Posts Tagged ‘TV shows’


November 2019 Poker Results and December Goals

December 1, 2019

My jam of the moment and my mantra for December and 2020 is Kids See Ghosts’ (Kanye and Kid Cudi) “Reborn.”

I’m so, I’m so, re-born… I’m moving forward… keep moving forward… keep moving forward… ain’t no stress on me, Lord… I’m moving forward… keep moving forward… keep moving forward…


Welp, I didn’t get it done yesterday, but no surprise there. I needed to make about $1400 and when I made the decision to play 8/16 at Palace instead of traveling to play in a bigger game, I basically gave up on any chance of getting out of the hole. Granted, I’ve won $1400+ in 8/16 on multiple occasions but those are special sessions.

Basically, my deciding factor was I was on the fringe of qualifying for $15 food comps for the month of December and putting in a big session would basically lock that up for me. That can be a savings of like $150 to $200 a month, if not more.

I finished -$591 and that left me about -$2k for the month of November, good for my 6th worst month ever.

I ran salty yesterday and I’m not going to go over all the hands I lost in depth, but I did make two insane folds that I feel are worth mentioning.

First, I raised with AA and got 5- or 6-way action to a flop of J96 with two diamonds. A straight-forward player that trends tight, especially with his aggressive actions, led out into the field, I raised, and three players cold called behind me before the initial bettor 3-bet and everyone called.

My plan at this point is to get to showdown unless things get ugly. I don’t think I can limit the field by capping the flop and raising the turn isn’t appealing anymore either. I have the ace of diamonds in my hand so it’s not the end of the world if the flush gets there on the turn.

The turn is an offsuit 8 and when the big blind leads again, I think for a bit, and just muck it. This is exactly the kind of fold I talked about not making in my last post, but this spot is a bit different, as there are four opponents still in the hand, and a tight-passive player just lead into the field when the board texture straightened out quite a bit. I wasn’t 100% convinced that the bettor had me beat but I was pretty sure I was extremely unlikely to win this pot. I’m getting 13.5 to 1 so folding seems pretty bad.

I ran this hand by a couple friends and they absolutely hated my fold. I don’t disagree with them, but sometimes you have to trust your instincts. This board sucks for my hand and I have way too many opponents. I only saved one big bet though. Everyone else called and the button ended up raising the turn (a raise I definitely would have folded to) and had QT at showdown.

The other hand, I raised a series of limpers with AQdd from the small blind. I got a flop of A43 with two hearts and I decided to check since the field was large and I was hoping I could raise a bet from late position and limit the field. Instead, a tight-solid player bet from utg, someone called, a middle position player raised, I cold called the raise, unsure of my plan, and the utg player 3-bet and everyone called… until I folded… for one more small bet… with two bets out there already.

I can’t really explain this one. I think it comes down to history with the utg player and picking up on extreme strength in the way he was putting his bets in. Physical tells aren’t a strength of mine by any means, so whatever I picked up on was subconscious, but again, I trusted my instincts and the utg player ended up showing a set of 4s.

My friends hated that fold also.


Oh well. I’m looking forward to a rebound in December.

Some goals and things I’m looking forward to in December:

-spend serious time working on mental game strength

-book my trips to Cali for LAPC in February

-get back on track with diet, meditating, and lifting

-UW vs Gonzaga on Dec. 8th

-Movies: Uncut Gems, Little Women, … Rise of Skywalker?

-Streaming: Marriage Story, Killing Eve s2, Marvelous Mrs. Maisel s3, The Witcher

Check out TV Show Ratings (By Season) for rating for Schitt’s Creek s2 and Killing Eve s1.

On to December!


September 2017 Fall TV Series Premiere Dates

September 20, 2017

I’m a little late in gathering this information, but I wanted to post a collection of the premiere dates for TV series I either watch already or want to watch.

Narcos (September 1st, Netflix, Season 3) – I haven’t seen any episodes of this Pablo Escobar series yet, but I’ve heard enough good things that I want to watch it eventually.

Biggie: The Life of Notorious B.I.G. (September 4th, A&E, miniseries) – I didn’t know this existed until 30 minutes ago. I guess it’s an authorized biography told documentary style over two hours. As a huge fan, I’ll watch it whenever it becomes easily accessible.

