Peanuts and Popcorn

Pictured L-R, Zoe Lister Jones as Jen, Colin Hanks as Greg, James Brolin as John, Giselle Eisenberg as Sophia, Betsy Brandt as Heather, Dan Bakkedahl as Tim, Niall Cunningham as Tyler, Holly Barrett as Samantha, Thomas Sadoski as Matt and Diane Wiest as Joan, shown. Photo: Neil Jacobs/CBS

Pictured L-R, Zoe Lister Jones as Jen, Colin Hanks as Greg, James Brolin as John, Giselle Eisenberg as Sophia, Betsy Brandt as Heather, Dan Bakkedahl as Tim, Niall Cunningham as Tyler, Holly Barrett as Samantha, Thomas Sadoski as Matt and Diane Wiest as Joan, shown. (Photo: Neil Jacobs/CBS)

The new CBS comedy, Life in Pieces, is such a sad disaster. Clearly trying to come up with their own version of Modern Family, Life in Pieces falls short on many levels, which is very sad given that it features an excellent cast but also weak and tasteless writing. When watching the pilot you can’t help to think to yourself how much better this show could have been.

The show partially gets its name from that fact that each half hour episode is divided up into four short stories about one large family. The cast includes:

Patriarch and matriarch of the family: John (James Brolin) and Joan (Dianne Wiest)
Oldest sister and her family: Heather (Betsy Brandt) and husband Tim (Dan Bakkedahl) and their three children: Tyler (Niall Cunningham), Samantha (Holly J. Barrett) and Sophia (Giselle Eisenberg).
Middle brother and his girlfriend: Matt (Thomas Sadoski) and Colleen (Angelique Cabral)
Youngest Brother and his wife: Greg (Colin Hanks) and Jen (Zoe Lister-Jones)

Though the pilot episode has a few promising moments, it all goes downhill pretty quickly. As each story passes, you hope that the next one gets better. It doesn’t. Remarkably, a show about family managed to weave in the subject of sex in each of the four stories. Now, I don’t have a problem with a show talking about sex in general, especially if the talk is between husband and wife, but in most cases with the pilot, the scenarios and talk were crude and tasteless.

The first story features dating couple Matt and Colleen looking for a place to have sex. She lives with her emotionally unhinged ex-fiancé and he lives with his parents.

The second story deals with Greg and Jen dealing with being parents for the first time. Like most parents, they are overwhelmed and Jen is overly concerned with what the baby did to her body.

The third story deals with Heather and Tim delivering their son to visit a college. Tim tells Tyler about his sex life. Then, back at the hotel, fearing the empty nest syndrome, Heather tells Tim that she wants to have another baby. Right there by the ice machine. There is also some discussion on how the parents have lied to their youngest daughter about the reality of Santa Claus. This is supposed to be adorable, but instead it’s just lame.

Finally, the fourth story comes. It’s John’s birthday and he thought it would be great to hold a mock funeral for the occasion. It seems that it will be clear of any sex talk, but we’re not safe here either.

The show tries hard to take a moment of two for sentimentality, but even that feels off. That’s the best way to describe the show – it just feels “off.” Though the show does deliver a few great lines, many fall flat. In contrast, what makes other family-centered shows like The Middle and Modern Family so likeable is that we can relate to them. Life in Pieces certainly covers themes that we can all relate to, and like the other shows mentioned, creates unrealistic scenarios, but without the skilled writing that brings a balance of heart and humor.

It’s possible that the next episode could be better, but with a title like “Interupts Date Breast Movin,” it is doubtful. Maybe if CBS scraps the current concept and re-builds the show, it might be worth watching.

Life in Pieces airs on Mondays at 8:30 p.m. on CBS.

Andy Sandberg and Seth Myers honor  Lorne Michaels, with a “World’s Best Boss” coffee mug during the 67th Annual Emmy Awards. (FOX)

Andy Sandberg and Seth Myers honor Lorne Michaels, with a “World’s Best Boss” coffee mug during the 67th Annual Emmy Awards. (

Last year, comedian Tracy Morgan had gone through a serious car wreck with his recovery questionable. At the Emmy award show, late night host Jimmy Kimmel gave a short mention to the comic while presenting the Emmy for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series saying “We’ll see you next year Tracy Morgan.” This year, as a surprise to many, Tracy Morgan walked on stage to announce the nominees for this year’s Outstanding Drama Series and received a standing ovation at the same time.

