Awake, episode 4

March 23, 2012 - Leave a Response

It feels like we’re getting closer and closer to something big with Awake, but this episode sort of seemed like filler. Last week was great, and next week looks awesome, so I kind of just wish we had skipped this episode all together and gotten straight to the good stuff, but I’ll concede there were some interesting psychological moments that maybe made this episode worthwhile.

In this week’s episode, two different crimes take place with one common factor: Rex’s former babysitter, Kate Porter. In the red reality, Kate is a successful investment banker living in New York City who happens to be a witness to an alleged suicide on a yacht but who will, of course, play some sort of role in the crime’s resolution. In the green reality, Kate is a drugged up ex-movie star who is a suspect in the brutal murder of her drug addict/party monster boyfriend. But in both realities, Kate suffered the loss of her sister in a freak surfing accident (seriously, I can’t even make this stuff up) during her adolescence, which ends up playing a huge part in who she ultimately becomes as an adult. In the red reality, Kate provides the lynchpin to the whole investigation when the murderer accidentally spills drug-spiked-wine on her dress and the police use it to bust the bad guy. In the green reality, Kate is, well, responsible for the murder. She’s goin’ to jail.

On the familial side of things, Rex gets into a fight with a friend over a tennis racket, and no one can seem to figure out why, even though it’s pretty obvious that the racket held special value because it was his mother’s. I mean. Come on guys. Especially you, Detective Britten. Get your head in the metaphorical game. (And in case you doubt me, I was right. Rex admits to getting violent/emotional over the racket because it was mom’s. And he apologizes to the kid. All’s well that ends well.) This whole exchange did provide for some wonderfully flirtatious exchanges between Michael and the Hot Tennis Coach. That’s probz going to get weird when Michael starts sleeping with her in the green reality but has a wife in the red one… it’s not cheating if it’s in a dream state, am I right? He got hoes in different… subconscious realities… Doesn’t quite have the same ring to it. Ahem. Moving on. What’s important here is that Michael isn’t sure how to reach Rex and get their communication back on track. Every time he tries to approach Rex to talk about the fight, Rex rebuffs him, so Michael goes to sleep, wakes up in the red reality with his wife and covertly gets parenting advice from her. Because that’s healthy.

So all the important stuff really comes out in the last two or three minutes of the episode, when Michael is having parallel conversations with the two Kates. In the green reality, Kate talks about how the death of her sister sent her into a tailspin, and how she kept rejecting the help and support of her mother, who, after years of trying to break through to Kate, eventually gave up. So note to parents: don’t give up on your kids if you don’t want them to become murdering drug addicts. In the red reality, Kate talks about how lucky she was to have a mother that, despite being rejected a thousand times, went for “1,001.” With her mother’s support, she was able to overcome the grief of losing her sister and grow from it, which drove her to be the successful adult she ultimately became. With this handy-dandy knowledge, Michael is able to have a heart-to-heart with Rex, and they live to fight another day.

Next week looks like we’ll finally see the ugly side of what really happens to a person when he’s living in two different realities, as they start to bleed into one another and the mysterious/sinister police chief returns. Check back next week to see what happens!

Thanks for reading, and as always, thanks for watching KPRC Local 2!

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The Voice, Battle Rounds part III and Smash, Episode 7

March 21, 2012 - Leave a Response

The Voice

So after much rationalizing, philosophizing, justifying and agonizing, I’ve come to the conclusion that last night’s episode of The Voice was just… meh. Because, ya know, they can’t all be gems. Nothing was super great, lots of things were super strange, and overall I only saw one or two performances I could maybe classify as memorable. As much as I’ve enjoyed this season and am glad it was extended from last year, I think it may be overkill at this point. Too many blind audition rounds, too many battle rounds—I think the show could have benefitted from a little editing. Not to mention they could have further concentrated the talent pool with fewer contestants. But no use crying over cracked high notes. Onwards!

Pip “the Vunderkind” vs. Nathan “Yet Another Underdog” Parrett singing “You Know I’m No Good” by Amy Winehouse for Team Adam

I actually rather enjoyed this performance, but it was also a great song and I just really like Pip. I liked him when I first saw him, I liked him throughout the coaching (which production turned into yet another underdog-gets-some-confidence-but-ultimately-fails story) and I definitely liked him in this battle round. I thought Pip mopped the floor with Nathan, who I never found to be all that great despite Adam’s assertions to the contrary.  This really wasn’t a fair matchup from the start, as Pip has oodles of star power just oozing from every pore and Nathan just seems kind of stiff and weird. It also appears that Nathan has a case of the Steven Tyler’s, but in the early years, before Tyler’s face got all weird and stretchy but still looked kind of putty-like… See evidence below

 

The moral of the story is, it was a clear choice, Pip over Nathan, and Adam Levine made it so. All is right with the world.

Champion: Pip!

Erin “Lesbian Warrior Princess” Martin vs. The Shields “SLAP ME IN THE FACE WITH ROCK!” Brothers singing “What’s Love Got to Do With It” by Tina Turner for Team Cee-Lo

When Erin Martin first auditioned, I was skeptical, because I hate it when models/actors/William Shatner decide “I want to try something new. I know! Singing! How hard could it be?”  and then they really suck and I’m annoyed. Then she sang “Hey There Delilah” in that strange, kind of throttled sounding voice and I was all like “Ooo, that’s cool and interesting. I might be into this.” But then this past episode happened, and I came to the realization that it is my duty, as someone who can hear and likes music, to destroy her. From her obnoxious whining during the coaching sessions, to that absurd, costume-y, big-shouldered corset/bikini number that I can only assume was an attempt to distract us from the dying-cat-like screeches that escaped her mouth during the performance, I’m not sure I could hate her any more thoroughly. It was her badittude that first turned me off, and then that bizarre and offensive sequence of noises she called “singing” that sealed the deal. Oh, also, the Shields Brothers were true to form and tried to rock as hard as they could. Bless their weird little hearts. Ultimately, Cee-Lo is a horn-dog freak who’d rather experiment with unpleasant sounds than deal with musicians.

Champion: Erin Martin!

Ashley “Mother Theresa” De La Rosa vs. Jonathas “Usher? Chris Brown?” singing “No Air” by Jordin Sparks/Chris Brown for Team Xtina

This battle was simply underwhelming. NBC didn’t show us Ashley De La Rosa’s original audition because I’m assuming it wasn’t spectacular, and Jonathas was only impressive because he sounded exactly like the hypothetical lovechild of Usher and Chris Brown. Xtina flirted with Jonathas during his coaching, proving that, yes, Xtina can use her “sex appeal” in literally EVERY situation. The actual performance was weak and they both seemed pretty stupid. Ashley completed the song without any obvious errors, but in a competition like this, I’m not sure we can really qualify that as a success. And as for Jonathas, you know things are bad when you’re getting outsung by Ashley, the dimmest of dim lights. Matchups like this are infuriating because, in a just world, both Ashley and Jonathas would have gone home and someone like Anthony Evans or Geoff McBride, both of whom were eliminated from Xtina’s team during the first two battle rounds, could have taken the spot. But, alas. Life is not fair. And neither is reality television.

Champion: Ashley De La Rosa!

 ALyX “What the HELL Is That Name?” vs. Jermaine “Nobody’s Back-Up Singer” Paul singing “Get Outta My Dreams, Get Into My Car” by Billy Ocean for Team Blake

For me, this was an obvious shoe-in, and I find these types of battles simultaneously boring and pleasant; while the performance itself will most likely suck a little, at least I know I’m not going to lose someone I like. See that? Lemonade out of lemons, people. ALyX is another one of those mystery contestants whose original audition we didn’t see. It would stand to reason that if the blind audition wasn’t good enough to make it onto the show, the battle wouldn’t be super competitive. While ALyX was much better than I thought she’d be based on the level of CUH-RAZY she demonstrated during the coaching, she still couldn’t hold a candle to a real professional (read: Jermaine), even though his last note was rough. Basically, this was Jermaine’s battle to lose. And he didn’t. Hooray!

Champion: Jermaine Paul!

