Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday – Viewers’ Voice: Which TV Review Has Hooked You?

Now that Thanksgiving is behind us, it is officially the holiday season.  Before we know it, 2013 will be here and we’ll all be left wondering where December went.  With all of the madness expected to surround us these next few weeks, Amber West and I have decided to switch things up again with today’s Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday reviews.

Instead of reviewing the remaining 2012 fall television programs we’ve yet to cover, we’ve decided to ask our viewers to participate in our Viewers’ Voice Special over the next few weeks.

Playing is simple.  Answer the below question and tell us why in the comments.

“Thanks to Amber’s/Tiffany’s (choose one) Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday reviews, I am now hooked on this television series: ______.”

To show everyone how it works, Amber and I are each going to choose one of the others blog posts that applies to this week’s question.  So, here goes….

“Thanks to Amber’s Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday reviews, I am now hooked on the television series: Scandal.

ABC’s Scandal, now it its second season, takes the word “scandal” to an entirely different level.

The series stars Kerry Washington as Olivia Pope, a former White House communications director who is now operating her very own private crisis management firm.  The character of Olivia is not completely fictional… she is loosely based on Judy Smith, one of President George H. W. Bush’s former press aides.  In return, Ms. Smith serves the Shonda Rhimes’ production as a consultant and co-executive producer.

But, back to the show…

So, what makes Scandal so scandalous?

Well, first there’s Olivia…

Olivia Pope can “fix” any problem, except maybe for her ongoing love affair with the President of the United States (President Fitzgerald Grant, played by Tony Goldwyn).  Everyone inside the President’s circle, including his wife (First Lady Mellie Grant, played by Bellamy Young), his Chief of Staff (Cyrus, played by Jeff Perry), and his entire Secret Service staff, knows about Olivia and President Grant.

Looks scandalous to me!

The mere fact that Olivia and the President share a romantic link is scandalous, but it’s not the most shocking twist to the story.  So, what makes this love affair even more outrageous and fun?  That would be the relationship shared between the First Lady and the President’s mistress.

Olivia’s and Mellie’s ability to work together and manipulate the President into doing exactly what they want makes for some of the best chemistry on the show… despite the fact the two women really don’t like each other.  These two, especially when realizing one can benefit from the other, are very scandalous!

Oh, and I should mention that Ms. Washington has stated in television interviews that Judy Smith did NOT have an affair with President Bush.  The writers and creators use Ms. Smith’s professional expertise to tell their stories… not her personal life.  Scandal is fictional television.

So, what else makes Scandal so scandalous?

Not only is Olivia keeping secrets, so is her team.

To complete her firm, Olivia hires a very qualified staff; a staff that successfully fixes the firm’s client’s problems, but that also brings their very own issues to the table: Columbus Short plays Harrison, a lawyer who Olivia helped escape serious jail-time for insider trading while he worked for a very corrupt man; the fabulous Guillermo Diaz plays Huck, the group’s computer expert who is haunted by his past… a past where he worked as a contract killer for the C.I.A.; Darby Stanchfield plays Abby, the team’s investigator and a survivor from an abusive ex who also happens to be from a very well “connected” family; and Katie Lowes plays Quinn (formerly Lindsey), a lawyer who Olivia helped beat a bombing charge that labeled her a domestic terrorist in the eyes of many Americans.

Eavesdropping… Breaking and Entering… Never an issue for Olivia’s team. They do what it takes to “fix” the problem.

See?  Even Olivia’s team’s backgrounds are sordid…

So, what else makes Scandal so scandalous?

Characters can only interest viewers to a certain point; the rest is left up to the writers…

To be honest, I wasn’t familiar with the name Shonda Rhimes until Amber reviewed Scandal last year.  As much TV as I watch, my regular viewing schedule does not include Grey’s Anatomy or Private Practice, two of Ms. Rhimes’ most popular creations to date.  But, now, I know who Ms. Rhimes is and what she is capable of.

I don’t want to give too much away about Scandal’s scandalous plot, but I do want to say that each and every episode draws me in, holds me in tight so that I don’t miss a word, and leaves me with my mouth gaping open in awe at the end.  The series is classified as a procedural in that each week Olivia and her team take on a new client and help “make their problems go away.”  But, Scandal can also be classified as a serial drama, or a nighttime soap opera, with an ongoing story that keeps getting better and even more scandalous with each passing week.

