Thursday Open Thread: Falling from Grace

About a year ago, Modern Family was near the top of my “favorite shows” list. It was something I actively wanted to watch, something I looked forward to every week. I started watching it sometime very early in the second season, after hearing a lot of positive buzz about it. I caught up with the first season on DVD sometime around Christmas, and became even more of a fan. After season two ended, I was glad to see the show clean up at the Emmy’s, and eagerly awaited season three.

By the fourth episode of season three, I found myself suddenly unable to care about the show. In fact, I was actively trying to find reasons not to watch. Was the entire writing staff of this show replaced by alien pod people during the summer? What the hell happened? Suddenly, Claire is a constant, shrill neurotic freak; Cam has become a complete drama queen, taking offense at the most minor and unintentional of insults; Phil has somehow become dumber and less funny; Jay has become more cantankerous; every joke about Gloria focuses on her accent; and it seems like every episode relies on the old, annoying sitcom trope of the misheard, misunderstood bit of information that gets everyone into an embarrassing situation. Oh, and don’t get me started on new Lilly; all I’ll say is that she still seems out of place.

This show had some of these problems before, but it seemed like in older seasons they didn’t pop up as often as they do now. It was much more often hilarious, clever, and heartwarming than it was contrived or annoying. I’ll occasionally check in on the show from time to time (like last night) but the episodes I’ve seen lately are either so bad that I change the channel, or just boring enough for me to leave them on in the background and not pay attention to them.

I can’t remember a show shooting to the top of my list, and then falling off of it completely in such a short period of time. Yes, The Office is terrible now and I can barely watch it, but its demise was a slow motion trainwreck that you could sort of see coming. Modern Family seems to me like it was shot straight up in the air with an Acme style slingshot; a brief apex, followed by a swift tumble downwards.

Does anyone else agree with me? Can anyone else think of a show that they loved, and then completely lost faith in within the span of a season?

The 2011 Awards: Part 2

It’s Part 2 of the 2011 Awards! If you haven’t checked them out yet, take a look at Part 1. We’ve got a good mix of winners, and here’s more! As I mentioned before, categories with an asterisk (*) mean that a reader has either suggested the category or the winner.

The 2011 Awards!

Surprise Standout Star: Karine Vanasse, Pan Am. I started watching Pan Am for Christina Ricci. I continued to watch it for Karine Vanasse. She’s an incredible talent. Her portrayal of Colette during the episode where the group headed to Germany and heard Kennedy’s speech, less than twenty years after Colette’s parents were killed in WWII, was absolutely brilliant. I didn’t know her before the series started. Now everybody should.

*Best Use of Music: How I Met Your Mother. I know, I know. HIMYM is not usually considered a highly musical show. But seeing the latest Christmas episode, with the “Symphony of Illumination” gives the show this award. It was creative (and time-consuming to create, I’m sure). And completely worth rewatching the episode for — and I have.

*Worst Use of Music: One Tree Hill. Oh. Dear. God. Make the theme songs stop. OTH tried to be creative this past season with their covers of the theme song, but in a 22-episode season, it became exhausting and annoying. While a handful of artists were creative and talented, most just slowed down “I Don’t Wanna Be” into soulful, indie crap that made my ears bleed.

Best Guy in a Suit: Neal Caffrey, White Collar. Congratulations to Neal, who has won the award for the second straight year in a row.

Best Woman in Heels: Victoria Grayson, Revenge. Step aside, Dr. Isles, we have a new champion. Donning heels and a tight dress in your mansion of a beach house makes one tend to notice you. And we have. We hand the trophy to Victoria, who week to week is able to balance on designer stillettos while still maintaining her vicious glare.

*Best Intro Sequence: Game of Thrones. Not only does the intro sequence give you all the geographic information of this bizarre world without having to say anything, but its primitive, clockwork mechanism reminds you of a genre that fits a medieval mindset. And the accompanying music just goes so well with its epic. And the carvings! Just by looking at that, you can see the history of the four houses without anyone having to tell you anything. It’s just such a wealth of information for the series, and it’s just wonderful.

Best Actor Blog: Jason O’Mara. Jason’s blog is a treat. He’s got videos with cast members and behind the scenes, mixed with personal favorites, like his watching the Irish rugby team playing in the Rugby World Cup. Plus, he gives you his real accent. It’s a fun one.

Best Twitter Bug: Michael Cudlitz. Sure, there are a lot of actors out there who tweet, and some even respond to you. But few interact with people as directly and as often as Michael Cudlitz does — even after Southland found a comfortable seat at TNT. Michael strikes a good balance with interacting with his fans and giving us up-to-date news on Southland.

