Tag Archives: This is Us

“This Is Us” continues to frustrate and entertain. Man dresses as his dog’s favorite toy for Halloween. And DeShaun Watson, he’s kind of a good quarterback, huh?

Editor’s Note: It’s Go Time! After nine months and much preparation by us, my wife is being induced Monday afternoon, and soon after our second son will be born. Needless to say, I’m going to be a little busy the next few days so there won’t be a blog post on Wednesday like there normally is. If all goes well, I will be back with a Good News Friday post this week (hint: It may be about the birth of my son). Keep us in your thoughts today, please. And may that epidural work wonders…

So I have written before about my love-hate relationship with the NBC show “This Is Us.” Now in its second season, I really enjoyed many parts of the first, from the fantastic acting of Sterling K. Brown and his biological dad, Ron Cephas Jones, to the surprisingly terrific performances by Mandy Moore and Milo (He’ll always be Jess from “Gilmore Girls” to me!) Ventimiglia.

But I also had lots of problems with the two other main characters, Kate and Kevin. They were both so one-dimensional and given crappy storylines, with Kate obsessed over her weight in every situation, and Kevin just a classic mimbo who’s beautiful to look at but is emotionally stunted and intelligence-challenged.

Still, there was so much good with the Randall storylines that I figured, by Season 2 they’d figure out how to get Kate and Kevin some interesting plotlines.

Well, we’re now five episodes through the new season, and I’m feeling the exact same way as I did before. I want to watch “The Randall Show,” because Brown and his wife’s stories are still fantastic, with the adoption of a troubled 12-year-old girl. And for the most part I’m liking the Jack and Rebecca stuff, because Moore is playing the hell out of this role, and the camping scenes last week with Jack and the boys were beautiful.

But… come on with these Kevin stories, please! He is such a wildly unsympathetic character, whiny and immature and now we’re supposed to care that he’s got a painkiller addiction along with other blocked images and feelings about his Dad dying? Here’s the thing: I want to care about Kevin, I want to root for him, I want to empathize, but I really feel like the show’s writers haven’t given us enough reason to root for him, enough reason to care. I just really, really can’t stand watching his scenes.

My other beef with this season is they’re harping so, so much again on how Jack died. It’s taken up like two full episodes, just teasing us and hinting and all that, and it’s going to be such a letdown whenever they finally tell us how he died because they’ve built it up so much.

The Kate stuff has gotten better, I think; we’re still forced to see everything about her through the prism of her weight, but at least they’ve given her a possible singing career, and now a pregnancy (Toby’s reaction to telling people in the restaurant last week, was fantastic.)

I really like most of this show. I want to love it. It’s just … a frustrating and delightful watch most weeks.

But hey, at least it ain’t boring.

**Next up today, it’s Halloween tomorrow, of course, and so I wonder how many of us would do what this guy did last year for the dog they love so much. I posted this last year but it’s so great I want to run it again: Watch this dog owner get an amazing reaction when he dresses up as his pooch’s favorite toy. Just fabulous.

**Finally today, a whole lot of crazy sports stuff happened over the weekend, including a scintillating World Series Game 5 Sunday night (really, Clayton Kershaw with a 4-0 lead in a huge game wasn’t a lock?), and some crazy college football comebacks (Ohio State came from way back to beat Penn State, which didn’t upset me given my feelings about the Nittany Lions), and my Jets being very different than what we expected (competitive and interesting) but still losing.

But I must write a few words about DeShaun Watson, who is really a terrific guy and one hell of a football player. This kid has had a phenomenal start to his rookie year in the NFL, and the fact that both the Jets and Browns, who desperately need QB’s, passed him up just boggles my mind.

Sunday, showing poise in the pocket, a cannon arm, and leadership qualities you can’t teach, was absolutely brilliant in the Texans’ 41-38 loss to Seattle. Watson threw for 402 yards and four TD’s, and ran for 67 yards as well.

This kid is special, and if he ever gets a good team around him… man, look out.

 

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Why I’m starting to get mad at “This Is Us,” which could be a great show. The University of Rochester is fed up with your shower habits. And the Portland pub that donates profits to charity

subway-thisisus

This is huge. Potentially the biggest political scandal in American history. So much still to be known, but man oh man, you could easily see how this leads to impeachment.

