About Me

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Hi, I'm Jenna and I'm addicted to great television. I'm on a mission to share with you what I think are the best of the best when it comes to shows and mini-series. Long format visual storytelling is my entertainment of choice. I've got a lot to say, so stay tuned..... P.S. I am under some sort of invisible legal obligation to state that I do not own any of the photos posted herein unless otherwise specified and if you see any of your images and would like me to credit you or take it down (‘cus you’re just a meanie), please contact me

Monday, September 26, 2011

First Round of New Dramas Hits the Air Waves

After a crazy week, I finally had the chance to catch up on some of the latest dramas to premiere. Here are my thoughts. What are yours?

"Pan Am"
Our obsession with nostalgia continues with the production of another sixties era drama. While NBC has those girls in bunny costumes, ABC has classy ladies in airline stewardess uniforms (complete with girdle). Jack Orman and Thomas Schlamme bring us into the sophisticated world of flight attendants, pilots and even spies. Christina Ricci plays head purser Maggie who is accompanied by French mistress Colette and rich sisters Laura (who ran out on her wedding) and Kate (newly recruited spy). In the first ten minutes, I was hooked. The costuming is nothing less than STUUUU..Ning. Schlamme did a wonderful job of directing the pilot episode which had a great glow to it, while keeping a clean, fresh look. The score was fitting and beautiful. This show is going to blow "The Playboy Club" out of the water. Being on a network, they probably won't have the the freedom that "Mad Men" has to get as dark and dirty, but "Pan Am" has the potential to give them a run for their money. Watch out Matthew Weiner.

Sundays at 10pm on ABC

Verdict: Watch it!!!!

"Hart of Dixie"
It's a fish out of water story starring that girl from the Magnum ice cream commercials. You might know her as Rachel Bilson from a little show called "The O.C.". Dr. Zoe Hart is on her way to becoming a cardiothoracic surgeon but her bedside manner could use some fine tuning. Since graduating from medical school, Zoe's received job offers in the form of small town postcards from one Harley Wilks. With basically no other choice after an ultimatum from her boss, she decides to take the position of hillbilly healer in Bluebell, Alabama where the mayor is a former NFL player with a pet alligator and the women dress up like Scarlett O'Hara and dance in the town square. I'm gonna go out on a limb and say that the lead should be believable as a doctor. The only thing Bilson makes me believe is that she's a ditz with a mental illness which makes her think she's a doctor. The folksy element is cliched to say the least and in the last act, we find out that Wilks (the now dead doctor that lured her down there) was actually her biological father. Sorry for the spoiler if you're delusional enough to be excited about this show. Despite having two "Friday Night Lights" alums and being created by "Eli Stone" writer Leila Gerstein, I'm gonna have to take a big ol' pass on this one. ROLL. TIDE.

Mondays at 9pm on CW

Verdict: Don't bother

Dylan Walsh and Poppy Montgomery return to television in yet another procedural for CBS. Walsh is NYPD Detective Al Burns (I know, horrible name) and Montgomery is Carrie Wells, former cop/homicide consultant who has a condition preventing her from forgetting a single detail...ever. The only things she can forget are the details surrounding her sister's murder. And oh yeah, Carrie and Al used to be a couple so I'm sure there'll be more than a little tension in this newly formed team. When Carrie recalls the memories, she's in the memory, walking through it, watching herself. It's annoying. The overkill continues by giving Carrie a mother with Alzheimer's. "Unforgettable" will most likely be my mom's new favorite show, but you need a better gimmick than crazy good memory to rope me into another cop show. It's difficult for me to get into and respect a series that treats its audience like idiots and ends on a freeze frame (NCIS excluded). Come on, throw me a curve ball. Nothing exceptional about this procedural.

