January 2007

The job market can’t be doing that bad, since it is time for another installment of “The Apprentice” on NBC. For those that don’t know what “The Apprentice” is, it is a contest (job interview) process that causes alot of Type A personalities to be forced to work together doing small versions of larger business tasks. All of this is done for the chance to be the sole apprentice winner and work for the Trump Organization for at least one year.

Donald TrumpEach week the Donald uses his catch line “You’re Fired!”, sending one more of the applicants home.

Here we are at season 6. This year the show has moved to Los Angeles (it has always been set in NY). One of the coolest things that they have added is “Tent City”. This backyard nightmare is basically a beat-up campground for the losers each week, instead of staying inside the mansion with the winning team. I think it adds a real motivation factor to the need for success, the losers really lose out.

Another thing that has been added is that the winning project manager for the week gets to sit in when Trump fires a member of the losing team, this is a new twist and really helps expose the vulnerabilities of the losing team.

The change this season that is not that thrilling is the fact that a winning teams project manager stays the PM until they lose, this means that as one team keeps winning, those on the team are penalized as they never get a chance to shine, the same person just keeps winning (and that has to look good in Trump’s eyes). I think it was more fair in previous seasons to give the project manager “Immunity” the following week instead of this unlimited PM role. We like to see different people lead the teams and sometimes fall on their faces.

Oh yea, the other big change… no more Caroline (Caroline Kepcher), she was the one getting “Fired” this year. I think the whole thing was just a big story to bring his kids on the show. Now we get to see the seasoned advice (sense the sarcasim) of his daughter, Ivanka Trump, and his son Don Jr. They sit by daddy’s side passing judgement on these poor people who are usually trying their hardest and being destroyed by losing the challenges by about 50 bucks. I honestly felt like a more sincere choice was being made when George and Caroline were the one’s giving Donald Trump the advice. Don’t you agree? Even though they didn’t have as good of a “Ratings Look” as his son and daughter.

So as we just get started with Season 6, we have already lost the quirky one, the flamboyent one, and the quitter… and that was just the first three (3) episodes. Let’s see what happens the rest of this season, so far it is starting off as one of my favorite season’s since the first (Again, this is another show I have seen every episode, every season)

So, here we are in season four of the comeback role for Mark Harmon. He went from a Doctor (Chicago Hope)… to the leader of the Navy CSI team (NCIS). When I first started watching this show, I couldn’t get his Ted Bundy (The Deliberate Stranger) role out my head. I thought, this guy is a joke and this show will tank… Since those first few episodes, I have to say I am very glad it didn’t. As Jethro Gibbs (Harmon) leads his team of Quirky CSI’s through military crime scenes, the image of him luring girls as a serial killer melted away.

Mark Harmon as Jethro Gibbs on CBS NCISNow on to the show itself, It has always been a great story, the characters have alot of the spotlight, alot of the time… As a regular viewer, I can see some points where one-timers won’t get the joke, or follow the team in themselves, but it is also a very light-hearted approach to the CSI genre. Each character has a wacky and fun aspect, while still having a semi-serious side. It makes for a unique formula setting it apart from the most basic label of “Oh yea, another CSI… but for the Navy and Marines!”.

NCIS Team PhotoSometimes there is a bit of ‘death detail’ and sometimes it might get a bit ‘romantic’, but all in all it is a family-friendlier (is that a word?) approach to the crime show solvers. I am more comfortable with most of the episodes being on if my son’s are up late and it is on in the background, very few times do I find myself pausing or waiting for them to leave the room (This happens more often in CSI as they are much more open about the ‘details’ they convey)

It is a good show, with a good hook, don’t go into it thinking it is as serious as the CSI franchise, but look at it as the mix between a dramedy (for the faithful watchers) and a criminal show (for the one-timers)… All-in-All it adds a nice break-up in my DVR queue when running through three other CSI episodes each week.

