Tag: How I Met Your Mother

Why Stories Matter

storytellingI’ve been thinking this week about stories.  Why are stories so important in our life?  Why do they matter?  And why do some stories create such an impact on me and do nothing or the reverse for others?  Why do we care so much about these stories?

Of course what made me ponder on the topic was my disappointment at the end of the story for How I Met Your Mother.  A story I had invested 9 years on and did not end the way I wanted it to.  It is after all just a TV show.  What’s the big deal?

Well let me tell you a story and maybe it will make a little more sense why it was such a big deal.  After my mission I got a job working in a cubicle, entering data and printing checks.  It was supposed to be a temporary position till I could find something else but a year stretched into two and then I started school so two became three.

I wanted to quit everyday, and I knew that God wanted me to quit, but I lacked the courage.  The courage to dive off into an unknown while going to school.  At least the horrible job was something and the unknown could be even worse?

I was scared and fear is an evil little sucker.  I was also unhappy but I saw no break in the unhappiness if I quit.  It seemed like I should be happy.  Other people were unemployed and had no job so what was my problem? Why couldn’t I feel happiness any more?

I did have a manager who was extremely manipulative and treated me like a bug that needed to be squished, but even if she would have been a saint, I would have been unhappy.  I usually am when I am scared and not doing what God wants me to do.

So I kept going, and going, and the anger and resentment built up inside me until I was scared I would explode.  Finally, one day in Feb 2007 I kind of did.  I grabbed my purse and I ran out of the office.  Then I called my head boss and let it all out.

I proceeded to then have my first panic attack.  I felt like I would lose control and all those feelings would come out and I would embarrass myself.  I couldn’t breathe or speak and for a second I wondered if I was going to die.  It was awful. One of the worst days of my life.

The next Monday at the office things were awkward but I made it through and things started to be better.  I had a new manager, less assignments, hours and even a desk by the window.  I made it through the summer and yet the nagging feeling of unhappiness didn’t leave me.  It was less a boiling point and more of a steady simmer.  It still wasn’t what God wanted me to do and I was still afraid to take the leap.

Finally in September, I made the decision- I quit.  I gave my notice and helped them train a new person and December 21, 2007 I walked out of the office with a box of desk nicknacks and shouted in the air ‘I did it!’.  I had quit my job.  I was diving into the unknown and looking for work in 2008.  Only crazy people quit their jobs in 2008, but I did and it was one of the best days of my life.  I knew it was right.  I knew for sure.

That day my friends and I went and celebrated my freedom at Bucca di Beppo’s and a weekend at the Marriott in SLC.  This isn’t the greatest picture but it is one of my greatest memories.

bucca

But you know what happened after I took this great leap?  It took me 6 months of interviews before I found a job, and even then it was only because of the mercy of my Dad letting me manage his properties I found anything.  I knew I had done the right thing but it was scary nonetheless.  God does not always iron out all the wrinkles when he gives you a new shirt to wear. At the end of 2008 I said on this very blog (I started the blog in May 2008):

“It has been a year of healing and growth, and I am immeasurably stronger as a result.  It all started last December with my taking the big leap of faith and quitting my job.  I knew I needed  a change and that the Lord wanted me to be doing something else, so I left everything in His hands.

Not knowing where life was taking me I entered the job hunt- interviewing for nearly 40 companies over 6 months.   There were so many jobs that I thought for sure I would get and then I wouldn’t.  The Lord definitely made me wait and show my faith before helping everything to work out.”

So, you perhaps can understand why it was so meaningful mere weeks after quitting that I saw this:

Someone got it.  Someone understood my story.  That’s why I stuck around for 9 years.  That’s why it meant so much to me.  It was the story and just like my story ended well, I wanted to see Marshall and the gang’s end well.  I’ll get over it.  I promise.

We all have our stories, and they all matter.  Stories matter.

HIMYM: How I Met your STEPMOTHER…

himym2

Since I just posted my favorite How I Met Your Mother episodes I feel it is appropriate to post my reaction the finale. Well friends…

IT SUCKED!

Here’s why

Way back in season 5 episode 2 they had a conceit that Marshall couldn’t look at other women without having a Lilly death fantasy.  Lilly gets sick, he grieves, and then he can move on to whatever hot woman he is currently looking at.  Tell me that this isn’t the finale but in non-fantasy form?

Part of the reason it isn’t just a bad episode is the narrative structure of the show.  A TV show like Seinfeld could get away with a sucky finale because there wasn’t a strong narrative to the stories.  They didn’t really connect and could stand on their own in humor, jokes, storyline.  HIMYM was built on it’s narration.  That was the entire gimmick.

Here is this man telling us and his kids how he met their mother. It’s a specific narrative where we expect specific results.  It’s like someone telling you a knock-knock joke- you expect the knock and the who’s there.

It really does hurt the entire show for me- not ruin but hurt.  Endings are important in a narrative.  I want to see the ring destroyed at the end of Lord of the Rings.  I want to see Jane and Rochester get together.  I want to see Harry beat Voldermort. The writers promised us the viewers an ending that we didn’t get.

It was supposed to be Ted’s great journey of how he met the mother and how that changed everything.  Instead we got the alternate love story tagged on.  Not the one we were promised all along but the one the writers had literally been spending 7 years convincing us was a bad idea. How is that satisfying? Just end with the mother at the train with the umbrella. That would have been perfect…

Ted and Robin dated in season 2 of the show.  At the end of the season they break up because they realize ‘we have an expiration date’.  While being right for each other in some ways, they want different things out of life.  Robin wants to travel, focus on her career, and lead an exciting life.  Ted, on the other hand, wants a house in the suburbs, kids, family, marriage.

