For the networks, the month of May means just one thing: Sweeps -- the time of year where the Big 4.5 networks pull out all the stops to end their seasons with high ratings and, hopefully, increased ad revenue.
For ABC, this is a particularly important Sweeps period. Not only are a number of renewed freshman and sophomore series ending in the next few weeks, but the network's flagship program -- 'Lost' -- is completing its long and complicated run. Needless to say, they've packed the schedule with guest-stars, trips to exotic locales, and a return of 'The Bachleorette.'
As mentioned, the series finale of 'Lost' is big doings. On Sunday, May 23rd, the network will air a two-hour 'Lost Recap Special' starting at 7:00 p.m. followed by the last episode at 9:00 p.m.. To the cap the night off, Jimmy Kimmel will interview the creators and cast of 'Lost' on a special Sunday edition of 'Jimmy Kimmel Live.'
More highlights can be found after the jump. Be warned: minor spoilers ahead.
(S01E21) Jules Cobb is TV's creepiest mom, but in a good way.
We've known from the beginning of this series how close she is to her son Travis; it's a twisted 'Gilmore Girls' situation, where a young mom is relating to her kid more as a buddy than as a mom. But thrown into the buddy mix is Jules' paralyzing fear that Travis is going to grow up and leave her all alone. So when you see Jules make a sport out of watching her son sleep -- she calls it the "sleepy show" to Laurie and Ellie when they join in -- you're not nearly as creeped out as you should be.
And that, my friends, is why this show has managed to transcend its original premise and succeed.
I can scramble around, trying to write down every funny line that was uttered, which won't give me a chance to really take the show in like I should. But if I take the show in and just absorb it for the plots and characters, I'm finding that I sit in front of my computer to write and can't recall any particularly strong plotlines to talk about. They feel more like plot threads, which are hard to grab and hold onto.
This week those plot threads were a little stronger; they were more like plot ropes. Which, in light of the funny but head-scratching episodes we've seen in the last few months, gives me hope that a balance is being struck.
Here's tonight's TV lineup (all times Eastern). All shows listed are new, unless otherwise noted.
8:00 to 9:00
ABC: 'The Middle' -- Starts at 8:30
CBS: 'The New Adventures of Old Christine' and 'Accidentally on Purpose'
The CW: 'America's Next Top Model'
FOX: 'Human Target'
G4: 'Web Soup'
9;00 to 10:00
ABC: 'Modern Family' and 'Cougar Town'
CBS: 'Criminal Minds'
The CW: 'Fly Girls' and 'High Society'
FOX: 'American Idol' -- Results show. Special guest Adam Lambert
BBC America: 'Peep Show' and 'That Mitchell and Webb Look'
SyFy: 'Ghost Hunters'
10:00 to 11:00
ABC: 'Ugly Betty' -- Series finale
CBS: 'CSI: NY'
A&E: 'Dog the Bounty Hunter' and 'Billy the Exterminator'
Bravo: 'Top Chef Masters'
Comedy Central: 'South Park' and 'Ugly Americans' -- 'South Park's' 200th episode
E!: 'E! True Hollywood Story' -- focus on Tiger Woods
Showtime: 'Inside NASCAR'
SyFy: 'Destination Truth'
TBS: 'Tyler Perry's House of Payne' -- Two 30-minute episodes
TV Land: 'First Love, Second Chance'
USA: 'In Plain Sight'
Check your local TV listings for more information. After the jump, the late night talk shows.
Not that the episodes aren't full of funny lines -- who wouldn't laugh at the term "pursey-whipped?" But when I watch the show, I'm more interested in how the characters are relating to each other and how the ensemble comes together from week to week. I'm just fascinated by the transformation this show has undergone in its first season, from a show centering on Courteney Cox and her character's issues with dating younger men to more of a show about a loving -- albeit a bit odd -- extended family. And this episode was one of the best illustrations of that transformation.
Don't get me wrong; since this show has settled into being an ensemble show instead of being just about Jules Cobb, Cox's performance has become more nuanced and realistic. But what's also been happening is that the surrounding characters' stories have become more interesting, while Jules stays the same wine drinkin' fool she's been since day one.
So tonight, when Jules vows to not drink wine for a month, we saw what happens when Jules Cobb turns into Monica Gellar. It wasn't pleasant, but it also wasn't as annoying as it seemed to be portrayed. More on this later.
