Tag Archives: disney channel

What’s On: Jessie

jessieJessie starring Debby Ryan, Peyton List, Cameron Boyce, Karan Brar, , Skai Jackson, and Kevin Chamberlin

Disney Channel, Fridays, 6:30/5:30c

Synopsis: Jessie Prescott has lived on a Texas military base for most of her life, but she has much bigger aspirations than adhering to the rules of her strict father. In an act of rebellion, she moves to New York and accepts a nanny job on the Upper West Side for the Ross family taking care of their four children. Will she make it in the city or will she have to go back to Texas?

I love that Debby Ryan is getting a chance to shine in her own series: she has a definite talent as an actress and a singer (in the true Disney child star fashion) and she is also credited as the show’s co-creator. Her character is quirky, determined, and has a lot of love to share for the kids she watches – a definite role model for viewers. She’s willing to acknowledge her faults and celebrates the wins. Her charges are definite characters as well: Emma is a diva, Luke is mischievous, Ravi is highly intelligent, and Zuri is highly creative. Even though Emma is the only biological child of the Ross’, she still plays the role of oldest when it comes to taking charge with her siblings though she often will only spend time alone with Zuri. Luke seems to be attracted to trouble, but he will pull through for his siblings when things get sticky. Ravi is arguably the most appreciative of his siblings. Zuri is sassy and isn’t afraid to speak her mind. The cast plays off of each other well, and it is hard not to like the characters and want to cheer for them, especially Jessie. She might not always know what she is doing, but she is willing to tackle every issue she encounters with the same gumption and spunk that won over the Ross family when she came to the city. The writing seems a little canned in some of the episodes, but the show does a wonderful job of showcasing a multi-cultural family that is working through their differences in order to become more accepting of each other and a stronger family.

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Filed under Media: Television, reviews

What’s On: Dog With a Blog

Dog-With-A-Blog-600x336Dog With a Blog starring G. Hannelius, Blake Michael, Francesca Capaldi, Stephen Full, Regan Burns, and Beth Littleford

Disney Channel, Fridays at 7/6c

Synopsis: Avery Jennings and Tyler James have a lot of adjusting to do. Not only are they step-siblings that need to learn to get along, they just found out (along with Tyler’s younger sister Chloe) their dog Stan can talk. The three new siblings decide to keep it a secret from their parents, lest they lose their family pet to science. But Stan has a secret too: he has a blog in which he writes about the happenings in the Jennings-James household. Hey, it’s the internet; anything is possible.

Well, what can you expect to get out of a show whose premise is pretty much summed up by the title? The show doesn’t actually have a whole lot going for it, to tell the truth: the writing is cliché, much of the humor is rather forced, and the characters feel a little flat and superficial. On the other hand, this family-oriented comedy offers the viewer clean-cut hilarity and a chance to see a family working through some very real problems. G. Hannelius and Blake Michael have a believable chemistry as step-siblings and their character’s personalities balance out in such a way that they almost complement each other. Capaldi’s character is probably the most random 7-year-old I’ve ever seen, but the effervescent nature of Chloe’s character keeps the Jennings-James parents on their toes and a source of entertainment for her older sibling and step-sibling. Stan is a cute dog with a heart of gold that wants to be able to help the family out of whatever situations in which they find themselves, but he’s obviously got to do it without the adults realizing he can speak. The fact that he has a blog is somewhat amusing and the fact that he is writing about the humans he lives with is even more amusing, but not quite amusing enough to keep the show as a whole together. I can appreciate that TV is trying to bring back the talking animals bit that was popular in the 90s, but there is a point at which you just need to let an idea go and move on to something else.

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Filed under Media: Television

Retro Review: Flash Forward

flash_forwardFlash Forward starring Jewel Staite, Ben Foster, Asia Vieria, Theodore Borders, Jiliana Stewart, Stuart Stone, Rachel Blanchard, and Ricky Mabe

Disney Channel, 1996-1997

Synopsis: Becca and Tucker have been best friends and neighbors since they were born and they have shared a lot together over the years. Now they are in eighth grade and Becca and Tucker along with their friends Christine and Miles are going to have to stick together as they try to survive school, their classmates, and their families to make this the best year ever.

