I had a few things left on my “to review” list prior to taking time off from blogging (which quite obviously I haven’t, but instead have just taken the pressure off myself to blog, with surprising results), and I thought I’d just punch the rest I hadn’t finished off out the door and get some content up.
It’s a total mixed bag of movies as witnessed on TV and DVD (and even one in the theatre), and these reviews aren’t really about being reviews but rather just getting whatever comments I had about them put down somewhere where I can go back to them if need be.
The movies here span decades between each other, from back in the 1960’s through to stuff that came out this year, and one thing that isn’t technically even released yet. Enjoy. Or don’t.
I had a few things left on my “to review” list prior to taking time off from blogging (which quite obviously I haven’t, but instead have just taken the pressure off myself to blog, with surprising results), and I thought I’d just punch the rest I hadn’t finished off out the door and get some content up.
So if you bothered to heed my warning last week, you would have tuned into the W Network last Thursday only to see that, indeed, it was some real estate program and not the Graig-featured episode of Oh So Cosmo. I guess the W Network has cut the show loose as an anchor program for their fledgling CosmoTV network. Ah well…I still managed to catch most of the Daily Show, so all was not lost. Hell, the Canadian election got a mention, so it was almost like I was on TV again, what with living in Canada and all.
The big Sarah Palin appearance on Saturday Night Live dominated the news for about 40 minutes on Sunday until Colin Powell dropped the O-Bomb(a) on an unsuspecting America. I agree it is huge news, sort of… I wonder whether the “Powell factor” will counterbalance the “SNL factor”… I’m sure there was some pundit somewhere on some channel dissecting exactly how much of a bump or hit the two (just two!?) candidates would gain/lose after the respective televisual events of the weekend.
Anyway, Palin on SNL was brilliant. I mean, she wasn’t brilliant, per se, but SNL’s use of her was actually pretty sharp. I found it interesting Palin’s almost total lack of anything to say (par for the course) - on script or off - and, quite frankly, the SNL crew managed to get just as many digs in on her the entire time she was there as they did with any of their previous Palin skits, if not more since they had both the pre-credits opener and the genius weekend update “Palin-rap” (I have a mini-crush on Amy Pohler after that one… girl’s got mad skillz [I didn't just write that did I?]… don’t tell Will Arnett). The thing about both those skits were the writers and performers managed to satirize Palin to her face and she smiled - like the beauty pageant prizewinner she is - and took it. Credit to her, but I really don’t think that’s what Palin and her handlers were going for when she went on there. If anything, I think the strength of SNL’s Palin parody has only increased as a result, as if to confirm that the public perception of Palin is actually Tina Fey’s Sarah Palin and not the real woman (I imagine there’s more views of the SNL skits on-line than of Palin herself on YouTube). Alec Baldwin, notorious leftie that he is, made it painfully clear that he was reading off the cards when he was “obliviously” tearing her down while she was standing right beside him, but he no doubt took a delicious glee in saying what was on script. I have to wonder, actually, if Baldwin could actually look at her, or if he was pretending to read off the cards so he wouldn’t have to.
As much as I enjoyed their to-her-face lampooning (still doesn’t usurp Stephen Colbert’s balls of brass speech to George W. Bush at the correspondents dinner a couple years ago, but comes a good second), it was really Mark Wahlberg’s appearance that was all the icing on a delicious SNL cake this weekend. After Andy Samberg’s bizarre send-up of Wahlberg two weeks ago, the press was making a big deal about it while Wahlberg was promoting his (apparently sub-terrible) new film, Max Payne, to the point that there was some serious belief that Wahlber was really gunning for Samberg. This culminated in Wahlberg’s appearance this past weekend where he confronts Samberg on camera, only to bust into a hilarious impersonation of Samberg’s impersonation of him. Great stuff. If anything, with all this happening on SNL this weekend, host Josh Brolin kind of got left behind, and the couple of skits he was involved in that dug into issues of the economy were of the “too soon/still painful” nature to be uproarious. Also, Kristen Wiig is tremendously good at being tremendously annoying. I respect her talent, but jesus…
Elsewhere on TV, Life on Mars is dead as J’onn J’onzz (comic book reference). The Americanization of the engaging British drama about a police officer sent back in time to 1973 after a tragic accident (is he in a coma just imagining this or is he crazy… or dead… or something else?) had a troubled path in crossing the Atlantic. Originally David E. Kelley was set to produce, then abandoned ship, as well, after screening the pilot the network made some major changes such as moving the show to New York from LA and switching Colm Meaney to Harvey Keitel. Though the scripts of the first two episodes wind up paralleling the source pretty well, they lost it all in nearly every other respect.
The biggest problem lies in the show’s lack of subtlety. Even if I didn’t watch the British production i would find the overtness of ABC’s Life on Mars not just annoying but insulting. Yes, we get it, it’s the seventies! You don’t need to pan in on seventies fashions or furniture or magazines or moustaches so often to hammer the point home. If anything the perpetual visuals-flashing of such 70’s things serves to only make it less convincing, trying way too hard to make us believe this is a reality. Meanwhile, the show’s lead, played by Irish-born Jason O’Mara, is a terrible choice to play someone struggling with maintaining a grip on their reality. Just like the show’s production values, there’s no nuance to his performance. Perpetually operating with a half-grin, O’Mara betrays his inner conflict at every turn. For a man hearing voices in his head, believing he’s from 35 years in the future, and dealing with a heavy dose of father-issues, he seems remarkably comfortable with his new surroundings, and when he’s not it’s as grandiose a display of ham-fisted act as I’ve seen unintentionally displayed outside of crappy teen dramas like Smallville and the Hills (not that I watch either of them).
I was hoping Harvey Keitel would be the show’s saving grace, alas, he too doesn’t seem to get Gene Hunt, or maybe he does, but doesn’t care to convey that in how he acts. His quips are poorly written and poorly delivered, in fact, most of the Americanized turns in the show are so tacked on, so flagrant that they kill any naturalness or flow within the show. The chemistry between Keitel and O’Mara is negligible, as is the supposed romantic chemistry between O’Mara and Gretchen Mol, all of it just brutally failing at every turn, painfully so. They even dropped the awesome 6-Million-Dollar-Man/Incredible Hulk-esque theme song, one of the best theme songs in the past decade. How do you do that?
The transformation from British to American television should have been a no brainer, but the current roster of Producers have managed to botch it in doing so in every sense. Fact of the matter is, after the first episode, if the show really wanted to establish itself, it should have taken off on its own path, dropping the British scripts and starting from scratch, like The Office did before it. As a result of not doing so, it’s a pale, unpalatable impersonation of the original series which was equal parts engrossing, entertaining and exciting.
A follow-up on Star Wars: The Clone Wars, since I managed to catch the third episode, after missing the second. I have to say, I want to like this, but I don’t, but I’ll continue to try for a while before I just forget about it altogether. The animation roams between stellar with the ships and action, to butt-ugly… namely the characters, mostly the human characters. The awful CGI animation for Anakin and Obi-Wan’s lifeless faces, amongst others, sends uncanny-valley spasms up my spine. To top it off the chit-chat of the battle droids (prominently displayed in the Phantom Menace) are honest-to-god annoying, but still not quite as annoying as Anakin’s useless Padawan Ahsoka Tano (Aden’s comment was “I hope Anakin kills you first when he goes nuts”). Her sole purpose in the show, however, is not to be annoying, but to draw in young girls, a difficult market for sci-fi, so I don’t begrudge the producers making the attempt, but I can still barely tolerate her. This third episode also produced far too many sequences in aerial dogfighting that seemed pulled from both Death Star runs (in “A New Hope” and “Return of the Jedi”). If you’re going to try to deliver something new, don’t keep reminding us of the old stuff. It just doesn’t compare.
