Category Archives: Reality TV

Series Premiere: The Voice – “Blind Auditions”

“Blind Auditions”

April 26th, 2011

In principle, The Voice is about something grand and meaningful. By having the show’s judges be unable to see the singers they are judging, the show purports to finally have a singing competition in which physical attractiveness and age are no longer a driving factor. In a music competition space in which Steven Tyler objectifies young female contestants and Paula Abdul’s most lasting impression on the pop cultural space is the predication of every American Idol comment with “You look beautiful,” The Voice seeks to focus solely on the eponymous instrument.

However, The Voice is not “important.” Showing that a pretty girl with a solid voice would get noticed even when she can’t be seen, or showing that even an American Idol reject with a controversial past can still get attention, does absolutely nothing to impact society’s obsession with looks or their opinion of people who choose to sell their bodies; The Voice is not going to change America in any way shape or form, and that part of the show is somewhat cloying at the end of the day.

And yet, lest you consider me cynical, I actually found The Voice quite refreshing in that it managed this sentimentality while maintaining a sense of fun. This is not a show that will change America, but it is a show that demonstrates the value of chemistry between “judges” and which in its central conceit creates an endless stream of “television moments” that channel the series’ central altruism in ways I found charming if not as life-changing as NBC would like us to believe.

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Series Premieres: “Wipeout” and “I Survived a Japanese Game Show”

“Wipeout”

and

“I Survived a Japanese Game Show”

June 24th, 2008

Tonight’s primetime lineup was almost to the point of parody: NBC trotted out Celebrity Family Feud (I’m questioning their definition of celebrities) and the second week of lifeless America’s Got Talent (Really? Are you sure?), and ABC countered with what on paper seems like two signs of the telepocalypse. “Wipeout” is an Americanized equivalent to Most Xtreme Elimination Challenge (MXC, for short) that has aired on Spike TV in recent years, and “I Survived a Japanese Game Show” is a more traditional reality series in the vein of Survivor but with challenges being on a Japanese game show soundstage and featuring various costumes and other such gimmicks.

And after a group of friends and I figured that there was nothing else to really do with our time this evening, we sat down and started watching. And, what can I say? We laughed a lot. And while I have no intentions of nominating them for Emmys or even suggesting that you as readers rush out and watch them, if you want something that’s silly and light-hearted in your summer lineup that you can watch with friends or family (With a disclaimer for impressionable youth about the realities of Japanes Culture) look no further than these two shows.

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Cultural Learnings’ Fall 2007 Lineup: Thursdays

Yes, I am aware that there was a delay in posting Thursday’s lineup, but there was a reason for this. I’ve been anxious over this day in particular because, as per usual, it remains the most packed night of programming on the Fall Schedule, especially for me. And last night, I decided to see whether I might (finally) be able to cut Survivor out of my Thursday lineup. And, well, see below for whether or not that worked.

The Office

Airing four hour long episodes early in the season before Scrubs premieres, The Office is taking on Grey’s Anatomy single-handedly this year. It hopes to sustain last year’s ratings, and certainly has a decent shot at it. There’s some exciting developments heading into this season (Ryan as the boss, Jim/Pam, etc.), so even some uneven episodes won’t keep me away.

Cultural Learnings’ Review of The Office Finale 

30 Rock

This Emmy-winning comedy has the unfortunate circumstance of being located within a rather difficult timeslot: sure, it belonged to The Office last year, but it’s also against two other shows I’m interested in covering. Still, it gets this particular spot regardless of that development: the show was too good last season to consider putting on the backburner, although it doesn’t debut for a while yet.

Cultural Learnings’ 30 Rock Coverage 

Survivor: China

Yeah, I’m weak: as much as I might claim I can disconnect from this series in its 15th season, it just isn’t happening this time around. The cast of characters have already had a chance to make their impact, and the challenges despite repetition are usually enough to suck me in. I’ve tended to skip the Tribal Council sequences more now, but the point stands: I’m covering Survivor.

Cultural Learnings’ Survivor Coverage 

The Other Shows

Ugly Betty and Grey’s Anatomy are in a tough spot for me, one in terms of time period and the other due to a weak third season. Ugly Betty ended its first season on a high note, and certainly has a lot of momentum moving forward. But I never feel like I’m “caught up” in it, which is the way I perhaps felt about Grey’s Anatomy before a frustrating last stanza. The George/Izzie relationship took out a lot of steam, so it’s going to be wait and see for the series.

I’ll also be watching Scrubs when it returns late in the year, although my interest in that series has also wained.