American Horror Story: Cult (September 5th, FX, Season 7) – I’ve only seen season one and parts of seasons two and three, but I plan to watch the whole series eventually. I will be walking through the American Horror Story: Roanoke maze at Halloween Horror Nights next month.

BoJack Horseman (September 8th, Netflix, Season 4) – I haven’t watched an episode of this either but I’ve read some stellar reviews.

The Deuce (September 10th, HBO, Season 1) – HBO series about porn and prostitution in NYC during the 1970s and 1980s starring James Franco and Maggie Gyllenhaal. Haven’t heard much about it so far, but it’s on my radar.

American Vandal (September 15th, Netflix, Season 1) – Not sure what this is all about, but the trailer I’ve seen looked pretty funny.

Vice Principals (September 17th, HBO, Season 2) – Haven’t seen this HBO comedy series starring Danny McBride yet, but might watch it some day.

Jerry Before Seinfeld (September 19th, Netflix, Stand-Up Comedy Special) – A Jerry Seinfeld stand-up special is obviously must watch television.

Gotham (September 21st, Fox, Season 4) – I’m a huge Batman fan, but this show is still kind of a guilty pleasure for me. It’s not particularly good – there’s plenty of things horribly wrong with it – but I can’t stop watching either. Judging from the teaser images, it seems like Bruce will be starting his Batman journey this season, so that’s something to look forward to. I have a few more episodes to watch in season 3, but I’ll be recording season four and staying up to date.

Fuller House (September 22nd, Netflix, Season 3) – Another guilty pleasure. This show has been more entertaining than I was expecting it to be. It’s perfect for watching with my wife.

DuckTales (September 23rd, DisneyXD, reboot, Season 1) – A childhood classic comes back! I don’t even know what DisneyXD is or if I even have it in my cable package, but a DuckTales reboot is notable stuff!

The Big Bang Theory (September 25th, CBS, Season 11) – I think I stopped watching this show after four or five seasons and it’s not because I didn’t enjoy it – I just didn’t have cable or make the time. I have no idea if it’s still good, but any series that gets eleven seasons is noteworthy.

Young Sheldon (September 25th, CBS, Season 1) – This is a Big Bang Theory spinoff focusing on Sheldon Cooper’s childhood. I watched the trailer for the series and the tone was really weird. They don’t appear to be doing a sitcom format, but rather a somewhat serious dramedy with no laugh track. I’m kind of intrigued, but I have a feeling this will bomb.

This Is Us (September 26th, NBC, Season 2) – I haven’t seen this show either, but this is another show that has had some stellar reviews and feels like a must watch for me. I will record season two and try to catch up quickly.

Brooklyn Nine-Nine (September 26th, Fox, Season 5) – I don’t watch this Andy Samberg cop comedy, but I have seen some episodes and they were funny and enjoyable enough that I feel like the premiere date is worth mentioning.

The Blacklist (September 27th, NBC, Season 5) – I’ve seen the first season and maybe the second season – I’m not sure. This was a show my wife and I were watching together, but it’s more in the guilty pleasure category and it’s not super important to me that we continue on. If she wants to pick it back up some day, I would be will to keep going.

Modern Family (September 27th, ABC, Season 9) – This show is brilliant, but last time I watched it Ariel Winter was a dorky, young teenager – not an Instagram model. I would very much like to catch up with this show, but we will probably wait until it’s finished before marathoning through the whole series together.

Grey’s Anatomy (September 28th, ABC, Season 14) – What? Season 14?! I stopped watching this show a decade ago! I think I watched the first 4-6 seasons, but this was a guilty pleasure for me, at best. I have zero interest in what has happened over the past 7+ seasons, but I had to list the premiere because I’m absolutely stunned that it’s still on the air. 14 seasons is incredible.

Marvel’s Inhumans (September 29th, ABC, Season 1) – This is noteworthy because it’s Marvel, but I have read HORRIBLE reviews, so I’ll mention here, but I do not plan on watching this show.


