Tag Archives: Television Shows

Obsession of the Week: ABC’s “Shark Tank”

Can’t say enough about how much I love the “Shark Tank”. I loved it last season and was bummed when it seemed to disappear. Well, it’s back and better than ever. This entrepreneurial show makes Donald Trump’s “The Apprentice” look amateurish. The show has 5 multi-millionaires and billionaires (the sharks), including Mark Cuban and out-of-place Jeff Foxworthy, who invest their own money into the products and services being pitched to them from average Americans. Some ideas seem brilliant, others seem ridiculous.

What’s most engaging is when the sharks fight one another over the investment they want. It’s like a high stakes poker game to them where beating your “friends” is more important than just winning. It gets dirty between them as they posture and position themselves as the best investor for the idea, while mocking and putting down the other sharks. Other times they throw in together to put one over on another one of the sharks.

The twists and turns are plentiful. You may guess how you think it will turn out for each person coming into the shark tank but without any real rules – anything can happen and does. At times, I’m literally on the edge of my seat watching as dreams and lives change in an instant. Some get what they are looking for, others get more and then some go home with nothing but an insult from one of the sharks (typically billionaire Kevin O’Leary).

The show is based on the Japanese show called “Dragon Den” produced by Sony. This American version is produced both by Sony and reality-show mega-producer, Mark Burnett (“Survivor” and “The Apprentice”). It really is one of the best reality shows out there. Watch it! It’s on ABC Friday nights at 8 pm.

Here’s a trailer to introduce you to the show:

If you enjoyed this post…why not subscribe to this blog. It’s easy just look to the right and add your email address.

“Obsession of the Week” (OTW) posts talk about some pop culture reference that has infiltrated my head for the week. I use “obsession” because aren’t we all little obsessive and fanatical about the things we like so much to the point that we saturate ourselves in it and make ourselves sick of it only to move on to something else.

“Grilled Cheesus” Episode on “Glee” Still Stirs

Fox recently reran Glee’s “Grilled Cheesus” episode and I received some new comments and e-mails about my article that came out on Examiner.com when the show originally aired. Click here to read the article.

I am not a fan of “Glee” and certainly think the show is overtly sexualized. Yet, the some have called my praise for the episode misguided. One comment on the article pointed to the fact that the episode makes fun of religion and portrayed religion in a negative light. I didn’t see it that way and responded to the comment. I am posting my response here because what I wrote pretty much sums up what the show was attempting and what I attempt with my Examiner column. Here’s my response:

Dennis,

I think you are too focused on what they didn’t say and less on what they did. This episode basically said that a non-belief in God comes from having been hurt by religion/God and that can be overcome. I also think you missed that they sang “What if God Was One of Us” at the end so God was definitely mentioned. I think that song summed up the intent of the episode that we need to live as if God was one of us.

The fact that people (not just characters on the show) think God and the “moral authority of the universe are bigoted homophobic idiots” is a sad commentary on what you and I are doing to bring those people into belief. Dennis, you are a sinner just like I am…just like the homosexual kid watching the show who feels shunned by religion. Are our sins less then his? Shouldn’t there be a place for him in God’s house every week? If we make room for the adulterous man, the divorced woman, the cheerful alcoholic, the married pedophile, the chronic tax cheater, the girl who aborted her baby and even a murderer every week – shouldn’t religion accept everyone? The fact that gays and others (who feel shamed by their choices in life) are kept away from the church is a saddest part of religion. Add in the fact that we don’t willingly accept believers of other faiths into ours as the greatest cause of war and misery in the world and that is what is wrong with religion today.

While you point out that a kid praying to a sandwich is a slap against belief in general, what about the fact that the two who don’t believe in God were shown what believing can do. Isn’t there hope in that? I think that was the point of the show and my article.

If you read my article, I did criticize the show for its sexual overtones. The show is in no way a religious show (just ask all the pre-teen kids who make up the largest demographic for the show…better yet ask their parents who allow them to watch it).