Scandal has drama; it has politics; it has love; and it has A LOT of scandalous twists and turns….

Now, it’s your turn: “Thanks to Amber’s/Tiffany’s (choose one) Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday reviews, I am now hooked on this television series: ______.”  Be sure to include why you’re hooked!  We’d love to hear from you! 

Remember to click over to Amber’s new & improved blog and see how she filled in the blanks…

Come back next week when Amber and I continue our Viewers’ Voice WatchWed series….  Stay tuned!

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.

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
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

Tele-Tuesday: Scandal-ous Television

It’s been no secret that a few of last year’s freshman television series swept me off my feet… particularly, American Horror Story, Person of Interest, and Revenge.  Today, I’m adding a fourth program to this list—Scandal.

ABC’s Scandal, now it its second season, takes the word “scandal” to an entirely different level.

The series stars Kerry Washington as Olivia Pope, a former White House communications director who is now operating her very own private crisis management firm.  The character of Olivia is not completely fictional… she is loosely based on Judy Smith, one of President George H. W. Bush’s former press aides.  In return, Ms. Smith serves the Shonda Rhimes’ production as a consultant and co-executive producer.

But, back to the show…

So, what makes Scandal so scandalous?

Well, first there’s Olivia…

Olivia Pope can “fix” any problem, except maybe for her ongoing love affair with the President of the United States (President Fitzgerald Grant, played by Tony Goldwyn).  Everyone inside the President’s circle, including his wife (First Lady Mellie Grant, played by Bellamy Young), his Chief of Staff (Cyrus, played by Jeff Perry), and his entire Secret Service staff, knows about Olivia and President Grant.

Looks scandalous to me…

The mere fact that Olivia and the President share a romantic link is scandalous, but it’s not the most shocking twist to the story.  So, what makes this love affair even more outrageous and fun?  That would be the relationship shared between the First Lady and the President’s mistress.

Olivia’s and Mellie’s ability to work together and manipulate the President into doing exactly what they want makes for some of the best chemistry on the show… despite the fact the two women really don’t like each other.  These two, especially when realizing one can benefit from the other, are very scandalous!

Do NOT stand in this First Lady’s way…

Oh, and I should mention that Ms. Washington has stated in television interviews that Judy Smith did NOT have an affair with President Bush.  The writers and creators use Ms. Smith’s professional expertise to tell their stories… not her personal life.  Scandal is fictional television.

So, what else makes Scandal so scandalous?

Not only is Olivia keeping secrets, so is her team.

To complete her firm, Olivia hires a very qualified staff; a staff that successfully fixes the firm’s client’s problems, but that also brings their very own issues to the table: Columbus Short plays Harrison, a lawyer who Olivia helped escape serious jail-time for insider trading while he worked for a very corrupt man; the fabulous Guillermo Diaz plays Huck, the group’s computer expert who is haunted by his past… a past where he worked as a contract killer for the C.I.A.; Darby Stanchfield plays Abby, the team’s investigator and a survivor from an abusive ex who also happens to be from a very well “connected” family; and Katie Lowes plays Quinn (formerly Lindsey), a lawyer who Olivia helped beat a bombing charge that labeled her a domestic terrorist in the eyes of many Americans.

Breaking and Entering is never a concern of Olivia and her team…

See?  Even Olivia’s team’s backgrounds are sordid…

So, what else makes Scandal so scandalous?

Characters can only interest viewers to a certain point; the rest is left up to the writers…

To be honest, I wasn’t familiar with the name Shonda Rhimes until my Wednesday blogging partner, Amber West, reviewed Scandal last year.  As much TV as I watch, my regular viewing schedule does not include Grey’s Anatomy or Private Practice, two of Ms. Rhimes’ most popular creations to date.  But, now, I know who Ms. Rhimes is and what she is capable of.

I don’t want to give too much away about Scandal’s scandalous plot, but I do want to say that each and every episode draws me in, holds me in tight so that I don’t miss a word, and leaves me with my mouth gaping open in awe at the end.  The series is classified as a procedural in that each week Olivia and her team take on a new client and help “make their problems go away.”  But, Scandal can also be classified as a serial drama, or a nighttime soap opera, with an ongoing story that keeps getting better and even more scandalous with each passing week.

