Tele-Tuesday: A Shout-Out to the All the Inbetweeners

I don’t know how often kids today watch MTV, but I’m a real-life, breathing child of the music channel…

In the’80s, the new Music Television channel changed pop culture forever with music videos—thank you, MTV!  In the ‘90s, the network began to slowly drift away from the music videos, and started airing original broadcasts such as Road Rules and The Real World, animations including Beavis and Butthead and Celebrity Deathmatch, and even a few popular game shows like Remote Control and Singled Out—the show that put Jenny McCarthy and Carmen Electra on the map.  By 2000, rarely could we flip channels to MTV and actually watch a music video.  Instead, we’d find The Osbournes, where we’d watch Ozzy and Sharon wrangle their children and many small dogs around their house; or we’d watch Ashton Kutcher play pranks on celebrities on Punk’d; and, sometimes we’d even watch Newlyweds: Nick and Jessica so that we could laugh at just how silly that girl could be.  Since then, MTV has continued to launch more and more reality shows: Laguna Beach, NEXT, My Super Sweet 16, and the craziest of them all, Jersey Shore.  And, who could forget one of the biggest hits of all MTV programming—Jackass?

MTV’s Teen Wolf – pretty people and the supernatural… normal teen television today

But I’ve never given up on my MTV.  Today, when I’m looking for something to watch on television, I always flip over to check out what’s on the channel.  While I can’t say it’s been a music video one time in the last few years, MTV still offers a few programs that I don’t miss—the Road Rules/Real World Challenges, Teen Wolf, and Death Valley.  Everything else… I have stayed away from (Teen Mom—no, thank you); but that’s not to say I haven’t laughed at the commercials for a few of the other MTV originals.

But after a very impressive first two seasons, MTV doubles the upcoming season three episode count and orders 24 episodes!!

Let’s be honest—MTV is supposed to grab the attention of the teen audience, which I believe it does.    However, teen programs today aren’t necessarily the same as the ‘80s and ‘90s.  Television in the 1980s offered a bit more substance than today’s reality fixation.  Back in the day, honest- to-goodness family programming dominated network TV’s primetime hours—Who’s the Boss?, Growing Pains, The Cosby Show, The Wonder Years, Family Ties—instead of the incessant need to watch individuals hurt themselves while rushing through an obstacle course or watch a young talent’s hopes shatter in recorded auditions.

Teen television today tends to focus on more adult situations.  Take The Secret Life of the American Teenager—how many characters have either already had a baby or at least a pregnancy scare?   And as much as I like The Vampire Diaries, where are the parents?  Who gets these kids alcohol for their parties?  Today, popular young adult TV seems to focus on pretty people, popular kids, high fashion, and adult themes.

But what about the rest of us?  Not everyone fits in with the “in-crowd.”  At one time or another, most teenagers have felt like they don’t belong; like they are all alone in this cruel world.  Luckily, MTV caters to this crowd with two programs—Awkward and The Inbetweeners.

I didn’t plan on watching either of these shows, not until I saw Comedy Central airing reruns of The Inbetweeners this weekend.  While I still haven’t seen Awkward, I did set the DVR for MTV’s latest series… I mean, if Comedy Central is going to play the new show, it must be funny—right?

It’s funny… to me, The Inbetweeners might be more realistic than most other teen programs on television.  The thirty-minute show focuses around Will Mackenzie (Joey Pollari), a recent transfer student from a private prep-school to a public high school.  On his first day, he meets Simon (Bubba Lewis), Jay (Zack Pearlman), and Neil (Mark L. Young).  Despite Will’s not really fitting in with these guys, he has found his circle of friends—they’re not jocks, they’re not nerds; they’re not in any way popular—they’re inbetweeners.  And like most teen boys, all they can think about is girls, sex, and alcohol.  These characters are constantly thinking about girls (Simon loves Carly, but Carly is dating a real “hunk”), sex (Jay claims to have had sex many times, but we all know the truth—he’s a virgin), and alcohol (they even drink the expensive stuff with gold in it…).  Seriously; it’s all about girls, sex, and alcohol.  The comedy is a bit lewd and there are quite a few bleeps over the bad language, but it all seems realistic to me—how teens act and talk, and especially how they think.

In just the first two episodes, the boys have already fallen victim to many embarrassing moments: the principal’s warning students to not bully Will over the PA system; Will’s thinking he’s getting a cool car when he passes his driving test, only to learn his father has purchased him the “sports edition” of an old, yellow Ford Festiva; Simon’s drinking too much and throwing up all over Carly’s kitchen after she invites him over on a pity-date (he spray-painted her driveway and his friends were making fun of him); and the enduring pain of watching parents’ public displays of affection.  Most of us can relate to at least a version of these embarrassing moments, can’t we?  Even if we considered ourselves part of the “cool” kids in school?

Based on the British series of the same name, and created by the man responsible for hit shows such as Arrested Development and My Name is Earl, The Inbetweeners has already survived the first crucial moment in a television show’s life—MTV has picked up twelve episodes.  Will it last?  I don’t know… but if anyone fell or falls into the “inbetween” group while in high school, this show might just be for them.

Have you watched The Inbetweeners?  Will you?  Have you ever felt like an inbetweener?  What do you look for in YA television?  I’d love to hear from you!

And, remember to check out my YA Mystery novel, Football Sweetheart… now available on Kindle and Nook!

Tele-Tuesday: The Return of MTV’s Teen Wolf

On a Tele-Tuesday post last year, I introduced MTV’s new summer TV series: Teen Wolf.  We all remember the 1985 comedy starring Michael J. Fox, right?  MTV promised to use the generalized idea behind the ’80s Teen Wolf, but compared their story to a transformed version with a darker side, similar to the CW’s The Vampire Diaries.

First, a few similarities:

In 1985, Michael J. Fox played Scott Howard; today, Tyler Posey plays Scott McCall.

MTV’s Teen Wolf – Scott McCall

In 1985, Scott Howard’s best friend was an oddball named Stiles; today, Scott McCall’s best friend is an awkward oddball named Stiles (played by Dillon O’Brien).