If you’ve been asking yourselves lately, “whatever happened to that comic-book obsessed guy off that debt-management show a few months back and why haven’t I seen more of him on the TV”, well, now’s your chance.
Thu Oct 16 - 11:00 PM
Today on Oh So Cosmo…Fixated on your ex? Don’t want to let go? Josie takes a look what’s appropriate and what’s not. Then, Jacqui explores what his favorite superhero says about him and Wilder talks baseball cards and comic books in Boys and their Toys. Featuring comic book artist Alex Ross.
No, my name isn’t Alex Ross, but apparently the interview I did with Oh So Cosmo during Fan Expo back in August will be airing (again…).
Also, if you’re like me (then you are handsome), you’ll be interested - nay, gasping with excitement - to know that the Comedy Network is airing the Flight of the Conchords’ One Night Stand special this Saturday at 10pm with a second airing on Tuesday, October 21 at 10:30 p.m. ET/PT. Season 1 of the Flight Of The Conchords, for those of you who don’t already have an love to bits the DVDs, airs on Comedy Network starting Tuesday October 28 at 10:30 (following the Sarah Silverman Program).
The latest pillaging of fond childhood memories debuted this past Sunday at 7:00 on CTV in Canada. I managed to avoid the big screen debut of the new Clone Wars animated series, primarily because I’d taken a half-oath to not spend any more money on Star Wars again, but also because I couldn’t bring myself to watch it.
As my wife will tell you (with a shake of her head), I’m a Prequel apologist (although the the latter half of Attack of the Clones is a crime against cinema) which puts me well above pedophiles and Nazi sympathizers, but below fans of boy bands and watchers of sitcoms starring Jim Belushi on the list of reasons to dislike people. So it’s not that I’m completely disillusioned by George Lucas’ monstrous cash cow, but I’m also just worn out. My fandom was stretched to its limit in 1999 and ultimately broke in 2002, and has never recovered.
The new fall season kicked off this week and…I say thee yawn… think I’m sticking with TV on DVD for now.
I read The Onion AV Club’s Fall Preview (part 1 and part 2) and there seems to be a serious dearth of worthwhile product… at least, worthwhile for me.
Any longtime reader (all 2 of you, hi Mom) will know that I’ve been a strong proponent against scheduled TV for going on 9 years now. I could live happily without cable TV or satellite and probably be much more productive for it. So were fall seasons used to be exciting for me, now I just want to fast forward six months and see what’s still hanging around and what the general reaction to it is like. Some things build up steam as they progress, others peter out and die quickly, and the rest drag out their mediocrity for what seems like ages. Anything worth watching will be available on DVD next summer, that’s my philosophy.
Of marginal interest to me this year is the new JJ Abrams show, Fringe, which debuted on Fox last night with a 90 minute (or likely 1hr commercial-free) pilot. I read and attempted to review the first issue of the Fringe comic book tie-in but that was a futile effort (it made little sense before watching the show and barely improves afterward).
The show itself is, well, another X-Files, with scientists and FBI working together to explore “Fringe sciences” like invisibility, teleportation, that sort of stuff. There’s conspiracies in the works and there’s the potential for “monster-of-the-week” and season story arcs together. It’s trying hard to capture the flavour of Heroes as well, in that it’s a little cornball and the characters don’t really take one another seriously.
I missed the first 20 minutes of the premier (here’s a major fuck-up… every comic book for the past month has been advertising a full-page spread for Fringe, “starting Tuesday Sept. 9 at 9 EST”, when in fact it started at 8pm and its regular timeslot is Tuesdays at 9. Ooops.) so I missed what happened (something about a plane and some sort of toxin that turns people to jelly maybe?). When one of the people affected is an FBI agent, the partner/lover of one of the show’s main characters, all the stops are pulled out to try and find an answer. This includes going to Iraq to find one Mr. Joshua Jackson and bring him home so he can bail his fringe scientist genius dad out of the mental hospital and they can all go work together in his 1970’s lab in the basement of Harvard. Yadda yadda yadda, they save the FBI guy, blah blah blah, he’s a bad guy, yadda, tragedy, blah, drama, yadda blah, set-up for series.
There was one moment I liked, which was the reveal of the advanced prosthetic arm on the personal assistant to the dad’s ex-partner, who now is a billionare head of an R&D corporation taking advantage of all their science and wreaking havoc on the world. The dialogue in the scene itself was crap, overwrought and embarrassingly comic-booky, but it was like something out of Transhuman, a comic book I quite enjoy.
The show has limited potential for entertainment, however it feels way too familiar, and the leads are completely uninteresting (the show spent more time on story than character and the character moments were cheeseball). I’m not inclined to catch it weekly, but I may give it a view from time-to-time.
Previously on Fox, The Sarah Connor Chronicles returned, which was exciting for the wife and I. Although I’m not a huge terminator fan, I did like the show’s take on the characters and its use of action. This season kicked off with some “yeah right” moments , but were dominated more by the “right on!” moments (like girl terminator’s punch to the side of the SUV). I was stunned to see Garbage frontwoman Shirley Manson on the show… seriously, a total, wtf moment, and she’s not a great actress but she’s doing all right. And the emergence of a T-1000 (spoiler) was a nice surprise. It’s all playing havoc with continuity, but they’ve finally started toughening John Connor up, changing him from whiny mamma’s boy to sullen, moody rebel. I enjoy Lena Hedley’s Sarah Connor for all her mothering tendencies, as frustrating as they are, they ring true. The show does a good job of twisting the human and the machine, really getting at how fearsome they are but how one-note they can be. Still enjoying it and glad it’s back.
Of other returning or new shows, I’m not really excited for much. Worst Week (based off a British show “the Worst Week of My Life”) sounds interesting but I don’t remember the last time I followed a half hour comedy weekly. Life On Mars could be entertaining but I still have the original British series on DVD to watch. 11th Hour is also based off a British show (which starred Patrick Stewart, and here stars Dark City’s Rufus Sewell), and features more paranormal… sorry, scientific anomaly investigations, but I think I’d prefer to watch the original. I think I’m kind of a Brit TV snob.
I see that Pushing Daisies is back, and if ever there was a show that needed to have a limited run (like British TV series do), that one’s it. A great concept which can grow tired and tedious very quickly. I loved the pilot and caught only two subsequent episodes which remained stylish and cute but not nearly as compelling.
So, in the end, it really comes down to this: I’m waiting for Lost to start up and anything else can wait for DVD, if it survives. Thanks for reading the internets.
Clint Mansell’s soundtrack (with the Kronos Quartet) for the Darren Aronofsky film Requiem For A Dream is a very potent, intense and frightening work, and also quite beautiful at times. It’s achieved a cult status which may at this point surpass the film itself, most likely because of the track Lux Aeterna, which has been coopted by more movie trailers that I can recall… but that’s why there’s wikipedia. You’ve no doubt heard it, recently even, on the Telus advert currently showing before most films or shortly afterwards in this trailer:
Yes, of course it sounds familiar. Remember the trailer to such small little films like 300, I Am Legend, or Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers?
Of course, reusing music isn’t anything new, I think it’s just the rather excessive use of Mansell’s wonderful composition that surprises me.
