Stop Making Mediocre, Familiar Live Musicals On TV

Last week, NBC aired their yearly live musical: Annie. I watched it. It wasn’t awful (though Harry Connick Jr’s bald cap was). However, it did not need to be made. It’s not like no one knows the story of Annie. It’s not like there wasn’t a recent and decent movie remake of it in 2014. It’s not like these live musicals are spectacular productions that become instant classics in pop culture.

That felt unnecessary.

And this is essentially the same gripes I have with almost every live musical that has come out in the last decade on all the networks. Specifically point number two. I get so annoyed that instead of giving us something fresh and fun, we get a worse version of a musical that already has high-quality or very familiar movie in existence. Hairspray, Rent, Rocky Horror, and Grease are examples of this. While none of these live versions were complete trash, they all underwhelmed and really didn’t compare with their filmed counterparts.

It’s nice that these networks want to put on live musicals and want to bring some theater to the masses given that the medium is notoriously inaccessible, but I think they’re squandering their opportunity to really leave a mark and have a production that we want to watch again and again. Tell a new story or revive a musical that we don’t all essentially know by heart already.

Tell Me Something I Don't know gif.

I know I like musicals probably more than the next person, but The Wiz in 2015 and Jesus Christ Superstar in 2018 were the only ones that I personally hadn’t seen beforehand, but I did know the stories. There was supposed to be a live Bye Bye Birdie a few years ago starring/produced by Jennifer Lopez, and that’s a show I know nothing about nor has there been a recent movie of it, so it seemed like a great, fresh idea, yet it’s gotten pushed back and honestly is probably never going to happen at this point.

I guess it has to do with licensing or something at the end of the day, which is why a lot of these shows done live on TV are ones that we’ve also seen time and time again at local high schools or small community theaters. You’d think that NBC would have a bigger arsenal of money and lawyers to get the rights to shows that my boring high school could only dream of getting, but I guess not.

Shady I guess not GIF.

Obviously, I’ll continue to watch these live musicals, but I won’t be happy about it. As much as I respect how hard it must be to perform a musical live in a short amount of time, I can’t help but feel disappointed year after year at how mediocre and forgettable these productions are.

Do you watch the live musicals every year? Is there one that you particularly liked or disliked? Do you wish there were newer or less familiar shows being done?

 

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Just Talking About TV Shows I’m Watching

I’ve written about specific TV shows before, dedicating whole posts to spreading the good word, and in my Monthly Look Aheads, I’ll often namedrop a few shows I’m looking forward to, but I realized I don’t often elaborate on some of the middle-of-the-road or older shows I’m watching. And since I don’t watch shows live too much these days, I’m not often tweeting my thoughts the way I used to either. So here’s this. Just me talking about the TV shows I’m choosing to consume for better or for worse.

Watching TV gif.

Legends Of Tomorrow – currently in S7, this show is, without a doubt, the best and perhaps only decent thing in the Arrowverse still. I think its best seasons have come and gone, but I still really enjoy the rag-tag team of misfits and their shenanigans, even after so many years.

Batwoman – currently in S3, this show isn’t the worst. I think Javicia Leslie did great taking over the role of Batwoman, and I like the dynamics of the team. Sometimes the drama is a little too corny, and I’m worried that having Luke become a hero is step one in the common Arrowverse pattern of everyone eventually being a hero, but so far, I don’t hate watching this!

A Million Little Things – currently in S4, this show is very dumb but my mother and I watch it just for jokes. It started out heartfelt and has its moments even now, but it’s gotten off the rails. Now it’s just funny to see the characters collectively take on every hardship imaginable in the most dramatized way. Cancer? Mental health crisis? Late in life sexuality changes? Injury? Failed adoption? Affairs? This show has it all and more.

The Big Leap – currently in S1, this show is really just worming its way deep into my heart. It’s new, obviously, but even from the first episode I knew it was going to be something I adore. If you like dancing and a healthy mix of comedy and cheesy drama, I really recommend it. I hope it gets renewed for a second season.

The Big Leap cast.