Ok, don’t get me wrong on the title, there. I just have to say out of all three CSI’s (and countless knock-offs)… Is it me or does the CSI team in CSI:NY have the most shady backgrounds of them all?

Let’s start with the most obvious bad boy on the team… Danny Messer (played by Carmine Giovinazzo) grew up on the wrong side of the tracks, he was a gang banger and all-out bad boy with his brother leading the trail. His choices eventually lead him to the right side of the law.

Then we get into the greek Stella Bonasera (AKA Melina Kanakaredes). She shoots and kills her abusive nut-job boyfriend and comes back to work like it is all in a days grind. Ughh.

The sweet girl from Montana, Lindsay Monroe (played by Anna Belknap), is found to have a horrible dark past. She was the sole survivor of a horrific event. Ok I guess.

And just to round it out, our Dr. Sheldon Hawkes (Hill Harper) has to be framed for robbery and murder just for fun from a Psycho `Terminator` Kid (no more hints on who that actor is, you have to use the clue in this sentence).

Mac Taylor is the only one who really hasn’t had the darkness follow him around, the fact that his wife died in the WTC on 9/11 (which was openly exposed early in the show) doesn’t count. He has a secret fling with the M.E. (Claire Forlani)… but it is all up and up. I guess his moral compass and solid foundation has to stay strong before the rest of his team just cracks and forms a gang or something.

Don’t get me wrong, all the CSI’s have questionable backgrounds in all the shows, they just collectively seem to have the darkest, or farthest reaching ‘thin line’ story backs.

(Yea, Yea for Vegas we have Kathrine (stripper), and Miami’s Delco (dope) and more…)

Just my two cents… since almost every episode of NY bears a bit more of someone’s soul.

I love the show, I love the stories, just a bit of a “Hey… I want to relate to their humanity, but don’t push me too far”…

Well everyone knows what time of year it is again. It is that wonderful season of idiots trying to sing, and this year it is starting off more pathetic than ever. I will admit that I never watch American Idol all the way through. It really bores me once they get down to the America votes part. So this year I sit back and laugh at these people, if for no other reason than to say to them… “What the Hell are you thinking?” They cannot, as reasonable people think that they come close to the type of person that the judges are looking for. Simon Cowell will always say he want’s something “New” and “Fresh” but that is a load of BS. He wants the same pop star every year, cookie cutter, marketing material.

So these poor saps show up in the thousands to try out. Simply record yourself on a piece of junk tape recorder, listen to it back, and compare it to any past winner. I am hard pressed to think these people honestly, in their heart of hearts, believe they have a shot.

If you dont have the sterotypical “Hollywood” look, sure you may need makeup, but still have the base… why do you do this. Some for the attention sure, the William Hung wannabes maybe? But alot of these people must be that bad off that they want to believe they are something they are not. And everyone of them has some really sad person pushing this friend or family member into the whole mess.

Either way, it is hiliarious, I guess no matter how bad I feel for them, we will all still laugh at them over and over. If they keep going to the try-outs, we will keep watching them, once it gets narrowed down to the best ones they find in a season, it stops being entertaining and starts to be about selling the records and putting someone on the charts. That, to me, is the most boring part.

Well I guess it was bound to happen, Ryan turned good, Seth got the girl, they killed off the story building trouble-maker Marissa and Summer went from Rodeo Drive to Hippie in minutes.

That ends “The OC“… officially getting their end-of-life notice our pals in Cali are moving out of their Prime Thursday slot on FOX. At least they promised they would wrap up the story lines… which I consider wrapped up after Marissa kicked the bucket anyway.

But to it’s credit… the previous season’s were great, and even this year, after getting past the dark death days of Marissa mourning and Ryan’s underground cage fighting (dont ask if you dont know what I am talking about)… this season was shaping up.

Taylor (Autumn Reeser) was really developing into the show. Seth and Summer turned to boring crap, and Marissa’s little Sis didnt add a thing. So I say good-bye with a heavy heart but I knew it was coming and I think anyone watching the earlier seasons agreed, even though we didn’t want to.

