Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday – USA’s Spies and Suits

This week, Amber West and I switch gears and bring a double review of the hit shows on USA. 

Why? Because USA’s summer programming is so hot, we’ve decided the only way to do the network justice is by making this edition of Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday too hot to handle. 

Our double feature includes spies, suits, and sports – a triple threat.  Wait; since we’re both writing about two series, it’s technically a quadruple!  Right?

 Burn Notice

Why is Burn Notice white-hot? Sexy stars, massive explosions, and intricate plots combined with explorations of relationships between family members, best friends, and lovers make for some of the best programming on television today.

Burned by the U.S. government, former spy Michael Westen (Jeffrey Donovan) wakes up bruised and sore in a run-down Miami motel with no memory of how he got there.   A burned spy has nothing – no job and no money.  It’s as if the last few years of Michael’s life didn’t even happen.  He takes on odd jobs as a private investigator to make some cash, and builds a team of former acquaintances, ex-girlfriends, and family to help him unravel the truth behind why the CIA black-listed him, and discover who was the mastermind behind his burn notice. 

Michael’s team consists of Sam Axe (Bruce Campbell), a former Navy SEAL and friend who was forced to inform on Michael to the FBI; Fiona Glenanne (Gabrielle Anwar), Michael’s ex-lover, and a former IRA agent who doubles as an arms dealer and bounty hunter; Madeline Westen (Sharon Gless), Michael’s chain-smoking mother; and, the recent addition, Jesse Porter (Coby Bell), a former counterintelligence agent that Michael accidentally burned while uncovering truths behind his own burn notice.  

Burn Notice is one of the best, and definitely the sexiest shows on television; therefore, I have no other choice than to award the show with the highest #WatchWed review to date: GTV (Gourmet Television – Everything we want, and more!).  

To add fuel to the already smoking hot Burn Notice, Jeffrey Donovan might just be the sexiest man on TV.  Does anyone else make eating yogurt look so yummy?  When he throws on those sunglasses and flashes that crooked smile while wearing his designer suits, he has women melting in their living rooms across the U.S.  

 

Suits 

Harvey Specter (Gabriel Macht), a recently appointed senior partner at a Manhattan law firm, is instructed to hire another brilliant Harvard Law graduate to add to the associate pool, hopefully someone as bright as he is.  

Meanwhile, across town, Mike Ross (Patrick J. Adams) fastens his tie, grabs the briefcase filled with marijuana that his BFF has left for him, and heads to a hotel to make a drug deal yielding enough cash ($25,000) to keep his grandmother in her around-the-clock care nursing facility.  

What Mike doesn’t know, is that his low-life best friend is sending him to an undercover cop with his briefcase full of drugs.  Using his better judgment and brilliant observation skills, Mike picks up on the sting and ducks into Harvey’s interview room trying to avoid the cops chasing him.   

Intrigued by the young man with a briefcase full of pot, Harvey indulges and interviews Mike, learning that this young, brilliant man sitting across from him has an eidetic memory (perfect recall) when Mike recites blurbs of the Bar review materials with only the slightest provocation.  Despite the fact that Mike never graduated college, let alone law school, Harvey hires Mike on the spot. 

These two unconventional minds work together balancing the law and lying to everyone – now that’s conflict, right?  How long before the shunned junior associate (Louis Litt, played by Rick Hoffman), or the boss recently frustrated with Harvey’s refusal to follow her instructions (Jessica Pearson, played by Gina Torres) discover the truth? 

While it’s still early in the series, I give Suits a MacTV rating (MacNCheese TV: Guilty pleasure – Not perfect, but it satisfies) because I am looking forward to future episodes.  I can’t wait to see how long before anyone discovers the truth behind Harvey’s new star associate, and how the writers continue to develop this very unique story. 

Be sure and catch Burn Notice and Suits Thursday night on USA!

What do you think? Do you agree with my top rating for Burn Notice? Should Michael rejoin the CIA? What about Suits? Have you fallen victim to USA’s latest summer hit?  I’d love to hear from you!

Now – remember to visit Amber’s review of Covert Affairs, starring Piper Perabo as CIA Operative Annie Walker, and Necessary Roughness, starring Callie Thorne as therapist to the stars, Dr. Dani Santino. 

Come back next week when Amber and I switch over to the world of fantasy and review TNT’s Falling Skies and SyFy’s Alphas

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.  Amber and I 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

 

Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday – YA Inspired TV

What’s one of the most common phrases used by toddlers when asked, “Who did this?”  How about: “Not me!” (usually coupled with the famous pointing of a finger to the nearest scapegoat).  Children learn at a very early age to lie, even if it’s a harmless little-white lie.  Right? 

The lies worsen as we get older.  We look for excuses behind why we brought home a bad grade, or why we were accused of cheating.  Perhaps some of us were really devious and were looking for the perfect fib when our parents caught us sneaking out the window late at night.  Oh, don’t worry; I never did this, Mom and Dad.   

Regardless, everyone lies – which brings me to today’s Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday show – ABC Family’s Pretty Little Liars, where lies haunt from beyond the grave.

The series begins when Alison DiLaurentis’ (Sasha Pieterse) remains are found a year after her mysterious disappearance in the fictional town of Rosewood.  This event brings together her four former best friends, who had drifted apart following that fateful night.  Alison was the glue that held the girls together, the leader of the high school clique.  As the episodes progress, viewers see Alison’s viciousness and many of the secrets that she holds over everyone’s heads – not a nice girl.

