Moment of the Week: NPH at the Tonys — or is it?

Dear me! I almost forgot to put up a Moment of the Week this week. Which is disappointing, since I chose one on Monday morning when I saw all the buzz about Neil Patrick Harris’ appearances on the Tony Awards.

The most talked-about was probably the dancing dual, of sorts, between NPH and Hugh Jackman. Now, despite the couple moments where the lighting guys couldn’t find the performers, this was an entertaining number. So here you go, this week’s Moment of the Week.

As a runner-up, check up NPH’s opening number.

Man, me loves some Neil.

****

UPDATE: It occurs to me that in my fun dancing-and-singing focus, I totally blanked that perhaps the latest episode of Game of Thrones should have achieved this honor. You know, since that was HUGE and all. Anyway, fight about it in the comments. I’ll hold out that the next episode might bring an even bigger moment of the week. (But seriously, how can they top that?!)

Neil or Ned. Neil or Ned. Gosh, I don’t even know.

HIMYM: Good News and Bad News

KT thinks you should all go give your dad a big hug.

HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER:  6.13 “Bad News”

HIMYM dipped into some unexpectedly somber territory this week with the passing of Marshall’s father.  Now I better understand why we had an episode last fall (“Baby Talk,” I think) in which the premise/problem was that Marshall talks to his dad about everything — they wanted to make sure we knew how close that relationship was.

To me, it seemed that Mr. Erikson was fairly young to be killed by a heart attack, especially these days.  But regardless, it helped the episode make a strong statement about where the show is trying to go this season.  I don’t mean that in any morbid sense, I mean that unlike last season, this year things change.  Life moves on.

I think this push forward started in the last episode before Christmas (“False Positive”), when Ted dutch-uncled his friends into making harder but more positive life choices.  Although that episode suffered from the will-they-won’t-they structure that always bugs me, there was a lot I liked about it.  I hope the general trend continues.

This week, there was no back and forth.  Marshall and Lily are beginning to worry about being able to conceive, so they visit a specialist… who turns out to look remarkably like Barney.  I was actually impressed by how different they made Neil Patrick Harris look for this role — dark hair and a beard make a big difference — but the voice is unmistakable.  I enjoyed the silliness they got out of this final doppelganger, but I especially liked that it was out of the blue with no cues from the narrator like “Remember, kids, how we made a big deal about this goofy doppelganger concept last season?”

Lily didn’t even bring that up until halfway into the episode, where it was just a fun nod to continuity.  And if you like the idea that she and Marshall made a deal with the universe to start trying for a baby after they’d found Barney’s doppelganger, then maybe now they’ve met him, Lily will get pregnant.  After all, we know she will, since Narrator Ted finally did untangle that Barney and Lily storyline in “The Mermaid Theory” (I know, I didn’t write about that episode either, but I really liked the execution of that part of it.)

But we spend this week reassuring first Lily and then Marshall that, yes, they will be able to have children.  And before Marshall gets the doctor’s OK, he also gets an extra reassurance from his parents that it won’t be the end of the world even if they can’t have kids.  It turns out to be the last time he talks to his dad.  The timing is so sad – just as Marshall finally does have a little good news to share, you see the phone ringing in that empty workshop, and we all know what it means.  Lily steps out of the cab already in tears, and for a moment Marshall just can’t process it.  It’s a beautiful scene for Jason Segal and Alyson Hannigan — I know my eyes were wet by the time he grunted, “I’m not ready for this.”

Here, need a tissue?

On a happier note, I was very pleased with Robin’s storyline in this episode.  I have a particular soft spot for our ambitious young journalist, and I love that she’s finally getting the sort of serious news job she’s always wanted.  I also (sorry, Robin!) enjoyed seeing Sandy Rivers again, and I loved the retrospective of Robin’s embarrassing past — some great episodes represented there.  Very cool of her to finally embrace it and move on.

Last note:  I didn’t even notice until I saw an article that Raked shared on Google Reader, but it’s worth watching the episode again just to play I Spy.  The crew placed a countdown from 50 to 1 on props and setpieces throughout the episode.  Can you find them all?

Glee: I sound like someone put tap shoes on a horse.

KT dreams for more episodes like this one.

GLEE:  1.19 “Dream On”

Now that’s more like it.  That was Glee at its best.

Much has been made of the fact that Joss Whedon was behind the camera for this episode, and I’m confident he did contribute to making this a good episode, but I think the writers deserve a big round of applause, too.  Joss got good material to work with.   He also got Neil Patrick Harris as the cynical and conflicted Brian Ryan, Will’s high school nemesis.

The episode got itself off to a good start by fully committing to a wonderful flashback to Will and Brian as teenagers.  It only lasts a minute or so, but it’s great.  Everyone looks like they walked straight out of Saved By the Bell, while NPH and Matthew Morrison are such good actors that they’re really believable as their awkward, younger selves.

Some of Glee’s usual flip-floppiness sneaks into the Brian Ryan plot.  It’s kind of like plucking flower petals and saying “He’ll cut the club.  He won’t cut the club.  He’ll cut the club…” which makes me roll my eyes a little.  Happily there was plenty of other good stuff to make up for it.  For one thing, these two can really rock a duet.

