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Monday, February 13, 2012

The Groove Tube #20: Will & Grace are alive and well and making a Broadway musical

Welcome to The Groove Tube, a weekly recap of the highlights (and lowlights) of some of the scripted TV shows I'm watching (in order of preference).

TV Series of the Week: Smash
"Pilot" (Episode 1/February 6, 2012)

First Impression: Fabulous! This word best describes the first episode of this promising new series about the making of a big Broadway musical. Created by Theresa Rebeck (whose play, Seminar, is currently on Broadway), Smash takes us behind-the-scenes to give us all the backstage drama while also entertaining us with a few musical numbers (the original songs are written by Hairspray composers Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman) - and it all comes together quite nicely - especially with a first-rate cast that includes Debra Messing (Will & Grace), Jack Davenport (Swingtown, Coupling), American Idol runner-up Katharine McPhee, Broadway actors Megan Hilty, Christian Borle and Brian D'Arcy James, and the Academy Award-winning Angelica Huston (Prizzi's Honor). Now this is what you call an ensemble overflowing with talent - and they all shine brightly in Smash, which is a show definitely written for all the original cast recording enthusiasts across the country. It remains to be seen whether anyone else will be inviting these fascinating characters into their homes every week.

Best Opening Scene of the Week: It's always good to begin with a Judy Garland song as Ms. McPhee's character Karen sang "Over the Rainbow" until her audition was rudely interrupted by a cell phone.

Best Return to Television: Debra Messing (I've missed her) - and she and Christian Borle make a great Will & Grace.

Best Return to Television Runner-Up: Becky Ann Baker, who plays Karen's mother and who also played a mother on the 1999-2000 TV series, Freaks and Geeks. She's also married in real life to actor Dylan Baker, who plays Karen's father.

Cutest Assistant of the Week: Ellis, Tom's personal assistant who came up with the idea of a musical about Marilyn Monroe.

Hottest Hunk and Sexiest Boyfriend of the Week: British actor Raza Jaffrey who plays Karen's boyfriend Dev.

Hottest Hunk of the Week Honorable Mention: Ivy's hunky friend/chorus boy Dennis (played by Phillip Spaeth).

Most Boring Storyline: Julia and her husband Frank's adoption proceedings. Yawn.

Best Musical Performance Honorable Mention: "The National Pastime" with Ivy singing about "baseball diamonds being a girl's best friend".

Best Musical Performance Runner-Up: Ivy and Karen's performance of "Let Me Be Your Star".

Best Musical Performance: Karen's beautiful performance of Christine Aguilera's "Beautiful".

Best Discovery of the Week: Apparently director Derek Wills discovered Broadway star Kristin Chenoweth.

Best Surprise of the Week: The woman playing the piano during Karen's performance of "Beautiful" is Deborah Abramson, who played the piano many years ago in a couple of Chicago shows that my partner produced. We both about fell on the floor when we saw her on television.

Best Rejection of the Week: Karen got Derek all hot and bothered with her private rendition of Marilyn Monroe's "Happy Birthday" and then told him that a kiss between them was "not gonna happen".

Grade: A+

Ratings: 11.44 million viewers, #1 in time period with 7.3 rating/12 share

2) Downton Abbey
Series Two, Episode 6/February 12, 2012

Best Rejection of the Week Runner-Up: Anna refused to spy on Mary for the slimy Richard Carlisle.

Best Name-Calling of the Week: Mrs. Hughes surprisingly described Mary as an "uppity minx". She is one, but I still like her.

Best Recovery of the Week: Matthew's tingling in his legs led to him getting back on his feet.

Worst Reaction of the Week: Mary was bitter towards Carson when he changed his mind about coming to work for her and Richard - and this was after he told Mary that her fiance asked Anna to spy on her.

Most Surprising Kiss of the Week: Although I did see this coming in the last episode, I was still surprised when Lord Grantham gave new maid Jane a big kiss.

Best Kiss of the Week Runner-Up: Sybil and her cute chauffeur, Branson, finally smooched.

Biggest Jerk of the Week Runner-Up: Mr. Bryant was an asshole to poor Ethel when he refused to believe that his late son was the father of her baby. I'm so glad that she later refused to give up her child to him.

Biggest Jerk of the Week: Lord Grantham made out with the maid behind his wife's back and tried to bribe his daughter's true love to end their relationship. At least he later came to his senses and reconciled with Cora and gave his blessing to Sybil and Branson.