Best Surprise Success: Happy Endings. Did anyone else think that the show that replaced Mr. Sunshine last spring would be such a hit today? I certainly didn’t. Most late-spring shows don’t go anywhere. But I’m happy to ride in Max’s 80s limo with the gang now!

Most Unrealistic Survival Story: Lydia Davis, Revenge. There is absolutely no way this woman would have fallen from her penthouse apartment, onto a parked taxi, and survived. It just wouldn’t happen. No way. Absolutely not. Nope. Nuh-uh. Wrong.

Best Running Gag: The Douchebag Jar, New Girl. Oh, the douchebag jar for Schmidt. That was fantastic — and still is.

Biggest Casting Mistake: Lily, Modern Family. Not only is the new Lily less cute and more annoying, but recasting the child for an older version took away some of the cute life moments that were seeing and loving about Lily. Her first word? Her first few steps? We got nothing but this kid who, frankly, could use some cutie-pie tips.

*Most Shocking Death: Ned Stark, Game of Thrones. Um, they killed off the lead actor in the series — the one that all the promos were based on — and then put his head on a stake on top of the castle for his eldest daughter to look at. What more can I say? Oh, perhaps I should put a new category on here…

Person We Most Want Dead: The sniveling little Prince Joffrey, Game of Thrones. ‘Nuff said.

Most Satisfying Kill: Tyler, V. Finally, after two seasons of his being the most annoying teenager on television, we saw Tyler get killed by his girlfriend’s alien doppelganger. Huzzah! If only that had happened a season earlier. Perhaps more fans would have continued watching.

Best Period Piece: Mad Men. Seeing as I’ve finally caught up (the shame was hurting too much), I now see what everyone’s been talking about. Mad Men wins, by a landslide. Sorry, Pan Am.

*****

We’re not done yet!
Check back tomorrow for the final batch of winners!

Christmas Challenge: Modern Family

MODERN FAMILY: 1.10 “Undeck the Halls”

This one’s a good one. Of course, we start off with a video chat with Phil’s family. Seeing as I’m far away from my own family, it was all very familiar, down to moving the camera to show the tree and emphasize certain ornaments. Of course, the Christmas sweaters and the video chat’s not the point. Instead, it’s the burn Claire finds on the couch, which means one of her children just might be smoking. What’s the punishment when no one confesses? Cancel Christmas.

While I enjoy watching the kids try to figure out the best way to manipulate each other to get Christmas back, the best part of this storyline is watching Phil and Claire figure out a way to get it back themselves. They didn’t actually want to cancel Christmas. Whoops.

Meanwhile, Cam and Mitchell have their own Christmas drama. They accidentally get a skinny Santa fired, which leads them to a guilt-filled dinner with said homeless Santa. Their dilemma isn’t the highlight of the episode, but it ends with Santa punching a caroler in the face, and who doesn’t like that? The best part of this storyline was seeing the old Lily; I think that part almost brought me to tears.

Finally, my favorite part. Jay loves his traditions, which are being thrown off-course by his pranking family. I think the reason I like this so much is because Jay’s always been the cold one, keeping everything at arm’s length (except maybe his butler dog). So seeing him get to excited about the holidays and particularly teary at Miracle on 34th Street was just entertaining. It was a nice change.

Recommendation: So I might not have too much to say about the episode, but it’s a good, funny new classic. Recommended? Yes.

Thursday Open Thread: Sophomore Slump

As we’re nearing the end of the 2010-2011 season, it’s time to look back and judge our favorite shows. After all, this is Raked. All we do is judge. Heh.

Now I believe I’ve noticed a trend, and I’m curious whether you’ve noticed it, too. So here goes. Today’s open thread:

True or False: A show’s sophomore year can never live up to its freshman year.

Ok, that’s a pretty big statement? And maybe it’s less black and white. But at least this year, there are a few shows that really make me wonder whether this is true. I mean, let’s look at a couple.

Modern Family. Ok, I really like Modern Family. It’s one of those shows I make sure to tune into every week and one that I recommend to others. But is it as good as last year? No, it’s not. It doesn’t feel as fresh, and they’re even reusing storylines. Already. I mean, bringing back Fizzbo? Having Claire and Phil reenact their aliases from Valentine’s Day again? It’s still entertaining, sure, but it’s not the same.

And what about Vampire Diaries? Don’t get me wrong. I love me some Vampire Diaries, but this year, I can’t say I’m having the same reactions I did last year. The changes they’ve made — Caroline (!!), Tyler — those have been great. But the Originals storyline’s just not as powerful as last season’s, and even the Damon/Stefan rivalry has softened.

