The Hot And Spicer TV Round Up

I haven't done one of these in awhile (nor have I done a book review in ages despite reading four, and on the fifth, books since my last -- but they'll be coming, so don't allow your horses to escape the barn yet), so I thought, 'Why not do one right now." And so, I will.

Amazing Race: This season they have brought back previous competitors that didn't win from the past. I am sure the strategy is to adopt a Survivor All Stars type show, which has often worked really well in the ratings for them. They've definitely stacked the show with some interesting personalities, which include people you can't help rooting for (nice guy and his friend with aspergers, mother and her deaf son, Harlem Globetrotters) along with some people you want to jeer (not a fan of the redheaded cheerleaders). The initial appeal of returning stars doesn't mean as much to me, since I've only seen one whole season prior to this (and parts of two others) so I didn't know a lot of the returning players. But you get over that pretty quick when you see colourful personalities like the goth couple or non bathing cowboys. Plus the first two episodes where filmed in scenic Australia, which made for a visually impressive show. The challenges are pretty interesting for the most part, so I'm sure I'll be sticking with this show to the end.

The Killing: Actually, this show doesn't premier until April 3. I am already pretty stoked to see it, because it is yet another original AMC series. This network has a spotless track record when it comes to producing original series. Just in case you missed all the posts about it, this is the network that aired Walking Dead, which was the clear break out show of this past fall. I'll definitely be checking this one out even if I don't totally know the premise -- it appears to be an investigation into a young girl's murder but uncovers many more dark secrets.

All Star Games: The last month has produced numerous All Star games from several sports leagues. I ended up watching portions of the NFL Pro Bowl, NHL All Star and NBA All Star games. I have to say that NFL and NHL versions are consistently some of the dullest games out there, because everyone is taking it easy since they don't want to be injured in a relatively meaningless game. The problem is, they aren't really playing for anything other than the right to say you won a game. This is the reason the MLB edition is usually good, because they are playing to win home advantage in the World Series for their league's representative. The baseball players actually put in a little more effort in, which produces some good ball rather than the previously mentioned snoozers disguised as All Star games. The only real appeal is actually being able to see two dream teams go at it. Though I do want to mention that the NBA game is far more exciting, and sometimes puts on some excellent performances. Along the same lines of the All Star games, the NBA Slam Dunk competition was exciting this year, because it had some original and difficult dunks. That is really impressive considering the dunk competition has been going on for about 25 years or so now.

Rangers & Bulls Games: Football season is over, so I've now shifted focus over to my other two teams. Unfortunately, I've also had to watch both teams lose on television to inferior teams (Raptors, I am looking at you). But it is always fun to see your teams play, especially when they're out of market teams thus shown on television a lot less than the home team.

How I Met Your Mother: The start of the year, this show actually started getting a little heavy emotionally with the Marshall's dad passing away storyline. Then the series was able to find its groove again, and able to perform a rather fair balance between serious and hilarious material. It has actually lead to a much stronger show now, as the actors have had to show their range with some more dramatic scenes but then still pull off lots of the funny. It is a pretty unpredictable show right now, and it has some decent storylines lined up for all the four characters, rather than just being about Ted finding his soul mate (actually, I'd almost argue that pay off is more of a afterthought among fans now since there is more interesting stuff happening). The next few weeks should provide some good stuff, especially among Barney who is really one of the best characters on television (and has actually gained some good character development this season rather than just being a caricature).

WWE Monday Night Raw:
Last night was the first time I've watched this show since I wrote up a full review a few weeks back. I ended up missing the episode where the Rock returned, who is undoubtedly one of the biggest stars ever in wrestling. Actually, WWE has failed at properly replacing big stars like him and Stone Cold Steve Austin (both who left in the earlier part of the mid 2000s). The biggest proof of this, was the earth shaking crowd response Rock got when he returned for the interview, and then his promo proved he is about 100 times more charismatic and engaging than anyone currently on the roster. I am sure his return will pop the WrestleMania buyrate, but then WWE is still left in the same spot now when Rock returns to the movies in April. As for last night's show, the best part is that I got to watch it with a really good friend and ended up just chatting it up with him for most of the show. The show actually seemed to have a lot less wrestling on it than usual, though I understand part of that is to set up matches for WrestleMania. The other problem, the matches that did happen were not very compelling but rather one sided. It also was a show that ended up sacrificing a lot of the rising stars in order to put over more established guys (both Sheamus and Michael McGillicutty ended up looking very weak). It is Wrestlemania season, so I am sure to give it at least one more shot in the next month but definitely not a great episode (besides the amazing company).

