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Fall TV 2010: My Review of Season Two of CW’s Life Unexpected

With the new fall season starting, new TV is bring us the good, the bad, and the mediocre, but how do you sort out the good and the bad? Here is what to watch this fall, so you can see the best new friendships, new loves, new action, and new heart. Now, after last year’s sweet year one will Lux and her unstable family find happiness in year number two…

What the CW Says:

Returning for a second season, LIFE UNEXPECTED is a coming-of-age family drama that centers around 16-year-old Lux, who was given up for adoption at birth but never adopted. When she is put back into the custody of her estranged-since-high-school birth parents, radio show host Cate and bartender Baze, the three form an unlikely family, complicated by the fact that Cate is engaged to her co-host, Ryan. Cate and Baze struggle with becoming insta-parents and raising a daughter they are only now getting to know, while Ryan must deal with the fact that Cate’s feelings for Baze aren’t entirely in the past. Lux, meanwhile, tries to reconcile her past with her present, often torn between her old friends from foster care and her new family. As the unlikely trio begins to grow up together, Lux encourages Baze to reveal what she already knows – that he is in love with Cate, just like a part of Cate is in love with him. Baze tries to stop Cate’s wedding, but when he’s too late, Cate marries Ryan. Heading into next season, our unlikely threesome become a foursome as Ryan joins the family. The series stars Shiri Appleby as Cate Cassidy, Kristoffer Polaha as Nate “Baze” Bazile, Britt Robertson as Lux, Austin Basis as Math and Kerr Smith as Ryan Thomas. LIFE UNEXPECTED is produced by CBS Television Studios and Warner Bros. Television in association with Mojo Films with executive producers Liz Tigelaar (“Brothers and Sisters,” “What About Brian”) and Gary Fleder (“October Road”).

When I settled in to watch the second season premiere of CW’s underrated family drama the other day, I had no idea what I was in store for. Like none, I had no clue we would be shocked with some many life-changing moments for each of our major characters. Events that will make this season very different in the way we see these characters.

This is not to say, Life Unexpected will lose its quirk and charm. Lux is still a mature young woman, going to school, and staying happy with Bug. Lux relationship with her parents, however, has seemed to grow. A routine has grown with Cate and Baze, with Ryan still trying to get him out of their lives after their major at the end of last season, which seemed to go through with a major hit. In the premiere, Cate and Ryan return to the radio show to find a new addition, Amy Price-Fisher (above) is joining to program as a conservative talking head which sparks some problems. Plus, Arielle Keebler (The Vampire Diaries) is a new recurring player as the new bartender at Baze’s bar but she may be up to more than bartending. This season of Life Unexpected is sure to push the boundaries way more than I thought they would and I hope they can keep it up while keeping what made this show so special, its seemingly unpretentious feel, a earthy in tone drama that never wanted to be more than it was meant to me, and the premiere shows they kept that, wonderful in so many ways.

Watch, Record, Skip: Watch in any way you can, although the series was a critics darling last year, it barely was renewed and lets try to keep this unexpected (pun intended) gem on the air for years to come. Life Unexpected is back tomorrow on The CW at 9/8c following the One Tree Hill season premiere.

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Recapping the season: Top 5 New Shows

For the rest of the week, I am looking back at the past television season and doing some top 5’s for what worked in a ratings-challenged year. Up first are the new entries that graced the screen this year and in my book there were quite a few success to talk about:

1. Modern Family – For me, the new show that made me love TV more than anything this year was ABC’s truly original family sitcom. No new show was so widely love in my family as it really rang true in so many ways and most of all made me laugh every single week. Nothing can beat that pilot, that I have now most likely watched 50 times, and I just have a truly special place in my heart for it.

2. The Good Wife – My biggest surprise new show was easily The Good Wife because going in to the new year I knew it had a great script but I did not know such a big emotional edge would be present by the combination of great writing and its star Julianna Margulies. A show I looked forward to each week and will continue to for years to come.

3. Parenthood Parenthood had a rocky life from deaths to recast to cancer, things were getting in the way for a wonderful cast and creator’s little show on NBC, but after the Olympics, Parenthood didn’t care about any of that and they put on one hell of a show. For the past 13 weeks, Parenthood got better and better and without my knowledge it seemed turned into a show I thought about a lot and cared for the characters a great deal.

4. Life Unexpected – Liz Tigelaar and her cast and crew deserve great things and when LUX was renewed at Upfronts I was so, so happy for them. The CW could have easily not believed in the Portland family drama but they did and could not be more grateful for having this heartwarming show on the air next year.

