Powered by i.TV
April 17, 2014

Screen Time

'Pan Am' and 'The Playboy Club': Obsessive, Miniaturist and Yes, Sexist

by Stephanie Earp, posted Aug 23rd 2011 5:00PM


I always thought I was a fan of period pieces -- 'Merchant & Ivory,' HBO's 'Rome', Austen adaptations -- but I wish the '60s would go away. Not the '60s as they happened, the '60s as they've been reconstructed by pop culture. Nostalgia for this version is so tedious. The clothes are so specific and so binding, the important historical figures and dates are capital-"I" important, and the rampant inequality on display is plain old gross.

Read More

What Reality TV Teaches Us About Love and Marriage

by Stephanie Earp, posted Aug 9th 2011 12:00PM
The conclusion of another season of the 'The Bachelorette' and last night's debut of the dirty after-party called 'Bachelor Pad' got me thinking about the state of marriage -- at least on reality TV.

My parents got married at City Hall. My mom was wearing a caftan over her baby bump (I was born a few months later) and my dad wore a V-neck sweater, high-heeled boots and five o'clock shadow. It was the '70s and the whole thing cost as much as the marriage license. Granted, it didn't last, but as I'm sure you've noticed, most marriages don't.

Read More

'The Firm': The Creepiest TV Cast of All Time?

by Stephanie Earp, posted Aug 2nd 2011 4:00PM
After years in development hell, a television version of hit film and novel 'The Firm' is slated for a 2012 mid-season debut on NBC in the U.S. and Global in Canada. It's been 20 years since the book topped best-seller lists and 18 since the film added to the oeuvre of films that feature Tom Cruise running. It's hard to say if this time-lapse will be a boon to the show (at least it doesn't feel too soon, like a certain 'Spiderman' reboot) or a deficit -- does anyone care what the McDeere family is up to ten years later?

josh lucas, molly parker, callum keith rennie, juliette lewis

Maybe they will when they see who's in the cast for the small screen version -- it's a collection of some of the brightest, smartest and creepiest actors working. And I mean that in the most complimentary way. With Josh Lucas as Mitch, Molly Parker as his wife Abby, Callum Keith Rennie as brother Ray and Juliette Lewis as assistant Tammy, we viewers will never be able to trust a single one of them.

Read More

All in the Family: Incest on TV

by Stephanie Earp, posted Jul 26th 2011 4:00PM

I suppose it says something about where we're at with incest that I barely blinked when 'Game of Thrones' introduced us to Queen Cersei and her brother Jamie Lannister, only to show them in flagrante during the first 50 minutes of the show's premiere. If confronted with this sort of behavior from real people, I'm pretty sure I'd say more than, "But isn't that her twin brother? Ohhhhhh." But when it comes to fictional people, lately it seems like a little inter-genetic action is par for the course.

Read More

When TV Works Online: Web Series We've Actually Heard Of

by Stephanie Earp, posted Jul 19th 2011 1:00PM


Lisa Kudrow's new comedy 'Web Therapy' debuts this week on Showtime, and if the title didn't tip you off, the show is a 30-minute reworking of a web series Kudrow started in 2008. The simple premise worked beautifully in the miniature format.

Kudrow plays Fiona Wallice, a therapist who thinks 50 minutes is too long for a therapy session, and conducts her mini-sessions via webcam. Of course, like most of Kudrow's characters, Wallice is self-centred, mean, and not all that well-informed. (I don't know why Kudrow insists on creating such unlikeable alter-egos for herself, but that's another column.) The trick will be to see if whatever charm the original held is maintained in a 30-minute format.

I'm going to be totally honest here -- I had never heard of 'Web Therapy' until it got picked up for television. Am I completely out of touch? Was the whole world watching this and nobody mentioned it to me? Or are you just as surprised as I am to hear that Kudrow has been regularly employed -- and winning Webby Awards -- for the last four years?

