Each Friday, Diana Palmieri breaks down the shenanigans happening on the latest season of Jersey Shore.
I wanted last night’s Jersey Shore to be a cheeseburger or a slice of pizza: appropriate and satisfying munchies to top off a drunk Saint Patty’s Day. It wasn’t. Clearly, the gang is not Irish, but I still don’t think there was an excuse for Snooki to remain sober for an entire episode while I was blissfully buzzed watching it. Whether it was a season filler or just the calm before the spray tan and alcohol induced storm that I’m hoping will be the season finale remains to be unseen, but it did have some laugh-worthy moments.
Am I the only one who thinks Ronnie would so punch Sammi if the cameras weren’t on them all the time? In the midst of the Ronnie Hurricane upstairs, there was a large cardboard box that Snooki and Deena take turns rolling around in and kicking in the living room. Where’d it come from? Is it replacing the clogged toilet as a supporting cast member? Did it hold all the emotional baggage of Ron and Sam? I don’t know, and blast in a glass Deena doesn’t seem to care as she announces, “I feel like I’m in a spaceship!”
One of the next scenes featured one of my favorite sub-plots that the producers and editors are really trying to push this season: the non-existing parallel of Vinny and Snooki to Ross and Rachel. It is appearing a lot more complicated than it is. They smush when they’re drunk. The End. Snooki and Vinny went to lunch and Snooki tried to talk to Vinny about his prevalence of grenades without appearing jealous, she learned what beer-battered onion rings were battered in (guess!), and they walked arm in arm with Vinny’s “Free Weezy” sweatshirt and Snooki’s sweatpants with “GO HARD” written across the ass. Meant to be.
After getting a spray tan for the first time a few weeks ago, and after having gotten a large sleeve tattoo probably depicting either Jesus or a dragon in between now and Miami, Vinny’s transformation to be a real man continues. This week, he gets his ears pierced. Danny, who owns the Shore Store and rents the house that the gang stays in (which needs to be sterilized or just burnt down to ever be clean), and who we learned a few weeks ago is a plumber, also keeps a piercing gun handy and is a pro. What a Renaissance man! Pauly who is nearly in tears about how fresh Vinny looks, can’t keep the childlike glee off his face after Vinny parades his new studs and becomes more of a douche each week.
Every Thursday our pop-culture critic Bianca Brown gives the catty, smile-with-your-eyes lowdown on cycle 16 of America's Next Top Model.
This week the poor models had to look at pictures of Alex in the house, and she quasi promised to get her hostile act together. Sara didn’t feel pretty, (and that’s why you went on a modeling show?) and Alex said she’s going to IMG if she wins or not. She kind of has a point: why be on the show if you’re not gonna model after? But as usual she’s so antagonizing about it.
The girls wear dresses by Geoffrey Mac, who designs for Lady GaGa, in a runway challenge with Miss J. And they do it on a flaming catwalk while holding fireballs. For once they express hesitation at this stunt, but it’s actually the least stupid thus far (eh hem, live bees?...balloon capsules?). “The worst thing that could happen is that I could possibly get a third-degree burn,” Hannah said. Eh, it's worth it.
No one burst into flames, and a few of the girls played up the cool factor of holding fire. Dalya was the challenge winner and recipient of designer dresses. Miss J decided that Hannah, Kasia, and Sara sucked ass and should walk home as punishment. Hannah was really scared of the neighborhood despite being accompanied by a camera crew.
Next up the models had to memorize a script full of cheesy innuendos for a Mad Men-inspired coffee commercial. Photographer Francesco Carrozzini is fine as hell. He was also the director for the Fierce Roast Coffee shoot, for which the girls ironically wore padded boobs and booties. Sara chafed at the flirty lines because of her feminist beliefs, and Brittani (who got paired with Alex) messed up the lines and started crying. Alex pretended to care and told everyone they “leaned on each other” like sisters. I think this bitch might be crazy. She then told the crew how to light the place properly and what to shoot next, and Francesco told her to piss off. Mikaela’s hand shook uncontrollably during her and Sara’s spot, and Sara, who was supposed to coyly circle the coffee jar with her finger and flirt with the boss, scratched the lid and looked at him kinda crazy. She worried about getting eliminated in the confession booth and did a spot on impression of Tyra, “You are so beautiful. But you are so scared.”
