The Week In TV: Parsons Emmy Win; Bristol Palin and The Situation Sadly Not a Band
First off, we love the above clip--Alec Baldwin refers to Houston's own Jim Parsons as "what's his name," and then compares Parsons to Argentine tennis star Juan Martin del Potro: "He's coming to the Open; he's gonna kick our ass." And he did.
Otherwise, we're all a bunch of Bucky Gunts here. This was the week in TV Land:
• Well, the Emmys happened. There were a few pleasant surprises (Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul taking awards for Breaking Bad, for instance), but most of the results were for safe, predictable entertainments. The Pacific won for best miniseries; Jim Parsons and Kyra Sedgwick won awards for starring in shows your parents watch. Ditto the main awards for drama and comedy series, which went to Mad Men and Modern Family. Those are both solid shows, if not quite as daring as other entries in the field, like Breaking Bad and the not-even-nominated Parks and Recreation.
But it was Jimmy Fallon who defined the show, and his hosting lived up to his reputation: strong start, immediate drop-off, awkward impressions, and a sudden end. The Glee-inspired opening with the cast and other stars helping Fallon out on "Born to Run" was legitimately cute; the same cannot be said of his dated and cringe-worthy quasi-impressions of Elton John, Green Day, and (somehow) Boyz II Men in a musical salute to recently-ended series. After a while, it was easier to remember that Fallon got his break on SNL by being an Adam Sandler knock-off who could never hold a straight face during a sketch. The best moments of the show were when better comedians were allowed to shine, however briefly, including Will Arnett and Ricky Gervais as presenters. Fallon did get in a great joke about Conan at NBC's expense, when he said, "NBC asked the host of Late Night to come to L.A. to host a different show. What could go wrong?" Nicely played, sir.
• Bristol Palin and The Situation, aside from being a good band name, will be coming to your TV screens soon on ABC's Dancing With the Stars. Palin, not quite 20, is famous for having a child as a teenager and providing a wacky do-as-I-say-not-as-I-conceive counterpoint to her mother Sarah Palin's divisive and illogical politics. Michael "The Situation" Sorrentino is famous for naming a body part and getting very drunk on television. That they're both going to make some extra money by participating in a dancing competition is not that surprising, and in fact it shows how shrewd they are. They both know that there's a definite horizon to their kind of fame, so it makes sense to grab as much money as possible on their way to the door. (Mr. The Situation is expected to earn $5 million this year, so think about that when you're doing whatever it is you do at work today.) To them, I say, have at it. I eagerly await the day when no one remembers this ever happened.
• Will Forte announced this week that he's leaving Saturday Night Live. He's been on the show since 2002, and he's been a solid supporting player since then, notably mostly for giving life to MacGruber and a few other characters whose names escape me; I'm thinking of the empty-headed ESPN commentator who does ads for feminine hygiene. Things were stacked against him at the start, since he had to take over the role of impersonating George W. Bush after the departure of Will Ferrell, who'd so thoroughly made the character his own that he would go on to play him in short videos and a Broadway show. Forte's Bush was, wisely, a different spin: Ferrell had played him as cocky and dim, but Forte portrayed him as a hapless whiner. Now that he's leaving, maybe we'll get a Falconer movie.
• Word came down this week that Barbara Walters is developing a spin-off of The View that will take a more "unisex" approach and appeal to men. (This New York Daily News story wants me to "think of it as 'The View -- with chest hair,'" which I most certainly will not. I don't need the nightmares.) It seems counterproductive to make a round-table talk show for men that will focus on the day's issues without the slightest bit of intelligence or forethought; our gender has the entire range of ESPN channels to choose from, after all. Then again, the show's still in the development stage, so maybe it will die a quiet death before then.
• Good news for comedy fans: The State is finally getting a legit release of Comedy for Gracious Living, a comedy album they recorded in 1996 over a two-week trip to the Bahamas. It's coming out September 14 on Rhino, a great label for fans of overlooked or forgotten work. More info here.
• AMC released a trailer last week for The Walking Dead, its upcoming series based on the comic books about the zombie apocalypse. The footage played at Comic-Con a couple months back, but it's finally on the tubes in high quality. The show will debut October 31 with a 90-minute pilot. Judging by the trailer, it might be an exciting take on a genre that's starting to drag:
• In honor of the Emmys, this week's online TV recommendation is one of the best shows to not get any Emmy love (aside from a nod for casting): Friday Night Lights. The series has had some flaws and setbacks along the way -- the second season had major problems and was shortened by the WGA strike -- but it's still worth checking out. The first season remains the best of the run so far, as well as one of the best seasons of television of the past 20 years. By the end of the first hour, you'll be hooked. Watch it here.
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