I simply choose to be more open-minded than others. Sometimes you need to look at the good that can come from a non-religious specific morality tale and see that there is some good there to be gained. Sure it’s not perfect but neither are we. I think (as a religious observer) more was achieved in the episode than wasn’t for believing in religion. Sorry you missed that.

 

Obsession of the Week: The Girls of “The Big Bang Theory” on CBS

“The Big Bang Theory” was already one of the funniest shows on television, but this season the producers, Bill Prady and Chuck Lorre (yes…of Charlie Sheen fame), added two female series regulars to their cast; Mayim Bialik (yes…“Blossom”) as the hilarious and Emmy-worthy “Amy Farrah Fowler” and the equally funny Melissa Rauch (think Georgette from “Mary Tyler Moore”) as “Bernadette Rostenkowski”. Pairing these two with the previous lone female regular, Kaley Cuoco, has been television gold this season and has launched the series into the classic sitcom stratosphere.

Cuoco, as the actress/waitress/girl-next-door, was the perfect “outsider” to the fantastic foursome of scientists/comic book reading/video-game loving nerds that lived and hung out across the hall. Cuoco was able to not only hold her own the first three seasons but managed to steal many of her scenes, particularly when paired with Emmy-winning Jim Parsons (Sheldon). With the addition of Bialik and Rauch this year, Cuoco has finally gotten her own posse and for the first time, the show has really struck a winning mix of both lovable male and female characters. The likes of which we haven’t seen since “Friends” went off the air. This is best evident in scenes where the entire regular cast is together and the chemistry among the actors comes alive.

The casting of Bialik in last season’s series finale and then this year really has been the catalyst for expanding the series into uncharted territory. Bailik’s character’s awkwardly inept social skills and sense of timing breathe new life in an already rock solid comic show. It is the one show that I laugh regularly out load at every week.

The show was already both a ratings and critical hit in its previous seasons. This led CBS  to move the show to the ever-popular Thursday night 8 pm slot (which was once the time slot of “Friends” on NBC – coincidence?). If you aren’t a fan yet, you really need to check it out. If you’re a fan already – you already know what I am talking about!

If you enjoyed this post…why not subscribe to this blog. It’s easy just look to the right and add your email address.

“Obsession of the Week” (OTW) posts talk about some pop culture reference that has infiltrated my head for the week. I use “obsession” because aren’t we all little obsessive and fanatical about the things we like so much to the point that we saturate ourselves in it and make ourselves sick of it only to move on to something else.

Obsession of the Week: “James Ellroy’s LA: City of Demons”

Bizarre, baffling, and blistering is how best to describe this new television creation on the Investigation Discovery (ID) channel hosted by author James Ellroy, novelist of The Black Dahlia, LA Confidential, and Blood’s A Rover. The show with its “Twilight Zone” like theme and film noir styling is nothing like anything you have seen on television. While not for the faint at heart as the preceding warnings prompts, it is for anyone fascinated with true crime, unsolved mysteries, and police investigative dramas.

How to describe it? How about like an acid trip version of the crimes and events the show discusses. Part tabloid fodder and true crime reality show, Ellroy hosts, with his trademark alliteration, pulp speak and film noir wardrobe, discussing a plethora of odd LA crime stories, murders and Hollywood scandals. In case Ellroy himself, the graphics and music aren’t trippy enough for you, the show also includes “Barko” the computer-generated, corrupt, drug-addicted police dog who Ellroy converses with in a ‘Son of Sam’ homage (Barko was also the name of Ellroy’s first Bull Terrier and appears in several of his books). You truly have to witness the show for yourself to appreciate its oddities and original genius.

For all his profanity and pontification, at the heart Ellroy is a man who never go over the unsolved murder of his mother. His mother was murdered in 1958 and his book My Dark Places is his autobiography about his mother’s murder. The show takes a semi-autobiographic turn in each episode thus far as Ellroy discusses how other murders (including the ‘Black Dahlia’) affected his own life and obviously his writing.

