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  • I recorded the premiere of "Watching Ellie" last night to view after watching my other standard Tuesday night shows. I'm so glad I did, because this show is totally worth watching.

    The show's use of real time action is not a not a new concept to television (as seen on HBO and Showtime), but it is rather new to advertiser supported networks like NBC. The concept of using real time action is a breath of fresh air in the land of the half hour sitcom, with their story lines frequently interupted by commercials. The actual length of a 'half-hour' sitcom is twenty-two minutes. "Watching Ellie" broke this into two halves, with only on stop for commercials in the middle. I noticed, thankfully, that there was no laugh track used (an overused concept).

    The ability of the actors to accurately portray what is really going on in a twenty-two minute span obviously gives it a sense of real time passing, rather than a beginning-middle-end storyline where everything falls into place perfectly. Now, don't get me wrong, I love my sitcoms. I am frequently glued to my TV in the evenings. But it is nice to see something new every once in a while.

    Julia Louis-Dreyfus plays Ellie, a single lounge singer who happens to be sleeping with the married guitarist of her backup band. So far, the show seem to be about watching her everyday life as a lounge singer.

    Watching this show reminded me of an episode of "Mad About You" that broached this same concept. The story was about Jamie and Paul as they were trying to put their little Mabel to sleep with out hovering over her. The whole episode was shot in one take, with no commercial interuptions.

    I really hope this show makes it. I am looking forward to future episodes.
  • Julia Louis-Dreyfuss pulls off the impossible. She stars in a sitcom where the character she portrays is about as far away as possible as she can get from the one she portrayed in "SEINFELD". The only similarities here is that surprisingly, she chose to name herself 'Ellie' in this sitcom where her name in Seinfeld was 'Elaine'. A coincidence perhaps?

    Nonetheless, this sitcom had me thinking prior that I was only going to witness another poor offering starring a Seinfeld allum portraying the same character as before (ie. Kramer - "THE MICHAEL RICHARDS SHOW", George - "THE BOB PATTERSON SHOW"). I decided to give "WATCHING ELLIE" a shot and I was pleasantly surprised!

    Julia Louis-Dreyfuss is Ellie. From what the pilot offered, Ellie is a jazz singer at a local club. Her life is full of comical mishaps and characters that she must interact with on a daily basis and she appears to have a sister of a somewhat flighty-nature. Ellie's lifestyle is amusing. She is sort of like 'Ally McBeal' without the dancing babies and dramatization of events that play out to the sound-track of Barry White.

    "WATCHING ELLIE" supposedly plays out in real-time. There is a time counter in the corner of the television screen that counts down from '22:00' minutes. In the pilot, Ellie scrambles to ready herself for her jazz gig while the toilet in her bathroom is over-flowing, unbeknownst to her. Her sister has stolen her favorite dress that she wants to wear and now her apartment is becoming flooded with water! Enter surprise number two, Peter Stormare (ie. "FARGO", "O' BROTHER WHERE ART THOU", "DANCER IN THE DARK")!! An actor who I never thought I'd see starring in a generic sitcom, he portrays a pathetic handy-man with an un-placeable accent (Swedish perhaps?) who can't help but ogle over Ellie as she calls on him to try and fix her broken toilet. When he slips and knocks himself out, Ellie dashes a few floors down to seek advice from a Doctor who assists in the situation while completely nude.

    Ellie herself has several character flaws. While not completely naive to the current events that shape her lifestyle, she has a male neighbor who has an issue with her by advising her constantly that the elevator is 'out of order' when it is in fact working (therefore forcing her to take the stairs every time) and she is also having an affair with a member of her jazz outfit who is (surprise, surprise) married!

    Unlike the character of 'Elaine' that she portrayed on "SEINFELD", Ellie is a character that you can sympathize with. She does come off as a loser of sorts, but there is also a lot of 'human' in her character that some people will be able to identify with.

    I really enjoyed the pilot, but will "WATCHING ELLIE" be able to keep its head above water with smart writing and not curse itself with repetitive jokes and turn into puerile trash (ie. "JUST SHOOT ME", "ALLY MCBEAL")? Only time will tell.

    In the meantime - well done Julia Louis-Dreyfuss!