Tuesdays at 10pm on CBS

Verdict: Don't bother (but tell your parents to give it a try)

Emily Vancamp is in the Hamptons and big surprise....looking for revenge (as a girl named Emily, not very original ABC). Back when Emily was Amanda, an eight year old girl spending the summer in the Hamptons with her successful single dad, the wealthy that rule this exclusive town were responsible for her father's downfall. She's back (undercover) and worming her way into the lives of the rich and fabulous all so that she can destroy them. Forgiveness is not an option. As expected, it's very melodramatic, but there was enough mystery to keep me interested. Madeleine Stowe is a natural queen bitch as Victoria Grayson. Not a fan of hers, but she's well cast as this cold and calculating matriarch. I have such a crush on the Henry Czerny who plays cheating husband Conrad to Victoria. What a silver fox! "Roswell" fans might recognize Nick Wechlser as a local boy who was a true friend to Amanda as a child. Not sure how I feel about him, but I think having the "real people" element will be good for balance in a world of fake rich people. If you like fancy clothes and houses, you might like it. I'll give it another episode or two and see how it goes.

Verdict: Give it a try

Wednesdays at 10pm on ABC

"Person of Interest"
Ben Linus is back! Ok, so it's not Ben Linus, but Michael Emerson is playing another character that pulls all the strings in CBS' newest crime drama (with a twist!). Emerson's Mr. Finch recruits former Army Ranger Reese (Jim Caviezel...yes Jesus) to help him prevent crimes which he predicts from a machine he built. It sounds all sci-fi referring to it as a "machine" instead of software, but I read that it's actually based on technology that is in use and will be in the next few years. Unfortunately this magic machine only gives out social security numbers and the owners could be the victim or perpetrator. Let's all agree that Caviezel is not the best actor, but I do think he was well cast a soldier. The action was fun, but a bit over the top. Emerson was as creepy and mysterious as ever, just the way we like him. The transitions using a montage of security footage is cool. I was weary of this show after reading the descriptions, but it has potential. If the directors and writers can use the strengths of Caviezel, Emerson and the fabulous Taraji P. Henson who plays an NYC detective, they could have a winner. Focusing on how we're close to this reality will draw me in more than talking about a magic machine that spits out qualitative information. I'll give it a few more eps. How could I not with Mr. Emerson in the mix? Plus it's created by Jonathan Nolan. You might have seen his name in the credits of a few little movies called Momento, The Prestige, and The Dark Knight. That gives me high hopes.

Thursdays at 9pm on CBS

Verdict: Give it a try

"A Gifted Man"
Women around the world were ecstatic to hear that Patrick Wilson would be headed to our living rooms every week in CBS' latest meta drama. Wilson plays successful surgeon Dr. Michael Holt who's life has been his work. When his do gooder ex-wife dies, she begins appearing to Michael from beyond the grave teaching him how to be a better man. It's all very idealistic so if you're into that kind of thing, good for you. For me, there were far too many centered close ups and white light. Although Holt has a good bedside manner with his patients and their worried families, he treats his assistant (played by the amazing Emmy winner Margo Martindale) like crap despite admitting she's the glue that keeps him together. That really rubs me the wrong way and makes it hard for me to root for him. The writers try to soften his character with a single parent sister raising a teenage son, but I can't stand Julie Benz (aka Rita from Dexter). Strike two is the blatant product placement of the iPad. I swear it's in every other scene. So far, Margo Martindale is the only reason to return and I don't believe that she's signed as a regular. My prediction is that this show will either sink very quickly or air of eight seasons. Depends on how much the old people like it.

Fridays at 8pm on CBS

Verdict: Don't bother (unless "The Ghost Whisperer" and "Touched by an Angel" are your favorite shows EVER)

***What are you favorite new dramas? Can't wait for the second wave...coming soon!

Monday, September 19, 2011

It's the Odd Couple with Chics! 2 Broke Girls

Apparently Whitney Cummings should stick to creating shows because "2 Broke Girls" was instantly funnier that "Whitney" which she stars in. Kat Dennings (40 Year Old Virgin and Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist) plays Max, a sharp tongued, street smart, no nonsense waitress. She waits tables at a scuzzy diner in Brooklyn where the newest staff member, Caroline is a down and out uptown girl. These two broke girls couldn't be more opposite, I know.... shocking. After Max comes around to Caroline's charms, the two decide to go into business together....well to raise money to go into business together. I'm sure shenanigans will ensue as these unlikely pals attempt to work multiple jobs, including nanny-ing for a real housewife that named her children Brad and Angelina. Yup.