So, are we supposed to assume that the expiration date really didn’t exist and that all these reasons they weren’t a match simply went away because he had kids with another woman? (Also, did it fit with Ted’s character in the show to have him drag out his wedding for 7 years?  Are you kidding me? And we don’t even get to see the actual wedding!) Like I said, it’s like Marshall with the death fantasy- still get to be the great husband and father but also have his desire for Robin fulfilled.  So lame.

So let’s assume the expiration date does go away and Robin and Ted were to really get together. Why writers do you spend an entire season on a weekend wedding only to spend the finale covering 15 years with divorce, death, and reuniting? Why not spend the final season getting to know the mother, seeing their relationship and then at the end of the season you could have the mother die if you wanted to go that way?  Badly done!

So in conclusion Ted learned nothing in 9 years…

Ever since his emmy nomination in 2007 (season 2) the show has been practically carried by Neil Patrick Harris- sometimes to a fault.  The episodes in seasons 5-7 were very Barney-centric with the playbook and Barney’s womanizing behavior featuring in almost every episode.  But we also saw the character grow and learn things about his selfish life.  He even tells Robin ‘I don’t always want to be that guy’.  Well, evidently the writers disagree.

In one scene Barney and Robin fight in Argentina about his blog (if Barney is a lifestyle blogger how is that not the perfect companionship to Robin’s traveling and career? There are thousands of people who make a living doing that type of blogging?).  Then they break up (again whole season devoted to their wedding weekend and it dissolves in a minute…).  Next we are shown him having the ‘perfect month’ of sexual conquests, a new playbook and a baby with girl #31 (that is literally her name. We never see her or learn her name).

There was one nice moment with Barney and his daughter but why not have Barney and Robin adopt a girl in their travels or maybe he is an especially great uncle or anything but an illegitimate love child with a woman we haven’t been introduced to or known?

So in conclusion, Barney learned nothing from 9 years…

The person they turned Robin into also was so disappointing.  She doesn’t even leave the show as a good friend.  She has clearly broken Lilly’s heart time and again.  Isn’t there for the ‘big moments’ and honestly in today’s modern communication is there any excuse for not being there in the big moments?  Does Skype not exist for these people?

They even say in the finale that Ted has a ‘rare Scherbatsky sighting’.  That’s not how I want to leave my friend of 9 years. As a cold, aloof, divorced woman who never communicates with her friends any more?

So in conclusion Robin learned nothing from 9 years…

And then we have Marshall, my favorite character.  In season 2 there is an episode called ‘the best burger in New York’ where Marshall is debating about getting a job at GNB when he really wanted to be an environmental lawyer.  He tries to find the right job and the right burger but nothing is as good as he had imagined it being 8 years ago, so he settles for the corporate job.

Then in the 3rd season he is so unhappy that in an episode called The Chain of Screaming he can’t take it any more and he quits. Nothing is worth feeling that way. This actually meant a lot to me at the time as it aired in Feb 2008 and I had just quit my job in December 2007, was unemployed and Marshall’s work journey felt very personal to me.

So, what do we get in the finale?  Oh Marshall goes back to a lame corporate law job for who knows how many years!  What!  Yes, he then becomes a judge, but I couldn’t believe they had him go back to corporate law.  After how unhappy he was would Lilly ever allow him to go back there?  No way.

So in conclusion Marshall learned nothing from 9 years…

And then we’ve got Lilly left.  She was in many ways the mother of the show- the warm nurturing presence for the cast.  What does she end up like?  Well, she is left crying a lot.  We don’t really get a satisfying end for her character just a lot of crying. Why not show her happy as a mother and her kids happy?  Something other than 15 years of crying.

So in conclusion Lilly…who knows what she learned in 9 years…

What did I learn in 9 years?  Well, I had a lot of laughs with characters that were my same age and that I related to.  In many ways their journey was my 20s. Not in the sense of what happens to them happened to me but that we became a grown up together. So for the characters to have gone on that journey with me and then end up not learning anything is very disappointing.

Nevertheless, I am going to chose to focus on the journey. It’s been a crazy 9 years.

So in conclusion Rachel learned something…

(I recognize this post is not my greatest writing but it was honestly kind of emotional for me to see things end the way they did.  Like I said when I quit my job in 2007 this show meant a lot to me. I’ve stuck with it for 9 years, 3-4 of it that weren’t very good just so I could get this ending and it sucked. It really sucked)

major disappointment

 

 

 

 

 

HIMYM: Best of How I Met Your Mother

himymGather round folks let me tell you about a little show I have loved called How I Met Your Mother.  Back in 2009 I wrote about it in one of my first posts to get a decent amount of hits.  Regina Spektor and the Murtaugh List

At that point I described it as ‘my favorite show’ and while it has fallen on hard times in the writing department the last 3 years, it will always be one of my favorite shows ever.

If you don’t know the conceit of the show is a middle aged man named Ted sits his kids down and tells them how he met their mother.  This narration continues each episode for all 9 seasons- long story! (It really should have ended at season 6).

In truth, the title might have been more correct as ‘How WE met your mother’ because it is not just Ted’s story but also his best friends Marshall (Jason Segal), Lily (Allison Hannigan), Robin (Cobie Smulders) and Barney (Neil Patrick Harris). The cast is legend-wait for it- dary.

The key to this type of sitcom is a likable cast and they are incredibly likable. Enough so to keep me interested even when the writing got super lame.

Ted is that friend we all have who wants a relationship so badly they never seem to be able to keep a relationship. Lilly and Marshall are the sweet married couple we all wish we could be like.

Robin is the career obsessed, practical girlfriend most of us girls know (or are) and Barney, well there’s nobody I know like Barney (thankfully).  He’s the womanizing cheese ball who admittedly gets most of the good laughs.

Anyway, with the finale airing tomorrow night, I thought it would be fun to share with all of you my favorite episodes of How I Met Your Mother.