I have to admit, I am reviewing this because I was feeling nostalgic – they just don’t make shows like they used to, but that’s a different blog all together. I had always kind of wondered what happened to the show, and after hunting around the internet, was blessed to find that someone had posted the series on YouTube (though it’s old and the quality is kind of poor) and frustrated to find that ABC came out with a series of the same name in 2009, which wasn’t what I was looking for…. I remember being totally addicted to this show back when it aired, but since we didn’t have cable, settled for watching it at friends houses. What I loved about Flash Forward is what I still love about it fifteen years later (wow, I’m dating myself…): it’s so real. Everything that is happening with Becca and Tucker was totally what junior high was like; you are trying to fit in, you’re always trying to catch the eye of that special someone, you can’t help but roll your eyes at some of the teachers cause they think they’re so young and hip, and you’re also trying to figure out who you are before you make the jump to high school. Outside of school, you are trying to move away from your parents and become more independent, but it feels like they are trying to get closer to you in all the wrong ways and it just makes you mad that you can’t do what you want. Then there’s siblings: Becca’s older sister on the show could clearly care less about Becca and doesn’t want her hanging around, but Becca’s desperate desire to seem more grown up has her agreeing to some strange demands from her sister; Tucker’s younger brother just wants to be part of the group, but Tucker tries all he can to push him out of the way…especially when it comes to getting closer to his crush, Kerry. Junior high was sort of about winging it, trying to establish yourself before high school when you would inevitably be back on the bottom again. The show can be kind of cheesy and silly at some points, but since it was the nineties, I’m willing to overlook it. And if you do find yourself feeling nostalgic, watch it and perhaps you can relive a little bit of your childhood that you enjoy. It’s healthy for you. 🙂 [as a side note, yes, that is the girl from Stargate: Atlantis and Firefy/Serenity and that is the kid that played Angel in the third X-men movie.]

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Filed under Media: Television, Retro Review, reviews

Feature Presentation: Geek Charming

Geek Charming Starring Sara Hyland, Matt Prokop, Sasha Pieterse, and Jordan Nichols

Buena Vista Home Entertainment, 2011. Rated PG

Synopsis: Dylan Schoenfield (Hyland) is a selfish, snobby, popular 16-year-old who wants more than anything to be crowned Blossom Queen at her school’s spring formal. Josh Rosen(Prokop) is president of the school film club and wants to make a film for the local film festival that will win him a trip to Hollywood. Josh need a subject for his documentary for the film festival and Dylan needs a way to help her campaign for Blossom Queen, and after Josh rescues her purse from a mall fountain, the two make a deal. Dylan will be the subject of Josh’s film and he convinces her that it will help her win. After Dylan and Josh have a fight about her behavior, Josh second-guesses his topic choice until Dylan shows up at the screening for a science fiction movie. The two reconcile, and despite the fact that the two dislike each other, they begin to grow closer.

Based on a novel of the same name by Robin Palmer, this movie is part teen drama part romantic comedy. The plot, unfortunately, is largely formulaic: cute popular girl is forced to spend time with a boy who is way out of her league and eventually the two develop romantic feelings for each other. In the background, we have Dylan’s dad dating a woman whom she could care less for, Josh is living in a single parent household after his parent’s divorce, and some long abandoned friendships. Hyland (ABC’s Modern Family) makes a convincing popular girl that is gradually softened by Josh’s geeky nature, and had to laugh at the fact that she was channeling gossip girl characters with her diva-like attitude and apparent helplessness at being unable to do much besides shop without some help. Prokop brings a sort of naivety to his character that makes him both charming an endearing, though he seems to be socially awkward and well, pretty much the polar opposite of Dylan. It is a cute movie that is both touching and humorous that has more to it than just a popular girl fraternizing with a geek.

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Filed under Media: Movies

What’s On: Austin & Ally

Austin & Ally starring Ross Lynch, Laura Marano, Raini Rodriguez, and Calum Worthy

Disney Channel, Premieres Sunday 8/7c

Synopsis: Shy Ally works in her father’s music store, Sonic Boom, and dreams about going into the music business. Ally’s father believes she has a one in a million chance to make it in the music industry, but this doesn’t stop Ally from writing songs on her piano. Austin is a talented singer who is also hoping to make it big in the music industry, and after he finds one of Ally’s songs in her practice room, he becomes the next big thing. Angry that she is not given credit for the song, she confronts Austin about stealing her song. Austin tells her that he can’t write his own music and that he needs her help and talent. Ally reluctantly agrees, and the two work together to write Austin’s next big hit.

