Friday, December 28, 2012

Television Top Tens of 2012: Best Series

Here we are, the final tv top ten list of 2012, best series. The top episodes list is here, and the top new series list is here.

REMINDER: Lists are subjective. I ranked what I like. I don't watch Breaking Bad or Game of Thrones or The Good Wife or Boardwalk Empire or The Vampire Diaries or Downton Abbey. I don't watch any Fox Animated series or anything on Adult Swim. I don't watch any CSI or NCIS or Law & Order or anything that's title starts with Tyler Perry's. I don't watch anything on USA or CW or TNT or Starz. So if a show isn't included, it's probably because I didn't watch it, or because I didn't like it as much as the shows I listed. But feel free to ask away in the comments.

And with that, let's do this. Let's start with Brett Alazraki's Top Ten list.

There. Yell at him about ranking The Newsroom, it didn't quite crack my list. And now here's mine. Honorable Mentions are, again, kinda alphabetical.

I'm not going to breakdown each individually, because at this point I've pretty much written about each of these shows, so just a bunch of bullet points.

-The top four were incredibly close. I finalized this list only a couple days after what I thought was an incredibly strong Homeland finale, but on reflection I may swap it with Mad Men. But it's really close. Each of those four were in the top spot at one point while making this list.

-At the end of the day, while I think it's fair to say Parks and Rec is the better show than Happy Endings because of the world it has built and the deep emotional connections created in that world, there is no show I look forward to watching each week more than Happy Endings.

-The entire top nine are the same shows, albeit in a different order, as my top nine for the 2011-12 television season. I did not look at that list until I had finished this one. There's no good reason why Awake, which was #10 then, is not an honorable mention while Cougar Town, which has also not aired any new episodes since then, is. That's just kinda a mistake.

-Number 11 was Glee, and the two veteran shows that now share a time-slot went back and forth for the 10 slot week to week. Both Glee and Grey's had excellent falls and winters, and Grey's spring wasn't anywhere near as bad as some of Glee, even if it didn't reach the same heights, but that's a coin flip.

-Suburgatory probably gets as high as 7 if not for the Alicia Silverstone episodes. At its best it can be a top 5 show, if it ever reaches that best consistently.

-The top 4 were my clear top tier. New Girl was my clear #5. 30 Rock and Community were my next tier, and Parenthood and Suburgatory after that. Grey's, Glee, The Newsroom, and Cougar Town all received consideration for 10th, along with picking a specific arc or series of episodes from either (or both) The Daily Show and The Colbert Report.

And that wraps this up. I might do some silly top 10s next week, but no promises. Feel free to comment/complain/laud in the comments or on twitter, and have a happy new year!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Television Top Tens of 2012: New Series

The next list up is the top new series. You can see my top episodes list here.

REMINDER: Lists are subjective. I ranked what I like. I don't watch Vegas or Arrow or Dallas or Luck or Anger Management. So if a show isn't included, it's probably because I didn't watch it, or because I didn't like it as much as the shows I listed. But feel free to ask away in the comments.

This list is ranked, along with 5 honorable mentions that are listed alphabetically. (kinda. They're alphabetically in how I listed them, but the first one should actually be 3rd alphabetically. Oh well.) Here we go:

Let's start with the Honorable Mentions and work out way up:

-Last Resort never quite lived up to its potential to me. Every episode had something I enjoyed, but also something that I simply could not care less about.

-Elementary, on the other hand, was not a show I expected to watch past the pilot, but Johnny Lee Miller's and Lucy Liu's charisma and (non-romantic) chemistry elevates this procedural.

-Bunheads had some moments of greatness, but it also frustrated me more often than not. It is one of two shows (Girls is the other) that has grown on me since the season ended, but it mostly just seemed like not-quite-Gilmore Girls.

-Battleground, Hulu's original political series, was a genuinely fascinating look at local politics. The highlight for me was Alison Haislip as Ali (insanely attractive G4 alums was apparently a big thing for me this year). It does not seem like it will be back, but go watch it!

-Through most of the fall, I expected Don't Trust the B---- in Apartment 23 to make my list, and to be fairly high (I believe it was as high as #5) based on the season 2 episodes, but the run of unaired season 1 episodes that closed out the year were bad enough to knock it down the list and eventually off.

And now about the Top 10.

