Monday, March 29, 2010

A Small Ode to Kristen Bell

I try not to get too enamored by certain public figures. But sometimes, it's difficult not to. There's a little pantheon in my heart for a handful of celebrity-type people, and while I may not gush about them all the time, the love is always there, no matter how many bad movies or TV shows they make.

Lately, I have been reminded of my love for the delightful Kristen Bell. It could be because I'm in the midst of a Veronica Mars Season 1 rewatch, or because I got sucked into viewing all her (hilarious and charming) appearances on the Craig Ferguson show on YouTube. Regardless, the point remains: Kristen Bell Is Awesome.

Let's examine her IMDb trivia page for some evidence:

1. Says she was a vegan in high school, but had to give it up because of her love of cheese.
2. Broke both her wrists playing hockey.
3. Has dessert after every meal, even breakfast.
4. When she was 3 years old, announced to her parents that she was changing her name to "Smurfette."
5. Helped deliver two babies while doing volunteer work in Brazil.
6. Has a motorcycle license.

How do you dispute the awesomeness of those facts?! And combined with the public appearances in which she is charming, genuine, articulate, and quick-witted? The erstwhile Veronica Mars has a permanent slot in the People Who Are Awesome pantheon. I salute you, Kristen Bell. Keep up the awesome. Because even though you have a permanent place in the group, there's no need to slack off.

Friday, March 26, 2010

In Defense of "Who Do You Think You Are?"

This spring, NBC premiered a show called "Who Do You Think You Are?" which endeavors to do genealogical research about celebrities and uncover interesting stories from their pasts. Frankly, I'm not sure how popular it is, but I've thoroughly enjoyed watching it.

It must be known first that I am a genealogy nerd. I've spent the past year or so trying to decipher the mysteries of my mom's family line, and despite the weird discoveries we've made, I've enjoyed every second of it. So, I'm probably more likely to enjoy this show than others.

I've read, however, a few critiques of the show that I can't entirely disagree with. The first of which being that the show is about celebrities - as if their histories are inherently more interesting than the common person's. Not true. But, I can see why they need celebrities to do this: it's network television. They're familiar faces. If I wanted to turn on the TV and watch, for all intents and purposes, a documentary about some middle-class stranger, I'd watch the History Channel or Discovery. This is NBC. That's not going to fly unless they're trying to win some sort of competition or have strange habits that people can laugh at. (I'm looking at you, "Minute to Win It" and "The Marriage Ref.")

The second main critique is that the show is a touch over-produced, embellishing a bit too much on some stories. There is also some truth to this: the show is a bit too polished. It's like they're trying to edit "Who Do You Think You Are?" to be like "The Biggest Loser" with its intense music and cutaway cliffhangers before commercial. On top of that, the research on each celebrity's family is done ahead of time, and so it predictably feels a bit plotted as the celebrity moves from one researcher to another, each holding the exact document they need in their hands.

But: to me, the show's merits far outweigh its weaknesses. Inevitably, each story that is told is remarkable, and, celebrity or no, watching someone learn more about their past is extremely touching.

The thing about history is this: even just two generations back, there were so many more hardships involved with living every day life. Not to mention in every other generation, there was a major war - and for WWI and WWII it was two in a row. The things you can learn about your ancestors are astounding.

What the show is particularly good at is turning dates on a page into an actual human story. Each celebrity gets to travel to the locations involved in their ancestor's histories, and in doing so, it allows both them and the viewer to understand the reality of what they're learning. These are real stories of real people who got tangled in history, and all that's left of them are vague stories and ink on the page. But they existed, and their existence suddenly becomes hugely important to their descendants, who have embarked on these journeys to know where they've come from. It's a weirdly spiritual experience for these people, and to me, it's an overwhelmingly compelling emotion to watch. And that is where "Who Do You Think You Are?" finds its true value, and why I enjoy watching it.

And also why I end up crying at least three times per episode.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Shoobie Doobie Doobie, Dance... Dance... Dance...

Today, Nigel Lythgoe tweeted that there are some more changes in store for this upcoming season of So You Think You Can Dance. Unfortunately, one of them is not a return to the original stage set. (Grr.)

No, instead, we have some partner and elimination shakeups. Previously on SYTYCD, they started with the Top 10 Girls and Top 10 Guys. One girl and one guy were eliminated each week.