Angel “I Already Have a Record Deal” Taylor vs. Katrina “Victims of Mold and Other Fungi Unite!” Parker singing “Bleeding Love” by Leona Lewis for Team Adam

Coming into this battle, I was sure Angel Taylor would come out on top, leaving Katrina Parker bloody and crying on the floor. But as soon as I heard Katrina sing, it hit me that I had been so distracted by her fungus story that I had forgotten what a good singer she is! Because she’s actually amazing. She’s weird, to be sure, but in a quirky, likeable sort of way. And she looks NOTHING like she sounds, which, while sometimes unnerving, I find incredibly interesting and enjoyable. Angel, on the other hand, is exactly what you would expect her to be. She’s a cool, hot chick with a rough past and a raspy, soulful voice, and she knows what the deal is. I thought it was a much more evenly matched than I had originally anticipated, but once it got going, it became pretty clear that Katrina was KILLING IT, thereby killing Angel. Although I would like to point out that Angel’s sound is what Erin Martin is going for but failing at. Juss sayin.

Champion: Katrina Parker!

Gwen “Natalie Maines (from the Dixie Chicks)” Sebastian vs. Erin “Wynonna Judd” Willett singing “We Belong” by Pat Benatar for Team Blake

This was the only pairing of the night where I was rooting for both sides. I liked Gwen’s original audition a LOT and thought she did a great job with this song, too. I don’t remember being too enthused about Erin’s original audition but absolutely LOVED her rendition of “We Belong,” where her voice immediately reminded me of a deep pool of dark chocolate, warmed to the point of liquidity but still thick and substantive. The heartbreak of this story is Erin’s dad, who we discovered at the blind auditions had pancreatic cancer. Right before Erin was to go on, she heard that her father didn’t have long, and in fact might not have had more than 24 hours, left to live. While some might think it was selfish and heartless of Erin to go on with the show instead of going to her father’s bedside, I don’t think it’s that simple. Obviously this choice is an impossible one, and either decision would lead to a lot of pain and probably years of therapy, but I think Erin made the right call. By staying and singing her face off, she honored her father, who wanted what every father wants, for his daughter to live her dream, and seized an opportunity she might never have had again. And while both she and Gwen did a great job, I’m glad Erin won, because if that were me, I’d want to do my daddy proud, too.

Champion: Erin Willett!

Here’s a breakdown of the teams thus far:

Team Adam: Pip, Katrina Parker, Tony Lucca and Kim Yarbrough

Team Blake: Erin Willett, Jermaine Paul, Charlotte Sometimes, RaeLynn and Jordis Unga

Team Cee-Lo: Erin Martin, Juliet Simms, Jamar Rogers and Cheesa

Team Xtina: Ashley De La Rosa, Sera Hill, Lindsey Pavao, Chris Mann and Jesse Campbell

Overall, this episode didn’t shine with all that much star power, but I’m looking forward to the rounding out of these teams and then, off to the live shows!!

Smash

You know what, I like this show. For all the complaining I do about the writing and the questionable acting and the horror that is the actor who plays Leo Frank, I really do like this show. Maybe my faith was restored during one of the phenomenal dialogue exchanges, or perhaps it was the Best Of: Ivy Lynn sequence during the workshop, or maybe it was just seeing Bernadette Peters on my television screen belting her face off of her face on “Everything’s Coming Up Roses” from Gypsy… or maybe it was a combo of all of these moments that solidified my position as a Smash fan.

This episode is entitled “The Workshop,” and after all the rehearsing and dancing and crying and belting, this is the (sort of) finished product that Julia, Tom, Derek and Eileen have to show for it. All the big names and deep pockets were invited to watch this rough draft in the hopes that they would be awestruck and impressed enough to invest and fund the show. Bernadette Peters guest stars as Leigh Conroy, Ivy Lynn’s tony-winning, Broadway-star mother. It immediately becomes clear that Leigh rather enjoys the spotlight and has zero intention of sharing it with her daughter, which has given Ivy a permanent-runner-up sort of complex. But no time to dwell! Ivy’s all hopped up on Prednisone and sleeping pills and she has no self-esteem because Derek is an ass and Karen is lurking in every corner and CAN’T A GIRL JUST CATCH A BREAK?! But it’s all ok because Ivy took it HOME in the run of the show (or at least, so I thought) and sounded unreal. Sure, she slipped once or twice, but I thought all in all she was a star. Apparently I was the only one, because Derek further hacks away at Ivy’s ego and the whole workshop doesn’t go over well and the investors are concerned and things just aren’t looking great. Well, for everyone but Karen.

Karen is getting contacted by all these super big recording people and Derek loves her and everything just seems to be unicorns and rainbows. Hooray for Karen.

But I thought the real star of this episode was the writing, mostly for Derek Wills and Tom Levitt, who delivered some of the best lines I’ve heard all season. Here are a few of my favorite moments:

Derek: [on Michael Swift’s son coming to visit] “The child thing never ceases to perplex me.”

Tom: “That’s because you’re a reptile.”

——

Derek: “…And then the leading lady got SARS. Remember SARS?”

——

Ivy: “Who knew your gaydar was so stupid?”

Tom: “My gaydar is not stupid! I do not have stupid gaydar. Ugh.”

My hat is off to you, Smash writers, for finally getting it together and delivering some lovely dialogue moments. Bravo.

The other big part of this episode was the rise, climax and denouement of the Julia Houston-Michael Swift relationship. We start the episode with Tom walking in on Julia and Michael hardcore making out like a couple of hormonal teenagers at summer camp, only to find that Ellis has been watching/listening the whole time, like the gross little zit of a human he is. He then runs and tattles to Eileen, who puts him in his place (can I get an AMEN for Eileen?!) but is also now in on the secret. Julia has to leave rehearsal crying when she sees Michael playing with his son and ends their little affair, but Michael is not having it. We reach our climax during the run of the show, when Michael delivers an absolutely goosebump-inducing performance directly to Julia. This is effectively his last performance as Joe DiMaggio as, during the debrief of the workshop, Tom suggests firing Michael in an effort to revamp the show slash save Julia’s sanity and marriage. So, peace out Michael Swift. It’s been real.

Whew! I think this was probably one of the best episodes of Smash to date—finally, some plot progress!  And the musical numbers in this show, like the actual music of them, are outstanding. I now have a Smash Pandora station and I love it. I am cautiously optimistic for the rest of the series, given they keep this momentum going. But ya know, as long as there is belting, I will be watching.

Thanks for reading, and as always, thanks for watching KPRC Local 2!

Celebrity Apprentice, Episode 5

March 19, 2012 - Leave a Response

I have two words to describe this week’s episode of The Celebrity Apprentice: Lou. Ferrigno.

Sure, there are two teams. Sure, there are twelve celebrities left in the running. Sure, Trump’s three spawn appear to have been genetically altered in some mysterious way that makes them look pretentious by simply walking into a room. But there is only ONE Incredible Hulk.

But you know what, I’m being unfair. I would be remiss if I didn’t discuss the utter humiliation I feel on behalf of women everywhere anytime Aubrey O’Day delivers an obnoxious aside straight to camera, or over-enunciates her words in an attempt to distract from her grade-school intellect, or opens her surgically modified lips/eyes at all throughout the course of this season. I must acknowledge the impact her nauseatingly artificial hair color and moronic commentary make on the Celebrity Apprentice­-watching experience. So there. I’ve given Aubrey her due. (But like, let’s be real, we all know there will be more Aubrey-bashing momentarily.)

Also, I was watching last night’s episode with a friend who had some really winning one-liners. I will be ninja-attacking you while you read with said one-liners without any context or explanation. So. Be vigilant. They’re coming.

Like NOW! “There are so many uniquely unattractive people on this show. It’s like a big Ugly Magnet pulled them all into the same place. Hmm.”—Alok Nadig. Hiyah!