J.Cole, A Tribe Called Quest, BJ The Chicago Kid, The League s3, Fuller House s2

December 14, 2016

J.Cole – 4 Your Eyez Only – I had immense expectations for this album, hoping J.Cole could cement himself as #2 in the current hip-hop chain of command. Instead, Cole opts for a concept album that tells a good, cohesive story, but is an undeniable step down from Forrest Hills Drive in just about every aspect, particularly the production. It’s a very subdued album, with ballads to a love interest and a baby daughter – in fact, half the album is Cole doing more singing than rapping. I don’t know about you, but that’s not what I want from one of my favorite spitters in the game today. “Immortal” is the only true hip-hop banger on the album and “4 Your Eyez Only” does a great job of tying the whole concept together. It’s interesting that Cole attacks Kanye on “False Prophets” just before this album’s release implying that ‘Ye’s The Life Of Pablo is “half ass shit he dropped,” but there are roughly 4-5 songs on Yeezy’s latest that are better than everything on this Cole album. Initial disappointment aside, this album is growing on me and “Foldin Clothes” is the only track I don’t really like. It’s not what I wanted, but I’m appreciating it for what it is: a solid concept album from a rapper that is capable of much more.

6.5/10 (Recommended/Highly Enjoyable)

A Tribe Called Quest – We Got It From Here… Thank You 4 Your Service – 18 years after their last project, ATCQ manages to sound both contemporary and vintage at the same time. It feels like something they could have released in the 90’s but addresses topics of today, particularly Donald Trump’s run to POTUS. “We The People” is a great song with a catchy hook that tells all the minorities of the nation that “you must go.” Obviously Tribe is speaking for Trump here and don’t feel that way themselves (in fact, Q-Tip says “put so much in this muthafucka feel like we shouldn’t leave” on “The Space Program”). It feels dirty singing along uncontrollably with such a terrible message, but that’s how contagious the music is. The core members (Q-Tip, Phife Dog, Jarobi) all give great performances throughout the album, but Busta Rhymes might be the MVP as he seamlessly hops in and out on “Dis Generation” and then absolutely demolishes the best beat on the album on “Mobius.” Tribe also gets a short but fantastic feature from Kendrick Lamar on “Conrad Tokyo.” The big feature that didn’t work for me as well was Andre 3000 on “Kids.” I just can’t get into the production on that song. In all, it’s totally absurd that A Tribe Called Quest is putting out an album as good as this in 2016. It’s a project that is enjoyable all the way through, fits in perfectly with the rest of their discography, and is one of the best rap albums of the year.

8/10 (Essential Listening)

BJ The Chicago Kid – In My Mind – I finally listened to this from front to back a week or two ago and there is virtually nothing to complain about. I can’t remember a song I didn’t like and there are numerous tracks that have made my Best Of 2016 playlist, including “Shine,” “The New Cupid,” and “Church” – and really, I could just keep adding on. “Shine” has become the mantra for my marriage with its theme of a couple surviving through thick and thin and shining together. Having bottomed out multiple times in my life, the past few years have really been spectacular and things only keep getting better, so BJ’s lyrics of “when I shine, you shine with me baby” really resonate with me. It’s incredibly satisfying to succeed as a team with my wife and this song expresses those feelings perfectly. This album is very good from front to back and is probably my favorite R&B album of the year.

7.5/10 (Highly Enjoyable/Essential Listening)

“Fuller House” s2 – This show is definitely a guilty pleasure that is mostly enjoyable for nostalgic purposes. The writing and acting are frequently cheesy. While it doesn’t seem terrible for DJ to say her catchphrase of “Oh Mylanta,” I cringe every time I hear Stephanie say “how rude,” it just feels so horribly forced. I can only imagine what it would be like if they actually got the Olsen twins to come back. Would they really have a fully grown Michelle saying things like “you got it dude” and “no way Jose?” Even though Kimmy Gibbler’s ex-husband Fernando can feel like a rip-off of Fez from “That 70’s Show” a lot of the time and her brother Jimmy looks and kind of acts like an Ashton Kutcher clone, I have to admit both characters are a good addition to the second season, with the former taking on a much bigger role this time around as he moves into the house. These two characters provided most of my laughs in the second season. There are a lot of call backs to the previous series that didn’t resonate with me because I didn’t remember them, but I imagine they are fun for serious fans of “Full House.” Danny Tanner’s mid-life crisis that found him living with reckless abandon and doing that whole old white person using hip-hop slang like no one in the world does routine was absolutely terrible. I really don’t get that. It’s never funny and it’s actually quite insulting. Kimmy Gibbler is probably the series highlight. Her character is usually the funniest and finds herself in the best situations – like co-hosting the morning show with Danny Tanner. I couldn’t help but note the Lance Bass reference in the high school reunion episode, saying DJ was voted most likely to marry Lance Bass or something of that nature. The girls graduated in 1995, but N’Sync didn’t become popular until 1998. Just a weird thing that the entire cast and crew overlooked but immediately gave me pause. I’m not disappointed with “Fuller House” because I know exactly what to expect and I’m watching it anyway. It’s a cheesy sitcom that is moderately enjoyable and offers some decent chuckles. I can’t imagine fans of the old series wouldn’t like it.