MTV’s Teen Wolf – Stiles

In 1985, Scott Howard wasn’t the best basketball player on the team, not until he transformed into his wolf-self; today, Scott McCall isn’t anywhere close to the best lacrosse player on the squad, until he endures the cursed bite, that is.

Now, to a few differences:

In 1985, Scott Howard suffered from a family curse, a long line of male werewolves that sometimes skipped a generation; today, Scott McCall is bitten by a werewolf while out in the woods searching for the remains of a dead girl with his best friend.

MTV’s Teen Wolf – Scott “wolfed” out

In 1985, Scott Howard show-boats around as his wolf-self; today, Scott McCall works desperately to keep his curse secret from everyone, excluding his BFF, Stiles.

In 1985, audiences laughed along with Scott Howard in Teen Wolf; today, viewers and Scott McCall cringe as another person in the community is brutally attacked by a supposed animal.

More Wolf

MTV’s Teen Wolf pleasantly surprised me.  First of all, like most other things MTV, the show is geared toward the younger audience or YA as we’ve become accustomed to in the literary world.  I may be in my thirties, but I like most Young Adult television series, and more importantly I really enjoy Teen Wolf.  And it’s not just me – my guy doesn’t miss an episode either.

Moreover, the show’s claim to focus on the mythology of the werewolf and the darkness of the curse has played a major role in the television series.  If The Vampire Diaries has taught the TV rating’s world anything, it’s that teens (as well as whoever is watching) prefer the dark twists and storylines – if we want comedy, there are sitcoms for that.

During the first season, Teen Wolf introduced the idea of the alpha and beta wolf.  An alpha is the strongest, most powerful, and the most deadly kind of werewolf.  Scott McCall and Derek Hale (played by Tyler Hoechlin from 7th Heaven) are beta wolves.   The Alpha bit Scott, and wants Scott to join his pack – insists actually.

MTV’s Teen Wolf – Derek Hale

The Alpha is obviously a nasty and horrible werewolf, and Scott wants nothing to do with this violent lifestyle.  Will Derek help him?  Or is Derek setting Scott up?  Let’s say a little bit of both – nothing like a taste of both worlds to make Derek even more lickable – I mean, likable.

As with any supernatural drama, Teen Wolf also offers a bit of werewolf on werewolf in the form of fight scenes.  While it wasn’t as exciting as a Salvatore brother fight (Yes, I’m talking about Stefan and Damon, ladies!), it held our attention and stayed true to MTV’s promise of a darker rendition of the cinematic classic.

Like most Young Adult features, or really any television show for that matter, Teen Wolf also has the love story: the typical nerdy high school boy (Scott) who wants to lead a normal life and date the beautiful new girl (Alison Argent played by Crystal Reed).  Not interesting enough?

MTV’s Teen Wolf – Alison Argent

How about a forbidden love…  Did I mention that Scott’s dream girl’s father is the lead hunter out to kill the werewolves in the area?  And that she too is to train and fulfill her family legacy of hunters?  Only Alison doesn’t realize at first that she hails from generations of hunters or that her boyfriend is a wolf.  But when she does, will she choose her family or Scott?

And let’s not forget that Scott’s humiliation of “top-jock” Jackson Whittemore (played by Colton Haynes from The Gates) on the lacrosse field now drives Jackson to discover exactly what Scott is hiding.  Jackson knows that Scott didn’t pick up his super strength overnight by hitting the weight room.  Once Jackson learns Scott’s secret, he decides he wants a “piece” of the wolf himself.

MTV’s Teen Wolf – Jackson

What exactly was Jackson’s deal with Derek?  We all know after the final battle Derek assumes the role of Alpha; will Jackson join Derek’s pack?

Speaking of Derek’s pack, he wasn’t the one to bite Scott.  Is it now safe to assume it will definitely be Scott versus Derek in season two?

And what about Lydia (played by Holland Roden), the annoying girl admired by Stiles but who barely gives anyone besides Jackson the time of day?  The original Alpha did attack her before his demise, but Scott apparently gave her a clean bill of health when he noticed her marks weren’t healing as quickly as his wolf bite did.  Is she in the clear or is she too now a member of a pack?

MTV’s Teen Wolf – Lydia

I smell some major wolf action in season two…

Season two premieres Sunday, June 3rd on MTV, following the MTV Movie Awards.

What do you think?  Did you watch the first season of Teen Wolf?  Do you plan to continue with season two?  Do you prefer the 1985 comedy or the newer, darker version?  I’d love to hear from you!

Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday – Where We Are Today…

It’s that time of year when the networks are adding even more new programming to our already full TV plates.  But before we get started on the New Year in Review, Amber West and I decided to recap our 2011 Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday ratings, from best to worst.

While I’m not quite sure where everyone else stands, this crazy television and food obsessed girl has gained her share of comfort weight over the past thirty weeks – figuratively, of course.  Thirty weeks — it seems a bit unreal that WatchWed has been around that long.  Add up the time and count the amount of MacNCheese and Junk Food TV that we’ve reviewed, the added pounds become a bit easier to understand.

First, let’s take a quick look at the review system:

GTV (Gourmet TV): Everything we want and more
MacTV (MacNCheese TV): Guilty pleasure. Not perfect, but is satisfies
GMacTV (Gourmet MacNCheese TV): A combination of fine wine and comfort food
JFTV (Junk food TV): It’s not great for us, but we’ll go back for seconds
TBPTV (Twice Baked Potato TV): Part gourmet and delicious, while absolutely horrible for our cholesterol
SSTV (Still Simmering TV): It has potential, but the jury is still out
NIV (Nyquil Induced Viewing): Perfect for that late night television sleep timer
LOTV (Liver&Onions TV): Do we really have to explain? Blech

Some of the ratings have been around since Watch Wednesday opened its doors for business, but our palates became a bit more refined over time and it took watching a few series to understand we didn’t quite have the proper scale in place.  After considerable thought, we added Gourmet MacNCheese TV, Twice Baked Potato TV, and NyQuil Induced Viewing TV to the menu.   After all, a good chef always tweaks his or her recipes depending on the comment cards left behind by the diners, right?

