to take a date to an Applebee’s. Otherwise, her dating advice is pretty common sense (not that I’m a dating expert or anything)…like be a gentleman, don’t ask out a woman after Thursday for a weekend date (sorry…I’m guilty of that), no intimacy before you are in a committed monogamous relationship, don’t bring up past relationships, etc. These clueless guys pay $10,000 a month to have Patti make them over lifestyle-wise in order to attract a suitable woman. She berates them like a mother figure…which is good, because coddling them isn’t what they paid for. If I had one major complaint, it would be the fact that the show is an hour long (the other two shows are a half hour long…I can only take watching dating disasters for so long.) If I had $10,000, I’d consider enlisting the services of Patti, but I think I still wouldn’t have enough money to keep the women she set me up with.
My initial reaction to the description of this show was that it was going to be the methamphetamine version of Showtime’s “Weeds.” While they are both shows about average suburbanites dealing illegal drugs, this show is not a comedy. Walter H. White (Bryan Cranston) is a 50-year-old high school chemistry teacher with a loyal wife and son in Albuquerque, New Mexico. His wife Skyler (Anna Gunn) is a stay-at-home mom who sells things on eBay and is pregnant with their first daughter. Their son Walter Jr. (RJ Mitte) is a teenager who was born with cerebral palsy, which causes him some speech difficulties and forces him to have to use crutches to walk properly. Walter used to be a rising force in the chemistry field, collaborating with a man named Elliott Schwartz (Adam Godley) and their lab assistant Gretchen (Jessica Hecht.) Now Elliott is married to Gretchen, and together they run Gray Matter, a successful drug company (Gray because of Walter’s last name of White and Elliot’s last name of Schwartz, which is derived from the German word schwarz, meaning black), while Walter is just a teacher (they haven’t explained why he doesn’t co-own the company.) Walter has other problems though. He is hurting financially, because his teaching salary isn’t paying all the bills (he has a second job as a cashier at a car wash), and, oh…he has terminal lung cancer, where he has about two years left to live at best. On a whim, he decides to accept the offer made to him by Hank Schrader (Dean Norris), a Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agent and husband to Skyler’s opinionated sister Marie (Betsy Brandt), to go on a ride-along during a drug bust. During a stake out at a suspected meth house, Walter spots a former student of his named Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul) running away from the cops. Jesse failed Walter’s class when he was a student, and now he is partnered up with meth cooker Emilio (John Koyama) and meth dealer Krazy-8 (Maximino Arciniega.) Walter proposes a business deal with Jesse…he will cook up the highest quality meth possible, and Jesse will sell it. What followed was many obstacles, including murder, exposure of secrets, possible cancer treatments (paid for with the meth-dealing proceeds), and family healing for both Walter and Jesse. The show is mostly centered on Walter, but there are some side stories involving Jesse’s dad (Michael Bofshever), mom (Tess Harper), and perfect little brother Jake (Benjamin Petry)…who turns out to be not so perfect. This is a wildly different role for Cranston from the Emmy-nominated lovably goofy dad he played on FOX’s “Malcolm in the Middle.” I thought that he was realistically tough and cunning as a chemist who uses his scientific brain to combat the drug pushers. When Emilio and Krazy-8 were starting to make trouble for Walter and Jesse, Walter used his knowledge of chemistry to take them out. He also did a similar thing in a later episode when a meth distributor named Tuco (Raymond Cruz) beats up and steals Jesse’s meth. This has got to be the most impressive transition of a television actor from one acting style to another since the Emmy-winning Michael Chiklis went from ABC’s “The Commish” (where he was the sweet, lovable, balding police commisioner) to FX’s “The Shield” (where he was the scary, corrupt, completely-bald police detective.) Paul has mostly done small roles in movies and guest spots on TV shows previous to this role, so I hope that this show does even more for his career. I originally thought that an obscure show on AMC wouldn’t get any Emmy consideration…and then “Mad Men” started getting all of these awards, so maybe there is hope for this show that I consider superior to that show.