Stranger though is the repurposing of the theme from fanboy favourite The Adventures of Brisco County Jr. (written by Randy Edelman) by NBC for their Olympics broadcast (apparently they’ve been using it for various sporting events as far back as their 1996 MLB All-Star Game coverage).
TV you make me angry.
My wife is a huge Olympics nut, and I admit they are enticing and exciting viewing, filling this humble country with a minor dosage of patriotic fervor, only to be doused by underwhelming performances. We care, but really, not all that much. We don’t mind placing 6th, if at all, and we’re ecstatic over bronze… “we made the podium”, but in the context of our country and our pride, we know we’re good at hockey, and if we’re decent at anything else that’s just gravy. Even having some American gold medalist is half-Canadian because his mother was born in the Maritimes is a coup for us. We take what we can get. But I’m not angry about our placings. We’re a Winter Olympics country. In the Summer Games we’re good at rowing and, every so often, swimming and that’s about it. Doesn’t matter all that much. Americans can win all the Gold medals they want, we have universal health care (and not George Bush). Chinese can win half of everything, that’s all right, we have a free press.
What makes me angry, though, is the coverage, the hideous, atrocious coverage. Without having a digital cable or satellite package, we get three (sometimes four) channels of Olympics coverage in CBC, CBC Quebec, NBC and TSN. TSN is an affiliated partner of CBC so they’re getting second string coverage, usually long-form events like softball, basketball or soccer (football), and you’re more likely to see a NASCAR race as you’ll see Olympics coverage. I’m not sure what the deal was between CBC and TSN but it’s very limiting from a viewer perspective. NBC, meanwhile, is covering the games as a series of human interest stories and not actual sporting competition. Everything has to be drama, drama, drama. NBC, when they’re not airing commercials, are airing some 3-5 minute long puff piece about some French swimmer’s scandal, or the Dream Team of yore, or Mark Spitz’s 7-medal record (again and again and again), not to mention the constant recapping of past glories from not just previous Olympics but two days ago. They spend more time documenting a gold medal win after the fact than actually covering the win at the time.
Alternating between CBC and CBC-Quebec is the preferable way to watch the sports, but they’re equally infuriating because they air so many commercials. I’d say 40% of broadcast time is commercials. The CBC is doing this thing where they will focus on one particular discipline (swimming or gymnastics) and filling their time covering that sport. They’re making very little effort to cover the other sports going on at that time or earlier in the day. WIth 10 - 20 minutes between swim races, you’d think they could cut to some other event, but no, we get about 8 minutes of commercials and 11 minutes of analysis of what we just saw or what’s coming up and maybe a minute of updates from the studio. It’s pathetic.
CBC is pushing their on-line broadband coverage, however their connections are overloaded and therefore sketchy and watching in a tiny window on the computer delivers none of the comforts of the living room, nor the social atmosphere of collecting together to watch the games.
I’m quite fed up with how the coverage of the Games has been progressing. I imagine outside of prime time (while at work or sleeping) coverage is a lot more focussed and fulfilling but, well, I’m a 9 to 5er now and don’t have the luxury of watching til the wee hours of the morn or during the day.
Go Canada? Enh, whatever. I almost can’t be bothered.
At some point over the past three years or so I’ve actually come to like James Lipton, the hyper-prepared, creepy, leprechaunish host of Inside The Actor’s Studio. I enjoyed Will Ferrell’s take on the man on Saturday Night Live years ago, and Bob Odenkirk’s somewhat repulsive take on Mr. Show, but that was parody, somewhat mocking without any real sense of affection for the man and what he does. But, if you sit down and watch an episode of the show with Lipton interviewing someone whom you’re actually interested in, it’s evident the man (and his writing staff) have done their research and are absolutely fearless about asking any question. Much of the time I have to question “what business is it of yours” but if it invariably comes back to, “and how do you use that in your acting/directing/writing etc.” there is actually some merit.
I think my initial beef with Lipton was his show’s misnomer of a title, since he so often has people who are not actors on his stage. I also was genuinely annoyed by the B-level, C-level (and below) talent that he frequently has on the show, wondering exactly what perspective these TV movie actors really have to give, as well as the young stars who only have a few pictures under their belt. But as a whole there’s an interesting examination of the form from all different angles to what he does, with the thoughts from the people in front of the camera, to the observations of the people behind it, to the people that watch it all from the outside as interviewers (Barbara Walters was on the last episode I saw).
I think I started cutting him some slack after Lipton’s brilliant turn on Arrested Development as the New Warden, who kept trying to promote his screenplay, aptly titled “New Warden”. It was a very self-aware performance, not to dissimilar from Liza Minelli’s Lucille 2 on the show or Bill Shatner’s ham-fistedness in every venture he’s undertake in the past decade. There’s something very enjoyable about an actor or personality who’s so very aware of their presence and how an audience perceives them, and then know how to use all that to their advantage in performing. Lipton’s certainly embracing his unique place in pop culture, and quite frankly, I quite like him for it. And this, well, this kills me:
Best use of “Booya” this decade.
more Hellboy shilling after the cut:
Semi-finals round 2 of Last Comic Standing aired last night, and the “reality show” is a freight train of bullshit. Unlike last week where I was incredibly annoyed by who they didn’t pick, this week I’m incredibly annoyed by who they did.
Esther Ku is a cutesy, young, 20-something Korean American girl who plays up her cheekiness to the Nth degree and seems to have someone convinced that she has some sort of talent (maybe for giving BJs to the producers?) Her act is overly-dependent on making painful “observations” about her Korean heritage, which essentially serve as mockery and perpetuation of stereotypes. Talking about her police officer brother she questioned what was so intimidating about someone saying “Ricense and legislation preese”? “Celebrity Guest Panel” Richard Belzer and guy from Sopranos both praised her, even though it was obvious they weren’t amused. I’m guessing some sort of producer edict said “we’re putting her through, so don’t say anything mean”. Earlier in the show, Belzer chided a comic (Heath Hyche) whose act had him playing a 1940’s Japanese pilot and speaking in Engrish, but said of Esther Ku’s same Engrish that it was okay for people to poke fun at their own ethnicity. Sure it is, if there’s something more than just perpetuating the same racist cliches for the sake of an easy laugh. There was nothing Esther Ku did that was funny or edgy in discussing her ethnicity, it was, instead, mockery and insulting. (The Japanese pilot bit would have been fine if the “joke” wasn’t so plain… “he fry rike Tom Cruise?” bleh).
It’s a problem I have with a lot of LCS contestants and comedians in general, people who use their ethnicity as a crutch. We’re not talking Dave Chappelle or Chris Rock or Margaret Cho here, people who are able to discuss their race intelligently and insightfully without resorting to denigrating their people. Those are people who can use cliches against the audience to provoke humour, as opposed to Esther Ku who says, in essence, “I’m not white, isn’t that funny?”
Oh and Esther Ku also makes fun of fat people (with lame jokes like, “Guys always wanna buy me dinner. Do I look hungry? I have a friend who’s heavy, and nobody wants to buy her dinner. She looks like she’s already full.”) How does that work Belzer, can you make fun of fat people if you’re not fat?
Then there’s Papa CJ, a comic from India who doesn’t denigrate his country or his people, but he spurts out joke after joke that reference the most basic elements of Indian culture, or at least what Americans know of it (large population, belief in reincarnation, call centers). Indian-Canadian comics like Russell Peters and Shaun Majumder have something to say about themselves, about their upbringing, about their heritage… Papa CJ is trying to tell jokes that have nothing to do with himself, they’re just jokes, and poor ones at that. Now, Papa CJ doesn’t come from a culture where there are a lot (any) of stand-up comedians, so respect to him for giving it a go, but he’s hardly pioneering anything. Watch some Richard Pryor or George Carlin (RIP both) and take notes.