2.5/5 (Not Recommended/Decent)

“The League” s3 – I thought this season started off terribly and I hope the show isn’t jumping the shark already with four more seasons to go. I honestly found it appalling that the group would conspire behind Ruxin’s back and neg on his #1 overall pick. First off, that is extremely foul play. Secondly, it’s not like a #1 pick even comes close to guaranteeing a league title. The season did start to pick up with the hilarious guest spots from Keegan-Michael Key in “Carmenjello” and Jeff Goldblum as Ruxin’s dad and Sarah Silverman as Andre’s sister in “Thanksgiving.” I thought Taco had some pretty funny moments in the first season, but he’s easily becoming my least favorite character on the show. Andre remains my favorite. Hopefully season four is a step forward because another step back and I might not be able to make it through this whole series.

3/5 (Decent/Good Stuff)


Stranger Things s1, Atlanta s1, Krampus (2015), Childish Gambino, The Hamilton Mixtape

December 7, 2016

“Stranger Things” s1 – This is the best show that I’ve seen in 2016. It’s a throwback to 1980’s horror/sci-fi that felt like Steven Spielberg’s E.T. meets Stephen King’s It (the novel, not the movie). I was pretty much giddy the whole time I was watching it. The show manages to be incredibly fun while not taking itself too seriously, which makes its supernatural plot easy to swallow. The cast in this thing is phenomenal. I’ll be shocked if Wynona Ryder doesn’t get an Emmy nomination as she does arguably the best work of her career here, and Millie Bobby Brown is a child star revelation that probably deserves one too. David Harbour as the sheriff is also excellent. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if a number of the members of the young cast go on to have solid acting careers – it’s a very well rounded ensemble performance. I honestly have no idea where the writers can go in season two, but I can’t wait to see what they do next. You are really doing yourself a disservice if you haven’t seen this yet. 5/5 (Must Watch)

“The League” s2 – I took a very long break between the first half of this season and the second half, so I’ll just comment on the latter, which gave us classic stuff like “Vinegar Strokes” and Andre’s appearance as an expert witness. Andre’s testimony is the hardest I’ve laughed watching T.V. in a long time. I like Jenny’s inclusion into The League as she fits in very well with the guys and her success is an added bonus in emasculating Kevin. I’m not sure if I like Ruxin or not – Nick Kroll is funny sometimes, but usually I just find him over-the-top and annoying. 3.5/5 (Decent/Good Stuff)

“Atlanta” s1 – Donald Glover is a genius. Seriously, I have tremendous respect for his work ethic. He’s as talented an entertainer as anyone in the industry right now. This show is his creation as he stars in it, as well as directs and writes a number of episodes. I had absolutely no idea what to expect from “Atlanta” and it still shocked me. This show is completely bonkers. On one hand, it’s a realistic look at what it’s like to be a young black man on the verge of stardom in the rap game (or in his entourage) and on the other hand, it’s whatever it wants to be. Seriously, anything goes. Glover is solid as Earn, Paperboi’s manager and cousin, and Lakeith Stanfield’s (Snoop in Straight Outta Compton) Darius is definitely a series highlight. I highly recommend this unique show; it’s smart and funny, but I advise keeping an open mind while watching it and multiple viewings are recommended.
4.5/5 (Good Stuff/Must See)

