Day Twenty – Am I the Biggest Loser?

20 01 2010

Why do I put myself through The Biggest Loser? It’s probably the cheesiest show on television today. I’m generally not a fan of reality TV, but for some reason I give this show more attention than it ever deserves.

There’s something to the uplifting message they have. The Biggest Loser is selling the American Dream. You can do anything when you put your mind to it. That’s what they’re selling when a bunch of morbidly obese contestants shed weight that they’ve allowed to plague them. It’s the fat version of the Rocky movies.

That is probably its only redeeming quality.

The show should have its slow-motion license revoked. They abuse it more than a prison cellmate. But it wouldn’t be complete without the music trying to make every single moment sound EPIC! Whether its climbing up the stairs or falling over a finish line, the music makes it seem like they’ve out-run an explosion.

Probably one of the worst shows on TV, but I can't stop watching.

But it’s not just trying to make every action seem huge. They make every emotion as huge as possible. Everyone is always crying. All the time. It’s a show of giant babies. They cry because they won. They cry because they lost. They cry because they’re fat. They cry because they’re getting skinny. And if they don’t cry, the trainers yell at them until they cry.

Speaking of the trainers, they sound like they graduated from the University of After-School Specials. The cheese they spew on the contestants would never fly on a written drama, but for some reason, it’s accepted on a 2-hour game show.

It’s not only the contestants that are huge, the show is about an hour too long. It’s not just that it feels long, but they don’t seem to have enough going on in one week. The footage repeats. A lot. Every break, you’re watching what they’ve already shown you.

That, and they love to “leave you hanging”. There’s a reaction to everything that happens in the house. A BIG reaction. It’s all a little suspect though. I doubt the reactions are even to what they attribute them to before the break. Every weigh-in, they zoom in on shocked faces. You think, “Oh no, someone collapsed on the scale.” Instead it’s just that someone lost an average amount of weight.

Even with these problems, I still watch it. Could it be that there is nothing else worth watching on a Tuesday night? Or is it selling the American Dream that sells The Biggest Loser to me?

I don’t know what it is, but I do know I’m really hungry.

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Day Sixteen – Golden Globe Predictions

16 01 2010

Full disclosure: I haven’t seen all the nominees. That doesn’t seem to make much of a difference when making predictions like this, whether it’s the Globes or the Oscars. In the end it’s all a popularity contest, but most of the time they’re popular for a good reason.

I’ve taken the list of nominees from EW.com, who have their own predictions as well.

I’ve seen most of the TV shows that were nominated, so we’ll start there. I’ve pulled out mini-series because, aside from the fact that I haven’t seen one, I don’t understand why the category still exists.

Here are my best educated guesses:

BEST TELEVISION SERIES – DRAMA
Big Love (HBO)
Dexter (Showtime)
House (Fox)
Mad Men (AMC)
True Blood (HBO)

Mad Men will likely win the category. It’s been a favourite of awards shows since it’s inception. They’re the cool kids and I suspect they will stay that way. I would really like to see Dexter win, though. The show gets better and better with every episode and it’s the only show I can’t wait to see.

Mad Men is the obvious choice for best TV drama. It's the new Sopranos and will likely win this category until they're off the air.

BEST TELEVISION SERIES – COMEDY OR MUSICAL
30 Rock (NBC)
Entourage (HBO)
Glee (FOX)
Modern Family (ABC)
The Office (NBC)

30 Rock will likely win. It’s the other cool kid. I could see Glee stealing it as well. Personally, I think The Office has earned it more than anyone else. They’ve managed to sustain the awkward yet likable feeling of the show over so many years. I’m loving Modern Family, but it’ll have its chance in coming years.

BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A TELEVISION SERIES – DRAMA
Simon Baker, The Mentalist
Michael C. Hall, Dexter
Jon Hamm, Mad Men
Hugh Laurie, House
Bill Paxton, Big Love

Jon Hamm will probably take this one. He’s been in the public eye a lot more recently, so people will actually like to see him get on stage this time. Don Draper is one of the deepest and most conflicted characters on television and this season was no different. Michael C. Hall definitely deserves to win one of these years. His ability to make a cold, hard killer so lovable is an achievement in itself and he should get his recognition for it.

BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A TELEVISION SERIES –
DRAMA
Glenn Close, Damages
January Jones, Mad Men
Julianna Margulies, The Good Wife
Anna Paquin, True Blood
Kyra Sedgwick, The Closer

Here’s where things get murky. I’ve seen two out of the five nominations here. Julianna Margulies is the name I’ve been hearing a lot lately, so my shot in the dark would have to go with her.

BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A TELEVISION SERIES –
COMEDY OR MUSICAL

Alec Baldwin, 30 Rock
Steve Carell, The Office
David Duchovny, Californication
Thomas Jane, Hung
Matthew Morrison, Glee

Alec Baldwin will likely take this again. Movie stars turned TV stars always take the awards. I would like to see Thomas Jane take it. His pathetic yet likable man-whore on Hung seems like he’s always on the cusp of a suicidal jump in the river, but always seems to pick himself back up and pull through.

BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A TELEVISION SERIES –
COMEDY OR MUSICAL

Toni Collette, United States of Tara
Courteney Cox, Cougar Town
Edie Falco, Nurse Jackie
Tina Fey, 30 Rock
Lea Michele, Glee

This one is really hard to pick. I’m going to say Edie Falco as more of a make-up vote for her work on The Sopranos. I wouldn’t be shocked if it was given to Tina Fey, since the TV world seems to love her so.

BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE IN A SERIES,
MINI-SERIES OR MOTION PICTURE MADE FOR TELEVISION

Michael Emerson, Lost
Neil Patrick Harris, How I Met Your Mother
William Hurt, Damages
John Lithgow, Dexter
Jeremy Piven, Entourage

Neil Patrick Harris has been getting a lot of attention this year. Between his award show hosting stints, his web series Dr. Horrible or for his role as Barney on How I Met Your Mother, NPH has become the guy to watch. John Lithgow really deserves it though. His role at the Trinity Killer on Dexter was so chilling, I can never look at him the same way again.

BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE IN A
SERIES, MINI-SERIES OR MOTION PICTURE MADE FOR TELEVISION

Jane Adams, Hung
Rose Byrne, Damages
Jane Lynch, Glee
Janet McTeer, Into the Storm
Chloe Sevigny, Big Love

I keep hearing about how incredible Jane Lynch is on Glee. She’s funny and everyone seems to love her, so anyone else winning would be a shocker.

Next up, we have the Film predictions. I’ve seen a lot fewer of these, so many of them will be outright guesses. I’m working on seeing them before the Oscars, so we’ll see how they sync up then.

I got these nominations from EW.com as well.

Here we go:

Best Picture, Drama
Avatar
The Hurt Locker
Inglourious Basterds
Precious
Up in the Air

I haven’t seen Precious or Up in the Air yet, but from what I’m hearing everywhere, it’ll go to Up in the Air. Since the Toronto International Film Festival I’ve heard about how Up in the Air is a lock to win. I tried to get tickets at the festival and it was nearly impossible. The rush line was to big for a normal human being to take. I was lucky enough to be there for Juno, but this seems to be Jason Reitman’s best film yet.

I will be shocked and upset if (500) Days of Summer doesn't win Best Comedy/Musical

Best Picture, Musical/Comedy
500 Days of Summer
The Hangover
It’s Complicated
Julie & Julia
Nine

It’s nice to see The Hangover on here, but I doubt it’ll get any recognition outside of the nomination. I would say it will go to (500) Days of Summer. Its quirky style and heart-wrenching story really make it a favourite and it’s easily one of the best films of last year.

Best Actor, Drama
Jeff Bridges, Crazy Heart
George Clooney, Up in the Air
Colin Firth, A Single Man
Morgan Freeman, Invictus
Tobey Maguire, Brothers

My guess here, since I’ve seen none of these pictures is Jeff Bridges. Voters, in this case the Hollywood Foreign Press, seems to love people who can act and sing. Bridges does both in Crazy Heart, and from what I saw on Conan last night, he seems to be quite good at it.

Best Actress, Drama
Emily Blunt, The Young Victoria
Sandra Bullock, The Blind Side
Helen Mirren, The Last Station
Carey Mulligan, An Education
Gabourey Sidibe, Precious

The way early release of Precious may have cooled off any potential win by Gabourey Sidibe. Had this been last September, she would be a lock, but I almost feel that Sandra Bullock has stolen the spotlight from her. She’s had a career year with two major hits, and one major flop, so I have to go with the popular vote on this one.

Best Actor, Musical/Comedy
Matt Damon, The Informant!
Daniel Day-Lewis, Nine
Robert Downey, Jr., Sherlock Holmes
Joseph Gordon-Levitt, 500 Days of Summer
Michael Stuhlbarg, A Serious Man

This one is a hard one. Matt Damon was excellent in The Informant!, but I don’t know if the movie itself will take away from his performance. I’d like to see, and based on that will guess, Joseph Gordon-Levitt win this one. The hopeless romantic in (500) Days of Summer was one who was so pathetic that you should hate him, yet you still liked him. You knew he was setting himself up for heartbreak, but you honestly believe he doesn’t see that himself.

Best Actress, Musical/Comedy
Sandra Bullock, The Proposal
Marion Cotillard, Nine
Julia Roberts, Duplicity
Meryl Streep, It’s Complicated
Meryl Streep, Julie & Julia

Meryl Streep will end up spliting her own vote, otherwise this would be easy and I would say she’s a lock. Instead it’s between Julia, Marion and Sandra. I’m going to go with Sandra Bullock again. I get the feeling if they give her one award, they have to give her two to make a statement. I’m not sure what that statement is, but that is just how I feel these award shows tend to go.