Aside from the cheesiness of being filmed in front of a studio audience, it's actually pretty funny. The dialogue is razor sharp (with a the exception of a "tender" moment toward the end). Max says everything I wish I was clever enough to say in the moment including putting a couple of hipsters in their place. The characters are quirky and likable for the time being. I'll definitely give this one a chance. Check it out Mondays at 9:30 on CBS.

P.S. There's a horse involved.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

New Girl is Simply Adorkable

Let me start by saying that I wasn't clever enough to come up with "Simply Adorkable". Some creative copywriter over at Fox probably did. I saw it on the site and loved it. Ok, now on to the post. If you want to get a jump on Fox's new comedy series "New Girl", go to Hulu.com this week to watch the first episode. Already expecting to like this show, I loved it! Zooey Deschanel is quirkly and lovable (as usual) in her role as Jess, a recently single girl moving in with three guys she met on craigslist. Her new roomies have to adjust to a lady in the house, but they soon fall for her charms. And by charms, I mean her Lord of the Rings references, horrible sense of fashion and tendency to make up theme songs about herself. Ok, so maybe lady wasn't the right word.

Jess' roommates are Nick, Schmidt and Winston. After only one ep, I'm already super crushing on Nick. He was dumped six months ago, so can totally relate to Jess. He's compassionate and mature. Just what Jess needs in her life right about now. Schmidt on the other hand has inspired one of my favorite things in the show, The Douchebag Jar. That's right, after every douchey thing he says or does, he has to put a dollar into the jar (it's always full). LOVE IT! That could totally come in handy.

In the pilot episode, one of the roommates is Coach, played by Damon Wayans Jr. Since "Happy Endings" was picked up for a second season, he wasn't able to do the show. I wish there was a way he could have done both. I'm loving this guy. Cuter than his father and definitely has the family funny gene. From what I can tell on Fox.com, Coach is replaced by a similar character that is a former athlete, also played by a tall, bald, African America man in his late twenties. But not the same character? I'm a little confused. Guess I'll figure it out when I see the second episode. Jess is also supported by her best friend Cece, who happens to be a model. Not sure if we'll meet her mom, but sounds like they're close. She knew after a break up, Jess would be watching Dirty Dancing on repeat. It's like we're the same person!

I am really excited about this show. Normally endearing isn't a word you'd use to describe a comedy, but this one totally is. Part of me feels like Jess and the other part wants to take care of her. Although it's unlikely in real life, it's sweet that these boys (who are basically strangers) want to be her guides.

In the pilot (and yes I know it's just a pilot) the characters are all very well written, funny but with loads with room to grow. There is a great dynamic among the cast. I imagine they all have fun on set. There is a bright tone that gives the viewer a hopeful feeling. Jess will get through this breakup and come out the other side with three new best friends....and hijinks will occur in the meantime. So I highly encourage you to check out "New Girl" on Fox Tuesdays at 9pm starting Sept 20th. But you can see the pilot on Hulu.com right now.

P.S. Don't forget to start your own Douchebag Jar. We've all got on in our lives. Why not profit?

Sunday, September 11, 2011

PaleyFest's NBC Fall Preview Party

On Thursday night, The Paley Center hosted the NBC Preview Party. What was extra cool, was that it was totally free (unless you got screwed by the public parking garage like I did) and there were goodies. The night was kicked off by a viewing of "Whitney" and a panel discussion with the stars and producers. Following the panel, was a showing of the five more brand spankin' new NBC shows. Here's my take...

"Whitney" - Some of you may already know Whitney Cummings from "Chelsea Lately" or a couple celebrity roasts. She's been doing stand up for years and this fall TV season, she's got two new shows. This one is autobiographical and she's also the creator and producer of the CBS comedy "2 Broke Girls". In "Whitney", she and her boyfriend of 3 years (played by Chris D'Elia aka stoner Stankowski of Glory Daze) are in a committed relationship with no plans to get married. They are accompanied by four pals. Two are engaged and giddy. One is a disgusting bachelor on the prowl and the last is a drunk, bitter, divorcee (she's my favorite).