But back to the Hulk. This week’s challenge was to create an original “theme” (the vaguest of all vague terms? Methinks yes) and then use that theme in a viral video promoting the O-Cedar ProMist Spray Mop. After last week’s board meeting, it seemed pretty clear that Lou Ferrigno and Tia Carrere needed to put up or shut up, so both volunteered to be project manager for this task, Tia citing her (ex’s) experience with music videos and Lou citing his experience with… being the Incredible Hulk. Really, what more experience does anyone need in order to accomplish any task?

On the men’s side, Lou really put a headlock on the competition (PUNNY!) and strong-armed (HA!) his way into the starring role in the viral video concept—I said shut up Paul Sr., it doesn’t matter that you came up with the concept, you didn’t yell “action” like Dee Snider did which means you are of zero use to this team so just shove off—proving that he is, in fact, the most dedicated, capable and integral member of Team Unanimous. No, Penn Jillete, you’re not nearly as likeable as Mr. Hulk, even though you’re arguably more Hulk-like, so just sit your enormous rear end somewhere it can’t hurt anybody! And—ugh, Clay Aiken you’re not going to win any awards for saintliness by protecting Lou Ferrigno and attacking Penn Jillete so just shut up and keep your fire hair under control! Jeez. So many people trying to steal The Hulk’s spotlight. Which he permanently claimed when he said not once, but TWICE, “like a raging bull in a china closet.” China SHOP, people. China shop. Bull in a china shop. There’s no such thing as a china closet. Why did this bother no one else??

NINJA ATTACK! “OMG [blonde Trump spawn] looks like the human manifestation of a disease.” – Alok Nadig. Hiyah!

The moral of the story is that Mr. Incredible took home the $50,000 prize by shaking his little tush in front of a camera in an apron. I should also add that this made me incredibly uncomfortable. I won’t even go for the “zing!” or “punny!” comment on my use of “incredibly” because I really, truly was incredibly uncomfortable.

The women continued to be catty and throw each other under the bus, using lines such as “I mean, she was in a sorority” and “I mean, she’s Miss Universe” as attacks on people’s character. The unlikely trio of Debbie Gibson, Lisa Lampanelli and Aubrey O’Day makes me want to hurl myself off of a cliff into shark infested waters simply because we are of the same gender. Also because they have dubbed themselves “Team Creative,” and I think that’s offensive to the word “creative.”

Ultimately, Tia Carrere didn’t absorb as much of her ex’s the video producing genius as she thought she did, because she got the ax from good ole Trumpleufagus, claiming she went out with her “head held high.” Oh, Tia. Dear, dear Tia.

NINJA ATTACK: “How did Donald Trump’s face get so unfortunately and irreparably squnched?” – Alok Nadig. Hiyah!

Thanks for reading, and as always, thanks for watching KPRC Local 2!

 

Awake episode 3

March 16, 2012 - Leave a Response

When it comes to a psychological thriller like Awake, pace is everything. The viewer has to be kept involved and interested or you’re dead in the water. Going too far into the imagination results in a problem with the suspension of disbelief; that is to say that if something is too hard to believe, people won’t jump on board, they’ll just change the channel. If something is too easy to believe, chances are you’ve either seen it before or will get bored before the first commercial break, so why watch? It is, without question, a tough line to walk, and you can find all the shows that have failed on one side or the other residing quietly on the SciFi channel, where only the most dedicated of suspenders of disbelief can find them.

I think this week’s episode of Awake demonstrates the potential staying power this series really has. From the story line, to the acting from the key players, to the division of time spent in the two realities, I felt the show took a major step in a positive direction, despite the fact that the cliff-hanger from last week with the captain and that guy who looked like the Grim Reaper was not addressed. Don’t worry NBC, I haven’t forgotten, and I’m still looking forward to the development of that plotline…

The division between the red and green realities is beginning to solidify, which makes it much easier to follow the action and connect with the different characters. The walls in Dr. Lee’s office are red and Dr. Evans is always shot with green leaves behind her, and Hannah wears a red shirt and Rex wears a green track jacket to help us along, but hopefully the action will begin to speak for itself and we will recognize the realities without as much help from the costume/lighting departments. We spend the majority of this week in the green reality, which I must admit I think I prefer, with the one exception being Dr. Lee of the red reality, but that’s really because I think I secretly want him to therapize me via the television. The action focuses on John Cooper, a man convicted of the murder of his son’s drug dealer, who has served ten years in prison for a crime he claims he did not commit. Detective Michael Britten was one of the arresting officers in the case. Cooper, a diabetic, breaks free from his guards after a routine dialysis trip and proceeds to find and kidnap Rex in an attempt to blackmail Britten into proving his innocence. Cooper and Michael meet to discuss the terms of the deal, but before Britten can get any concrete information, the Fuzz shows up and shoots Cooper, killing him. Meanwhile, Rex is trapped in the desert somewhere and will most likely die of dehydration unless he is found quickly.

It is here, after Cooper’s death, that we see Michael’s first attempt to really control his shifts between realities with the aid of sleeping pills. He hurries home in order to fall asleep and wake up in the red reality, where he can go to the still alive and imprisoned John Cooper for some answers. It all comes down to whether or not Michael can prove that Cooper is innocent by implicating Jim Mayhew, his former partner, otherwise known as Alan Matthews (William Russ) from Boy Meets World! Yes! That’s right! Cory’s dad! Cooper insists he was framed and that a cop involved with the case planted the gun, which provided the damning evidence that sent him to prison in the first place. In his first act of real detective work to date, Michael reopens the case and discovers that about $900,000 went missing from the scene. First of all, HOW DID YOU NOT NOTICE THAT THE FIRST TIME. Second of all, HOW DID YOU NOT NOTICE THAT THE FIRST TIME!? Wearing a wire, Michael goes to Jim Mayhew’s house and demands his cut of the money, saying he was one of the arresting officers and should get his share, hoping he can get Mayhew to admit to stealing the money which will prove that: 1) Jim is guilty 2) John Cooper is innocent 3) Michael’s not crazy. Jim almost had us for a second, and Detective Fez (because, let’s be honest, that’s what we’re all calling him in our heads) is one step away from tattling on Michael and sending him to the loony bin, so this was an important win for Michael overall. We flash forward to Michael speeding into the desert where he finds Rex and saves his life.

Interestingly, this provides the psychiatrists in both realities with some common ground. Both feel that the John Cooper scenario was an invention of his subconscious, directly related to guilt Michael feels, which I think we can deduce all comes back to his family’s car accident. In the red reality, Dr. Lee concludes that Michael always knew that Cooper was innocent, and his subconscious provided him the means to correct a past wrong. In the green reality, Dr. Evans’ comments focus on Michael’s inability to forgive himself, even after Michael saves his son from death and clears the name of a wrongfully convicted man, and what that means for his healing process. For both doctors, Michael’s guilt is the reason behind the reality-split. See? We can agree when we put our minds to it!

I have heard some pretty mixed reviews about this show as a whole, but I really hope the public (and the network) hang in there, because I think this series is heading in some seriously twisted and fascinating directions. Who is really responsible for the car accident? Will the realities eventually come together, and what will that mean for Michael’s psyche? Will the events that have played out in the crimes we have seen thus far all have something to do with the deaths of his wife and/or son? Will Detective Vega ever NOT be Fez in my mind? Only time will tell.

Thanks for reading, and as always, thanks for watching KPRC Local 2!

Fashion Star Series Premiere!

March 14, 2012 - Leave a Response

In the ever-changing world of network primetime television, the only constant one can rely on is change. I do love a good cliché. So now I present to you, Fashion Star, NBC’s most recent show about the business-end of the fashion industry.

Now when I first caught wind of this new show and heard the premise, I was immediately inclined to think this was a Project Runway knock off and had all but written it off. But as your faithful NBC primetime blogger, I couldn’t just let it go without checking it out for myself. And I must say I was pleasantly surprised. I appreciate how much emphasis is placed on the business side of this industry, when so often it just looks like a bunch of fabric and thread being thrown around by overly dramatic individuals wearing absurd outfits and too much makeup.