The premise of this half-improvised reality show/half sitcom is this: the legendary Los Angeles KBOM morning shock-jock Rip Rebel (Marc Graue, in picture only) has defected to satellite radio, and Rip’s dim-witted intern, Lance (Lance Krall, who is also the co-executive producer), along with former weather girl-turned-co-host Anna (Anna Vocino), fill in for the exited host. Lance is an idiot who doesn’t do any research on his guests (he relies on Anna to do the research), and he often annoys the guests, like “24’s” Keifer Sutherland, “Heroes’” Jack Coleman, and “Bones’” Emily Deschanel. This frustrates the heck out of KBOM manager James Reed (Brian Huskey) so much that he wants to get rid of Lance. Unfortunately, the stupidity of the show is such a hit that it forces James to keep him on. The new show is soon titled “Moron in the Morning” and Lance starts to get a big head. He gets a manager named Bling Bling Shelton (Gerry Bednob) and a new intern for himself named Kalen (Kalen Conover.) Most of the action takes place in the studio where Lance and Anna interact with the guests (all playing themselves, and usually promoting an upcoming project), but the rest of the time it’s about Lance adjusting to his newfound fame. Lance does moronic things to get attention, like promising to give away money to the next ten callers who said that they have seen one of his new billboards (forcing the emo-looking front desk receptionist Sarah, played by Sarah Baker, to block the calls.) The show is funny during the in-studio parts (which, as I mentioned earlier, dominates most of the time), but not so funny during other times. Lance can get a little irritating from time to time, but his brainless questions of the guests are unique in the fact that they are unpolished (it’s kind of like watching Joan Rivers mess up a star’s credits during the red carpet entrances.) Personally, I’d rather watch NBC’s Emmy-winning “The Office” or Comedy Central’s “Reno 911!” for a better example of a consistently funny mockumentary show though.
I was starting to get a little bit tired of these dancing shows…and then this exciting new MTV show came up. “American Idol” judge Randy “Dawg” Jackson, he of the famous name-dropping, produced this show where twelve dance crews from all around the country compete to find out who is “America’s Best Dance Crew.” Hosted by former “Saved by the Bell” cast member (and ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars 3” hoofer) Mario Lopez, these crews do their hip hop routines with a theme every week. One week may be a tribute to Michael Jackson’s Thriller album, another week it may be an homage to Broadway shows, or one week may be in the style of a current dance craze (the Chicken Noodle Soup, the Cupid Shuffle, etc.), but all of the crews infuse their own hip hop flavor into it. The show is judged by rapper Lil Mama, former *NSYNC singer JC Chasez, and hip-hop choreographer Shane Sparks (who seems to think that every good routine is “sick”…which is good, by the way.) They are competing for $100,000 and a touring opportunity. The first three crews were eliminated in the live first episode, and every week, home viewers determine the bottom two for elimination. The judges ultimately decide who stays and who goes, and the eliminated crew’s banner drops symbolically. My personal favorite crew (who happen to still be in the competition) is JabbaWockeeZ…a crew whose gimmick is that they perform wearing white masks. Another crew that stood out with me was Break Sk8…a crew who performed their routines wearing rollerskates (unfortunately they were eliminated last week.) The reason I like this show over rival shows, like FOX’s “So You Think You Can Dance” (who has Sparks as the show’s hip hop choreographer) and ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars” is that this is all about hip hop. “Dance” has some hip hop, but it is mixed with the traditional dances, like the paso doble and the fox trot; “Stars” forbids hip hop dance and is too structured (which is possibly why Cheetah Girl Sabrina Bryan was shockingly eliminated so early last season.) All three shows have their strengths…“Dance” has a variety of dance styles; “Stars” has interesting personalities and judges; and this show is exciting because it is so fast-paced and athletic that it blows me away. While I personally could dance as good as a competitor on “Stars” (or at least as good, if not better, than season two rapper Master P), I could never be a member of any of the crews on this show. Let’s just say that this show is “sick,” and I recently heard that it has been renewed for a second season. By the way…aside from being part of the casting special, Randy hasn’t made any other appearances himself personally (I think that he is slightly busy judging another little FOX show.)