    My Rating - 8 out of 10
  • Most of these comments show exactly why interesting and innovative shows, or indeed any show that's not in the same mold as every other show, don't get made. Or if they get made, they don't attract viewers quickly enough for the networks and they get dumped, whereas junk like "Veronica's Closet" just keeps getting renewed. "Action" was brilliant, and i'm glad it had its short perfect run. "Freaks and Geeks" was great. "Undeclared" is great. "Once and Again" had the best-written teens on televison, maybe ever. "The Tick" took a brilliant cartoon and somehow made it even better in live-action. And they all failed, because the American people want jokes in their comedy, jokes that come at regular intervals. They don't want comedy that's closer to drama, or to "real life", or to tragedy. They want a laugh track to tell them when something's funny. "Watching Ellie" is really funny, mostly because Julia Louis-Dreyfus is a brilliant physical comedienne. You watch her expressions, what she does with her eyes and mouth and hands, reacting to the frustrations of life, and she is just brilliant. The 22-minute limit is a gimmick, but it's actually fun to see what new situation the writers come up with to attach the ticking clock to. This show is going to die a quick death, and in five years it's going to come out on DVD and everyone will declaim its brilliance. Too bad it's a network show. Cheers to Julia Louis-Dreyfus (and even to Brad Hall).
  • Sorry, let me rephrase that: it was the best of shows, THEN it was the worst of shows. After its brilliant initial run proved it too sophisticated for a mass network audience, the lovely and genuinely charming Watching Ellie disappeared. Now it's back, in a grotesque, dumbed-down version with the same actors playing characters who have the same names and I guess are supposed to be the same characters. The only problem with this is that there is no character consistency; and indeed in the new version there are no characters at all, only are sit-com stereotypes. The 'humor', now that it can't be rooted in the characters (as, again, there are none) is reduced to the utterly predictable and insultingly stupid. (The man Ellie gave the finger to could have been her big break - what a shock! Her boyfriend isn't cheating on her, he's trying to further her career - who could have guessed?!) In lieu of the laughter that will no longer be forthcoming from the audience, the producers have kindly supplied the canned variety.

    The original Ellie, as fans will fondly recall, allowed amusing events to happen naturally, preferring a handful of genuinely funny moments in a half-hour to five lousy punch-lines per minute. They didn't even require that each episode end with a joke. Audiences, confused and perplexed by the lack of formula (duh, what am I supposed to laugh at? duh, this sure isn't Will and Grace!) stayed away in droves.

    Rather than making 'Ellie for Dummies,' why couldn't the show have been transferred to, say, HBO, where intelligent, laugh-track-free comedies seem to flourish? (Dare I point out that even Fox network, which airs Bernie Mac and Malcolm in the Middle, has recognized the value of the laugh-track-free, single camera, half-hour comedy?) Watching the 2003 version of Ellie is like having dinner with a former best friend who has since been lobotomized. And the food and the service are lousy too.
  • JL-D is the sexiest comedienne to come along in a blue moon, and her timing is extraordinary. Her new sitcom does some amazing things with real-time narrative, and features an affable bunch of oddball neighbors and cohorts. I really think this show has the potential to become the righteous heir to SEINFELD which, as we all know, is a hell of an act to follow. Very urbane and witty, with astute character comedy juggling well with absurd physical schtick. And I LOVE those freeze frames which showcase Julia's gorgeous mouth! Ouch! More please!
  • lune7811 August 2004
    It's too bad this show got cancelled so quickly, because personnally, I liked it a lot. Julia Louis-Dreyfus is a remarkable actress and the supporting cast is just as awesome, especially Steve Carell who played Ellie's arrogant, annoying but hilarious ex-boyfriend Edgar (lucky for us, we got to see him play an equally arrogant guy in Bruce Almighty) . I'm afraid the pilot, which was just OK, dissuaded many from keeping watching "Ellie": during the first episodes, the show was trying to find itself, trying to be original but it still had that Seinfeld feel at the same time (the fact that Ellie would sing at the end of the first few episodes was quite reminiscent of Jerry's opening and closing monologues), and I have to admit that at first, it was hard to tell Ellie and Elaine apart. But eventually, the show slightly changed its concept and got better and funnier, and I'm told it was a whole lot more watchable than the Micheal Richards show and Bob Peterson, Jason Alexander's sitcom. Seinfeld Curse? Not in Julia's case, who has the talent to be an even better headliner than Jerry ever was. Too bad, just too bad...
  • First off, don't believe everything you read. For example, I've been cruising around the net trying to figure out when I can expect to see more of Watching Ellie, and I come across a review that is way off.