Kasia and Jaclyn got top kudos for their commercial at panel, and Jaclyn did multiple booty drops for everyone’s entertainment. Alex and Brittani turned out to suck, with Alex being a little Basic Instinct and distracting Brittani. Kasia, the plus size model, got called first, and Alex and Sara were the bottom two. Francesco complained about Alex, and Tyra told her this was her last warning about her behavior. Sara went home, even though Tyra for some reason was really rooting for her.
On Fridays, Diana Palmieri breaks down the shenanigans happening on the latest season of Jersey Shore.
It's been one week since Sammi returned to the Jersey Shore, donning her new glasses and, surprisingly, a not-so-annoying demeanor. The roommates were in the midst of a prank war, Snooki and Deena were drunk, Ronnie wasn’t throwing things, and even the shit-filled toilet had been unclogged. All was right at the Shore.
The same lightheartedness pleasantly overshadowed the beginning of last night’s episode, as Vinny and Pauly went on a road trip to Staten Island. Vinny’s family, much like the clogged toilet, has become an honorary staple at the shore. In a bit of an underwhelming scene, Vinny and Pauly were fed like they were headed towards the electric chair, and subtitles were needed whenever Uncle Nino spoke. All was not lost, as Vinny went home with leftovers and Pauly left with a geography lesson. “I did not know Staten Island was an actual island until we went over the bridge.”
This week the girls saw a giant tasseled rope that said “Pull Me” on it, and immediately started squealing for joy. I’m starting to wish they were just a tad smarter. The rope unfurled a banner with all of the makeover looks written on it. A montage of “Oh my god, I really really really want that look” and “I hope I don’t get the ‘Dutch boy” followed. Off to the salon, the hair stylists start snipping, dying, and weaving before they really tell the girls what’s gonna happen. Brittani gets the “Dutch boy,” which is actually a striking geometric bob. I bet on her as a finalist.
Monique, who’s a dead ringer for Olivia Munn, gets extensions because she’s so sexy. Or just doesn’t look like a boy. Speaking of which, Sara gets a boy cut, and is justifiably upset about it. Androgyny isn’t just looking like a boy, it’s looking like a pretty boy. I’m not sure Sara fits that bill. I would’ve gone with an asymmetrical mohawk — just something less predictable. To be fair, she’s pretty photogenic.
Alex (who everyone’s afraid of) is a brat about getting a weave, which was long, blonde, and yawny. Dominique got awesome auburn curls, and everyone else’s look was ho-hum, except for Molly’s. Her big, blonde, tight curls, are a great look, but her weave went awry and her tracks were a mess. At which Alex, the wicked one, laughed.
Stylist Lori Goldstein and photographer Pamela Hanson (whom we all know and recognize, right?) do a paired photo shoot with couture dresses. Brittani and Hannah were the best by far, with that magic you see in fashion editorials. Mikaela and Sara’s photos are totally dead, and Hanson made them walk forward just to look like something was happening. Alex was an ornery diva during her and Monique’s shoot, complaining about her swollen lip, and then shooting down Monique when she tried to chill her about it.
I dig the pre-panel clips of Tyra talking to Talley, and Talley’s grey velvet hat, which has what looks like a jumbo stippling brush in it. Alex got best photo at panel, (don’t ask me why) but what was reprimanded for her attitude. Brittani, who should’ve been called first, went third, and Dominique (the cutie with the freckles) went home for lack of inspiration.
NBC is facing an interesting moment in the history their perennially dominant Thursday night comedy lineup. They arguably have the 4 funniest sitcoms on TV. But here's the problem: Their two strongest brands--The Office and 30 Rock--are both creeping to the point of potential sitcom hospice. Through no fault of their own, they are starting to lose "it". It happens to every sitcom no matter how amazing, and these two have actually managed to stay transcendentally hilarious for an unrealistically long period of time. In fact, the only sitcoms (relevant in the past 20 years) which were consistently funny for longer are The Simpsons (which kept getting funnier up to it's ninth season, and plateaued for a solid few years) and Seinfeld (which was arguably less funny than the other shows in this discussion, but stayed relevant up until they "went out on top" in season 9).
Let's break it down.
The Office--whose heart and soul comes from the chemistry of the characters--is going to be losing its centerpiece, Steve Carell at the end of this seventh season. It could still be funny without him, but the fact remains that a lot of the characters and their relationships have gotten stale. When this happens, the four options are (1) hire new writers, and hope that new talent can squeze fresh ideas from the same characters, (2) keep things as they are and hope unrealistically that the show will come upon an upswing, (3) get new cast members--risky because you're messing with your sure-thing (although, their ensemble has managed well in doing this steadily over the years--and will certainly have to do this when Carrell leaves) or (4) pull the plug (noble, but unlikely while the ratings are still good). NBC is certainly going to pump in as much money as possible to keep The Office among America's most popular sitcoms, and it will likely get stuck on life support even when things get awkward (i.e. Scrubs).