It makes the most sense to begin with our favorites, the best of the best – the GTV (Gourmet TV) rated programs.  Leading the way for this television viewer will always be Criminal Minds, Bones, and Burn Notice.  Not one of these shows can sit on the DVR for more than an hour without burning a hole in the table cloth – they are that hot.

That’s not to say other plates didn’t also deserve a top-nod, including Blue Bloods, and our favorite cons on Leverage and White Collar.  And, believe it or not, there are many other programs that fit into this category that we’ve yet to review (and our explanations are Justified).

But who can afford a bone-in filet, horseradish mashed potatoes, grilled asparagus, and a glass of $100 wine with every meal?  It appears not Fox, since our GTV alternate reality favorite, Fringe, is on the rocks.  Or rumor has it anyway…

Back to the more affordable dishes…

Most of us enjoy a homemade meatloaf with the rich and creamy guilty pleasure Velveeta Shells & Cheese (also known as MacTV, MacNCheese TV) on the average night.

And what goes better with this more affordable meal than the fantastic new supernatural series, Grimm; the action packed scenes, beautiful scenery, and the leading man eye-candy of Hawaii Five-o (that’s Alex O’Loughlin for anyone who may not already know); as well as the two new rookie programs that have both been renewed for a second season: Suits and Franklin & Bash?

Seriously – try it.  Curl up on the sofa with a warm bowl of the cheesy favorite, and check out one of these programs.  They’ll promise to fill you and leave you satisfied, wanting more.

Before we eat the last bite, we must pay our respects to the MacTV great that has given us eight seasons of laughter, tears, mystery, intrigue, and drama – the REAL housewives of Wisteria Lane, the Desperate Housewives.  It won’t be long before the housewives leave us forever, well until syndication anyway.

Moving on…

Because this girl likes to enjoy a few meals while reminiscing about the good ol’ days of high school, Pretty Little Liars and MTV’s surprising hit, Teen Wolf, also satisfy the carb-craving that everyone needs filled every once in a while (the mystery and intrigue of these YA series doesn’t hurt either).

And for the nights when cooking just doesn’t quite seem like an option, there’s always that trusty bag of greasy potato chips we keep hidden in the pantry.

Television’s equivalent to the JFTV (Junk Food TV) bag of tasty goodness is the same – it’s not the best thing in the world for us, but we must have more than one episode: Unforgettable, Being Human, Law & Order: SVU, Warehouse 13, and the late TNT drama, Memphis Beat.

Yes, Jason Lee’s blues singing detective show has been cancelled, but don’t worry – he’s joined the cast of another JFTV show and returned to his comedic roots in Up All Night.

Next are the days when we really just need something to fill our bellies and ruin our cholesterol, much like a Twice Baked Potato (TBPTV). 

For days like these, we have the AMC original hit, The Walking Dead.  This post-zombie-apocalyptic television series fills the supernatural undead void we’ve had for years (although a particular someone in this house is still waiting for the Frankenstein monster television program before he’s perfectly satisfied).  The survivors working together to make the most of a bad situation makes us feel all warm and fuzzy inside.  And then the bloating feeling hits us like a ton of bricks, proving the show isn’t the best thing out there for us – but it sure is fun to savor while it lasts.

Perhaps tasty, warm, fuzzy, and savor aren’t the best words to use when describing a zombie television show, but we think it gets the point across.

And sadly, we left one program Still Simmering (SSTV) on the back burner and completely forgot to pay more attention to it, but we will…especially since Alphas was picked up for a second season.  For this, our readers have our deepest apologies.  The re-review will come in time before the premiere of season two on SyFy, promise.

All this serious talk may lead one to believe we’re all business around Watch Wednesday, but we’re not.  We love to laugh too, and a few of the network funnies received the same critical reviews as the dramas.

Hindsight is always 20/20, therefore we need to re-file the one MacTV rated sitcom (How I Met Your Mother) into the JFTV rating list along with Two and a Half Men and 2 Broke Girls.  For some reason, HIMYM has its viewers crying at the end of episodes instead of laughing here recently, which kind of defeats the purpose of the sitcom and explains the need for the downgrade – something just isn’t the same.

And just like my dinner plate, there will be no Liver and Onions TV (LOTV) for the audience today, and hopefully not anytime soon.  Yuck!

Okay, that is a ton of television.  I didn’t even include the reviews of a few of my Netflix and marathon-style TV favorites (MacTV Charmed and Tru Calling, as well as the Gourmet TV Twin Peaks and Moonlight).  Does anyone notice the Alex O’Loughlin trend?

It’s a lot to take in, but tell us:

What do you think?  Which shows already in progress need to be in our list? Are there any new shows that you are looking forward to?  We’d love to hear from you!

Now click over to Amber’s blog and catch up on where her reviews sit to date.

Come back next week when Amber and I begin the new season of Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday!

Remember to stop by the #watchwed hashtag in Twitter to discuss any of today’s reviews, or to mention any television programs that you’d like to see on Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday in the future.

Tele-Tuesday: New to Fall – Final Four…For Now

Fall television is here!  

As always, the networks have a lineup of many new programs to accompany our returning favorites.  For the past four weeks, we have introduced these new shows hoping to find a permanent home on the networks.  Some of the series have promise, while others may flop – but, regardless, we’ll tune in to check them out.

But, guess what?  We’re not done! 

While we will have more shows premiering later in the year and into 2012, for now, here are the final four new programs for Fall 2011.

*****

Grimm – NBC

We’ve all heard of Grimm’s Fairy Tales, right?  Grimm follows Detective Nick Burkhardt (David Giuntoli, multiple TV appearances including Nip/Tuck, Ghost Whisperer, and Veronica Mars) as he balances his life solving murders and learning that he comes from a long line of criminal profilers (Grimms) responsible for protecting the people of the world against the supernatural. 

Nick tries to protect his girlfriend (Bitsie Tulloch, Outlaw) and his homicide partner (Russell Hornsby, In Treatment) by not telling them the truth about his family lineage and his newfound responsibilities.  Instead, he turns to a former Grimm creature, Monroe (Silas Weir Mitchell, My Name Is Earl), for help understanding the mythology in order to protect the world as he knows it.

Will Nick succeed?