I love the billboards around town. They're so funny, but the actual show left something to be desired. It's multicamera and shot in front of a live audience. During the panel, everyone expressed how proud they were of that fact, but I failed to see why it made the show better for the viewer. I totally get that it provides an energy for these stand ups turned actors, but so much about this series from the audible laughs to the cheesy lines is cliche. I love D'Elia, but he had a smile on his face after every funny line he delivered, which made it less funny for me. My final verdict, I couldn't stand it. Unless you're already a huge fan of Whitney Cummings, skip it. I'm sure you can find something else to watch or do on Thursdays at 9:30.

"The Playboy Club" - It's the early '60s. You're in Chicago. You want to look at sexy ladies. Where do you go? Why the playboy club of course...if you've got a key. Eddie Cibrian does, or should I say hot shot lawyer Nick Dalton does. In the pilot he helps a new bunny who's gotten into some trouble. The killing kind, not the baby kind. The shocking violence that transpired was very abrupt, occurring in the first few minutes. That pretty much took me out of it.

Although the costumes were gorgeous and the art direction superb, the acting left something to be desired. And the story.....really? It was melodramatic and soapy. If that's what you're looking for, go ahead and give it a try. But for me, it's a thumbs down. I could hardly wait for it to end, but maybe you're looking for some bunny tail on Mondays at 10pm.

"Up All Night" - Christina Applegate and Will Arnett play new parents without a clue in this new single camera comedy. Chris (Arnett) is getting used to being a stay at home dad while wife Reagan (Applegate) goes back to work for crazy talk show host, Ava (Maya Rudolph).

Very excited about this show. After finally getting into "Samantha Who" this summer, I'm definitely a big Christina fan and who doesn't love Will Arnett?! Plus, if you're over 25 you can most likely relate to this subject because you've either gone through it all or are fearing babies without handbooks. Check this one out....seriously. Wednesdays at 10pm.

"Prime Suspect" - Based on the highly successful British series starring Dame Helen Mirren, the American version features Maria Bello as a New York City Homicide Detective Jane Timoney. Jane is no ordinary cop. She takes an unorthodox approach in her investigations as she has more to lose being the only girl in an all boys club.

I like it! So far anyway. There are never enough strong, badass women on television so it's refreshing when you see one that carries a gun and makes no apologies for going after what she wants. Plus, her live in boyfriend is played by my dream boyfriend Kenneth Johnson (aka Lem on "The Shield" or Kozik on "SOA"). After seeing all the ads (Cop. An Attitude) and the first half of the pilot with Jane being all tough, I really liked that they showed her vulnerable side. It makes sense that someone fighting that hard would break down every now and then. I don't see too many men liking it but I'm hoping it will be hit with the ladies. Whether you're a Dick or a Jane, check it out on Thursdays at 10pm.

"Free Agents" - In another British import, Hank Azaria and Kathryn Hahn play Alex and Helen, coworkers at a Portland PR firm. Alex is divorced and missing his kids. Helen is still mourning her dead fiance after a year and drinking her way through it. They are both a hot mess, but like everyone else, just trying it figure it out. Unfortunately, sleeping together may have complicated things...or does it?

This one definitely has potential. I'm always interested in screwed up characters, so of course I like both leads. So great to see Hank Azaria and finally Kathryn Hahn is cast as a lead. For years, she's been the best friend and I've always thought she was too funny to just be the best friend. If you're a "Buffy" fan, you'll love seeing Anthony Head reprise his role as the out of touch boss. Give this one a try and let's see where it goes. Wednesdays at 10:30pm.