10. Wedding Band- There are better new shows on TV than Wedding Band, in fact all five of my honorable mentions are probably better. But it is nice to have a show that's just enjoyable to watch; that I can not think about at all between airings. It airs in a terrible time slot and I have no idea if it will be renewed, but it is just a pleasant show to watch when there is nothing going on.

9. Revolution- Revolution had a strong pilot, which is not unusual for shows of this ilk. What was impressive about Revolution was that it was able to keep building intriguing story (while becoming TV's only new hit series). It certainly had weak episodes and weak links in the cast, but it was impressive and showed potential.

8. Girls- I appreciated Girls far more than I actually enjoyed it. What Lena Dunham has done is incredibly impressive, and I enjoy the cast, particularly Allison Williams and Zosia Mamet. There were highlights (the previously mentioned Crackcident) but more often I felt I was watching the show hoping something interesting would happen. It grew on me as the series continued, and in reflection since the series aired. However, the overwhelming hype leading into the show was entirely unwarranted.  It was a fine show, and Dunham's work in all facets is admirable, but it is not the tv-changing godsend that many critics made it out to be.

7. Veep- Veep never quite lived up to what I was hoping. It is an all star comedy cast and a top showrunner, but the show was often just okay. That said, it continuously made me laugh, and showed serious potential for the future. I'm excited and curious for season 2.

6. Ben & Kate- I've knocked Ben & Kate plenty on Twitter this fall. I think it is just alright, the cast has potential but it is largely unfulfilled. I don't understand why everyone is in love with it. That said, it is the 2nd highest new sitcom this fall on my list. It's a show I enjoy, but don't care about. I don't have any passion for the show, and I will easily get over its inevitable cancellation. It's a fine show, and #6 of all new shows is a high rating, but it is not the special show many people seem to think it is.

5. Bent- Now Bent, on the other hand, was special, or at least had the potential to be. I wrote plenty about Bent with my paragraph on the finale yesterday, and here. It was an enjoyable, short-lived series, and it's too bad we cannot see where it would have gone.

4. Scandal- I like political shows and I like Shonda Rhimes shows, so Scandal was always going to be a show I enjoyed. But the second season, in particular, has been tremendous television, often one of my favorite dramas to watch any given week this fall. Kerry Washington is absolutely spectacular (and award-worthy) as Olivia Pope, and the rest of the ensemble (especially Bellamy Young) has stepped it up in season two. While the Quinn Perkins conspiracy was alright, the voting machine scandal and the assassination attempt have lifted this show to another gear.

3. Awake- Kyle Killen is excellent. Jason Isaacs is excellent. Cherry Jones, BD Wong, Steve Harris, all excellent. Wilmer Valderrama, well, he dated Lindsay Lohan once, so good for him. Awake was never going to be a hit series, but it got to last a full season. There were ups and downs, but this show did the best job I had ever seen in combining a high concept serial storyline with a straight police procedural. I genuinely have no idea what the hell season 2 would have been, and perhaps the series is better off as a one-and-done, but that one season was terrific.

2. Go On- Go On is what NBC wishes Community was, and while it isn't Community (and as much as I love Community, I don't think we need 2 of them) it's a fun show on its own. Matthew Perry is doing what he does, and I'm a fan of that. The supporting cast is a lot of fun, and given how many of them there are (between the massive group and the radio station), it's impressive how well developed some of these characters have been. Laura Benanti and Allison Miller, both of whom survived hour-long flops from last season (The Playboy Club and Terra Nova respectively) have been surprising highlights. While it's a shame that Go On has taken potential viewers away from New Girl and Happy Endings, the show has earned them in their own right.

1. The Newsroom- I know. I know you hated The Newsroom. I know you found it sexist and pompous and arrogant. I know you didn't like them going back slightly in history and taking credits for other people's news breaks. I know you didn't like how they covered the Koch Brothers or Gabby Giffords or Osama bin Laden or gay marriage. I know you hated The Newsroom.

I just don't give a fuck. 

I loved The Newsroom. I love Aaron Sorkin. I even liked Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. See? I own Studio 60 and The West Wing on DVD, and had Sports Night prior to losing it to the hurricane (actually the condition of my West Wing DVDs is also unclear). So I'm all in on Sorkin. And The Newsroom? It was excellent Sorkin. You say Sorkin can't write women? You're ignoring Olivia Munn's Sloan Sabbath, one of the best new characters on TV this year. You think no woman would be stupid enough to accidentally send a mass e-mail? One of the cast members for the show accidentally tweeted out a topless photo. I get complaints about stealing credit for scoop, and if the reporters who actually broke these stories have an issue with this, I get that. But for fans? This isn't a retelling of what happened, it's an alternate universe. Things are going to be different, and our central characters are going to get these stories. The show isn't flawless, but almost nothing is (The West Wing certainly was not. Even in the Sorkin years, Mandy existed and Zoey was kidnapped). But this was far and away the best new series of 2012.