Other notables: David Giuntoli first appeared on MTV’s Road Rules: South Pacific and also participated in the Real World/Road Rules Challenge: The Gauntlet.   Grimm also stars Sasha Roiz (Caprica) and Reggie Lee (No Ordinary Family). 

Grimm premieres Friday, October 28th.

*****

Once Upon a Time – ABC

Once Upon a Time stars Jennifer Morrison (House) as bail bondsman Emma Swan.  Her ordinary life takes a bizarre turn when Henry (Jared Gilmore), the son she gave away a decade ago, arrives claiming that according to his fairytale book, she is the missing daughter of Snow White and Prince Charming. 

Emma takes the imaginative Henry back to his hometown of Storybrooke, where she finds herself unusually attacked to the town.  If the townsfolk are indeed fairytale characters, they do not recollect their former world and they go about their day-to-day lives like all humans.  But, Emma can sense that something is not right. 

Will Emma accept her destiny and return the magical balance to the charmed city?  

Other notables: Once Upon a Time also stars Ginnifer Goodwin (Big Love),  as Snow White/Sister Mary Margaret; Joshua Dallas (Thor) as Prince Charming/John Doe; Lana Parrilla (24) as The Evil Queen/Regina; and Giancarlo Esposito (Homicide: Life on the Street) as the Evil Queen’s Magic Mirror/Sydney.  

Once Upon a Time premieres Sunday, October 23rd.

*****

Man Up – ABC

Man Up follows three friends as they question what it means to be a “man” in today’s society. 

Friend number one, Will (Mather Zickel, Rachel Getting Married), is married with children, but he’s childlike himself with his addiction to video games.  Friend number two, Craig (Christopher Moynihan, Coupling), is stuck in the past trying to get his college girlfriend back.  While friend number three, Kenny (Dan Fogler, Take me Home Tonight), is busy attempting to sabotage his ex’s relationship with her gorgeous new man.   

Will these friends “man up,” or continue to act like children?

Other notables: Man Up also stars Teri Polo (Focker movie franchise and The West Wing) as Teresa, Will’s wife; Amanda Detmer (Saving Silverman) as Bridgette, Kenny’s ex; and Henry Simmons (NYPD Blue) as Grant, Bridgette’s new hottie.

Man Up premieres Friday, October 21st.

*****

I Hate My Teenage Daughter – FOX

I Hate My Teenage Daughter stars Jaime Pressley (My Name is Earl) as Annie, and Katie Finneran (George A. Romero’s Night of the Living Dead) as Nikki, two single mothers cringing as they watch their teenage daughters turn into the girls they hated when they were growing up. 

Annie was raised in a very strict household, so she allows her daughter (Sophia, Kristi Lauren) to have as much freedom as she wants.  Nikki was an unpopular outcast, therefore she allows her daughter (Mackenzie, Aisha Dee) to have whatever she needs to fit into the popular crowd.  While trying to give their girls everything they never had, Annie and Nikki have created two spoiled mean girls. 

Who will win in the end – the mothers or the daughters?

Other notables:  I Hate My Teenage Daughter also stars Eric Sheffer Stevens (As the World Turns) as Matt, Annie’s ex and Sophia’s father; Chad Coleman (The Wire) as Gary, Nikki’s ex and Mackenzie’s father; Kevin Rahm (Desperate Housewives); and Rosa Blasi (The Bold and the Beautiful). 

I Hate My Teenage Daughter premieres Wednesday, November 30th.

*****

What do you think?  Will you tune in to watch any of these new shows?  Which one most interests you?  Which of these shows will make it and which ones won’t? I’d love to hear from you!

Tele-Tuesday: MTV’s Joining the Party

On August 1, 1981, Music Television (also known as MTV) launched with the music video, “Video Killed the Radio Star” by The Buggles, and was immediately a breakthrough success.  MTV changed pop culture forever, and even created what we know as VJs (vee-jay or video jockey) today.

By the 1990s, the network began to drift away from the music videos, and started airing original broadcasts such as Road Rules and The Real World, animations including Beavis and Butthead and Celebrity Deathmatch, and even a few popular game shows like Remote Control and Singled Out – the show that putJenny McCarthy and Carmen Electra on the map.

By 2000, rarely could we flip channels to MTV and actually watch a music video.  Instead, we’d find The Osbournes, and watch Ozzy and Sharon wrangle their children and many small dogs around their house in Los Angeles; or we’d watch Ashton Kutcher play pranks on celebrities on Punk’d; and, sometimes we’d even watch Newlyweds: Nick and Jessica so that we could laugh at just how silly that girl can be.

Since then, MTV has continued to launch more and more reality shows: Laguna Beach, NEXT, My Super Sweet 16, and the craziest of them all, Jersey Shore.  And, who could forget one of the biggest hits of all MTV programming – Jackass?

Where would society be today without Johnny Knoxville, Bam Margera, Steve-O, Ryan (R.I.P.), and Wee-Man?

This summer, MTV gained positive attention with the premier of its supernatural hit Teen Wolf.  Some of us even refer to Teen Wolf as the summer’s The Vampire Diaries – and that’s a huge compliment.

Will MTV be able to do it again with Death Valley, the new half hour horror-comedy premiering later this month?

Death Valley follows the Undead Task Force (UTF) as they protect the San Fernando Valley from the recent outbreak of zombies, vampires, and werewolves.   The UTF, a special division within the LAPD, is tasked with the responsibility of containing or destroying as many of the walking dead as possible, while a film crew follows them documenting each encounter.

Viewers will recognize a few familiar faces on the UTF squad including: Captain Frank Dashell (Bryan Callen from The Hangover); the traditional cop, Joe Stubeck (Charlie Sanders from Funny or Die Presents); the wanna-be-actor Billy Pierce (Bryce Johnson from Pretty Little Liars); the rookie Kirsten Landry (Caity Lotz from Mad Men); the sharp-shooter, Carla Rinaldi (Tania Raymonde from Lost); and, the one who loves to fight, John-John Johnson (Texas Battle from The Bold and the Beautiful).

The trailer looks hilarious and leads us to believe the show will have plenty of gore.  What more could we ask for when watching zombies, vampires, and werewolves?