Could this show be any creepier? Mix in a little of ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars” (for the novices dancing with experienced dancers) with FOX’s “So You Think You Can Dance” (for unknown personalities until now), you would think that it was just another copycat dance show. You’d be almost right…except that these “novices” are the experienced dancers’ parents! The pilot episode starts out with a fake audition for a fake show called “Dance Nation,” but they quickly discover that they will be paired with their mom or dad. So…five female professional dancers will be partnered with their fathers while five male professional dancers will be partnered with their mothers (or stepmother in one couple’s case) as they compete for $100,000 in cash and prizes. Each week, the judges will put the two teams with the lowest scores on the chopping block, then it’s up to America to determine which team stays in the competition by voting via phone, text, and online. The judges are choreographer/actor/Jennifer Lopez’s second ex-husband Cris Judd, Tony Award-winning actor/dancer Ben Vereen, and singer/actress Colleen Fitzpatrick, a.k.a. Vitamin C. Former “Beverly Hills 90210” star and fourth place “Dancing with the Stars 4” contender Ian Ziering hosts the show. The women (or at least the younger women) wear skimpy outfits while being manhandled by their men. Can you say “Ewww?” This show is so wrong that it has become a weekly feature on E!’s “The Soup.” Since I’m fascinated by oddities like this incestuous program, I’m not giving it the worst grade, but Lifetime, come on…what were you thinking? The attempts by these nubile young dancers to reconnect with their two-left-feet parents on this show are just weird. Couldn’t they just buy their kid an ice cream cone? Well…I guess “So You Think You Can Eat Ice Cream” would sound a little boring.
Since I never went to prom myself, this show doesn’t hold a lot of interest for me, but it is especially dull because it is yet another offshoot of the CW’s “America’s Next Top Model.” The show follows 10 girls aspiring for the title of “America’s Prom Queen.” Each week, the girls face a prom-related challenge, and will be eliminated based on the opinions of a panel of judges, a.k.a. “The Prom Committee,” until one remains. The prize, aside from the title, will the winner’s chance to become CosmoGIRL!’s official prom correspondent, and will be given the opportunity to be a guest editor for the magazine’s 2009 prom coverage. She will also receive an all-expense paid trip to New York City to meet with the editors of the magazine, who will give her a day of beauty, which will be documented and featured on the CosmoGIRL! website. The Prom Committee are Brooke Hogan, recording artist and “Hogan Knows Best” star; Susan Schulz, editor-in-chief of CosmoGIRL! Magazine; Jai Rodriguez, the “Culture Vulture” for Bravo’s “Queer Eye;” and Theo Von, stand-up comedian and former “Road Rules” and “Last Comic Standing 4” contestant. The show is hosted by former Miss USA, Susie Castillo. All of the girls were interchangeable, but two of them stood out for me. Macy was a former Miss Tennessee Teen USA…and she brought it up all the friggin’ time. The other one was a big girl from Cleveland named Carmen. When I say “big,” I don’t mean healthy-size like Kate Winslet or the “plus-size” models on “ANTM”…I mean bigger than average. She was a cutie though, and if she had a little bit more self-confidence, she might have gone all the way (she lost out to a generic blonde named Katelyn from Yorba Linda, CA.) The show seemed like a mixture of the CW’s “Crowned: The Mother of All Pageants” from earlier this year (portraying a meaningless pageant competition and featuring a former alum of “Queer Eye” as a judge) and MTV’s “My Super Sweet Sixteen” (portraying teen reality show cattiness.) Let’s hope that ABC Family doesn’t give us the sequel next fall…“America’s Homecoming Queen.”
Former child star/current train-wreck Danny Bonaduce (“The Partridge Family”) is making his latest attempt to stay on camera with another “Celebreality” show where he has ten soon-to be messed-up child actors and their controlling parents compete to win a chance to meet casting agents, Hollywood insiders, receive national television exposure, and $50,000 in prize money. Each week the contestants compete in a series of challenges relevant to being a child star. Danny has Marki Costello, a Hollywood talent manager, help him make some decisions, but ultimately, it’s up to him who goes home each week. The funny thing is that these kids could actually do better if it weren’t for the interference of their parents. In fact, even though it is about finding the next great child star, the show seems to focus mostly on the parents. They fight amongst one another as if they were on CBS’s “Survivor” or “Big Brother.” Marki is a highlight because she doesn’t sugarcoat anything. She almost makes Simon Cowell seem like a cute puppy dog by comparison! The most memorable parent (who was eliminated in the fourth episode) was Melissa Brasselle, a.k.a. Rocky. She was a single mom rocker chick sporting a cowboy hat that seemed to want to be on camera more for herself than for her daughter, Hayley Sanchez. Her look seemed like it would have fit better on another show on VH1…“Rock of Love with Brett Michaels.” Her biggest nemesis was Pamela Wold, who, along with her daughter Mary Jo, is still in the running. Pamela has such a retro look that Rocky referred to her as being a “P.T.A. mom.” The show is fun to watch in a guilty pleasure way, but I do feel bad for the kids. The chances of any of these kids making it to superstardom are slim-to-none…and if they do make it, then they might end up like Danny (whether it be having a drug problem or ending up as a cast member on a VH1 “Celebreality” show…or both.) Some of the “losers” of this show may actually be winners in the end by having normal childhoods.
