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) One of the strongest elements of 'Modern Family' is the strength of the ensemble cast. That brilliance in casting has continued to the various guest stars and extended family members we've met so far. I didn't fully grasp just how perfect Fred Willard is for the role of Phil's father until I saw them slinging jokes back and forth in this weeks' episode.
He drove cross-country to deliver a new dog to the Dunphy household, on account of his wife being allergic to it. This allowed Claire to have a clever conversation over the phone wherein she told him just how much trouble he was in for forgetting to tell her dear old dad was coming into town, without letting dad know what she was saying.
But then, brilliantly clever writing has been a staple of 'Modern Family' since the first episode. Aside from Phil's dad, we got to watch Jay scare the crap out of Manny, and Cameron rediscover his inner rock god.
There's so much to like about ABC's award-winning new sitcom 'Modern Family' that it seems almost curmudgeon-like to complain. Nevertheless, you have to wonder where in the world 'Modern Family' is located. No, not the place; it's clearly Southern California. No, it's the economy. 'Modern Family' resides in an economy unaffected by the recession. Everybody is doing well. Nobody's worried about paying the mortgage, or – God forbid – facing foreclosure. Things are going so well in 'Modern Family' world that the entire clan is heading to Hawaii for a family vacation.
Wow, remember when your family could afford to fly off for a holiday? It was probably some time around the turn of the century ... 2000. Maybe 'Modern Family' is in a time warp because they're all checking into the Four Seasons Maui. It'll be the May 12 season finale, so tune in if you want to live vicariously.
Family is really important, although these days on television, we're seeing more and more groups that are sort of like family, friends or office mates or co-workers that supply the support and love of a traditional clan, but don't have share any DNA with one another. But there's nothing quite as dysfunctional and compelling as a real family, the old-fashioned type with lots of siblings, some aunts and uncles, maybe even a set of grandparents.
Currently, there are four traditional families on TV that would be a lot of fun to hang out with. They're all different kinds of family, but they could all provide just the kind of craziness to create a really good time. Check it out:
(S01E20) I never got mortally embarrassed by my parents. I guess I always assumed that everyone else had them, so they understood. Or maybe I just saw too many television shows and movies about teenagers being horrified to be seen by other kids in the vicinity of those old people who brought them into the world. I don't know, though, if I could get even in quite the way that Claire did this week.
Hilarious but brutal.
On second thought, teenagers are horrible, manipulative, shallow little creatures. Claire did nothing wrong except maybe teach a little humility.
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.
Truthfully, the love of gadgets fits very well into Phil Dunphy's (as played by Ty Burrell) character. He's the sort of man-child that would love such toys as the iPad. Plus given all its publicity it has gotten so far, it's not likely the iPad needs more product placement. Lloyd told James Hibberd that they wanted Phil to get excited over a gadget, and the iPad seemed to be "the perfect one to use," since it was being released the Saturday after the episode aired.
More likely examples of paid product placement would be 'Chuck's' heavy use of the Subway restaurant chain or that painful episode of 'Smallville' that revolved around the consumption of Stride Gum that was infected with Kryptonite. It's also possible to name episodes of 'The Office' and '30 Rock' with paid product placement that got to the point of parody.
On the other hand, it's unlikely that the creator of a show would ever admit to selling out. We'll have to accept that the complete truth will never be known. Enjoy the show!
Given that we had the half-hour-long iPad commercial on 'Modern Family' recently (an ABC program), it seems that the network has gotten behind the new gadget. However, it's not just ABC. Marvel Comics, also a Disney-owned property, have announced an app for the iPad. In all likelihood, there will be a plethora of Disney apps for the iPad before too long. And soon after, other networks and companies will jump on the bandwagon if they haven't already.
Will the iPad signal the end of television as we know it? Probably not. The screen is too small for that and there is a comfort from watching a big screen television in one's own home. However, it will make watching shows on the go easier (provided a data or WiFi connection is available).
Now, while Joel thought the latter was an overdone commercial that may have been penned by Apple CEO Steve Jobs himself, my reaction was completely the opposite. And some critics agreed with me, too.
The idea that Phil would be obsessing about the latest technology was in keeping with the character. Phil's been established as a techie guy, a geekster of the first order. Why wouldn't he be an early adopter of the iPad considering that it is being touted as the next big thing?
We get it. It's the way of the TV world these days, as someone's got to the pay the freight in a world where you can zap a commercial by pushing a button.
But, when entire stories on shows play out like an ad for a product, then things have gone too far. Unfortunately, my favorite new show, 'Modern Family,' took things that step too far last night with their iPad-themed plot. It felt like one long Apple commercial. Never mind that the episode aired just in time for the device's release on Saturday; the iPad drove the plot rather than the plot necessitating the use of an iPad. And that's where the producers crossed the line.
(S01E19) One of the reasons that Cameron and Mitchell are so fun is that Cameron manages to be both the more flamboyant one, and he's clearly the more badass of the two, as well. Mitchell is always kind of whiny and too uptight with his little fists. Unfortunately, when his ineffectiveness as a tough guy leads him to think he's letting his daughter down as a father, Mitchell decides he needs to toughen up.
Phil's birthday celebration took up the bulk of the episode. Well, actually it was the build-up to his birthday celebration, but most of the events happened on that day. So how'd it go? Well, I'll say that I've had plenty of birthdays that went about as well as Phil's did.
I also taught my sister how to play chess, and she beat me ... that very game. That's right. Now, we were both still children, but come on! That's just ridiculous!
This year's list didn't have many fictional shows, but the one's they picked more than made up for their absence. ABC's 'Modern Family' and Fox's 'Glee' both picked up awards, the only two sitcoms on the list. HBO's 'No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency' and 'In Treatment' were also the only dramas on the list.
Other notable winners include 'The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson' for his sit-down with Archbishop Desmond Tutu, HBO's documentary 'Thrilla in Manila,' PBS' 'Frontline' for their stirring report on Bernie Madoff and '60 Minutes'' expose on "The Cost of Dying."
That said, the fact that JTS has been defanged by ubiquity doesn't take away from its ability to be a useful tool for analyzing pop-culture. Shows tend to weaken over time and the JTS moment is a fun way to decide where, exactly, the wheels came off.
In thinking about JTS, it occurred to me that there are a few warning signs that a show is about to jump. Today I'll be looking at the first in a series of canaries in the mineshaft: when characters become caricatures.
Cameron's constantly sticking his foot in his mouth while in Gloria's company created so many moments of hilarity, I had to pause the show several times just to make sure I didn't miss anything.
The Dunphy family stayed at home, because their kids are like all of our kids and neglected to tell their parents about a couple of major things that needed to be done before school the next day. One was a diorama on the life and work of Vincent Van Gogh, while the other was a batch of cupcakes.
Over at TV Guide, William Keck is trying to find out who else might be popping in on the sitcom. Last week, he talked to Eric Stonestreet about who should play his character's mother next season (his choice is Delta Burke from 'Designing Women'). This week, he asked Sofia Vergara who should play her character's mom, and she chose legendary Italian actress Sophia Loren.
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