Up next, Best Series

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Television Top Tens of 2012: Episodes

It is that time of the year. The time for lists.

I have traditionally done 4 television lists biannually- once at the end of the TV season, and once at the end of the year. This year, I decided to cut the Top 10 Worst Series list. It just wasn't feasible to compare ¡Rob!, Work It, Are You There, Chelsea?Ben and Kate, I Hate My Teenage Daughter, and Anger Management.

Okay, I don't hate Ben and Kate that much.

That leaves three lists that I actually did. You're also getting two lists from my friend, and occasional blog contributor Brett Alazraki. First up is episodes.

REMINDER: Lists are subjective. I ranked what I like. I don't watch Breaking Bad or Game of Thrones or The Good Wife or Boardwalk Empire or The Vampire Diaries or Downton Abbey or Brickleberry. So if a show isn't included, it's probably because I didn't watch it, or because I didn't like it as much as the shows I listed. But feel free to ask away in the comments.

To start with the episodes list, I made a massive list of episodes I had in consideration. Here are the Honorable Mentions, with the episodes that were closer to making the list highlighted in yellow. These are listed in alphabetical order by series. I also limited my actual Top 10 to one episode per series, so some of these may actually be among my 10 favorite episodes of the year (okay, "Win, Lose, or Draw" definitely is).

Some notes on those:

-"At the Codfish Ball" was the Mad Men episode I chose in my end-of-season list, but on rewatch I preferred a different episode.

-I wasn't a huge fan of girls, but the Shoshana plot in "Welcome to Bushwick a.k.a. The Crackcident" was phenomenal, as I wrote about here.

-The Late Night with Jimmy Fallon and Late Show with David Letterman episodes are the post-Hurricane Sandy episodes that went on without a studio audience.

-The Smash pilot was actually good. You probably even liked it. Don't blame it for what came after.

-Meghan Ory is my absolute favorite part of Once Upon a Time, and the two Ruby-centric episodes have been two of my favorites.

-I finished this list a couple of weeks ago, but HIMYM's winter finale 2-parter would have also made this list.

-Happy Endings' "The Kerkovich Way" and 30 Rock's "Leap Day Williams" were my last two cuts. Those two shows are two of my favorite comedies (we'll get there) but are more about individual moments and jokes than full episodes (often the B or C storylines are completely forgettable). That said, if I didn't conform to the norm and did a Top 12 (for 2012!) they would be on there.

Which brings us to the actual Top 10. Unlike my series lists, I did not rank these. It was just too much.

Let's take these in the order they're listed.

-Bent- "Tile Date": This was the season (and series) finale for Bent, NBC's short lived (six episodes in three weeks!), star-filled (well, tv-wise at least) sitcom. This episode was the highlight, and left me wanting more episodes.

-Community- "Curriculum Unavailable": The show's second faux clip show wasn't as shocking as its first, but it was still brilliant in its own right. The insane asylum flashback, in particular, was a series highlight.

-Cougar Town- "A One Story Town": I got to see this episode at an advance screening (c'mon that made me sound cool), so crowd mentality may have helped my enjoyment of this episode. Yet to me it was one of the most brilliantly constructed episodes of television I have ever seen. You get the hints from the beginning- Bobby needs to get to the kiss, the crab festival, and The Worthless Peons singing Disney songs- that are all brought together for the "Kiss the Girl" sequence. And then there's the Scrubs reunion.

-Glee- "Goodbye": A funny thing happened on the way to Glee season 4- the show remembered it could be good. The season 3 finale packed an emotional punch as a farewell (at least as series regulars in Lima) to a number of characters, and despite my complete lack of shipper-ness, the Rachel/Finn breakup was beautifully done.

-Homeland- "Q&A": This was one of my top 3 episodes of the year. The entire series built up to the Carrie interrogation of Brody, and the two defending Emmy winners earned their next nominations in that scene.

