Defying Popular (Television Thoughts: A Very Wicked Halloween, NBC)

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God knows I am not the biggest fan of ‘Wicked,’ but I really cannot escape it. I hear the songs everywhere, and I do have bragging rights of having seen it with the Original Cast – Idina Menzel and Kristin Chenoweth. So why not, it’s Halloween and NBC has a special, /A Very Wicked Haloween’ which celebrates its 15th Anniversary. I mean, you cannot doubt its success, for sure. And it’s still going strong – with sold out audiences all over the world.

This special, though, is a real mixed bag. It’s a real definition of all over the map. Menzel and Chenoweth host it, and they both look good in their white and green outfits, and it is sure nice to see them together. Both their solos, ‘Popular,’ and ‘Defying Gravity,’ were show stoppers. But the rest of the numbers kind of made me cringe. I didn’t really get the Adam Lambert/Ledisi duet of ‘As Long As You’re Mine,’ and I think I am allergic to anything Pentatonix. The much-hyped Ariana Grande number was okay, I guess, but too much pop melisma for me – but then again that defines this musical.  And for ‘For Good,’ which is my favorite song from the musical. it was a nice idea to bring in all the Elphabas and Galindas through the years, but the number was haphazardly presented, with no stage direction at all, and felt messy.

But I am just being a bitchy show queen. I am glad this special exists, and hope they do more of the same.

What I Did For Love (You, Season One, Lifetime)

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I finished watching ‘You,’ and it’s…unsettling. And I was going to say there seems to be no redemption payoff for us watching, but…I read that it has been renewed for a second season, and the season did end with a cliffhanger, so there’s that. And to be honest, I did not expect that ending of Joe killing Beck. I thought she would persevere and live. And seriously, I was rooting for her.  But I guess Penn Badgely is the star of the show, and Joe really is the central character here, and Joe, of course is the adorable serial killer character. They do show some balance of him being a ‘good guy,’ by helping out his child neighbor and helping the child kill his mom’s abusive boyfriend, but do we kill good to ward of the kill bad? And Joe posits everything he does as ‘what I did for love,’ and Marvin Hamlisch has never been quoted so off-context there. So all in all, I was engrossed enough to finish all episodes of the series, and at the very least, I will probably be back for the first episodes of Season Two when it comes back.

The Kids Are Alright (Television Thoughts: The Conners, Episodes 2 & 3)

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In case you were wondering, and I was, but ‘The Conners’ seem to be doing just fine without Roseann. I have just seen episodes two and three (the last one being the Halloween episode) and they are getting their groove on. Obviously, Barr was always the focus before, but now, it really looks like Darlene (Sara Gilbert) will be at the center, and it looks like it will focus more on how she is raising her own children. The second episode is good, as Darlene finds out that her daughter has sex while on a sleepover at her ex-husband’s house. I like how they have Darlene get mad first, then be understanding. The series is even brave enough to mention the morning-after pill, and I wonder how conservative middle America would react to that. Johnny Galecki guest stars as David, and I wish he would appear more, as his chemistry with Sara Gilbert is definitely so honed in. On the Halloween episode, we see the series as it moves on more, asserting its own voice. Darlene goes off on the school principal when her son Mark ‘s costume (Frida Kahlo) is deemed insensitive. Darlene does seem to be the kind of parent who will take a stand, and I feel that’s what the series is also doing. I feel emotionally invested in these characters, and slowly I can feel them easing in to their new roles.

Life After Ro (Television Thoughts: The Conners, ABC)

p15661264_b_v12_aaWill ‘Roseanne’ survive without Roseanne? That has been the burning question since ABC fired Barr from her eponymous sitcom. And if you go back and read what I wrote earlier this year about the reboot, she was the one that turned me off most about the show. As a matter of fact, I stopped watching at some point. So of course, now that she isn’t there anymore, I am more than happy to give the new show a chance. And after watching the first episode of ‘The Conners,’ I can say that I have hope. This episode isn’t as full of laughs as previous episodes, but I guess I have to give it a little bit of air. There is a bittersweet feeling in the household, and I am sure the energy is the same. Just like them, we are kind of mourning Roseanne the character, who in the series has dies of an opiod overdose. The family deals with it the best they know how, with their acerbic dark humor.  Darlene (Sara Gilbert) has seemingly taken over being the female lead of the series, but I think the best actors in there are still Laurie Metcalf and John Goodman (the latter lost so much weight)  Even though I didn’t really care for that story line of Jackie rearranging things in the kitchen to deal with her sister’s death, but for sure Metcalf sold it with all her might, and by Golly, darn if it didn’t end up as one of the best things from the pilot episode. And it was a nice surprise to have a nice ‘coming out’ sub story line with Darlene’s son finally acknowledging the fact that he is attracted to the same sex, and Dan reluctantly helping him out with it. All in all, a nice sobering start, and hopefully it lightens up as the season progresses.

Something Cool (Television Thoughts: The Cool Kids, Fox)

p15517384_b_v8_abI was drawn to seeing ‘The Cool Kids’ because one of its stars is Leslie Jordan, a gay comic and actor I generally like. Of course, he plays a gay man here, with a scarf and a Southern drawl, so you know this is probably a show which will make fun of stereotypes, since it is billed as a ‘comedy.’  This show is from Charlie Day, of ‘It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia’ fame.  The show is set in a retirement community, with David Alan Grier, Vicki Lawrence, and Martin Mull as the other Senior Citizen cast. Call it a Co-ed ‘Golden Girls,’ I guess. I chuckled maybe once during the pilot episode, but strangely there is something about the show that may pull me back in. I’ll check an episode or two more before I give up on this.

I’m Just Wild About Happy (Television Thoughts: Happy Together, CBS)

Happy-Together-season-1-poster-CBS-key-artMuch has been said (and written) about that story about Harry Styles living at his accountant Ben Winston’s attic for two years. He did it to get away from the constant paparazzi so he chose the most ordinary people from his people. The premise sounded too interesting to be true, so of course it is the perfect foil for a sitcom. I was lured into the show by Harry, of course, and I really was not expecting to get much from watching this. But lo and behold, yes, I liked the pilot, and I liked it a lot that I am already looking forward to future episodes – and trust me, that doesn’t really happen often. Maybe because I really liked Marlon Wayans Jr and Amber Stevens West who play Jake and Claire, the couple who adopts Cooper (Felix Mallard) the pop star who wants to just chill in an ‘ordinary’ environment. Harry Styles himself is a producer of the show, and they aren’t shy on basing the character on him, from the flouncy blouses to the coif. Mallard, for now, plays the character a little too cool-for-school (perhaps intentionally) so I am curios as to how they plan on evolving it. I have to admit the show was a pleasant surprise for me: it’s charming and it put a smile on my face.

Race Relations (Television Thoughts: The Neighborhood, CBS)

p15528410_b_v8_ab‘The Neighborhood’ has a premise that’s so retro it could kind of work. Or not.  It all depends on how the show evolves. The Johnson family, headed by max Greenfeld and Beth Behrs – move to a predominantly black neghborhood…and, hopefully, hilarity ensues. Their neighbor, headed by Cedric The Entertainer, are kind of wary, but they are also kind of mocking the Johnsons.  I thought the pilot showed promise, but I also thought the writing was kind of weak. I didn’t even crack a smile the first twenty minutes of the show, as I thought the jokes were too obvious. But I did like the message towards the end, which was a bit more hopeful. I will give this a chance. I went into this because I like both Greenfeld and Behrs, and I will stay for them, even if I am not really fond of Cedric. I think the show has potential to grow, and maybe even be a modern-day version of ‘The Jeffersons.’ neighborhood