I have a schedule for this blog, going as such: Monday is TV day, Tuesday music, Thursdays are for movies and Fridays are for comics (all other days are freebies to post about whatever). I came up with this “schedule” about 2 months back and from the moment I did, I didn’t adhere to it. I burned out. I’m still burnt out. It doesn’t mean I don’t have anything to say, just that I’m too tired to say it. This blog is supposed to be about consuming, whether it’s reviewing things I’ve just consumed, reevaluating the things I’ve previously consumed, talking about how I came to be such a big consumer, discussing my hypothetical lack of consumption, or just geeking out about consumables… well, I’ve not been doing a very good job of sticking to theme, primarily because I haven’t been writing a lot at all. The shift from personal blog to topic-focussed means I don’t get to blog all the curious and wonderful little thoughts that come to mind each day (most of them in the shower or on the toilet where it’s hard to blog anyway, mind you), and yet I like the idea of a focussed blog. I just wish I had the energy to devote to it that I once did. Life certainly has changed… not for the worse, mind, just priorities are far different today than they once were.
Anyway, today is “Comics Friday”, but since I spend a lot of time during the week administering Rack Raids (where right now you can read about Starman-writer James Robinson’s return to comics on Superman or Grant Morrison’s latest, Final Crisis #2 or any of my 300 hundred other comic book reviews from the past two years) I figured I’d talk about the *other* comics, you know the stand-up kind.
Yes, I just did a Last Comic Standing write-up on Monday, but the first semi-final showdown aired last night, and there were, to my surprise, some very, very good performances. Even more surprising was the format of the showcase. Essentially, 16 comics performing about 3 minutes of material each before 1000-seat theatre in Las Vegas before some guy from the Sopranos and Richard (”Detective Munch”) Belzer as “celebrity judges”.
As I noted on Monday, the purpose of the “Celebrity Judge” is for show, as the real decisions are no doubt made by the producers, and producers, if you’ve ever read any stories about them (in general), are notoriously out of touch with what’s actually quality, much more concerned about money and returns. (from wikipedia: “It was revealed that a panel of four producers were also casting votes in the process, assuring that unless all four celebrity judges cast the exact same ten votes, their voting power could be usurped by the four unanimously agreeing producers…. It was also revealed that some of the finalists who advanced were clients of the producers or directors of the show.”) On the casting process of the show: it appears that (and I’ve been told this about a lot of “reality TV shows” from Next Top Model to the current How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria?) that certain contestants are encouraged to try out for the show, with the near guarantee that they’ll make it on the show. “Anyone can line up and be seen by producers, but top agents were given a number of spots to give out to clients who got a specific call time.”
With Lost on it’s 8-month hiatus (and the NHL two months away from another season), I have no regularly scheduled TV to watch, except that I’m kind of watching Last Comic Standing. I’ve watched this show irregularly since its inception about six years ago, because, well, I love stand-up comedy (correction, I love good stand-up comedy). However, LCS isn’t so much stand-up comedy as it is a reality TV show, since it’s more interested, at least in the onset with showing drama and American Idol-style scenarios of hopefulness and heartbreak rather than the goods of the plentiful comedians who bother to show up to these things. And no doubt about it, most stand up comics who don’t already have an HBO or MTV show or some recurring role on a Fox or CBS sitcom will be standing in line to audition, because stand up comedians earn shit for a living. Only the most successful of stand-ups (RIP George Carlin) will actually see the fame that they seek, and most not by way of their stand-up… there will be more than a few who succumb to their dark place first (Richard Jeni, Mitch Hedburg, Sam Kinison, Bill Hicks). So it’s no surprise that stand-ups will reduce themselves, like regular attention-seeking gutterfolk (like me), to the sordid world of “reality” TV.
I don’t blame a single comedian for jumping at the chance to achieve (compared to their current status) the massive exposure that LCS provides. Moreover, the truly good comics deserve a shot at more prominent notoriety, and not for being the sidekick on a “chubby guy-hot wife” sitcom. Although the reward from winning Last Comic Standing has diminished since the first season (where the winner got a first-look, pricey television deal as well a stand-up comedy special) so too has the hoops the show makes the cast degradingly jump through (the first season wound up big-brother style with the comics having to perform stupid tasks and embarrass themselves on TV stirring up drama with one another). This season and last, it’s more focussed on material and performing, although I’m not sure if they’ve eliminated the inane tasks altogether.
They’ve begun casting the show internationally, last year actually going to different cities in the world, this year cheaply hosting an international try-out in Miami, but also heading to Canada to check out the talent there. Last year they turned up in Montreal, where I noticed a lot of the Toronto scene had descended. Familiar with a lot of the comedians I knew who would work and who wouldn’t work for the American show almost immediately, and was generally pleased with their picks last year (Deborah DiGiovanni was absolutely my top pick and cudos to her for making it deep into the final rounds). They did however, through editing, make more than a few really talented comics look foolish (crickets anyone), which is the tragic part of the show.
I missed this years showcase in Toronto, but I see that Sean Cullen - a personal favourite since his classic Corky and the Juice Pigs days back in the early ’90’s - has made it through to the semis. Sean is a storm of funny, and probably the biggest talent that show has ever had on it. Sean has appeared on Mad TV, the Americanized version of Fawlty Towers (with John Larroquette), has had his own CBC radio show for many years now, has had his own six-episode CBC TV series, and more than a few gut-bursting Comedy specials on CTV/Comedy Network (not to mention a starring role in the Toronto casting of The Producers, and other stage work locally). He is a force to be reckoned with, he can improvise like no one else and his sense of surreal and bizarre are often unparalleled. Will he win Last Comic Standing. I don’t see how he can’t. But then again, he’s not a fat black man or a redneck, so I don’t know if the common American audience will connect with him. Doesn’t matter though, if he keeps his cerebral A-game up, he’s going to land himself some crazy production deal on Showtime or something.
The thing that annoys me about the selection process on LCS is the obvious intervention of the producers. I think that all the semi-finalists should be decided by the crowd in the clubs where they perform. Unfortunately, the producers select the finalists (not the two celebrity judges that are trophied in the room) and they do so based on “demographic appeal” or “quirkiness” rather than talent. The inexperienced cute Asian girl from New York… well, she got picked because she’s a cute Asian girl. That tattooed comic book geek version of Rich Little… he got picked because he does really good impressions, even though he’s absolutely not funny. That weird British guy they chose in Miami… totally not funny, just very weird, and British, and not in a good way. About 1/2 the picks for finalists the producers were obviously looking for “interesting” and not “talented”. As an aware viewer it’s maddening.
I’m looking forward to actually seeing some full sets from the finalists, even though the bulk of them are mass-audience pap-comedy producers whose angles and punchlines you can see a mile off…. but I do like the surprises. Plus I want to see Sean KILL. Fingers crossed for that (he certainly has most of them at a disadvantage)… oh and cudos also for choosing God’s Pottery. I don’t think enough people will get the joke, but they’re great. Also… very disappointed to see Bill Bellamy back. With all the talented comedians in need of work out there (even former contestants), why him?
Anyway… in Canada, more specifically Toronto, if you need some quick cash you audition for Video On Trial, a show on much music which scams the VH1 Best Week Ever formula of having comedians riff on news stories, and has comedians poke fun at music videos. It sounds cheap and easy, and it is, but it’s sometimes deliriously entertaining. This past weekend they took on teen sensations, including a classic Menudo video, and I cried. I haven’t laughed that hard in a very long time. Of course I was a bit tipsy and over-tired but nevertheless, hysterical stuff. Always worth watching when there’s nothing worth watching.