    My wife and I loved the first season and are patiently waiting with crossed fingers to see Julia again. The cast of characters blended well together, the storyline was intriguing, witty, and made us laugh out loud. For thirty minutes a week, this cast provided us with the type of entertainment that is becoming harder and harder to find.

    Bring back "Watching Ellie".
  • I was not expecting too much with this show - seeing the success of most spin-offs from Seinfeld failed, I was hoping Watching Ellie wouldn't suffer the same fate...but the show was just plain terrible. While the real-time format was somewhat original (sorry, "24" made it first), there was absolutely no structure whatsoever to the show. There were random events after random events, and the show literally became...well, a show about nothing - and not in the good way. The jokes failed regularly; while I applaud their decision to avoid a laugh track, there's something else they should have done away with: sitcom jokes. While the show is not all sitcom jokes, there were enough in there to realize just how bad such styled jokes are without a laugh track to encourage your humor. There was no Sex and the City humor in here, or even Malcolm in the Middle humor. Frankly, there was no humor. The little clock was no longer a means to orient yourself in Ellie's world - instead, it became more of a dragging clock. It is kind of like being in school, watching the clock and waiting for the 12:00 lunch bell...and the clock just drags sooooo slowly. Watching Ellie crashed and burned pretty damn badly.
  • "WATCHING ELLIE," in my opinion, is a pure definition of must-see TV! I haven't seen every episode, but I still enjoyed it. Despite the fact that it was short-lived, I still believe that this show was a pure definition of must-see TV! The one thing I remember very well is the timer that ran in the corner of the screen. In addition, I just wish this show could have done better. Before I wrap this up, I'd like to say that everyone always gave a good performance, the production design was spectacular, the costumes were well-designed, and the writing was always very strong. In conclusion, I hope they bring it back on the air for fans of the show to see.
  • No word could describe this show better than "trite".

    It's little more than oversimplified stereotypes, sophomoric clichés and predictable, stupid situations that EVERYONE has seen in dozens of shows before.

    This show exudes stupidity but not in a clever or parodied way. The characters are 2-D, plastic, petty and predictable.

    Sometimes I can recommend a show to SOMEONE or SOME demographic. However I can recommend this show to NO ONE. There's nothing new here.

    What you can get in this show you can get, and better, nearly everywhere else.
  • Really not a bad idea, but Julia Louis-Dreyfus is no Lucille Ball. I didn't buy it when she accidentally closed the grand piano. She's an okay singer, I guess, but I find it odd that they would name her charactar "Ellie". I know it's supposed to be "Eleanor" but it sounds too close to "Elaine". This show really wasn't that funny, but that's not to discredit Louis-Dreyfus as an actress. With the right script and a better time slot, she could make it work! I would also like to see her in movies again.
  • I put off watching this show for two reasons. One, Tuesday is my family's night for our weekly dosage of Jag. Two, I was expecting the "single season curse" that befell Micheal Richards and Jason Alexander. Seeing as Jag was a repeat, I decided to give "Watching Ellie" a view, and my god am I sorry I did so. The lack of acting ability in this cast, aside from Julia, is appalling. It's as if they had scripts tape to each others chest, and were reading them as the tapes rolled.

    Some people might assume that the omission of a "laugh track" or audience, was either a stab originality, or that it was due to the shows mobility. I for one assert that the inclusion of laughter would seem forced, or without merit, as there are no clear jokes.

    Maybe I have to give it a another try, but that will only happen when Jag is a repeat.
  • Julia Louis-Dreyfus new sitcom is as far from "Seinfeld" as it's possible to imagine and that's a giant leap in the right direction. "Watching Ellie" escapes the supposed curse dogging the "Seinfeld" cast members simply by being something the other attempts were not: it is good, extremely good. Viewers will have to surrender some of their preconceived notions about situation comedy and about "Watching Ellie"'s star. This is a bold departure in television format, especially for comedy, in that it runs in real-time. Twenty-two minutes elapse during the show and that is precisely how much time we see play out in Ellie's life. The clock counting down the remaining time adds a special urgency as we see Ellie struggle to make a club date on time or avoid an oblivious ex-boyfriend. It's a blend of humour and edge-of-the-seat urgency that keeps you riveted to the screen. And don't expect to see Elaine Benes revived; this is a new character, a different world. Ellie is as smart and sharp as Elaine ever was, but the edges are softened here. This is a woman who cares about the people around her. Ellie is charming, uncertain, witty, and utterly human. This is a woman we want to follow every week, want to see get her life in order, find happiness, and make us laugh. And that last she does very well.
  • I note how some people here were berating the unusual elements of "Watching Ellie" in its original brief run (oh the clock, it hurts my tiny head!), but now that it's accommodatingly been turned into "Just Shoot Will and Grace's Friends in Veronica's Closet," I don't yet see their follow-up critiques. Just as well. Give the show a chance to get going again.