Read More

'How I Met Your Mother': Your Face Here

by Stephanie Earp, posted Jul 12th 2011 3:00PM


Mad props to the investigatory reporters over at Entertainment Weekly who chased down the source of some wacky ads that were popping up in reruns of 'How I Met Your Mother.' I give big-ups to them not only for breaking some fascinating news but also for admitting that, like the rest of us, they watch reruns of 'HIMYM.'

The news is this: thanks to groundbreaking technology, it is now possible to sell ads in old episodes of TV shows by digitally inserting things like TV screens in bar scenes or billboards on sidewalk scenes, and having those digital screens carry timely ads, for example, as EW noted, for the release of 'Bad Teacher' in an episode that was shot in 2009.

Read More

'Love in the Wild': 2x the Reality, 2x the Fun

by Stephanie Earp, posted Jul 4th 2011 2:30PM
I've never really followed an entire season of reality dating show, except for Meredith's turn on 'The Bachelorette', mainly because I was pretty sure she was doing it as a joke.

So color me surprised to find I actually enjoyed the debut of 'Love in the Wild' last week and have mentally penciled episode two into my calendar this Wednesday (9PM ET/PT, CTV/NBC). The show definitely hearkens back to the era of 'Paradise Hotel' or 'Temptation Island' but manages to feel like a fresher take on the pretty-people-in-a-hot-tub genre. Basically, it's a blatant attempt to mix 'Survivor' with 'The Bachelor'. The result includes some of the best and worst elements of both of those shows.

Read More

Canadians and Americans, Together at Last ... on TV!

by Stephanie Earp, posted Jun 27th 2011 5:30PM
This weekend, both Canadians and Americans have something to celebrate. In Canada, we have Canada Day, and in the US, it's the Fourth of July. It's only once a year that the neighboring countries have patriotic holidays so close together.

In a more TV-related vein, one of the less-remarked-on revelations from the WikiLeaks cables that came out last year concerned Canadian television. American policy analysts expressed concern about the negative views of Americans being shown in Canadian shows like 'The Border' and 'Little Mosque on the Prairie.' Apparently, the border guards and customs officials seemed kind of mean, and this had ramifications for American homeland security.

Frankly, I was more surprised that anyone was watching 'The Border' that closely.

Read More

'The Glee Project': A Reality Success or Failure?

by Stephanie Earp, posted Jun 20th 2011 4:00PM


Critics have been predicting the demise of 'American Idol' and the singing competition for years now, despite all evidence to the contrary. The departure of Simon Cowell didn't kill 'Idol' after all, and our appetite for amateur vocalists being thrust into the sudden -- and often short-lived -- glare of the spotlight doesn't seem to have cooled. And then two seasons ago, fact was turned into fiction with the arrival of 'Glee.'

Now, the high school musical has created a reality spin-off that may nod its head to the competitive series than made room in our imaginations for a show like 'Glee,' but moves at a very different pace from the 'Idols' and 'Got Talents', which are essentially just modern variants on the variety show. 'The Glee Project' debuted in the US two weeks ago on Oxygen and starts up on Sunday June 26 on Slice in Canada.

Read More

Come Fall, the Surreal and Supernatural Rule the Airwaves

by Stephanie Earp, posted Jun 13th 2011 4:00PM


It would be easy to blame it all on 'Lost' -- our obsession with the supernatural, the insolvable mystery, the sense that things are not what they seem. Since the day day Jack Shephard first opened his eyes on that highly metaphorical island, television has been growing increasingly infested with science fiction, fantasy and supernatural tales, once the purview of cult shows and brilliant-but-canceled lists.

Add to that the rise of the vampire love story as standard fare for both teens and adults, and the emergence of two great ass-whooping heroines in Lisbeth Salander ('The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo') and Katniss Everdeen ('The Hunger Games'), and it's not hard to see what well the fall television slate is drawing from.