Krampus (2015) – This is a fun horror/comedy that I overlooked until I walked through the maze at Universal Studio’s Hollywood Horror Nights and thought “okay, I need to watch that.” I’m not sure Krampus is going to join the elite horror movie monsters, but there is definite franchise potential here and the Christmas setting makes for a unique premise that really hasn’t been done well since Gremlins. A lot of times, horror movies will introduce a bunch of one dimensional and unlikable people (and one heroine) before systematically killing them off, but Krampus gives us more of the Home Alone/Christmas Vacation lovably flawed crowd, so when they start disappearing, it actually stings a little – and the kids aren’t off limits here. The movie has some solid visual effects and the makeup for Krampus himself is A+ stuff. This is a definite recommendation for fans of the horror genre – although it’s on the lighter side of scary – and an all around fun film. Sequels are inevitable. 6/10 (Recommended)

The Hamilton Mixtape – This is a solid supplement to the fantastic cast recordings of the Broadway phenomenon. There is great original music from The Roots, Common, Nas, and the mastermind himself, Lin-Manuel Miranda, plus standout covers by Usher and Alicia Keys. I was kind of disappointed with the Chance The Rapper and Francis and the Lights rendition of “Theodosia,” which I was really looking forward to, and there are a number of songs by lesser known artists that are definitely the weaker moments on the mixtape. Queen Latifah and Ashanti and Ja Rule make some nice throwback appearances. Overall, a good album with great moments.
6.5/10 (Recommended/Highly Enjoyable)

Childish Gambino – “Awaken, My Love” – More Donald Glover brilliance. Yeah, the kid makes good music too. This album sees Glover’s transition from solid rapper into great musician fully realized – it’s not a rap album, it’s a tribute/cautionary tale to his baby boy disguised as a convincing Prince impression. “Redbone” is a candidate for my favorite song of the year, featuring possibly the best production I’ve heard in 2016 and a solid performance by Gambino that is greatly enhanced by vocal effects – it’s song-making perfection. “Zombies,” “Baby Boy,” and “Terrified” are other highlights, and truly, the more I listen to the album, the more it is growing on me. 7.5/10 (Highly Enjoyable/Essential Listening)


Gotham Season One

May 23, 2015

I just finished season one of the Fox television series Gotham and as one of the world’s biggest Batman fans, I feel compelled to share my feelings on it. Spoilers below.

I can’t say I loved the idea of a Batman show without Batman, so although intrigued, I was mostly skeptical about how Gotham was going to turn out. I felt like the first season was very up and down. It started out a bit corny – Jada Pinkett Smith as Fish Mooney was borderline intolerable at first – but somewhere around midseason it picked up and became the show I was looking forward to watching the most… and then it got a little lackluster towards the end again.

One of the biggest problems with Gotham is that the creators don’t seem very prepared with the grand scope of the show. I get the feeling they are making it up as they go and really have no idea where it’s headed. Most of Batman’s rogues gallery exist because he exists – but on Gotham, most of his major villains are going to be fleshed out long before Bruce Wayne ever dons the cape and cowl. Bruce is maybe 12 years old in this show – a good seven to nine years before Batman might make his first appearance – but by the end of season one, the Penguin is already the crime boss of Gotham City, Carmine Falcone is retired, and Sal Moroni is dead. So the latter two characters – crucial to Batman’s world – are already out of the game; and Bruce is 12.

Obviously the show must take some liberties with the Batman mythos to function as something watchable, but that’s why it was a problematic concept in the first place. Bruce and Selina Kyle already have a strong friendship and some attraction towards each other. In Gotham, Catwoman won’t be a product of Batman’s existence, she’ll be a lifelong friend – and Bruce will never wonder about her true identity. Tommy Elliot, a childhood friend of Bruce’s that eventually becomes the supervillain Hush, is merely a school bully that inspires Bruce to ask Alfred to teach him how to fight. This is a pretty strange gloss over considering this is one of the relationships Gotham could have fleshed out without rubbing purists the wrong way. How about The Riddler working with the GCPD? Again, when The Riddler comes to fruition, the whole police department will know who he is.