Scandal has drama; it has politics; it has love; and it has A LOT of scandalous twists and turns….

Oh, and before I go, I have to mention Josh Malina and his portrayal of Assistant U.S. Attorney David Rosen.  Rosen and Olivia have a love/hate relationship… they respect each other’s brilliance, but disagree with each other’s antics.  Before Scandal, I didn’t even know Mr. Malina’s name (although I do remember him from his guest appearance on Psych a few years ago).  However, today, I know him (his name, we’ve never met beyond sharing words on Twitter).  I applaud the writers for giving Rosen what appears to be a larger part in season two AND I can’t wait to see what they have in store for us as it pertains to his investigation into Olivia and his recent romance with Abby!

There it is again… more scandal for Scandal!

Will Rosen get what he needs to expose Olivia?

In case anyone is having difficulty understanding the underlying message I am trying to portray in this blog post, it is that Scandal is very scandalous AND definitely worthy of a watch!

What do you think?  Do you watch Scandal?  Who’s your favorite character (mine is Huck!)?   I’d love to hear from you!       

Friday FabOoolousness – The Best “Mechanic” in the Business

It’s time again for Catie Rhodes and I to break down another cinematic original and its remake.  Sticking with our usual ways, Catie reviews the original and I take on the remake.  This month we tackle the action film, The Mechanic.

First, let’s check in with Catie’s Homemade Summary that applies to both the 1972 and 2011 versions:

A hit man befriends the son of one of his victims and begins to train him in the business.  Will the student outsmart the teacher?

Before I begin, let me just say why I requested the remake.  Regardless of how ashamed I am to admit it, I usually choose the newer versions because I have not seen the originals.  And while I indeed haven’t seen this 1972 movie, that is not why I picked the 2011 film this time.  Heck, I even had Bronson’s Mechanic on my DVR for a few weeks while I waited for Catie to decide which one she would cover.  But, because she is an extremely nice person, she let me take the remake.  Why did I request the more recent of the two?  Two words—Jason Statham.

Hello, Jason…

For those who have friended me or follow me on Facebook, they know that I like to get in my monthly dose of the British actor.  Like most girls, I’m not limited to just the one, but he is my current crush and has been for a few years.  Luckily for me, I have the best guy in the world.  He understands my obsession with Jason and he usually goes upstairs to play video games so that I can watch my next Jason movie.  Two months ago, it was the British crime drama Blitz.  Last month, it was his most recent release Safe.  Last night, it was the 2011 version of The Mechanic—for like the fourth or fifth time.  Maybe it’s Jason’s constant five o’clock shadow; maybe it’s his serious facial expressions with the occasional smile; maybe it’s his sexy, sexy voice; maybe it’s his sculpted body; maybe it’s his ability to fight with some of the best; or maybe it’s all of the above.  Bottom line, Catie granted me this opportunity and I thank her for my monthly Jason fix.

Now, to the 2011 adaptation of The Mechanic

As a part of our original versus remake series, I like to compare the similarities between the two films.  And considering the 2011 motion picture was the idea of two of the original producers from the 1972 version (Irwin Winkler and Robert Chartoff), the two movies are very similar.  Very.

Jason Statham plays Arthur Bishop, a mechanic.  By definition, a mechanic is a hit man or assassin with a strict code and unique ability to eliminate the targets.   According to Bishop, there are three types of hits: 1) the hits that make it look like an accident; 2) the hits that cast suspicion onto someone else; and 3) the hits that send a clear message.

“The best jobs are the ones nobody ever knows you were there.”  That’s Bishop.

Bishop receives these “assignments,” from “the company” led by Dean Sanderson (Tony Goldwyn), and no one is better than Bishop.  His skills are so refined, there’s no assignment he won’t complete successfully—even when tasked with killing his mentor and friend.

Side bar: ever since the movie Ghost, when I see Tony Goldwyn, I know he’s a scum bag.  Am I the only one?

Back to the movie…

Catie mentioned that her Bishop led a lonely life.  So does my Bishop.  He lives alone in a lavish lake house; he has a recurring “relationship” with a New Orleans prostitute; and he appears to only have one “friend” (Harry McKenna, played by Donald Sutherland).  But that’s not to say he doesn’t have love in his life; he does—his vinyl records and his 1966 Jaguar E—he treats both with love and finesse.