-Louie- "Late Show" Parts 1-3: I don't regularly watch Louie, but one day this fall I decided to watch a bunch of the most popular episodes. This was the arc that sold me on the series. This arc was funny, smart, and moving, and while I may never watch the show regularly, arcs like this will make me keep coming back.

-Mad Men- "Signal 30": The Campbells' dinner party was one of my favorite scenes of the year (Annie Edison AND Alex Mack!) plus Lane Pryce knocking out Pete. But really, there are four or five episodes of Mad Men you could pick this year.

-New Girl- "Fancyman" Parts 1&2: This two-parter was the start of the turnaround for New Girl. Dylan McDermott's Dermot Mulroney's eponymous fancyman brought out new elements in both Jess and Nick, and the show became all the better for it.

-Parks and Recreation- "The Debate": Another of my top 3 episodes of the year. This episode highlighted what makes Parks what it is. There was plenty of the insane comedy- the non-Leslie candidates in the debate (Buddy Garrity!) and Andy's movie reenactment. And there was plenty of the sweet- Leslie's response to Bobby's threat, and Ron stealing the cable.

-Suburgatory- "The Wishbone": And my third of my top 3 episodes. This is fairly easily the best episode of Suburgatory. While the show is certainly inconsistent, this episode showed that, when the series is at its best, it can be the best series on television. The combination of sweet sincerity and comedic extremes is, when perfected, the best thing television can bring, and "The Wishbone" perfected this.

And here are Brett's Top Ten Episodes. He did rank them. 

Up next, New Series...

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

15 Statistical Reasons Mike Piazza is a Hall of Famer

I became a baseball fan in 1998.
I was ten years old, so it was the perfect year for me to become a fan.
And I still believe, despite the enormous asterisks (*), that it was the best season of baseball I could have become a fan during.

-There was the McGwire/Sosa homerun record-breaking chase.
-For the first time in history, 4 players (the above 2 along w/ Griffey and Greg Vaughn) hit 50 homeruns.
-There were two brand new expansion teams. 
-Kerry Wood had a breakout rookie year, including a record-tying 20 strikeout season.
-The Yankees set a record with a 114 win season.
-Cal Ripken ended his consecutive games streak.

And on May 22, the New York Mets, the team I was biologically preordained to root for (while my Mom was pregnant, my parents referred to me as Mookie) traded Preston Wilson and a couple of prospects to the Florida Marlins for catcher Mike Piazza.

Piazza had been a star with the Dodgers, and was traded to the Marlins just a week earlier for a large package including Gary Sheffield, Bobby Bonilla, and Charles Johnson as part of the Marlins 1997 Fire Sale. But when Piazza came to the Mets, he instantly became their best player; the face of the franchise.

That offseason Piazza signed a 7-year extension, the biggest contract in baseball history for like a week until Kevin Brown signed with the Dodgers. He became arguably the best hitter in Mets history (the other arguable ones are Darryl Strawberry- who I say Piazza passed, and David Wright who, if the rumors of an extension through 2020 are true, will pass Piazza).

There are a lot of memorable Piazza moments. Thrown bats, taken wild pitches, heterosexual press conferences, blond dye jobs, and recovery-launching homeruns. But as Mike Piazza appears on the MLB Hall of Fame ballot for the first time tomorrow, here are 15 statistical reasons why he is a Hall of Famer.

"MVP Share" is a Baseball-Reference stat measuring the number of votes a player gets for MVP out of the total number of votes cast. Mike Piazza ranks 30th all time, and is the 2nd highest of any player who did not win an MVP during his career. Of the players above Piazza, 23 are Hall of Fame eligible (the other 6 are either active, recently retired, or Pete Rose.) Of those 23, only 1, Dave Parker, did not get elected into the Hall of Fame. Of the next 9 eligible players, 8 are in the Hall.

During his career, Mike Piazza started 10 All Star Games, and made 12 All Star teams. The 10 starts ties him for the 14 most of all time. Of the other 17 players with 10 or more All Star starts, 14 are Hall of Fame eligible (Ivan Rodriguez and Barry Bonds are recently retired, ARod is still playing), and all 14 of those are in the Hall. Additionally, 4 of the 5 eligible players with 9 All Star starts are also in the Hall.

Of the ten players that Baseball-Reference gives the highest Similarity Score to Mike Piazza, nine of them are Hall of Fame eligible (Jorge Posada is recently retired). Seven of those nine, including the six "most similar" scoring players, are in the Hall of Fame. In comparison, Johnny Bench has only four of his top ten in the Hall, Yogi Berra has four, Carlton Fisk has five, and Gary Carter has four. Piazza is more similar to Hall of Famers than the top four Hall of Fame catchers.

