Rake and Other Shows with Vague, Deceptive Titles

by Aly Semigran January 21, 2014 12:39 pm
<i>Rake</i> and Other Shows with Vague, Deceptive Titles

Despite what the title suggests, Rake the new Greg Kinnear show on Fox, is not about a rake or even a series of ill-placed rakes.. Heck, the name of Kinnear's character -- a lawyer with a bad boy attitude -- isn't even something like Rake Rexington, which is really too bad because then I'd be more inclined to watch this show. (His character's name is actually Keegan Deaneā€¦ BORING.) Instead, the title here presumably refers to the "rakehell" characterization in literature ("An immoral or dissolute person"? Check!), as well as the term "rake" in poker (you see, the guy also gambles in this show). Sorry to bum you out, leaf-raking enthusiast, it looks like you'll have to wait a little bit longer. But don't feel bad about being duped by the vague title, because over the past few years that's become something of a trend on television. We've picked a few shows (including some upcoming new ones designed to trick us) with vague, deceptive titles, what they really meant, and what we actually want them to mean.

<i>Ja’mie: Private School Girl</i>: Mockumentary Satire as Vicious as a Mean Girl

It's probably for the best that Breaking Bad ended before the mockumentary comedy Ja'mie: Private School Girl debuted in America, because I'm not sure television audiences could handle the likes of Walter White and Ja'mie King in their lives at the same time. It would have been one too many sociopathic forces of evil to handle. Then again, compared to the unfathomably terrible Ja'mie King, Walter White almost seems to have some redemptive qualities.

Community: Heroes & Villains

by Ethan Alter May 3, 2013 11:17 am
<i>Community</i>: Heroes & Villains

Question: What does a show do when it can't decide how to move forward? Answer: It looks to the past. That explains Community's penultimate Season 4 episode, "Heroic Origins," in which Abed pieces together the group's shared pre-Greendale history on a flowchart he labels the Loom of Fate Crazy Quilt of Destiny. On the one hand, this gimmick allowed the cast to have some fun playing earlier incarnations of their characters, from Alison Brie's brace-faced Annie to Abed's Phantom Menace-trolling scarer of small children. At the same time, though, the whole thing felt kind of... well, pointless, since this trip to the past wound up shedding very minimal light on who these characters are now and what the future -- which may or may not last beyond next week's finale -- might have in store.

Walton Goggins Talks <I>Justified</i>, Venus Van Dam and <I>Veronica Mars</i>

Season 4 of Justified has been a textbook example of a crime drama done right -- there's a perfect mix of violence, sex, puns and plot twists in every single episode, to the point that we're constantly asking ourselves if that was the season finale. March 19's "Decoy" is no different, especially considering that it revolves around Raylan and the gang trying to get Drew Thompson out of Harlan alive. To pump up the episode and discuss his take on the series, Walton Goggins, Harlan's own Boyd Crowder, took a press call, where he was both ridiculously charming and dead-serious about his work. Sound familiar? Below are the highlights.

Red Widow: Sympathy for Lady Vengeance

by Ethan Alter March 3, 2013 11:00 pm
<i>Red Widow</i>: Sympathy for Lady Vengeance

Last spring, ABC experimented with the short-run series model that's so popular abroad (think the Israeli show Prisoner of War, which beget Homeland here), ordering up a ten-episode, single-season run of the Taken knock-off Missing, starring Ashley Judd in the Liam Neeson role of a vengeful parent searching for a kidnapped kid. Although the series was constructed with a definite endpoint in mind, the finale carefully left room for another batch of episodes should the show prove to be a hit. It wasn't. But the network is giving the concept a second chance with Red Widow, another limited-run series that aired the first two of its eight hours tonight.

Community: The Saint Valloween’s Day Massacre

by Ethan Alter February 15, 2013 11:06 am
<i>Community:</i> The Saint Valloween’s Day Massacre

To make up for the fact that Community's Halloween episode was airing on Valentine's Day as opposed to... well, Halloween, the marketing geniuses decided to give "Paranormal Parentage" the more calendar appropriate Twitter handle: "#HappyValloween." The idea of a Valentine's Day/Halloween hybrid is a pretty funny notion and probably would have made a great episode of Community. Certainly better than the one we got, which after a strong start (thanks largely to daffy costumes worn by the gang -- if Bill Watterson wasn't so tight-assed when it comes to licensing, we'd love a live-action Calvin & Hobbes movie starring Danny Pudi and Donald Glover) began to flatline soon after the gang turned up at Pierce's mansion ostensibly to spring him from his panic room, in which he had accidentally locked himself.

The Taste: Like The Voice… But With Food

by Angel Cohn January 23, 2013 6:00 am
<I>The Taste</I>:  Like <I>The Voice</I>… But With Food

It's really hard to watch this show without judging it directly against the million other food competitions on TV or against The Voice, since it has co-opted its format nearly identically, minus the annoying spinning chairs and Christina Aguilera's tacky wardrobe. It's not really a bad show in any way, but we can't help but think of the pissing contest that The Voice has become, or of all those chef vs. chef team shows on Food Network, and worry that this will quickly devolve into something more grating.

Start-Ups: Silicon Valley: The Anti-Social Network

by Ethan Alter November 6, 2012 1:32 pm
<i>Start-Ups: Silicon Valley</i>: The Anti-Social Network

If you saw The Social Network and decided to devote your life to becoming the next Mark Zuckerberg, the new Bravo series Start-Ups: Silicon Valley will probably cure you of that dream pretty quickly. The show may throw out buzzy tech words like social network and unique visitors, but make no mistake -- it's the usual Bravo recipe of overprivileged, aggressively obnoxious white people squabbling with each other over real (though incredibly minor) and imagined conflicts. Even by the network's standards, they've rounded up quite the motley crew here, recruiting six of the most hateable people in all of Silicon Valley to be part of the show. Here's the rundown on the folks who most definitely won't be the next Zuckerberg.

Partners: This Partnership Went Very, Very Wrong

by Angel Cohn September 25, 2012 6:05 am
<I>Partners</I>: This Partnership Went Very, Very Wrong

This fall season, there are some truly dreadful sitcoms slated: there's one with Reba playing a down-on-her-luck version of herself, one with aliens living amongst us and one with a monkey doctor. Yet despite all of those terrible premises, this simple show about best friends turned out to be the most excruciating pilot of them all.

Saturday Night Live: Voices in Your Head

by Samantha Rullo September 17, 2012 2:59 pm
<I>Saturday Night Live</i>: Voices in Your Head

SNL kicked off its 38th season with host Seth MacFarlane and quite a few of his signature voices. Despite the absence of Kristin Wiig, Abby Elliott and Andy Samberg, it was a pretty good start to the season. The premiere also featured the debut of three new featured players and while Tim Robinson and Cecily Strong seem to have some potential, the six seconds that Aidy Bryant was onscreen weren't really enough to judge her skills. Only a few sketches missed the mark this time (can we just retire Fred Armisen's replacement talk show host please?), so here are some of the night's best.

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