Sorry for the lack of posting… was out camping last weekend for four days (PHOTOS on Flickr, videos coming soon) and just haven’t had much time to catch up here.
Fridays are supposed to be Comics day, but let’s face it, I haven’t at all adhered to the whole Monday - TV, Tuesday - Music, Thursday - Movies, Friday - Comics thing at all since I announced it (not for lack of trying however). Hopefully for the coming 7 months I’ll get it all straightened out.
And now, I gush about Lost’s 2-hour Season Finale that aired yesterday
I. Loved. It.
I loved having two hours of Lost to sit down to. I loved how it brought the bulk of the flash forwards together. I loved that we finally got to know who was in the box. I loved that I rooted for Ben one moment and hated him again the next and sometimes did both at the same time. I loved Sayid’s brawl with Keamy. I loved the ship exploding (bye Jin). I loved the island disappearing. I loved Sawyer washing up on shore with his Bond-ian sexyman walk towards to Juliette who barely responds to him (yet still does). I loved Charlotte’s revelation (was she Ben’s little friend?). I love that I figured out that the reason why there’s the time lag between the boat and the island is because the island had been moved before therefore it’s out of step with real time. I love that Locke gets to be in charge of the island (and like Locke replaces Ben, is Charlotte supposed to replace him when he f*cks it all up?). I love the explanation for why Ben was wearing a winter coat when he teleported to the desert. I loved Hurley’s chess game with Mr. Echo. I loved the way the first flash forward from end season 3 continued on. I loved Kate’s dream about Claire. I loved Walt visiting Hurley in the mental institute. I love the curious moment between Sun and Mr. Widmore (obviously [?nothing's obvious in Lost] Sun finds out that Ben let the boat explode). And I loved, most of all, Desmond’s reunion with Penny. I got teary. I’m such a softy.
I really, truly, think it was an awesome, awesome wrap to the season. It felt like it closed off this season, answered a whole bunch of questions, but left so much more open to explore without being the gut-achingly annoying cliffhanger that ended previous seasons. If it got cancelled tomorrow, I’d feel angry, sure, but at least a little satisfied by where it left off. Thankfully, we’ve got 32 episodes left to go… (ending May 2010…oy).
Curious, I watched some of the previous episode “Pop-up trivia version” and it was slightly extended, in that during the press conference Jack lists off three names of other people who survived the wreck but died on “the island”… Boone, Libby and Charlie. I’m extremely curious as to why those three were picked and not the plethora of other people who are confirmed dead, like Shannon, Nikki and Paulo, Mr. Echo (or any of the tailies for that matter)..
Altogether… 2 hours of total awesome. I’m left happy until next January.
I was a HUGE X-Files junkie back in the ’90’s, but then I wasn’t the only one. I was sitting around a diner table with some other friends from the comic shoppe in early ‘94 when Rob (the only one of us with satellite dish) started telling us about this great series on the upstart Fox network (which had yet to become part of the cable package in Thunder Bay) called the X-Files, about FBI agents, one of which is a conspiracy nut, the other a straight-laced, attractive science-geek, together investigating paranormal phenomenon. He told us about a bunch of things that happened on a few episodes involving monsters and UFOs and we were all rather entranced. Rob said the show was great, but that he had his doubts it’d last beyond the first season. Well, it did.
I managed to start watching the X-Files during the summer between its first and second seasons (either local cable picked up the Fox network or CTV picked up Canadian distribution rights to the show, I can’t remember which), catching up on a handful of episodes. The second season hooked me right in… deep. I loved the one-off, monster-of-the-week episodes (flukeman!) and I loved the big over-arching conspiracy stuff, and rat-boy Krycek (is he good or bad or what). The third and forth seasons started exploring some of the more comedic sides of the characters and the situations with some brilliant episodes by Glen Morgan and James Wong (later would go on to create Space: Above and Beyond, and then mediocre movies like Final Destination and The One).
I bought episode guides every year, trading cards, dozens of comic books, novels, magazines, action figures and more. I did love me some X-Files something fierce.
By season five, though, the show began to wear a little thin, particularly in it’s grand conspiracy arc which established the annoying precedent of asking three questions for every one it answered. It was clear in the 5th season that there really wasn’t a masterplan for the big storyline. Also, Scully’s constant dismissal of everything she’d seen up to that point was excessively annoying (I know the conceit was that he’s the believer and she’s the debunker, but after 100+ adventures she wasn’t any closer to admitting there’s strange phenomenon in their little world…sigh). Between the 5th and 6th season, Fight The Future, the X-Files film hit the theatre, and while it looked good all it did was raise a whole slew of questions without giving any answers or a sense of completion.
The film seemed to actually have a negative impact on the show, its character and the fanbase, and the 6th season (having shifted from Vancouver to LA so that star David Duchovney could be closer to actress wife Tea Leoni) started out weak, and only got worse (one good episode, “Drive” was overshadowed by the stank of a hillock of exceptionally bad ones, including one particularly horrendous episode guest starring Lily Tomlin). The show and its situations seemed to be repeating themselves, over and over again, and the Mulder and Scully dynamic (not to mention Skinner and the Cigarette Smoking Man) became unintentionally funny since it was so golddang repetitive. I stopped watching the show at the beginning of the 7th season, picking it up briefly in the 8th season to see Mulder leave and Dogget come in (a momentary breath of life added). The few moments throughout its remaining seasons that I would catch made me shudder in horror (that not being the show’s intent I should clarify), and the confirmed X-Files fan was no more.
Yet I still had affection for the early seasons, and I purchased on DVD the first season (for about $120), later acquiring seasons 3 and 4 used (for about $65 each). I tried to watch them, and found I couldn’t. I actively detested the show for it’s lack of vision, for missing out on such a solid opportunity to be something great, instead piddling out over three (maybe four) unnecessary seasons. I’d like to think a lot of TV shows that have larger story arcs learned a lot from this failure (Lost certainly seems to have a destination, a light at the end of its tunnel, while shows like Battlestar Galactica and Heroes seemed to have focus but then completely collapsed under the weight of their own success recently).
Time has passed, though. It’s been about four years (if not more) since I last watched an episode of the show, and you know, I think my nostalgia receptors are kicking in… I want to believe that there’s something good about the X-Files still, and I think this new movie might prove it. The rumour is it has nothing to do with the show’s convoluted mythology, instead taking more the monster-of-the-week approach, which is positive, plus I think it’ll be nice to see Mulder and Scully again, like reconnecting with old friends and seeing what they’ve been up to. As long as it’s not a film depending on the nuanced fanaticism of the ol’ “X-Philes” collective, then it should prove a lot of fun. Fingers crossed.
There was blood. Broken sticks. Ruptured spleens. Bruising blows. Heartbreak. Triumph. Anger. Loathing. Fury. Fire. Grit. Determination. Domination. Goals. Assists. Overtimes. Double Overtimes. Quadruple Overtimes. Missed opportunities. Insane saves. Goals waved off. BS penalties called. Blatant penalties not called. Tears. Grimaces. Smiles. Fists.meeting.faces.
That was the (NHL) playoffs round two (not to be confused with the NBA Playoffs which had lots of gangly limbs interlocking like pretzels and plenty of sounds of shoes squeaking on floors).