Mike Piazza was drafted by the Dodgers with the second pick in the 62nd round of the 1988 draft. The draft went 75 rounds. No player drafted after Piazza ever played in the Major Leagues. No other player in the 62nd round made it, or in the 61st. One pitcher drafted in the 60th round, Don Wengert, pitched in 160 games over 7 years with an ERA over 6. In the 1988 draft, only one player, Jim Edmonds, had a higher career WAR than Piazza.

Mike Piazza is tied for 66th all time in Offensive WAR. The man he is tied with is Tony Gwynn. Gwynn played from 1982-2001 with the San Diego Padres, a career that overlapped in part with Piazza's. When Gwynn hit the Hall of Fame ballot for the first time, he was elected with 532 of the 545 votes. That 97.6% of the vote is the 7th highest total of all time of elections where ballots were released, behind only Tom Seaver, Nolan Ryan, Cal Ripken, Ty Cobb, George Brett, and Hank Aaron.

Again, Mike Piazza is tied for 66th all time in Offensive WAR. Including Gwynn, of the 66 players ahead of Piazza, 54 are Hall of Fame eligible. Of those 54, 50 have been elected to the Hall of Fame. Two of the four, Tim Raines and Jeff Bagwell, remain on the ballot and should eventually be elected. A third, Lou Whitaker, is widely considered an error by the writers in knocking him off in one year. The fourth, Dick Allen, hung around on the ballot for all 15 possible years.

Mike Piazza's 427 homeruns place him at 44th all time in homeruns. Of the 43 players ranked ahead of him, 29 are Hall of Fame eligible. Of those 29, 22 are in the Hall of Fame. Of the 7 eligible players who are not in the Hall of Fame, 5 are facing PED accusations, either founded (Mark McGwire, Jose Canseco) or unfounded (Jeff Bagwell). Outside of one column about back acne, the have never been steroid accusations about Mike Piazza, nor was he named in the Mitchell Report.

Mike Piazza's 427 homeruns are the most of any catcher all time. (He, as well as most of the others, have fewer HRs AS a catcher, but I'm counting all HRs by guys who caught) Johnny Bench has the second most homeruns for a catcher with 389, ranking 57th all time. Of the 5 catchers with 300 or more HRs who are eligible for the Hall of Fame, 4 have been inducted. The exception, Lance Parrish, received only 1.7% of the vote on his one and only ballot appearance.

Mike Piazza won every National League Silver Slugger Award from 1993 through 2002. Those 10 trophies are the most Silver Sluggers any catcher has ever won. Additionally, Piazza is the only player in MLB history to win 10 consecutive Silver Sluggers at any position in either league.

Mike Piazza ranks 32nd all time in slugging percentage, at .5452. Of the 31 players who rank ahead of him, 17 are eligible for the Hall of Fame. Of those 17, 13 have been elected into the Hall. These four have not been elected either due to steroid suspicions (McGwire, Juan Gonzalez), ballpark factors (Larry Walker), or an injury-shortened career (Albert Belle).

"Hall of Fame Monitor" is a Bill James stat that measures how likely a player is to make the Hall of Fame. Of all batters, Piazza ranks 42nd with a score of 207. Of the 41 players ranking ahead of Piazza, 31 are eligible for the Hall of Fame. All 31 of those players have been elected into the Hall of Fame. Rafael Palmeiro, ranked 59, is the highest ranked eligible player who has not been elected. The highest ranking, eligible, not elected player without steroid allegations is Jeff Bagwell at 87.

Again, Mike Piazza ranks 42nd in "Hall of Fame Monitor" with a score of 207. The highest ranking Hall of Fame eligible catcher who has not been elected is Ted Simmons, who ranks 111th with a score of 124. The next highest ranked with these qualifications is Bob Boone, who ranks 154th with a score of 102. 100 is ranked a possible Hall of Fame score, with 130 ranking as virtual guarantee.

"Hall of Fame Career Standard" is a stat similar to Monitor which measures a player's accomplishments rather than the likelihood of that player's election. Of all batters, Piazza ranks 26th with a score of 62. Of the 25 players ranking ahead of Piazza, 20 are eligible for the Hall of Fame. All 20 of those players have been elected into the Hall of Fame. Jeff Bagwell, ranked 36th, is the highest ranked eligible player who has not been elected.