So the premise of Fashion Star is that every week, 14 designers will present a showcase (which is incredibly vague and I don’t really know if that means one design three different ways or three different designs but, oh well…) to the buyers from Macy’s, Saks Fifth Avenue and H&M who decide on the spot if they want to buy the clothes or not. If more than one buyer wants the design, the clothes go to the highest bidder. The designs bought during the show will be available in the winning store the very next day! INTERACTIVE TELEVISION!

The mentors, who don’t seem like they serve any real purpose besides lending their pseudo-famous names to what would otherwise be a fairly forgettable show title, are Jessica Simpson, Nicole Richie and John Varvatos. Jessica Simpson supposedly knows things about fashion, but based on what she wears, I’d take everything she says with a grain of salt. Or maybe a whole shaker-full. Nicole Richie wore something on her head I think I saw Princess Jasmine wearing in Aladdin, but I respect her eccentricity and think she will probably have some insights to contribute if tonight was any indication. John Varvatos, the least immediately recognizable name but obviously the most credible mentor, worked for Ralph Lauren and Calvin Klein as head of menswear before starting his own fashion house. Basically he’s super successful in the world of clothes and I’d take what he said to heart if I were one of these contestants.

If the buyers do not make an offer on a designer’s showcase, that designer is up for elimination at the end of the episode. Of all those without an offer, three are selected for the bottom and from those, one is saved by the mentors, one is saved by the buyers, and one goes home.

Whew. That was an in-depth description of a seemingly vapid program.

But like I said, I think this show has some merit in that it really highlights what the fashion industry is like once the sequins and fairy dust settle. Your mom and besties can love your designs a whole lot but if no one buys it, guess what. You’re still poor.

Of the 14 designers, six were bid upon and therefore safe and eight were up for elimination. I’ll focus on the bottom three for now. Oscar Fierro is a small, rambunctious, flamboyant, dramatic and ostensibly tasteless designer with a WHOLE LOT of personality. He comes from El Salvador where he often went days without food, traversed countless, dangerous borders and eventually found his way to the Promised Land where he won’t be persecuted for his height or over-application of bronzer and glitter. Nicole Richie was his mentor in the workroom and “saw something in [his] eyes” that showed what potential he has. I think that’s a load, but the mentors chose to save him in the hopes that he produces something less lame and more original next time, since the three butterfly dresses he presented this week. Not only have I seen that dress MANY times before, but each time I thought the girl wearing it looked SUPA trashy.  Kara Laricks looks like Tilda Swinton and is into “deconstructionist fashion,” which, by the look of it, means going through a bin at a thrift store and taking apart the pieces of an item and then selling them individually. The real problem here is that when everyone else produced full outfits, she thought it would be a good idea to send a collar and tie down the runway as her contribution. Needless to say, this was pretty unimpressive, but the buyers decided to save her. Why, you ask? Either because she seems like she has good ideas or she was just less offensive than the other guy. The other guy is Nicholas Bowes and he was a straight up idiot. Of the six people who decide the fate of these contestants, four of them are women. And he goes and tells women they don’t know anything about men’s fashion. I mean. Ya just don’t do it.

And thus ends the first episode of Fashion Star! Hopefully by next week, the actual layout of the series will become clearer and we’ll see how things progress. It may not be the most intellectually stimulating show on television, but it is by no means the worst thing I’ve ever seen. HOORAY FOR FASHION!

Thanks for reading, and as always, thanks for watching KPRC Local 2!

The Voice Battle Rounds part II and Smash episode 6

March 13, 2012 - Leave a Response

The Voice

Well ladies and gentlemen, we now find ourselves knee-deep in these head-to-head battle rounds and the teams are filling up. Now, I usually pride myself on being able to recognize a good thing when I see/hear it, and more over, being able to predict the coaches’ choices about who will make it onto the live shows. But last night either my celebradar was on the fritz or there were some seriously unfortunate choices made, whether for demographic purposes or just because the coaches are hearing something completely different from what I’m hearing. Either way, I found myself in disagreement with the panel more often than not as I watched last night’s battle round unfold.

Geoff “Wait, I’m not Blind?!” McBride vs. Sera “I Sang with Xtina” Hill singing “Chain of Fools” by Aretha Franklin for Team Xtina

Not only do I have a soft spot for Aretha Franklin, but this song happens to be a personal favorite of mine, and what better duo to do it justice than this one? Ok, maybe Jesse Campbell/Anthony Evans would’ve been better. But these two did a pretty killer job. I remember not being all that impressed with Geoff’s original audition, thinking it sounded like a pretty standard karaoke version of a Stevie Wonder song, but good LAWD them some surrious pipes. He went to town on some of those notes, and watching Xtina and Lionel Richie literally get knocked backward from the blast radius was almost reason enough for me to be in Geoff’s corner. But we mustn’t forget Sera, who so inspired Xtina with her audition that the Countess of Cleavage just had to get up on stage and remind everyone that, as talented as these people think they are, there is only ONE Xtina. I think these two were very evenly matched, and both “sang the crap outta that song,” as Blake so adorably put it. But I think Geoff was doomed from the start. Xtina already has a soulful R&B tenor on her team and his name is Jesse Campbell. Geoff and Jesse are ultimately too similar, and no matter how awesome he may have sounded, this battle was going to Sera from the word go. During the actual performance, I thought Geoff was pretty phenomenal overall, perhaps taking a few too many liberties with the melody and muddying it. Sera took some risks; some paid off and some didn’t. But like I said, Sera was going to be the champion of this battle no matter what. And since what I say is blogospel, thus it shall be done.

Champion: Sera Hill!

Charlotte “Disintegrating Jaw” Sometimes vs. Lex “…” Lands singing “Pumped Up Kicks” by Foster the People for Team Blake

Well, considering I LOATHED Lex Lands’ original audition and thought Charlotte was pretty badass, this was a pretty clear choice for me as well. What I really don’t appreciate is how intensely they slate one contestant to be the “underdog,” building the entire pre-battle segment around their journey only so they can slash their dreams for the biggest effect. But that’s showbiz I suppose! I was curious as to how this song would play out as a vocally-based duet, and it wasn’t bad. In terms of stage presence, there was simply no competition. Charlotte looked incredibly at home on stage, whereas Lex looked like she was in a fairly large amount of pain from beginning to end. AND she sounded lame. That “breathy” quality Xtina was talking about actually makes my skin crawl—it’s just not my cup of tea. It sounds unsupported and kitschy.  There were a few cool runs in there on Lex’s side, but I think at the end of the day she was trying to cover up vocal weakness with a few tricks that couldn’t quite measure up to Charlotte’s unique, seemingly effortless tone.

Champion: Charlotte Sometimes

Sarah “I R WHAT I R” Golden vs. Juliet “Take a Shower” Simms singing “Stay with Me” by Rod Stewart for Team Cee-Lo

There’s just something so easy, laid back and up-front about Sarah Golden. She’s someone whose record you’d want to buy and then maybe grab coffee or a drink with afterwards to discuss. Her voice comes through easily—there’s no strain because she knows what she’s good at but still stretches the harmonies and intricacies of a tune to make it her own. Juliet Simms, on the other hand, is like that chick in the bar doing body shots for attention but then screams and cries about how she gets objectified by men when some drunk college fratstars try to pick her up. Sigh. During the coachings, Cee-Lo kept asserting that this was a good pairing, that Sarah and Juliet were different enough that each woman’s voice would come through and that he wasn’t just playing to Juliet’s strengths. LIES. Therefore, it was no surprise that when it came time for the performance, Juliet looked like the star and Sarah the backup singer. I think that if we had to break it down, Juliet might be the better performer but Sarah is by far the superior musician/vocalist and, most importantly, is WAY more likeable. I don’t think many people would pick up the phone and vote for Juliet Simms, and when it comes down to the live show, that is an important factor. I think Cee-Lo was penny wise, dollar foolish with this choice, but c’est la vie.

Champion: Juliet Simms!

