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Bunheads; Season 1
Topic Started: Jun 13 2012, 12:06 AM (2,373 Views)
Dax
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(ABC Family) - I don't watch anything on ABC Family. I blind-bought the first season of Pretty Little Liars for $10 last Black Friday, but it'll probably be a long time before I can get around to watching it...

http://www.hitfix.com/whats-alan-watching/review-abc-familys-bunheads-a-return-to-form-for-amy-sherman-palladino
http://tvline.com/2012/06/10/bunheads-gilmore-girls-preview/

Sutton Foster -- Michelle Simms
Kaitlyn Jenkins -- Boo Jordan
Julia Goldani-Telles -- Sasha Torres
Bailey Buntain -- Ginny Thompson
Emma Dumont -- Melanie Segal
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Kelly Bishop -- Fanny Flowers

I enjoyed the pilot. This has a lot of potential.

Foster is super-attractive, and handles the fast talking well.

I adore Ms. Bishop. Love her voice, love the way she delivers lines. She's gold.

Agree with several of Sepinwall's misgivings or instances of guarded optimism, but I'm willing to lend AS-P a great deal of 'trust'.

Fun - Rose Abdoo (Gypsy on GG) is the owner of Sparkles, the dress shop. And I'm sure there will be more familiar faces along the way...

Very charming. If you liked Gilmore Girls...

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KMInfinity
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Did I miss this? I meant to watch it.

ETA - Pilot repeats at 11 PM SATURday...recording now!
Edited by KMInfinity, Jun 13 2012, 01:05 AM.
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Dax
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That's all? Figured there'd be more re-airs than that...

Anyway, premieres are Monday nights...
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KMInfinity
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Maybe it repeats during off-hours? My "day forwarding" was from primetime Tues to Wed to Thurs etc (it leaps in 24 hour increments) so I only saw 8-11.
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blosslover
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It was on more than once on Monday after it aired. ABCFamily is bad when it comes to replays of their original series.
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KMInfinity
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I really really enjoyed this. I am hoping it has a nice long run with lots of growth. ASP sees the world in a way that connects with me. The speech Hubbell made at dinner to convince Michelle to marry him , then the speech on the balcony when she admitted she didn't love him... The ASP fast talking quips and comments style carries over from GG but somehow (Michelle is a more 'knocked about' character?) the show seems to have a more mature (i.e. sophisticated) tone? I won't visit hitfix....could someone pretty please C&P from Sepinwall?

I am in love with Hubbell and am sad he (seems to be) gone. I understand the creative choice there, but I was actually looking forward to the dynamic of the three of them, plus a very long term storyline with Michelle "not in love with you" falling in love.

I agree Bishop is terrific. She looks younger here.

Is Sasha the ballerina who is sulky? She really looks like Alexis Bledel I think.

I get the true story will be the dance school, I know I'll love that, but they could have handled both I think.
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KMInfinity
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In case the shoutbox speeds up---the pilot repeats Monday the 18th at 6 PM with a new episode at 9.
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Dax
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Yeah, I was looking forward to the marriage becoming 'real'... agree with Sasha looking Rory-ish.

-
Alan:

"Gilmore Girls" and "The West Wing" debuted a year apart from one another, and they've always been linked in my mind: Two shows with machine gun banter, two shows that at their best deftly balanced laughs and heartache, two shows with creators — Amy Sherman-Palladino for "Gilmore Girls," Aaron Sorkin for "West Wing" — whose voices were unmistakable from anyone else's on television.

Those two are also linked in my mind because both series continued without their creators — and were never the same without them — and because their follow-up series (Sherman-Palladino's leaden "The Return of Jezebel James" and Sorkin's self-important "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip") featured their styles applied to either formats (the traditional sitcom style of "Jezebel James") or subjects (topical sketch comedy for "Studio 60") for which they were ill-suited.

And now Sherman-Palladino and Sorkin are linked yet again because both are returning to television this month with new shows where the mission statement seems to be "Here is this thing everybody loved once upon a time, wrapped in a slightly different package."

For Sorkin, it's "The Newsroom," a more serious spin on "Sports Night" that we'll talk about closer to its June 24 premiere. For Sherman-Palladino, it's "Bunheads," a new dramedy that premieres Monday night at 9 on ABC Family. If it's not exactly "Gilmore Girls 2: Acoustic Boogaloo," it's close enough to be reassuring — and, on occasion, distracting.

With Lauren Graham otherwise employed by "Parenthood" (and Alexis Bledel both too young and too busy appearing in Pete Campbell's fantasies), the tall, quippy, self-deprecating heroine slot is filled by Tony winner Sutton Foster as Michelle, a classically-trained dancer nearing her expiration date while she works as a Las Vegas showgirl.

