Surprise, Surprise: Samantha Who & Survivor

I have been pleasantly surprised by two shows this season. One series has returned to my weekly must-see lineup and the other has totally earned a TiVO Season Pass.

I abandoned Survivor several seasons ago because the contestants had become predictable and the challenges repetitive. This season I tuned in because the theme is Fans vs. Favorites, although I was hesitant at first because I wasn’t familiar with most of the returning cast from recent seasons. It has turned out to be very entertaining. Without giving too much away, I will say that last night’s Tribal Council was the best since Season 1 (when Sue verbally assaulted Richard Hatch for being a snake). The alliances and the twists keep me glued to the screen, and my money would be on Cirie to win it all. She may not be super athletic, but her mental game is strong and smart.

I find myself laughing out loud at Samantha Who, and that is a rare feat these days (the only other sitcoms I watch regularly are 30 Rock and The Office; both are fantastic but Arrested Development was the best). The show is very cleverly written and I am very impressed with Christina Applegate’s comedic chops (high marks for facial expressions and physical comedy).

The supporting cast of Samantha Who is stellar as well. Jean Smart is brilliant and needs her own show…again (Designing Women, for the young and uninitiated).  Jennifer Esposito plays over-the-top and inebriated quite well, and Melissa McCarthy is becoming one of my favorite new actresses. I never watched Gilmore Girls (I know, shame on me; I would love it), but I loved her in the film The Nines.

Do you watch either show? What do you think?

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Lengthy List of Lingering LOST Questions

I’ve been working on very diligently on a long list of Lost questions (by character and mystery) during the Season 4 hiatus. That entry is now posted over here at Get LOST with JOpinionated.

Don’t forget to set your DVR/TiVO…the second half of Season 4 begins next Thursday at 10pm on ABC. Lost will now air in this later time slot, after Grey’s Anatomy.

Click here for the schedule of the remaining episodes, including the 2 night/3 hour season finale!

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I Am Ridiculous

Hi, my name is Jo and I have a problem. I collect things. Specifically, DVDs which I may or may not ever have time to watch again in my lifetime.

After cleaning out my home office and filling up four bags full of old CDs (mostly compilations, soundtracks & CD singles) and VHS tapes to sell, I felt a sense of accomplishment. That was short lived.

Tonight I brought those items to Rasputin, and then applied every cent of the store credit earned from the sale of the CDs and tapes to obtain 7 new DVDs. 

In alphabetical order, here are the latest additions to my collection:


1982. Directed by Barry Levinson. Starring Kevin Bacon, Ellen Barkin, Tim Daly, Steve Guttenberg, Paul Reiser, Mickey Rourke and Daniel Stern. Classic college, coming-of-age male bonding film.


2000. Directed by Sam Raimi, co-written by Billy Bob Thornton. Starring Cate Blanchett, Katie Holmes, Greg Kinnear, Keanu Reeves, Giovanni Ribisi and Hilary Swank. Underrated thriller with Blanchett as a psychic. Reeves plays against type and pulls off town creep with great success.


2006. Directed and written by John Carney. Starring Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova. From Sundance to the Oscars, this was the little-film-that-could, and last year’s indie darling with the best soundtrack of the year.

1990. Directed by Mike Nichols, written by Carrie Fischer. Starring Annette Bening, Richard Dreyfuss, Gene Hackman, Shirley Maclaine, Denis Quaid, Rob Reiner and Meryl Streep. Fischer’s thinly veiled autobiography on the big screen, she was a mess and it made for a very entertaining film.

1996. Directed and co-written by Baz Luhrmann. Starring Claire Danes, Brian Dennehy, Leonardo DiCaprio, John Leguizamo, Harold Perrineau (Michael on Lost), Paul Rudd and Paul Sorvino. A very visual and fast paced contemporary adaptation of Shakespeare’s original.

2000. Directed by Roger Donaldson. Starring Kevin Costner, Steven Culp and Bruce Greenwood. Fascinating look at Kennedy and his team during the Cuban missile crisis.

2006. Directed by Brett Ratner. Starring Halle Berry, Eric Dane (McSteamy; see photo above), Ben Foster, Kelsey Grammar, Famke Jansen, Hugh Jackman, Ian McKellan, James Marsden, Anna Paquin, Ellen Page, Rebecca Romijn and Patrick Stewart.

I could justify my habit by asserting that it is healthier than smoking, drugs and drinking…but I won’t. Everyone has their vice.

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The Flock is Fleeing the Peacock: NBC Losing Shows to Other Networks

Something is amiss at the National Broadcasting Company. 