Whitney “IT Girl” Myer vs. Kim “Tried and True” Yarbrough singing “No More Drama” by Mary J. Blige for Team Adam

Now this was an interesting pairing. The segment before the battle wasn’t really indicative of much besides the fact that these two women are different ages. Whitney is 25 and Kim is 51, and both have these exciting, personality-filled voices. There isn’t a lot to say about this performance round, because Kim so obviously took it to church and Whitney was sort of left panting in the dust, but I think this is another interesting scenario of a coach not thinking of the big picture. Let me start by saying I WORSHIP women with voices like Kim Yarbrough. Aretha Franklin, Chaka Khan, Diana Ross, Whitney Houston, even Xtina—these women were born with the god-given right to BELT and I will forever consider them the standard for true vocal talent. But Kim doesn’t bring anything new to the table. I’ve heard that voice before, and while I love it, I don’t necessarily think it’s moving anything in a new direction. Whitney, on the other hand, is young but interesting. The vocal agility she demonstrated with her original audition is rare, and she’s actually had a ton of performing experience considering her age. She’s cool and likeable and incredibly talented and different. In terms of the competition, Whitney stood a very good chance of getting to the final rounds, whereas Kim, while awesome, doesn’t have that same kind of potential. But based on that specific song, Kim took it home. We’ll see how it all pans out, I suppose!

Champion: Kim Yarbrough!

Lee “I’m a Baker” Koch vs. Lindsey “Where’d Half My Hair Go?” Pavao singing “Heart-Shaped Box” by Nirvana for Team Xtina

Ah yes, the Battle of the Squeaky Hipkidz. Don’t get me wrong, I actually really like both of these artists and thought they each brought something pretty cool to the table. Not to mention, this song is an interesting on-the-border-of-bizarre choice by Xtina, which works for these two. Lee was all kindza insecure during the coachings, not being as familiar with the original song as Lindsey, and I wasn’t sure if he’d be as memorable without his guitar/harmonica. But I have to say, I thought Lee KILLED this performance. He was original and present and really laid it all out there. Lindsey was good, too, but her phrasing was weird and her breathing was super funky; like, why ya breathin’ every 5 seconds? Stop it. Sustain a note. Any note. I didn’t think it was possible, but Lee out-weirded Lindsey and I super dug it. But it’s interesting—I’ve been complaining that coaches like Cee-Lo and Adam haven’t been thinking big picture and haven’t necessarily made the smartest overall decisions for their teams. As much as I rag on Xtina, I have to give it to her. Homegirl thinks VERY big picture. All of her choices thus far have made sense to me. No, her pairing of Chris Mann and Monique Benabou didn’t make any sense vocally, but strategically it totally did. She was expendable and there wasn’t really anyone else to pair up with Chris. Sera Hill might not have really been leagues better than Geoff McBride vocally, but she strengthens the team demographically. So I wasn’t surprised she picked Lindsey over Lee because I think Lindsey stands a better chance at winning than Lee would have. As much as it pains me to say it… Xtina’s using those brains. And yes, I’m referring to the ones in her head.

Champion: Lindsey Pavao!

Jamar “Pharrell” Rogers vs. Jamie “Potbelly” Lono singing “I Want to Know What Love Is” by Foreigner for Team Cee-Lo

This is like my worst nightmare of a pairing. I was SO behind both of these artists and would have rooted for each one individually in any other scenario. But, alas. Let’s start off by commenting on Cee-Lo’s cranberry onesie. COULD YOU LOOK ANY MORE LIKE A PLUMP PIECE OF PURPLE FRUIT?! I’m done. I think this is another case of a song being selected for one artist, while the other is kind of left playing second fiddle. Jamar knew the second that song was announced that he was about to own poor Jamie. And Jamie, similarly, knew he was about to be violated. I think Jamie worked himself up to the point of no return; once your voice cracks like that in front of professionals, it’s hard to turn the mentality around. And boy did he crack. In front of Cee-Lo, in front of Babyface, in front of America. Sigh. And there’s just something about Jamar’s energy—it’s absolutely infectious. You can’t help but want him to succeed, not only because his story is legitimately admirable, but because he’s incredibly talented. And only Jamar Rogers could get away with saying, “If I win this, it will be a victory for anyone who’s ever overcome anything,” without looking like a total tool. I mean. I still don’t know if I can completely get behind it. But I won’t tear him to pieces over it, either. The battle itself was just a prolonged Jamar moment, and I really did enjoy it, especially when Jamie was contributing light, falsetto harmonies on top. But my favorite moment was when Adam Levine expressed my very sentiments during Jamar’s original audition, about how the other judges were IDIOTS for not turning their chairs around for him. If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times, that man is a STAR.

Champion: Jamar Rogers!

So here’s a quick breakdown of the teams thus far:

Team Adam: Tony Lucca and Kim Yarbrough (4 spots remain)

Team Blake: RaeLynn, Jordis Unga and Charlotte Sometimes (3 spots remain)

Team Cee-Lo: Cheesa, Juliet Simms and Jamar Rogers (3 spots remain)

Team Xtina: Jesse Campbell, Chris Mann, Sera Hill and Lindsey Pavao (2 spots remain)

There are stars on each of these teams, but it’s too soon to call anything. Check back in next week to see how the teams continue to stack up!

Smash

This episode was ALL about Julia Houston and Michael Swift. They’re kind of the only couple on this show with any actual chemistry, which was the theme of this week’s installment. I love Ivy, but not with Derek. I love Karen (‘s voice), but don’t really get much from her and Boyfriend. I do love Tom and Lawyer Man, but don’t think there’s any actual chemistry between them. Julia and Michael, on the other hand, know how to turn up the heat, so much so that at several moments I found myself sweating (which was either because Julia and Michael are so steamy together or because it’s always 80 degrees in Houston, TX and the humidity alone can cause even the coldest-blooded of humans to sweat profusely from any and every orifice). One of my favorite moments (aside from the obvious scene on the couch) was Julia explaining why she was defenseless to Michael’s advances:

Tom: But your son! Your husband!

Julia: Tom. He SANG to me.

Classic. I, too, would’ve been a puddle on the floor had a man with that voice and that physique serenaded me on the street outside my home. You know. If I didn’t have a son… or a husband… No matter! Despite the writing that makes it difficult for even the best of actors to make some of these scenes believable, I often find myself thanking Debra Messing and her perfectly coiffed and colored hair for being my rock in this sea of questionable acting, slow-moving plot moments and strangely cast love connections. So… thank you Debra Messing. Even if you are negating all the work parents, teachers and legislators have put into making men understand that no actually does mean no. But who watches these shows for lessons in moral rectitude? Not me! I watch Dawson’s Creek for that.

At the top of the episode, as Ivy is singing to herself in the mirror (like ya do), she starts to squeak on some of her top notes, indicating she might be ::GASP:: losing her voice! Honestly, who wouldn’t lose their voice after belting the way she has, as often as she has, as upside-down as she has. But here’s the problem I actually have with this particular story line. Megan Hilty doesn’t do a good job of faking vocal fatigue. It’s like her voice is TOO strong to feign a flaw. So I found myself just generally annoyed and put-off by her weak attempts at… weakness. Not to mention that music video montage thing was SO random and weird. Also, did anyone else notice that Ivy totally matched her bedding? I giggled at that revelation. Anyways, Ivy goes on Prednisone, a steroid, to ensure she has a voice for the big rehearsal with the investors, especially after a little gentle coaxing from her ever-supportive and kind director/boyfriend. Oh I’m sorry, did I say gentle coaxing? I meant after a thinly veiled threat of being replaced, effectively crushing all of her dreams and aspirations. COOL, DEREK. Also, I have never heard of anyone hallucinating like that on a vocal steroid. Come on, people. Also, is Prednisone a corporate sponsor of Smash? So. Much. Product placement.

But let’s not forget that Karen Cartwright sang at a Bar Mitzvah during this episode. That’s right. I was SO excited to hear Katherine McPhee sing “Havah Negilah” I was plotzing all over the place, my kishkes were all in a knot and I could barely breathe from all the k’velling. Aaaand that’s all the Yiddish I can muster, hope you’re proud, Grandma! And as per usual, Karen reminded us why she’s a star with her rendition of Florence + the Machine’s “Shake It Out,” yet another single I will be purchasing on iTunes. Thank goodness she can sing, because that’s really all Katherine McPhee can contribute to this show.