Zombies, Vampires, and Werewolves – Oh, My!

Death Valley premieres on MTV Monday, August 29th at 10:30/9:30pm CDT.

Will you watch Death Valley?  Or do you prefer that MTV stop trying to compete with the regular network broadcasting channels and go back to playing more music videos?  What’s the first music video you remember watching on MTV? What’s your favorite program of all time on MTV? Do you even watch MTV anymore? I’d love to hear from you! 

Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday – A Special Recap Edition

Welcome to today’s special edition of Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday, where Amber West and I recap our previous ratings.  We’ll reveal what we’re still watching, and whether or not our ratings remain the same.

Previously, MTV’s Teen Wolf earned a MacTV rating – it wasn’t perfect, but it satisfied like most guilty pleasures. 

Since the original review, seven new episodes of Teen Wolf have aired, and it is still an extreme guilty pleasure.   The audience has learned more of the back-story behind the Hale family of werewolves and the Argent family of werewolf hunters.  The show has entertained us with magic, twists and turns, and most importantly revealed the identity of the big-bad alpha wolf. 

Considering the target audience is composed of teens and young adults, this thirtysomething can’t get enough.  Therefore, I am moving it up in the ranks and giving Teen Wolf a GTV rating.  Teen Wolf is this summer’s new gourmet program – especially for those Vampire Diaries fans going through withdrawal.

TNT’s Franklin & Bash is another show that is moving up in the ranks.  This previous MacTV rating definitely deserves an upgrade to an entree’s GTV rating.  While the courtroom antics may not be entirely believable, this television program delivers a bone-in filet flavor. 

Is anyone still playing “Name that Co-Star” game with me?  Remember how to play?  Name as many of Gosselaar’s former TV co-stars that make a guest appearance.  So far, we’ve seen Garcelle Beauvais…..can you name another?  

Let’s change the objective just a tad: How many child/teen stars of the ‘90s will land a guest starring role in Franklin & Bash?  We saw “The Beek” or “Dawson” as some may remember just last week.  Anyone else? 

Speaking of gourmet television, Burn Notice, Leverage, and White Collar remain at the top of the GTV rating scale.  These shows on USA and TNT are full of all the best ingredients: drama, comedy, budding relationships, intense loyalty and friendships, beautiful people, explosions, trickery, and individual storylines plus ongoing intrigue. 

Every week promises some of the best programming available – summer, fall, winter, or spring.  Enough said.

As apparent by the previous reviews, Mac and Cheese is one of my favorite guilty pleasures.  Curling up with a warm bowl in front of the TV to watch ABC Family’s Pretty Little Liars is like taking a hot bath with a glass of wine, a gigantic piece of chocolate cake, and a great mystery novel.   

We’re approaching the end of season two, and this teen drama has this particular viewer completely bamboozled.  I have an inkling of an idea as to the identity of “A”, but not enough to voice my opinion here.  What does that say about the mystery?

Pretty Little Liars keeps its MacTV rating

The USA hit Suits is another one keeping its original MacTV rating.  We normally watch the same day as the program airs, but I can’t quite elevate it to the GTV status. 

We finally saw one shoe drop this past week when the paralegal learned that Mike took the LSAT for a close friend.  Will his secret come out?  It has to, right?  A college dropout can’t portray a first year associate for long, not even with perfect recall.  Can he? And, would a senior partner really keep up with this charade? 

No…..but it’s TV – it’s entertainment; it’s not real life. 

The only JFTV rating, TNT’s Memphis Beat, remains junk-food television.  Memphis Beat is one show that has failed to impress me week after week.  Not to misunderstand, some weeks are great, like when Dwight and his mother traveled to New Orleans to face his father’s killer in prison.  But, unfortunately, other episodes could technically be watched with the trigger finger locked into place on the fast-forward button. 

The character of Whitehead is very different this year.  His quirkiness from season one is gone, and serious Whitehead just isn’t the same.  Honestly, if Jason Lee weren’t the star, Memphis Beat might fall to a NIV rating – NyQuil induced viewing.  Like junk food, I take a taste only when I really need that fix.

A few weeks ago, SyFy’s Alphas earned a SSTV rating definitely showcasing its potential, but it was still too early to tell.  Only two episodes have aired since, and I continue to be pleasantly surprised with the series start.

Last week, the alphas hunted another of their kind with a pheromone problem – when encountering danger or a stressful situation, he released these little buggers into the air that caused everyone in the near vicinity to go crazy.  Who wouldn’t’ like that power?

What’s more impressive, we’ve already seen a recurring character die, and the mystery behind the alpha holding facility continues to grow.  I’m keeping with the SSTV rating, but the new episodes haven’t been simmering long on the DVR before watching.

Have our reviews tempted you to try any of this summer’s television shows? What is your favorite? Does any one network rank supreme against all others?  We’d love to hear from you!

Now click over to Amber’s recap of her Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday special edition.  Is she still watching all of her programs?  Has her opinion changed at all?

Come back next week for a special NetFlix edition as Amber and I share a few of our favorite shows to watch marathon-style.

Remember to stop by the #watchwed hashtag in Twitter to discuss any of today’s reviews, or to mention any television programs that you’d like to see on Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday in the future.  We’re currently working on our August and September schedule and would love to chat with you!

A Recap of The WatchWed Review System:

GTV (Gourmet TV): Everything we want and more

MacTV (MacNCheese TV): Guilty pleasure. Not perfect, but is satisfies

JFTV (Junk food TV): It’s not great for us, but we’ll go back for seconds

SSTV (Still Simmering TV): It has potential, but the jury is still out

NIV (Nyquil Induced Viewing): Perfect for that late night television sleep timer

LOTV (Liver&Onions TV): Do we really have to explain? Blech

Tele-Tuesday – Down Memory Lane: 1986

The 1980s – the decade known for punk rock, heavy metal bands, the Rubik’s cube, the “perm” and “mullet” hair styles, shoulder pads, jean jackets, and leg-warmers.

Top entertainers in the ’80s included Michael J. Fox, Eddie Murphy, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone, Patrick Swayze, and David Hasselhoff to just to name a few.  Some of the highest grossing films during the ’80s are considered classics now such as E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, Back to the Future, Raiders of the Lost Ark, and Beverly Hills Cop.