All of these episodes are available for streaming on netflix so give them a watch and see if you think it as charming a show as I do.  I really loved getting to know these characters over 9 years.

Top 10 How I Met Your Mother Episodes

1. Murtaugh (episode 19 season 4)

Let’s start with the episode that inspired me to blog. Ted creates a list of things things he’s too old to do now that he has turned 30 including attending a rave, getting an ear piercing, toilet papering, sleeping on a cot at a friends house etc.

Barney then decides to do everything on the list to prove he is still young and it sends him to the ER. I related enough to this idea enough to create my own list.

murtaugh

2. Monday Night Football (season 2 episode 14)-

Every year the group meets up to watch the Super Bowl but this year a guy from their favorite bar dies and the funeral stops them from watching.  So, they DVR the game and have to go 24 hours without finding out the score.  This proves to be especially difficult for Robin given she is a news reporter.

Given my recent rant on spoiler complainers it is probably of no surprise I find this episode funny.  The effort each one must go to in order to stay away from the Super Bowl winner is very entertaining and it made me think of the good times I’ve had with friends over the years watching something on TV.

To avoid hearing who won the game Ted tries out the sensory deprevator 5000
To avoid hearing who won the game Ted tries out the sensory deprevator 5000

3.  Lucky Penny (season 2 episode 15)-

Ted and Robin are racing through the airport trying to make a flight to Chicago for the interview of his dreams.  As they run, they try to figure out who is to blame for them being late.

Is it Barney running the NY Marathon and then losing his ability to use his legs? Or perhaps Lilly for wanting to camp out in front of a bridal salon next to a car alarm going off? Maybe it is Marshall breaking his toe?

As they unwind the events that caused them to be late we can’t help but think back to similar moments in our own lives and the seemingly insignificant puzzle pieces that led up to them.

lucky penny4. Slap Bet (Season 2 Episode 9)-

Robin refuses to go to the mall with the gang and everyone starts guessing why.  Marshall and Barney make a bet called a slap bet where the person who wins gets to slap the loser as hard as they can.

The results of said bet are carried out through each season creating one of the best story threads for the show. It is also the introduction of Robin Sparkles, Robin’s teenage popstar alter ego.

5. Arrivederci, Fiero (Season 2 Episode 20. Season 2 had a lot of my favorites)-

In this episode Marshall’s beloved car, the Fiero, finally conks out after nearly 200k miles.  For Marshall this is a symbol of his youth and it turns out to have sentimental value for all of the gang.

Perhaps the reason this season really hit me so hard is that it was 2007 when I was so unhappy at work and both Marshall and Ted are struggling with work-related issues. Marshall had dreamed of doing environmental law but with a new wife and her spending habits he is forced to take a corporate sell-out job.

At the same time Ted is working for a pompous idiot who has stifled his creativity and yells at him.  I just related to the story of becoming an adult and how the work-world isn’t always what you thought it would be when you were in college.

The other day I was going through  my dishes with my roommate and I still have my melmac plates from college.  The idea of getting rid of them made me cry. That’s what Marshall feels with the death of his car.

There is also probably more backstory to the characters in this episode than any others. In a funny scene we learn that Barney doesn’t know how to drive:

 

6. Matchmaker- (Season 1, Episode 7)

I really only like this episode because of the B storyline.  The A story is about Ted and Barney going to a matchmaker service and Ted finding out there are 8 women for him in the fishbowl that is New York City.  In fact, there may not even be 8…

The B story is one of my favorites  because it shows off Marshall’s innocence and charm.  He is extremely superstitious and one afternoon He and Lilly see a creature in their apartment.  She thinks it’s a cockroach.  He thinks it’s a mouse.

After seeing it again they conclude it is the ‘cockamouse’. Skeptic Robin doesn’t believe them and scoffs at their crazy notions.

How-Met-Mother_Ep107_300

7. Spoiler Alert (Season 3 episode 8)-

Ted is dating what he see’s as the perfect girl but his friends can’t stand her.  He can’t figure out what the problem is and they warn him about spoiling the image he has created of this girl.

Finally after incessant begging they tell him how she talks and talks and suddenly it starts driving him crazy.  He didn’t notice it until someone pointed it out but once they did he can’t get it out of his head.

Through the course of the episode each of the friends has a similar spoil behavior- Lilly chews to loudly, Robin says literally all the time, Ted corrects everyone, Marshall is always singing etc…

I think most people who have friends or family can relate to this episode.  We all put up with our friends bad habits because we know they are putting up with ours.

bad habits8. Intervention (Season 4 episode 4)-

Ted is engaged to Stella who he has only known for 6 months and the gang is concerned he is rushing into things.  He is about to move to New Jersey to be closer to her when he finds out his friends are going to hold an intervention to show how worried they are.

It turns out this intervention strategy has been used many times before by the gang for things like Marshall’s ugly pants or Lilly’s Scottish accent.

We see the intervention come up in later episodes and it is a funny plot device.  It’s just a well written funny episode.

Robin-Intervention-how-i-met-your-mother-17656939-500-375 x240-vGl9. Dowistroplia (Season 3 episode 7)-

Marshall and Lilly are thinking of buying an apartment but Lilly has a secret credit card debt she hasn’t told Marshall about.  What makes this episode funny is the narrator gives us what the friends ‘should have said’ and then quickly what they actually said. For example, when Marshall see’s the apartment:

Marshall Eriksen: I’m going to stop you right there. Don’t bother with the hard sell. We can’t afford this place just now, and besides, we just started looking.

Narrator: Is what Marshall should have said.

Marshall Eriksen: I’m going to stop you right there. I love it! We’ll take it!