I don’t watch a lot of movies that are broadcast or on cable. My preferred method of film-viewing is in the theater, followed (sometimes distantly, sometimes closely) by watching them on DVD. Watching movies on television has always posed problems, first the commercial interruptions. Films were never meant to have commercial breaks and their insertion always has caused me frustration, the way commercials break up the flow of a film. As I can honestly say I’ve never liked watching a film that would be disrupted by advertising, even at a quite young age, I suppose I’ve always held that films should remain pure, unedited.
This opinion only solidified once I discovered laserdisc in the early 1990s, and thus letterboxing. I became a bit of a viewing snob afterward. Letterboxed laserdic movies allowed me for the first time to see rented films in their entirety, not formatted for 4:3. Can you imagine the impact watching the Letterboxed edition of Star Wars, Empire, and Return of the Jedi had on someone who’d fanatically watched pan-and-scan versions of these films for years? My mind was blown. Ever since pan-and-scanning was brought to my attention I can’t watch movies brutalized that way (explaining pan-and-scan: since the widescreen format and television square aren’t compatible, when films are edited for playing on TV, obviously about 1/3 of the picture is cropped off, and pan-and-scan is what the editors do to ensure that the focus is always at the center of the screen. A wide shot of, say, Lethal Weapon, where Murtaugh and Riggs are both in the chief’s office, sitting on either side of the screen, the formatted version will pan between Danny Glover and Mel Gibson as they speak… it’s dreadfully noticable once you become aware of it).
Then there’s the obvious failure of movies broadcast on TV for language and nudity and whatnot. Sometimes this can actually make the film unintentionally funny and thus entertaining in its own right (listening to the audio commentary for Mallrats makes me want to see the edited-for-TV version). The example I think most people would know is either the TBS versions of Striptease and Showgirls which both feature painted-on bras or bikinis as a means of bypassing the nudity. Why they would even bother showing films about stripping in the first place. Aden’s favourite redub for swearing is from The Big Lebowski where Walter starts smashing a car with a bat screaming “This is what happens when you FUCK a STRANGER in the ASS, Larry”, which became for broadcas “This is what happens when you FIND a FRIEND in the ALPS, Larry”.
I was, quite literally, heartbroken by the turn of events last night. I know it’s silly, and quite frankly had the Washington Capitals gone out in six games or had been completely steamrolled by the Philadelphia Flyers last night I wouldn’t be so upset… but Philly were completely outmatched in every respect except goaltending. Biron kept them in the game the entire time, but Washington was in control, dominant and should have been the victor. So what happened?
1) Biron was a spry and immovable. The Caps tossed 42 shots his way, about half of those more than quality scoring chances. Good for him, bad for the Caps.
2) The refs were flipping blind from the halfway point of the second through to the end of the third. They stopped calling anything, letting the teams play, which is great, except for the fact that the second Philly goal was scored as a result of goaltender interference (a Flyer pushed a Cap onto Huet and then pinned them both to the ice while his teammate put the puck in the net.)
3) Stupid penalties. The Caps took a host of dumb penalties, three in the first, and one in OT that cost them the game.
Ovechkin is the most incredible and enthusiastic player on the ice today, and immeasurable joy to watch. Had the Caps won, the second round would have pitted them against the other Pennsylvania team, the Penguins, putting Ovechkin against Malkin and Crosby, which is like going to see the Rolling Stones play a double bill with the Beatles in 1969. It would have been one of the best things for hockey ever! The Caps losing at home when they were the better team of the game, when they were screwed by an awkward goal, when they clearly should have won, well, it was enough to make me weep like a knee to the groin.
The playoffs are a lot dimmer as a result, and I was so upset I couldn’t even watch any of the Calgary/San Jose game 7 (although San Jose killed Calgary which didn’t make me any happier, nor did being right about both Philly and San Jose moving on).
Our match ups for round two find:
v. — I told Aden about my disheartened attitude towards the second round of the playoffs and she said “Now you can always root AGAINST Philly”, which sounds like a good idea. Unfortunately, Montreal isn’t looking very good these days and another physical team like Philly is going to put the hurt on them something fierce. Biron is a wall but the finesse players on Montreal might be able to break him down. I see another game 7 for both these teams, Philly once again coming out on top. Bleh.
v. — Aden loves Detroit. She also loves Ryan Smyth and is fond of Joe Sakic. She’s excited for this series, and I have to admit, it should be fun. Detroit should take it in 6 though.
v. I would have been much happier if Pittsburgh were playing Washington, whom they would roll over, or Philly, whose ticket they’ve already punched this year, but no, it’s New York, who is on a mean tear for the cup, and I don’t think they’ll be denied. MA Fleury has no idea what he’s in for with Sean Avery thumping in front of him, and I think the young birds are going to find their experience with Ottawa leaving them ill-prepared. Rangers in 6.
v. — Now that Dallas has dunked the Ducks, I don’t really care about them anymore, nor the Sharks. But someone’s got to win. I think Dallas is making a real run for the cup and will give the Sharks everything they’ve got. It’ll be the Stars in seven, but possibly six.
Talking with Toast today about Battlestar Galactica and he hit the nail right on the head when he said that it’s taken it’s background elements (primarily the religious aspects, but also governmental workings) and dropped them center square, distracting from the majority of the relationship-based drama or even the haute tension of the surviving colonists fleeing complete and utter annihilation at the robotic hands of the cylons. The third episode of this final season had a couple good points: SPOILERS
- the conflict within the Cylon’s camp, demystifying though it is, is actually fairly intriguing… the robots are trying to decided whether they’re human or they’re not, whether they can have beliefs or not, soul or no… it’s an interesting conundrum for them, causing a civil war amongst them. The problem with having this as the most intriguing part of the show is it leaves the human characters in stagnation.
- Cally’s depressive/sleep-deprived state was the perfect way to expose “the four” as Cylons, since she’s obviously delusional and having issues telling truth from her own imagination. But the show dealt with her too quickly, leaving a potentially meaty two or three episode arc cold. I mean what if she started roaming around, rambling about “the four” (or three as it were) being Cylons, would anyone believe her? That would be drama worth exploring. It just seemed utterly truncated and disposed of some quality drama way in favour of…well… Starbuck saying “frak” fourteen times in two sentences (and using it as a coital verb) and some tired yippety-yap about political maneuvering. Tired.
To tell you the truth, I missed the first 15 minutes of the last BSG episode due to hockey, and missed some chunks of the remaining flipping between the two. I don’t even remember what game it was. We’ve watched a lot of hockey the past week or so.
1)Caps v. Flyers - Caps kicked some Philly buttocks tonight, and we have a game 7 tomorrow. Still thinking Flyers in 7.
2)Reds v. Preds - Wings won it in six, just like I said.
3)Pens v. Sens - A four game sweep, as predicted, but then even Squawkers McCaw new that and he’s my stepson’s animatronic parrot (wha?)
4)Flames v. Sharks - sharks live in water where fires don’t stay lit. Game 7 tomorrow night and I’m hopeful Calgary can pull it off but the Sharks are a damn fine team, while Calgary is horrendously erratic all season. My updated prediction of 7 games still stands (because it’s all about me and what I think)
5)Habs v. Bruins - I was way off about this saying Montreal in 5, it was Montreal in 7 but with a very difficult 5 and 6.
6)Rangers v. Devils - I was off on this, saying NY over NJ in 7, but it was actually done in 6.
7)Avs v. Wild - I wasn’t even right about the winner in this one… I said Minnesota in 6 when it was actually Colorado, which does actually make me happier.