The “Brat Pack” also formed in the ’80s, and movie greats The Breakfast Club, Sixteen Candles, Pretty in Pink, and St. Elmo’s Fire launched the careers of Molly Ringwald, Anthony Michael Hall, Emilio Estevez, Rob Lowe, and Demi Moore – but I’ll save this for a future Friday FabOoolousness post.

Very important to the ’80s generation, MTV was born and music videos swept the nation.  Michael Jackson led the music industry, joined by Aerosmith, Billy Idol, Bruce Springsteen, Madonna, Metallica, Motley Crue, and many more.

Now shift specifically to 1986 – What do I remember about that year?

The Space Shuttle Challenger disintegrated after take-off, televised live in classrooms across the United States, including mine.

What else?

Racing home on Friday nights after our high school football games to watch Miami Vice and Crime Story with my family.

Television crime dramas filled the networks with popular detective and private investigator shows in 1986, which is why I’ve marked this year as the beginning of my television addiction.

Magnum P.I. 1980-1988

Tom Selleck plays Thomas Sullivan Magnum living on the Robin’s Nest estate in Hawaii, the alleged home of author, Robin Masters.  “The Nest” is managed by Jonathan Higgins (John Hillerman) and protected by two Doberman Pinschers: Zeus and Apollo.  A former SEAL, Magnum works as a private investigator, drives a Ferrari (just one of the many perks of living on the Masters’ estate), and enjoys a cold beer with his former Marine buddies: Rick and T.C.

There have always been rumors of a Magnum P.I. reunion movie, but where is it?

Cagney and Lacey 1981-1988

Sharon Gless and Tyne Daly star as New York City detectives Christine Cagney and Mary Beth Lacey.  Despite their differing backgrounds (Cagney hailed from a wealthy family and Lacey was a hard working mother and wife), the two solved crime and built a lasting friendship in a man’s world.

Due to the series popularity, the ‘90s saw four Cagney and Lacey television movies which sometimes air today on Encore.

Remington Steele 1982-1987

Stephanie Zimbalist stars as Laura Holt, a private investigator, who after struggling to find enough clients for her agency hires a con man (Pierce Brosnan as Remington Steele) to play the role of her boss.  The farce leads to many laughs and to an eventual romance between Laura and Remi.

After announcing cancellation, NBC aired six television movies in 1987 to wrap up the series, but who wouldn’t love to see a reunion show today?

Scarecrow and Mrs. King 1983-1987

Kate Jackson stars as Amanda King, a divorced housewife who goes to work for Lee Stetson (Bruce Boxleitner), a top agency operative with the codename, “Scarecrow.” Despite not having any professional training as an operative, Amanda travels the world with Scarecrow assisting him on cases and going undercover with her boss.  The relationship leads to a romance, but after Jackson battled breast cancer in real-life, the series reduced her role and eventually cancelled the show after the fourth season.

Hunter 1984-1991

Fred Dryer and Stepfanie Kramer star as Sergeant Rick Hunter and Sergeant Dee Dee McCall, partners in the Los Angeles Police Department.  A popular theme on ‘80s television, the two partners dabble with a potential love story, but after six seasons Stepfanie Kramer left the show to pursue other career opportunities.  Hunter was partnered with a few other female detectives, but the series lost its flare and ended after season seven.

NBC aired a few reunion television movies in the ‘90s, and in 2002, Stepfanie Kramer returned for a special two-hour movie. With good ratings, the networks attempted to revive the series in 2003 with three one-hour episodes before cancelling again.

Miami Vice 1984-1990

Don Johnson and Philip Michael Thomas star as Miami police detectives Sonny Crockett and Rico Tubbs. Crockett lives a luxurious lifestyle driving fast and expensive cars while he sleeps on his sailboat with his pet alligator, Elvis.  Visiting from New York searching for the man who murdered his brother, Tubbs works alongside Crockett and eventually transfers to Miami were the two partner up permanently.

And, who can think Miami Vice without picturing Crockett’s pastel pant suits, and hearing the fabulous music of Phil Collins or Jan Hammer?

Moonlighting 1985-1989

One of the first successful television dramedies, Moonlighting stars Bruce Willis as David Addison, a private detective, and Cybill Shepherd as Maddie Hayes, a former model.  After David convinces Maddie to not sell the agency during tumultuous times, Maddie moves in to the office and forms a partnership with David and renames the business Blue Moon Investigations after one of her most famous modeling jobs and endorsements for Blue Moon shampoo.

The two form a lasting partnership, argue constantly, and eventually fall in love.  I have David and Maddie listed on my all-time great television duo list.

Crime Story 1986-1988

Dennis Farina stars as Lieutenant Mike Torello on the hunt for mobster Ray Luca (Anthony Denison).  Wanting to destroy Luca, Torello follows Luca from Chicago to Las Vegas.  Season one ended with one of the most talked about cliff hangers in television history – an A-Bomb explosion in the Nevada desert.

After the network moved the show to a different night, Crime Story lasted only two short seasons.  This began my frustrations with networks moving a series around from night to night and with writers ending a television season on a cliffhanger. We’ll never know if Luca or Torello survived the plane crash.

Are you a child of the ‘80s? What are some of the earliest shows your remember watching? Did you enjoy any of these 1986 greats? I’d love to hear from you!

Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday – Just Teen TV?

About a month ago, Amber West approached me and suggested we join forces to share more of our love of television with our friends and family.

More TV?  You don’t have to ask me twice!

So, after a few weeks of preparation, we’d like to welcome everyone to our first installment of Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday.  Each week, we’ll each take one television show and provide a mini-review with our readership.  Sometimes we’ll compare and contrast, other times we’ll write separate posts covering two different shows – like today. 

We’ve also created a fun ratings chart for each post – can anyone tell what was on our mind when we hashed out these details?  My other favorite thing: FOOD!