I do give the staff credit though… starting a teen drama in their junior year of high school was a tough one… the question is simply : Can you transition them into College years? We saw Beverly Hills 90210 and Dawson’s Creek pull it off pretty good… The OC, sorry you guys flunked out of “Teen to Adult Television Transisitions 101”.

Well, Mischa Barton may have made the best choice getting off the sinking ship, but would it have really sunk if the person who had their finger in the hole not just “let go” and walked away ?

Best of luck to the cast, I hope they all land B-movies and end up hosting a ridculous game show in 10 years.

Ok, so first we take wannabe singers and parade them in front of an audience (Idol), then we see if amatuers can dance… (So You Think You Can Dance) and now, just to make sure we cover the bases, can you “Act”… (Since we know newbies can direct their own movies as seen in “Project Greenlight“).

Welcome to “Grease : Your the One That I Want“… First sing for us, then dance, and soon you can try acting, all to win the role that will make your career in the $10 million dollar revival of Grease (The Play Version).

So I have watched the first couple episodes (of course introducing the British Judge), and just in case we dont have enough people using English accents, lets just fill it up with a female British co-host. (And “Seacrest Out”, but not quite there). The show itself is very Idol like (NBC has a set that looks very FOX like). Lets interview alot of poor saps stuck outside in line and all that, then come in, be belittled and tossed out. There is a certain look for Danny, and most of these guys should have hit a mirror before hitting the stage. The girls fit a bit better and had the talent on their side.

I don’t know where this will go, I am still up in the air, the one thing about Idol is that once they really weed out the crap, it is very boring for me (I am not into the teen pop and that is the target)… so if they keep it interesting, dancing, singing, and acting (which i do want to see some of these amatuers “act”), I may stay hooked and watch the season.

It may be a good one-off, I am not seeing Season 2 at this point… maybe they can surprise me.


One show that always keeps me hooked is the CBS Sunday Night Crime Drama “Cold Case“. I have always been a fan of the CourtTV and Discovery programs about forensics, case files and all that, but to make a unique twist to the whole process by re-enacting the timelines as the cops follow through… keeps me coming back.

The first time I caught this show a few years back, it was really on a whim. I thought it was just another CSI rip-off, playing on the popularity of the hit. But by the end of that episode I realized that there was such a cool difference in the presentation of ‘historic’ cases instead of real-time.

Ok, so it may be a bit far fetched that the Phillie Cold Case Squad has 6 or 7 detectives working a single old case off a tiny new lead, and the fact that in order for this story to work, no witness ever lies… I mean they never flash back and replace what one guy said for what another said, sometimes (usually) they fill the blanks in each witnesses story, but they must be some kind of amazing cops to get everyone, even the eventually exposed criminal to tell it like it was.

Another great thing is the storyline of the characters themselves, over the past few seasons we get to learn about who and where these guys came from, but with the perfect amount of constraint. Their lives are not important to the episode at hand, and watching one episode is as easy to follow as the whole series, you can walk away feeling like you knew what was going on that whole time. Backstory knowledge was just a bonus.

So it doesn’t get the attention too much, usually flying under the radar, and almost always screwing with my DVR (because of CBS football and 60 minutes pushing it out if it’s normal slot every week), but this show is one of my stable favorites. I will always watch it when I want a show that is not just a time killer, but something to follow. That damn technique for the slow release of information over the whole hour, building to an apex and slam, resolution with 5 minutes to wrap it up in a box and say good bye to the cold case victim.

Keep up the ‘Cases’, the only thing that could turn this show in the wrong direction would be to start repeating scenarios or focusing on character development for subpar ‘case files’… but I dont see that happening soon (The writing has been creative so far!)

If you follow the real life case shows and are looking for a great fictional one that gives you the same feeling, check out ‘Cold Case’ Sundays on CBS (about 9pm, unless it is football season, Arghhh).