The New Normal, Ryan Murphy (Nip/Tuck, Glee, American Horror Story) and Ali Adler’s new half-hour sitcom, which premiered this week on NBC, breaks so many of the gay barriers we’re used to seeing on primetime TV. Sure, Modern Family has been showing mainstream audiences a well-adjusted homo family for a few seasons, but The New Normal takes it a step further. The premise is built around a gay couple who are not only funny, super-adorable and capable of raising a healthy family, but, unlike Cam and Mitchell, they actually smooch and hug and snuggle.
The storyline follows swishy Bryan (Andrew Rannells) and geeky David (played by total-babe Justin Bartha), a well-to-do couple living in Los Angeles who have just decided to have a baby. Meanwhile, single mom Goldie (Georgia King) moves to L.A. — with her cutie-pie daughter Shania (Bebe Wood) — to escape a two-timing husband and her pestering, bigoted grandmother (hilariously played by GILF Ellen Barkin). Strapped for cash, Goldie decides to make money by becoming a surrogate mother — and that’s how she comes to meet Bryan and David. A new modern family is born.
Looking for a character-driven drama that doesn’t involve the undead? Well you’re in luck. Dallas, the original appointment television, reboots tomorrow night on TNT and there’s nothing like good old-fashioned money, sex and intrigue to keep you engaged. TV trivia fans already know that before The Wire or West Wing, the original Dallas introduced cinematic scripting and cultural commentary to the small screen with the depiction of villainous oil tycoon J.R. Ewing at a time when energy crises, economic turmoil and political corruption had just ravaged America. Given the parallels it’s no surprise Dallas is back and, like the original, it easily transcends the schmaltz of other soaps.
Just as the original produced innovations like the season cliffhanger (a la “Who Shot J.R.?”), the new Dallas is unique in that it picks up the series thread within a pre-existing storyline surrounding the third generation of Ewing men assuming their daddy’s roles in the unending family rivalry. While John Ross (played by sexy Josh Henderson) schemes to rebuild the Ewing oil fortune, Christopher (Desperate Housewives’ Jesse Metcalfe) aims to redeem his family’s name by taking on a more eco-friendly trade and just maybe making up for that time his uncle bombed that Arabian country to spike oil prices (paging George W.).
While the presence of many original characters (pictured left), including J.R., Bobby, Sue Ellen and Cliff, make the show fun for original fans, new viewers will enjoy the complex plot twists and dynastic power struggles. Unfortunately, what’s missing is the glamour of the original: Thirty years ago the Ewings clinked cocktails before dinner, today they sip coffee at the kitchen counter overlooking the family room. (Yes, grandma, the Ewings have a family room now.) Though most modern viewers probably won’t notice these changes, having been in-utero when the show last aired in 1991, the collision those Ewing family dinner scenes provided is still palpably lacking. If the new series plans to compete with today’s cable programming it should try looking backward in time and get everybody an office, an accent and, for God’s sake, a wet bar, because that is how things are done on Dallas!
Alden, Pa.-raised, University of the Arts graduate Shane O'Neill is in for the fight of his life tonight. At the very least, it’s the fight of his tattoos' life as he is one of three challengers for the championship prize on this evening’s finale of Spike TV’s Ink Master series, which airs at 10 p.m.
O’Neill was set to be a cabinet maker before he got interested in tattooing and started working for his illustrator pal Jon Ellis. After striking out on his own, he opened two of his own tat parlors, the Tattoo Shop, in Willow Grove, Pa. and another in Middletown, Del.. Tonight’s prize of $100,000 will be given away by professional goatee and Jane's Addiction guitarist Dave Navarro.
Watch the video below to see O'Neill do his stuff before tonight's big-bang finale.
A New York mobster turns witness for the FBI and is placed into protection at a destination of his choosing: Lillehammer, Norway. Zany antics fueled by cultural differences ensue.
That is the premise of Lillyhammer, a new television series released exclusively by Netflix in the United States, and starring E Street Band guitarist Steve Van Zandt. Van Zandt, who grew up not too far from Philadelphia in Middletown Township, N.J., returns to acting for the first time since his only other acting role on The Sopranos. Van Zandt is also a co-writer and producer of the series, which is also currently airing in Norway.