And then there’s Jada Pinkett Smith’s Fish Mooney or as the the trailers for the show described her: “the mother of all villains.” But is she though? Somehow every Batman comic, movie and television episode had managed to be written up to this point without the existence of Fish Mooney. Something tells me Oswald Cobblepot could have become The Penguin without her. I have to say I hated the character at first. Jada was giving a really over-the-top performance for the first several episodes and it was unbearable. Now, I can’t say if I got used to her acting as the show progressed or she actually toned it down as the season went on, but Fish Mooney grew on me. Still, I can’t help but feel that this character exits because the showrunners felt compelled to include something original, but when Fish plummets to her presumed death at the end of season one, you have to wonder: what was the point?

Gotham did plenty of things well in its first season. I really like Ben McKenzie as Jim Gordon. He’s the focal point of the series at this point and the writers have done a great job of making him the hero even though we know who is waiting in the wings. Robin Lord Taylor crushes his role as The Penguin, who is by far the most interesting villain on the show. The Penguin is the perfect antagonist for a pre-Batman Gotham, as his rise to crime boss has very little to do with The Caped Crusader. Taylor does a great job of toeing the line with The Penguin – he can be helpful, cunning, feign weakness, cold-blooded, back-stabbing – and shows no limits as to what he’ll do be Gotham’s top boss. Sean Pertwee as Alfred and David Mazouz as a young Bruce are amongst the other cast highlights.

Season one of Gotham wastes little time introducing core Batman characters. Off the top of my head, season one included appearances from Batman, Catwoman, The Penguin, The Riddler, Poison Ivy, The Joker, The Flying Graysons, Two Face, Scarecrow, Hush, The Red Hood, The Dollmaker, Victor Zsasz, Copperhead, The Electrocutioner, and possibly some others that I’m overlooking. Season two plans for even more introductions. It all seems like too much too soon and Bruce is simply too young. Most of Batman’s rogues gallery is going to be completely fleshed out by season 3 or season 4 and Bruce will probably be in his mid-teens at that point, pre-Batman.

Overall, I enjoyed watching Gotham but the show feels rushed and unorganized. I’m curious to see how everything is handled in the future because it seems like the writers haven’t thought it through entirely. I just have a hard time imagining all the Bat-villains roaming Gotham long before Batman ever shows up.


Glee: Season 1 – Part 1 (Episodes 1-13)

September 25, 2010

Premise: Spanish teacher Will Schuester (Matthew Morrison) takes over as head of the Glee Club at William McKinley High School, a once popular school program that is now hanging by a thread and likely to be axed due to budget cuts. A large portion of the school’s budget is being used by the Cheerios, McKinley’s nationally recognized and dominant cheerleading program headed by the ruthless Sue Sylvester (Jane Lynch). As Glee Club gains momentum under Schuester’s tutelage, the enormous budget of Sylvester’s program is threatened and a heated rivalry is born between the two teachers and their respective clubs.

I had written Glee off as a corny high school show that probably featured its cast bursting out into random musical numbers in mid-conversation. The TV spots and the few times I skimmed by Glee while it was on the air, did nothing to quell this assumption. After receiving a ridiculous amount of Emmy nominations (including a few wins), a lot of attention for the Sue Sylvester character, and good word of mouth over the summer, I found myself excited to be adding it to my Netflix queue.

With the popularity of singing-based reality shows, the premise for Glee couldn’t come at a better time. The question was: how can you turn a TV show into a musical without coming across corny? Glee succeeds because there is nothing random about the musical numbers performed. Since the characters are part of a Glee Club, all the performances are premeditated and performed as part of their after school activity and only once during the first thirteen episodes did a character seem to start singing out of no where. While it takes some getting used to the fact that all the vocals are prerecorded–creating a sense of detachment from what’s happening on screen and the feeling the actors aren’t really singing (oh, but they are!)–it’s a necessary process. We get to hear these kids at their best instead of struggling to catch their breath while singing and doing demanding choreography sequences at the same time.

