Sunday, January 22, 2012

Recommendations of the Week [1/22/12]: Smash, Alcatraz & More

(Image courtesy of NBC)
Wow! This week went by fast, at least to me. Did it for you? And based on traffic to the blog, you enjoyed reading the Martin Luther King, Jr. quote and the Alcatraz prison photos that I took 10 years ago.

It's Sunday, so it's time for another of my Recommendations of the Week. These recommendations could be something that happened in the past week that I read, watched, participated in, etc., or something coming up in the following week. Feel free to leave your own recommendations in the comments section below.

Jeff Dodge's Recommendations of the Week [January 22]:

TV Shows:
Smash (Pilot Available on iTunes & On Demand Now; Premieres February 6, 10-11pm, NBC)
Alcatraz (Mondays, 9-10pm, FOX)

Starting this past Monday, the pilot for Smash became available to view on iTunes, Comcast On Demand and other outlets as well. I watched the pilot and immediately fell in love with this show. Forget February 6 when the show makes its primetime debut; I'm looking forward to February 13 for episode 2! There's been so much promotion so far, so I can't fathom how you wouldn't know what this show is about. But just in case you haven't, Smash is about putting on a Broadway musical about Marilyn Monroe, going from conception and casting to rehearsals and eventually to finally performing it for the public.

Smash has an extremely strong cast, including Katharine McPhee, Megan Hilty, Debra Messing and Anjelica Huston. I won't give a line by line account of each plot point because the show hasn't aired on TV yet. But this is what I will say. I know I've only seen one episode, but if this pilot is anything to go by, I love that they're not relying on the music too much, as Glee has unfortunately progressed to over the past couple years. Granted, Glee did start out as a character and story driven show. But anyways, the songs that were included were placed in just the right moments and weren't forced or out of place. Since the show is about putting on a musical, they placed the songs in the areas where they should be, such as during auditions or rehearsals. And that final number performed by McPhee and Hilty was exceptional; I was blown away by the song, the voices, production level and editing. Some TV critic online (I can't recall who it was) has seen episode 2 and said the continuation of this story doesn't disappoint at all. Can't wait!

I've already seen the pilot twice now, once by myself and once with my parents. And I don't think I'll be able to resist watching it again on February 6.

And by the way, starting on January 23, Smash will be available to view on and Hulu.

Now onto Alcatraz, the new J.J. Abrams show that debuted this past Monday. I came into this show with both excitement and trepidation. Excitement because it's J.J. Abrams combined with Alcatraz - should be a winning combo. Trepidation because I was worried that it would become too much like any other crime show, like Grimm did. After watching the 2-hour premiere, I did come out of it with excitement. Based on just pilots, Smash was probably better. There are areas where Alcatraz could improve. But the parts that excited me are what's making me want to continue watching. There were some shocking revelations and other things that came out of nowhere that just blew me away (including the second Alcatraz prison). If the show can continue doing that sort of thing, I might be in it for the long haul.

During some of the scenes where we could see familiar parts of Alcatraz, I got excited because I've been there in person as a tourist (have you seen the pictures I posted last week yet?). It was cool to see the outside of the Administrative Building since that's one of the pictures I took.

Kellie Pickler: 100 Proof (In Stores January 24)

If her previous two records are any indication, this new one, 100 Proof, is going to be just as fabulous. I've heard two songs so far from the album, "Unlock That Honky Tonk" and "Tough." Both fit Kellie Pickler's voice extremely well. Kellie seems to get more attention for her quirky personality, but when it comes down to it, she has one of the best voices in country music, I believe. She didn't have the best voice when she was on American Idol season 5, but she's been able to bounce back and truly grow as an artist in her career. I'm looking forward to 100 Proof, and I hope you are, too.

State of the Union Address (Live this Tuesday night, 8pm ET/5pm PT)

Every year, the President of the United States speaks before a joint session of Congress for the State of the Union address. Last year's was an interesting one, with the Republicans and Democrats sitting with members of the opposite party instead of separately to show a sense of unity after Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was shot in Tucson. Unfortunately, in the year since, things are back to normal with partisan gridlock. And now that we're in the middle of an election cycle, this year's could be interesting as well.

TV Watch Online (@TVWatchOnline)
Bieber Guy (@Bieber_Guy)

Jeff Dodge Blog:
Recommendations of the Week [January 15]
Quote of the Week: Martin Luther King, Jr. [January 17]
Photos of the Week: Alcatraz Prison [January 18]
American Idol 11 Premiere: The Best from Savannah/Pittsburgh Auditions

TV Watch Online BLOG:
Golden Globes 2012: My Predictions vs. Winners

Bieber Guy:
Review: My Worlds Acoustic

BuddyTV (Articles I've Written):
'Glee' to Go Jive Talkin' with Bee Gees Tribute
Exclusive Interview: 'White Collar's Marsha Thomason on the FBI, Cable TV and 'Lost'
'Glee' Casts Jeff Goldblum and Brian Stokes Mitchell as Rachel's Dads
Exclusive Interview: 'Royal Pains' Reshma Shetty on Season 3, Her Medical Background and Learning
'Survivor: One World': First Impression Awards

#1 Recommendation: Smash

Tomorrow (Monday, January 23), my next Bieber Guy review will be online over at my Bieber Guy blog. This week's review will go more in-depth with the single from Justin Bieber's My Worlds Acoustic, "Pray."

Follow me on Twitter @TheJeffDodge. If you have any questions, comments or suggestions, either tweet me, e-mail me or leave a comment below.

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