Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The Strike Zone

In case you hadn't heard, TV writers are on strike. Without writers, there are no scripts, and without scripts, there are no television shows.

Reality TV, however, is exempt from this strike so now that we don't have a clue about what's happening on Wisteria Lane, we have a spate of new reality shows on television.

Allow me to familiarize you with a few I've watched.

HOW TO LOOK GOOD NAKED (Lifetime TV, Friday night) with Carson Kressley. Carson, of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy fame, hosts a new show that isn't about dieting or plastic surgery or any other crazy things women do to look good. It's about learning that more than likely your perception of your body is quite skewed and with a little help from proper foundation garments, the right clothes, a good haircut and a makeover, you can look fabulous not only to others but to yourself. Kressley (who has an impressive bio, which includes designing for Ralph Lauren, being a member of the US World Cup Equestrian Team and graduating magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from college) demonstrates compassion that would make a lumberjack cry. He also sometimes dances in a Carmen Miranda outfit.

MISS AMERICA REALITY CHECK (The Learning Channel, Friday night) strives to change the image of the typical Miss America contestant. All fifty-two contestants (the fifty states plus Miss District of Columbia and Miss Virgin Islands) live in a Los Angeles mansion with only seven showers and compete in various mental and physical challenges. No one gets voted off the island, no one has to eat bugs or forage for food in the forest (at least they haven't yet). They have to listen and learn, and each week the top three and bottom three contestants are selected by the celebrity judges as those who have made the best progress and the least. Gone are the aqua-netted hairdos and brash makeup, and it looks like this week they'll learn to strut the catwalk like a Paris model. Poor Miss Utah went from top three to bottom three in a week based on her bad decision to show up for a pool-side challenge with big hair, bigger earrings and way too much make-up. It's been interesting to say the least and January 26th's Miss America pageant, telecast live from Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas, should be even more interesting. I know I've always looked at Miss America with a "yeah, right" attitude and rolled my eyes a little , but one of the Playground's friends, Michelle Buonfiglio of Lifetime TV's Romance B(u)y the Book, was a top ten Miss America finalist and credits the scholarship money she won for her being able to complete her college degree. Knowing someone personally who benefited from the scholarship program has definitely made me reevaluate my attitude toward it.

DANCE WARS: Bruno vs. Carrie Ann (ABC, Monday night) is the search for performers who can sing and dance. Hosted by former boyband star Drew Lachey (who proved he could dance too) it pits two teams of singers/dancers coached by Dancing with the Stars judges Bruno Tonioli and Carrie Ann Inaba. We're two weeks in and they've auditioned thousands and picked two teams of six (three men and three women). Over the next weeks we'll see them perform, the viewers get to vote and I'm still not quite sure what else is going to happen. Does someone get sent home each week? Do the teams just earn viewer votes? What will the winning team get? What I REALLY want to see is Bruno and Carrie Ann dancing. I want to see them samba or quickstep or tango and have someone tell them their shoulders slumped, their toes weren't pointed or call them on an illegal lift.

AMERICAN IDOL (Fox, various nights). An old favorite is back for its seventh season and last night we got to start watching America's worst singers audition. Well, maybe you watched, but I vowed a couple years ago to wait until they at least got to Hollywood week before I tuned in. Okay, I caved because I'm a glutton for punishment and I'm fascinated by train wrecks. Isn't it amazing how some people are willing to completely humiliate themselves in front of millions of people for fifteen minutes of fame? And what about the guy with the grizzly bear hairy chest who waxed it off so he could try to be a Pussycat Doll?

Alabama has had its share of AI hopefuls and winners. Second season winner Reuben Studdard attended college right here in the town where I live. Bo Bice, runner up to Carrie Underwood, also lived here for a while as did fifth season winner Taylor Hicks. And it seems Alabama may have another chance to claim an American Idol winner. Cardin McKinney lives in Nashville, Tennessee now, but she graduated from high school about five miles from my house. We'll just have to wait and see how she does in the audition process.

One bright spot in the TV line-up is the return of MONK on Friday nights on USA Network. He's quirky, he's brilliant, he's so flawed that he's lovable and I cherish each six-episode season they dole out twice a year. Why won't they give us more?

So what have you been watching during the strike? Or have you been reading more?


Anonymous said... i out of it! I don't watch any of those. I watch Top Chef, Project Runway...ummm...that's it?

I've been doing end of the marking period grades and reports.

And i've started a new WIP!!! I'm happy about that.

So hi everyone!

Nini :)

Jen said...

I've never seen any of the others, except when I stumbled out of the laundry room and my daughter was watching that Beauty Pageant thing...I wasn't sucked in, but I too caved and watched AI last night -- this is actually the part I like but it did bring home to me that people are actually sort of scary -- like the guy who composed and sang the stalking song to Paula.

Anonymous said...

I watched Carrie Ann/Bruno - havent cared much for it; but will watch for awhile to see how it progresses.

Saw "PS I Love You" last nite - loved it - did get teary eyed quite a bit. Now I know what all the fuss is about Gerard Butler. Going to see The Bucket List over the w/e with hubby and friends.