The cast is tremendously talented and the casting directors should be lauded for managing to bring together a group of relatively unknown actors that possess such amazing skill. Leading the pack is Lea Michele, who plays Rachel Berry, a character that constantly reminds me of Tracy Flick played by Reese Witherspoon in 1999’s Election. While Michele’s character is an obnoxious know-it-all hell bent on her own success before others, her talent is undeniable (a fact the Glee group reluctantly has to swallow constantly). Watching the pilot episode, I found Rachel only mildly attractive… and then she started performing, and suddenly I was declaring my love on Facebook. This is a woman that would probably be a hands down favorite in almost any American Idol competition, and from what I’ve seen, her range knows no boundaries. Glee is just going to be the first big step (Michele is a noted Broadway actor already) into a wildly successful mainstream career for this enormously talented actress/singer.

Jane Lynch is the other standout in this cast. Even after Lynch won the Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy Emmy, I was pretty skeptical when I read a couple online articles that separately declared Sue Sylvester the 18th best character in pop culture over the past twenty years and one of televisions greatest all-time villains. That’s some pretty lofty praise for a character that has been on air for less than a year… yet, it was all justified by the end of the first thirteen episode arc. Sylvester gets all of Glee’s best lines and Lynch delivers them with confidence and hilarity. Sylvester’s obsession with bringing down the Glee Club provides the series’ most laughs and her constant feuding with nemesis Schuester is almost always laugh-out-loud funny, especially her constant references to his hair. There were moments when I thought Sylvester might simply become a petty enemy, but by the close of the first half of season one, she has cemented herself as truly evil and Lynch is worthy of all the accolades showered upon her.

Lynch and Michele are definitely the stars of Glee, but the rest of the cast is pretty talented too. Although relegated to background duty most of the time, Amber Riley (who plays token black girl Mercedes) is almost as talented as Michele. She gives Jennifer Hudson a run for her money with her rendition of “And I’m Telling You I’m Not Going” and stands out in several other numbers as well. Matthew Morrison is probably the best actor of the bunch (outside of Lynch) and has some good singing moments as well, particularly his mash up of “Young Girl” and “Don’t Stand So Close To Me” when the teacher is trying to keep Rachel’s feelings for him at bay. Chris Cofler, the gay kid, while over-the-top with his flamboyance a lot of the time, actually can sing too. He kills “Defying Gravity” in a “diva off” with Rachel. On top of the great individual performances, it’s when the entire Glee club comes together to perform a number that the cast is at its best. I might be as gay as Kurt Hummel for admitting this, but the first time I heard them do Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing” I actually got chills.

The performances and talent on Glee are great, but the writing seems to have a hard time keeping up. The moments in between musical numbers and Sue Sylvester appearances can be excruciating. Outside of the Sylvester vs. Schuester drama, the major conflicts of the first season center around the pregnancies of Will’s wife (she’s faking it) and Quinn Fabray (the gorgeous Dianna Agron), the head cheerleader and lead male vocalist Finn Hudson’s girlfriend (she’s pregnant by his best friend Puck). Rather than drive the story forward, these conflicts just cause annoyance. Will Schuester is made out to be a blind idiot married to a woman that has absolutely no admirable qualities and the love triangle between Finn, Puck and Quinn is equally obnoxious, as they trade loyalties like baseball cards and go from throwing punches to smiling and hugging in a musical number a few scenes later.

Speaking of relationships, there’s not a single couple on Glee that you’re rooting for. It seems like we’re supposed to want Will to hook up with guidance counselor Emma Pillsbury (Jayma Mays), and she is somewhat adorable, but she’s also a complete wacko. Between her obsessive compulsive disorder, phobia of germs, and some ridiculous decision-making, it’s hard to believe this is someone we want our main protagonist to hook up with. There’s a similar vibe for Finn and Rachel, which is understandable when they’re performing together, but off stage these characters lack any sign of charisma: Finn’s a self-conscious moron and Rachel’s obnoxiousness is often taken to extremes. Maybe the writers think they are making an accurate depiction of high school life, but none of these kids have any consistency and constantly walk the line between lovable and repulsive. The lone exception is Sue Sylvester and it’s odd that the writers can always display such brilliance with her dialogue and arcs while being so messy with the rest of the characters. If they could learn to apply that writing ability to the rest of the show, Glee might be able to elevate past an awesome novelty and turn into something that can be taken a bit more seriously.