That was one of tonight’s better highlights during the Emmy Awards presentation on FOX. Others included John Hamm’s humble speech for winning Outstanding Lead Actor for a Drama Series after he chose to climb on stage instead of using the stairs. This was a nod to Tina Fey who did the same thing a few years ago and Amy Poehler and was the one who read the list of nominees. Uzo Aduba, who won for Outstanding Supporting Actress for Orange Is The New Black, gave a heartfelt thank you to her family as well as her sister who she called her best friend. Andy Sandberg and Seth Myers took a few minutes to honor their former Saturday Night Live boss, Lorne Michaels, with a “Best Boss Ever” coffee mug. And FOX should have received an award for completing the live special within three hours!

The 67th Emmy Awards started well with a song-filled spoof with host Andy Samberg going underground in a bunker not to return until he had seen every episode and of every show that was up for an award. Why Samberg is no Billy Crystal, he did a decent job. Then he came out to do his opening monologue. Ugh. While he did get in a few good jokes, there were too many cringe-inducing ones with shots of those in the audience looking bewildered.

The huge winner of the night belonged to just about everyone involved in the making the limited series/movie, Olive Kitteridge, which won every award in its category except for supporting actress, which went to Regina King for American Crime. Both Veep and Game of Thrones won four awards each (incidentally, Game of Thrones was nominated for 24 awards this year which makes it 83 nominations total to date for those keeping track) with Transparent coming in third with three wins.
And this year’s winners are:

dddd (FOX)

John Ham and Viola Davis (

Drama Series: Game of Thrones
Lead Actor, Drama: Jon Hamm, Mad Men
Lead Actress, Drama: Viola Davis, How to Get Away with Murder
Supporting Actor, Drama: Peter Dinklage, Game of Thrones
Supporting Actress, Drama: Uzo Aduba, Orange Is The New Black
Guest Actor, Drama: Reg E. Cathey, House of Cards
Guest Actress, Drama: Margo Martindale, The Americans
Writing For A Drama Series: David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, Game of Thrones
Directing For A Drama Series: David Nutter, Game of Thrones

Jeffrey Tambor and Julia Louis-Dreyfus (

Jeffrey Tambor and Julia Louis-Dreyfus (

Comedy Series: Veep
Lead Actor, Comedy: Jeffrey Tambor, Transparent
Lead Actress, Comedy: Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Veep
Supporting Actor, Comedy: Tony Hale, Veep
Supporting Actress, Comedy: Allison Janney, Mom
Guest Actor, Comedy: Bradley Whitford, Transparent
Guest Actress, Comedy: Joan Cusack, Shameless
Writing For A Comedy Series: Veep
Directing For A Comedy Series: Jill Soloway, Transparent



Host For A Reality Or Reality-Competition Program: Jane Lynch, Hollywood Game Night
Structured Reality Program: Shark Tank
Unstructured Reality Program: Deadliest Catch
Reality-Competition Program: The Voice
Writing For A Variety Series: The Daily Show With Jon Stewart
Writing For A Variety Special: Louis C.K.: Live At The Comedy Store

Jane Lynch who won Best Host for Hollywood Game Night (

Jane Lynch who won Best Host for Hollywood Game Night (

Variety Talk Series: The Daily Show With Jon Stewart
Directing For A Variety Series: Chuck O’Niel, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart
Directing for a Variety Special: Don Roy King, The Saturday Night Live 40th Anniversary Special
Variety Special: The Saturday Night Live 40th Anniversary Special
Variety Sketch Series: Inside Amy Schumer

Richard Jenkins and Frances McDormand (

Frances McDormand and Richard Jenkins (

Limited Series: Olive Kitteridge
Lead Actor In A Limited Series Or A Movie: Richard Jenkins, Olive Kitteridge
Lead Actress In A Limited Series Or A Movie: Frances McDormand, Olive Kitteridge
Supporting Actor In A Limited Series Or A Movie: Richard Jenkins, Olive Kitteridge
Supporting Actress In A Limited Series Or A Movie: Regina King, American Crime
Directing For A Limited Series, Movie Or A Dramatic Special: Lisa Cholodenko, Olive Kitteridge
Writing For A Limited Series, Movie Or A Dramatic Special: Jane Anderson, Olive Kitteridge
Television Movie: Bessie

Neil Patrick and crew during the finale of the first episode of Best Time Ever with Neil Patrick Harris. (NBC)

Neil Patrick and crew during the finale of the first episode of Best Time Ever with Neil Patrick Harris. (NBC)

NBC finally unveiled its new variety show, Best Time Ever with Neil Patrick Harris, which is based on a popular British TV show, Ant & Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway. If you missed the spectacle, the show is presented live with bits, (like hidden camera stunts), recorded earlier. It’s sort of a mix of talk show, comedy, game show and more.