Dont watch a ton of t.v. but wish I could get more reading time in - am currently reading Divorced, Desparate and Delicious - it is funny and am really enjoying it.

Pat L.

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

Pat, I loved that book!

Hi, Marilyn and Playfriends! I'm dyin to watch "Naked," cause you've been talkin it up. You'd think I'd already be watching it, what with Lifetime being my boss n all. I love how compassionate Carson Kressley is. And it's cool that you get how important my Miss America experience was to me. Thank you. I'd never have gotten my degree -- not required in life, but really the most important experience of my life for lots of reasons -- if it weren't for Miss A. And I'd never have looked toward a career writing.

The funny thing is, the connection between the heart of Miss A and Carson Kressley's new show, is that you really learn through Miss A (if you're wise about it) how to enhance your best physical features, and improve your real life talents. And you learn so much of this from the other contestants. It's not a panacea; I had to stand on-stage next to Jeri Ryan of "Shark" and "Star Trek" fame. Not stellar self-esteem moments for me. :)

Smarty Pants said...

Fortunately, I wasn't hung up in any shows that have stopped. Nip/Tuck is still airing, as is House, at least for now. Otherwise, Project Runway goes on and I'm sure Top Chef will be back on any second now as they scramble.

I hate AI. I admit it. I know that with nothing else on, it will dominate the airwaves, so I'm just going to have to wear out my netflix subscription.

Instigator said...

I actually haven't been watching a lot of TV lately. I did watch Dance Wars the other day though - not very impressed.

The shows I watch are scripted - Grey's Anatomy, Moonlight, Private Practice, Brothers and Sister, Lost. So I'm going to enjoy the few episodes that they've hopefully got in the can and then just wait until next season (and count on the strike ending soon).


Rhonda Nelson said...

PM, count me as another HUGE Monk fan. Love that show!

Kathy said...

I've watched Dance Wars and Project Runway. Darn, Kevin got voted off!

You have to watch THE SARAH CONNOR CHRONICLES! Two episodes aired, one of Sunday, one on Monday. It's awesome!! (For those who like THE TERMINATOR) And every Sunday on PBS, they're airing Jane Austen remakes of Persuasion, Northanger Abbey, Emma, Mansfield Park and 2 old movies, Pride and Prejudice (with Colin Firth) and Sense and Sensibility, plus a movie about Jane Austen, herself. Rupert Penry-Jones was fabulous as Captain Wentworth in Persuasion. Sigh.

Pat L, Gerard Butler is the ONE! If you haven't watched him before you need to catch him in 300, PHANTOM OF THE OPERA, SHATTERED, TIMELINE, LARA CROFT-TOMB RAIDER, CRADLE OF LIFE, ATTILA and DRACULA 2000.

My work is done. :-)

Problem Child said...

I'm sticking to re-runs: Star Trek: Voyager (speaking of Jeri Ryan), L&O SVU, and Family Guy.

We're big Discovery Channel freaks around here, like Mythbusters, Cash Cab, How It's Made.

Yes, I'm being pulled to the dark side of geekdom...

Maureen said...

I have been watching the reality shows too. Sometimes watching American Idol can be painful to watch on those first shows. I am also watching Project Runway and the Amazing Race.

BethRe said...

I also love Monk I haven't started Idol yet still couldn't cave in and watch the really bad stuff it just makes my hair stand up

Angel said...

I've been reading more than anything. I'll get to watch the few episodes of CSI they made, then just wait it out.

Very cool, Michelle! Isn't it funny how different something looks from the outside as from the inside. What a neat look into the Miss America pageant.


Elen Grey said...

I've been watching Friday Night Lights, the first season, on DVD. I am totally addicted. I'm even beginning to have a bit of a yen for football. lol

Lynn Raye Harris said...

Hubby and I have been doing a lot of reading. We love Life, which isn't back yet, and Pushing Daises (also not back) and Moonlight (there was a new episode on Friday with another this week).

But, hubby is seriously into Idol. Last year was the first year we ever watched it, so he hauled me up to his media lair, I mean room, last night to view the new season. He loves the train wrecks. I don't know quiet why. Like the guy that waxed his chest.

I said it was sad and hubby says, "Hey, he knows what he's doing, he wants to be on tv, if he's willing to be humiliated for it, that's HIS fault." Okay, I guess so.

We both felt bad for Temptress, poor thing, and I flat out cried when the pretty girl (who made it to Hollywood) was shown with her daughter who has Rett's Syndrome. OMG.

The woman with the sparkly makeup who went postal after the audition was a trip. I felt for her and for the Princess Leia girl. Wow, how is it possible to be so deluded?

Never seen these other shows you mentioned, though I'd watch the Carson one for a variety of reasons. :)

Kathy said...

What was the hairy guy thinking? Was he trying to be Jabba the Hut's prisoner? LOL.

Loved Simon's "Give my regards to Chewbaca."

We flipped back and forth while watching Comanche Moon, the prequel to Lonesome Dove.

Carol said...

I'm also a big fan of Monk and I, too, wish there were more of his show being aired. I've also been watching House and Boston Legal. I never watch the reality shows.