Again, Mike Piazza ranks 26th in "Hall of Fame Career Standard" with a score of 62. This makes Piazza the highest ranking catcher of all time. The next highest ranked catcher is the also not-yet-eligible Ivan Rodriguez, who ranks 43rd with a score of 58. The highest ranked Hall of Fame eligible catcher who has not been elected is again Ted Simmons, who ranks 125th with a score of 44. A score of 50 is considered an average Hall of Famer, while 100 is the maximum possible score.

JAWS is a stat created by Jay Jaffe used to compare players to the Hall of Famers at their positions based on WAR and Peak WAR. The average Hall of Fame catcher has a JAWS of 41. Mike Piazza's JAWS is 48.4, which ranks 5th all time for catchers. Not-yet-eligible Ivan Rodriguez ranks 3rd with a JAWS of 50.7. Joe Torre is the highest-ranked, non-elected, eligible catcher, ranking 7th with a JAWS of 44.7. Wilbert Robinson is in the Hall as a catcher despite a JAWS of 11.2, ranking 139th.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

2012 Election Predictions

Let's start with the presidential election. Here are my state by state predictions. Maine and Nebraska can be split, but I am not predicting they will be. The states are listed in order of time that the polls close, so this is the order you'll see them be announced (either called or "too close to call") on your news network of choice on Tuesday:

Here's my Senate picks. The center lists the open seats, light blue is incumbent Democrats, light red is incumbent Republicans, light green is the incumbent independent (that's Bernie Sanders, who caucuses with the Democrats. I picked him to be reelected and added that to the Democrat win column. Similarly, in Maine I picked independent former Governor Agnus King to win and caucus with the Democrats), and grey is open seats where the incumbent is not running for reelection:

So there you go. We'll see how I do next week.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Braverman Power Rankings: Week 5

Haddie gets 1 over Amber, because who knows when she'll next be on. But it's really too close to call.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

SNL Sitcom Web

This is charting which SNL alums have appeared on different comedies (current and Rob, cuz I realized I had put it in there too late). You should be able to move each item around and see what else it is connected to. If anyone knows a better way to create a web, let me know and I'll get you the data (the spread sheet is included below, click it for a full view).

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Braverman Power Rankings: Week 3

I think Hank's daughter's name is Ruby, but I'm not sure. I have no idea what Matt Lauria's character's name is. And if Sarah was team Peeta instead of team Gale, Peeta would have replaced Justin Bieber.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

2012 Emmy Picks

Here are my picks for who should and will win in 15 categories at tonight's Emmy Awards. Also included are the picks of Brett Alazraki, and 11 television critics with the awards they publicly picked. Click on any of them for a larger view. (except for Miniseries/Movie which seems to not work. I picked Sherlock as should win and American Horror Story to win)

2012 NFL Picks- Week 3

All picks are to win, spread irrelevant. I starred my eliminator pick in my pool. I'm already 0-1 this week after picking the Giants, and 20-13 for the season. Home teams in CAPS. 

BEARS over Rams
Bills over BROWNS
COWBOYS over Buccaneers
Jets over DOLPHINS
49ers over VIKINGS
*SAINTS over Chiefs*
REDSKINS over Bengals
Lions over TITANS
COLTS over Jaguars
CARDINALS over Eagles
Falcons over CHARGERS
Texans over BRONCOS
Steelers over RAIDERS
RAVENS over Patriots
Packers over SEAHAWKS

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Braverman Power Rankings: Week 2

I unintentionally forgot Sarah Braverman last week. She wasn't sub-20, I just forgot her. Oops. From here on out if you don't appear and don't have plot implications and aren't a credited cast member, you go unranked. Sorry, Haddie.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

2012 NFL Picks- Week 2

All picks are to win, spread irrelevant. I starred my eliminator pick in my pool. I'm already 1-0 this week after picking the Packers, and 13-4 for the season. Home teams in CAPS.

BILLS over Chiefs
BENGALS over Browns
Vikings over COLTS
Raiders over DOLPHINS
PATRIOTS over Cardinals
*GIANTS over Buccaneers*
Ravens over EAGLES
Saints over PANTHERS
Texans over JAGUARS
Jets over STEELERS
Redskins over RAMS
SEAHAWKS over Cowboys
CHARGERS over Titans
49ERS over Lions
Broncos over FALCONS

Saturday, September 15, 2012

38 Suggestions, Predictions, Prayers, Fears, and More for Season 38 of SNL

I already made my host picks (that Arnett one isn't looking too good) but here are some things I want to, or think will, or hope will, or something else, happen on SNL this season. 38, for the 38th season:

1. Michelle Obama is a problem, but not a problem they necessarily have to fix.
Did anyone ever play Laura Bush? Maya Rudolph can come in the few times the FLOTUS is needed.