I have to applaud Comedy Central for new and creative ways of essentially just showcasing stand-up routines. This eight-episode show pits two comedians against one another in a moot court format with angry political comedian Lewis Black presiding over the proceedings. Each week, two similar people or issues are debated upon to find out if their person or issue is the “root of all evil.” The topics have been the Catholic Church vs. Oprah, Donald Trump vs. Viagra, beer vs. weed, YouTube vs. porn, Paris Hilton vs. Dick Cheney, high school vs. “American Idol,” Kim Jong-Il vs. Tila Tequila, and Las Vegas vs. the human body. The rotating comedian “lawyers” have been Andrew Daly, Greg Giraldo, Andy Kindler, Kathleen Madigan, Patton Oswalt, and Paul F. Tompkins. They start with their opening statements, and then they present their case (which usually includes a funny clip of the comedian asking people on the street a question, or an exaggerated skit with their topic’s theme.) Black then does his “inquisition,” where he asks the comedians questions, which is followed by the “Ripple of Evil,” where the comedians present a worst-case scenario about their topic if it was to go unchecked. Finally, the comedians present their closing statements and Black gives his final verdict. My favorite comedians on the show were Madigan (NBC’s “Last Comic Standing 2” finalist; once dated Black), Oswalt (Spence on CBS’s “The King of Queens,” the voice of Rémy in Ratatouille, and overall cool geeky comedian), and Tompkins (VH1’s “Best Week Ever.”) As funny as I thought the show was, I know that this will be yet another one of Comedy Central’s one-season throwaway shows that won’t make it to season two. If it does continue, I would love to tune in again to see more debates over topics that will never be resolved, but are fun to gripe over now and again.
I’m honestly surprised that this show hasn’t existed before now. This competitive reality show is a 6-week singing competition in yet another variation of FOX’s “American Idol,” but instead of the competitors being virtual unknowns, they are the sons and daughters of famous pop, rock, and R&B stars. The nine contestants were Landon Brown (son of Bobby Brown); A’Keiba Burrell-Hammer (daughter of MC Hammer); Lara Johnston (daughter of Doobie Brothers singer Tom Johnston); Chloe Lattanzi (daughter of Olivia Newton-John); Crosby Loggins (son of singer Kenny Loggins); Jesse Money (daughter of Eddie Money); Jesse Blaze Snider (son of Twisted Sister singer Dee Snider); Lil B. Sure! (son of Al B. Sure!); and Lucy Walsh (daughter of Joe Walsh.) It is hosted by Ryan Devlin and the panel of four judges are Go-Go’s lead vocalist Belinda Carlisle, choreographer Jamie King (Brian “B Free” Friedman subbed for an absent King in week 4), celebrity stylist June Ambrose, and entertainment attorney/celebrity manager Larry Rudolph (who also serves as one of the show’s executive producers.) Some of these kids have talent, but I’m really surprised that Lattanzi wasn’t eliminated in week one. The 22-year-old looks like she has Botox coursing through her lips, and her noticeable lack of talent is shocking. She is in the final three though, and I’m guessing that either votefortheworst.com or some bored MTV viewers put her through so they could keep seeing her interesting physical look. Hey…it worked for Sanjaya Malakar last year! My favorite from the beginning has been Snider (who is also fortunately in the final three) because he is a true rocker. The show overall though is just okay. Carlisle seems to be playing the Simon Cowell role this time. I’d be interested in seeing a second season though, because nepotism interests me.