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Filed under 2007 Fall Preview, 30 Rock, ABC, Grey's Anatomy, NBC, Reality TV, Scrubs, Survivor, Television, The Office, Ugly Betty

Emmys 2007: Cultural Learnings’ Final Emmy Awards Predictions

[Months ago, Cultural Learnings put its neck out there to predict which shows and performers might get those coveted Emmy Nominations. Now, it’s time to put the prediction power to the test again, predicting who will win during tomorrow night’s ceremony. Some of them might be wishful thinking, others might be far too safe. Regardless, it’s our job to stand by them to the bitter end. We’ll see how things turn out during tomorrow night’s LiveBlogging Extravaganza!]

Cultural Learnings’ 2007 Emmy Predictions

Oustanding Drama Series

The Sopranos [WINNER]

Heroes

Boston Legal

Grey’s Anatomy

House

[It only won once, it had a critically acclaimed final season, and the rest of the competition was either too uneven or too green. Simply put, it is the class of this field, and will easily walk home with the Emmy]

Oustanding Comedy Series

The Office

Entourage

Two and a Half Men

30 Rock [WINNER]

Ugly Betty

[This is going with my gut on this one, but I think that 30 Rock combines the liberal-minded sentiment of Emmy voters and strong pedigree in Baldwin/Fey. The Office got their due last year, and Ugly Betty will get theirs eventually. This is 30 Rock’s year.]

Lead Actor in a Drama Series

James Spader (Boston Legal)

James Gandolfini (The Sopranos) [WINNER]

Kiefer Sutherland (24)

Denis Leary (Rescue Me)

Hugh Laurie (House)

[While Laurie is a potential spoiler, I’d say that Gandolfini should easily ride the Sopranos wave to victory within this category.]

Lead Actor in a Comedy Series

Alec Baldwin (30 Rock) [WINNER]

Ricky Gervais (Extras)

Steve Carell (The Office)

Tony Shahloub (Monk)

Charlie Sheen (Two and a Half Men)

[Picking between Carell and Baldwin is very tough, as Carell got robbed last year, but I think that Baldwin was the breakout star of the year in comedy, while Carell’s star just didn’t shine as brightly.]

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Canadian Idol – Finale – And the Winner is…

After Avril Lagine.

After Eva Avila.

After Bon Jovi.

After the Clip Packages.

After the Repeat Performances.

There was two Idols.

Brian Melo.

Jaydee Bixby.

Only one could become.

A Canadian Idol.

The Canadian Idol is…

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Canadian Idol – The Final Two – Why Jaydee Will Win Canadian Idol

Last week, I didn’t bother blogging about the results show, and I apologize to anyone who might have been using my recaps to gain such information. My reason is simple: with the departure of Carly Rae, I became disillusioned with Canadian Idol. She was my last hope, the last shining hope in a season filled with a host of mediocre singers. She epitomized everything an “Idol” should be: charming, original, and capable of musicianship. When she left, part of me left as well.

And it’s not because of dislike for the remaining candidates. Brian Melo is someone who has performed admirably, been fairly consistent, and surely isn’t someone that I would dislike hearing on the radio. And even if I can’t stand him personally, Jaydee Bixby does Jaydee-style very well.

No, my problem with Carly Rae leaving is that it essentially crowned Jaydee Bixby the Canadian Idol by default. And even though the judges did their finest to handicap the competition in Brian’s favour, I don’t think it will be enough to overcome an important fact:

No matter how good Brian might be, and how bad Jaydee might bomb, Brian Melo is still just an adequate performer who wears hats while Jaydee is the smiling honky tonk kid from Alberta.

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Canadian Idol – September 3rd – The Top 3 Perform

So it’s been awhile since I’ve actually been able to watch Canadian Idol live, and this week was to be no different. However, after a long day during Frosh Week, I’m in need of a break, and Canadian Idol should do just fine.

This week is a bit odd, to be honest, since we’re at the semi-finals and Sass Jordan is providing our tutelage. Were they unable to get someone, or was there a cancellation? Regardless, we’re here to listen to these three sing full songs, both from the judges and from us, the audience.

Jaydee Bixby – “Break it to them Gently” by Burton Cummings

The Good: His voice didn’t sound terrible, countrifying the song actually worked.

The Bad: Still warbly, to be honest, and I still felt not a bit of natural stage presence when he isn’t getting into his honky tonk groove.

Brian Melo – “A Whiter Shade of Pale” by Procul Harem

The Good: Sounds good on the major parts of the song, good choice for his voice.
The Bad: They left in the organ solo, which felt really unnecessary. And, Zack was right, certain parts of the song were sketchy.

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