8)Stars v. Ducks - Again I was expecting the Ducks in 7 but more than happy for the Stars to take it to Jughead (Pronger), Bertuzzi, and Weinermeyer in 6.
I can’t even talk about round 2 until tomorrow is over. Here’s what I hope for in terms of match-ups with predictions:
Habs vs Rangers - NYR 6 games
Pens vs Caps - Pens 5 games
Red Wings vs Flames (fire on fire, yes!) - Wings in 7
Avs vs. Stars - Stars in 7
If I’m going to just hazard a highly speculative guess based on team gumption alone, I’m going to say Stars and Rangers in the Final.
… is back this Thursday at 10pm. Yesss… and according to Wikipedia:
“6 post-strike hours airing beginning April 24 in the United States. This includes a 3-hour finale airing in three parts entitled “There’s No Place Like Home.” The first part will air on Thursday, May 15 10 pm ET, and parts 2 and 3 will air in a 2-hour special airing on May 29, from 9-11 pm ET.”
Another thanks to Toast for the save on season one, episode 12. It was a doozy. Also, Toasty, thanks for the season 2 AVIs which are playing on the awesome new DVD player just fine. Season 2 is shaping up to be much more intriguing than season 1, with Dexter’s body-drop off getting discovered, and his relationship with Rita becoming somewhat… strained. Dexter going to group therapy is an interesting way of exploring his tendencies, and his discovering that he actually has emotions (but really not knowing what to do with them or how to handle him is a nice piece of the puzzle). Had a brief conversation with my mother about the show yesterday and she couldn’t get into it because she couldn’t cheer for a character who is such a monster, which is I think the point I was hoping they’d hit harder in the first season, but are actually tackling nicely now. The fact that Dexter’s now the both celebrated and reviled “Bay Harbor Butcher” allows them to explore the celebration of his brutality, and the revulsion it should cause.
The Andromeda Strain
One of the best “what if” sci-fi movies ever made has been remade into a 4-hour mini-series starring Benjamin Bratt and some other people for A&E (which is, coincidentally, where I saw the film version of The Andromeda Strain for the first time back in the mid-1990s. I still feel really really bad for liking the movie though because they did a bad thing to a monkey in it which breaks me up every time I see it. Hopefully the monkeys are safe in the mini.
The website says the show will air on US Labor Day weekend (May 25th and June 1st, I think, or maybe May 25th and May 26th?). If you miss it, that’s okay, it’s going straight to DVD, to be released on June 3rd. It’s a pretty neat experiment A&E’s trying out, to see if they can bankroll bigger productions, get some word-of-mouth through the TV broadcast and drive sales into the DVD.
More DVD info here and here
Hotflash - on the food moratorium since last report, I’ve been, well, in the not-so-good. I’ve eaten a few french fries and I’ve eaten Swiss Chalet (coincidentally both of those were at the same time, although the french fries were mistakenly brought instead of my potatoes, which were later brought at no charge but… you know… temptation + weak will = fatty). I even had a burger, but it was free, so does that count? I’ve been drinking a lot… well, not a lot, but a lot for me. About two drinks a week. Those drinks, often, have been rye and ginger ale, meaning I’ve been drinking pop, but only ginger ale, so that’s kind of okay right? Maybe not. I blame my sister who left us with a dearth of alcohol before she moved out to BC. I’ve nipped into some salad dressing about three times, and the occasional bit of mayonnaise (well, it’s Miracle Whip Light, which is only marginally less worse). Potato chips have gotten the better of me and enter my diet once every two weeks or so, but I’ve found Old Dutch’s low-salt Rip-L-Chips which have half the sodium content of regular chips, which is, you know, almost better. I have, though, discovered that cheesies (almost all types) have trans fats so they’re off the list. Trans fats only enter my system unawares, so I’ll say yes, I’ve partaken but not intentionally so. Also having trans fats: Ice Cream. I did not know that, but there you go. Avoided! There was an incident with macaroni and cheese that has officially put me off it (thank you). Otherwise, I’m getting healthier, eating more fruits and veg than ever before, although I can unequivocally say that my red meat intake is pretty high right now and that I should really, really watch that.
Hotflash! - I missed all but the last 10 minutes of the second episode of this season’s Battlestar Galactica… and you know, I didn’t really care much. Didn’t look like I missed anything important. We’ll see how episode 3 goes.
Hotflash!! - To tell the truth, I missed BSG because of playoffs hockey. I’ve discovered the joy of having two games running on two different channels concurrently. Every time there’s a stop in play on one, I just flip to the other… unless TSN happens to delay their broadcast because of golf (golf? Yeah, it’s the Masters, but come on, man, this is playoffs hockey!). I’m a monster. That said, I get burnt out on hockey after about 5 hours so most Western division games I don’t finish watching.
Hotflash!!! - Since my predictions last week here are how things are shaping up:
1) Caps v. Flyers — tied 1 game a piece. Still looking pretty splotchy, but I now think the Flyers are looking more cohesive and team-like than the Caps.
2) Red Wings v. Preds — Detroit leads 2 games to 1, but the Preds are giving them a show. Still looks like Wings in 5 or 6 games.
3) Pens v. Sens — Pittsburgh up 3 games to nil. Expect the sweep to conclude tomorrow as predicted. And yes, I’ve been screaming “The Gonch!” a lot.
4) Flames v. Sharks — Calgary surprised everyone with a crawl-from-behind victory in game 3 to lead the series 2 - 1, but the Sharks aren’t going belly up any time soon. We may actually see a Calgary upset, but It’s looking more and more like a 7 game series.
5) Canadiens v. Bruins — though down 2 games to 1, the Bruins are showing signs of life. I still expect it to end in 5 games though. And that hit on Chara from game 1: hilarious
6) Rangers v. Devils — Okay, I lied. I’m way into this series. Not that I want to see the Rangers (currently up 2 games to 1) win, but more that I want to see the Devil lose. There are some great rivalries in the NHL, from Gretzky and Lemieux to Crosby and Ovechkin, but I think Brodeur and Avery is easily the biggest freakshow.
7) Avs v. Wild — I’ve chosen on the side of Colorado, but Minnesota is up 2 - 1 in the series, and despite the Avs pluck, I still don’t think they’re going to make it past 6.
8) Stars v. Ducks — Another match-up I didn’t really think I’d give a damn about, but it’s been sheer joy watching Dallas trounce the (ugh) defending Cup champions 2 games to nil. Surprising, Stars, keep it up.
HOTFLASH!!!! — starting next week, I’m going to try a little schedule with BNY. Mondays will be TV/TVonDVD day, Tuesdays will be Music day, Thursdays will be Movies day, and Friday will be comics day. Wednesday, Saturday and Sundays will be free days to post whatever or not post at all. I’ll try this out but don’t look for it to stick.
HOTFLESH — I’ve caved and I’ve Booked myself in the Face. I hope you’re happy. I’m already regretting it, and I’m just not sure I understand it yet, nor that I have/want to devote much time to it… but good to see some-y’all.
PotFlush! — Aden and I learned on Sunday that, tragically, my Review of Dexter season 1 was incomplete. We were renting the DVDs from the local franchise video outlet, and each of the first two discs contained four episodes, while the third only had three. The fourth disc was labelled “Special Features” so we figured episode 11’s ending to be the cliffhanger. We were wrong… the 12th and final episode was on disc four. Moops. Shit. Season 2 lies in wait.
