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Posts tagged ‘TV’

Why you should love college football

Above is the ending of the Auburn-Georgia game in 2013 that helped keep Auburn undefeated. At the time, it seemed like it might be the craziest thing that happened in the SEC last year.


If you’re a dude, you invariably get into a lot of bar conversations across your 20s and 30s (and logically beyond) about whether you’re an NCAA guy, an NFL guy, or something else. When the fall comes around, this is a much bigger topic; I’ve been in two of these discussions just today. There are arguments on all sides and ultimately it’s a personal decision, but I’m an NCAA guy. Read more

Elizabeth Cauvel vs. Courtney Lapresi is going to be the MasterChef 2014 finale, right?

MasterChef seems to be a big fan of the narrative thread this season perhaps more than any other — for example, Leslie and Ahran feuded repeatedly in early challenges and then, on Ahran’s eventual elimination night, it was her vs. Leslie (and it got to the point where she said Leslie was going to win the whole thing). I’ve written about Leslie a little bit before, and while I do think he’ll be in the final three/four, I see him eventually getting eliminated. He’s a very good cook and he’s done a masterful job surviving all these Stress Tests, but I think there’s an element where they’re keeping him around this long for the ratings side. He seems like he’s a potentially insufferable dude on the regular (although we see such a narrow sphere of these people’s interactions that I can’t be sure).

If you think about the narrative side of this season, though, it seems like the entire thing is building towards Elizabeth vs. Courtney. Even last night, when — SPOILER ALERT — one-time fan favorite Big Willie went home, the whole thing was essentially about Courtney (up in the balcony after winning Mystery Box) trying to screw Elizabeth by putting her with Cutter. It almost worked. I’d say at least once per episode this year, either Courtney or Elizabeth has done something and they’ve immediately cut to a shot of the other one throwing shade / side-eye at what just happened. They’re angling to meet in the finals; it definitely seems like the earlier episodes were edited to get us hyped for that.

The final six is now Cutter, Christian, Leslie, Elizabeth, Courtney, and Jaime.

I feel like the strongest four cooks, based on the body of evidence thus far, are: Leslie, Courtney, Christian, and Elizabeth.

Personally, I feel like that’ll be the final four. I could easily be wrong.

I like Cauvel (Elizabeth) a lot because she seems like a cool person off show, and she’s doing the social media side of it right. For example:

Fans are into it too, and she responds:

Plus, she’s got a cool website — tag line is “Staying in is the new going out” — and the website has a blog, with entries like this:

A lot of my friends do “Meatless Mondays.” As a conscientious omnivore, I try to eat meat at only one meal a day (although sometimes, I don’t adhere to this rule–which is why I try not to preach about it). As I’ve discussed before, I am a strong believer in the meat-in-moderation approach to eating, and I hope that this recipe shows you that you can conceptualize dishes in fun and unexpected ways when you take meat out of the equation.

The inspiration for this dish was definitely the iconic visual of spaghetti and meatballs–one of my all time favorite meals, and in my opinion, in the top ten best dishes in the world. But could I take that beloved classic and make vegetarian? I knew I could do it. And for me, the fun is always in the challenge. I was actually surprised just how tasty this ended up being! The zucchini noodles are actually awesome–I will definitely be adding them to my repertoire! And they couldn’t be simpler. This was the first time I’d made falafel from scratch, and while I can’t say it was perfect, my husband said it was the most delicious falafel he’d ever had. High praise from someone who LIVED on the stuff in college.

To potentially contradict my theory on Elizabeth making the finals, there’s this tweet from her husband on July 26th. I have no idea of the shooting schedule of MasterChef and this could just be for the comedy sake of the posed shot, but … she might have been said because they taped her elimination episode before she flew back to NYC. Again, who knows? I love floating theories.

On August 17th, though, she was away again. (Still don’t know the production schedule, but clearly it’s wrapped by now.)

Point is on all this stuff: there’s six left. I’m not sure how they’ll eliminate them, but if I had to guess, this would be my order:

  • Jaime goes out next week (it looks like a stressful test, and she hasn’t been great at those)
  • Cutter goes out the week after (he’s been skating, legitimately)
  • Christian goes out the following week (Leslie does something devious to get him gone)
  • Leslie vs. Courtney vs. Elizabeth gets rid of Leslie
  • The final is Courtney vs. Elizabeth

Obviously they may edit it differently and eliminate two at a time, etc. — but that’s my best guess for the final six.

Your thoughts?

Kaley Cuoco is now officially a superstar

I know, I know: it’s really Kaley Cuoco-Sweetling. At this point, it doesn’t matter. She just signed a new three-year deal with Big Bang Theory – so did Johnny Galecki and Jim Parsons — which will pay her about $1 million per episode (22-24 episodes per year) across the three seasons. Translation: big money. If you factor in her deals with Toyota, Priceline, and the movie with Kevin Hart and Josh Gad coming out, she’s basically about to enter the upper echelon of female TV stars. Right now that’s essentially three people — Sofia Vergara, Mariska Hargitay, and Ellen Pompeo. The latter two are on shows that have run forever and a day and do well in syndication, and Sofia Vergara is an entity onto herself. (Plus, Modern Family has had a good initial run in syndication itself.)