Being only 33, I can’t empathize with this show right now…but I imagine turning 40 is more special for many people than turning 30. You’re definitely not young anymore, but you aren’t exactly a senior citizen yet. This show follows six people and their plans to celebrate “the big 4-0.” At first I thought it was going to be another adult version of MTV’s “My Super Sweet Sixteen” (Lifetime already did that earlier this year with the boring “Top This Party”), but there are no spoiled birthday boys/girls here, and their celebrations aren’t extravagant. In most cases, it’s almost like they are doing a shorter version of The Bucket List, i.e. things they want to do before they kick the bucket (though not so morbid…they’re not dying right away after all!) In the first episode, a former professional football player named Derrick wanted to get some of his old teammates together to play a game of touch football with the current players of a local college team to see if he still had the stuff to play. In the second episode, a former model named Lisa gets a chance to reunite with her estranged mother after two years. In the third episode, a man named Brian who was paralyzed from the waist down 12 years ago after falling off a horse wants to do several things…go bike riding with his kids, have a boys’ night out, go skydiving…and get back onto a horse. In the fourth episode, a soon-to-be-divorced woman named Tonya who had to give up a trip to Jamaica to pay her daughter’s college tuition gets to drive a sports car for a day and receives the Jamaica trip again by her friends. In the fifth episode, a woman named DeeAnn buried her fiancé seven years ago, and her friends set her up with two eligible bachelors. In the season finale, the friends of a woman named Rita take her on a trip to Italy to let her meet her long-lost Italian relatives. There were moments that got me misty-eyed, but overall, the show was just so-so in entertainment value. At least I didn’t have to watch spoiled people whining that their party favors weren’t the right color. I found it funny that they start out every episode by breaking down 40 years by 480 months, 14,600 days, and 350,400 hours (I like to go even further by breaking it down to 21,024,000 minutes and 1,261,440,000 seconds.) I guess when you get close to that age, you try justifying your age in those terms, but essentially, you do this to avoid having a midlife crisis. I guess I’ll find out myself in seven years.
So…when does playing a dancer in a movie one time qualify you to be the host and judge for twelve dancers competing in a dance reality show? Elizabeth Berkley, the “Saved by the Bell” alum who starred in the infamous 1995 multiple-Razzie box office flop Showgirls, is the host and one of the judges of this latest rip-off of FOX’s “So You Think You Can Dance.” Emmy Award nominee and Tony Award-winning director and choreographer Jerry Mitchell will act as the mentor for the 12 dancers chosen from around the country, and world-renowned director and choreographer Vincent Paterson and choreographer Nancy O’Meara will serve as judges for the competition. One dancer is eliminated each week (they are forced to do their “last dance,” which is like the cruel thing that “American Idol” does when the booted singer has to sing the song that they tanked on in the first place and got them eliminated), but the last dancer will win $100,000. While the dancing is interesting, the dancers aren’t. Neither is Berkley, Mitchell, nor the judges. Heck…even “Seinfeld’s” Jason Alexander, who is a Tony Award-winning singer and dancer himself, was boring when he appeared as a guest judge in the fifth episode. If I have to sit though another episode of this show, I may just step it up and dance to another channel (but I won’t, since I need to report on some of these competitive reality shows…even the dull ones.)
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The concept is simple: Twelve Latino actors and Latina actresses compete for the role of “America’s Numero Uno Telenovela Star.” The winner will receive $100,000 and a contract with Telemundo, the biggest telenovela production company in the United States. The execution is unusual though. After the contestants arrive at “La Casa de Locos,” they meet their co-host, telenovela leading man and crossover American star Carlos Ponce, and the “Diva de la Casa,” Latin superstar Maria Conchita Alonso. The hosts explain that they must compete in challenges relevant to being a telenovela star. International astrologer, Walter Mercado, appears in a magic portrait to tell them they must master the “Seven Deadly Sins of Telenovela,” i.e. the seven challenges to win the contest. For example, the first sin is Passion, where they learn how to fight telenovela-style. Other challenges are titled Lust (the art of romantic lovemaking for the camera), Vanity (beauty contest), Drama (crying for the camera), Fire (a song and dance competition of fiery hot Latin numbers), Seduction (how to entice an audience by making yourself a brand that people want to watch), and Scandal (spinning scandalous stories.) The challenge winner gets a prize, while the loser faces off with the person that the contestants vote into El Duelo, a.k.a. the Duel…a forum where two contestants must convince the judges who deserves to stay. Essentially, the Duel consists of the week’s two losers participating in a cheesy death scene, called “La Masacre de la Mascara” (“The Massacre of the Mask”), filmed twice where one or the other is killed off. Only the actual loser’s scene is shown and that person is eliminated. I have to give the show props for staying true to the spirit of the telenovela. Even for a reality show on VH1 known for its outrageousness (“Flavor of Love,” “Rock of Love” “ego trip’s Miss Rap Supreme,” etc.), this show is over the top. Unfortunately, I’m not a big fan of telenovelas, Spanish or English. I’ve only skimmed over Telemundo, and those English telenovelas they attempted to produce in the first year of the network MNT (MyNetworkTV) were awful. The closest I’ve gotten to enjoying a telenovela is ABC’s “Ugly Betty,” which features them on the Suarez family’s TV here and there, and the show is structured a little like a telenovela. I hate to say this, but I have a feeling that the next time I see the winner of this show might be when they eventually become a contestant on ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars.”