This rang true for me.  How many times have friends asked you for feedback when what they really want is just a reassurance of what they have already done?  It is also a great Marshall and Lilly episode because she finally has to admit she has a huge problem and debt.

Dowisitrepla_-_no_spoiler10. Stuff (Season 2 Episode 16)-

Ted and Robin start off the episode with a fight.  She doesn’t like how most of the items in his apartment were given to him by ex-girlfriends.  She wants him to get rid of all the ‘stuff’.  Then he finds out that her 5 dogs are presents from boyfriends and Ted get’s upset calling Robin a hypocrite.  Instead of dogs he now see’s her 5 ex-boyfriends hanging around her all the time.

That is all funny but the true cream of this episode is when Lilly asks the gang to come to her avant garde play which is awful.  Barney is the only one who tells her he hated it and she’s offended.

To show her his side Barney makes them all go to his play where he dresses up like a robot, says the word moist over again and sprays Lilly with a squirt gun.  It is also the 2nd showing of the slapbet. ,

I found this episode funny because haven’t we all been to that terrible recital or play to support a friend? I have no doubt that some have done that for me, that’s for sure!

barneys playSo that’s my list.  What are some of your favorites?  I didn’t have any later episodes.  Any those that you particularly like?

If you haven’t watched the show and have Netflix check out these episodes.  I’d be surprised if they don’t at least make you smile.

(Oh another one I love at Christmas is How Lilly Stole Christmas)

Fall 2013 TV Review

Network-logos

Anyone who knows me knows I love television and yet I don’t think that has gotten quite the treatment on the blog that it deserves.  I have written a lot about books and movies but not as much about TV.

The funny thing about me and TV is that neither of my parents watch it at all.  There is not one show that my parents watch on a regular basis or have ever devotedly watched.  Even the siblings I grew up with (Megan and Ben) are not huge TV people.  Aside from the Simpsons there wasn’t anything we were big fans of (and yes I have like 12 seasons of the Simpsons on DVD.  Not sure why that surprises people but it does).

Why do you think that is?  Why would I be such a fan of TV from an early age when I had almost no exposure?  I suppose part of it is my friends watched a lot of TV so I picked up some of it from them.  I also have a bit of a lazy streak in me and I’ve always liked TV as a way to unwind.  A movie is more of an investment where television is 30 minutes to 1 hour (less with the magic of DVR).

TV is also a longer commitment so you get to know the characters better and I’ve always been a lover of layered characters.  Even silly shows like Boy Meets World provided relatable personalities that grew up with me (literally when I started high school Corey and Topanga did, college, etc).

Anyway, so I’ve watched a lot of the premiere’s and new shows for the Fall 2013 line up and here are my initial thoughts

New Shows (this seems to be the year of the return of the sitcom where last year was the ‘we want to be Mad Men dramas):

Mom- Anna Feris,  Allison Janney are a mother daughter team of misfits.  Kind of a recycle of Reba with a bit more bite.  I thought the pilot was promising but the second episode not as much.  We’ll see.  Good casting.  Love Janney in just about anything.  Has lead in of How I Met Your Mother so that could help it.  B

The Crazy One’s- Robin Williams, Sarah Michele Gellar- father, daughter ad executives (that seems to be the big fall back career for Hollywood when they need a blah job for its characters).  Didn’t think it was funny and Gellar looks old and haggard.  Whoever does her makeup isn’t doing her any favors.  Robin Williams does the same schtick he has done since Mrs.  Doubtfire.  D

Dads- So bad.  Corny.  Nothing was funny.  Sons and their competitive annoying Dads (seems to also be a theme this year child and obnoxious parents).  F

Super Fun Night- Rebel Wilson stars as a buisnesswoman who has just gotten a big promotion, but parties with her girlfriends to keep her motivated at work.  It is a cliched premise but I laughed a lot.  It hasn’t gotten great reviews so probably won’t last long but I thought it was really funny.  Dialogue is sharp.  The banter between the girlfriends was natural.  Watch it America A+

Back in the Game- James Caan is a former baseball player who’s daughter comes back to live with him and ends up coaching the little league baseball team of her son with her Dad’s help.  Basically the same kind of banter that was in King of Queens or Everybody Loves Raymond.  A real dud.  It makes the crucial mistake of taking itself seriously.  F

Devious Maids- Kind of entertaining for a soap opera.  Good performances although some latina cliches (how many times can they say hot salsa or hot mama in one show?) Still, if you are in for some drama and can’t watch telenovelas without english subtitles check it out B-

Returning Shows-

Middle- Still my favorite show on TV.  I think the writing is funny.  I love the child actors.  I love that it is about Indiana and they get the details right.  I love that the couple aren’t constantly bickering.  I love that there isn’t always a moral at the end of every episode (had enough of that with Modern Family).  I just love it!  A+

Modern Family- Speaking of the before mentioned show its back and returning to its boring, cliched ways.  I’m so sick of the women on this show.  They are all such types.  Now Cam and Mitch are getting married which could be funny but everyone I know is over this show.  It isn’t modern and worse it isn’t funny D

Simpsons- The premiere episode was a spoof on Homeland and as I’ve never seen Homeland I didn’t really get it.  It still looks great and the even on a sub-par episode the nostalgia alone is enough to get some votes.  25 years I’ve been watching that show . 25 years!  B-

Drop Dead Diva- (This was actually a summer season but I didn’t mention on the blog and it is a great show! I love the leads.  I love the return of old Jane (Although they got rid of her way too fast). They need to bring Fred back . New angels have all been bad.  Was totally on team Owen until he was a petty jerk all season.  Go Grayson! The cases are so stupid but they are really just angles to get to the juicy developments with the characters.  A