30 Rock has a more optimistic future ahead of it. It's Tina Fey's baby and she will not want to see it suffer. Her writing staff will probably start kicking in some extra brainstorming hours to refuel the magic they once captured. If this doesn't get the show's freshness back on track, you can expect a Seinfeld-esque announcement that it will plan to go out strong after a year or so. 30 Rock's magic is intrinsically different than The Office's. Rather than being character-driven (and don't get me wrong, the characters are insanely hilarious--different characters wouldn't be nearly as funny), 30 Rock is essentially powered by good old fashioned writing chops. I can't even realistically call them "old fashioned" because they are amongst the highest quantity and quality of jokes per minute that the sitcom world has ever seen. 30 Rock has raised the bar on comedy writing, and is now struggling to stay in reach of their own high water mark.
Community is more of a cult-hit, and tends to demonstrate early-era Scrubs sensibility. That is to say, high risk, high reward. The result is more hit or miss than its Thursday night peers, but the hits are pretty powerful. In attaining a word-of-mouthy, semi-love-or-hate audience, Community is perpetually in danger of going the way of Arrested Development. However, times are slightly different than the early 2000's, and we are now officially in full swing comedy boom being fueled by the young and hip. The late 40's middle class is in many ways still the market's bread and butter, but liberal-minded 20/30-somethings are responsible for the surplus of comedy dollars going around. NBC learned a tough lesson from the Conan fiasco, and will probably be slower to alienate the outspoken comedy-savvy proletariat in the future as long as numbers are passable. While their opportunities for damage control with the next wave of 40-somethings is good news for Community, the show is unlikely to be able to carry the weight of Thursday night should 30 Rock and Office fall by the wayside. Especially if CBS attempts to usurp that throne by throwing How I Met Your Mother and *gulp* Two and a Half Men next to Big Bang Theory on Thursdays. Community a solid supporting player and good for hipster cred but it will probably never have the ability to generate huge numbers on its own.
Now we get to the alpha puppy, Parks and Recreation. In its third season, Parks and Rec is really coming into it's own as the strongest product in their flagship rotation. It manages to capture the essence of both The Office and 30 Rock with quirky, over-the-top absurd characters and their interactions--as well as straight-man balance armed to the teeth with flamethrower-caliber joke-writing. You can even see direct branches from the 30Rock/Office family tree, with Rashida Jones (Jim Halpert's former love interest) and Amy Poehler (Tina Fey's butt-buddy). With characters like Ron Swanson (think Dwight Shrute with different hobbies) and Chris Traeger (Rob Lowe's take on Jack Doneghy's photo negative) they are capitalizing on the prototypes that work. Parks and Rec also captures Community's indie-cred with faces like Aziz Ansari and Aubrey Plaza (and somehow, history has shown that Rob Lowe is perpetually lame-proof).
So, we're seeing that Parks and Rec is able to capitalize on the essence of the entire Thursday night lineup. The exception, of course, being Outsourced which, God-willing, will be gone by Spring--note to execs: taking out the laugh track does not AUTOMATICALLY make your show hip and hilarious. Also, I'm not really sure what the story is with Perfect Couples (I usually turn the tube on at 9 for Office and catch the earlier Community on Hulu), but it's gonna take a miracle for a new relationship comedy to distinguish itself in Modern Family's wake.
With Parks and Rec able to emulate the best qualities of it's elders while maintaining a unique voice, the time is right to start grooming it as heir to the Thursday night palace. I think they've already started working on this by snuggling it in the cozy spot between their two heavy hitters smack at 9:30, but I hope they're thinking realistically about exit-strategies for their mighty Clydesdales. The days of Cheers and M*a*s*h--that is, decade-long ratings busters--are over, and the cultural attention span plummets every year.
Think of how more valuable The Simpsons would be as a franchise if they had premiered The Simpsons Movie as a television grand-finale some ten years ago while the show was still unmissable. You would have had a true pop-culture event on your hands and the ratings of a Superbowl. DVD box-set prices would be worth an absolute premium, and fans would be celebrating the legacy of the series till the end of time (which right now, trust me, they don't). I know this doesn't seem as valuable as the immediate gratification of running it into the ground, but it's hard to calculate the long term dollar value of religious devotion to a brand.