Now here’s a list of the best numbers from the first 13 episodes (search for them on YouTube):

New Directions – “Don’t Stop Believing”
Will Schuester – “Young Girl”/”Don’t Stand So Close To Me” mash up
Rachel & Finn – “Smile”
Rachel & Kurt – “Defying Gravity”
April Rhodes & Rachel – “Maybe This Time”
Mercedes – “And I’m Telling You I’m Not Going”
New Directions – “Push It”
New Directions – “Look At All The People”

Grade: B+


HBO’s Hung: Season 1

August 10, 2010

HBO’s Hung features Thomas Jane playing a high school basketball coach named Ray Drecker whose life is slowly unraveling. In the pilot episode we discover that he is divorced from his wife of twenty years, a woman that is now married to a much more financially stable dermatologist. In addition to this bit of information, we see a flashback to Ray’s house getting caught on fire and nearly burning to a crisp. Ray’s kids had preferred to live with him rather than their uptight mother, but after the fire, Ray finds himself all alone, living in a tent on his property.

It’s during these grim circumstances that Ray seeks some help and decides to attend a money-making seminar. At this point we’re introduced to Tanya (Jane Adams), a woman that Ray recognizes as someone that used to come into his class to read and teach poetry to his students. The seminar doesn’t really work for Ray, but one thing stood out to him: “everybody has one special tool that can help him succeed.” Ray can’t admit his revelation to the workshop, but he decides that he knows what his tool is: his cock. Apparently, the man is blessed and the rest of the season follows his shenanigans as he progresses into a male prostitute or, in the case of his business, a happiness consultant. Tanya jumps on the bandwagon as his pimp and together they dive head first into an industry they both really know nothing about.

The first season of this series isn’t particularly good. The characters are mostly uninteresting. It seems as though Ray is pining after his ex-wife (Anne Heche), but it’s hard to see what he finds desirable other than familiarity and family unity. She’s shallow and not particularly attractive. Dude can do better and does so… many times. I’m on the fence about Tanya… at times I like the character and other times I can’t stand her. Ray is given a decision later in the season to step up his prostitute game with a more resourceful potential pimp and it’s hard to see the dilemma: he needs money and the opportunity presented should be lucrative. On top of that, prior to their business arrangement, Tanya and Ray don’t have any kind of history aside from a couple of one night stands together. Any reasonable man would be like “look, you’re good people, but I need to rebuild my house and get my family back and this is simply something I can’t pass up. Sorry.” But this is a T.V. show and tension must occur, no matter how implausible. The one moment this show had to create an awesome moment, the writers decided they weren’t ready to tackle that particular corner just yet and pussied out.

The acting here is mediocre as well. Something about Thomas Jane screams ordinary. I’ve never seen him in anything that impressed me and many times through Hung’s first season, I found myself wondering if this guy was even acting at all (and not in the good way). The supporting cast is pretty lifeless too, with possibly the exception of Jane Adams as Tanya. In a series where it seems like everyone else is kind of going through the motions, she at least looks like she’s putting some effort into her performance. The acting highlight of the season goes to Natalie Zea who drops in for a four episode arc as Jemma, a mentally twisted client that Ray finds himself falling for. It’s never clear what Jemma’s true intentions are and that’s a testament to what Zea brings to the character. It was sad to see her go.

Hung isn’t a total failure however. The premise of an ordinary man diving into the world of prostitution creates several interesting situations and hot scenes. Ray soon discovers that there is nothing glamorous about selling yourself for sex as you can’t always pick your clients. In this business money talks, so it’s fun to see his reaction when he knocks on the door of a big-boned, 50+ eternal loner. Fortunately, the first season has Ray tangling with Tanya’s “friend” Lenore and the wife of his obnoxious neighbor, both ridiculously hot and fully naked. It’s primarily this reason why I’d continue to watch Hung, as plenty of good looking women happily shed their clothing. I’m also looking forward to seeing what happens when Ray’s family discovers what he’s now doing for a living. Not a particularly good show, but I can’t see too many straight men hating it too much.

Grade: C
Viewings: 1
Replay Value: Probably worth investing in a Mr Skin account instead of this DVD series.
Awards: Doubtful
Nudity?: Plenty! The saving grace of the series so far!