How I Met Your Mother- I was very skeptical of a 9th season for this show but it was renewed and I’m glad.  The first couple of episodes have been really funny and sweet.  I’m glad we get a whole season getting to know the mother and seeing how she meshes with Ted (although they haven’t met just yet).  All the characters are returning to their original warmth and the plot has become simpler I think this entire season is focused on Barney and Robins wedding.  We will see how it ends.  A-

Big Bang Theory- In premiere episodes Leonard comes back from sea and hides from Sheldon to spend time with Penny.  Very funny.  Rajesh can now talk to girls so that should be funny and I’m going to make 2 predictions- Sheldon has long island iced teas and things progress with Amy and Bernadette gets pregnant.  I think both of those would be really funny.  Still, really funny start to season. A

Downton Abbey- And yes, I am watching the UK stream online and it is great!  Matthew is gone, Mary is reeling, O’brien is also gone but a new hire has a previous connection to Mr. Branson now Lord Branson husband to the late Sybill.  Edith is coverting with a married publisher.  Lady Violette is keeping everyone honest and change is happening all around them.  Fashion is noticeably different this season..  Love the addition of Lady Shackleton.  She’s going to give Lady Violette a run for her money.  B+

Mindy Project- Anytime Morgan is on screen I laugh and luckily he is on screen a lot.  The cameo with James Franco was funny.  Wish he could have been fulltime cast because it was good.  Bummed Casey is getting the heave-ho so fast after Haiti but it had to happen.  Clearly the producers want Danny and Mindy to get together but they will probably drag that out over 8 seasons.  Still I laughed a lot at the first 2 episodes.  A-

Reality Shows-

This is my favorite category this season

Survivor 27: Blood vs Water- I was very skeptical when I heard about the latest twist.  10 returning players and their family members are battling it out for a million dollars.  I think its a little lame when they’ve had now 2 all star seasons in a row (well basically 2 fans vs favorites in a row).  However, the family angle has proven to be better than I expected.  What makes it interesting is that there is a new layer at tribal council.  For instance, when the team voted out Rachel it wasn’t because of her strategy or her skill/lack of skill in challenges- it was because they wanted Tyson, her boyfriend, out of the other tribe.

What I don’t like about the new season is the return of redemption island.  Didn’t Boston Rob’s epic season basically prove that was a dumb idea?  It doesn’t work.  The person who makes it back on redemption island will get voted off every time.  Think about who would want to face a scrappy redemption island winner at the final tribal?  Plus, it is anti-climactic to have people not really be leaving the game after tribal council.

My pick to win it all- I’m going with Tyson.  He doesn’t have the burden of family early on, can be more strategic, he’s great at challenges and is likable guy that a jury will want to vote for.

Could you guys believe the whole Colton fiasco tongiht?  What a wimp!  I mean did he think survivor would be so different this go around?  What on earth?   He kind of pulled a Brandon Hantz and knew he was on the outs and quit.  That is so lame and Probst said that he faked the appendectomy on One World.  I guess the producers brought him back to create drama but please.  Quitters are so lame.

Still, very entertaining season so far.  A

The Voice- Christina and Ceelo return and I’ve lost interest for some reason.  The contestants just aren’t doing it for me and I would rather watch HIMYM and Dancing with the stars on Monday, so I’m done with this show.  Plus, I can’t remember a single name from last season.  Clearly they didn’t make an impact.  D

Amazing Race- new season started this Sunday and it is looking interesting.  There honestly isn’t a team that I’m really pulling for.  At first I thought the Afghans were going to do well but they’ve made some pretty dumbheaded mistakes.  I couldn’t believe how many people didn’t read the clues all the way in Chili.  Come on!

Boy girl teams usually have the best chance so I think Tim and Marie or Nichole and Travis could do very well.  I love seeing the different cultures, challenges and characters.  Still the show I would most like to be on.  I think my brother and I would be a fun match up because we are so different.  A+

Dancing with the stars- this season is pretty entertaining. Diverse stars from Bill Nye to snookie. Lots of high scores early on. Leaves little room for improvement. Only Monday episodes this season which is very smart A

Project Runway- An interesting and quite volatile cast (how many meltdowns can one cast have!).  So far I haven’t been blown away by anyone but I think Braden will probably win.  There hasn’t been a great season since Christian Siriano won.  C

I guess those are the biggies.  The Foodnetwork I give a C.  The old shows like Chopped are still good but new shows like Cutthroat Kitchen have been lame.  They are clearly running out of ideas.  Nothing on Bravo has interested me for many years and I do not like much on premium cable.  I am told the season finale of Dexter was a big disappointment but never watched the show.  I did watch some of the season of Mad Men that just finished and it was depressing.  Don Draper is just a despicable human being and so is everyone else on that show.  I admit I’m curious to see how it ends but not that curious.

I also have tried to watch Breaking Bad 3 times and each time I get to episode 3 and start to squirm.  Too violent and cynical for my tastes.  So you all enjoy it and I’ll stick to my lighter fare.

What shows do you like this year?  What about returning shows?  I am disappointed Bunheads doesn’t appear to have been renewed.  I liked that show.   Oh well.  That’s Hollywood for ya!

Please share in the comments section what you think of reality tv, comedy or anything else.  Also please share if there is something I missed which you enjoyed.    I would love your feedback.

Thanks!   (anyone seen Orange is the new Black?  What do you think? I’m leary to try netflix again after what they did to my arrested development.  Egads.)

fall preview

Fall TV Review

As I’ve mentioned before on my blog I love me some television and because I was sick last week I viewed even more TV than usual. Luckily it was premiere week and all my favorite shows started their seasons with a couple new shows thrown in the mix.  I thought it would be fun to review these shows and give you an idea of what is worth checking out this season.

