Arts, Entertainment, Living

'Dance Moms' back for more

Wednesday, 04 January 2012 12:00 AM Written by

dance8038Coverage from the 2012 winter Television Critics Association press tour begins later today (check back this afternoon for my first post) but first...

Fans of Lifetime’s “Dance Moms” (9 Tuesday) will be relieved to know no one has matured; bullying, monstrous dance instructor Abby Lee Miller hasn’t improved her listening skills or had an extreme makeover of her abrasive, not-so-secretly insecure personality. The show is as much a train wreck as it was in its first season.

Filmed largely at a Penn Hills dance studio, “Dance Moms” has a few new Pittsburgh beauty shots – watch for the autumn leaves on trees in a shot of the Veterans Bridge – and dance mom Holly takes daughter Nia to The Milkshake Factory on Carson Street for a “let’s have a talk” scene that feels staged, but the most time is still spent in the claustrophobic viewing booth at Miller’s dance company. “Perfection is our goal. Excellence will be tolerated,” says one sign hanging on a wall there.

When Holly can’t be at a rehearsal, Abby has a snit fit. Why Holly needs to be there is not at all clear other than Abby’s desire for control.

“The kid needs somebody,” Abby says. “She’s not that swift.”

Abby may be the most immature, petulant adult ever featured on a reality show; and that’s saying something. She’s clearly intimidated by Holly’s intellect – Abby brings up the fact Holly has a doctorate, not Holly. Abby continues to taunt Holly by assigning Nia ethnically-themed songs (a tune from the musical “Once on this Island.)

Read more after the jump. ...

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“Star Wars: The Old Republic” is here to wage war on the massively multiplayer online market and any free time you may have.  If you don’t know the back-story of this mega-game, here’s the gist: EA and BioWare have been hard at work on this new Star Wars-based MMO for about five years, and it has a rumored budget of 150 million dollars.  If the rumored budget is indeed fact, it would put “The Old Republic” among the most expensive video games ever created.

Part one my review for “The Old Republic” covers the basics of the game and will get into the early gameplay experience.

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Justifying 'Work It'

Tuesday, 03 January 2012 12:00 AM Written by

work_it_blogTonight ABC debuts the terrible new sitcom "Work It" (8:30 p.m., WTAE), which I reviewed in TV Week on Sunday. The show is about two out-of-work guys who can only find work if they dress as women.

Last summer TV critics had a chance to ask ABC Entertainment president Paul Lee, what were you thinking?

"You know, I’m a Brit. It’s in my contract. I have to do a cross dressing show every year. I was brought up on “Monty Python.” What can I do?" Lee said, laughing.

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Back to 'Portlandia'

Monday, 02 January 2012 12:00 AM Written by

portlandia_blogEvery sketch show is a mixed bag with hits and misses, even "Portlandia" (10 p.m. Friday, followed by the second season premiere of "The Increasingly Poor Decision of Todd Margaret"), which spoofs hipster culture in a Pacific Northwest setting.

This week's season premiere episode, "Mixology," isn't very funny despite an Andy Samberg guest appearance.

But next week's episode, "One Moore Episode," is a better bet. It includes an Allergy Pride Parade (wheat, soy, peanuts and shellfish are all represented; I was disappointed my allergy to cats didn't get a shout-out).The highlight is a sketch about two newcomers to "Battlestar Galactica" whose devotion to the series quickly makes them housebound.

It's a must-watch sketch for "BSG" fans and includes several elements that should get devotees excited, especially if they know what series creator Ronald D. Moore looks like.

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They called the Music Machine one-hit wonders, and that was certainly true.  The West Coast band had exactly one hit single: their 1966 recording of "Talk Talk," still a prime example of 60's Garage Band rock that didn't even run two minutes.  It didn't have to. This was punk before the term existed.  The band's personality and visionary of course, was lead singer Sean Bonniwell, who died December 20 of lung cancer in Visalia, California.  He was 71.

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TV Q&A: 'Community,' 'Selling Spelling Manor' and 'Ruby'

Friday, 30 December 2011 12:00 AM Written by

For a link to headlines of recent TV news and views posts, click here.

TV Q&A with Rob Owen

Submit a question to TV Q&A by clicking here.

This week's TV Q&A (after the "Read more" jump below) responds to questions about “Community,” “Selling Spelling Manor” and “Ruby.” As always, thanks for reading, and keep the questions coming.
- Rob Owen, Post-Gazette TV writer

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Happy New Year

Thursday, 29 December 2011 10:24 AM Written by

Due to the holiday hustle, posts will be limited this week.  I’m running around the country, visiting family and extended family – some of whom don’t have the internet capabilities to handle “Star Wars: The Old Republic” (GASP!).

Speaking of which, I am still hard at work on that game to get a review out by the date mentioned in the post below.  Even though the Game Guy section is a bit barren this week, I still frequent Twitter where I can answer any questions you may have about “SWTOR.”  I really do answer all questions and respond to most comments.  You can follow me @GameGuyPGH.

So have a safe and enjoyable New Year and stay tuned next week for part one of my “Star Wars: The Old Republic” review.

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Book celebrates NBC's 'Today'

Thursday, 29 December 2011 12:00 AM Written by

today_book_cover_blogEven though I gave up on NBC's "Today" in favor of ABC's "Good Morning America" a few years ago, I can still understand the appeal of "America's First Family," as NBC ounce touted the "Today" show cast. For folks who still tune in each morning, there's a new book: "From Yesterday to Today: Seix Decades of America's Favorite Morning Show" ($30, Running Press).

Written by TV Guide business editor Stephen Battaglio, the coffee table-sized book has a foreword (sadly, spelled "foreward" on the cover) by "Today" anchor Matt Lauer and an introduction by "Today" executive producer Jim Bell.

So it's clear this could be more of a fan book than it is a warts-and-all history of the program, but the book actually gets into some of the show's less illustrious history.

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