So glad the FBI decided not to tell America that it was investigating Trump/Russia ties, but we had to learn that Anthony Weiner had some Hillary emails on his computer…

OK, so I wrote a few months ago that “This is Us” was my favorite new show, and that it had the potential to be great, but it also could go down the tubes with a few wrong turns.

Well, call up Mapquest (look it up, kids!), but I fear the big hit on NBC has made a few too many lefts and not enough rights. Or something like that.

I haven’t seen last night’s episode yet (so there are no spoilers here), but I have a few big problems with the show, that I’m sure many of you share:

— First of all, Kate. Kate, Kate, Kate. I’ve heard of making a character one-dimensional, but this is ridiculous. Every single storyline involving Kate deals with her weight. It’s always, always about Kate’s struggle with her size. They’ve made this the entire story of her character, as if she has nothing else. It’s insulting that they’ve made her this unlikable person who has no other dimension to her. And now they’re putting her into this ridiculous love triangle with the douchebag at the weight-loss camp, and her fiance Toby (who I actually like)? Ugh.

— Then there’s Kevin, who is also completely unlikable. He’s cute and charming and a sort-of TV star, but the writers have given us no reason to root for him or like him. He’s as shallow as puddle of water, and he treats people badly. I’m kind of glad he keeps getting dumped by girls on the show.

— The best part of “This Is Us,” by far, is Randall and his family, and biological dad William. The acting is tremendous, the storylines interesting, and we have reason to care about and like these characters. I’d watch an entire show just about them.

— I also think Mandy Moore, and I can’t believe I’m typing this, is one hell of an actress. Her scenes are gorgeous, she has great chemistry with Milo Ventimiglia, and she shows the strength and fragility of Rebecca in every scene. I know she’s not going to win an Emmy or anything, but I’m stunned at how good she is.

— Finally, OK, maybe this is a little thing, but did you see last week’s episode with Kevin trying to win back his ex-wife Sophie? The scenes in the New York City subway (above) were the most unrealistic I’ve ever seen on a non-sci-fi show, ever.

Has anyone involved with the show ever been on a NYC subway? They don’t have carpeting, there’s always a few people standing,, and most of all, when a derailment delay happens and then finally after 20 minutes the subway starts moving again, people do NOT stand up and cheer wildly like they did on this episode!!! Man that pissed me off.

OK I think I’m done ranting. Seriously, “This Is Us” has so much potential; it’s warm, emotional and beautifully shot. But please, for the love of God, do something with Kate and Kevin’s characters.

**Alrighty, next up, the University of Rochester is a little fed up with the behavior of some of its male students in the dorm room showers. So they posted this stern note which I think we can all agree with:

rochester-masturbationwarningThat’s classic. My favorite part is at the end, the “Thank you for your cooperation.” Really classes it up a little, doesn’t it?

(Update: Smart reader Mark M. has pointed me to this, showing that the sign is actually a fake, and that lots of these have popped up around colleges. Ah, well. It’s still funny.)

**Finally today, I love this story and not just because I visited Portland last summer and found it to be awesome.

The Oregon Public House bar in Portland is maybe the first non-profit pub in America. Customers walk in to the place, order their drink, order their food, then pick a charity they’d like the profits from their meal to go to.

The owners swap out charities every month, and so far have given away more than $100,000 to worthy causes.

Pretty freaking awesome.

 

A new fall TV post! I’m excited about the potential of “Pitch.” I also kinda sorta like “This is Us.” And a new way for writers to make money (but only after they’re dead)

PITCH: L-R: Dan Lauria, Mark-Paul Gosselaar and Kylie Bunbury in PITCH coming soon to FOX. ©2016 Fox Broadcasting Co. Cr: Ray Mickshaw / FOX

So much I could say about Monday’s wildly entertaining Presidential debate, but it’s Wednesday and I’m sure you’ve heard it all already. Truly jaw-dropping how much Donald Trump lied, and how utterly clueless he was about, well, all issues that were discussed, and just crazy how he thought bragging about not paying taxes would win him votes. Because, you know, America loves a cheater. If you want to hear my thoughts as they were unfolding in real-time, check out my Twitter feed here.