A couple of interesting things here:

1. It is a semi-regular topic of my friends — as well as my wife and I — to try and figure out how Big Bang is such a success. Honestly, I watch it and I mostly find it funny. Jim Parsons is excellent on that show, and everyone fits into their sitcom niche role pretty well. Chuck Lorre has a golden touch in that format. It does surprise me that it plays so well in the “middle states” because it’s ostensibly about a group of friends in California, but I guess the humor is fairly general. Even though not everyone has physicists as friends, you could argue (could argue) that the circle-of-friends depictions on the show are more normal than, say, How I Met Your Mother — if you’ve never lived in NYC, that show might be harder to conceptualize (whereas Friends, while based in NYC, was a bit more universal). I feel like every sitcom since 1996 has been trying to re-create Friends, and even though they’re very different on surface, Big Bang might do the best job.

2. Amy Davidson, who was the other sister on Eight Simple Rules, appears to now be in Chevrolet Equinox ads:

3. If you were to consider Vergara, Hargitay, Pompeo, Cuoco and maybe Alyson Hannigan as “the big five” of female TV-based actresses over the last five years or so (I added Hannigan because she’s been on a bunch of hits, etc.) If you think of the actresses in the “conventional sex kitten” vein — which is one way that females become successful on TV, throughout time — it’s cool because only Vergara is really that. Yes, Hargitay’s mother was Jayne Mansfield, and yes, all of the actresses are conventionally attractive (Hannigan maybe less so, or at least that’s how she was supposed to be in American Pie), but none are from the “sex kitten/bombshell” territory (except Vergara). Is that a sign of advancement for females on television? Maybe. It’s interesting, though.

Here’s kinda what I mean by the old “bombshell” model:

4. This is going to be the conventional approach of most people on this raise…

… but in all fairness, the show got 5x better when Cuoco got female friends and there were a whole different batch of storylines to play with. It’s now less about “the guys” or Sheldon and Leonard, and more about a big mess of a group of friends. And who can’t relate to that?

Courtney Lapresi and Cutter Brewer are just awful to watch on MasterChef Season 5

I’ve been watching a lot of Master Chef recently. I have no idea why. This morning, I woke up at 4:21am having to pee. I did that and couldn’t successfully go back to sleep, so I went and watched the most recent episode, which I hadn’t seen yet.

I’ve never watched a full season of Master Chef before — or any cooking show, for that matter — but for some reason, this Season 5 of Master Chef resonates with me. The first possibility is that I actually learned to cook only in the last 3-4 years, so maybe now that I have a few skills in the arsenal, I like to see other people try stuff out (that said, I’d fail at almost every single one of these challenges).

The other possibility for my connection with Season 5 — the more logical one — is the characters. Like I said, I haven’t seen U.S. seasons 1-4, so they could have been populated by dynamic characters as well, but Season 5 has some hella train wrecks.

First, you have Courtney Lapresi. She’s ostensibly one of the favorites; every time someone tries to challenge her or eff her over, she cooks better and continues to advance. She wears high heels and has a cloying smile and voice, and used to be “an aerial dancer” at The Golden Nugget in Atlantic City. Plus, it regularly appears that Gordon Ramsay wants to have sex with her, which makes the entire thing even more awful.

You’ve got this dude Cutter Brewer — a petroleum landman from Beaumont — on the show as well. You can see one of his classic “stand-up-for-myself-but-come-off-like-an-ass-in-the-process” moments at the very top of this post. He’s been in the bottom three (worst three dishes) five times in nine episodes, but hasn’t yet been eliminated; he basically keeps getting narrowly saved because someone else on that specific episode is just hideously incompetent. (Plus, I mean his feuding with the judges makes for good television.)

Here’s Cutter describing what’s ostensibly a large cracker as “an artisan pizza:”

Probably the third-most annoying person on Season 5 U.S. is this old dog, Leslie Gilliams, who seems to antagonize everyone around him for no real reason – then get flustered attempting to make diner eggs. Here’s a quote he gave a local publication in his home area (Malibu):

“I tried to be friendly, but I don’t think I was well-liked on set,” Gilliams said. “There was a big age difference between me and the rest of the chefs and I think they thought I was a silver-spooner.”

Indeed. You can see his stuff with the eggs here:

If you are watching this show and the above isn’t total Greek to you, my prediction would be that the final four is Christian, Courtney, Ahran and Elizabeth — but I could be utterly wrong on that (probably will be). Willie is kind of a great story too, so you could see him being around at the end, but his cooking seems to be better when the focus is Southern / Texan, and you know they’ve got a lot more Italian coming up (in fact, that’s the elimination test in two episodes).

I could see Cutter last 1-2 more close call shows just to keep people interested, then get violently bounced in an episode where his oven explodes or some such. Leslie will probably be there until the final six-eight, because he’s a good foil — especially for Ahran.

If Courtney wins the whole thing, though, I think I might swear off cooking shows for good after only truly following one of them ever.


