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

Sunday, February 27, 2011

MASTERPIECE Theater is Actually Cool!

Growing up, the only time I ever heard about Masterpiece Theater was in comedy sketches poking fun at some British, boring movie….or something. Well now I’m all grown up and I watch PBS because I want to. A little background, shall we?......The Masterpiece Trust was founded back in 1971, partners with UK producers to bring high quality material to America’s PBS. It started out with the classics (Austen, Dickens, the Bronte sisters). In 1980, they added Masterpiece Mystery! (Sherlock Holmes anyone?) Now, they’ve also got Masterpiece Contemporary. It's shown in three “seasons” on PBS (Sunday nights). Four months of each. Here some awesome suggestions that I’ve recently seen.


Sherlock
Based on the Sir Arthur Conan Doyle mysteries, creators Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss add a modern day twist. To be honest, I was skeptical, but within five minutes Benedict Cumberbatch had me enthralled. Cumberbatch’s portrayal of the legendary private dick was BAH-RILLIANT! To put it more accurately, he is a consulting detective with the help of physician friend John Watson (played by the adorable Martin Freeman). The two actors have such amazing chemistry. Not only do the performances draw you in, but the style as well. They express the technology being used on screen (i.e. we see floating text of a text message that is being read). Important information, kids! Sounds kind of corny, but it worked marvelously. London is a major character. The way the city was shot with this dark and twinkling softness is like nothing I’ve ever seen. There are three 90 minute episodes and series two has been given the green light. Can’t wait for the return! Check out series one on Netflix.


Downton Abbey
Although, the material seems as though it’s based on a classic novel, this early 20th century period piece is original programming (as of 2010). Julian Fellowes created this a series around a British, Aristocratic estate. Not only does he delve into the secrets and naughty behavior of the family living there, but the servants who work in the house within a house. Hugh Bonneville plays the patriarch, Earl of Grantham, Robert Crawley. Years ago he married an American heiress so that he could keep his title and estate. Said heiress is none other than Elizabeth McGovern (you know, from all those ‘80s movies). They have three very different daughters and a slew of hired helpers. Unfortunately they don’t have a son which causes much commotion over who will inherit the estate and title when the Earl kicks the bucket. British law was still very sexist back then, as well as the men.  On the surface, it seems like this could be quite a boring tale. I assure you that it’s not. You’ve got intrigue, murder, blackmail, romance and women trying to trick men into marrying them. What more could you want in 1914 rural England? Series two begins filming this fall! Do yourself a favor and Netflix it these four 90 minute episodes.  


Wallander
Kenneth Branagh *swoon* plays Swedish detective, Kurt Wallander. The series is based on books by Henning Mankell. Although this is a crime series, I hesitate to call it a cop show. It’s so much more. The writing (credit to Mankell and co-screenwriter Richard Cottan.) is PHENOMENAL! It’s not our dumbed down, digestible bites of American rubbish. These are stories that make you think…. about life, about humanity, about society. Branagh’s quiet, yet intense performance has earned him nominations for an Emmy, Golden Globe and BAFTA (which he won). If you’re not hooked by the first scene of the first installment, you might as well pack up and go home. Wallander faces astonishing, horrific crime on a daily basis while trying to hold himself together. His family falls apart around him and relationships with co-workers are strenuous at best. All this adds up to a captivating character investigating the most intriguing cases in Southern Sweden (there’s actually a lot of them apparently). The crimes may be ugly, but the cinematography is breathtaking. Plus, I think the director really likes agricultural. Check out series one and two on Netflix. Only three 90 minute episodes per series. It’s worth it! More to come, including original stories….so stay tuned.

This morning I started watching Any Human Heart starring Jim Broadbent and Matthew MacFadyen. It chronicles one man's life through the better part of the 20th century. So far, so good, but I'll let you know how it turns out. 

So what have I learned? Masterpiece does NOT equal boring, rather incredibly great programming. When they say high quality, damn if they don’t mean it. Decide for yourself.

Do you have any favorite Masterpieces?

Friday, February 25, 2011

"Law & Order: UK" Just Keeps Getting Better



In this week's episode, Ronnie and Matt investigate the assault of a woman who's been stalked for the last two years by her supposed attacker. Turns out she just faked it to get the police's attention so that they'd take her seriously. I guess she didn't figure that these coppers would know how to do their jobs. They figured out she was lying. When she turns up dead, they feel a little more than guilty for not pursuing her case.

Matt stands by his report that there was no attacker the first time around. Ronnie decides that the only way to bring her murderer to justice is to establish the escalation of his crimes. He goes back,  "finds new evidence" and testifies that he was wrong the first time around. Unfortunately, he drags Matt into it after their boss expressly told them to stay away from it.

There is a scene where Matt confronts Ronnie about dragging him into it and putting his career in jeopardy. The heated encounter is so out of the ordinary for this usually familial partnership. Ronnie's the father figure and Matt's got a lot to learn, but he's no rookie. And he wasn't wrong. Things just turned out all messed up. I'm curious to see how this changes their friendship.