After attending Alison’s funeral, the four friends reunite outside the chapel when each of their cell phones sound – they’ve received their first threatening text message from “A” – and the mystery begins: Who killed Alison? And, who is “A”?

BFF #1 – Aria Montgomery (Lucy Hale) returns home from a year abroad with her family, and forgetting she’s a teenager and back in America, goes to a local bar where she meets Ezra Fitz (Ian Harding).  The two immediately hit it off and share a kiss after connecting over their love for literature.  The next day at school, Aria walks into English class where she discovers Ezra is also her teacher. 

Meanwhile, emotions erupt at home when her mother (Ella Montgomery, played by Holly Marie Combs) leaves her father after discovering the true reason behind the family’s extended absence from Rosewood – Aria’s father, a professor, had an affair with a teaching assistant at the local college.  Aria and Alison knew this secret, having spotted Mr. Montgomery (Chad Lowe) making out with his TA in his car.  Whoopsie! 

Isn’t it ironic that Aria now begins a torrid love affair and dates her teacher after torturing her father for a similar inappropriate relationship?  “A” won’t let Aria forget it…..

BFF #2 – Hanna Marin (Ashley Benson) replaced Alison as the most popular girl in school following her friend’s disappearance.  “Hefty Hanna”, as Alison liked to call her, dropped her baby fat, partnered with her new BFF Mona and took to a life of brattiness and shoplifting. 

Hanna lacks the self-confidence a young woman needs, having watched her father walk out on her and her mother.  She spirals out of control, throwing herself at her boyfriend, only to be rejected.  Not helping matters, Hanna watches as her single mother (Ashley Marin, played by Laura Leighton) bails her out of trouble by bedding the detective on Hanna’s shoplifting case. 

Hanna really has the worst of luck – she wrecks her boyfriend’s car, and she is run-over when she gets dangerously close to discovering “A’s” identity.  When Mona throws her a surprise “glad you’re alive party,” someone steals all of the money (assumedly “A”) that Hanna’s mother stole from a client at the bank.  And, while following “A’s” sordid trail back to the money, Hanna falls for the wrong boy who happens to be feeding information to the girls’ nemesis, Jenna Marshall (Tammin Sursok).

BFF #3 – Spencer Hastings (Troian Bellisario) is the poor-little-rich-girl of the bunch.  Her successful parents push Spencer to be the absolute best, much like they did with her older sister Melissa.  Spencer is brilliant, but plays second fiddle to her sister, always aware that her parents favor her.  To retaliate, Spencer kisses her sister’s boyfriend (Ian Thomas) and then later kisses her new fiancé.  Matters get worse for Spencer when Melissa surprises the Hastings family by abruptly marrying Ian right after calling off her previous engagement. 

Spencer begins to investigate her new brother-in-law, and slowly uncovers an affair between Ian and Alison before Alison’s disappearance.  As she continues to investigate, Spencer believes that Ian not only stalked her best friend, but also killed her, causing the rift between Spencer and her sister to intensify. 

Now a suspect herself in Alison’s murder, Spencer befriends Toby Cavanaugh who also happened to serve time in jail briefly as the main suspect in Alison’s death.  Did I mention that Toby is also the half-brother of Jenna?  Toby knows just how deceiving and manipulative his sister can be….is Jenna “A”?    

BFF #4 – Emily Fields (Shay Mitchell) is the daughter of a military father always away on assignment who is confused with her own sexuality.  She starts the series with a boyfriend, but then falls for the new girl, Maya sending her mother (Nia Peeples) into a tailspin.  Making even more of a splash, Emily takes Toby to the homecoming dance as her date trying to hide the fact that she’s gay.  The fact that Emily doesn’t totally believe in Toby’s innocence, like the rest of the town, leads to a dangerous encounter. 

After accepting that she was a homosexual, Emily is devastated when Maya is sent away to military school after marijuana is found inside Maya’s back pack.  Emily turns back to her swimming career and begins having feelings for her competition and swim-mate. 

Emily’s world continues to turn upside down when her mother announces that they’re leaving Rosewood to live with her father, who is stationed in Texas.  Meanwhile, Emily holds the key to the photo evidence Spencer uncovered of Ian and Alison on her home computer, which conveniently gets erased when the realtor shows the Fields’ house. 

And the text messaging begins...."A"

Obviously, each of the teens have oodles of conflict surrounding them, even without “A” threatening their every move.  Throw in the suspicions the police and their parents have regarding their involvement in Alison’s murder, and the lies they continuously try to hide despite “A’s” best efforts, Pretty Little Liars doesn’t bore their viewers – they have twists and turns week in and week out.    

I give the girls & the mystery behind Pretty Little Liars another MacTV rating – despite the fact that I’m in my thirties, I tune in every single week to watch these little teenagers scurry around playing detective trying their best to solve their BFF’s murder and discover the true identity of the creepy texter known only as “A” who anticipates their every move. 

Do you watch Pretty Little Liars or is the show too young for you?  What do you think of the mystery – have you figured out the identity of “A” or who killed Alison?  Which of the girls do you relate to the most – Aria, Spencer, Hanna, Emily, Alison, or the outcast Jenna?  I’d love to hear from you!  

Now it’s time to click over and read Amber’s post discussing the new ABC Family series The Nine Lives of Chloe King based on the young adult series written by Celia Thompson (also known as Liz Braswell). 

Remember to 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.  Next week we swap channels and move over to TNT where we’ll discuss Franklin & Bash and Men of a Certain Age.

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.

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