If Brian Ryan ever comes back, I hope he gets to interact more with Sue, because their scene was a hoot and a half.  And yet, they actually have a real, meaningful conversation lamenting the real world issues of underfunding in the arts and under-appreciation of physical education.  Sue even looks like a competent educator, which is nice, for a change.

Meanwhile, Artie and Tina actually got a storyline!  And although it’d be nice if Artie could get a plot that didn’t need to revolve around his disability, this one was really nice as far as tone and pacing.  The sweet, friendly relationship between Artie and Tina was charming, as was her eagerness to be helpful and supportive.  The idea of putting taps on his wheels was pretty clever, even if it didn’t work out; likewise it was sweet of her to dig up research on spinal injuries, even though those studies couldn’t directly help him any time soon.  Emma only had the one scene in this episode, but I really liked that (A) it was with someone other than Will, just for variety, and (B) that we got to see her doing her job well, which we often don’t.  Really lovely stuff.

And the dancing!  Even though it was all in Artie’s imagination, it was great to see Kevin McHale get a chance to get up and dance.  The big “Safety Dance” flash mob was a lot of fun, and I liked the way we occasionally cut to camera views that mimicked people’s cell phone cameras.  I also loved that there was tap dancing this week, and I liked it even more because who would have guessed Tina would be a tap dancer?  Awesome.

[After the jump, Rachel's diva tendencies make so much more sense.] Continue reading

Thursday Open Thread: All the hype

I’m one of those really annoying people where when there’s a ton of hype behind something–say, a movie or a book–I try to stay away from it. I don’t want to be part of the crowd. Of course, then I just watch a lot of TV.

But TV isn’t really hype-free. So here’s my question:

Does hype work? Do you love it? Hate it? Do hyped-up things live up to expectations?

With the recent Madonna episode of Glee (which I didn’t watch), it seems like there’s major Glee hype everywhere, and it’s really questionable as to whether the show lives up to it. And you’d think that with it being the last season of Lost, the hype would continue, but I feel like less and less people are discussing Lost now that it’s up against Glee (not to say there aren’t events going all around Facebook now for Lost finale parties). There certainly was a mad storm when it first started, though. How did it hold up?

Personally, I hate hype, and generally, it doesn’t live up to expectations. Look at Dollhouse.  Heck, look at Joss Whedon? You know I’m a huge Joss fan, but is the Whedon hype getting out of control? You’ve got him directing Glee and The Avengers. What’s next? Why is he everywhere? And I’m one that likes him! I almost want him in limited quantities to assure a better product (er, show).

Same with Neil Patrick Harris. The Neil Patrick Harris hype is killing How I Met Your Mother because they’re focusing more on Barney than anything else. Is hype really turning me against things that I like?

What’s a girl (or guy) to do? Tell me your thoughts on hype–and whether you think I’m overreacting–in the comments.

image from dose.ca

Those innocent smiles…

Good news, genre fans!

image courtesy ABC

Call it coincidence if you like, but my theory is that the stars have aligned for sci-fi and fantasy to return to the airwaves.  After long hiatuses, we’re about to see the return of V, Merlin, and Doctor Who.

V, off the air since November, returns under the direction of a new showrunner.  Maureen Ryan has had great coverage the last few days, so let me just point you over to her.  I shared her reservations about the show’s first four episodes last fall (here are my posts if you want to relive the snark), but she actually has me excited for V‘s return tonight.  Cool!

Merlin‘s first season aired on NBC last summer, but since the peacock network seems incapable of recognizing anything good these days, they’ve given it up — season two begins this Friday on SyFy.  The show is hardly the Arthurian legend you grew up with, but I think it’s good fun and I’m definitely ready for more.

Doctor Who returns this Saturday if you’re in the UK (or, you know, use bit torrent).  In the US, the TARDIS will arrive two weeks later: April 17 on BBC America.  Expect new stars and new writers, but the same old lovably insane alien time traveler.  After the generally disappointing specials we got last year instead of a regular season, this has me very excited.

Honorable mention (shows for nerds, shows about nerds — it fits, right?):  Glee comes back April 13!  I don’t love that both Glee and V have moved to Tuesday nights, but there we are.  I’ve heard all sorts of exciting hints about what’s to come — an all Madonna episode, Idina Menzel guest starring, Neil Patrick Harris guest starring, Joss Whedon directing — so I’m hoping that this show has shed the Baby Drama and is ready to shoot for the stars.

And a last note, genre fans:  I don’t cover Castle because it would turn into this big list of “hey, that bit was funny, and this thing was really clever” (um, sort of the way my How I Met Your Mother posts do) but I do love a good mystery from time to time.  Last night’s solution to the cliffhanger was great… but did you catch the Firefly reference near the end?

HIMYM: How I Met Your 100th Episode

KT found the episode very…suitable

HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER:  5.12 “Girls vs. Suits”

Anyone who knows Barney can tell you:  he loves women, but at this point in his life, his serious, long-term relationships are with his suits.  Karina the bartender is a beautiful girl, but she’s never going to be the object of a song and dance number evoking the old Broadway musical romances like “Singing in the Rain.”  And by “evoking,” I mean this:

Gene Kelly in 'Singing in the Rain'Neil Patrick Harris as Barney Stinson

What a fabulous grand finale to the hundredth episode!