This new Disney Channel series is cute, funny, and has a lot of potential. Because of the lack of adults in the pilot episode (we see Ally’s father briefly at the beginning as well an adult female talk show host), I have a feeling they are not going to have a huge role in this new series, and if they do, it will be partially for comic relief. Marano and Lynch play well off of each other and the two have great chemistry. The dynamics between the girls (Marano and Rodriguez) and the boys (Lynch and Worthy) are equally enjoyable, and I also had to laugh at Marano’s characterization of being ‘the reasonable one’ in contrast to Lynch’s happy-go-lucky. The show has the feel of a cool teen sitcom about kids who are doing everything to follow their dreams (I am sensing a theme in Disney Channel shows, here….) and hope the show continues to blossom into a promising new series.

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Filed under Media: Music, Media: Television

What’s On: Good Luck Charlie

Good Luck Charlie Starring Bridgit Mendler, Leigh-Allyn Baker, Bradley Steven Perry, Mia Talerico, Eric Allan Kramer, and Jason Dolley

Disney Channel, Sundays 8/7c

Synopsis: With the arrival of their fourth child, Charlotte “Charlie” Duncan, the Duncan family must adjust to having a new baby in the house. Sixteen-year-old Teddy decides to create a video diary for Charlie about the Duncan family and life as a teenager that she will be able to reference when she gets older. Teddy’s two brothers, P.J. and Gabe often play a role in the videos, but spend a significant amount of time getting into trouble of their own. The Duncans are trying hard to keep everything together, but it is going to take more than luck for them to raise a family without going crazy.

As out of proportion as some of the situations may seem, life in the Duncan house is likely no different from the lives of its viewers, with the obvious exception being that not everyone has a significantly younger sibling. The family dynamic element of the show and the (gasp) regular appearances by parents makes it appealing to both a tween audience and a larger family audience. The Duncan children are all likable and we can relate to them – their parents seem to have often unreasonable expectations, they want to stay out of trouble (for the most part), they want to do the right thing, and they even play the blame game (it’s his/her fault, no it’s not), which is always popular in any household. Amy and Pete Duncan, aside from their moments of blatant ignorance, seem to have everything together and appear to be able to function in a fairly normal way while juggling three teens and a baby. The premise of Teddy’s video diary for Charlie is cute and somewhat practical, provided it will eventually serve the purpose Teddy intends for it. Mia Talerico is painfully adorable and the way the older children often use her as leverage to get what they want is fairly predictable, but there is often very little of Charlie and much more of the other family members – something I find a little odd considering the show is partially about her. This aside, Good Luck Charlie is a fun family show that keeps the audience laughing and “aww”ing in its own right.

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Filed under Media: Television

What’s On: Phineas and Ferb

Phineas and Ferb Starring Vincent Martella, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Ashley Tisdale, Dan Povenmire, Alyson Stoner, Jeff Marsh, and Dee Bradley Baker

Disney Channel, Fridays 9:30/8:30c

Synopsis: Phineas and Ferb only have 104 days of summer vacation and they want to make the most of every one! Each day they come up with a new fun activity to do: building a vehicle that will allow them to travel all over the world on the longest day of the year, making a theme park in the back yard, creating a machine that will let them figure out what animals are saying…the sky is the limit. With their sister Candace doing her best to try and get them in trouble with their parents, Phineas and Ferb find creative ways to stay busy while keeping their parents from finding out or blowing up the house.

I have to admit: I was a Candace growing up with a younger brother…in the sense that everything he did had me running and calling for my mother to do something about whatever he was or wasn’t doing that annoyed me. There are several things I like about this show: the main characters are smart and inventive, Doffenshmirtz is funny as a villain always trying to keep up with Agent P (Phineas and Ferb’s pet Perry the Platypus), it is accurate in its presentation of relationships between siblings, and well, it’s funny. It’s a show about all the things we wish we could do during summer vacation but either can’t or don’t. I like the fact that it is a show that has smart characters, which I think is a rarity in tween/teen television today – I’m totally dating myself here, but having grown up with shows like Saved by the Bell, Sabrina the Teenage Witch, Doug, and Rocko’s Modern Life, I can honestly say that they don’t make TV shows like they used to anymore. Phineas and Ferb not only had fun characters, but they’re on a mission to make their summer fun without causing any major havoc or doing things that seem a little dishonest or unorthodox.  Some of the humor might go over younger viewers heads, but it’s still got a lot of the humor that appeals to younger viewers as well.

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Filed under Media: Television

Feature Presentation: Lemonade Mouth

Lemonade Mouth Starring Bridgit Mendler, Adam Hicks, Hayley Kiyoko, Naomi Scott, and Blake Michael

Walt Disney Studios, 2011. Rated G.