5. Glee – I think most people doing this would have Glee much higher on this list but I think if recent weeks are any indication I am putting it in the right place. When Glee, premiered for real in the fall, I was smitten, my friends and family were smitten, and each week it would be a trip to iTunes to buy the songs, and re watch episodes but now as the season is closing I could almost not care less. Plot holes, continuity, and bad writing have steered me away from a show I still want to be good as I like the actors and the music but I just need more respect to the viewers and I hope Ryan Murphy gives us that.

Just Missed the mark: Cougar Town, The Middle, and The Vampire Diaries – 3/4 of ABC comedy block was a highlight of the season for me and both Cougar Town and The Middle turned into shows I did not think I would like. Cougar Town is a entirely new show that when it started and The Middle reminds me of good old Home Improvement days. On the other hand, something so 2010 like vampires was made new again with Vampire Diaries and it was this year’s biggest guilty pleasure for me.

Monday Reminder: Changes and Returns

How was everyone’s weekend? Is anybody attending what sounds like an awesome PaleyFest 2010? I for one am pretty busy this time a year and so is new television. Of course your usual monday affairs are new tonight including the best Chuck ever, new CBS comedies, and the return of Gossip Girl which lost my interest in the fall.

Life Unexpected is getting better and better each week and last week’s “Crisis Unaverted” showcased the fantatics acting between Kerr Smith and Shiri Appleby as well as the chemistry with Baze in teh mix. The show continues until its finale on April 19th but from now on it will do so at 8/7c, one hour earlier on the CW. Tonight’s “Bride Unbridled,” Lux is back living at Baze’s and mixing it up with Jones, the hot quarterback, after Bug has left. Below check out an intro to the episode by the awesome creator Liz Tigelaar!

Tonight also marks the return of two dramas, first on NBC, Trauma is back from the brink of cancellation, and was actually picked up for more episodes after being cancelled. It is most certainly because NBC needed filler but I took time to watch two new episodes airing on March 15th and 22nd. The show is not half-bad and does a great job with the actual “trauma” of it all but I still feeling the characters are not as engaging as I would like them to be and the relationships forced. Only time will tell if viewers will latch on with the return and I am still undecided if I will as well.

Castle on ABC is also back and far from cancellation. The ratings are growing and in two weeks will feature a two parter airing after Desperate Housewives on Sunday, and then on Monday, and will including DH‘s Dana Delany. Tonight, the throughly enjoyable prodederal, goes deep into underground sex world in the city at 10/9c. Intriguing huh?

Catching up on TV Part 1

Since I am officially caught up with current television (minus me watching for the first time House and Supernatural), I thought it would be a good time to tell you my thoughts for each show, and I would love to hear what you think! Check back tomorrow for the comments on programs from the second half of the week.

Castle – There is only good news for the comedic procedural that has seemingly integrated itself into the ABC brand like no other. Castle is climbing in the ratings and for once beating CSI: Miami in the demos which isn’t heard of in the 10PM timeslot on Mondays. The other good news is even in repeats the show performers better than any other ABC drama which means that new viewers are coming in through repeats.

Now creatively the show has been strong. Becketts’s backstory with her mother’s death has really been front and center for a couple weeks and it almost puts a “Monk” like layer to the story that gives me more of a personal connection. The case-of-the-week seemingly are just avenues to provide fun dialogue between Nathan Fillion and Stana Katic and I love those two together along with Castle’s mom and daughter who put a smile to your face. Well done ABC, and Castle returns with new episodes on Match 8th.

How I Met Your Mother/The Big Bang Theory – Now to a show that has not been on top of their game this year in Mother. The majority of the episodes have felt off and not true to the series with repeating stories for Robin, Lily and Marshall playing way in the background, and no progress with Ted. The 100th episode earlier in 2010 was solid and provide some new information on the title story but in order for me to really care, you must continue it and that has not happened. Very uneven but its 9:30 counterpart on Monday has been anything but.

Big Bang has not provided memorable moments like it should but it has never fallen to the bad column this year. The humor is endless, and each of the characters seem to be showcased in different ways each week. Both comedies return to CBS Mondays on March 1st.

Chuck- Chuck vs. the Mask sure was a controversial one. In the hour, the producers featured both Chuck and Sarah move on to new relationships and I was not okay with it. It was not necessarily the realationship, it was the way it was went about. Kristin Kreuk is a great actress and I was very happy to see her character Hannah take a larger role but for the past two hours she is being used in a role that is starting to hate Chuck and I do not enjoy that. I wanted Hannah to come in to the Buy More as just a fun, quirky girl, that can play with everybody and for her and Chuck to really form a bond. As far as Chuck and Sarah, as long as they are still friends with each other and sociable I could care less if Sarah jumps on board Shaw’s bandwagon.