GTV (Gourmet TV): Everything we want and more

MacTV (MacNCheese TV): Guilty pleasure. Not perfect, but is satisfies

JFTV (Junk food TV): It’s not great for us, but we’ll go back for seconds

SSTV (Still Simmering TV): It has potential, but the jury is still out

LOTV (Liver&Onions TV): Do we really have to explain? Blech

And now, to the main event: Teen Wolf, MTV

On an earlier Tele-Tuesday post, I introduced MTV’s new series: Teen Wolf.  We all remember the 1985 comedy starring Michael J. Fox, right?  MTV promised to take the generalized idea behind Teen Wolf, but compared their story to a transformed version with a darker side, similar to the CW’s The Vampire Diaries.

First, a few similarities:

MTV's Teen Wolf - Scott McCall

In 1985, Michael J. Fox played Scott Howard; today, Tyler Posey plays Scott McCall.

In 1985, Scott Howard’s best friend was an oddball named Stiles; today, Scott McCall’s best friend is an awkward oddball named Stiles.

In 1985, Scott Howard wasn’t the best basketball player on the team, not until he transformed into his wolf-self; today, Scott McCall isn’t anywhere close to the best lacrosse player on the squad, until he endures the cursed bite, that is.

Now, to a few differences:

1985's Teen Wolf - Scott Howard

In 1985, Scott Howard suffered from a family curse, a long line of male werewolves that sometimes skipped a generation; today, Scott McCall is bitten by a werewolf while out in the woods searching for the remains of a dead girl with his best friend. 

In 1985, Scott Howard show-boats around as his wolf-self; today, Scott McCall works desperately to keep his curse secret from everyone, excluding his BFF, Stiles.

In 1985, audiences laughed along with Scott Howard in Teen Wolf; today, viewers and Scott McCall cringe as another person in the community is brutally attacked by an animal.

I’ll be honest; MTV’s Teen Wolf has pleasantly surprised me.  The show’s claim to focus on the mythology of the werewolf, and the darkness of the curse, has been an accurate, so far. 

Episode three (aired Monday, June 13th) introduced the idea of the alpha and beta wolf.  Scott McCall and Derek Hale (played by Tyler Hoechlin from 7th Heaven) are beta wolves; an alpha is the strongest, most powerful, and the most deadly kind of werewolf.  An Alpha bit Scott, and wants Scott to join the Alpha’s pack.  The conflict here?  This Alpha is obviously a nasty and horrible werewolf, and Scott wants nothing to do with this violent lifestyle.  Will Derek help him?  Or is Derek setting Scott up?

We also saw our first werewolf on werewolf fight scene in episode three.  While it wasn’t as exciting as a Salvatore brother fight (Yes, I’m talking about Stefan and Damon, ladies!), it was a nice twist away from the typical nerdy high school boy who wants to lead a normal life and date the beautiful new girl (Allison Argent played by Crystal Reed) storyline that’s also a large element to MTV’s Teen Wolf

Need more conflict? Did I mention that Scott’s dream girl’s father is the lead hunter out to kill the werewolves in the area?  And let’s not forget that Scott’s humiliation of “top-jock” Jackson Whittemore (played by Colton Haynes from The Gates) on the lacrosse field now drives Jackson to discover exactly what Scott is hiding. 

After three weeks of viewing, I give MTV’s Teen Wolf a MacTV rating; it’s definitely a guilty pleasure.  It’s not perfect, but it satisfies. 

What do you think?  Do you prefer the 1985 comedy or the newer, darker version of Teen Wolf?  Is Derek a good wolf, or is he setting Scott up?  Will Allison follow in her father’s footsteps and train to hunt werewolves?  How will Allison react when she learns Scott’s secret?  I’d love to hear from you!

Now, remember to click over and read Amber’s post discussing the new series Switched at Birth on ABC Family. 

Are you on twitter?  Stop by the twitter hashtag (#watchwed) and visit with us about today’s posts and any of today’s television shows that you’d like to see discussed on our series in the future.

Tele-Tuesday: “Real” Summer Fun

The networks produce tons of reality television for basic cable over the summer months.  Let’s be honest – the networks produce tons of reality television every month for all of the networks – period.  One can find reality shows on almost any network at any time, including A&E and The History Channel.

While there is more than enough out there for everyone to choose from, June and July bring back two of our favorite reality shows – Hell’s Kitchen and Big Brother.

 

First up, Hell’s Kitchen

Celebrity chef Gordon Ramsey hosts one of the best cooking shows on television, and definitely the most-fun.  Along with his British accent, his multiple Michelin stars (one of the top hotel and restaurant annual guides), his multiple renowned restaurants, and six television programs, Chef Ramsey might just as well be known for his stellar vocabulary.  He drops the “F” bomb a lot, and the television sensors bleep him quite a bit.  “You, Donkey,” happens to be one of our favorite Ramsay-isms.

Lewd language aside, Chef Ramsey shares his knowledge of cooking and invites twelve chefs (some aspiring chefs, some sous-chefs, and some executive chefs) to compete for an opportunity of a lifetime – the chance to win a high paying position at a top restaurant in popular cities such as Vegas, Atlantic City, Los Angeles, and Whistler, British Columbia.

Each season promises drama as the cast members’ personalities inevitably clash.  But most importantly, and ironically, each season the cast members appear to cook the same dishes incorrectly over and over again driving Chef Ramsey absolutely bonkers.  Such dishes include scallops, risotto, and beef wellington.

One by one, the competing chefs’ jackets are burned, leaving only two to battle it out for the prize.  The final two select previously eliminated teammates to work alongside them in the final competition of the season, and there’s nothing quite like watching the two struggle with this decision, knowing the strengths, weaknesses, and tempers of their cohorts.  These two finalists build their own menus and sometimes even design their half of the dining room giving Chef Ramsey a full view of their potential as Executive Chefs.

Chef Gordon Ramsey and season 3 winner Rock Harper

Former winners of Hell’s Kitchen include: Michael Wray (Season 1), Heather West (Season 2), Rahman “Rock” Harper (Season 3), Christina Machamer (Season 4), Danny Veltri (Season 5), Dave Levey (Season 6), Holli Ugalde (Season 7), and Nona Sivley (Season 8).

If you love food, love to cook, or love to laugh, I highly suggest giving Hell’s Kitchen a try.  I have added dining at a Ramsey restaurant to my bucket list.  Do you know what I’ll order?  Scallops, risotto, and beef wellington!