"If he says 'no' in under three seconds," she laments after a humiliating non-audition, "it's not 'No, because you're so young and hot,' it's 'No, because you're starting to look like an IHOP cashier.'"

Into her lonely, disappointing life comes Hubbell (Alan Ruck), a soft-spoken traveling salesman who dotes on Michelle during his periodic trips to Vegas, and who surprises both of them by convincing her to marry him and move into his house in a small coastal California town called Paradise.

Hubbell leaves out a few key details, though. Paradise is so sleepy that when Michelle asks some local teenagers what they do for fun at night, one tells her, "Sometimes, Mr. Feldstein forgets to lock the library door, and we go in there." And his beautiful home overlooking the ocean already has a second occupant: Hubbell's mother Fanny, played by "Gilmore Girls" alum Kelly Bishop. (Herself a former Tony winner for "A Chorus Line." ) It's a character who has Emily Gilmore's imperious demeanor without her aristocratic bloodlines, and it's obvious that Sherman-Palladino relishes the chance to have her words come out of Bishop's mouth again.

Fanny runs a dance studio next door to the house, which gives Michelle both an employment opportunity and an opportunity for her to interact with the girls who study there. (This is ABC Family, after all.)

Between the obvious Michelle/Lorelai Gilmore parallels, Bishop's presence, the strumming guitar transitions between scenes and even the dance studio (which was a fixture in the fictional "Gilmore Girls" town of Stars Hollow), "Bunheads" is clearly Sherman-Palladino retreating to her comfort zone. (And if you dwell on it too long, you'll get confused about why Emily is doing Miss Patty's job, or why Lorelai looks different.) But writing this kind of show turns out to be like riding a bike for Sherman-Palladino, and she didn't forget how to do it during her time making "Jezebel James" and several unsold series.

Foster picks up the rhythms of Sherman-Palladino's dialogue — "I'm like Godzilla! Men run from me! All nationalities! Not just Japanese men!" — quickly, and is unsurprisingly excellent in the dance studio scenes, even when she's just role-playing with the girls to show them what a real Broadway audition might be like. Some of the best theater actors in the business come across as too big and broad when they give television a try, but Foster is utterly human, completely charming and has instant comic chemistry with Bishop. (And though Ruck is likable as always, it's no surprise that, once Michelle arrives in Paradise, the show's interest tilts entirely in favor of how she gets along with her new mother-in-law.)

I have two concerns about the pilot, which is the only episode ABC Family sent out for review. (The pilot's been available online in several places already; I'll do my best to step lightly in the next paragraph, but if you haven't watched yet and want to go in cold tonight, you may want to skip to the one after.)

First, there's a plot development late in the pilot that seems tonally at odds with everything that's happened to that point. It suggests either a very different kind of series going forward, or one that's going to have to work very hard to get back to the light quality of the earlier scenes.

The second isn't an issue with the show itself so much as it is with the channel it airs on. "Bunheads" isn't as off-brand as my all-time favorite ABC Family show, the comic book action-comedy "The Middleman," which was delightful and had absolutely no business being where it was. But on a channel where the dramas overwhelmingly weight their stories in favor of the teen characters — even "Switched at Birth," my favorite of their current series, is at best 60/40 kids/adults, and probably 70/30 — how will the target audience react to a pilot where the 90 percent of the screentime (maybe more) goes to a character in her 30s and another in her 60s? This is a premise pilot, and a lot of time has to be spent getting Michelle to Paradise and setting up the conflicts she has with Fanny, but if the plan is to feature the four young women in the cast — Kaitlyn Jenkins, Julia Goldani Telles, Bailey Buntain and Emma Dumont — more going forward, then those characters are going to have to become a lot more interesting in a hurry to justify the time spent away from Foster and Bishop.

And if that's not the plan — if the dance studio and its students are just a Trojan horse to get a more adult show onto a teen-oriented channel — then ABC Family is stepping way out of its comfort zone at the same time Sherman-Palladino is happily, entertainingly stepping back into the middle of hers.

.......... premiere review .......

I posted my review of ABC Family's "Bunheads" on Saturday morning, and now that the pilot has aired, I want to talk specifically about a couple of things, just as soon as I develop a dirty ventriliquist act...

So, no, I was not at all expecting the show to bump off poor Alan Ruck at the end of the pilot.(*) I assumed from both the structure of the pilot and Amy Sherman-Palladino's fondness for writing about relationships between smart, strong-willed women that the Hubbell character would wind up marginalized, but I figured it would be within the context of his career — that he would be on the road most of the time, and Ruck could pop in for a cameo every 5 or 6 episodes. Instead, Hubbell goes off the road while out looking for his mom and his new wife, and suddenly there's a tragedy to exponentially increase the tensions between the two women.