Sunday-

Amazing Race 19- 19 seasons and still my favorite reality competition show.  Entertaining cast, great first challenge in Taiwan and I couldn’t believe the girls that lost their passport about an hour into the race!  A few new touches like the hazard penalty and a double elimination round next week keep the race exciting.  If I could be on any show it would be the Amazing Race.  A+

Extreme Makeover Home Edition- There is no show that lays on the inspirational cheese more than this one but I still enjoy it.  Its kind of like the TV equivalent of a cup of hot cocoa.  Sweet and comforting. I’m embarrassed to admit how many times it makes me cry in spite of my best efforts! This season started with a bang, bringing the First Lady in as a guest to help a home for female veterans.  How can you not like that? B+

Pan Am- New show trying to ride the 60’s wave of Mad Men.  Looks very promising with a slick, attractive cast.  You could really see the budget spent on the pilot.  Cinematography, sets, fashion were all top-notch.  Not as edgy as Mad Men but I actually think that’s a good thing.  I love Mad Men’s style but it has become too R rated for my taste with almost every character being a philanderer or cheat (plus a few of the plot strings have become ridiculous). A-

Monday-

Dancing with the Stars- new season has stretched the meaning of ‘star’ to the point where some of the pro dancers are more famous than the stars.  For instance, does dating George Clooney really make you a star?  That said, still immensely entertaining.  I especially enjoy watching it with my DVR so I can fast forward all the fluffy montages and rehearsal scenes.  I just like to watch the dancing! B

How I Met Your Mother- this show has been weak for the last 3 seasons, especially last season. The once funny Barney gags are tired and the entire cast (and writers) seem bored.  Hope they can revitalize it but I think this season it might be time to finally meet the mother and end the show.  C

The Sing Off- Despite it being the 3rd season had never seen the show but the draw of Sara Bareilles as a judge and a team from my alumni BYU called Vocal Point was too much to resist.  I enjoyed this acapella competition; although, I think all 3 judges are far too nice. They need a Simon Cowell to be a little tough on the teams! A

Two and a Half Men- Never seen the appeal of this show but I had to watch out of curiosity.  If anything I think Ashton Kutcher was better than Charlie Sheen.  Still, not that funny.  C

Two Broke Girls- Terrible, cliched comedy.  I thought every laugh was tired and predictable.  F

Tuesday-

Glee- I was into this show for about 6 months.  It had a strong pilot and you know I loved the music at the beginning.  Unfortunately the plot lines got ridiculous really fast and the kids stopped behaving like high school students and more like 30 year olds. Plus, I think they are dipping really deep to find new songs and to work those songs into a coherent plot (they didn’t have a song in this weeks episode until about 20 minutes into the show so they are becoming more sparse in their song offerings) .  Nothing new this season has excited me but it is nice to see Idina Menzel as a full time cast member.  Almost makes me tempted to watch. C-

New Girl- Only new show I watched on Tuesday (aside from results night of Dancing with the Stars).  This is a strange little show that I can’t say I recommend but I also think it has potential. Zoey Deschanel plays a girl who is dumped by her boyfriend and moves in as a roommate with a group of guys. The pilot had good moments but its tone was also all over the place.  I couldn’t decide whether it was a slapstick comedy or a drama.  Second episode also mixed.  Still, I see some potential (Btw the producers were so smart to get this show out on itunes for free download weeks ago.  I don’t know why more shows don’t do that.  It creates such buzz). C+

Wednesday-

Survivor: South Pacific- Another guilty pleasure of mine.  Repeating the gimmick from last season the producers have brought back 2 veterans; although, I don’t think either Coach or Ozzy will be able to put on the Survivor school that Boston Rob displayed last season.  They also have Russel Hantz’s nephew to see if villainy runs in the family.  Could do without the Redemption Island gimmick but no favorites so far.  A

The Middle- The funniest show on television that people don’t seem to be watching.  Glad ABC hasn’t given up on it.  Hilarious opening episode on the perils of camping with a family.  Watch this show!!  The kid actors are also the best in television. A+

Modern Family- I hate to say it but I think this show peaked in its first season.  Last season I felt was basically a repeat of the same gags from season 1.  The premiere for season 3 didn’t make me laugh.  I didn’t think the Lilly jokes were funny and the kids on the show are not very good.  Especially Manny is so wooden.  I feel like you can see him thinking of his lines before he says them. C

Up All Night- This is the show I am most excited to tell people about.  I don’t know when I’ve laughed harder at a pilot.  Hopefully the rest of the show will live up to it but the first 2 episodes were hilarious.  It is about a couple who give up their partying ways when they have a baby- a situation that could be ripe with cliches but it all works.  There is a scene where they are changing the baby’s diaper which made me laugh my head off.  The pilot is a free download on itunes right now so check it out!  I want this show to last!  A+

X Factor- American Idol all over again and I’m done with that show why would I tune into this? Nice to see Simon and Paula back together but really I agree with David Spade who said ‘all the good singers have been found’.  They really seem to be digging deep for this show.  D

Thursday-

Project Runway- The new season technically started a month or so ago but I thought I’d mention it.  This season may be the jumping the shark moment for the show.  Last week’s episode where they had to make outfits for a band was terrible.  It looked like a tacky 70’s party.  Maybe all the good designers have been found. I don’t think they’ve  had a really strong season since Christian Seriano won. D

Big Bang Theory-   Another show that peaked in its first season.  The last season was low on laughs and too focused on sexual humor.  I think they need to get back to the ensemble gags that used to work so well.  Its become too Sheldon based. C+

I didn’t watch any premieres Friday or Saturday so that’s it.  I know its a ridiculous amount of television for one human being to watch but I was sick!  If I could only recommend 3 shows it would be Up All Night, the Middle and the Amazing Race.