The other stand out scene was Crown Prosecutor James Steel ripping Matt to shreds on the stand. I know he didn't enjoy it, but damn if he didn't do it well. I have a feeling this relationship will change too. Alesha asked him not to, but he had no choice if he was going to put a murderer behind bars. What exactly is going on between Matt and Alesha? There's definitely something. Sometimes, they're great friends, then sometimes it seems flirty. Will they ever get together? I think they'd make a cute couple.

This spin-off is just so much more captivating to me than the others. Without having watched the others for a long time, I'm still betting that the stories are similar, but it's the way they do it. Plus, I love seeing London as a backdrop. If you haven't seen this BBC gem, check it out Fridays at 10pm or OnDemand.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

The "Glory Daze" Are Over


I was reading deadline.com, like I do several times a day and I read that TBS' one hour comedy "Glory Daze" was canceled or to put it nicely, is not being renewed. I'm a little upset about this. Granted, it wasn't Emmy worthy, but it had potential. TBS didn't really give it a fair shot since it was aired over the holiday season. Who the hell is home during the month of December (besides me)? They even aired a new episode the weeks of Christmas and New Years.

If you didn't catch it's limited run, "Glory Daze" followed four college freshman rushing a fraternity in Wisconsin.....oh and it's 1986. The costumes and soundtrack alone were worth checking it out for an ep or two. I think the standout was Matt Bush. He was that guy in Adventureland that kept punching guys in the junk. With his comedic chops, Mr. Bush is going places. I was also quite amused by Chris D'Elia's performance of Stankowski, the thirty year old frat brother that has been high for the last decade and a half. Deadline also reported that he's booked an NBC pilot. I hope TBS doesn't turn out to be the next Fox, creating new shows and canceling them before they get off the ground. Although, I wouldn't mind if they canceled some of those Tyler Perry shows. The promos alone annoy the bejeezus out of me.

"Traffic Light" Gets the Green Light From Me


Since it comes on right after "Raising Hope", I decided to give the new Fox comedy "Traffic Light" a chance. It may be the first time that the lead in strategy has worked on me. I know, RH is only a half a season old, but that's established for Fox. If you haven't seen it, you're probably wondering about the title. They explain in the pilot that it's phases of a relationship as the series follows three friends and their significant others. Mike (Roy from "The Office") is married to Lisa and they have a baby. Adam just moved in with Callie and Kris Marshall (the horny bloke from Love Actually) is the perpetual bachelor.

It's based on an Israeli series. Apparently there's a lot of great television being made over there. It's not so much the premise that makes this show. It's more about the characters and the chemistry. The dialogue is pretty funny, but there is something to say about the delivery. Annnnyyyywayyyyyyy.....I don't want to oversell, but check it out. I'll definitely be giving it a shot. The first three episodes are on www.fox.com and it's on Tuesdays at 9:30.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

SHOUT OUT!


I just feel like giving a shout out to some of my favorite shows that are goin' strong.

"Raising Hope"
This is still my favorite new comedy of the season. There is yet to be an episode that doesn't insight side splitting laughter. Hope is just about the cutest baby I've ever seen on TV and her grandpa is ridiculously hot. Cloris Leachman is totally pulling a Betty White. If you're not watching, you totally should be. Catch up on Fox.com and watch live, Tuesdays at 9pm. You won't regret it.

"Being Human"
I mean the original and brilliant BBC series. Season three premiered this week on BBC America. I'm a little sad that our family of supernatural beings has left Bristol, but new adventures await in Wales. The possibility of Mitchell and Annie becoming a couple has me on edge a little. They're friends. I don't want that to change and what if it didn't work out. He can't leave her. She'd have no one. I'm very glad she's got her big comfy chair back. Guess we'll see what happens, Saturdays at 9pm on BBC America. Watch the season three premiere OnDemand.

"Southland"
If you live in Hollywood like I do, you totally appreciate the locations. At least three times an episode I recognize some place that I frequent. It's pretty cool. If you don't live in Hollywood, you can appreciate the terrific writing and acting. This season's biggest mind blower was the death of super hot Detective Nate Moretti played by Kevin Alejandro. Every single viewer was shocked and saddened by his departure, but damn did it make for a great story. Since then, Shawn Hatosy has upped his game. I didn't think he was that great on this show until the episode where Nate dies. There are only one 2 episodes left this season. Catch up at TNT.tv and watch Tuesdays at 10pm. Good luck to Kevin who'll be focusing on "True Blood".

"An Idiot Abroad"
If you've seen "The Ricky Gervais Show" on HBO or listened to the podcast, you're familiar with Ricky and Stephen Merchant's "friend" Karl Pilkington. Ricky and Stephen thought it would be funny to send their little round headed buffoon of a friend to see the Seven Wonders of the World. You see, Karl is a little small minded and believes everything he reads. This was their attempt to broaden his mind and laugh while he's tortured by foreign customs. I feel bad for Karl, but it is quite hilarious. Check it out on the Science Channel, Saturdays at 10pm.