Bishop’s strict code includes: “It’s stupid to kill someone when you have a motive.” and “Revenge is an emotion that can get you killed.”  But what about guilt?

Bishop and his student…

For what seems to be out of guilt, Bishop decides to mentor his friend’s son (Steve McKenna, played by Ben Foster).  In his father’s words, Steve is a screw-up; yet oddly enough, his father had still confided in Steve what Bishop does for a living.  Steve is anxious to join Bishop and train to be a mechanic, perhaps too anxious.  On his first solo assignment, Steve ignores all of Bishop’s instructions and messes up the job.  He gets it done, but it’s not clean.

“The company” is not pleased with Bishop’s bringing in an outsider, even when Bishop makes a good point—anyone trained by him would be valuable for them.  But will this training come back to bite Bishop?

As with every good movie, there is one particular part that defines the story—the one particular part that grabs the viewer and makes them say, “uh-oh.”  In The Mechanic, this moment comes the second Bishop learns “the company” has deceived him.  Why in the world would anyone cross who they consider to be the best hit man in the business?  When Steve learns “the company” lied to him about the “why” behind an assignment, he takes matters into his own hands.  Two words can describe the action going forward in this film—Game On.

As with any good Statham movie, we get to watch him single-handedly fight his way out of situations where he is completely outnumbered by men and weapons.  But Ben Foster is no slouch.  When I first watched The Mechanic, I didn’t know Mr. Foster.  At one point, I even thought that maybe Statham’s co-star was Ryan Gosling.  I was disappointed when I realized it wasn’t Mr. Gosling, but in this role, Mr. Foster holds his own.

So, is The Mechanic (2011) worthy of watch?  Yes; but, if anyone is still uncertain, answer these questions: Do you like action movies?  Did you like the original 1972 film?  Do you enjoy Jason Statham?  Did you like The Transporter movies?  Do you like to watch Tony Goldwyn get his?  If anyone answered “yes” to the above questions, this remake is a safe bet.

That’s my Jason… when will people learn to stop messing with him?

What do you think?  Have you seen either the original or the remake of The Mechanic?  If you’ve seen both, which do you prefer and why?  If you haven’t, do you want to?  I’d love to hear from you! 

Remember to stop by Catie’s blog discussing the original if you haven’t already.

Tele-Tuesday: The Hot New Thing – Midseason Replacements

If we’ve learned anything year after year, we’ve learned that as time passes, people change.   We’ve also learned to adapt to other changes as well, like the revolving door of television programs.

The networks update their television schedules drastically over the course of a year, sometimes in just a matter of months.  We have fall premieres, winter premieres, summer premieres, and now we have this new set of TV programs called midseason replacements.

Does a “midseason replacement” mean that the veteran show it is replacing midseason has actually been cancelled?  Not necessarily…

It seems the terminology “midseason replacement” is simply the networks’ way of testing the market for a new pilot series, instead of rushing the cancellation of current programs airing today to only regret it later.  We live in a marketing based world – why not order a few episodes of a new show to air in April in order to test the waters in a popular timeslot before announcing the plans for the next season in May?

*****

Bent

Bent follows recently divorced attorney, Alex (Amanda Peet, Saving Silverman), as she tries to pick up the ”bent” pieces of her life post-divorce.  With sole-custody of her daughter, Alex buys a small home that is in need of renovations.  She hires Pete (David Walton, Perfect Couples), a contractor who is also trying to pick up the pieces of his “bent” life (recovering gambling addict) as well.

Alex and Pete are nothing alike — Alex is a responsible person with a no-nonsense personality, while Pete flies by the seat of his pants.  We can definitely smell the romance brewing between these two and the sitcom hasn’t even premiered yet.

The new comedy also stars: Jeffrey Tambor (Arrested Development) as Pete’s father; Margo Harshman (Sorority Row) as Alex’s sister; and Joey King (Ramona & Beezus) as Alex’s daughter.

Bent premieres Wednesday, March 21st on NBC.

