The Glee Project, Season 2 so far

The Glee Project is off to a good start this summer. The contestants have a wide range of personalities and life experiences, yet after watching 3 episodes I don’t have the same familiarity as I did with the first season’s cast.

As in season 1, Individuality was the first episode’s  theme and the week’s video would be to “Born This Way.” I was just getting to know the 14 contestants and you know that one show is not enough to show your real potential and ability. Yet someone had to go and it was Maxfield, a country singer with charm. Compared with the Tyler, the transgender teen, and Alyn, a spitfire Muslim of Turkish descent, Maxfield didn’t inspire the same story possibilities for Glee. While that reason wasn’t stated, I think that was what it came down to for the first episode. The other two offer story possibilities that inspire Ryan Murphy so it seemed to early to let them go.

Apart from my thoughts on their talent, I do begin to get some definite preferences. Lily comes across as narcissistic and shallow. She lacks concern for others and is rather open about that. I wouldn’t miss her. Alyn has a charming vivacity. Nelli’s quiet, but that makes me think she’s got depth and potential. Tyler reminds me of Urkel from Family Matters. 

I was surprised to see Dani go home at the end of Dance-ability, but then again I wasn’t. She’s a talented, likeable performer, someone who’d make a good friend, but she doesn’t fit into the bold colors and emotions of Glee. To become a Gleek, Dani would have to distance herself from all her strengths and best traits, to morph into a caricature as I’m afraid we’re seeing Sam and Damien do.

I was quite surprised and sad to see that Taryn decided to leave the show in this episode. While talented, Taryn admitted she felt it was too much to live in the dorm and participate in this show. I can see how someone could feel that way and reality TV isn’t the only on ramp for a career in music. I wish we’d have gotten to see more of her, but she probably chose wisely.

Boss

If The West Wing offers the kind of politics, I dream of, Boss shows the kind of politics I fear we have, i.e. Tales from the Dark Side of Power, Greed and Lust. 

On my flight from Beijing I discovered Kelsey Grammer’s Boss, a high testosterone drama about a fictitious Chicago mayor trying to control city and Illinois politics while hiding his degenerative neurological disorder. Longtime mayor Tom Kane (Grammer) combines Richard Daley and King Lear. Kane’s wife Meredith is a cold-blooded daughter of the former mayor. His daughter has a character that I couldn’t buy. She appears to be a Presbyterian minister who runs a free medical clinic, uses heroine and has sex with her drug dealer. Her theology is quite severe and Biblically literal, yet she only lives out an isolated form of social justice. She seems to have no friends and the mentality of a schizophrenic. I found her character a set up for audience stimulation with little believability, though the actress is compelling.

His staff consists of a taciiturn chief of staff, who has thugs on speed dial and a blonde bombshell with a highly calibrated libido so she can up the show’s heat.

More intriguing characters are a reporter who’s sniffing around sensing that something’s wrong with the mayor’s health while also investigating corruption and wrong doing emanating from the mayor’s office. The Illinois governor and his up and coming challenger illustrate how the mayor is the most influential politician in the state.

I watched four episodes so I was pulled in despite my the female characters. I pretty much figure that the writers are going to fall short of Shakespeare in their ability to write about both genders.

exporting raymond

If cross-cultural endeavors interest you or if you’re an Everybody Loves Raymond fan, Exporting Raymond should tickle your funny bone. The documentary Exporting Raymond follows executive producer Phil Rosenthal to Moscow as he consults with the Russian team that plans to bring this down-to-earth American sitcom to an audience that loves over-the-top comedy, like the Russian versions of The Nanny or Married with Children.

Rosenthal’s witty and approachable. I empathized with him as he tried to convince the intense looking costume designer that Debra shouldn’t be dressed in white cashmere when she’s spent the day cleaning This formidable woman wouldn’t hear of it. Style was everything in her book.  When Rosenthal tried to figure out whether his driver really was in the hospital or whether he was lying and just on vacation, I smiled with recognition. Yep, one never knows what the real story is, just roll with it, Phil.

I found it all fascinating from the grim, decrepit studios to the stone faced execs — all very telling. I liked the documentary so much I watched the special features and deleted scenes.