Best Supporting Actor
Matt Damon, Invictus
Woody Harrelson, The Messenger
Christopher Plummer, The Last Station
Stanley Tucci, The Lovely Bones
Christoph Waltz, Inglourious Basterds

If Christoph Waltz doesn’t win for this category, it’ll be the biggest snub in years. He’s created a villain to go right next to Darth Vader and Hans Gruber in the Movie Baddy Hall of Fame.

Best Supporting Actress
Penelope Cruz, Nine
Vera Farmiga, Up in the Air
Anna Kendrick, Up in the Air
Mo’Nique, Precious
Julianne Moore, A Single Man

I’m hearing Mo’Nique will take this one. She might get this before her unwillingness to campaign makes her lose an Oscar that she would otherwise win.

Best Director
Kathryn Bigelow, The Hurt Locker
James Cameron, Avatar
Clint Eastwood, Invictus
Jason Reitman, Up in the Air
Quentin Tarantino, Inglourious Basterds

I think James Cameron will win this, not because he made the best film, but because he has paid for this decade of films with profits from Avatar’s theatrical run alone.

Best Screenplay
Neill Blomkamp & Terri Tatchell, District 9
Mark Boal, The Hurt Locker
Nancy Meyers, It’s Complicated
Quentin Tarantino, Inglourious Basterds
Jason Reitman & Sheldon Turner, Up in the Air

I’m guessing Jason Reitman & Sheldon Turner will win this one. Mark Boal would be a safe bet, but The Hurt Locker just wasn’t popular enough outside of film critic circles. I wouldn’t be shocked if they gave it to Tarantino, just for the sake of giving it to Tarantino.

Best Score
Up
The Informant!
Avatar
A Single Man
Where the Wild Things Are

I honestly have no idea here. I’m just going to say Where the Wild Things Are so that they can give that film something.

Best Song
“Cinema Italiano,” Nine
“I Want to Come Home,” Everybody’s Fine
“I Will See You,” Avatar
“The Weary Kind,” Crazy Heart
“Winter,” Brothers

I’ll say I Want to Come Home by Paul McCartney will win. This category is always a popularity contest at the Globes. Paul McCartney wins that race.

Best Animated Film
Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs
Coraline
Fantastic Mr. Fox
The Princess & The Frog
Up

I say Up, hands down best animated picture of the year, if not the decade.

Best Foreign Language Film
Baria
Broken Embraces
The Maid
A Prophet
The White Ribbon

The White Ribbon was getting amazing reviews around the Toronto Film Festival. If it could sustain that hype, it’ll take this category.

And those are my picks. I’ll see all of the Oscar nominations by the time those come out, but for now I had to make some guesses.

We’ll see how I do Sunday night!





Day Twelve – Can’t Go Home Again

12 01 2010

What television writers have routed for ever since the show’s inception has finally happened. The Jay Leno Show has been axed. The 10pm hour has proven that it belongs to scripted, adult dramas and has sent Jay Leno running back to the late hours of the night.

Though NBC has a couple of my favourite shows, they need a lot of work before they're back on top.

Everyone wants to focus on the impending scheduling conflicts this will create, and I’m not saying it’s not worth talking about, but what I find just as interesting is the void created in the 10pm hour.

NBC has lost a lot of viewers in the 10pm hour and getting them back will be no easy task. Some have been burned by the move, losing interesting, gritty shows like Southland to the Leno experiment. Others have taken an interest in the CBS prime-time schedule.

More than anything, NBC will have to convince viewers that they still care about scripted drama. This will be hard to do with 2-hour episodes of The Biggest Loser and The Apprentice taking up four of the network’s sparse prime-time hours, but a necessary evil with another unexpected five hours to fill. Will they make the same mistakes and give us another reality show to fill the time?

Summer programming in the winter wouldn’t be the direction I would take, but given that NBC was trying to cut costs before this entire debacle, they’ll be looking for even cheaper ways to bring back eyeballs.

NBC’s decision doesn’t only effect their network, but CityTV in Canada. The show was actually performing quite well in Canada, but now Rogers and CityTV will be forced to come up with a new plan for 10pm. The difference between them and NBC is that they had no say in the matter. NBC axed the show, CityTV has to pick up the pieces.

Right now, the worst thing about NBC is their reputation. The CW has their market cornered, with tween girls eating up Gossip Girl and 90210. As does CBS, with the CSIs and NCIS, and FOX, with House and juggernaut American Idol. The only image NBC has now is one of the loser, forced to sit alone at lunch time as the cool kids court all the high-priced advertising. The Jay Leno Show was one way to shake things up, but it became a step in the wrong direction. Rather than going for quality, they went for lower rent. In the end, it’ll cost them more than they ever could have saved.

What I’d like to see NBC do is find their voice. Do they want to continue with reality-programming like a slightly higher budget MTV? Do they want to focus on adult-drama like AMC or the cable networks? The only thing NBC has going for them now is that everyone’s eyes are on them, waiting to see their next move. They’ll be back for the Olympics, too.

With a nation watching, will they be able to bring everyone back home to the peacock?