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Sue Sylvester, We Love You April 14, 2010

Posted by Patrick in Muzak, Televisual.
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If you do one thing today, make sure it’s watching the hilarious Jane Lynch as Glee‘s Sue Sylvester doing her best Madonna impression (above) in her shot-for-shot remake of Madonna’s Vogue, which aired last night in the US. Next week’s Madonna-themed episode of Glee airs here next Wednesday on TV3 at 8pm, and will likely include a hefty chunk of this music video. Also featured are Amber Riley and Chris Colfer, Glee‘s Mercedes and Kurt, playing the role of Sue’s backing singers.

My personal highlight has to be Sue’s take on Madonna’s ‘rap’ near the end of the song, inserting her own name and a jibe at her nemesis from the show, Mr. Schuester.

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iDreamed a Dream March 4, 2010

Posted by Patrick in Televisual, Webshite.
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For anyone not content with watching television on television, Hulu have launched their first exclusively-online series. The series, If I Can Dream, follows 5 people trying to break into the entertainment industry, and basically we get to watch them do it.

From this description, the series doesn’t sound too ground-breaking or even majorly interesting. The first episode of series introduces us to the five wannabes – Kara, Justin, Ben, Amanda and Giglianne. Kara, Ben and Amanda are aspiring actors, while Justin aims to be a musician and Giglianne a model. They’re all going to live together in a house in the Hollywood Hills in the hope of achieving some form of success.

As well as a weekly 25 minute programme broadcast exclusively on Hulu (notably it’s the first thing I’ve ever been able to watch on Hulu, with the rest of its content blocked for viewing in Ireland), you can watch the contestants live on IfICanDream.com. Predictably, this isn’t actually very interesting, like Big Brother Live only with even less engaging people involved. On the plus side, the production values are well up to broadcast television standard, and some form of television broadcast is expected at a future date.

The Justin of the show is none other than Miley Cyrus’s ex-boyfriend, a fact which is largely ignored bar one brief “I want to be known for my music and not because of Miley”.

Former Pop Idol judge Nicki Chapman even pops up for a bit, coordinating the contestants’ publicity trip around the world.

The first episode is only semi-interesting, with contestants that have less personality than you could possibly fathom. They’re all way too friendly to each other in the beginning, so hopefully things will heat up a bit in future instalments. Even worse, we can’t vote out the ones we hate. The producers claim, however, that if a contestant achieves significant success, they may leave the show and be replaced.

Watch the full first episode below, if only to see what web TV is really like.

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HBO Killed the Radio Star? February 22, 2010

Posted by Paula in Televisual.
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A new animated series, inspired by The Ricky Gervais Show podcasts, will air on Channel 4 this April. ‘Inspired’ is perhaps the wrong word though. The series, which has already aired on US cable channel HBO is, quite literally, an animated version of the original podcasts.

Ricky Gervais, Steve Merchant and Karl Pilkington sit in a studio chatting. Only this time, we get to see them chatting. Or, a Hanna Barbara-style animated version of them chatting. There’s no doubt that the audio content itself is incredibly entertaining, but if you’ve listened to the audiobooks (and you still can via iTunes), are you getting anything extra from seeing it in cartoon format? It seems like a group of HBO execs sat down and said “God, these guys are funny. Pity we don’t have a radio station. Pity we can’t get the three of them in here to say it all again on camera. If only there was any way we could make this into a telvision sh- oh wait…”

Apparently it takes 17 animators to make each episode of the show. Is it really worth it? Decide for yourself on April 23, or watch the clips below and after the jump…

(more…)

How to Knock Off Entourage? February 15, 2010

Posted by Patrick in Televisual.
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How to Make it in America aired its first episode last night on HBO in the US. Having been touted as a New York-set Entourage-alike, the show certainly lived up to this comparison in its first half hour on the air.

America swaps L.A. for New York and instead of a group of guys trying to make it in the entertainment industry, it’s two guys trying to make it in the fashion industry. At least – that’s what the promos say. After watching the first episode though, I’m not really fascinated by its insights into the fashion industry at any level. Yes, they buy some stolen leather jackets off the back of a truck and attempt to sell them – but for the most part I felt like this was all in the name of making a quick buck, rather than trying to scale their thievery into some sort of thriving career.

Unsurprisingly, it’s from the same team who produced Entourage. I would have expected them to try out something new this time round, rather than produce something to keep Entourage fans interested. Alas, no luck.

The cast does an acceptable job with the material, although Bryan Greenberg as Ben continues to slightly annoy me. Maybe it’s because he played Peyton’s boyfriend in One Tree Hill way back when. His best friend Cam, played by Victor Rasuk is nothing special either, and once again feels like an Entourage import. The ladies don’t fare too much better either. Shannyn Sossamon pops up as the duo’s friend Gingy, and she’s fine but her character has little to do. Always-bland Lake Bell plays Ben’s ex in a storyline that we’ve seen thousands of times before. Samaire Armstrong guest stars and let’s just say she’s become exponentially more annoying since her days as Anna on The O.C. Kid Cudi also randomly stars in the show, but only briefly appears in the first episode.