(*) I should note, by the way, that while virtually everyone I know who has seen the pilot in advance took the final scene to be Truly coming to tell Fanny that Hubbell died, today Fienberg raised the notion to me of Hubbell merely being in a coma. I don't necessarily see that, but I'm at least mentioning it here so that if he's proven right next week, he gets to gloat.

I just wonder if that's too much tension. "Gilmore Girls" balanced serious moments and funny ones, but we weren't really dealing with matters of life and death. Whatever relationship these two women wind up having will be forever colored by the loss of Hubbell on the day they met, and even if Fanny doesn't outright blame Michelle for it — it was her idea to go to the bar (and without telling Hubbell), after all — I imagine it will be hard to plausibly depict things as anything but fraught and uncomfortable for quite some time.

Also, as discussed briefly in the review, what little we saw of the four ballet students didn't exactly thrill me at the possibility of seeing more of them. They were obviously a low priority in this pilot, and we know that Sherman-Palladino can write interesting, multi-dimensional teen characters. Bishop is technically a guest star (though it seems to be one of those situations like Heather Locklear on "Melrose Place" situations where it's just a matter of what the contract says), so I imagine we're going to be seeing as much, if not more, of Michelle dealing with the girls as Michelle dealing with Fanny going forward. Foster was great in the fake audition scene, but there's a lot of work to be done with the girls themselves.

What did everybody else think? If you're a "Gilmore Girls" fan, was it too much like the old show, or did you appreciate all the flashbacks it gave you? If you're a Sutton Foster fan, do you feel this is a good vehicle for her? And if you're a regular ABC Family viewer, do you feel like this show fits in with the rest of the original programming lineup?
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blosslover
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I liked the pilot episode, but I wasn't happy about the situation with Hubbell dying. They could have kept him alive, though out of town a lot due to his work owning a shoe company.

The Godzilla mention was odd, though it was an inside joke of sorts as Matthew Broderick was in the version that Alan Ruck was quoting. Ferris Lives!
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KMInfinity
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Dax thanks for C&P'ing the review.

Well, I hope it is indeed a coma, as that leaves hope for the "falling in love" possibility. It was set up so well....the speech about Godzilla was awesome because he took that "Run...Run..." and made it about Godzilla and the cave and the babies and we saw Godzilla's POV so perfectly....which meant he sees her so perfectly...

But I suppose a coma would be too heavy to write around for an ABC Family show?

I disagree a lot with Sepinwall that the four girls were too minimal. I have a strong sense of three of them already, and can easily see how they can/will play into the dynamic with Michelle and Fanny.
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Dax
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I agree with him that the Michelle/Fanny relationship is MORE interesting... but don't share his worry, really, that the four girls won't measure up. There's potential there.

I've seen that Chris Eigeman (Lorelai's Digger - I like him) is going to be in one at some point...
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Dax
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Loved #2.

Scene with Rico the bartender (Gregg Henry - Mitchum Huntzberger on GG - that's three...) was hilarious. Also like Dendrie Taylor (Luann from SOA) as his wife. And Ellen Greene as one of Fanny's eccentric friends...

AS-P's doing a fine job of building a world I'm happy to spend a lot of time in...



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KMInfinity
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I loved the bar scene, and everything from the scene when Fanny breaks down and admits to Michelle that her heart was broken to the end. Before that though I thought the tone was too "off" - dark but not 'real' somehow, especially the scenes with the girls and the funeral planning. Some of the death jokes were leaden and the whole gag about no one wanting to say Hubbell actually died was just annoying, not funny to me at all.
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Dax
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Yeah, some of the girls' stuff was awkward and not-funny-though-it-was-meant-to-be. They don't all have the rhythms down yet (of course, her dialogue isn't super-easy to perform).

But I can't say I was 'annoyed', really... the highs definitely covered up the lows for me.

Risky tone (I'll agree it didn't work consistently). Sad/funny is hard, but AS-P, Foster, and Bishop did it really well...
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KMInfinity
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I just realized, while skimming Bunheads news and reviews, that Stacey Oristano (Truly) was Billy Riggin's wife on Friday Night Lights. Wow!
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Dax
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I didn't watch FNL. 'Someday'...
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KMInfinity
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oooh, Dax! Someday soon!

Anyway, the general comments about Bunheads around the 'net seem mostly positive. The big question seems to be related to the poor acting of the girls, attributed to the following:

*The priority was to cast dancers, not actors.
*ASP's writing was indeed clunky with the 'black comedy' tone falling flat in the girls' scenes
*ASP's dialog--her greatest strength but also her greatest weakness as she expects the actors to rise to her language and doesn't write 'for the actors.' I never realized that Bledel was weak in crying scenes, yet ASP never 'wrote around' that issue. Also, Bledel hired a dialog coach and speech therapist to get her through the pace of the scripts. So these young girls have a steep learning curve - ASP won't cut them slack and 'write down' while they get up to speed, literally.