Best Meltdown of the Week: Thomas went ballistic after he realized that all of his black market goods were rubbish and that he was now broke.

Best Confrontation of the Week Runner-Up: Sybil stood up to her disapproving father over her plans to marry Branson.

Best Kiss of the Week: Matthew and Mary kissed after dancing together, but they were interrupted by Lavinia.

Saddest Death of the Week: Poor Lavinia died after telling a guiltridden Matthew that now he no longer had to choose between her and Mary.

Best Marriage of the Week: Bates and Anna, of course, who then got their own honeymoon bed scene.

Funniest Exchange: Richard - "You say the chauffeur is gone, so maybe I could drive the car."
Mary - "Preferably over the chauffeur."

Best Line Honorable Mention: "If you're turning American on me, I'm going downstairs" - Lord Grantham to Cora

Best Line Runner-Up: "All this unbridled joy has given me quite an appetite" - Violet

Best Line: "I do hope I'm interrupting something" - Violet

Best Cliffhanger of the Week: Bates was arrested for his late wife's murder.

Grade: A+ (lots of great drama to love in this episode)

3) Revenge
"Perception" (Episode 14/February 8, 2012)

Hottest Hunk of the Week Runner-Up: A shirtless Jack, who suffered some cracked ribs when he was beat up in the last episode.

Best New Character of the Week: 80-year-old Grandpa Edward Grayson (played by 74-year-old William Devane, who was wonderful as Greg Sumner on TV's Knots Landing). He was not too happy about his son Conrad's divorce from Victoria, which might destroy the company he began.

Best Lipstick: Victoria's bold red lips.

Best Dressed: Victoria dressed more casual to go to the Stowaway bar, but she looked great in turquoise.

Best Flashback of the Week: Emily first saw Daniel while spying on him in a bar with dark hair and glasses.

Most Intriguing Scene of the Week: Conrad's conversation with Ashley, in which he correctly called her an opportunist. I definitely felt a sexual spark between them.

Best New Word of the Week: Revengenda = revenge agenda

Best Dinner Party and Best Exposed Secrets of the Week: Jack interrupted the Graysons' dinner by revealing that Victoria was in love with David, and then Conrad told everyone that David was Charlotte's real father as a result of his affair with Victoria.

Best Cliffhanger of the Week Runner-Up: Emily discovered that Amanda took her secret box.

Grade: A (another fantastic episode - but I do hope that Daniel doesn't meet his maker next week. He's too cute to be killed off)

Ratings: 7.70 million viewers, #2 in time period with 5.0 rating/8 share

4) Once Upon a Time
"Skin Deep" (Episode 12/February 12, 2012)

Best New Character of the Week Runner-Up: Belle (played by Emilie de Ravin, whom I fondly remember as Claire on TV's Lost).

Best Opening Scene of the Week Runner-Up: Belle agreed to become the caretaker of Rumpelstiltskin's large estate in exchange for him protecting her father's town.

Best Couple of the Week: Belle and Rumpelstiltskin - there was a sweet chemistry between them.

Dumbest Mistake of the Week: David gave his wife's Valentine to Mary Margaret, which put them both in a glum mood about their relationship.

Best Confrontation of the Week: Regina made Mr. Gold reveal that his real name is "Rumpelstiltskin" and then returned his treasured chipped cup that Belle once dropped.

Best Cliffhanger Honorable Mention and Best Bitch of the Week: Regina, who secretly has Belle's counterpart locked up in Storybrooke's hospital (Mr. Gold/Rumpelstiltskin believes that Belle killed herself).

Grade: A (a good episode that helped make Mr. Gold a more sympathetic and interesting character)

Ratings: 8.65 million viewers, #2 in time period with 5.0 rating/7 share

5) The Vampire Diaries
"Dangerous Liaisons" (Episode 58/February 9, 2012)

Best Non-Couple of the Week Runner-Up: Rebekah and Matt - they make a cute couple, and it gives him a storyline.

Best Non-Couple of the Week: Klaus's romantic interest in Caroline has made me like his character, so I'm hoping he will stick around for awhile - and that she might give him a chance.

Worst Mother of the Week: Esther was reunited with all her children after a thousand years - but she planned to kill them.

Best Sex of the Week: Damon and Rebekah hooked up after their feelings were hurt by Elena and Matt, respectively.