Change #1: Only one dancer is eliminated each week.

I'm not sure how I feel about this. The rule "If it ain't broke, don't fix it," comes to mind, despite its grammatical woes.

If only one person is eliminated every week, there's an odd number of people left - is one trio going to perform? Group routines are fairly regular on this show, but I find this odd and it seems like it would uneven the playing field.

Moreover, my fear with this change is that the female dancers will suffer a disadvantage: the main audience for SYTYCD is young girls, who, let's face it, have a tendency to vote for young hot guys. So potentially, this season's finale could be filled with Neils and Pashas and Dannys, when in reality the Katees, Laceys, and Ellenores deserve just as much love.

As this season's American Idol can attest: sometimes America does not get it right, and it's usually at the hands of young girls with multiple cell phones and e-mail accounts, with determination in spades. (No offense to such young ladies. I'm sure, despite their preposterous reality-show voting habits, that they are lovely people. I hope.) Talent-based popular-vote reality competitions are supposed to be able to proclaim, "The right (wo)man won!" And while that may be true in the end, it's inevitable that there are truly talented contestants who get eliminated too soon for very nebulous reasons.

Change #2: Partnerships will be changed every week.

Previously on SYTYCD, two dancers were partnered up at the beginning of the season and danced together for five weeks (or until one was eliminated, whichever came first). Then, when it was narrowed down to the Top 10, each dancer would be partnered with someone new each week. It worked well when there were "It" couples and amazing pairings (think Season 4: Katee and Joshua, Mark and Chelsie, and the self-proclaimed "Twitchington").

However, some seasons just don't have amazing pairings and we have to sit through five weeks of chemistry-less dancing before things get switched up (think, Season 5, Brandon and Janette notwithstanding). I think the value of finding amazing partnerships exceeds the need to stick with a couple for the first few weeks. Do you have chemistry? Nope? Okay, let's move on! I think we can find the likeable and better dancers faster this way. Plus, no one will get carried through on their partner's merit if a pairing is particularly lopsided.

Apparently there's one more change to still come through the pipeline. With any luck, it'll be one (or, God-willing, three) of three things:

1) fewer pervy comments from Mr. Lythgoe himself
2) a special microphone for Mary Murphy that neutralizes her ear-piercing shrieking
3) Mia Michaels comes back

Yes, all three would be welcome. ALSO THE OLD STAGE. Y'know, the one where the giant space and jumbotron don't totally overwhelm the dancing?

But as long as there's good dancing and an endearing Cat Deeley perched atop it, I'll be okay.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Haiku Wednesday!

Necessary backstory: I write haikus about television, when I can. So! There's no guarantee that this will be a permanent Wednesday feature (on account of the "when I can"), but in honor of Alyson Hannigan's 36th birthday (you mean she's not still at UC Sunnydale?) today and the birth month of Buffy the Vampire Slayer 13 years ago, have two Buffy haikus, one Willow-centric!

There is one Chosen
in every generation.
Buffy, here we go...
(Season 1: Welcome to the Hellmouth)

Eskimo Willow
makes Oz's heart skip a beat.
They're instantly cute.
(Season 2: Inca Mummy Girl)

Blah, Blah, Blog

The internet is a graveyard for dead blogs; I know this. I also know that I have the severe and distinct problem of not finishing nearly anything I start.

You see why this blog could very easily be a bad idea.

But, I forge ahead, perhaps foolishly believing that it won't fall to the wayside like so many attempted blogs. Plus, how awesomely ridiculous is the pun "Dr. She-Bloggo"?! I mean, why wouldn't anyone want to write under a moniker structured entirely on a meaningless pun from a movie that hasn't been topical in thirty years? Not me, that's who.

Anyways, Dr. She-Bloggo has set sail, and I have thus begun the ritualistic 21st century exercise in narcissism. I will approach every entry under the natural assumption that scores of people are not only reading, but also caring about what I have to say on this giant public form called The Internet. Read my opinions, dammit! I have something to say! I am woman, hear me roar!

My opinions are silly, though, because I am fairly certain at least 80% of this blog will be devoted to pop culture and television shows. Such is my shallow life that I will devote time to consumer-driven entertainment and then write about it. And you, all six million of my readers, will CARE. I've triumphed again, people of Earth!

Unless I don't make another entry after this one. It wouldn't be entirely uncharacteristic of me.
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