2. Don't replace Kristen Wiig, move on.
No "Secret Word" with Vanessa Bayer, no "Target Lady" with Kate McKinnon, and no "Garth and Kat's Sister Kit" with Kenan in drag. Other than Wiig's impressions that need to stay around, leave her characters for when she comes back.
3. Promote Killam, Bayer, and Pharoah; and if McKinnon is solid by midseason, don't wait on her.
I assume the first 3 are happening. I think Kate McKinnon is gunna be a good one. 
4. Let Sudeikis walk at midseason.
What are you gaining by him staying unhappily? Two Joe Bidens and a Devil at Weekend Update? Let him walk, and give him a sendoff like Samberg's (final 2 Digital Shorts) and Wiig's (this tear jerker).

5. If you won't give Meyers a regular WU co-anchor, at least give him one for Thursdays.
Look, I get that Meyers doesn't want a permanent co-anchor, even if he's better when he has someone to play off of. But when adding 2-3 weeks of extra work of a WU show on Thursdays, it's a necessity. Last time they did this, in 2009, Amy Poehler returned to co-anchor. NBC employs the last 3 Weekend Update co-anchors, two of whom are New York based. Just bring them each in for a week. 
6. Give Meyers a co-head writer.
The show has clearly dropped off. Just do it.
7. Don't forget Kenan
His impression portfolio isn't substantial (at least of news makers), so SNL's 6th longest tenured cast member ever (yes, ever. The guy from Good Burger) sometimes gets lost. But he's good. Find times to use him.

8. Nasim Pedrad will be the next breakout star.
Lots of people are talking about Hader and Killam. And don't get me wrong, they're both great. But since Will Ferrell left, SNL's star has been a woman. Nasim Pedrad will enter this season as the only woman with time as a Repertory Player on her resume. There was a time when I got Nasim Pedrad and Jenny Slate confused. That time is over. (well that time was over when Jenny Slate left the cast several years ago. But you get my point.)
9. Three Stefons. Max.
Look, I like Stefon as much as the next SNL fan. He's the breakout character of the past couple of years, and really put Hader on the map. But all characters, even those who are simply Update guests, can quickly wear out their welcome. Limit Stefon to Save Stefon.

10. Don’t overuse Hader’s Eastwood.
When Hader introduced his solid Clint Eastwood impression following Eastwood's GM ad at the Super Bowl this February, nobody thought it was going to become a significant impression for the 2012 political season. It has. That said, use it once or twice. Don't have Eastwood come in mid-debates, or at the Update desk with an empty chair every week. It was parody enough in itself.
11. Stop with the Charles Barkley.
Charles Barkley retired from the NBA in 2000. He is the second-most famous analyst on the NBA's #2 cable network. Why has he hosted SNL twice in the past three seasons?

12. But give us a more recent athlete host.
No baseball player has hosted since Derek Jeter in 2001. No female athlete has hosted since Nancy Kerrigan in 1994! Enough with the quarterback of the year.
13. More female hosts!
I broke this down on Twitter last month, but there have been far more male SNL hosts than female, even recently. Unfortunately, this season's first 3 hosts are all male. 

14. A two-time host!
15. Duel hosts!
In early days, SNL would have Buck Henry or Steve Martin host SNL twice in a season. Or random pairs (George Wendt and Francis Ford Coppola! Billy Martin and Anjelica Huston!)would host together. Mix it up!
16. Bayer can play Candy Crowley, don’t bring someone else in.
SNL tends to bring in outsiders to moderate the debates. Chris Parnell is particularly good at it, and I expect him to play both male moderators this season. In the past, Queen Latifah has been brought in to play Gwen Ifill. This year, with Candy Crowley moderating the town hall debate, SNL should stay within its cast and tap Vanessa Bayer.

17. At least 3 cast members will leave by the end of this season.
My guess- Sudeikis (midseason), Armisen (after season), and Moynihan (after season, see below). But neither the long-tenured Hader or Thompson would be surprising. Same with the long-tenured Meyers who at least flirted with Live! this season.