Man Cave is a testosterone-laden Monday feature that highlights the weekend haps of a pop culture-loving Philly dude.
Parks and Recreation's Adam Scott (perhaps best known for his role as the über-successful jerk brother from Stepbrothers) was interviewed on WTF with Marc Maron. One of the topics they covered was Party Down, the 2009 Starz series that he starred in. They talked a lot about the show, so I decided to utilize my extended weekend to Netflix of season one. Scott plays a failed actor, the "straight man" amongst a dysfunctional catering service filled with Hollywood wannabes and has-beens. Like many critically acclaimed cable shows, the series is slow to get moving; the opening episodes are all premise. But once all the characters are in gear, laughs flow abundantly over the underlying context of the ultimate Hollywood nightmare.
Let's check out the rest of the ensemble:
Ken Marino as Ron Donald: This The State alum is the manager, working side-by-side with his L.A. catering misfits. He has perhaps the most modest life dream of all the crew: to open a soup and salad franchise — and even that's proving unlikely in modern Hollywood. He is all positive energy and customers-first. He is also the only person on the show who cares about the catering business.
Lizzy Caplan as Casey: You may have seen Caplan in Mean Girls, Cloverfield and True Blood. Here, she plays a frustrated standup comic who frequently complains about the not-very-funny side of show business and may or may not be an Adam Scott love interest.
After 28 years of entertaining millions of housewives, retirees and anyone with a day off, Regis Philbin took his final bow this morning as co-host of Live! with Regis & Kelly. In front of a live audience that included family, friends and colleagues like Joy Philbin, Kathie Lee Gifford, Donald Trump, Tony Danza, Judge Judy and Katie Couric, his show business career of over 50 years was suitably celebrated with just the right combination of laughs and tears.
Viewers got a rare look at Reg backstage before the show. After a warm greeting from his long-time executive producer Michael Gelman, he was escorted down to an already teary-eyed Kelly Ripa before they took their final walk onto the stage. A long standing ovation was followed by a montage of Regis impersonations over the years. Dana Carvey, Ben Affleck, Darrell Hammond humorously showed that the key to being Regis is talking in the third person and shouting, "I’m outta control!”
The mayor of New York City, Michael Bloomburg, stopped by to give the man of the hour a key to his hometown and offer some post-Live! career moves — a taxi driver, a Calvin Klein billboard model, a Yankee or maybe even the mayor’s successor in two years.
His wife Joy and daughters JJ and Joanna expressed their love and pride in a taped piece, showcasing the family-man side of the 80-year-old TV vet. Joy even got up to reveal their infamous honeymoon story, which Regis has referenced many times on the show, but never told due to embarrassment. It turns out that Regis forgot to make a reservation for their honeymoon, something that shouldn’t come as a surprise for fans of his absent-minded shtick.
Broomall's Damon Feldman — the Jewish Bomber, the faux-boxing promoter fond of giant cushion-y gloves and D-list celebrities, the guy no longer permitted to promote fights in Pennsylvania after pleading to charges of promoting without a license — found his biggest success not in Philly or Jersey but in Hollywood on Saturday when some of the most illustrious nobodies in showbiz kicked the shit out of each other at the Avalon.
One of them wasn't Lenny Dykstra, the ex-Phillies outfielder who was supposedly contracted by Feldman is currently in a legal mess of his own. No matter. There were tons more goofs ready and willing to punch up against each other in ham-y, theatrical — but sold out — fashion. Fire swallowers, confetti guns and other event-accouterments accompanied the star(?)-studded rock-em-sock-em-robot affair. Coolio got beaten badly by one-time Baywatch gent Jeremy Jackson. Baller Jose Canseco picked on White House-crasher Tareq Salahi (The Real Housewives of D.C.), who left after the first round. Joey Buttafuoco lost handily to Lou Bellera, the husband of Amy Fisher, who, in turn, lost to Nadya "Octomom" Suleman. Sandra Bulllock's nemesis Michelle "Bombshell" McGee beat up Violet Kowal (I have NO Idea who that is) and Tila Tequila got defeated by Cami Parker, from HBO's Cathouse. It was a million laughs and our friend/photog Scott Weiner was there to capture it all.