Dragon's Den: Decent last few episodes, with a few innovative products presented to the investors. I think, some people watch this show to see Kevin tear into some poor unprepared entrepreneur, but I really enjoy seeing the innovation and creativity presented by the few good inventors and business people. Of course, it is fun watching some of the really poor and ridiculous ideas get torn apart too. On the side of the good presentation, the most impressive had to be the one presented by three men who were all under 23 years old (and likely even younger) whose business was remodeling industrial crates into on site construction/mining/etc offices. The guys were incredibly articulated and knew their product, and the product really was a great idea, which they ended up getting two investors for.

Modern Family:
Ever since the Valentine's episode, this show has been on fire. It continues to do a great job of balancing sweet and funny. Somehow, they are able to create these over the top character but you can still relate with them. So, many of the situations are something you can see happening or end up being similar to what you've experienced (despite still also being ridiculous). Some of my favourite moments include Phil and Claire once again gloriously failing to play out their Valentine's fantasy game, Gloria not understanding Valentine's Day isn't a competition, the train wreck that was Claire's mother's (Shelley Long) visit, great performance by Matt Dillon as the sleazy ex boyfriend, and the entire episode of Phil not knowing what he did wrong was glorious (including the disaster that was the fundraiser thanks to Mitchell). Modern Family is the undisputed king of sitcoms right now.

Survivor Redemption Island: It has been a great first two episodes. The return of Russell and Rob have been just as entertaining and awesome as I hoped. Phillip has to be one of my all time favourite characters, especially after his amazing freak out at the first tribal council. Both tribal councils provided some really entertaining drama and blindsides. It has set up what should be interesting conflicts over the next several episodes. Hopefully, they don't end up voting off all the really entertaining characters at the start, because this really has potential to be one of the best seasons (says the guys who has watched 2).

The Office: Last few episodes have been pretty entertaining, but I find I am having a hard time actually remembering what happened just a few hours after watching them. This show has lost some of its steam and I really hope they start building towards a series finale soon. The problem is all the major storyline arcs have been resolved, and so the show just seems to be desperately grasping as new conflicts and scenarios to keep the show going. It is still a high quality show most weeks, but no longer the hands down best on TV.

Parks and Rec: Quickly replacing The Office as the quirky work place comedy. Rob Lowe is fantastic in his role. I have just started watching the show, so I am still trying to get acquainted with all the characters. They may have a few too many of them to follow, but the show is great for all out comedy.

30 Rock: Just started watching this after a friend's recommendation. I get the feeling this is a show that had funnier and better days, but it still a pretty good comedy. Tracy Morgan has created a fantastic character, along with some other pretty interesting personalities. I jumped on the ship a little late, but I've enjoyed a few funny storylines like the writer who had to pretend he had a car in order to keep friends, or Tracey and Liz having to act like friends in order to avoid creating drama during a documentary to chagrin of the director, and Liz pretending she is pregnant had some solid laughs. Another show that does a good job of shunning typical sitcom formulas and producing some original laughs.

Outsourced: It was on after 30 Rock, so I decided to give a look. After about 5 minutes, I realized I had much better things to do. It's great if stereotypical racial humour is your thing, but otherwise, it is pretty awful.

Hmmm. . . I seem to be lacking in the drama department of TV. Nothing has really jumped out at me as can't miss in that area, though I'm interested in giving Fringe a shot at some point. Anyone watch that? I also recently saw The Kingdom with a friend, which is a movie on DVD rather than a television show but was an absolute treat. It has a deep and compelling story with a solid message along with some amazing action scenes. I will hopefully put up a proper review of that in the near future.

If there is anything else you want to recommend then pass it my way, and I'll be more than happy to glorify it or burn it on my blog when I have the chance. Actually, if there is anything non TV related you'd like me to rant and rave about then feel free to drop me a line about that too. I never have a problem taking requests. I do want to talk about the historic events that are taking place over in the Middle East and North Africa at some point, but I also want to find the time to actually properly read about it all first (in order to minimize the amount of exposing of my stupidity, as much as possible).

You go and enjoy your Tuesday now, I may or may not be back here later today.