18.Don’t get a host who can’t handle it just because he/she means ratings (a la Lindsay Lohan last season)
Lindsay got ratings, but she was awful. SNL isn't getting cancelled anytime soon. And during a presidential year, SNL's ratings will be high. Don't go for the stunt host, it just makes for a bad show.
19. But don’t shy away from musical guests who are there just for the ratings.
That said, with musical guests, who cares? Book Lana del Rey every week if you want.

20. Keep doing the “in memory” bumps if other hosts/guests/alumni pass away.
Let's hope this isn't an issue (although I wouldn't be surprised with a Tom Davis tribute of some sort tonight), but it was a nice touch the couple times they did this last season.
21. More Hamm! More Timberlake!
It won't happen, but if Jon Hamm and Justin Timberlake (and perhaps a 3rd star) split 1 featured cast member spot, it would be great.

22. If you can’t make a new parody commercial for a new episode, don’t have a parody commercial in that episode.
SNL's commercial parodies are iconic. But after seeing them once, you don't really want to see the same one three episodes later. In recent years the show has gotten into a habit of re-airing the same commercials over and over. Just stop.

23. Have a new female alum host. Ana Gasteyer is on a TV show!
Only FIVE female alums have ever hosted SNL- Maya Rudolph, Amy Poehler, Tina Fey, Molly Shannon, and Julia Louis-Dreyfus. SNL showed off their female muscle with the Betty White episode and their Women of SNL special. Get one of the others to host! (And wait a year on Wiig)

24. Don’t focus on one star so they can get an Emmy nomination. They’ll never win anyway.
Self explanatory. There's a large cast, and there's no Kristen Wiig. Spread the wealth.
25. Get a politician to host again!
The last "politician" to host was Al Sharpton in 2003, with Al Gore and John McCain as the last elected officers to host, both in 2002. No female politician has ever hosted. Dream host- Bill Clinton.

26. Do what it takes to get a cameo from Romney or Ryan.
John McCain and Sarah Palin's cameos were highlights of the fall 2008 political season. I understand a sitting President and VP not making appearances, but at least one member of the GOP ticket should stop by 30 Rock.
27. Tina Fey and Alec Baldwin might not be in NY next year, so make use of them now.
This one is pretty obvious.

28. There have been a lot of new members to the Five-Timers Club since it was last addressed. Do a new sketch.
The first Five-Timers Club sketch is brilliant, with a certain former SNL writer as the doorman, and chunk full of cameos. Other five-timers have mentioned joining the club since. But it has not come up since 2007. Bring back the Five-Timers Lounge!

29. Give me at least one host I have to Google.
I mean maybe not me, I'm pretty up on my pop culture. But someone VERY of the moment is always fun to look back on.

30. Digital Shorts were Lonely Island’s; rebrand your pre-filmed segments.
There were pre-filmed segments before Lazy Sunday and the Digital Short era, and there can be later. Just without the title care.

31. But if Samberg and Lonely Island do return to do shorts, they can use the Digital Short brand.
With this exception.

32. Keep looking for new cast members through the season. And not just from UCB, Second City, and The Groundlings.
The cast shouldn't be set in stone just because the season started. See Kate McKinnon.

33. Do a Malibu Country sketch with Kenan. I don’t care how low that show’s ratings are.
The unbelievable randomness of Kenan playing Reba- this isn't the gender issue of Kenan as Whoopi, this is straight parody- plus Reba's return to television, sets this up perfectly.

34. If your best sketch isn’t political, let your best sketch open. And if you have a good political sketch, it doesn’t have to open.
Have you noticed this with sketches? They put all their political stuff up front, regardless of how good it is. They shouldn't.
35. I’m pretty serious with those Claire Danes and Lena Dunham hosting picks.
These are of-the-moment, zeitgeisty, female television stars. And Lena is based in New York!

36. Get working on that new Miley wig for Vanessa Bayer!
The Miley Cyrus Show was a very good sketch for Vanessa Bayer in her first year on the show. That's pretty cool. But it was benched last year. With Miley's new do, it is time to bring it back.
37. Lorne Michaels and Broadway Video are losing 30 Rock this season. So set up a current cast member with a Broadway Video/NBC sitcom deal.
My pick? Bobby Moynihan. No real good reason.

38. No more Sacha Baron Cohen-style in-show advertisements.
This was just embarrassing. Let's never speak of it again.