All in all, I’m not quite sure what more I want from this series, but there is definitely something. It’s not musical numbers, we got those and I love ‘em. It’s not good-looking people; Derek pretty much has that covered single-handedly… Oh, I know! Better writing. Here’s to hoping!

Check back next week to see if the Smash producers have come to their senses and decided to hire me as their new script writer, thanks for reading and, as always, thanks for watching KPRC Local 2!

Celebrity Apprentice episode 4

March 13, 2012 - Leave a Response

This week’s episode of The Celebrity Apprentice was entitled “Failure to Launch,” which I find to be a rather appropriate title for a show that can’t quite seem to pique my interest in any real way, no matter how many times Donald Trump makes his “I’m a constipated baby” face. Things did pick up a little bit once we were in the boardroom, with the first ever Martyr Card being drawn, as one project manager threw him/herself on the sacrificial altar. Trump no like. Trump no like at all.

The task this week was to conceptualize and execute a launch for the Buick Verano, including a ten minute presentation and a ten minute question-and-answer session. Trumpleton made it very clear to the men’s team that Michael Andretti, the famed race-car driver, should be taking point on this challenge, but the team chose Adam Carolla as their project manager instead. SPOILER ALERT: This was a bad call. The women chose Debbie Gibson, and for a few fleeting moments I was hopeful this challenge might bring about her demise, and I was practically glowing.

Watching these women work together reminds me of my days spent as a camp counselor where I was in charge of a gaggle of 11-year-old girls. Those girls could fight about ANYTHING. “She touched my toothbrush!” “Well she sat on my bed without asking!” “Well she took my favorite cereal at breakfast!” “Well she knows I like Jonathan but I saw her talking to him behind the flagpole and she TOTALLY fake laughed at his jokes so he’d ask her to be his date to banquet instead of me!” Et cetera, et cetera. The two that most brought me back to those torturous days were Debbie Gibson and Aubrey O’Day. And to some extent Lisa Lampanelli, but I think that’s because she reminds me of the scary head cook that sweat in the bug juice. Debbie split the women into two vans, and Aubrey aptly described them as the “cool van” and the “uncool van.” As dearest Aubrey put it, “I’ve always been one of the members of the cool van.” Problems I have with this in general:

1)      One cannot be a member of a van.

2)      In what world is Lisa Lampanelli in the cool van and Miss Universe in the uncool van?

3)      Aubrey has single-handedly ruined the word “cool” for me. And I totally used it a bunch.

If Aubrey O’Day and Debbie Gibson are cool, then call me Steve Urkel.

Sidebar—I love the descriptions of the celebrities that pop up under their names, lest you forget who they are (ya know, like the rest of popular culture did…) like “Late Night Legend” or “Pop Icon.” You know, those terms begin to lose their meaning if you just throw them around all willy nilly like that.

ANYWHO. The presentations themselves were contrived and weird. The women did ok,with the exception of Aubrey calling the Verano the Verona while also cheaply using personal tragedy in order to further her personal goals. Shocking, I know. But they did utilize a majority of their team.

The men, on the other hand, put all their eggs in one Adam Carolla-sized basket. But Adam had the sense to let the race-car driver test drive the product, and I loved watching Michael race around the parking lot in that Buick. I love a man who can handle his… stick shift. (ZING! SEXUAL INNUENDO!)   Michael Andretti made an appearance in the presentation here and there, but this was the Adam show, which ultimately served as the downfall for the men’s team.

When Trumpapalooza announced that the women had won the challenge and asked Adam who he would bring back into the boardroom, Adam chose to not bring back a single soul in a stunning show of moral fiber and idiocy, causing quite a ruffling of some Trump feathers.

You know what, I take back that idiocy line. I have a lot of love for Adam Carolla for standing up to RumpleTrumpstein, even though it ultimately bit him in the behind. Also, it’s interesting that no one has ever taken responsibility in the way Adam did, angering Mt. Trump to the point of firing not one, but TWO “celebs” this week. Life is so hard.

Here’s the thing. If it were up to the contestants, Lou Ferrigno would’ve been sent packing. No one on his team likes him. And quite frankly, he’s been acting like quite the petulant child. But Donald will NOT be told what to do. This is HIS show, and he will fire WHOMEVER he wants. So, in an act of total power abuse, Trump fired both Adam Carolla AND Michael Andretti, neither of whom was picked by their teammates as the weakest link.

Which all brings me back to the conclusion that this show is just an excuse for a bored Donald Trump to play puppet-master to all of these sad, career-less has-beens.

Hey. If you’re stupid enough to go on reality television, you automatically subject yourself to my verbal whiplash. Check your contract—IT’S IN THERE.

Thanks for reading, and as always, thanks for watching KPRC Local 2!

Awake episode 2

March 9, 2012 - One Response

I feel there are two different shows happening here (like, in our reality. Not in Michael’s dual realities. Although technically there are two shows happening there, too. But I’m talking about our reality. Which is different from Michael’s reality. I mean, realities. I mean. Oh god.) On the one hand, we have a very interesting psychological thriller about a man trapped in a potentially self-inflicted purgatorial dream state, where he alternatingly gets to live with both his wife and his son, but ultimately doesn’t get to live with either, since he’s never sure which one is real and which is an invention of his subconscious. This show has compelling characters, a creative story line and an engaging way of using various lighting cues, costumes and other subtle hints to include the viewer in the mind game. If you watch closely, the filters are tinted red and green in each reality, giving everything a particular hue. Detective Vega (Wilmer Valderrama) wears a red shirt and tie indicating the wife’s reality. The interrogation room is tinted green in the son’s reality. It’s fairly ingenious.

I like this show.

On the other hand, we have a weak attempt at a detective drama, where the main character doesn’t really seem to be a very good detective at all. He just gets to cheat because he’s brain damaged. The crimes aren’t even all that interesting; in fact, I’m pretty sure I’ve seen every crime scenario thus far on an episode of Law & Order (although, to be fair, they’ve pretty much covered every possible circumstance on one of the show’s various incarnations). I like Steve Harris’s detective character, but I’m still not convinced Wilmer Valderrama can carry his role as a straight man, mostly because I still hear Fez every time he speaks and it makes me chuckle at inappropriate moments.

I’m not the biggest fan of this show.

So, not only is the main character of Awake living dual lives, the viewers are, too. (INTERACTIVE TELEVISION!) I spend half my time thoroughly engaged as Michael attempts to be a better father and husband to his son and wife, respectively, and I really appreciate the contrasting perspectives of the two shrinks. But then we get to the crime-solving part of the show, and I am distinctly less interested. Everything I’ve written applies until we get to the very end of this week’s episode, and then this wonderfully constructed examination of a television show goes to pot. More on this later.

This second episode finds Michael getting better at using information from one reality and applying it to the other in order to get closer to both his wife and his son, from something as small as using a certain fabric softener to remind Rex of his mother, to helping Hannah reconstruct her feelings about her lost son by encouraging her to engage with physical memories of Rex instead of avoiding them. He seems to have a better handle on transitioning between realities, and now we also have a clearer indicator in the form of a Rorschach test that flashes as we move from one reality to the other. Things are really starting to gel. The more aggressive Dr. Lee is intent on getting Michael to abandon the “green” reality where his son lives and stick to the “red” one in order to heal, while the seemingly more open-minded Dr. Evans encourages the link between the two, saying that accessing his subconscious will ultimately be an aid in the healing process.

On the “green” policing side of things, Detectives Britten and Bird are investigating the murder of a fertility doctor who, on the “red” side, is a homeless man whose death interests no one but Detective Britten. As Michael investigates the homeless man’s death on the “red” side, he interviews a witness (albeit a clearly mentally challenged homeless man with a penchant for chewing gum) that pinpoints a “little guy” as the culprit. This clue then informs the entirety of Britten’s search in the other reality, which is kind of lacking in any real detective work. Eventually, Michael solves the case on the “green” side by ruling out the lead suspect based on, you guessed it, height. The case of the dead homeless man on the “red” side, however, goes unsolved, which Dr. Evans considers a message from Michael’s subconscious having to do with his son, but probably has more to do with the fact that his boss, the police chief, got in the way of his investigation.