 In this clip Ellroy discusses his mother’s murder on the show.

While Ellroy’s public persona is outlandish and seemingly obscene (he is a huge personality unlike anything we’ve seen in any author since Truman Capote), in person he is gracious and humble especially when one-on-one with his fans. I’ve heard him speak publicly on two different occasions in Los Angeles and on both occasions his public persona seems greatly exaggerated like a stage performance because immediately afterwards he’s quiet, approachable and considerate.

Ellroy has committed to six episodes for the series and I hope he will expand his commitment to the show. There are countless stories to be told from his legendary point of view. I am a huge fan.

“James Ellroy’s L.A.: City of Demons” (The show is on Investigation Discovery at 10 p.m. Wednesday. Click here for a link to the show’s website.

In this clip Ellroy discusses the show and its creation.

Obsession of the Week: “Little Mosque on the Prairie”

 

This series is a gem because it combines political and religious issues stereotypes in a humorous way. It’s unfortunate that our country, founded on religious freedom, didn’t produce this show first. Canadian CBC airs the hit sitcom “Little Mosque on the Prairie” now in its fourth season (episodes are currently available on Google Videos and YouTube). I recently read an article about the series and the delays in bringing to the United States and decided to check the series out for myself.

The series revolves around a tiny Muslim community living in a small Canadian prairie town. While the humor of the sitcom can be mild, the way the series deals with religious stereotypes is incredibly real and amusing. The show doesn’t shy away from finding humor in stereotypes which have become far too taboo in the politically correct climate in this country. It works for this series because the show’s seven Muslim characters offer a wide range of believers of the faith that include a sexist traditionalist and a white Canadian convert.

The show doesn’t shy away from dealing with non-Muslim stereotypes either.  The cast includes a local radio Rush Limbaugh-type who attacks the Mosque with stereotypical rhetoric and a local resident who always seems to hear something that could be construed as “terrorist chatter”. The show also succeeds in turning the religious stereotypes on its head as some of the Muslim characters make comments about those in the Christian faith in a similarly stereotypical way that Christians make about Muslims.

At the heart of the show is the relationship between the Islamic Imam and an Anglican Reverend who rents out part of his church to Muslims for their new mosque.  Both the show’s premise and ideology promote peace and understanding of a religion most Canadians and Americans don’t really understand.

To stereotype an entire religion as if the entire masses of the faithful is represented by a few extremists is morally wrong whether it be Christians generalizing about Muslims, Muslims generalizing about Christians, or even one race against another. This show uses humor to show its audience that no matter the stereotype, it’s better to get to know a people as individuals so you can better understand their perspective.

Obsession of the Week: “SouthLAnd” on TNT

I’ve run through just about every new cop show this season (“Blue Bloods”, “Detroit 187” and “Law & Honor: Los Angeles”) and found every one of them hard to sit through for an entire episode. A couple of years ago, “SouthLAnd” premiered on NBC as a replacement for the outgoing “E/R”. The show drew plenty of critical acclaim but was only a modest ratings hit so NBC cancelled the series. The series quickly moved over to TNT where you can catch up on all episodes (http://www.tnt.tv/series/southland) before its third season premiere in January.

If you haven’t seen this groundbreaking series, I implore you to watch just one episode. You will be blown away! The show’s gritty reality and high-tension drama make it what “Entertainment Weekly” said was one of “The Best Show You’re Not Watching.” It’s certainly under-appreciated at a time when so many crap cop shows are taking up space on the major networks. How this show doesn’t get Emmy nominations is simply a matter of no one watching it.

If you’ve tried (and even liked) some of the new cop shows this season, you really should give “SouthLAnd” a try. It truly leaves the others in the dust. Its stories and characters stay with you long after you’ve watched it. It is not just the current best cop show – it’s one of the best ever. Check it out! http://www.tnt.tv/series/southland/