Synopsis: When five freshman meet in detention and decide to mess around with some of the musical instruments, they find they at least have a passion for music in common. Competing against the school’s more popular student band Mudslide Crush and a principal more concerned with sports, Olivia, Stella, Wen, Mohini, and Charlie set out to find a way to create a sense of equality and go for their dreams.

Based on a book of the same name, Lemonade Mouth takes a story about a high school garage band to a different level promoting a sense of friendship and the desire to follow one’s dreams despite life’s setbacks. Disney alums Bridgit Mendler (Good Luck Charlie) and Adam Hicks (Zeke and Luther) lead the cast of teens trying to overcome high school stereotypes and make the most of what little the school has to offer them. I was impressed with the cast’s singing and playing abilities (or, at least the ability to make it look like they knew how to play their instruments) and the musical numbers were catchy and positive. The friendship that develops between the five band members was intriguing in the sense that they realize they have things in common, but some of the scenarios felt forced and fake. The secondary characters were likable, but mostly seemed two-dimensional in relation to the rest of the cast – they have a purpose on helping to move the story along, but have no function in really helping the band realize what they have to do to achieve their goals. The movie slows down dramatically at the end, which was disappointing, but the ending scene is energetic and engaging.

Other movies like this one: Soul Surfer, Sharpay’s Fabulous Adventure, Gnomeo and Juliet, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Rio: The Movie, Monte Carlo, Prom, Justin Beiber: Never Say Never, Phineas & Ferb the Movie: Across the 2nd Dimension, Camp Rock movies

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Filed under Media: Movies, Media: Music, Media: Television

What’s On: A.N.T Farm

A.N.T. Farm Starring China Anne McClain, Sierra McCormick, Jake Short, Stefanie Scott, and Carlton Jeffery

Disney Channel, Fridays 7:30/6:30c

Synopsis: Chyna Parks, a musical prodigy, has been enrolled in an Advanced Natural Talents (A.N.T) program at her new school in San Francisco. She quickly makes friend with Olive, who has a photographic memory and can remember everything she reads or hears, and Fletcher, an artistic genius with a knack for getting into trouble. Chyna is trying hard to convince her friends that despite their age and abilities, they can fit in like normal kids. But when cheerleader Lexi is trying to make sure that Chyna doesn’t outshine her and her brother Cameron just pretends not to know her, they often find themselves with a lot more trouble on their hands than they intend.

With Miley Cyrus leaving her Hannah Montana persona behind, China Anne McClain is poised to become the new tween queen of Disney Channel. The show was created around her to help showcase her acting and singing abilities, and she even has a record in the works, songs on Radio Disney, and a few music videos. The show’s ability to demonstrate the difficulties of making friends and fitting in resonates with the audience, no matter how old the watcher happens to be. The characters are funny, likable, and even eccentric, which adds to the humor. The situations that Chyna and her friends manage to get themselves into are somewhat over the top, but the ridiculousness is what makes it more watchable. It helps kids realize that they should be proud of their own unique talents and abilities, no matter how insignificant or small they might feel.

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Filed under Media: Television

What’s On: Shake it Up!

Shake it Up!  Starring Bella Thorne, Zendaya, Kenton Duty, Roshon Fegan, Adam Irigoyen, Davis Cleveland, and Caroline Sunshine

Disney Channel, Sundays at 8:30/7:30c

Synopsis: Best friends CeCe and Rocky love to dance and dream of being famous professional dancers. To help them attain stardom, the girls audition and win parts as backup dancers on a local TV show, “Shake it Up Chicago”. But the road to fame is never paved with good intentions, and the girls are constantly competing with the other backup dancers – particularly Guther and Tinka – to show off their stuff. The girls must always put their best foot forward when they show off their moves, especially because it means keeping up with the crew and keeping their spots!

CeCe and Rocky definitely have the moves and it makes me want to get up and dance along with them…if I could dance. The girls definitely have a sense of humor and they use it to help them get out of whatever sticky situation they happen to find themselves in, whether it is a confrontation at school or on the show, or fights with siblings and parents. While the show makes achieving your dreams seem somewhat simple, it also shows how much work you have to put into your craft in order to make it to the top. CeCe and Rocky also have their strong friendship going for them; though thick and thin, the girls help each other and defend each other, a great message for the viewers. Shake it Up! is a show that helps us realize that no matter how far off our dreams may seem, there is always a chance to move closer and closer toward whatever passions drive us.

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Filed under Media: Television