Chuck is a show that even in the heaviest of stories has come out as a comedic and fun drama but for a couple weeks now that seems to be never present except for the great pairing of Ellie and Morgan and if this season they don’t find out about our hero we will have a problem. The gig is up, and it returns March 1st after the Olympics.

Kell on Earth – For two weeks, Kelly Cutrone has made my Mondays. By far the funniest and bitchiest hour on the first day of the week, Kelly and her staff provide a fast paced and interesting hour with the past week just being interesting to see what goes into a Fashion Week show and how to get fired from one. This next week, Kelly will travel to London for work and I am sure we will go both to her offices in Paris and LA as the show continues till the first season finale on the 29th of March. (more…)

First Look: My Review of The CW’s Life Unexpected

It is rare on TV to find a show that just appeals to everything that makes you happy. Something that creates laughs, tears, thinking moments, and smiles, especially on a network that is known for smug rich kids. Life Unexpected on The CW is game changing is so many ways….

Life Unexpected comes from Liz Tigelaar, a writer/producer from such shows as Brothers and Sisters and American Dreams. It revolves around Lux (Brittany Robertson, a 16-year-old kid who has been in foster care since her parents (Shiri Appleby and Kristoffer Polaha) gave her up after they hooked up on prom night. Lux is looking to be emancipated but must have signatures for both her biological parents and she sets out to find them both. Her dad, Baze (Polaha), is a live in the moment bachelor, who lives above the bar he owns, and her mom Cate, is a popluar radio DJ in Portland, OR (where the show is set). Cate is engaged to her partner on the air Ryan (Kerr Smith), but when Lux shows up she is more than surprised. The series will follow Lux, as after the judge orders her to back in to the custody of her parents, as she manages her new school, rules, and much, much more.

The acting is pitch perfect. The lead, Brittany Robertson, who you may have seen in Swingtown or Dan in Real Life, is funny, sweet, and most of all genuine in her portrayal of a foster kid, while the rest of the supporting cast provides depth and humor to a touchy but touching subject.  The writing however is what really shines, with Liz Tigelaar’s words, that make you feel, make you care, and make you engaged, and combined with the blue, homey feel that Vancouver (where the show films but is said to be Portland) gives the show.

The first three episodes build on each other, with the first being mostly set up for what the series will become, and then in the second hour showing how the parents and Ryan will adjust to now have to care for a teenager that never has really had any stability in her life. Then in the third hour (the last that I saw), the show introduces us to back story, we meet Baze’s parents, as well as Cate’s mom played by the ever so great Cynthia Stevenson and her crazy sister.

The show also gives us look in to Lux’s past with her friends from the street, her boyfriend, Bug, and their struggles to lose a friend and trying to get her back again as she moves to bigger and hopefully better things. Lux is a teenager like no other, as she points out in the Pilot she is more of an adult then her parents and it creates for more grown-up high school drama, that we rarely see on television.

If you are a viewer of The CW, you might not expect a show like Life Unexpected to be on your screen. There are no preppy rich kids, we are not in LA or NYC, no maids, all there is a family. A mixed up family of teenagers, parents acting like teenagers, friends, and the wacky people around them. It is absolutely the best new show you will see in 2010, and if this show is any indication that television can be so special, authentic and honest, we will be very, very happy.

Please tune in this Monday at 9/8c on The CW, you will not be disappointed.

Updated Breaking News: The CW’s Best Show has a date!

lifeunexpected2

Michael Courtney / The CW ©2009

The CW is having a not so great fall except for the great ratings, and suprisingly great show The Vampire Diaries, and no thanks to the terrible ratings of Melrose Place (Please Heather Locklear bring in viewers to this soapy drama!), but come January 18th, it will have one creative force to reckon with.

Life Unexpected, a drama about Lux (Brittany Roberston), a orphane looking to get emancipated but gets rolled in to her biological parents (Kristoffer Polaha and Shiri Appleby), will bow on Monday, January 18th according to TheTVShowGirl with an unknown timeslot to be announced soon.

I am hoping for it to air after One Tree Hill which I think will be the most compatiple show with Gossip Girl moving to Wednesdays after America’s Next Top Model.

UPDATE: TheWrap is reporting that LUX will “preview” on Mondays at 9/8c for a couple of weeks beginning on the 18th while Gossip Girl takes a break but will move to a permanent timeslot later which unknown and could end up being on Mondays.

I am so glad The CW has the same amount of confidence in this show as I do!