Hell’s Kitchen premiers Tuesday, July 19th on FOX.

 

Next, we have Big Brother

What do you think of when you hear the term ‘Big Brother’?  “Big Brother is watching you,” right?  Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell still lives strong today.  Only today, many people immediately think of CBS’s hit reality show, Big Brother, not the classic literary work.

Each season, approximately thirteen houseguests arrive for their summer of seclusion cut off from the outside world completely – no television, no telephone, no radios, no newspapers, no computers – no contact.  They compete against each other in food and luxury competitions, as well as the ever-powerful Head of Household (H.O.H.) and the Power of Veto competitions in the hopes of winning the $500,000 cash prize.

Alliances inevitably form, and usually only the strongest survive the game.  On the other hand, forming and publicly acknowledging an alliance will most often times ensure the members of said alliance have the largest targets on his/her backs.  Two of the most successful alliances in the history of Big Brother formed the previous two seasons – Season 11’s Jeff Schroeder and winner Jordan Lloyd, and season 12’s ‘The Brigade’ consisting of winner Hayden Moss, and his three buddies: Enzo Palumbo, Lane Elenburg, and Matt Hoffman.

Video cameras capture the houseguests’ every move.  In addition to CBS’s airing three episodes a week, live 24/7 feeds are available online, and Showtime airs Big Brother: After Dark every night from midnight to 3am (EST).

America watches and votes on special circumstances to make the houseguests’ lives even more difficult. For example, the losing members of the food competitions are forced to eat “Big Brother Slop” for seven days.  The slop has been compared to oatmeal in texture, but lacks all taste.  America votes each week and allows the losing houseguests the opportunity to eat other selected food items such as bok choy and baby food.

America has also voted some of the biggest twists into the game – The Power of Coup D’Etat (season 11 awarded to Jeff Schroeder), re-entry into the house (season 6 awarded to Kaysar Ridha), and the Saboteur (season 12 awarded to Ragan Fox).   But don’t worry; Big Brother doesn’t always need America’s help to thrust the houseguests into a deep paranoia.  In Season 11, Big Brother introduced Pandora’s Box.  Each time the houseguest of choice decides to open the box, the remaining houseguests endure a good consequence and a bad consequence.  They never know what might happen until it’s too late and the decision has been made.

Big Brother host – Julie Chen

CBS and Julie Chen host some of the most fun summer television programming has to offer.  If you love watching men & women battle it out physically, go insane and breakdown, and engage in some of the most strategic game-play on television today, check out Season 13!

Big Brother premiers Thursday, July 7th on CBS.

 

Are you a fan of Hell’s Kitchen or Big Brother?  Who’s your favorite winner from Hell’s Kitchen?  Who’s your favorite houseguest from Big Brother?  How about your least favorite and why? Which reality television shows do you enjoy?  If given the opportunity, would you audition for reality television?  I’d love to hear from you!

Special Announcement – Tomorrow, Amber West and I launch our new blog series, Why it’s Worth a Watch Wednesday.  Come back and check out our first editionsSwitched at Birth (ABC Family) and Teen Wolf (MTV).  Stop by the twitter hashtag (#watchwed) and visit with us about any of today’s television shows that you’d like to see discussed on our series.

Tele-Tuesday: New to Summer 2011 Too

In tandem with last week’s edition of Tele-Tuesday, here are a few more new television series braving the broadcasting waves this summer. 

MTV: Teen Wolf

We all remember the hit 1985 movie starring Michael J. Fox…MTV transforms the teenage werewolf comedy into a supernatural drama starring Tyler Posey as Scott McCall, a high school lacrosse player who escapes a dangerous wolf encounter with only a bite. At least he thinks he escaped…  This Teen Wolf edition has bite, pun intended; it will focus on werewolf mythology and the dark-side of the curse with some comparing it to the hit CW television series, The Vampire Diaries.  Will Scott control his werewolf urge or give in to the curse’s temptation?  Catch the special two-night Premier June 5th and June 6th

Lifetime: The Protector

Remember the 1990s series, The Profiler?  Ally Walker returns to television this summer as Gloria Sheppard, The Protector: a single mother/homicide detective.  By day, Sheppard and her partner (Tisha Campbell-Martin from Martin and My Wife and Kids) uphold the law.  Unlike other detectives, Sheppard uses unorthodox methods and she receives constant guidance from her Lieutenant (played by Miguel Ferrer from Crossing Jordan).  By night, the recently divorced Sheppard looks to her brother for help with her kids, but he brings his own trouble to the table.  Nothing in life comes easy… Premiers June 12th

ABC Family: The Nine Lives of Chloe King

Destined to be a part of Mai, an ancient race with extraordinary powers, a young girl learns to balance life as a normal sixteen year old, understand and master her new supernatural abilities, and battle the assassins trying to kill her.  So much for trying to be a normal teen!  Based on the young adult series by Celia Thompson (also known as Liz Braswell), Skyler Samuels, from The Gates and The Stepfather (2009), stars as Chloe King. Premiers June 14th  

SyFy: Alphas

Alphas follows five people pulled together by not-so ordinary superhuman abilities.  Dr. Lee Rosen, a non-Alpha played by Academy Award nominee David Strathairn (Temple Grandin), leads the team consisting of a hyperadrenal-Alpha with super strength and training as a former FBI Agent; a hyperkinesis-Alpha with perfect aim and motor skills, as well a history as an army sniper; an influencing-Alpha, the woman who manipulates others with her power of persuasion; a transducing-Alpha or human antennae; and a synesthete-Alpha, the most vulnerable of the Alphas with the ability to strengthen one of the five senses while leaving the other four useless. As one can imagine, these Type-A personalities will battle extreme personality differences, yet the team must overcome the odds to fight the more important crime at hand.  Premiers July 11th

Remember to catch these new shows this week:

Franklin & Bash – Wednesday on TNT

Love BitesThursday on NBC

The Glades – Sunday on A&E

Which of these shows will you check out this summer?  Do you like the strong presence of the supernatural series? What’s missing from television today that you’d like to see return?  I’d love to hear from you!