Murtaugh List and Regina Spektor

regina-spektor

So last week I went to a Regina Spektor concert.  She is a very talented singer born in Russia who fits well into the indie female folksy genre that is so popular.  She is similar to Ingrid Michaelson, Norah Jones, Aimee Mann, and Missy Higgins.  In fact, in some ways I like her better because she is edgy and daring with melodies and arrangements.  On the other hand, sometimes I don’t get her style- she’s too edgy for me! Her song Fidelity is featured in a Target ad right now and her songs Us and Hero were on the 500 Days of Summer soundtrack.

Being fans, Anna and I were naturally excited to be attending her concert in Salt Lake.  It was kind of a crazy weekend for me.  I went to the Regina concert Friday night and then Saturday drove down to St. George for my friend Bonnie’s wedding.  I was exhausted by the time Sunday came around! Thanks to Anna for coming with me to the concert and to St.  George.  She was such a great help to me, and it was a big sacrifice for her. I love you!

Anyway, Friday we went to the concert- Anna, her roommate Becca and myself.  Before the concert we ate at the Pie up by the University of Utah (I know enemy territory!).  It is the best pizza I have had outside of New York.  You don’t even need any toppings. It’s delicious!  After dinner we drove to the concert.  It was at a club called In the Venue that is standing room only.  It is the same place we went for the Ingrid Michelson concert but this time it was even more crowded.  Plus, we arrived early so that added another hour to the standing.   By the time Regina’s opening act was finished (btw the opening act was thoroughly lame…in the grand tradition of opening acts) I was already exhausted.  It was a mosh pit with hardly room to move.  To make matters worse, even though I was up front I was in a place where the grand piano blocked any view of Regina.  No matter how I tried to crane my neck I couldn’t see anything but her legs on the pedals.  This seemed like a lot to put up with for a pair of legs!

Finally the crowd made me feel nauseated and I was getting overheated.  I bravely began to make my way through the crowd.  I basically became a human plow trying to find my way to the back.  Along the way I pushed many a young kid and even had some rude comments.  One woman said “I was standing there first and thanks for stepping on my toes”.  I felt like saying “I beg your pardon mademoiselle.  I am sorry I didn’t ask your permission to step on you in a MOSH PIT!”.  Rude!   Finally I made my way back and wolfed down a Gatorade for $4.  It was then that I realized “I’m too old for this stuff”.

Murtaugh List

I’m too old for moshing it at standing room only concerts. I’m too old for road trips with little sleep.  I’m too old for Motel 6’s with lame, scratchy sheets.    I’m too old for nothing but pizza and root beer for dinner.  I need some nutrients!  I’m too old for skipping 2 meals and then binging on a huge dinner.  I’m too old for giant ice cream Sundays and anything with the words “extreme sour” in it.  I’m too old for trendy clothes, head banging music, tantrums, sleeping  in past 9, wearing t-shirts with “funny” sayings, practical jokes, big wads of bubble gum, prank phone calls, cartoon network, teeny bopper music, any kind of eating contest, glitter, costumes for no purpose, camping for “fun”, sleeping on the floor, watching the Hills or America’s Next Top Model, all-nighters, selling my blood, cosmic anything, group sports of any kind (especially dodge ball), Weird Al anything, Chef Boyardee, lame car games, ice skating and dancing to impress a boy (what was I thinking!), eating fake cheese, pop tarts, ramen noodles and most prepackaged foods,  flirting to impress a boy, anything in a “fun land/arcade”, and petty fights with friends.  The list goes on.

Basically I’m too old to be doing things that aren’t genuinely me.  I am too old to be playing a part or trying to fit in. I am not saying I have to be completely selfish but when you are young you go along for the ride easier.  Now I would be more likely to express my feelings and then agree to what others want to do. I remember going to concerts at the Velor in Provo.  It is loud, crowded, and miserable.  The music isn’t my taste and you know why I was there- to impress a boy.  I am too old for that kind of stuff.   If  I do  end up doing something on my Murtaugh list expect me to feel tired, even exhausted and grumpy.  I will try my best but no guarantees!

How-I-Met-Your-Mother-Cast-how-i-met-your-mother-791248_1280_1024

If you are wondering about the title of my entry, the Murtaugh list comes from an episode of my favorite show How I Met Your Mother where Ted makes a list of the things he’s too old for.  These include going to raves, sleeping on futons, piercing your ears, and laser tag. Then Barnie and Ted have a challenge where Barnie attempts to do all the things on the Murtaugh list and Ted does a list of  stuff old people do like go to bed at 8 and eat at 4.  It’s pretty funny.

The other unfortunate thing about the Regina concert is she had a foul mouth.  It was too bad because her music is beautiful.  I don’t know why women feel they have to  be so ugly and unseemly.  It makes me sad.

Things I Think are Funny

Imagination was given to man to compensate him for what he is not; a sense of humor to console him for what he is.  ~Francis Bacon

I decided to do a lighter post this time.  My posts of late have been a bit serious.  I have had a great deal on my mind, and so many issues  I feel passionate about. I want to get my voice out and try to make a difference. I am very gratified for the responses to these entries. My blog posting on Glen Beck alone has already had over 400 visits.  My Affluenza posting 250. The stimulus package over 300.  Visits to my blog have increased from 1900 to 3100 in the month of March alone.  I know it is still small in the world of blogs, but it makes me feel good.  Thanks for reading and making comments!

For this post I am writing about the things that make me laugh.  It is such a hard thing to quantify.  I have had so many times when I think something is hilarious but when I show it to friends I get nothing but a courtesy laugh.  I’ve also been in the reverse situation where I am the only one in the room not laughing.  For instance, I do not think Weird Al is funny.  One time in college everyone was watching him, cracking up and I didn’t laugh once.

Given the subjectivity of humor I will try to describe what makes me laugh.

