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Archive for May, 2010|Monthly archive page

Goodbye, Simon; Hello, Lee

In Television on May 28, 2010 at 9:27 am

For American Idol finales, it’s usually about revealing who wins the whole thing. This season, it was more than that. The two-hour special was a healthy mix of has-been 70’s, 80’s and 90’s hit makers like The Bee Gees, Alice Cooper, Hall and Oates, Michael McDonald, Alanis Morissette, Christina Aguilera and Janet Jackson, and then there were skits and videos for judge Simon Cowell’s departure from the show. The accolades went on for a good hour and forty-five minutes, leaving the last fifteen minutes for Ryan Seacrest to declare Season 9’s American Idol.

The other intention of the show was to bid farewell to Cowell who will be leaving the show, and will be back next year with Fox to work on his new venture, X-Factor. Songs were sung (Dane Cook) and speeches were delivered (Paula Abdul), but no tears came out of it – from Simon, anyway. Although he did hug Seacrest on stage and said he was very ’emotional’.

Then the results: 24-year-old paint salesman from Mount Prospect, Illinois Lee DeWyze takes the win. The initially awkward and shy performer could only say “Oh My God” so many times. At the start of the season, runner-up Crystal Bowersox was always sighted to win the competition, but I bet no one considered Lee. The results had only a 2% difference, a telling sign that voters were almost equally divided between the two contenders. And it’s a good sign. Vocally, Crystal has the edge, but I think Lee’s personal victory of conquering his doubts and being a huge improvement gave him more edge on winning fans. For the first time, America liked the underdog. Crystal, on the other hand admitted that she “knew Lee was going to win. I just had a feeling and I couldn’t be happier for him. Lee deserves every minute of this.

So that’s a wrap for Idol this year. Here’s to hoping for a better, if not a fantastic, Season 10.

Review: 30 Rock Season 4 Finale: “I Do Do”

In Television on May 25, 2010 at 11:51 am

I’ve always admired Tina Fey mainly for being head writer of sketch comedy show Saturday Night Live. So much so that when 30 Rock came out, it was no surprise that she did a great job as producer-slash-writer.

With the finale episode “I Do Do”, Fey takes her beloved TGS characters – including Jack Donaghy (Alec Baldwin) into life-changing premises – from being torn between two women (Julianne Moore, Elizabeth Banks), to ending up with so much more than he expected. Fey’s alter-ego Liz Lemon also gets a surprise by meeting a pilot named Carol (Matt Damon) which can very much get her out of the ‘settling soulmate’ situation. Damon apparently requested to be on the show, and it is refreshing to see him on the small screen not being Jason Bourne or Private Ryan.

This is also an episode when Liz attends three weddings in one day – her ex Floyd, her co-worker Cerie and Tracy Jordan’s assistant Grizz. The hectic schedule offers a lot of room for plots to turn from interesting to “what-the-what?!”.

In the background, page Kenneth Parcell (Jack McBrayer) is offered a promotion which involves moving to Los Angeles. Not wanting to move, Kenneth does a lousy job with his page duties (thanks to Tracy’s guidance) to undo the promotion. Unfortunately, it didn’t end well for the annoyingly naive employee. Will we see him next season? Nothing Jack Donaghy can’t fix.

Review: Vampire Diaries Season Finale – “Founder’s Day”

In Television on May 17, 2010 at 11:56 am

New revelations promise an intriguing second season

If you haven’t seen this series yet, one good reason to do so would be the finale. The Vampire Diaries has started out as a potentially sleepy drama with a supernatural twist. Twenty-one episodes later, it has proven to be so much more.

Elena Gilbert’s (Nina Dobrev) past is further revealed with the appearance of her birth mother, Isobel. The reunion was a major shocker in the episode – one with which the second season might be built on. Towards the end of the episode, Elena’s father is revealed as well.

The vampire brothers Stefan (Paul Wesley) and Damon Salvatore (Ian Somerhalder) are presented in a flashback that was a reverse of what their present personalities are. This may also be laying the groundwork for Damon’s newly found “humanity”, slowly shown towards the end – and might progress at the start of the next season. Most interesting of all is when the issue of a budding love triangle was finally brought up by Stefan, thanks to Isobel. Even with the past episodes, Damon would stand in a dark corner looking menacing but suddenly turn to goo when he sees Elena. No surprise there. Stay tuned for a very believable kissing scene in the last 10 minutes of the episode.

The main attraction of the town, and of the story, is Founder’s Day. Mystic Falls’ tradition of honoring the Founding Families and preserving their heritage is celebrated by locals dressing up in 16th century fashion. Of course, Elena is no exception. The look on Damon’s face seeing her as Katherine’s incarnation was priceless. On the darker side of things, this was the day when the bad vampires were going for the kill. Lives are lost, and some characters might not be seen again.

Another revelation is very suggestive of True Blood influence – when Mayor Lockwood and his son Tyler are suggested to be non-human, but non-vampire. Werewolves? Shifters? The second season will surely tell.

Idol’s Top 3 – Who’s in it to win it?

In Television on May 14, 2010 at 9:34 am

The artists-in-the making face the last 2 weeks of Idol

After an uneventful Sinatra night and a duet-driven Movie night, American Idol comes to its close with the Top 3 contenders of this season. Idol bloggers have predicted a DeWyze-Bowersox partnership to continue way beyond their stellar duet and into the Top 2. From a strictly objective point of view, Crystal Bowersox and Lee DeWyze are in a sense more defined as artists, whereas Casey James has proven himself to be a wicked guitarist more than anything else. James had the misfortune of being the resident hunk of the season, that now he has to prove he’s got more than the looks and amazing guitar-playing skills. Unfortunately, it might be too late. James did have a few moments in the Idol stage and with the help of (probably) his cougar fan base, he has managed to stay this long in the lineup. But with Crystal and Lee on that lineup, his luck just might run out.

Now for Lee and Crystal. The thing with Idol is that you are not only going to look at the quality of the contestant but also anticipate how American viewers would vote. Because, after all, it all comes down to the votes, which reminds me of the Presidential elections. We can analyze all we can, weigh the pros and cons, but when the day comes, we all get a bit disappointed with the results. Why? Because Idol is not about who’s better, it’s about who got most votes. For once, this season, whoever wins (with the exception of Casey) would be acceptable – at least for me. I like Crystal, but I also like Lee. I think both of them are going to be great artists who know who they are and have enough courage to push for what they want. But when it comes to being the underdog (and I always go for the underdog), Lee takes the label. Unlike Crystal, Lee started with so much doubt and distrust in himself, it shows in his eyes. It even shows in how he bets with other contestants that he’s going home. Weeks later, he shows up on stage singing Shania and Sinatra with such swagger that he almost looks like another person entirely.

With Crystal, the artistry is just on another level. More than that, she has the wisdom of a seasoned performer and the courage of someone who won’t have it any other way but hers. From her dainty microphone stand and little carpet, to the big sunflower tattoo on her back. She is as authentic as it gets, with a few blunders on performances when she totally lost her true self in the attempt of proving she can do it all. And she can do it all, but not as great as when she’s herself.

If Crystal wins, it will be a great story of triumph, of doing it for love. If Lee wins, it will be a great story of belief, of doing it for yourself. Either way, it’s still going to be a great story.