I think I most agree with those observations.
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Dax
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Do you want Sepinwall's review on #2? (He was mostly positive, but many of those commenting after are not with him).

The girls will probably get better. Those on GG did, for sure (although Liza Weil was the strongest out of the gate).

Sepinwall was critical of Bledel on MM, but I liked her (and not just 'cuz she was all hot and sexy...).

Bledel is dating Vincent Kartheiser now, apparently. Huh.
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KMInfinity
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lolol.... Really, Rory and Pete.

I always liked Bledel as Rory and thought she was a very natural teen. So if she was weak in areas, I never noticed it.

I read a bunch of stuff on #2, so I'm good. Unless there's some particular insight...

ETA... The majority at TWoP are mostly pleased and want to wait until the 'post-Hubbell' set-up is done and the show establishes a groove before condemning or rejecting.
Edited by KMInfinity, Jun 20 2012, 03:31 PM.
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Dax
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Nah, nothing essential (in his #2 review).

I always liked Bledel, too, found her very natural, and just absolutely perfect with Graham. But I do think she improved from the earliest episodes, found the rhythm as it went along... (this isn't harsh criticism - I think most of the Buffy kids got a lot better further in, too).

Aside: Ray Romano is doing a Parenthood arc with Graham. Cool.

Yeah, it's too soon to issue an absolute judgment on Bunheads because we're still in set-up mode - this isn't 'the show' yet, that we're seeing. But... I don't know. I DO feel pretty safe in saying 'I love it' already. Bishop's breakdown... Foster (not everybody could convincingly play 'Lorelai' - but... she's pretty perfect -- never having seen her any of her Broadway work, she's Coco-from-Flight of the Conchords to me), that very funny first scene with Rico at the bar... there's a tremendous comfort in hearing AS-P dialogue again. And hey, nothing wrong with a little ballet...

(The Return of Jezebel James didn't work - though I love Parker Posey AND Lauren Ambrose - it was the studio audience/laugh track thing... wrong venue).

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KMInfinity
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I never saw Jezebel James.

Cool that Romano is doing a Parenthood arc. He really showed some chops with Men of a Certain Age.
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Dax
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JJ wasn't TERRIBLE, but it wasn't very good, either. It didn't work. Epguides is telling me only three of seven aired (my memory would have said four, but that's wrong).

I didn't watch Men of a Certain Age, but only heard good things about it.
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shelle_cr
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I agree re Alexis on GG. She got so much better later, but as Dax say, it's not intended as criticism.

The second eppy was good. I want to get to number 6 or 7 quickly as I hope the show will find itslef by then.

PS: LOL at 'Rory' and 'Pete' :) I wish them all the best, together or not, it's just funny somehow. I read a comment saying their kids would have the blueest eyes ever and had to laugh too.
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Dax
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News I had been hoping for - http://tvline.com/2012/06/25/sean-gunn-bunhead/
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KMInfinity
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Monday's episode was weak, imo. Lots of stuff I disliked or thought didn't work at all. I'm still not sure what I think about the final scenes.
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Dax
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http://www.salon.com/2012/07/29/amy_sherman_palladino_tvs_funniest_woman/
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KMInfinity
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Great article.

I really liked last nite's episode "What's Your Damage?" and I was prepared to be annoyed that kelly Bishop was again awol. Really strong character development starting to gel with the girls, and Sutton continues to make Michelle just awesome. I'm also starting to look forward to the dance sequences as a commentary on the show, rather than as a sideline that's shoehorned in. (I am NOT a dance fan in any form. I think I'm missing the move-gene. Sitting for hours and reading has been my MO too long.) The minor characters are also strengthening. Loved seeing "Terry" from TB.

I hope that line from the article about 'how long there is for exploring' is - a long time, a couple seasons at least.
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Dax
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I haven't watched last night's yet, but yeah, that interview was a great, fun read. She's so cool.

I like that the closing Sasha dance last week was because they were a wee bit short on time (as unlikely as that seemed from a 77 page script).

I will be really disappointed if they don't get a renewal. This season is only ten, so we're down to three left.

>> Loved seeing "Terry" from TB.

He's great, but here we should think of him as Zach from GG.
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KMInfinity
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:bricks:

I actually forgot Alien Hep.
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Dax
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Last night's was good.

Additional Gilmore alum - Jackson Douglas (Jackson, and Alex Borstein's husband) directed last night's episode.

Boo's Mom Nanette reminds me of Sookie (in spirit and mannerisms as well as appearance).

(Meaning Melissa McCarthy, of course, and not Anna Paquin)
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