The police chief (Laura Innes), whom you might recognize from her roles on ER and The Event (what? No one watched that show about aliens invading the planet shown from a political, diplomatic perspective even though it was awesome, so NBC canceled it and broke my sci-fi loving heart? Oh.), starts meddling in Michael’s investigation, telling him to abandon the “little guy” lead on the dead homeless man and focus on other cases. Right off the bat you can tell somethin’ ain’t right with this lady, but it isn’t until the last few moments when things get interesting. We see the chief sitting on a park bench, talking to an ominous-looking dude about how she is “handling” the Britten situation. She directly refers to the “taking out” of his entire family and insists that the man make no other moves to contain Britten, and that she has everything under control. So then, what is the deal with the police chief? She clearly knew about the plan to off Michael and his family, but how is she involved? What did Michael do to deserve such treatment? Does she exist in the same capacity in both realities? Is she aware of the fractured consciousnesses? And what does being short have to do with all of this?!?

If you don’t have questions at the end of an episode like this, there’s something wrong with the show. So, things bode well for the series, methinks!

Check in next week for more red-light-green-light-inspired mind games.

Thanks for reading, and as always, thanks for watching KPRC Local 2!

The Voice Battle Rounds part I and Smash “Let’s Be Bad” (ep 5)

March 7, 2012 - Leave a Response

WELL. If Monday night’s NBC primetime programming wasn’t absolutely everything I was hoping for plus some extra stank from The Voice, you can slap my bottom and call me Bessie. (But actually please don’t.) I found myself exclaiming “WHAT?!” and “HOW?!” and “SANG IT!” just about as often as Xtina experienced a near nip slip. Which was OFTEN.  Are you excited?! Because I’M SO EXCITED. I can’t even mess around with an intro. Straight to the goods.

The Voice

It is time… for… THE BATTLE ROUNDS.  Here’s a breakdown as to how these next few episodes will work: two members of each team will be pitted directly against each other in a gladiator-esque vocal battle, fighting for one of six spots on his/her coach’s roster. They sing the same song, in harmony, and it’s up to the individual coach to select the champion. The opinions of the other coaches, while solicited, don’t actually matter at all.

Battle #1: Tony “Mouseketeer” Lucca vs. Chris “Soulbrotha” Cauley singing U2’s “Beautiful Day” for Team Adam

Now I love me some Tony Lucca, but I had forgotten how much I also love me some Chris Cauley. They’re both soulful/bluesy/folksy type singers that you’d want to listen to on a road trip through the Southeast, where things are green and lush and you can’t help but smile as you listen to their grit and rasp blast through your speakers. During the training sessions with Alanis Morissette and Robin Thicke (EEEK I DIEEE), I thought Chris really brought it. He was the consummate professional and seemed confident and vocally powerful. So it surprised me that he was continuously referred to as the underdog. I mean, why is it considered such a distinct advantage to have been on The Mickey Mouse Club? That was like… 20 years ago. Come on. Anyway, they both did a phenomenal job, but by the end of the performance I pretty much had my mind made up. Chris was outstanding and super smooth, looking all kindsa fine, might I add, but there was something so unique and interesting about Tony’s voice and performance. And apparently, Adam Levine agreed with me. Tony Lucca vs. Chris Cauley video 

Champion: Tony Lucca!

Battle #2: Adley “I’m Really Annoying” Stump vs. RaeLynn “I’m Too Cute for a Last Name” singing Tom Petty’s “Free Fallin’” for Team Blake

Unlike the last battle, I knew exactly who I wanted to win as soon as the names were announced. Yeah, yeah, we know Adley can belt. But it takes more than some “cheerleader lungs,” as Xtina put it, to really make it in this industry. I don’t think this girl can spell the word “artistry” let alone master it as a concept. RaeLynn is VERY young (all of 17 years old), but already has a lot of depth and character in her voice. Not to mention, Blake pretty much HAD to pick RaeLynn after he compared her to a young version of his wife, Miranda Lambert. To be fair, I thought both ladies had some serious pitch problems during the performance itself. RaeLynn was trying real hard to showcase her sound and might have sacrificed pitch somewhere along the line to do so. Adley, on the other hand, was just kind of lame. If your money is your belt, you betta BELT, and she really didn’t utilize it the way she should have. She had volume but no oomph. Needless to say, Blake made the right call and chose quality over quantity. Adley Stump vs. RaeLynn video

Champion: RaeLynn!

Battle #3: Chris “Powerhouse” Mann vs. Monique “Supacute” Benabou singing Celine Dion’s “The Power of Love” for Team Xtina

My first reaction when I heard this pairing was, “WHAT THE EFF!? This makes ZERO sense.” But then I listened to their coachings with Lionel Richie and Jewel. And I still thought “WHAT THE EFF!?” Chris is a classically trained opera star. Monique can’t read music. Chris has control and power and years of experience. Monique has an adorable last name and a cute hairdo. What does Monique have going for her, you ask? Ah yes, the always ambiguous and never conclusive “raw emotion” card.  This is a SINGING competition, remember? Not a “who can cry on command best” competition. Also, Xtina hit an all-new low(cut) with her outfit choice during the trainings. It was real gross. I could’ve sworn there was a little areola. MUST NOT LET XTINA PULL FOCUS. I guess Monique hit some fairly impressive notes all things considered and she definitely gave it her all, but Monique’s all is just nowhere near Chris’s weirdest night, which Monday night might have been. It was a weird song. They were weird together on it. But I believe Cee-Lo put it best when he said the following about Chris: “I just believe you’re one of the best we have.” Here’s the thing. IT’S TRUE. Chris Mann vs. Monique Benabou video

Champion: Chris Mann!

Battle #4: Cheesa “What is this name?!” vs. Angie “Staff Sergeant” Johnson singing Bonnie Tyler’s “Total Eclipse of the Heart” for Team Cee-Lo

This was the battle of the key change, and I loved it. Cheesa and Angie Johnson both came into this as brassy, sassy power belters, and, as any good diva knows, the key to a memorable performance is the money note that no mere mortal can hit, but doesn’t quite make the glass shatter. During the first rehearsal, Cheesa suggested raising the key. Now, if this were the old west, that would be like one cowboy reaching for his gun holster while eyeing the other cowboy as the tumbleweeds… tumbled. You could tell Angie was intimidated at first, but came back with a “well if you’re going to change the key, you might as well keep raising it,” showing Cheesa she meant business. I could’ve watched this go on forever, but unfortunately there are time constraints on television shows. During Angie’s coaching with hip-hop star and producer Ne-Yo, the military analogies abounded as Ne-Yo told her to “pull the trigger” and to not hold back. I love military analogies, so I found myself rooting for Staff Sergeant Johnson all the way. But then, during the performance, Cheesa went and hit this crazy note and Angie just didn’t have the opportunity to respond. Alas, the victim of circumstance. I still would’ve picked Angie but Cee-Lo has a thang for Hawaiians. Cheesa vs. Angie Johnson video

Champion: Cheesa!

Battle #5: Jordis “Power Squat” Unga vs. Brian “Who?” Fuente singing Alanis Morissette’s “Ironic” for Team Blake

This battle was an overall trainwreck. Jordis was a hot commodity coming out of the Blind Audition round and no one remembers who Brian Fuente is, so this victory was hers for the taking. Unfortunately, she spent all of her coaching/training sessions second guessing herself and had all but completely psyched herself out of the competition. Considering all the performance experience she has had, this was not a good showing. Luckily for her, Brian Fuente totally ATE IT on stage, forgetting where he was in the song, fumbling lyrics and generally looking a hot mess. During the judge’s critique, Blake Shelton called it like it is, as he is wont to do (bless his country heart), and told them both it was a disappointing performance, but ultimately saw more potential in Jordis than Brian. Thank goodness for second chances, right Jordis? Jordis Unga vs. Brian Fuente video

Champion: Jordis Unga!