The Morning Show – currently in S2, this AppleTV show is fine. Great cast, sure, but S1 really had a story and I feel like the second season is just struggling in the aftermath to be as relevant or exciting. It’s still an interesting watch, and I watch this one with my mother too, so that makes it better.

Doom Patrol – currently in S3, this show is wild. It’s like Legends Of Tomorrow but way goofier and unpredictable. Honestly, most of the time I have no idea what’s going on in the season in terms of an overall story because whatever there is is always so complicated and random, but the characters are so fun together that I don’t mind. This show is not for everyone but if you like DC comics and want a superhero show that’s unlike any other, this is it.

Stargirl – currently in S2, this show is alright. It’s nothing special in terms of the genre, but it’s fine. I enjoy it enough to keep watching, but I certainly don’t spend a lot of time thinking about it. And when I do think about it, it’s just me thinking about how Pat is the best character, hands down.

Succession – currently in S3, this show continues to deliver quality drama from an array of funny but awful people. It’s wildly fascinating to watch, and this third season, though only a few episodes in, is shaping up to be as exciting and dramatic as ever.

Kendall and Greg on Succession gif.

Upcoming in the next month

Dickinson – its third and final season begins in November, and I hope it ends well with Emily getting the peace she’s seeking. This show is incredibly underrated, but it hasn’t overstayed its welcome, which is good.

The Flash – going into its 8th season, this show needs to end. Like, yesterday. I like most of the characters enough, but the plots are just silly at this point. It’s all just villains that don’t feel threatening, drama that doesn’t matter, and arcs I just don’t care to see. But I keep watching. For some reason.

The Flash Eye Roll Gif.
Me watching The Flash every week, being disappointed.

Do you watch any of these shows? Discuss with me in the comments! These are all week-to-week shows, and I like keeping up with them rather than binging them. Is there a show you think I’d enjoy? One TV show on my metaphorical list that I’ve been meaning to start is The Marvelous Mrs Maisel, so one day I’ll get around to that.

And that’s about it for me in terms of my TV watching. I know it seems like a lot but it’s actually down from what it has been in previous years, and I watch almost all of these at double speed, so keeping up isn’t too hard.

Maybe I’ll do a post like this again in the future when there are different shows on my roster.

 

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Soap Opera Actors: Why Are You The Way That You Are?

My mom watches Young And The Restless. I remember doing homework at the kitchen table and listening to Victor and Nikki break up for the 500th time or something like that. It’s wild that now, all these years later, I’ll go downstairs to get a snack during work and there’s Mom watching the show still. Victor and Nikki are on their 800th breakup now, I think.

Soap operas fascinate me. They’re on the air for decades, with new episodes almost every single day, and the stories are so ridiculous, but people love them. Quality drama shows get axed after a season or two on primetime TV, but some evil twin coming back to life to marry the stepbrother you found out you had two weeks ago does numbers on daytime. Insane.

It's Crazy GIF.

They’ve got a cult following of sorts, but it’s an age group that overall isn’t exactly young anymore, so I can’t imagine that in twenty years, there will be many soaps on the air still. Also, the majority of the main actors are on the older side too…

Which brings me to the point of this post. What kind of fascinates me the most about soaps is that there are actors who essentially spend their whole career on that one show, just filming decades of episodes. The grind seems constant, but they stay. It seems so different from other non-soap actors who are constantly joining new projects and telling new stories. I imagine that all actors get into the biz because they love storytelling and playing a variety of characters, but some of these soap actors just seem to, like, stop wanting more after that early role. It goes against everything we seem to know about actors.

I think about all the primetime TV shows that have lost a beloved character late in the show because the actor/actress decided they wanted to do something different and couldn’t wait for the show to end. I feel like a bad person for thinking about it, but if some of these soap actors can play a role for 25 straight years, surely this other actor can stick around for this last and final season, right?