"Grimm" - Detective Nick Burkhardt is no ordinary cop. He's a decendent of the Brothers Grimm who were more than just fairly tale writers. They were supernatural profilers. It's now up to Nick to keep the evil supernatural creatures in check. Burkhardt is backed up by partner Hank Griffin (Russell Hornsby) and a reformed werewolf (Silas Weir Mitchell) who teaches Nick about the supernatural world.

I'm not sure yet. The Grimm world is beautifully shot, has great effects and made us jump in the first minute and a half, but there's something missing. I can't quite put my finger on it yet, but it needed a little something. Not crazy about the lead. David Guintoli didn't grab me the way a network lead should. I love Russell Hornsby, but his character really bothered me. The actual people in this supernatural world, don't seem real. The humans in a world full of creatures need to be relatable as they are our touchstone. Hopefully the writing will improve to match the cinematography. If you're into big bad wolves and other fairy tale creatures, check out "Grimm" Fridays at 9pm. Wait...does NBC really want it to succeed? Historically, Fridays are where shows go to die. Hmmmm......

Wish I could have made it to the other network preview parties. Maybe next year. In the meantime, hope this helps you decide which new NBC shows to check out. Keep an eye out for lots of reviews in the next few weeks as the new schedule unfolds.

Get Ready To Laugh!

Who ever thought I would have seven returning comedies to look forward to this fall? Not me, I'm such a drama queen (when it comes to television that is). I much more likely to be watching "The Killing" or "The Shield" than "Two and a Half Men". Well, let's face it, you couldn't pay me to watch "Two and a Half Men". In any case, my TV schedule has been jam packed with murder, torture, backstabbing and other horribleness for the last several years. I've finally found somewhat of a balance with dramedies and full on sitcoms such as these seven, returning this fall that I am totally psyched about.

"RAISING HOPE" - White trash at the height of hilarity. The Chance family doesn't have much, but they've got more love for Baby Hope than they can handle. Martha Plimpton, Garret Dillahunt, Lucas Neff, Shannon Woodward and Cloris Leachman have me in stitches every week as their characters attempt to raise the cutest baby on television.

"MODERN FAMILY" - There is no better representation of today's family and relationships than those shown on "Modern Family". Let's face it, things aren't what they were when we were kids. Fewer things are funnier than watching these parents (especially Ed O'Neil's Jay) raise children who have cell phones, laptops and more friends on Facebook than Claire has neuroses.

"HAPPY ENDINGS" - The new Friends? Maybe. It's too early to tell, but this group of late twenty somethings was surprisingly hilarious. It's got the bride that left the groom at the alter, but their still gonna be friends friends, the crazy fun girl, the interracial married folks and it's even got the straightest gay guy you've ever met (on TV that is). For me, it's a formula for funny.

"HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER" - After six seasons, I still love the McClaren's gang. That whole Zoey story line last season had me a little disappointed but I have faith that they'll bounce back. Will Barney and Robin get back together? Will Ted meet the mother this season (or ever)? Will we get to see Lily through her inevitably hilarious pregnancy? I hope the answer is yes to all of the above.

"THE OFFICE" - Will The Office be funny without Steve Carell? James Spader is funny, but in that creepy way. So what does that mean for Dunder Mifflin Scranton? Does it all go down hill from here? I hope not and I'll definitely be tuning it because even without Carell, you've got the hilarious Mindy Kaling, Craig Robinson, Ed Helms and entire gang.

"BORED TO DEATH" - Jason Schwartzman + Ted Danson + Zach Galifianakis + Lots of Weed + Private Investigating = An Extremely Comical HBO Series. This could possibly be my favorite of Ted Danson's roles. It was so unexpected which was why it is so amusing. Galifianakis delivery is side splitting. Can't wait!!!!

"PARKS AND RECREATION" - Last season was so great with the addition of Rob Lowe and Adam Scott to the cast. This season, we can look forward to Patricia Clarkson as Tammy 1, Ron Swanson's first crazy wife. How amazing is that going to be?! Will Leslie run for mayor? I hope so. Will she and Ben fiiiiinally get together. They better!!!