Criticisms aside, the series shows a lot of potential, and I think the characters will become more likeable as we get to know them and as the show’s focus tightens a bit. Judging by the trailer alone, things look to get much more interesting in forthcoming episodes. Basically, it needs to justify its existence and step out of Entourage‘s shadow. It’s nicely shot, with some hipster photography thrown in every now and again and during the opening credits.

Check out the trailer below.

She’s with the Band February 3, 2010

Posted by Patrick in Lit, Televisual.
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Another day, another piece of Zooey Deschanel news. Alongside her successful music and film careers, Zooey’s finally sticking her finger into the television pie (unless we’re counting guest appearances on Bones and Tin Man) by signing up to star in and executive produce HBO’s new comedy pilot, I’m with the Band: Confessions of a Groupie.

The show is based on the book of the same name, a 1987 memoir by notorious groupie Pamela Des Barres. Some of her story was already told in the film Almost Famous, which incidentally was one of Zooey’s first film appearances.

It’s a half-hour comedy, so I’m not expecting anything along the lines of The Sopranos or Six Feet Under here. But HBO’s needed something in the comedy department to fill the void left by Sex and the City. I don’t see this as being the worthiest of replacements, but with Zooey on board I can’t help but be optimistic.

For a taste of what to expect, here’s the book’s blurb:

The stylish, exuberant, and remarkably sweet confession of one of the most famous groupies of the 1960s and 70s is back in print in this new edition that includes an afterword on the author’s last 15 years of adventures. As soon as she graduated from high school, Pamela Des Barres headed for the Sunset Strip, where she knocked on rock stars’ backstage doors and immersed herself in the drugs, danger, and ecstasy of the freewheeling 1960s. Over the next 10 years she had affairs with Mick Jagger, Jimmy Page, Keith Moon, Waylon Jennings, Chris Hillman, Noel Redding, and Jim Morrison, among others. She traveled with Led Zeppelin; lived in sin with Don Johnson; turned down a date with Elvis Presley; and was close friends with Robert Plant, Gram Parsons, Ray Davies, and Frank Zappa. As a member of the GTO’s, a girl group masterminded by Frank Zappa, she was in the thick of the most revolutionary renaissance in the history of modern popular music. Warm, witty, and sexy, this kiss-and-tell–all stands out as the perfect chronicle of one of rock ‘n’ roll’s most thrilling eras.

[Blurb via Good Reads]
[Image: Girls Aren’t Funny]

Filling the Gilmore Girls void January 17, 2010

Posted by Patrick in Televisual.
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It’s been a long hard road since Gilmore Girls bit the dust back in 2007, but The CW, the US network behind Gilmore Girls is in some way making up for that loss by giving us Life Unexpected.

From the official site:

After spending her life bouncing from one foster family to another, 15-year-old Lux has decided to become an emancipated minor. Her journey through the legal maze leads Lux to her biological father, 30-something Nate “Baze” Bazile, who lives like an aging frat-boy and is astonished to learn he has a daughter. Lux is equally astonished to learn that her mother is Cate Cassidy, a star on local radio, along with her boyfriend, Ryan Thomas. When a judge grants temporary custody of Lux to Baze and Cate, they agree to make a belated attempt to give Lux the family she deserves.

From the trailer at least, it looks like it lacks some of the snarky witticism that Gilmore Girls did so well, but if we’re looking for the pure mother-daughter banter element, that looks like it could be here in droves.

Shiri Appleby, best known for playing Roswell‘s Liz, has finally made her way back to the small screen in her role as Lux’s mother Cate. Kerr Smith, Dawson’s Creek‘s Jack is also part of the cast as Cate’s boyfriend Ryan.

Looks like this one could go either way. It looks dangerously close to going into schmaltzy 7th Heaven territory at any moment, but I’ll at least give it the first episode to make my judgement.

The first ten minutes are now available on Facebook, and the show launches in the US next Monday. Check out the extended trailer below.

[Image: The CW]

Television, Paper II January 14, 2010

Posted by Paula in Televisual.
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My final year in secondary school is one that I would rather forget. Macbeth, photosynthesis, the formation of limestone – the memories are there but they are buried in a very dark place. It is certainly not a year that I would have wished to be captured forever on film, and not only that, but broadcast on national television.

I’m lucky that my parents didn’t make a snap decision to send me to St Peter’s College in Co. Meath then. The staff and students of St Peter’s were followed around for a full year by RTÉ cameras, and the results are being broadcast as a three-part series called The School. The final instalment, filmed during the black hole of pain that is State exam time, airs next Monday on RTÉ1.