Let’s start with stand up…

My favorite routines are from Jerry Seinfeld, Bill Cosby and Ray Romano.  All 3 of them take ordinary situations and bring out the insanity.  I love to make mix CDs of these routines and play them on long car trips.  On one such trip my cousin Ellen was in the car.  She was 8 or 9 and we laughed and laughed.  My aunt Cindy told me when they got home that she asked for more comedy CDs and said “I am addicted to comedy!”.  My thoughts exactly!

My favorite routine of all time is probably the Dentist by Bill Cosby.  I hate going to the dentist, and he captures the experience perfectly.  I particularly love the way he mimics the sound of a dentist working on your teeth. I’ve heard this probably a hundred times and it still leaves me in stitches:

Next we have animated humor…

For some odd reason there is a group of mothers in Utah that think the Simpsons is some evil show.  I grew up with it.  It has been on the air since I was 8 years old, and from about 1994-2000 it made me laugh every week. I will always have a soft spot in my heart for the Simpsons because it was one of the only things I remember doing with my brother every week where we laughed.  Picking a favorite Simpsons episode is tough- I have all 11 seasons currently available on DVD.  There are so many good ones.  Some of my favorites are the Frank Grimes episode (Homer’s Enemy), King Size Homer (Homer gains weight to get on workman’s comp), Bart the Mother (Bart becomes the mother of a nest of birds that leads to complicated problems), Homer the Great (Homer is made head of the “Stonecutters” a mason like group), and the Monorail episode (where the town is conned by a Harold Hill-like monorail salesman voiced by Phil Hartman). There are plenty of Simpson’s haters out there but let me just say in its defense- it is about a family that always makes up, they pray together, they go to church and they make fun of everyone equally.  It has been making me laugh for 20 years and will continue to do so until 2012! Hurray!

Here is a clip from the monorail episode:

Moving on to sitcom television…

Since television is weekly its humor can be based more on the chemistry of the stars than on the material itself.  There may be jokes that fans of the show love but those unfamiliar with the characters don’t understand.  For example, on the Office many of the jokes made by Michael Scott are funny because we know the character and understand his wacky perspective.   Arrested Development is another show that those unfamiliar with the characters will probably not grasp most of the humor.  The sitcoms that make me laugh the hardest are probably the Office, Cosby Show, Mary Tyler Moore, Arrested Development, How I Met Your Mother, Big Bang Theory, and the Nanny.  Seinfeld can be very funny but it is more hit and miss to me.  Also, My Name is Earl was great in the first two seasons but has gone down hill since then.

I want to have a clip but a lot of my favorite episodes are not available online.  For instance, one of the funniest moments on television is from The Mary Tyler Moore episode Chuckles Bites the Dust.  The plot is about the TV station’s clown Chuckles who dies from being stomped on by an elephant after wearing a peanut outfit in a parade.  Because of the odd death of the clown everyone at the newsroom laughs and cracks jokes except Mary.  She stays serious until the funeral.  While listening to the eulogy Mary gets the giggles and everyone can’t believe her rudeness.  The more she tries to hold it in the worse it is.  Here is the eulogy that gets her going:

“Chuckles the Clown brought pleasure to millions. The characters he created will be remembered by children and adults alike: Peter Peanut, Mr. Fee-Fi-Fo, Billy Banana, and my particular favorite, Aunt Yoo Hoo. And not just for the laughter they provided—there was always some deeper meaning to whatever Chuckles did. Remember Mr. Fee-Fi-Fo’s little catch phrase? Remember how, when his arch rival Señor Caboom hit him with a giant cucumber and knocked him down, Mr. Fee-Fi-Fo would always pick himself up, dust himself off, and say, ‘I hurt my foo-foo’? Life’s a lot like that. From time to time we all fall down and hurt our foo-foos. If only we could deal with it as simply and bravely and honestly as Mr. Fee-Fi-Fo. And what did Chuckles ask in return? Not much. In his own words, ‘A little song, a little dance, a little seltzer down your pants.'”

I have had many times when I get the giggles and am about to pee my pants with laughing.  One time on my mission this lady started playing the piano super loud, in a rather vitriolic fashion- so much so that it made our cute little Chinese investigator jump about a foot in the air.  For some reason it made me start to laugh and finally I had to grab my companion and leave to the restroom.  Doesn’t everyone have those moments?  That’s what makes the episode so relatable.

Another show that makes me laugh is How I Met Your Mother.  It is probably my favorite comedy on TV right now (the Office has become more hit and miss lately).  One of my favorite episodes is called Spoiler Alert.  It is all about how friends have annoying habits that we ignore because they are our friends; however, once these habits are pointed out to us they drive us crazy!  Have you ever experienced this?   Here is one example from the episode:

One last category- the sketch comedy show…

The sketch comedy show has a style all its own.  Unlike the sitcom, the jokes are not based on long-term character development, nor are they as deadpan as stand up.  They are based on short-term character development and scenarios built to prove one singular point.  Of all of the categories the sketch comedy skit is perhaps the most subjective.  For example, my sister and brother in-law do not find Will Farrell funny.  I think he is hilarious most of the time.  I have met people that hate Chris Farley- others that love him.  Again, most of the ones I find funny are because I relate to them in some small way.  I’ve never found Chris Rock to be very funny but others disagree.  Adam Sandler is more hit and miss.  Monty Python kind of invented the genre and to me this routine is just about perfect:

Anyone who has had an uncle or aunt wailing about “kids today…” can relate to that!

So, that is some of the things that make me laugh.  I would go into movies but that becomes even more subjective.  I will have to do a separate entry just on funny movies.  There are certain movies like Clueless, You’ve Got Mail, When Harry Met Sally, Stranger that Fiction,  and Office Space that I could  write entire posts on- one of them I have.  They are hilarious!

I hope this post made you laugh!  There are so many problems right now it feels good to have a good laugh!