Monday June 2, 2014

I thought the season 1 finale of Silicon Valley was the best episode to date and it has given me more than a glimmer of hope that season 2 will be an improved version of season 1.

I also caught a couple of pretty random programs over the weekend that I'd like to share.  The first is WE's Mystery Millionaire.  This is a cheesy dating show with a big "reveal" at the end (that reveal being that the suitor is not on food stamps, but rather is a millionaire).  There is pretty much nothing redeeming about this show (and it's in SD on DirecTV to make matters worse), but sadly, I enjoyed it.  It aired right after the reality stars version of Marriage Boot Camp.  That's a Friday night win for the folks at WE.

Speaking of Marriage Boot Camp, I'm in for episode 2, sadly.

A review of season 2 of Orange Is The New Black [INCLUDES SPOILERS]:

"In the second season opener (and here’s where the spoilers begin), Piper, who has been in solitary confinement since her confrontation with Doggett, finds herself in a situation that is straight out of Dickens’ Circumlocution Office, an absurd sequence of events whose purpose is concealed from Piper herself. As she’s transported to an unknown destination, the seemingly irrational nature of her travel would feel almost like a farce, if it weren’t so entirely terrifying for Piper.

"The episode quickly sets up a new set of circumstances for Piper and introduces an entirely new set of oddball characters — cockroach-trainers, an astrologically obsessed sex pest, and Lori Petty as an inmate who smuggles a glob of Vaseline in her ear — as Piper tries to regain a semblance of equilibrium amid the unknowable. There are plot devices at play — like the tension between coincidence and fate — that feel straight out of a Dickens novel, but which don’t warrant spoiling here, because they’re just that surprising and in keeping with the show’s ability to engineer suspense and tension out of the seemingly mundane. A mystery about the Piper–Doggett fight emerges and is quickly resolved, its resolution both satisfying and unnerving.

"Subsequent episodes focus on characters whose pasts haven’t yet been explicitly spelled out just yet. A series of Taystee (Danielle Brooks) flashbacks depicts her childhood and teen years and introduces a new character to the mythology of the show: the manipulative and dangerous Vee, played with exquisite oiliness by the great Lorraine Toussaint. Vee is a Fagin-like character, gathering unwanted urchins and promising them warm dinners and a home for their participation in crime, in this case, the drug trade. As she bakes multigrain bread and cooks organic fare for their dinners, the implications of Vee’s insidious nature are apparent: You can only come home if you’ve fulfilled your obligations. As such, Vee seems to be straight out of a Dickens novel, a dodgy operator who knows how to get under people’s skin and make them do the dirty work for her. When Vee shows up at the prison, her presence within the narrative destabilizes the entire wonky order of Litchfield itself. She’s a disruptor and an agitator; her very arrival spells danger.

"Likewise, details emerge about the backstories of cerise-lipped Morello (Yael Stone) — which will likely generate some very intense discussion when viewers reach her episode — as well as that of Samira Wiley’s Poussey (a heartbreaking tale of love, loss, and intolerance), and Selenis Leyva’s prison cook Gloria (whose past unfolds in a story about battered women, crimes of necessity, and the cleansing power of fire), and Uzo Aduba’s Suzanne aka 'Crazy Eyes,' whose painful flashback episode establishes her as a deeply tragic and sympathetic figure. In the case of Poussey and Suzanne (who’s referred to by her real name more often in Season 2), the reasons behind their arrivals at Litchfield remain unclear, even as pieces of their formative years point towards future issues. (It bears mentioning that the two girls who play the younger Suzanne within the flashbacks — as well as Aduba herself — are extraordinary.)"

Howard Stern Show's JD Harmeyer got to live out a dream and was asked to guest-direct a scene of It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia.  Today's show went into JD's experience in tremendous detail.

The second "random" show I watched was The Killer Speaks on A&E.  The episode I caught involved the murder for hire plot by former NFW WR Rae Carruth.  The show went behind the scenes of the crime itself and included a very lengthy sit down interview with the actually gun man, Van Brett Watkins.  Fascinating.

Arsenio Hall's talk show was abruptly canceled on Friday.  R.I.P.

Deadline is reporting that Nat Geo "has ordered a six-part series Survive The Tribe from UK production house Icon Films. The series, which explores survival techniques of ancient tribes through a series of challenges in hostile locations, will premiere in the U.S. and UK in July, with debuts in other markets later this year. Survive The Tribe tracks wilderness guide and survival instructor Hazen Audel as he journeys to some of the world’s most inhospitable places, attempting survival skills that have kept tribal people alive against the odds for thousands of years. He has a week to study skills refined over centuries, and mastered over a lifetime. In the Kalahari Desert, for instance, he joins an elite group of San Bushmen, hunting for game with bows and poison arrows. And, embarking on an Inuit crash course in Arctic Canada, Hazen must harvest for food beneath shifting sea ice while braving a barren landscape."

Yes, that is Tyra Banks  sans  make up.

Yes, that is Tyra Banks sans make up.

In what I truly hope (and am almost certain will) be a gigantic failure, "Tyra Banks is getting back into the daytime game with a new series. The producer, model and TV personality will executive produce and host a new lifestyle show that launches next year.

"The as-yet-untitled series will feature Banks leading a team of lifestyle experts on a wide range of topics. 'The fire to inspire women and help them to blaze new paths fiercely burns inside of me,' Banks said in a statement. 'I’m excited to be partnering with Disney-ABC to usher in a new era of lifestyle, beauty and entertainment that will inspire women to be the CEO of their lives via honesty, humor and the newest tips and tricks without being intimidating or precious. To my fierce fam of future viewers: I can’t wait to shake up daytime TV together. I have a lot of information to give and still lots to learn. Let’s do it!'

"The show promises to take on topics such as fashion, beauty, entertaining and individual enterprise. Banks will also welcome celebrities, 'internet influencers,' experts and everyday people to share their own knowledge across various topics." 

Mad Men's Matthew Weiner talked with Vanity Fair and had this to say about the series finale: "I wrote the finale over Memorial Day weekend. I had an outline that the writer’s room and I had been working on for the past four or five weeks, so that always makes it easier to actually get it done, but it was great to finish it. I’ll be tweaking it and directing and working through that, so it’s not complete release because it’s not really done until it goes on the air. But yeah…. [long pause] it was a pretty strange experience. I don’t really have words for it. It hasn’t sunk in. Just the idea that you’re finished with writing for a while in itself is mind-blowing. It’s my first little piece of withdrawal from the ridiculous miracle that was getting to do this show. But now I have all the anxiety of, is this the right ending?"

Chelsea Handler is lobbying for Khloe Kardashian to take over for her?

Rest in peace Ann B. Davis.

Per Deadline, "Private spaceflight project Mars One, led by eccentric Dutch billionaire entrepreneur Bas Lansdorp, was originally announced back in 2011 as a mission to send the world’s first one-way astronauts to the Red Planet. The plan is to put together a group of earthlings who will go through a rigorous training process before making the 300-million mile voyage to Mars to establish the first human colony — with no hope of return. Endemol-owned Darlow Smithson Productions has now joined with Mars One as its exclusive worldwide production partner to document the different stages of the astronaut selection and training program."

Let Bryan Cranston say whatever the hell he wants.