So what do you think? Sophomore slump for TV? Your call.

image from Yahoo! TV

Brighten Your Monday: Modern Family’s Flash Mob

It’s been a rather tough Monday, and I’m only at my lunch break. It’s the first day of “spring,” and it’s snowing here in Boston, and I still have a full day of work ahead of me.

But a friend of mine put up a video of her in a flash mob, so it got me thinking about one of my favorite Modern Family moments, and it certainly cheered me up. So I’m passing it along to you.

This is certainly not something new — after all, I think that was in the first season. But it certainly could help your Monday. If the song doesn’t get you out of your seat, let’s hope it at least makes your head bob. If anything, perhaps you could let out a laugh?

 

Happy Monday, everyone!

2010 Awards, Part 2

Alright. So you saw the first set, now let’s move on to more! More awards and more reader picks. Once again, if the award has an asterisk, it’s a Reader Pick, with or without my explanation. If they added one, it’s there! If they didn’t, well, that just leaves me to give a reason <malicious laugh>.

So here we go!

The 2010 Awards!
Part 2

Best Guy in a Suit: Neal Caffrey, White Collar. Step aside, Barney. There’s someone else suiting up now, and damn, he looks good.

Best Woman in Heels: Maura Isles, Rizzoli & Isles. This woman sure gets a lot done in four-inch heels and a pressed dress, even when dealing with dead bodies.

* Most Wasted Potential: Glee. It’s true. For a show with a huge fanbase and mad props for creating a new TV genre, they lost their way by focusing on huge guest stars and a big production instead of a cohesive storyline.

Least Necessary Procedural: Law & Order: CSI edition. Oh, is that not a real show? I thought it was. It’s on every night for two hours at least, right? And it airs on every network? Wait, these aren’t all the same show?

Most Ridiculous Premise for a Procedural: Castle. Ok, I know you fans out there must like it, but the idea that a successful novelist gets to spend his time on all these huge cases as a partner of a detective is rather incredible.

Worst Show We’re All Watching: The Office. Where did the funny go? It’s run its course, but we all still watch it. And most of us don’t know why.

Didn’t I Used to Be an Important Character? Award: Alaric, The Vampire Diaries. Well, it’s true, right? Now he’s arm candy, and occasionally says something smart from a book.

Best Vampire Teeth: The Vampire Diaries. With the eyes and the subtle teeth, yes, the vamps in TVD certainly get the prize.

Worst Vampire Teeth: True Blood. I haven’t tried to watch this series, solely because these teeth are so bad and look so fake. Plus, I hear they make a sound when they come out.

Read more after the jump! Continue reading

Thursday Open Thread: Emmys! Who should win? Who should lose?

I had an entirely different open thread this morning when I turned on my computer. Then, I realized. The Emmy nominations were announced! Check them out here! This leads me to my question…

Who should win an Emmy? Who should lose?

Of course, we can get really ugly with this open thread. Maybe start asking: Who was left off? Who do you want to win an Emmy? Who do you want to lose?

Personally, I’m a little annoyed with the Glee nominations. While I think the songs are great, the plot’s not all that fantastic, so I wouldn’t mind someone else overpowering them with wins. Especially Lea Michele. To me, her character’s pretty flat, so I don’t think it’s Emmy-worthy. I know I might be stepping on some toes here. She’s a talented singer, but she’s basically a shadow of Reese Witherspoon in Election, and I haven’t seen anything new being brought to that stereotype. Perhaps I haven’t watched the show consistently enough to know otherwise.

Modern Family, though, would be a great win–and a deserving one at that. However, when it’s up against premium shows, I do get a little nervous. Though, if anyone deserves an Emmy in that cast who didn’t get a nod, it’s entirely the girls who play Lily. Damn, she’s a cutie.

image from TVOvermind

Of course, I’m kidding about Lily. She’s a cutie, but if she can’t even hold her own statue…

Thursday Open Thread: Olympic Hiatus

Anyone else having trouble finding something to watch on TV? It’s not that I don’t like the Olympics, but the schizophrenic coverage is bothering me a bit (if I want to watch women’s solo ice skating, stop switching it over to skiing!).

But more so, I just miss new shows. I mean, I sat down to watch Modern Family, which I really missed a good portion of at the beginning of the season, and they were both reruns…that I had seen before!

It’s just wrong. So here’s my question for you:

Which show are you most anxious about returning after this Olympic hiatus?

Where cliffhangers leaving you hanging? Or do you just miss some familiar faces? It wouldn’t surprise you all to hear that, yes, I want to see the return to Vampire Diaries, but I think I’m missing Community a little bit more. Where did all my comedy go?

There are a ton of good shows out there (and hey, maybe you miss some of the crappy stuff, too–er, I mean, “guilty pleasures”), so let it all out in the comments!

This photo is so cheesy, I love it.

*images from starpulse.com