(S01E17) "When Andy and I met, we were in the same circle of friends, but basically, it was just a doink chain that I worked my way around." - Ellie
Wow, Grayson is really stepping up his Jules love, isn't he? Obviously he's been into her for a while now, but I didn't think we were quite to the point of threatening neighbors and scaling houses to drop threatening notes down chimneys. It's pretty sweet, really. I also like how their relationship is being written now. Instead of going the typical sitcom route and having Jules be oblivious to Grayson's feelings for her, they're keeping it as something that's acknowledged but unspoken between them, because neither one is ready to take the plunge. It really works for me.
Speaking of things working, the whole "gay trap" thing was honestly pretty offensive at first, but it just ended up being so funny, especially when Jules lady-gay trapped Ellie with an Indigo Girls song, that I couldn't get too upset about it.
I've been enjoying these last few episodes of 'Cougar Town' because the supporting characters have been fleshed out and have become a more central part of the show. This week was no different, as we not only met Laurie's mother but we also learned new tidbits about all characters, including Jules' real estate nemesis, Barb.
Another upside of this week's installment was the appearance of Beverly D'Angelo as Laurie's mother. Not only was it great casting because D'Angelo does look like she could be Busy Philipps' mother, but also because the 'National Lampoon' actress had the comedic acting skills needed to play Sheila, a superficial and bad mother.
Created by Paul Feig and produced by Judd Apatow, 'Freaks and Geeks' is one of those rare television treasures that no one saw or appreciated until it was too late. Okay, that's unfair. Critics, the press and the loyal fans who did find the show on NBC immediately knew that it was something special. Unfortunately, it didn't find wide enough appeal to last beyond its first season.
Ironically, the show's cast of virtual unknowns now reads like an all-star comedy troupe, which is a testament to the brilliant casting that went on behind the scenes of the show. Finding such talented kids, and then coupling them with brilliant writing crafted on of the most revered television shows of all time.
(S01E15) If you want to see evidence of how much a show can change in its first season, look no further than this week's guest star, Barry Bostwick.
He's been among the Bill Lawrence Players for almost fifteen years now, since he was cast as Mayor Randall Winston on 'Spin City.' As Lawrence has said, that show so completely changed focus during its first season, from a romantic comedy to a workplace/government comedy, that the part of one of its stars, Carla Gugino, was cut halfway through that year.
Last night's episode really brought home the fact that in quick order 'Cougar Town' has become much more than what the show was supposed to be about when it debuted. The world surrounding Jules Cobb has now expanded to the point where we see where Andy works, we know Laurie's last name (Keller? Hope she's not related... ) and see enough mixing of characters to make us want to see more.
Crow's past TV and movie appearances were mostly as herself and involved singing. However, she does have some acting experience from having played roles other than herself in movies such as '54' and 'The Minus Man' as well as in TV series such as 'Cop Rock.'
Sheryl Crow will have to tap in her acting skills for her 'Cougar' gig as the singer will not be playing herself.
Small spoilers about her role coming up!
Let's start with Laurie. For most of this first season, we've seen her as nothing more than a West-Central Florida wannabe version of Lindsay Lohan. So it was refreshing to see that she's actually grown a conscience, and is willing to admit to it. It's a good thing, because a caricature-heavy Laurie would be tough to take in the show's already-secured second season.
So to see it all play out this week made me a little bit uneasy, but that's a good thing. This show needed some raised stakes among its ensemble, even if we're starting to set up one of those eye-rolling situations where people start to sleep with each other and always end up finding out. Hopefully, this is something that will be examined in dribs and drabs and doesn't dominate the storytelling in the future.
You knew I wouldn't pass up the opportunity to speak to Bill while he was there, especially with Cougar Town getting picked up for a second season and the new Scrubs trying to find its way after a shaky start. The conversation we had is after the jump.
(Oh, and it's always amazing to me that I can talk to Lawrence for maybe 15 minutes, cut out 3500 words, and still have 2500 words left. The man can talk a blue streak.)
Is love in the air? This week marked the moment in Jules and Jeff's relationship where they had to reflect on their couple status and decide if they wanted to be exclusive or not.
In the meantime, Bobby and Grayson reminisced about their respective marriages and what went wrong. While love was in the air, then not, then yes, for Laurie.
Oh and Andy divulged a big secret but, sadly for him and that big ball of fire he has in his chest, another one was added to the pile!
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