    Indeed, it's hard to argue with anyone who simply states that something is not funny to them, but one of the reasons that we see idiotic phenomena on TV like 50 or 60 almost indistinguishable "reality" shows, or "Who Wants To Be a Millionaire?" five nights a week, is that anything that deviates from the familiar is heartily urinated-upon by the loudest, most reactionary complainers. At the risk of sounding like a pointy-headed art house goon, maybe my real beef is with the taste of the general public.

    Anyway, we have now been dutifully given a more conventional version of "Watching Ellie." Given the talent and money invested, I guess it was worth a shot. Try to give it a chance, at least, and watch a few before kicking it around. For those who instinctively compare it to "Seinfeld," although there's really no good reason for such a comparison, try watching the VERY FIRST episode of "Seinfeld" again. Whenever I see it, I'm reminded of how tedious it seemed to me and a lot of other people at that time. That show was very lucky to have survived its slow start, and last night's "Watching Ellie" at least seemed to hit the ground running, so to speak. I got some laughs out of it, and it has the potential for a lot more in time.
  • The critics they this show is the best one of the season, well better think again, I Don't recommend this show, it's another seinfeld star in a bad series, unfunny humor, poor scenes, and dumb performance by Julia-Louie Dreyfus, it's another reason that this crap is on the list for the worst tv of the year, and it shows.
  • Crowdog27 December 2004
    This show was fabulous. Some network lame-brain didn't give it time to fully mature. If you remember, "Seinfeld" had a slow start as well but the powers that be gave them some time to grow. "Ellie", I feel, wasn't given the proper respect. Too bad that a cable network didn't pick it up. I was a fan.

    I was very hopeful when they brought it back briefly, but I thought that the original format was much better then the new re-tooled version. Now we may never know if Brad Hall is as big a genius as Larry David.

    It's a shame, too, to waste such a great cast...
  • Is it just me or is this show really..bad? It tries Way too hard to be like Seinfeld, but nothing will ever be that good. I think Julia Louis Dreyfuss is very talented, but I think she is much better in a supporting role, especially as Elaine. The first half of the show (of the first episode) wasn't bad, but then it took a terrible turn for the worst. I mean come on, is this the best you can come up with? Its basically stupid slap stick comedy, which is probably because the writing is so bad. It was also very boring. I liked how they had a clock in the corner, it came in very handy when I could tell how long I had left in watching this unfunny series. I'm sorry Julia. You should have done a Seinfeld Spin-off. Learn from Kelsey Grammer. He wanted to do a show after Cheers about a guy in an accident that has people wait around on him and be his helpers. But another guy told him to keep the character of Fraiser. Now look at him. He's making millions PER EPISODE.
  • Will there ever be a successful "Seinfeld" spin-off? Maybe. But I'm still waiting. Julia Lous-Dreyfuss has talent, which she wonderfully demonstrated on the hit sitcom. This show is just as lame as most sitcoms. But I guess the creators felt it had "hit" written all over it, because it's new and innovative: no laugh track and shot in real time. I gotta admit, that is original. But where's the laughs? Added to the cast are the talents of Don Lake and Peter Stormare, but they're also given thankless roles. The show is good-natured and never depends on cheap sex gags, but it's also incredibly dull. I'd rather watch paint try than watch Ellie.