I’m not a big fan of magic shows, like A&E’s “Criss Angel: Mindfreak,” but I am fascinated by VH1’s “celebreality” shows, so this is actually a fun one. Seven B-list stars team up with seven professional magicians in a competition to become the greatest celebrity magician. The stars are: “Celebrity Fit Club” host Ant, Pussycat Doll Kimberly Wyatt, comedian Hal Sparks (Showtime’s “Queer as Folk”), Wilson Phillips singer Carnie Wilson, ‘80s icon C. Thomas Howell (1983’s The Outsiders, 1986’s Soul Man, 1986’s The Hitcher), Kid N’ Play’s Chris “Kid” Reid, and actress Lisa Ann Walter (1998’s The Parent Trap.) The seven professional magicians are: David Regal, Murray Sawchuck, Derek Hughes, Silly Billy, Asi Wind, Simon Lovell, and Rocco Silano. The host (and one of the judges) is magician Jonathan Levit, and the other judges are magicians Max Maven and Jeff McBride. The celebs participate in several types of magic…Street Magic, Children’s Magic, Comedy Magic, Cabaret Magic, Strolling Magic, Phobia Magic, and more. The winner of each week’s competition wins a “special power,” which usually consists of putting a handicap on a fellow celeb (making them dress in drag, make them dress like an oversized condiment, etc.), while the loser is eliminated and literally disappears by having their magician partner put a sheet over them and make them disappear. The final two battle it out in Las Vegas for the Grand Illusion finale, and the winner will take home a grand prize of $100,000. Anytime Ant is involved in a show, drama is bound to happen. He was eliminated in the second episode, but he showed up again later to stir up trouble. Otherwise, it was interesting to see these celebs attempt to perform magic. They weren’t always successful, and when they biffed a trick here and there, they had to do some spin control to cover up their mistake. It appeared as if Hal was the front-runner, but he has been close to elimination himself. I don’t know if VH1 will renew the show for a second season, but if they do, I wouldn’t mind seeing more of the magic they conjure up.
If MNT (MyNetworkTV) intends to keep making crap like this, I’m going to consider it a cable show instead of a “network” show. Calvester “Cali Cal” Hill (William “Flavor Flav” Drayton) is the older, more street-smart brother of “good son” Winston (Kelly Perine.) Years ago, Winston crashed the family car and Cal took the blame. Fast forward to the present, and Winston is a successful and wealthy real estate developer with a white trophy wife named Ashley (Carrie Genzel), a seventeen year-old spoiled princess daughter named Heather (Marie Michael), a sixteen year-old uptight Carlton Banks-ish son named Winston Jr. (Jesse Reid), and wisecracking Asian housekeeper named Su Ho (Emily Kuroda.) Screw-up Cal finally gets out of prison on parole and moves into the mansion (Winston lets him move in out of guilt.) The upper-class Hill family is then exposed to the “hood” antics of Cal and his boys, which throws their whole world into an uproar. The big difference between this show and NBC’s ‘90s hit “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” is that this show is…you know…not funny. Flav is interesting as a rapper (the theme song is the first time I’ve heard him rap in years) and as a celebreality show star, but he is not a good actor. The show plays off awful stereotypes and is just a rip-off of the original “Prince” template. After starting out with those crappy American telenovelas, MNT isn’t doing itself any justice by producing its first horrible original sitcom. They dig themselves in deeper by airing “The Best of ‘In Living Color’” right after it, proving that the network needs to borrow old comic shows from another network in order to showcase something funny on this one.
DO NOT MISS THIS SHOW!
Try to catch this show every week...
If a better show is on, tape this one...
If nothing else is on, maybe this will be good...
If this show is on, change the channel immediately!