Monday, September 5, 2011

The Summer of Spectacular New Series

It feels like more summer series premiered in 2011 than ever before. And boy did they deliver. As the summer comes to a close, I felt the need to reflect on my favorites and express my excitement for their imminent return. In no particular order (for the most part) here's what I've been watching for the past three months.

"SUITS" - If you follow me (@TVMaven) on Twitter, you already know how freaking cool I think this show is. I'm mean SERIOUSLY! Harvey Specter is the epitome of cool as is this show. The gorgeous shots of New York and the fantastic costuming only enhance the great story of a hot shot lawyer taking a genius (minus a law degree) under his wing. Gabriel Macht and Patrick Adams are superbly supported by Rick Hoffman and Gina Torres, two of my favorite character actors. I'm extremely excited for the season finally this Thursday night. If you missed season 1, better catch up before next summer when they return with 16 all new episodes (4 more!).

"AWKWARD" - For me, "Awkward" was the surprise of the summer. I never thought I'd be watching MTV again, but this little series about a girl (with my name) suffering through high school with a heroic sense of humor has me coming back week after week. Of course the writing is way more sophisticated than actual high schoolers, but not in that melodramatic "Dawson's Creek" kind of way....in an awesomely funny way. I'd never condone actual teenagers watching it. So if you're of age, check it out. We've still got a couple weeks left to go before school's out in Palos Verdes. They've already been picked up for Season 2, which we can expect in 2012. Go Jenna!

"WILFRED" - If "Awkward" was a surprise, "Wilfred" was a bombshell. After months of seeing promos, I became used to the idea of a man in a dog suit that everyone else saw as a dog, but I had no idea it would be so filthy. I'm pretty sure every episode was rated MA LS (mature audience, containing language and sex) some needed a V for violence and if there was a D for drugs, slap that onto every intro. This may turn some people off, but I thoroughly enjoyed being shocked week after week. Can't wait for more in Season 2 next summer.

"FRIDAY NIGHT DINNER" - There was no question I would love this British series being created by an "Inbetweeners" alum and starring Simon Bird, Tamsin Greig and Mark Heap. This dysfunctional, yet hilariously close family always seems to find trouble during their weekly dinners. Having this show air over the summer definitely took the sting off of the "Inbetweeners" ending, but now what will fill its void after next Saturday's finale? Counting down to series (season for you non BBC watchers) 2.

"SWITCHED AT BIRTH" - I love this show! So many questions. It really makes you think about what you would do in their situation(s). It's very complicated and there are always new things coming to light in addition to these two girls just trying to make their way through high school. After it's breakout success, ABC Family added twelve more eps (for a total of 22) to season 2 which will begin airing in January 2012. So it won't continue to be a summer series, but it definitely brightened this year up.

"FRANKLIN & BASH" - Who doesn't want to see Zack Morris all buff and in a suit? I sure do and that's just one reason why I heart this new lawyer-y comedy series from TNT. Breckin Meyer is definitely another. The chemistry between these two characters and the actors is hilariously entertaining to watch. Rounding out my top three reasons to watch F&B is Pindi, their agorophohic, Indian researcher that lives in the man cave along with the legal duo. This guy's got me in stitches every week, just wish there was more of him. Check out the first season so that you're good to go next summer as TNT has already renewed them for a second go around.

"FALLING SKIES" - No other show had me more excited week after week than TNT's newest sci-fi drama, which is why I couldn't just sit in front of the TV. I had to attend the Paley Center panel so that I could hear straight from the creators where the show was going. There is so much drama in the form of aliens headed our way next summer. If I recall correctly, TNT renewed the series after only two weeks (or so). Pretty frakkin' impressive for a sci-fi show. Leading the charge in season one was Noah Wylie, but who knows what season two will hold for him after boarding the uber scary alien spaceship. This show is about character and survival at the core. Even if you aren't a sci-fi geek, give it a try. The action and adventure is interwoven with scenes of heartfelt connection. Relatable to any audience. Watch it! Love it!

So, the bar has been set pretty high. My hope is that 2012 will not only deliver terrific second seasons of these shows, but a few more great series. Premieres aren't just for the fall anymore.