Office and 30 Rock are GOING to slump (or, have started to... and at some point their numbers will follow). NBC has to decide whether they want to French-steak-sear the juices in while the titles are still valuable, cauterizing the deflation and cryogenically freezing them as perfect specimens of pop-culture done perfectly. Or, do they want to piss off a huge incoming generation of prime comedy viewers by maintaining their reputation for tossing Conan around like a rag-doll--which goes back to offering Seinfeld $5 million an episode (which would be worth, what, $20 million today) after the show had run its course to sully his accomplishments for the benefit of faceless greed?
The value of legacy aside, there's also precious real-estate to think about. Thursday night Comedy Done Right is a strong palace, but not impregnable. Protect your kingdom by putting your resources into smart new shows, and as you reap so shall you sow.
|Hannah, Winner||Nicole, Loser|
This season's intro borrows from Black Swan, with models and Tyra in leotards, yoga tights, and kooky tricks with mirrors. And like Black Swan, the point of this episode was to drive these bitches crazy. The models' penthouse apartment is decorated with photos of the semifinalists with labels like "elusive" and "sexy." Then Tyra shows up with her nutritionist to tell them in a hackneyed French accent that being thin is not about deprivation. You can indulge in decadent treats like wheat waffles with peanut butter, or even spaghetti and meatballs. Before the tutorial, Ondrei reveals that both of her brothers are dead, one the victim of a murder. Bummer... Poor Nicole is told that at 20 she looks old and haggard (like, 35) in her photos. Bullshit.
Alexandria gets pissy because it's brought to her her attention that she left raw chicken in the fridge; it went bad, and that's gross. She insists that she knows how to properly store raw meat in spite of her inability to do so, and swears revenge on Dalya, whose name is spelled incorrectly.
Next up, it's acting time, and the girls get asked a bunch of personal questions by acting coach Eugene Buica. They all have to draw their "inner critic." Molly's inner demon looks like Uncle Sam (no, really) and Ondrei cries about her two, count 'em, two dead brothers. Which the producers keep bringing up for dramatic effect, and some of the girls bring up to psych her out. Man, this show got way depressing. The models are rewarded for crying and humiliating themselves with designer jewelry. And Nigel reveals that the point of this is too bring out their humanity for the camera.
Photo shoot! The girls not only models with live bees, but their jewelry is sprayed with pheromones to attract them. This is officially female Jackass. We saw doorknocker earrings covered in bees, and man was it nasty. Anyone remember Candyman? Hannah's copious tears are supposedly great for the camera, and I was pretty curious about the photos.
Tonight's guest judge was Alek Wek! That exclamation point was not sarcastic. For once, they got someone I'm excited to see. Trust me, you've seen her, and she's gorgeous. Ondrei drops out, which is too bad, since she was good competition. But if anyone did worse than her, they still had to go home. The photos are mostly shwang wang wang. I hate to admit it, but Hannah's crying photographed like a dream, and she got best photo props. Nicole, the old biddie, was sent home, and Andre Leon Talley will buy Tyra a sálon at the swap meet. Next week: makeovahs!
|Nice knees ...|
|The Social Network|
|The Kids Are All Right|
|Toy Story 3|
|She needs to poop|
- Arts Events
- First Person Fest
- Last Chance
- On the Fringe
- Philly Artists
- The Curator
- Visual Art
- Arts News
- Artist Profile
- Arts Preview
- Street Art
- Been There, Done That
- Big Ups
- LOL With It
- Critical Mass
- Friday Fill-in
- Ice Cubes
- In Memoriam
- Just Do It
- Just Opened
- Art Phag
- Film Fest
- Movie Review
- On set
- 10 Track Mind
- Album Review
- Concert Review
- Local Support
- Now Hear This
- One Track Mind
- Philly Bands
- Somebody Else Was There
- The Showdown
- concert photos
- DJ Nights Blogged
- Night Watch
- Now See This
- Poetic License
- Printed Matter
- What We Heart
- Idol Hands
- Mad Men
- True Blood
- Useless Lost Recaps
- Couch Potato
- Shore Trash
- Turned ONN
- Video Games
- Free Online Game
- PlayStation 2
- The 1-Upper
- Web Junk
- CAGE MATCH
- Free Online Toy
- Weekend Omnibus