Disappointed Gif 0144 - PNGDir | PNG Image Directory

On the other hand, maybe acting is just a job like any other, and as long as you like your coworkers and make enough money and have a work/life balance, you’ll stay forever, so maybe soaps are just specially designed to be such good environments that people are willing to dedicate their entire career to it. If they’re happy, then good for them, I guess. Plus, it’s not like they don’t do any other acting. All of the main Young And The Restless cast do have many other credits, but usually for only one episode or in a movie no one’s heard of. Again, if they’re satisfied, then go for it, I guess.

Good For You GIF.

In the grand scheme of things, the mindsets of soap actors mean very little to me, but I do spend a lot of time pondering this every time I see my mom watching good ol’ Y&R, so now hopefully you get to think about it a bit too.

That’s all for now!

 

 

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Let’s Predict New TV Show Fates!

May is a big month for TV. Every Twitter notification I get on my phone from TV Line raises my heart rate a little. This month, any shows that have not yet found out their fate (which is most of them) do, and all the TV networks debut the trailers for new shows at the Upfronts.

I love watching the new show trailers. I watch them all, even if I know it’s a show I won’t ever watch. I read up on them all. I share them with TV-loving friends so we can discuss them.

This year, I thought I’d make a bit of a game of it.

NCIS man saying 'game on!' gif.

Just like with movie trailers, sometimes you can watch one and just know the show will flop. And sometimes the show runs for ten years and becomes a beloved favourite. Predicting these fates based on the trailers really serves no purpose but I think it’s fun and do it already, so I wanted to get more people in on it. I reached out to a few other bloggers who I know also keep up with TV a lot because I want to compare with people who I knew have the same level of passion for this, but I also wanted to open the fun to anyone who wanted to try!

The TV bloggers, in case you’re looking for some quality blogs to follow, are Georgia’s Favourite Things, World’s Common Tater, The Leasure Time Blog, and Life And Other Disasters. I have a whole list of great bloggers here, actually.

So here’s how it’ll work, if you want to play. I have a Google Spreadsheet here all set up for it. All you gotta do is claim a column and make your guesses. All the trailers I can find are all linked there. I implore you to do as I instructed the bloggers, which is to try and guess simply based on the trailers, so no reading comments or seeing what Twitter has to say or what the TV Line writers think. Just your immediate response. And then next May when all the fates are all revealed, we can see who predicted the best.

i'm a little competative gif.

Of course, I should mention the slight asterisks with things like this: coronavirus. As we’ve seen in the 20/21 year, the pandemic affected a lot and disrupted TV for everyone, and while I think we’re in a decent place where production is safe enough and will only get better, there’s no guarantee that it’ll all be fine in the next year. Just something to keep in mind. I actually wanted to play this last year and had the spreadsheet all ready to go, but most shows never finished filming a pilot, and Upfronts kind of never happened.

Anyway, I’m sharing this now, but I know that not all the trailers are out yet, so this is a live document that I’ll be updating as fast as I can. Bookmark it and come back if there are gaps you need to fill in later! When things are all filled in, I’m going to try and lock the column.

oh it's on gif.

I hope you join in! You don’t need to be a blogger, but I hope you’re a TV lover and I hope you have fun! If you have any questions or suggestions, let me know!

Again, the link to the Spreadsheet is here. Enjoy!

That’s all for now!

 

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Short Reviews Of All The TV Shows I Binged While I Was Unemployed

Since you’re reading this, I am no longer unemployed! I started my new job officially at the start of January. And that means that I can now share this post that I’d been working on for a while. I love TV shows, and I really jumped into a wide variety of them during my unemployment stint. Obviously, I have thoughts and recommendations, so here we go!

And as a disclaimer, this lengthy post makes it seem like I did nothing with my time but binge TV, but that’s not at all true. I watched almost all of these at double speed, and almost all of these shows have short seasons (8-12 episodes), so each season took me less than a day.