    My score: 3 (out of 10)
  • Please...a show devotes its first half to a non-stop overflowing toilet? This is the sort of slapstick used when a poor writing staff has zero creativity (and how stupid would you have to be to not know that the flow would stop as soon as the valve beneath is closed???) Thank goodness, my faith was redeemed last night with "Leap Of Faith" not surprisingly from a part of the creative team of "Sex & The City". Sorry Julia, I adore you but this mess cannot survive six episodes.
  • And the reason is her husband, Brad Hall, the creator and writer of this show, is not a funny man. He wasn't funny when he was on SNL, especially not on Weekend Update, so I predicted this show would bomb bc of him, and I was right. Waste of a great comedic actress.
  • The concept of this show was brilliant in it's originality. Okay, I know 24 was pretty new and doing the same sort of thing, but this was a "sitcom". It was more of a melodrama. It was met with similar criticism as Seinfeld was. Truth was the concept was well executed, but it was like being around people who have their own inside jokes and you are on the outside. You might laugh not because it's funny, but because it looks silly or is uncomfortable. It's not straight ahead humor. To all of you people cheering on this Seinfeld curse crap that's exactly what it is. They were saying that after The Michael Richards Show went off the air because The Tick suffered a similar fate. The Tick! Patrick Warburton who played Elaine's boyfriend in no more than 30 episodes (and that is being generous) is credited for starting the curse. His character on Seinfeld made him look like an easy target I guess. After the Michael Richards Show, Jason Alexander's show came on and they had it on several different time slots in the few weeks it was on. Before that show came on it was already being unfairly denounced. If you're going to attribute some curse that was started by a non-regular character then I want to point out that a character that was on a lot more frequently than Warburton was in a very successful show in the latter days of Seinfeld and beyond. Anyone hear of Wayne Knight? That's right, it's not something you want to hear. You all just want to hear the bad stuff and try to take away a great show's credibility. Watching Ellie was not a great show. Seinfeld was not a great show at first, but it got the chance because it was the right time for it. In another time the concepts attempted in Ellie will be used and develop a very solid sophisticated sit com. The only curse is that people let the media create some "curse" and like sheep say "I won't watch that somebody from Seinfeld is on." You all need to realize the Entertainment Tonight and shows of that kind are shown when people are having dinner for a reason and it ain't ratings my friend.
  • "Watching Ellie" has a lot of potential i hope it stays on TV. The guy who plays the vet is hilarious as is most of the cast. I think the show would be way better if they got ride of Ellie's British boyfriend he's not funny and takes away from the shows' fast pace humor. He should be off the show and let the other characters have more time to show their stuff and make every one laugh.
  • This show is a great original show. Its not like other shows where one episode can take place in a week. It actually shows a clock at the bottom of the screen and shows what she goes through in that 22 minutes. The first episode the timer represented how much time she had left until she had to sing at a club. You shows alot that she has to go through in 22 minutes. Like the first one where she has he toilet overflow, her neighbor gets knocked unconcious while trying to help, she has to find a doctor which is really a vet, she has to get dressed and get to the club with only 6 minutes to spare. I totally recommend this show. 10 out of 10 stars.
  • This show has a number of great things going for it. The 22-minute realtime episodes follow the trend of shows (like 24 and Andy Richter Controls the Universe) that reach to new or rarely utilized filming and editing techniques that add a new dimension to television viewing. In fact, in each of the 3 episodes I have seen, one of the cast members refers to the time left to the end of the episode [e.g.: "Would you two shut up and help me out of here? We've only got 11 minutes left to wrap this up!" or words to that effect...].

    The lack of laughtrack harkens to one of the finest seriocomedies ever produced - M*A*S*H, in which the laughtrack was banned from all surgery scenes. This decision allows the writing to speak for itself, without the need to tell you when to laugh.

    Hopefully, this show will not fall prey to the Seinfeld curse. If the network can keep it on the air long enough for viewers to give it a fair chance, this could be a real hit. Don't forget, Seinfeld started out as a lone pilot episode called The Seinfeld Chronicles in July of 1989, came back in May of 1990 for a 4-episode run befor starting a regular series schedule in January of 1991. By this time, we finally see the characters and their inter-relationships start to develop and gel into a show that really worked. In my opinion, Watching Ellie deserves the same consideration and should continue through it's regular season before it is judged at all.
  • The format is totally innovative. The show is totally entertaining. Each episode is 22 minutes of nonstop Julia, er, Ellie's crazy life.

    Comparing this gem to the monolithic Seinfeld is as much of an unfair apples-to-oranges comparison as comparing any of Ron Howard's Happy Days work with his film work. If you must pigeon hole this show, at least compare it with Sex in the City.

    Tune in and fasten your seat belt. It's a wild ride.
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