"Law & Order: UK"
Just like everyone else, I am so sick of every reincarnation of the American version. But the Brits do it differently. First off, it's just entertaining to listen to the accents and see the differences in our legal systems. The storylines seem so much more interesting or maybe it's that the characters are just more likable. Whatever it is, I can't get enough of this Dick Wolf spin-off. Catch up OnDemand and watch Fridays at 10pm on BBC America.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

"Episodes" Exceeds Expectations



Tonight was the finale of "Episodes". I have to say, this show surprised me. My expectations were low, yet I was interested enough to watch. Turns out, it's pretty good. Matt LeBlanc's exaggerated version of himself was entertaining, especially his relationship with Sean. Beverly's hate for Matt was great. I think I like her because I relate.....but I have no strong feelings about Matt LeBlanc in any way. Carol turned out to be another of my favorite characters. In nearly every episode, she said or did something unexpected. And she's soooooooo L. A., but she freely admits it and makes no apologies.

At the end of last week's episode, Matt and Beverly were about to be naughty. And shag they did. Sean figures it out, as he is English and everyone knows they're smarter. A hilarious fight ensues where they both end up drenched in a cinnamon scented fragrance. I'm gonna bet that Showtime has picked up this series for a second season, since the show within a show was picked up. Making a television show with a cheating wife and the friend (pun intended) that shagged her should prove challenging for Sean and entertaining for us. Now, if they'd just get rid of those horrid opening credits.

If you have Showtime, you can catch all episodes OnDemand or on Monday nights starting next week.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

"Justified" Wins Me Over


Last week I decided to catch up on season one of “Justified”. Last year when it premiered, I gave up after the first three eps. I just wasn’t into it. The absolutely amazing Walton Goggins (aka Detective Shane Vendrell) was my reason for giving it a shot….and because it is an FX show. He was in the pilot, but then disappeared. If I’d stuck with it, I’d have been incredibly impressed with his moving performance in the second half of the season. I mean….WOW! Goggins is one of the most under rated actors on television. I should really consider running for president of the Walton Goggins fan club.

Timothy Olyphant is the center of the series as the cowboy Federal Marshall who pretty much shoots someone every week. He would sooooo not be allowed to carry a gun in real life if he’d shot that many people. But I like his attitude. Ok, so Olyphant’s Raylan Givens is a law man and Goggins’ Boyd Crowder is from a long line of criminals in rural Kentucky. The two dug coal together when they were boys, but now Raylan is back in Harlan County with a badge. The first few episodes are episodical, which I think they realized it wasn’t working. By the second half of the season, a more cohesive storyline involving Boyd being a reformed white supremacist/man of God. The first season finale was Goooooooooooood. I’m not going to ruin it if you haven’t seen it, but it’s the culmination of several plot lines.

Last night was the premier of season two. I have to say that it lacked some resolution. There were some loose ends that were not tied up…..like where the hell is Ava? Looking past that, we were introduced to some new characters and what seems to be a new thread. It was like a “Lost” reunion with Jeremy Davies and Brad Henke playing brothers in a back woods crime family. Margo Martindale is the moonshine makin’ matriarch of this tribe. LOVE HER! I have a feeling that the crimes of the Bennett family will take the place of those committed by the Crowder clan.

The pilot was based on the short story “Fire in the Hole” by Elmore Leonard, who acts as executive producer. Adam Arkin directed the season one finale as well as the season two premier. Well done Mr. Arkin. He’s turned into quite the talented director and has done several great episodes of “Sons of Anarchy”. I’m a fan.

Ok class….let’s summarize. I was wrong. This show is really good. You should watch. Class dismissed.

Wednesdays at 10pm on FX

Stay Tuned…

Monday, February 7, 2011

Does "Chicago Code" Stand Up to Its Predecessor?


From the creator of “The Shield” comes Fox’s newest cop drama. Shawn Ryan has some great talent lined up in Jennifer Beals and Delroy Lindo, but does the show hold up? The American audience, hell, the world for that matter is heavily exposed to crime dramas. I’m sure we know more about law enforcement and crime than any time before us. I’ve learned more about the law from television than I ever did in high school and college combined. Soooooo….my point. It takes a really great script to impress me.  Otherwise, it’s just cops running around with guns chasing the rapists and murderers.  Ryan, the same man that killed off a cop in the pilot of “The Shield”, penned the first ep of this show. Somehow, I feel like it’s lacking. It’s probably wrong to compare this to that, but I just can’t help it. One thing it’s got is a strong woman. Beals’ Superintendent Theresa Colvin is reminiscent of Glenn Close’s Captain Monica Rawlings. Both are independent, strong willed and have something to prove (in a man’s world on top of it all). Jason Clarke plays Colvin’s former partner and her head detective on a task force meant to bring down city corruption. He’s the heavy handed, crotchety White Sox fan that goes through partners like toilet paper. There’s a bit of naughtiness….of course. But the kind that makes me cringe.  I wasn’t expecting to like this show, but watched because I wanted to like it. Although I wasn’t impressed, I will give it another try. At the very least, Jennifer Beals is stunning and very talent, but the accent is quite annoying.

Stay Tuned….if you feel like it

Mondays at 9pm on FOX