Battle #6: Anthony “Son of a Preacher Man” Evans vs. Jesse “My Voice Knows No Bounds” Campbell singing Alicia Keys’ “If I Ain’t Got You” for Team Xtina

So coming into this battle, I was totally sure that Jesse Campbell would flatten Anthony Evans like the kid who hits puberty early flattens the kid who hits puberty late on the playground. Face all in the dirt, making him eat worms, etc. But what Anthony did not demonstrate in his previous audition was his POWERGOSPEL. And it is something FIERCE. This was by far the most epic battle of the night, and quite honestly, one of the best vocal performances I’ve ever seen on a show of this nature. If there was ever a moment to keep on your DVR for future viewing, it would be this one. I rewound and watched it thrice. There was riffing. There was belting. There were stratospheric high notes. There were gut-wrenching pleas to the audience. Xtina was plotzing. I was plotzing. Both men performed outstandingly well, and if either had been matched up against someone else would probably have clinched a spot. But, much like the first performance of the night, these two were almost too well matched. But at the end of the day, Jesse Campbell’s voice really doesn’t know any bounds—he has no vocal break, I don’t think he flipped into falsetto once, and he always makes it look effortless while still infusing huge amounts of passion. Tough break, Anthony, but you did yourself and your Preacher Papa super proud. Anthony Evans vs. Jesse Campbell video

Champion: Jesse Campbell!

Well I don’t know about you, but I’m completely exhausted. That was one for the books, people. I am simply giddy with excitement for next week’s battles!

 Smash

Oooo lawd, this episode was a good one. There was actual ACTING in it! “Let’s Be Bad,” which served as both the episode title and the big musical number, did not disappoint in either capacity. Julia Houston was on FAHRE, and I thought Ivy really accessed a whole new level of Marilyn. But do I love anyone more than I love Tom? Maybe not. Let us to the recap!

What on earth could be better than having Gay Uncle Tom and his lawyer pseudo-boyfriend bail you out of jail for maybe but not really smoking pot in Central Park while your mother flirts with her illicit ex-boyfriend over pie? NOTHING. I take that back. Watching your mom make out with her illicit ex-boyfriend on the stoop of your apartment after he’s spilled the beans about how she used to smoke pot after a long rehearsal and also serenades her with a totally random musical number about how much he loves her is TOTALLY better. It almost made me forget how much I hate the actor that plays Leo Houston. Almost. I sill hate him. I hate when he speaks. I hate when he exists. I just hate him. But back to Julia. WOMAN! CONTROL YOURSELF! But really don’t. Because Michael Swift is super hot. Not as hot as Sexy Director Man, but very few humans are.

I digress.

Things in the rehearsal room are getting very interesting as Derek aka Sexy Director Man starts to really mess with Ivy’s head, making her all kinds of insecure, particularly when he has Karen show Ivy how to sing like Marilyn, pinpointing the “trill” as the piece Karen has that Ivy just ain’t got. I have to admit, when Karen stood up and did her little “Happy Birthday Mr. President” number, she was the MOST Marilyn. But what’s really getting interesting is that both Karen and Ivy are actually becoming Marilyn in their personal lives—Ivy representing the (soon-to-be if we’re looking at previews for next week’s episode) drug addict, victim of cruel men, intensely driven to maybe the brink of insanity side while Karen represents the ingénue-y, ubersexy without really trying, inherent star side of Marilyn. They’re both incredible. They can both sing anyone’s face off. And Ivy can belt while upside-down and kicking. That’s just impressive.

“Let’s Be Bad” (the musical number) was simply incredible, and Ivy was Marilyn from the last hair on her head to the point of her pinky toe. I’m honestly not sure if Karen could do it any better. But I’d love to see them both try and judge for myself… Going back to how these two women both represent different sides of Marilyn, watching Ivy drunkenly throw herself at Derek was simultaneously painful and interesting. I’m not sure if Derek is intentionally trying to recreate Marilyn’s life story through Ivy since he’s so invested in making Karen into his new Marilyn, or whether he’s just actually so completely entrenched in the story that he can’t separate himself from it. And Karen really brought sexy back, both in that soliloquy-style version of “It’s a Man’s World,” and in the back of the limo with zeh boyfriend. I wasn’t sure she had it in her, but homegirl really owns it.

I think Megan Hilty is really creating some depth in Ivy’s character, and she seems more and more human as the series progresses. Katherine McPhee, on the other hand, seems to be relying too much on her voice and hasn’t really done too much with her character from an acting perspective. But together, the two are generating this wonderful vortex of Marilyn and belting and sex appeal and hot men that I can’t get enough of. I am DEFINITELY looking forward to next week, and am hopeful that whatever slump might have been threatening the series has come to an end.

Thanks for reading, and as always, thanks for watching KPRC Local 2!

The Celebrity Apprentice episode 3

March 5, 2012 - Leave a Response

Ok. I think I’ve finally figured it out. Winning The Celebrity Apprentice does not necessarily mean staying until the very end and winning a ton of money for some charity. It’s not about charity. When is it every really about charity? And it’s not really even about money. It’s about the 3 N’s: Networking, Name recognition and Nepotism.

And maybe a little about money.

One does not resurrect his/her career by being a giant tool on television, incurring the wrath of other celebrities and the Trumpster himself. Oh no. One gracefully bows out, encouraging teammates to “keep in touch,” and profusely thanks Sir Trumps A Lot for the opportunity to once again be in the lime light and help the less fortunate.

Maybe I’m just trying to rationalize how I could not possibly have predicted this game more incorrectly, but I think what the game puts across as the goal and the actual objectives are very different. I’ve put together a little “Mythbusters: Celebrity Apprentice” portion of today’s blog to clear some of these Trump-imposed cobwebs:

1. Be a leader! Take charge and assert your authority so people know you’re a force to be reckoned with—MYTH!

Here’s the real deal: Skate by all quiet like for as long as you can. If no one can really see you causin’ a fuss, no one will pull you into the boardroom. For reference, see Michael Andretti.

2. Donald Trump is a hard-hearted, ruthless businessman slash comb-over-specialist. Don’t count on any friendships or past associations to get you ahead in this game. —FACT!

Look at our dearly departed Victoria Gotti and George Takei. Both personal friends of Naldo. Both fired. Personal relationships with Trumpmaster Flex will not get you anywhere in the boardroom. Well, unless you’re one of his spawn. Then you get to play with Daddy behind the desk and judge all kinds of not-so-famous celebrities! Hooray for the Trump clan!

3. Taking the high road will show your teammates you are a respectable human being and they will want to keep you around longer. You will do well in this game.—MYTH!

Again, I reference darling George Takei. He basically fired himself. Tia Carrere almost did this very thing the first episode but luckily was out-lame-sauced by what’s her name. I can’t even remember her name she was so unremarkable. However, it is better to go out like Sulu than like Victoria Gotti, all cry-faced and pointy-fingered. For shame.

So to recap last night’s episode, the teams were tasked with creating two live window displays for Lord & Taylor featuring Ivanka Trump’s spring collection. In other words, Donald the Great got tired of seeing the men win every challenge so he threw the ladies a soft ball in order to keep the show interesting. Dayana Mendoza snatched the position of project manager away from Teresa Giudice and the men just pointed fingers at the gays to take the lead. Literally. They shamelessly pointed at Clay Aiken and George Takei to take charge because, according to the contestants on The Celebrity Apprentice, if you’re gay, you know all there is to know about fashion, window displays, Ivanka Trump, spring time and colors. It turns out, the straight men were incredibly wrong about this. But it does confirm that celebrities are idiots that also subscribe to gender stereotypes! So if you couldn’t predict how this episode ends, the ladies clinched their first victory and Dayana Mendoza got to donate $20,000 to her charity, the Latino Commission on AIDS. And George Takei bade farewell to the competition, keeping his head held high. May he live long and prosper.

And thus concludes another week on The Celebrity Apprentice. Tune in next week to see more celebrities act a fool and maybe we’ll finally figure out how the Trumpinator gets him comb-over to look so… Trumpy.

Thanks for reading, and as always, thanks for watching KPRC Local 2!