The episode belonged almost entirely to Barney and Ted.  Lily, Marshall, and Robin spend most of it playing peanut gallery to the two plots while they debate the relative hotness of Robin, Lily, and Karina the bartender.  Just as I felt the argument was getting old, Robin got up, hammed it up behind the bar, and made me laugh.  I was also amused to see Lily seem to crush on another girl — remember how Robin kissed her once so that she could say she had a brief lesbian phase before she got married?

I thought the show put Tim Gunn to good use, too — with the possible exception of Regis in “Best Burger in New York,” this show is very clever about using its guest stars.  Of course Barney’s personal tailor would be “TV’s Tim Gunn”!  It was exactly the right amount of over the top-ness for an episode that also featured a restroom stall that can open up to hold a suit.  Magical suit space?

But it was Ted’s plot that really kept me gasping.  So close, we are so close to meeting the mother!  And yet, I fear if we really met the mother before the show’s finale, all of our expectations would be ridiculously high and the show would jump the shark faster than you can say “legendary.”  I hope that wouldn’t be the case, though, because I loved all the little details we learned about the future mother from her current roommate!  I’d like to get to know this character for real.

I did feel sorry for roommate Cindy, who seems to be a very cool person in her own right, and her storyline with Ted was very well written.  I won’t call out all the jokes, but the humor was good, and the interjections from Narrator Ted were tantalizing.  My bet is that Ted won’t pursue this woman until maybe the end of this season, possibly out of deference to Cindy, but now that he knows she exists and that he’s attracted to her before they’ve even met — folks, it’s only a matter of time!

Raked’s TV Top Ten List of the Decade

We’re signing off 2009 tonight, and we’re bringing in a new user: 2010. We’re not just ending a year but a decade this time (though some of you historian/mathematician types might disagree), so in honor of that, I’m posting this blog in honor of the best things about TV of the decade.

I’ve sorted my thoughts out as general ideas that seemed to have grown in the past ten years (though, to be fair, more so in the last five since my memory is rusty). So here goes:

Raked’s TV Top Ten List of 2000s (in no particular order):

1. Creativity: Sure, all our hopes and dreams get dashed when our favorite shows get canceled, but you’ve got to give it up for the creators of series that truly incorporate a distinctive idea in the show, moving beyond the normal ER drama or procedural. Think Pushing Daisies, Eli Stone, and even our favorite sci-fi shows.

2. Music: Note: This is music, not montages. I don’t know the exact year that the WB started the trend of showing which songs were played in the episode, but it’s certainly grown since then. Now music plays a huge part of television. There are certainly times that I think of a show when a song plays on the radio. I attribute most of this to Scrubs, as that show certainly brings a lot of fantastic music to plot.

3. Musicals: Ok, so most of you hated them. But some were fun! Look at Buffy and Scrubs. They’re kinda weird, but they’re rather funky. I enjoyed. And this naturally brings me to…

4. Web Series: One of the newer innovations to television, and all resting on the wonderful series that is Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog. Plus, you’ve got The Guild, which I was introduced to over Christmas and thoroughly enjoyed, and it’s a whole new way to watch TV. All because of…

5. The Writers’ Strike: I’m sure most of you hate me for putting this on the top ten list, but honestly, it was a defining time for TV. Viewers finally noticed that TV goes beyond the pretty faces on the screen and there were smart people behind it. Plus, I got to meet Joss Whedon at one of the rallies.

6. The Middle Tier: Ok, I know that most of you see the cancellations of the series in the 2000s, but what about the middle shows that stuck around? I’m always impressed with this story of One Tree Hill, where it was never really huge, but it got enough viewers to have the freedom to stay on-air and do what it wants. Now it’s a wacky, popular show that for some reason I’m still watching. And you know it’s not the only one.

7. Cable Series: First, it was the HBO and Showtime series, and now we’ve got TNT, TBS, and USA. Don’t even forget the cable network that brings you Mad Men. These award-winning shows are coming from somewhere beyond our typical networks, which has really caused a shift in recent years. And some damn good television!

8. Neil Patrick Harris: Is it fair to put a person on the top ten list? Honestly, somehow in the past few years, he’s gone from long-gone child actor to one of the most entertaining. Heck, he’s even made us like musicals. I could say that he’s lengen–wait for it…

9. Fun Add-Ons: Dary. In the fun tribute to NPH, let’s think of the web add-ons to series. I’m not thinking merchandise, but instead, the viral things on the web that are in conjunction with shows. Can anyone say How I Met Your Mother? I don’t know how many external websites that show has now. Plus, think Big Bang and the Penny Blossoms website. Oh yeah, it’s out there.

10. Fan Support: I did leave this one for last because it did seem like a big one. But if you start with Jericho move through Chuck and land in the Dollhouse, you know what I mean. Fans just don’t give up anymore–and that’s a good thing.

So there’s my list. What did I miss? Let me know in the comments.