1. Friday Night Lights will now premiere exclusively on DirecTV, months before it airs on NBC
2. Scrubs is tentatively scheduled to move over to ABC
3. Project Runway is moving to Lifetime (NBC Universal owns Bravo; both are claiming foul play)

NBC does not have a reality series goldmine like American Idol or Dancing with the Stars (in terms of ratings, Deal or No Deal is nowhere near as popular as those two) so letting go of these shows seems like an odd move. If Law & Order were my highest rated series, I’d be fighting to save any and all shows with built-in, dedicated fan bases like the ones listed above.

Is NBC going the HBO route? After Six Feet Under, Sex & The City and The Sopranos ended, the cable network offered up less than stellar programming to replace those beloved series’ and none were successful. Then they alienated and angered fans by canceling Deadwood prematurely. And now HBO has postponed all of their popular summer shows (Entourage, etc.) until fall, leaving them to air movies only, with absolutely no original programming.

NBC is facing the loss of ER after next season, one of their longest-running series. Their strongest night and lineup (Thursday) will take a hit with the loss of both Scrubs and ER, and all of NBC’s hopes will be pinned on 30 Rock, The Office and My Name is Earl.

It appears that some network and studio executives are out of touch with their core audiences these days (if it weren’t for the Writers Strike, they still wouldn’t acknowledge online viewers and those ratings). They don’t allow the opportunity for ‘appointment television’ because shows are constantly moved to different nights and time slots. Additionally, there is no time to develop brand loyalty (to a series or a network) because their hooks are too quick; too many new programs are yanked off the air for good after only an episode or two.

there a major network shakeup in the works? Is NBC in panic mode yet? I
will be very curious to see which direction they take next…

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Life & Pop Culture Experiences

My friend went to a taping of Ellen yesterday and was on TV today, dancing next to her. I was jealous (of the proximity, not the dancing). It made me think about the activities I’d like to experience at some point before I die, as well as the ones I already have.

I’m not trying to be morbid, but I am attempting to be a little less tightly wound, and adopt a carpe diem attitude. Recent back surgery forced me to contemplate/acknowledge my mortality for the first time, and I have made an effort to become more flexible (emotionally, mentally & physically) as a result. I simply need to relax, enjoy and appreciate life more than I have in the past (and for the future).

Most people keep lists of dream vacations. Me? Not so much. Here are a few random things I’d like to experience in my lifetime, in no particular order:

  • Visit the set of Lost, or interview some of the cast
  • Attend a taping of Ellen
  • Throw out the first pitch at a major league ballpark
  • Fly to Boston & Chicago for baseball games at Fenway Park and Wrigley Field
  • See both REM and Bruce Springsteen live
  • Watch the A’s win the World Series at home in the new stadium
  • Go to the Emmy Awards

None of the above are career-related, but my dream job would be to either be on the writing staff of a television series or write a pop culture column for a newspaper or entertainment magazine. No big secret or surprise there.

I’m thrilled to have already had the opportunity to experience and participate in a few amazing events, including:

  • Meeting Mary Lou Retton & attending the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles (I was a budding/failing gymnast at the time)
  • Having coffee with Shawn Colvin in London before her show in 1993 (I was studying abroad, it was snowing outside, and she invited me in to watch rehearsal)
  • Working as an ‘extra‘ on The Mighty Morphin Power Rangers in 1994 (a story for another blog post altogether)
  • Attending a private benefit honoring Ellen DeGeneres in 1998 for her groundbreaking coming out episode (and meeting the Indigo Girls)
  • Being among the 73k fans watching the Women’s World Cup semi-finals at Stanford in 1999 (USA defeated Brazil)
  • Hiking through the rain forest and cave-tubing in Belize
  • Climbing to the top of the Duomo in Florence, Italy
  • Seeing Barry Bonds hit #71 & #72 at PacBell Park in 2001, breaking the single-season homerun record (not a huge fan of the man, but it was electric in there)
  • Watching The Incredibles and Cars at Pixar Animation Studios before they were released (both for events benefiting local education)
  • Going to  Sundance in 2007 (the coldest days of my life)
  • Sitting in the front row of the bleachers at the 2007 MLB All-Star Game in SF (and not getting pummeled by large men attempting to dive for homerun balls)
  • Attending the Grey’s Anatomy/Private Practice benefit show earlier this year

This summer, I will be going to Comic-Con in San Diego, and I’m pretty sure that it will wind up on the list above.

I can’t believe that this entire post was inspired by a friend dancing onscreen with Ellen for three seconds, and I’m not sure I even had a point. Oh well. I know that my List of Things To Do Before I Die will be amended and updated shortly and often, because there are far more places I’d like to travel to and events I’d like to attend.

Thanks for reading yet another entry of rambling and lists. Good night!

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