Photos by Scott Weiner
Man Cave is a testosterone-laden Monday feature that highlights the weekend haps of a pop culture-loving Philly dude.
I have to admit that Mad Men originally didn't grab me. That's probably because every time I would catch it, I would watch four minutes of a guy in a suit with a cigarette and whiskey staring into the distance before I moved on to more immediately gratifying entertainment options.
That said, the cultural importance of the philandering Don Draper and Sterling Cooper advertising was growing to a point where I couldn't ignore it, and I decided to start the series on DVD. I got through the first two seasons in about a month, and this weekend I plowed through most of season three.
At first, Mad Men survives solely on its premise: a zoo exhibit of early '60s office-life. Against the backdrop of today, this unbelievably inappropriate workplace environment is just enough to keep you clicking "next episode" even without substantial character development or plot — both of which, in my opinion, are somewhat lacking until the end of the season. Thankfully, the show survives this narrative and the final episodes of the season really hooks you in.
Some of the Man Cave standouts in these first few seasons are the slick John Slattery (Roger Sterling) and the CurvaSaurus Rex Christina Hendricks (Joan Holloway). Elisabeth Moss (Peggy Olson) plays a more subtle, sympathetic young lady and Vincent Kartheiser (Pete Campbell) is great as a conniving junior executive.
Seasons two and three really churn it up with more extramarital affairs, some office outcasting of the ambitious Peggy, infertility of newlywed Pete Campbell, a trip to California where Don goes m.i.a. ... even MORE extramarital affairs ... and of course, enough whiskey and cigarettes to wake Humphrey Bogart from the dead and then kill him again.
The challenge is simply trying to pace yourself to get maximum enjoyment out of each episode, rather than scarfing the whole fourth season down like a Big Mac with fries. Sadly, I know how that plays out in my man cave. I'm not sure what it says about my personality that a TV show doesn't have to be great as much as addicting. Luckily, Mad Men is both.
Diana Palmieri recaps the final episode of Jersey Shore.
Last week’s episode chronicles the last few days that Italy has to endure the gang. Sammi, still on her non-brooding kick this season, enlists Ronnie to help Mike, who no one likes, “snap him out of it.” When they return home from a night at the discoteca, Ronnie corners him (in an unusually non-threatening manner) to pretty much stop acting like the douche he is.
At Pauly, Vinny, and Sammi’s last shift at Marco’s Pizzeria, they one up their history at the Shore Store by actually working. Pauly yells into the microphone and they talk about how much they'll miss the pizzeria. To mark their territory, Marco has everyone bring a piece of clothing to hang on the lines inside the shop. Snooki brings one of her extra leopard-print bras and Deena brings a thong she may or may not have washed. Ronnie voices the thoughts of every viewer watching when he says, “I didn’t even know Deena wore underwear.”
All everyone can do is talk about how they can’t wait to get back to Jersey. Why? They miss tanning beds and familiar drunken debauchery at Karma. The culture and the beauty of Italy is overwhelming, and they have to return to dirty beaches and shit-clogged toilets. Mike still tries to grab attention from the group and even calls his sister to let her know that he doesn’t think he’ll return to Jersey. I have to agree with Sitch’s sister when she tells him “that’s silly” because he will never find another way to make as much money sleeping and lounging in an array of Abercrombie sweatpants all day.
The last day in Italy, everyone decides that a change of pace is in order and they actually leave their house when the sun is up. JWOWW announces that the agenda is, “sight see, go hard, leave.” Of course after weeks of being in Florence, all they have gotten a chance to see are Snooki’s tears and Deena’s cooka. During the tour, everyone feigns mild interest. Even Snooki ponders about the cherubs in a Michelangelo painting. “So, it’s real? The babies with wings?”
After another night out, another Sunday night dinner and more bitching about Mike, the gang is out. “I'm fuckin’ pale,” Pauly says. “I gotta get to Jersey.”
HIGH Ron and Sam sneak in a smush session when the roommates are creepily sitting on the other side of the partition. Pauly remarks how they were only in there for five minutes after doing the daytime walk of shame. “No wonder Sam never smiles!”
LOW At the pizzeria, Snooki helps herself to a helping of fresh mozzarella from behind the counter. Marco tells her, “Hey! Don’t eat my balls.” Ew.
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