Schitt’s Creek (seasons 1-5)
It’s a Canadian show about a rich family that loses all their money and has to move to a small, nowhere town called Schitt’s Creek. I binged the first five seasons and then watched its sixth and final season in real-time, and this was the one show I really regretted not starting sooner, but I’m making up for it by telling everyone I know to watch it. It’s so funny and heartfelt, and you really root for this family as you see them grow into better people and make friends with the townspeople. Go watch ASAP.
ALEXIS ROSE | Explore Tumblr Posts and Blogs | Tumgir

The Chilling Adventures Of Sabrina (seasons 1-4)
I was bracing myself for Riverdale garbage, but this was decent. Sabrina is a teenage witch forced to deal with evil witchy business she was born into and a desire to be a normal teenage human. I liked the characters, and Sabrina’s habit of calling out her coven’s questionable rituals and stuff in the first two seasons was relatable to me as someone questioning the Catholic Church. As the show went on, it all got sillier and the writing and development went downhill (though nowhere near Riverdale levels of bad), but despite the eye-rolling aspects of the show, but I didn’t hate it at all.

The Boys (season 1)
Amazon’s big summer hit about superheroes that have been commercialized and corrupted was good and a fresh take on the superhero genre, but I didn’t love it. 8 episodes was doable, but by the end of the first season, not much was resolved. If you can handle gore and want some more superhero content in your life, then give it a go, but it’s not revolutionary. I also watched season 2 when it came out but it was released weekly so I didn’t binge it.

Swamp Thing (season 1)
RIP to this show that was cancelled before it really ever began. It really is a shame because this DC show really wasn’t that bad. Scientist Abby returns to her hometown to deal with some concerning environmental issues that lead to the creation of a swamp monster. I thought the plot was interesting, but it wasn’t as much a superhero show as it was a supervictim show. I found Abby’s desperation to find the dude she talked to for one day kind of weird, and due to the show’s production complications, the ending was sudden and unsatisfying, so I wouldn’t say it was worth a watch, but I don’t regret it.

Carnival Row (season 1)
In a world where humans and fairies and goat-men and a handful of other creatures exist, there’s still racism! If you want to see that, as well as the breasts of almost every female character, then this Amazon show is the one for you! The plot was unique, but the worldbuilding was poor and I just did not care for any of the relationships or characters. It’s cool that there are fantasy shows on the rise and the CGI in this one was good, but I was not impressed with this show.
AHS 1984 – Geeking Out about It

Barry (seasons 1-2)
This show was getting a lot of praise online, so I gave it a go. I was a bit disappointed, though. It’s about a hitman who heads to LA for a job but ends up falling in love with acting and is torn between these two very different career paths. The plot is unique and I think Bill Hader plays the role well, but I just didn’t find it very funny and I never really liked any of the characters. I’ll have to decide if I want to keep going with season 3 when it’s out.

Red Oaks (seasons 1-3)
This show aired on Amazon from 2014-17 but was really under the radar. So much so that I had never heard of it when it was recommended to me. About a handful of employees/patrons of a summer country club in the 80’s, this is a feel-good light show. It wasn’t laugh-out-loud funny, but it was fun to see the characters come together at the club.

Succession (seasons 1-2)
I caught up with this show halfway through season 2. It’s an HBO show about a family who owns a Disney-like company and the adult children vying to take it over from their aging father. The drama is interesting in a Kardashian kind of way where you kind of dislike every character because they’re so unrelatable and desperate, but it’s still wild and entertaining to watch. Not a favourite show of mine, but it’s well made and I’ll keep up with it.
Kieran Culkin Hbo GIF by SuccessionHBO

Dickinson (season 1)
This was one of Apple TV’s headlining shows. It’s about Emily Dickinson as a young woman trying to become a poet and not marry a man. It’s set in the 1800’s when Dickinson was alive, so there’s old-timey dresses and standards, but it has modern dialogue and music, and I found the contrast very fun. Hailee Steinfeld was a good lead. I’d recommend this show. Season 2 started this month and is being released weekly.

Modern Love (season 1)
I didn’t technically binge this show because I watched it with my mom over two weeks, but still. Each of the 8 episodes told a story of a different relationship in New York City, so it was easy to watch and fresh. There were happy stories, sad stories, awkward stories…every episode was different, and I can see this show lasting several seasons. Plus it’s led by John Carney, so need I say more?

Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency (season 1)
Some friends recommended this to me and mentioned it was a little weird, but it was too weird and silly for me, so I stopped after forcing my way through season 1. It’s about a seemingly normal guy named Todd who gets roped into joining a quirky guy named Dirk as they investigate Todd’s connection to the CIA. Gonna be honest, the plot was kind of messy and I was just not into it. I regret wasting a day on this. I do not recommend.

The Politician (season 1 and 2)
I watched this show for the cast. Ben Platt, Gwenyth Paltrow, Zoey Deutch, Laura Dreyfuss, Lucy Boynton…like, yeah, okay, sold. In S1, Ben’s character Payton is a high school senior determined to win class president, but he and the other students involved act like they’re running for the real American presidency, which was both interesting and annoying because it was wild to see them talk about undecided voter stats in a hallway with complete seriousness but their dialogue was just so…unrealistic for teenagers. In S2, he runs for governor of NYC with the same passion. It’s a decent show and it has legs for a couple seasons, even if it is Ryan Murphy quirky.

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Queer Eye (Season 5 and We’re In Japan)
Like all the Queer Eye seasons, this was full of heart and style and happiness, which was great to watch. No complaints. As for the Japan version, because of the language and cultural differences, the Fab Five had to change up how they did things a bit/get extra help, and it kind of took away from the format, so I didn’t love this season as much as regular ones, but it was still great.

Runaways (season 3)
Marvel dropped the last season of this show all at once, so I binged it. Overall, this season was pretty good and closed up the show pretty well. I didn’t love Morgan LeFay, but it was interesting to see the little alliances formed between the kids and the parents as they deal with it all. Also, I liked the crossover with Cloak & Dagger. I’m not surprised the show got cancelled, but I’m glad the final episode was satisfying no matter what. If you haven’t watched Runaways, I recommend it.

The Morning Show (season 1)
I also watched this one with my mother. I was worried it’d be too political and preachy, but it wasn’t at all. I think the show did a good job of showing all sorts of sides in a sexual assault/harassment/misconduct case and how things can be misconstrued. I think it was at points, especially towards the end, a bit too dramatic, but overall, it was interesting, and I’m looking forward to the second season.

The Morning Show gif.

Spinning Out (season 1)
Netflix basically said, “Hey, are you secretly a little sad that Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir aren’t actually getting married to each other? Well here’s a figure skating show featuring actors who look a little too much like them!” and a friend and I said, “yes, thank you.” Only there was hardly any skating at all in this show! Just a bunch of annoying drama from a bunch of really annoying characters. I do not want to watch the main character’s bipolar mom cause family drama when off her meds. I do not want to watch a bartender who has nothing to do with skating overcome racism. I want to watch two people learn to skate nicely with each other and also fall in love. Major disappointment.

Upload (season 1)
The trailer for this show was giving knock-off The Good Place vibes, but the show really was a lot more than it seemed. It was a fun, techy take on the afterlife with a mystery subplot to boot. I can’t say I loved the characters and it wasn’t as funny as I expected, but at only ten 30-minute imaginative episodes, it’s worth a watch.

The Bletchley Circle (Season 1 [San Fransisco] and Season 1-2 [UK version])
In early Coronavirus time, I found myself in my curling club’s unofficial book club, and The Secret Lives Of Code Breakers is the book they chose to read. I did not read it and instead I watched all three seasons of the show. While it wasn’t bad, I would not recommend them as they were kind of boring and I found the code-breaking parts rather weak.

Departure (season 1)
It’s like Manifest but shorter and without a sci-fi element. I didn’t hate it, but it wasn’t anything special. Manifest is better.

Dash And Lily (season 1)
This was a cute concept but it was just obnoxiously YA through and through. These teenagers were too unrealistic. Lily was a sigh-inducing mix of Manic Pixie Dreamgirl and Not Like Other Girls. But the show was short so if you’re bored and looking for something mindless for an evening, it’s fine.
Dash & Lily gif.

I also watched three episodes of Pennyworth and Merry Happy Whatever before getting bored and quitting.


Aaaaand that’s it! Have you seen any of these shows? Is there another show, based on what I did like here, that you think I’d enjoy?

That’s all for now!

 

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