So, what it the “best time ever?” Surprisingly, it wasn’t bad. It was uneven at times with some moments that didn’t really go over. Fortunately, for the most part, the show was quickly paced, so if you weren’t crazy about one segment, another came rushing by quickly.

First gimmick for the new show: a celebrity announcer. For the opening show, it was actress Reese Witherspoon, who was a cute as ever. There was a segment where people from home could sing a karaoke song for a change to win some money along with special guest Gloria Gaynor. Harris interviewed a couple who had just gotten married and as it turns out, he was right there with them and they didn’t even know it. There was pretty good prank that Harris pulled on the judges of the TV show, The Voice. Harris and Witherspoon both climbed a tall tower and then then rode a zip cord down back to the bottom. And Harris did a mini trivia gameshow with a member in the audience who won a great prize. How they crammed all that in one hour was quite a feat.

Reese Witherspoon was the guest announcer.

Reese Witherspoon was the guest announcer.

But not every element worked. Harris interacted occasionally with a “mini me” version of himself, Carrot Top the comedian showed up for no apparent reason and Nicole Scherzinger showed up to lip sync in the audience and to take over some of the announcing duties. While she is likable, her appearance was just kind of clunky and seemed a little too impressed with herself. Finally, the “finale” of the night was just odd with some weak magic tricks, men jumping around on pogo sticks and some bartenders shaking up fake drinks.

Harris shared with this couple how involved he was with their wedding plans.

Harris shared with this couple how involved he was with their wedding plans.

Most of the flaws can be forgiven as this was the first show and they may be trying to figure what worked and what didn’t. In some ways, the show reminded me of the old Dick Clark’s old Bloopers and Practical Jokes show where everyone was trying a little too hard. Surprisingly, the show was very clean and could have aired at an earlier time rather than the 10:00 p.m. timeslot NBC booked for it.

While it may not be have been the “Best” time ever, it was a pretty fun hour and the format was so different, that it was a nice change from regular television programming. Best Time Ever airs on Tuesdays at 10:00 p.m. on NBC.

Arnold Schwarzenegger (Wikimedia)

Arnold Schwarzenegger (Wikimedia)

Wow. When NBC turned the tables on Donald Trump and fired HIM from his show, Celebrity Apprentice, many began speculating on who could take his place. Did the name Arnold Schwarzenegger ever come to mind?

This morning, NBC announced that yes indeed Schwarzenegger would be the next boss man for the popular reality/competition/charity TV show. Now, no disrespect to the Terminator, but one has to wonder if he will be as intimidating in person as Trump has been. Back in 2005 when the original Apprentice TV show was a big hit, NBC spun-off a second version with Martha Stewart, but she didn’t have the same bit as Trump. (Of course, it didn’t help that she was in prison for part of the show as well)

Donald Trump isn’t just a tough boss, he has a huge ego, which is part of the reason why the show was fun to watch. Everyone knew that the boardroom was not big enough for two large egos at the same time. It will interesting to watch and see if Schwarzenegger has the same swagger. He is certainly smart enough (he served two terms as the governor of California, has invested in real estate and sports franchises and has made a movie or two) and he has some controversy under his belt (his affair and divorce from wife Maria Shriver), so he has that going for him.

Up until now, Trump’s version of the show was able to raise more than $15 million for charity. “After leaving the show to run for political office, Donald made it clear that he wanted The Celebrity Apprentice to be able to continue to raise millions of dollars annually for worthy causes, and now NBC and I have found an amazing new leader to do just that.” said executive producer Mark Burnett. And even Trump himself is pleased with the new host tweeting, “Congrats to my friend @Schwarzenegger who is doing next season’s Celebrity Apprentice. He’ll be great & will raise lots of $ for charity.”

However, don’t expect to see The Arnold anytime soon. NBC says that new season will not air until the 2016-2017 TV season. Still, NBC’s Paul Telegdy is happy: “We are thrilled to be opening a powerful new chapter in the story of the ‘Apprentice’ franchise. Arnold Schwarzenegger is the epitome of a global brand in entertainment and business, and his accomplishments in the political arena speak for themselves. It was Arnold’s personal passion for the format that Mark Burnett and Donald Trump built over the last decade, as well as his fresh take on how to take it to new heights for today’s audiences, that made him the man to hire. The Celebrity Apprentice … will be back!”