Read More

'Teen Wolf' Reboot Has Teeth

by Stephanie Earp, posted Jun 7th 2011 12:30PM


There's not a lot I miss about being a teen -- the zits, the homework, the torturous first dates -- but the TV is one thing I wish I'd never outgrown. There's very little of that verisimilitude that grown-up dramas suffer from. From the highly unlikely guardianship of Charlie Salinger to the seriously misguided dating rules of Joyce Summers, teen shows always have some elements of wish fulfillment. Parents are young, attractive or entirely absent. TV teen drama can't be dismissed as silly, the way real life teen drama can be -- its usually an apocalypse, a tragic accident or a mysterious disease, or sometimes all of the above.

'Teen Wolf,' the MTV series that only vaguely resembles the '80s Michael J. Fox movie of the same name, has all the hallmarks of a high school classic.

Read More

Look Who's Back! '90s Stars Return to TV

by Stephanie Earp, posted May 30th 2011 4:00PM
With the US networks' upfronts completed, it's time for us TV writers to start picking out trends from the announcements. Is the crime drama dying? Is comedy 'back'? One trend for 2011's fall TV that's hard to miss is the return of a large handful of '90s and early 2000s TV stars who've been away from the small screen.

It's sort of like all the popular kids from high school went off to college, where they majored in things like the comedy-horror movie, highly publicized relationships and dubious art house films, and now they're back -- a little older, a little wiser and with way better hair. Welcome home, kids.

Sarah Michelle Gellar in 'Ringer,' The CW

Plot Summary: Gellar plays twins -- one a washed-up recovering alcoholic, the other a high-society wife. When wifey disappears under mysterious circumstances, Miss Intervention takes her place, only to discover her sister's life is way more messed up than her own.

Read More

Seth MacFarlane's 'The Flintstones' Reboot: A No-Win Situation

by Stephanie Earp, posted May 24th 2011 5:00PM
Sometime in 2013, 'The Flintstones' will be part of the fall lineup for the Fox Network. I know it's not that unusual for businesses to plan several years ahead, but can I just take a moment to say how odd that seems in the context of television?

What if we all violently turn against animation between then and now? Or, what if we have an apocalyptic event that puts us back in the Stone Age, sans TV? I guess you just can't think that way if you're a mogul. Anyway, if the Mayans turn out to be as wrong as Family Radio, Fox has already secured its most talked-about property of the 2013 season.

Read More

'Survivor': The Big Winner and the Losers

by Stephanie Earp, posted May 16th 2011 2:00PM
After almost 10 years and more than 100 days in the game, arguably the biggest celebrity 'Survivor' has ever produced finally won the game. Even Jeff Probst had to admit it was as close as he had ever seen to a perfect game -- and the viewers agreed with him. Not only did Rob Mariano win the title of sole survivor, he also won the fan favourite award, making the purse $1.1 million.

It was a satisfying if unsurprising ending to a pretty decent season of 'Survivor.' Rob was too good at the game to have lost. But maybe the rest of the cast feel like cannon fodder for Rob's run. I've never seen a more miserable bunch at the reunion show. Usually, there's one or two who feel the need to make a self-righteous speech so-many-months later, but most let their grudges go and are all smiles by the time the winner's name's announced.

This time, it was palpably uncomfortable -- especially when people didn't realize they were on camera. Grant, Matt, Phillip, and Russell lapsed into dull, blank stares when they thought the show was on commercial break.

Read More

Build Your Very Own Crime Show

by Stephanie Earp, posted May 10th 2011 6:45PM


As a TV writer, I'm well aware of the limits of the human imagination, and nowhere is that glaring fact more evident than in the procedural crime drama genre. We put a man on the moon, invented the microchip and domesticated wolves, but apparently when it comes to solving fictional crime, there is only one way to go about it. Not that this has stopped me from watching hours and hours of the stuff; in fact, I think I'm sometimes comforted by the fact that even if I'm tuning into a series for the first time, I'll know the lay of the land by the first commercial break. I honestly think I could write the stuff in my sleep. I bet you could too -- have a go:

Read More

Follow Us

From Our Partners