Axelle Despiegelaere of Belgium just did “the honey shot” right

Sorry, Montell Jordan (dated reference, eh?), but this is how you do it: get put on camera at the World Cup and parlay that into a modeling contract with L’Oreal. It happened for Axelle Despiegelaere of Belgium, even though Belgium lost in the final eight to Argentina. Here’s one of the first times she appeared on camera:

Belgian Honey Shot 620

Clearly cute. This is all tied back to “the honey shot.” That’s where TV directors/producers look for attractive women in between the action, or in/out of commercials. The most famous examples of this in the United States typically involve a lecherous Brent Musburger:

Interestingly, the “honey shot” is thought to be popularized by Andy Sidaris, who is perhaps most famous to generations of teenage boys as creating a ton of softcore movies later in life, generally featuring buxom Playboy models being put in exotic locales with ridiculous storylines. Here’s his IMDB. Before he got into that, though, he was considered one of the better sports TV directors of all-time. He helmed Wide World of SportsMonday Night Football, and tons of college broadcasts; there are rumors he helped choreograph the football scene in MASH (the movie). He once told a website, four years before his eventual death, that he was “the best television director that ever lived.” Nice. Then there’s this:

He was also obsessed with pointing his cameras at beautiful women. In 1983, theNew York Times’ Neil Amdur wrote the following in a piece critiquing college football telecasts: “Andy Sidaris is one of ABC’s better football directors. But at the Sugar Bowl, he seemed preoccupied with cheerleaders, in a game that contained dimensions of much more importance. Sideline shots of cheerleaders and majorettes are only worthwhile if they are spontaneous and fit into a larger picture; Sidaris made them boring and finally offensive.”

There’s an interesting clip of him telling his cameramen to “get some front shots of those broads” (cheerleaders). It’s on that Sidaris link above.

And here are some standard clips for a Sidaris film:

Broader lesson here? Sometimes you may contextually view someone as akin to a smut peddler (I viewed Sidaris that way as a teenager, although I wasn’t complaining) when in reality they’re a revolutionary in a different field. People navigate to what they want to be doing and are generally good at, I guess (or hope).

Amazon vs. Netflix is getting more and more interesting

Just learned this today: Amazon has an entire landing page for “not on Netflix.” A shot across the bow? Perhaps. It’s kind of interesting broadly, though: five-six years ago, you would maybe kinda view Amazon and Netflix as business rivals — Netflix primarily delivered DVDs to you via a red envelope, and you could theoretically also choose to buy (and maybe rent? I forget) those DVDs via Amazon. Now, with seemingly more millennials cutting the traditional cord and going to streaming (I’ve been on that for about a year), the war for original content as a driver of new customers/clients/leads/whatever you want to call it is heating up.

Netflix currently gets more attention in this regard, primarily because of House of Cards and Orange is the New Black. Hulu Plus has a ton of original shows, although I’d still argue most people go there to find the newest episodes of in-season shows (that’s why I mostly go there); their long-term play seems to be focused on the originals, though. Amazon has nine new shows coming this year — critics were kinda iffy on their first two efforts, although I liked them —  and this Transparent show could be big. In fairness, it has pretty much everyone that “in the know” people claim to love, from Jeffrey Tambor to Judith Light to Mark Duplass (king of mumblecore!) to Gaby Hoffman (she’s in everything hipster released in the past 10 months).

Almost half of the United States subscribes to either Hulu, Amazon Prime or Netflix — so there’s big numbers here if one of them can kind-of break ahead of the pack. As of now, Netflix seems to be winning in this space — Goldman thinks they’re worth 590/share — but Amazon overall is a behemoth. They don’t make profits per se, but if they choose to “turn on the spigot,” they would be dominant.

Interesting to see how this all shakes out — and if you ever doubted the value of content as a concept, or the explosion of the idea of “content marketing,” look no further than this war — which is rooted in the acquisition of content and using original content to drive strategy — as evidence of the value of it in the modern age.


Do y’all think Julie Bowen was drunk on her episode of Hollywood Game Night? Quite possibly.

Go to around 2:40 on the above clip and judge for yourself; later in this same show, which I just discovered on Hulu yesterday, Jason Alexander refers to her as “high.” I honestly have no idea what the purpose of this show is, although it’s oddly compelling. Basically, it seems like a forum for celebrities to inter-mingle and pound drinks while attempting to act out song titles such as “Can’t Touch This.” Here’s another awkward situation, where Kaley Cuoco and Penny Marshall try to solve facial mash-ups.

It’d be easy to pull a “GET OFF MY PORCH” move here and say “Well, if this is what passes for television these days…” but no, in broad strokes television is doing just fine. Julie Bowen, however, might not be. (I honestly can’t get over the composition of that particular episode. Lester Holt, who regularly reads world news on a major network, sitting next to George Costanza and the wedding planner from Father of the Bride – yes, I know their real names — and Julie Bowen sitting next to Eddie Van Halen’s ex-wife and the blond one from Two Broke Girls. HOW DOES THIS TYPE OF STUFF HAPPEN?)

Julie Bowen, by the way, also perhaps drunk in this clip:


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