*****

Best Friends Forever

Created by and starring Lennon Parham (as Lennon White, from Accidentally on Purpose) and Jessica St. Clair (as Jessica Black, from Bridesmaids), Best Friends Forever follows two lifelong friends after one of them (Jessica) is served divorce papers.  After the news that her marriage is over, Jessica decides to leave California and return to New York where she moves in with Lennon in the old apartment the two previously shared.

The two women pick up right where they left off, which isn’t helping Lennon’s boyfriend (Joe Foley, played by comedian Luka Jones) feel at home in the apartment where he lives too.  In addition to Lennon’s potential relationship troubles, Jessica reconnects with an old friend (Rav Stark, played by Stephen Schneider) who might just have a flame still burning for her, making her new single life more complicated that she originally bargained for.

It appears the sitcom is just as much about the women’s friendship as it is their romantic lives’ ups and downs…

 Best Friends Forever, premieres Wednesday, April 4th on NBC.

*****

Scandal

Scandal stars Kerry Washington (from the Fantastic Four movies) as Olivia Pope, a former White House communications director who is now operating her very own private crisis management firm.  She hires an apparently qualified staff; a staff that successfully fixes the firm’s client’s problems, but also brings their own issues to the table: Stephen (Henry Ian Cusick, Lost); Harrison (Columbus Short, The Losers); Hack (Guillermo Diaz, Weeds); Abby (Darby Stanchfield, Jericho); and Quinn (Katie Lowes, Easy Money).

Scandal also stars Tony Goldwyn (Ghost) as Fitzgerald Grant, President of the United States, and Jeff Perry (My So Called Life) as Cyrus Beene, the President’s Chief of Staff.  ** It is rumored that the new drama is loosely inspired by the actual life of President George H. W. Bush’s former press aide…**

Looks scandalous to me...

Will Olivia succeed in starting her new life?  Or will the secrets she has worked so diligently to hide in her past resurface?  Will her staff help her, or will they hold her back?

Scandal premieres Thursday, April 5th on ABC.

*****

Don’t Trust the B—- in Apartment 23

Don’t Trust the B—- in Apartment 23 tells the story of two unlikely roommates surviving in New York City…

Roommate #1: June (played by Dreama Walker, Seven Deadly Sins) hails from the Midwest, yet uproots her life for her ideal job in corporate America.  Only when she arrives in The Big Apple, she discovers her position has been eliminated, so she does what everyone does at least once in their lifetime – she becomes a barista.

Roommate #2: Chloe (played by Krysten Ritter, Breaking Bad) is a partying socialite who has been accused on more than one occasion of being a con artist, and she is constantly hanging out with her best friend (James Van Der Beek as James Van Der Beek).

Will June survive NYC?  Will she heed everyone’s warning to not trust the “B” in Apt. 23? Will James Van Der Beek playing a fictionalized version of himself be enough to keep this new comedy alive?

Don’t Trust the B—- in Apartment 23 premieres Wednesday, April 11th on ABC.

*****

NYC 22

And of course the midseason replacements would not be complete without a police procedural…

Not to be confused with ABC’s Rookie Blue, NYC 22 follows six NYPD rookies as they adjust to their new life on patrol.  The group consists of: Jennifer “White House” Perry (LeeLee Sobieski, Joan of Arc), a former marine; Ray “Lazarus” Harper (Adam Goldberg, Dazed and Confused), an older rookie than the others with a previous career in police news reporting; Tonya Sanchez (Judy Marte, Raising Victor Vargas), who has a few criminals in her family’s past; Ahmad Kahn (Tom Reed), a former Afghani native; Kenny McClaren (Stark Sands, Generation Kill), who falls in line as a 4th generation cop; and Jayson “Jackpot” Toney (Harold House Moore, Necessary Roughness), a former basketball star who should have seen success in the NBA.

Clearly, the six rookies form a much diversified group with extremely different backgrounds, who now share the same goal — protect the streets of New York City.

The drama also stars Terry Kinney (Oz) as Field Training Officer, Daniel “Yoda” Dean, and Felix Solis (The Good Wife) as Sergeant Terry Howard.  Doesn’t everyone just love the nicknames?

NYC 22 premieres Sunday, April 15th on CBS.

*****

What do you think?  Do you plan to watch any of these new programs?  Which show has the most promise and why?  The least?  I’d love to hear from you!

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