Having watched the first two episodes, I think that The School is one of the best homegrown documentaries that RTÉ has shown in a while. It’s well worth a look, if only for the ache of familiarity (but certainly not nostalgia) that will hit anyone who attended an Irish secondary school. Addressing every adult female as Bean Ní something, getting notes to your parents in your homework diary, or receiving one of those “If I could go in there and sit the exam for you, I WOULD, but this is your problem” lectures… it’s all there.

The School can be seen on Monday, 9.35pm on RTÉ1. The first two episodes are available on the RTÉ iPlayer for the next few weeks.

The US Factor January 12, 2010

Posted by Patrick in Televisual.
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After a lot of behind the scenes deliberation and hmmming and hawing, the American version of UK (and international) television talent show The X Factor has finally been confirmed for launch in 2011.

Less certain, however, is the future of American Idol, which currently airs on FOX, the same network that The X Factor is slated for. At the moment everyone’s claiming the shows will co-exist but frankly, I don’t see this happening without one seriously detracting from the other. And let’s be honest, American Idol is still using the same tired old format that Pop Idol used way back when. Where are the battling judges? Where are the groups? And where, god damn it, are the Over 25s?

The good news for us over on this side of the pond is obviously that we’ll pretty much have year-round X Factor, with the UK edition running nicely into the US.

For one thing, Simon Cowell will definitely not be on board next season on American Idol, instead focusing his attentions on judging both the UK and US editions of The X Factor.

The obvious question on everyone’s lips is who will be joining Cowell at the judges’ table when the show debuts next year. He’s already said that he wants to work with Paula Abdul again because he “misses her”, and it was speculated that he’d possibly bring some of his UK judges over with him, the most likely candidate there being Cheryl Cole. Oh please let it be Cheryl Cole. Once it’s not Randy Jackson, that’s fine with me.

And who will be left to take the reins on American Idol next year? If it’s Ellen DeGeneres, Randy Jackson and Kara Whatsherface then you can count me out.

[Image: The Guardian]

Are you full of Glee? January 12, 2010

Posted by Patrick in Muzak, Televisual.
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There’s lots of exciting news today for fans of FOX’s Glee, first and foremost that the show will be definitely returning for a much-anticipated second season (although that was really a no-brainer at this stage).

More surprisingly is the fact that the show’s producers are starting a nationwide search for stars to fill three new roles in the forthcoming sophomore year of the musical drama.

From FOX’s press release:

Building upon the show’s incredibly supportive community of GLEEks and with the hope of bringing fans even closer to the series, auditions will be open to amateur individuals as well as professionals between the ages of 16-26, and all hopefuls will be able to submit auditions online. Additional details to be announced soon, please check www.fox.com/glee for updates.

And if that wasn’t good enough, the casting search will be documented in a “multi-part special” which will air before the second season premiere, when the new stars will be revealed. Oh Glee, how we love you.

Ryan Murphy, the show’s creator and executive producer had this to say:

“GLEE has always been about finding new fresh exciting voices. Our second season search for young talent will be in the vein of our first season. We launched a nationwide search for talent for our first season with great unexpected results, and Season Two expands that search in an even bigger way. Anybody and everybody now has a chance to be on a show about talented underdogs. No matter who you are – a Broadway talent or a struggling singing waiter with a dream in the Midwest – you now have an opportunity to make that dream come true by posting your talent video and showing us what you can do. ALL the roles will be chosen from the video audition process, which is exciting and unprecedented. We want to be the first interactive musical comedy on television, and the search is ON.”

So eh…can Irish people apply?

Glee is currently airing on TV3 on Wednesday at 8pm, and on E4 on Mondays at 9pm. New episodes return Stateside on 13th April 2010.

Image ©2010 Fox Broadcasting Co. Cr: Patrick Ecclesine/FOX

Welcome to the Mystic Falls, bitch January 10, 2010

Posted by Patrick in Televisual.
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The Vampire Diaries, which started off quite meh-worthy and morphed into one of last autumn’s (I will not say fall, even if we are talking about an American TV show) must-watch programmes, has added a familiar face to the cast that is sure to excite fans of dearly departed teen drama The O.C.

Melinda Clarke, better known as Newport Beach’s Julie Cooper comes into town around March and is said to be sticking around for at least three episodes. As a massive Julie Cooper fan, I’m hoping this will lead to an extended stint and hopefully she’ll sign on as a regular (hey, she wasn’t supposed to stick around on The O.C., but well, she did).

She’ll be playing “Kelly Donovan, Matt’s irresponsible, hard-drinking absentee mother,” who, without wanting to spoil things for the uninitiated too much, didn’t even bother to attend the funeral of a close family member. With Julie Cooper under her belt, an absentee mother shouldn’t be too hard a sell.

If you haven’t yet checked out The Vampire Diaries, it’s coming to TV3 and ITV2 at some point in the future, although no amount of furious Googling will tell me exactly when. It’s expected on ITV2 at least this month. New episodes return to the US on January 21st.

[Image: Gulum.net]