So it’s fall, which means lots of new TV shows, most of which you and I don’t have time to watch, and it seems like every year there’s more and more good stuff on more and more networks and then there’s new streaming content on Amazon and Hulu and Netflix and it’s just all so exhausting to think about.

So the wife and I are trying to be judicious in what new stuff we watch. We kinda, sorta liked the new Pamela Adlon show “Better Things,” and definitely are interested in the new Sarah Jessica Parker HBO show “Divorce” starting next week.

So far I’ve gotten to see two of the new shows I was most excited about, and I’d say 1.5 of them were good. Let me explain.

First, I was surprised at how much I liked “Pitch,” which is on FOX on Thursday nights. The concept is simple: First-ever female pitcher makes it to the major leagues, endures sexism and tough competition, goes through highs and lows, and is managed on the San Diego Padres by Kevin Arnold’s Dad (sorry, his real name is Dan Lauria, but he’ll always be Jack Arnold from ‘The Wonder Years” to me.)

The pilot episode was actually really good. The actress playing the female pitcher, Kylie Bunbury, is strong. Mark-Paul Gosselaar seems very well cast as the cocky All-Star catcher, and believe it or not, most of the baseball scenes seemed realistic (the owner insinuating he’d fire the manager because he wants “the girl” sent back to the minors was ridiculous, and also the dialogue written for real-life FOX announcers Joe Buck and John Smoltz was beyond cringe-worthy. Just horrendous.)

There are a lot of real issues that the writers can mine with “Pitch,” leaving aside there’s no way a woman pitcher with just a screwball could make the majors. I have high hopes this show will continue be good.

**Meanwhile, “This is Us” on NBC is exactly the kind of show I should love. It has so many of the same elements of “Parenthood,” a show I loved despite it pissing me off sometimes. You’ve got generations of families, you’ve got interesting characters, you’ve got heart-tugging stuff like a son reuniting with his (maybe) dying biological father after decades of hating him from afar. The pilot, for the first 45 minutes, despite hammering me over the head with emotion (one reviewer hit it perfectly: “This is Us” is like getting hit over the head with a pillow of tears) was really compelling.

I was into it. I was digging it. The scene with the doctor (Gerald McRaney) talking to the new dad who lost one of the three triplets in childbirth was just gorgeous.

And then … they hit us with the gimmick. (SPOILER ALERT. BUT COME ON, THE SHOW AIRED 8 DAYS AGO, I THINK I’M SAFE HERE, RIGHT?) 

It turns out the beautiful couple having triplets at the hospital throughout the pilot episode are not doing it in 2016. They’re doing it in 1979, and the seemingly separate adults we’ve also been watching are all brother and sister, with one brother being the abandoned African-American baby who yells at his bio dad in this episode, 36 years later.

I was gobsmacked by this, as was my wife. I completely understand why creator Dan Fogelman threw this in; now we get to watch two shows in one develop, as the new parents (Mandy Moore and Milo Ventimiglia) raise three kids, one of whom isn’t theirs genetically, while as adults, the kids battle their own problems.

I’m just not sure “This is Us” can pull this off. I’m not sure the going back and forth between 1979 and 2016 is going to work, and I’m not sure the emotional overload won’t be too exhausting. I really, really want to like this show. I just hope it doesn’t play tricks on the audience all the time just to keep us interested.

trumancapote-ashes

**Finally today, there’s some hope for struggling freelance writers and journalists who are hoping to pay their bills. Don’t worry about leaving money to your family, your ashes are quite valuable once you’re dead!

Check this out: Someone bought the ashes of Truman Capote, the famous writer of “In Cold Blood” and “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” for $43,750 at an auction last week.

According to this story, they were kept in a carved Japanese wooden box, the ashes belonged to the late Joanne Carson, wife of the former Tonight Show host Johnny Carson.

I’m brimming with questions: Why would anyone want a writer’s ashes? Was the anonymous collector who bought them a writer themselves, and planning to sprinkle them on his/her keyboard for inspiration? And most importantly, I’m no Truman Capote, but I did once write cover stories for SLAM and Maxim magazines. Think my ashes could fetch 40 bucks?