Grade: B+

Ratings: 3.08 million viewers, #5 in time period with 2.0 rating/3 share

6) Modern Family
"Me? Jealous?" (Episode 62/February 8, 2012)

Best Guest Star of the Week: Greg Kinnear as Phil's client Tad, who was a big kisser.

Worst Storyline: While staying with Gloria and Jay, Cam totally rearranged their kitchen. What houseguest does this in real life? I would've kicked Cam's bitchy ass to the curb.

Most Humiliating But Funny Scene of the Week: Luke's sisters dressed him up like a girl and called him "Betty Luke".

Grade: B (once again I enjoyed one storyline - Phil, Claire and Tad - while disliking the other one - Cam and Gloria)

Ratings: 12.90 million viewers, #2 in time period with 7.6 rating/11 share

7) Glee
"The Spanish Teacher" (Episode 56/February 7, 2012)

Best Guest Star Runner-Up and Best Teeth of the Week: Ricky Martin as Spanish teacher and tooth model David Martinez. I enjoyed his acting far more than the songs he sang - his "Sexy and I Know It" was kind of annoying, while his and Santana's dull duet of Madonna's "La Isla Bonita" didn't do much for me.

Most Surprising Plot Twist of the Week: Sue Sylvester's decision to have a child. At first I was very skeptical, but by the end of the episode I warmed up to the idea of her as a mother. It could be funny as well as a way to show a more human side of Sue.

Best Pamphlet Runners-Up: Emma's "So You're Dating a Two-Timing Ho", "So You're a Two-Timing Ho" and "Please Don't Hog My Finance's Nog".

Best Pamphlet: Emma's "Taint Misbehavin'" about proper jock-strap hygiene.

Biggest Jerk of the Week Honorable Mention: Will called Emma's pamphlets "silly". They are silly, but she's his fiancée.

Best Enemies: Sue Sylvester vs. sassy synchronized swimming teacher Roz Washington

Most Interesting Boots: Sam and the guys wore Mexican hipster boots while singing.

Best Non-Musical Scene: I liked Sue's speech about wanting Will as her sperm donor because she would like her own child to possess his goodness and optimism.

Worst Musical Performance: Will's "A Little Less Conversation" while dressed as a matador with Brittany and Mike Chang as bulls. It was bad.

Best Musical Performance: Not a good week for music, but I did like Mercedes' version of Gloria Estefan's 1989 song, "Don't Wanna Lose You".

Best Line Runner-Up: "I had noodles with the President and a threesome with Michael Phelps" - Roz Washington

Best Line: "Oh dear God, please yes" - Kurt's response to Santana requesting a performance by Mr. Martinez

Grade: C+ (It was a bad Will episode with disappointing musical numbers, but I did enjoy the performances of Sue and Emma - and, of course, Ricky was nice to look at)

Ratings: 7.81 million viewers, #3 in time period with 4.7 rating/7 share

8) Desperate Housewives
"Is This What You Call Love?" (Episode 170/February 12, 2012)

Best Cameo of the Week: Actor Kevin Makely, who stars as Justin on one of my favorite web series, The Cavanaughs, briefly appeared as Bree's unkempt one-night stand.

Best Return of the Week: Susan's daughter Julie showed up pregnant as the result of a casual relationship.

Best Mother of the Week: Gaby for trying to boost her daughter Juanita's spirits on Valentine's Day.

Worst Mother of the Week Runner-Up: Susan for telling horrible lies about Julie to prevent a couple from adopting her baby. This was not an amusing scene.

Best Love Interest of the Week: Lynette's new beau Frank is hot - and he showed up on her doorstep with a pizza.

Best Rejection of the Week Honorable Mention: Bree told off her "friends" who staged an intervention over her drinking. Although Bree does need help, I don't like the way the other housewives have been treating her recently.

Worst Return of the Week: Kyle MacLachlan as Bree's ex-husband Orson. I've never been a big fan of his character, so I'm hoping that he's the one who ran over Chuck. I don't want to see him and Bree get back together again.

Best Line: "You like ham" - Gaby trying to put a good spin on Juanita's Valentine from a boy that said, "You smell like ham".

Grade: C (it was a good Gaby episode, but Orson's return and Susan's bad behavior brought the show down a grade)

SPOILER: So what major character will be shot to death on the March 11th episode? I've heard it's a guy so my prediction is Mike.

Ratings: 6.40 million viewers, #2 in time period with 4.0 rating/6 share

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