MOBRUSH!! — I mentioned before that I was running my first RPG campaign this month, and that did actually happen this past Sunday. It’s the first part of a highly adventurous 8-part story that required a hell of a lot of planning. It took a good three weeks to get the structure of it all together, plotting out each chapter, devising the player component and their opposition, and creating a timeline for the overarching story structure. I spent some time training in my GM role and helping our newest player to get comfortable with what we do. I’ve really put a lot of thought into this (at least ten pages worth of notes to start), but I found myself quite unprepared on Saturday for the next-day’s event, scrambling to review the Player Characters, notify the players of any changes needing to be made, and then revise the Non-Player Characters to make them formidable opponents. Then the scripting chores for the first issue were undertaken and with about an hour to spare, I was ready. Nervous as hell, but ready.
The game took a while to get started but once I got into the groove of it, I found it pretty easy. I had some assistance in helping the players to figure out their powers and everyone around the table was having fun with their characters, the concept and each other. Lots of suggestions going on, lots of teamwork and no attitude to speak of. The player’s actions threw off my planning but good, yet I managed to fudge the structure just enough that it worked just as well, if not better than planned. It was over rather quickly for one of our games (about 3 hours long, 90 minutes shorter than common) but it felt like a full event, and everyone seemed pretty satisfied, including myself.
With one part of the 8-segment story out of the way, I’m feeling a bit of relief, in my GM performance, the players’ reactions, and the story itself. It’s come off pretty smoothly, all things considered. I have part 2 in two weeks to plan for, and I’m pretty jazzed to get there.
POTLATCHES — for my birthday I forced Aden to buy me Kids in the Hall tickets at Massey Hall (June 5th). I’m happy, dammit! Onion AV Club interviews the lads (and, I noticed, the guys from
(airdated - April 4, 2008)
I think my time as a fan of Battlestar Galactica is up. What once was a taut, intelligent, captivating series has turned into something self-indulgent, repetitive and tedious. The show has been a flexible one from the beginning, dealing heavily in politics, religion, war, and matters both philosophical and psychological. A central theme surrounds what it means to be human, what it is to have free will, and that theme started to overwhelm all others midway through the previous season, culminating in the big reveal of four of the five remaining humanoid Cylon models. The first episode of this season, in part, finds those characters, now aware of their hideous true nature, struggling to come to terms with it… just like Boomer had to do three seasons ago. We’ve been there, we’ve done that, why are we rehashing it again?
The religious element of the show, the faith and spirituality of President Roslin which has been guiding the wagon train, much to the suspicious eye of Commander Adama, was bolstered in the third season by prophecies and visions. It was fine that Roslin was a solitary member on cast on the good book crusade, but once Baltar and the Cylons started getting in on the game it became a larger part of the show and genuinely less interesting. As soon as Starbuck started having visions it seemed just an overwhelming and unpalatable addition to her character. The focus on faith has let the writers have any number of deus ex machinas for getting the characters out of jams or to move them forward to more convenient story positions, and maybe it’s my agnostic mind as a viewer but it’s not a welcome replacement for the social/political/ethical dialogue that the show had proved so capable of exploring.
The third season ended with the tedious Trial of Dr. Baltar, proving that not every sub-genre of dramatic storytelling can translate well into the show, and now that Baltar is, effectively, Jesus to the few who have become loyal to his devious teachings, his character is in a dramatic, and unfavourable transition. This season’s first episode presents Baltar as conflicted between his usual ways (derision of others, superiority complex, self-preservation) and a sense of spirituality, which by the end he truly seems to embrace, and not as a self-serving poseur. For his steadfastness as the show’s irredeemable character, this is by far the most illogical of all of the shows progressions (and to my vague memories, in least fitting with the conclusion of the third series).
It seems that now even the show is running out of time that it is not in a race to get to the end. They seem to be meandering through their storylines (the preview for the second episode looks chock full of utter predictability), and the shows writers have lost the capability of handling their characters, in large part because they’ve already done so much to them that doing anything more seems completely over the top — when Tigh shoots Adama early in the episode, it’s a complete snore, knowing that Adama’s already been shot by a Cylon masquerading as a crew member. There’s really nothing left that you can do to this shrinking band of characters that has much believability to it (as believable as you can get for a science-fiction show anyways). Surviving blown up shuttles, or crash landings on planets, or cancer, or getting shot, or imprisonment, or stripped of rank and on and on really means nothing since it’s all happened already. Adding more characters to the show would be a really cheap way of keeping it fresh, so the show just needs to step ahead in its chronology and get to a point where we can believe that whatever is happening affects almost everyone and not just the few.
I’m giving the show another two episodes to try and hook me before I call it quits and just wait for the DVDs, so I can fast forward through all the triteness and get to the meat that the producers seem to be avoiding.
With Buy Nothing Year in full swing and my enthusiasm for re-reviewing as of late (obviously) waning, I thought I’d take a look at the goodly bits of television programming that I’ve been imbibing to keep me stocked in freshtertainment:
Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles (concluded) - I reviewed this earlier and stated that I quite liked it, and I continued to like it even though by episode four the show began to stagnate in the action department (having likely blown most of their budget early on to try and hook viewers) and a number of incongruities between the movies’ “rules” (of time travel or how the Terminators operate) and the show’s surfaced. Surprisingly the addition of 90210 Brian Austin Green as John Connor’s uncle actually didn’t turn out that bad, and Firefly’s Summer Glau turned out to be the second best Terminator next to Robert Patrick’s T-1000. The acting and production values were all above average, even if the show did sag in the middle from time to time, weighed down with its unfortunate need to establish its own supporting cast of characters. The show underperformed in the ratings (even with a writer’s strike leaving not much else new to watch) and thus isn’t likely to come back for another season, and who knows whether it will at all be tied into the upcoming movie(s) in production. The series’ final 2 episodes were unfortunately aired without much fanfare and many people, myself included, missed the first of the 2-part finale. The cliffhanger ending was pretty awesome and the varying story threads finally collided in an interesting fashion (something that really should have happened earlier). An entertaining series which, were it to continue running, I would definitely keep watching… alas…
Lost Season 4 (Thursdays at 9, ABC) - The wait for the latest season became rather unbearable over the 8 or 9 months since the end of the third, and I utterly devoured this season’s ready-made order (they had to stop mid-way through their 16-episode production this year due to the writer’s strike, meaning one more new episode this Thursday and a 3-4 week break before the final 7 episodes air). I would even watch the repeated episodes from the week prior with “pop-up trivia”, that’s how devoted I am. This season has been pretty cool, with the writer’s playing with the whole “flashback” thing almost every episode (sometimes it’s a flash-forward, or multiple flashbacks, or a time-displacement thing, or even a combo of flashback-flashforward). The last two episodes (the Sun spotlight and the return of …well, you know) have been the weakest so far, but still really intriguing leaving so many frustrating unanswered questions. As usual the writers can dump as many answers on us as we like and there’s still so many new questions raised joining those left over. If there’s anything to be said about Lost’s popularity, it’s that it’s forcing people to pay attention and juggle a lot of information, with more constantly being added every episode. The end of season six is still a long way off (32 episodes away), but the show is actually starting to feel like it’s working towards that finish without feeling like it’s just wrapping things up. Obsession inducing and gloriously maddening.
Extras Season 1 (Tuesdays at 10, Comedy) - Ricky Gervais’ big follow-up to The Office is somewhat reserved, being exceptionally character-focussed rather than gag-centric or formulaic (although the first two or three episodes seemed to follow a pattern that it did break out of). Gervais’ 40-something, trying-to-make-it Andy is differently charming, getting himself into uncomfortably funny situations either by his own honesty, the interventions of Maggie (Ashley Jensen) or his tremendously inept agent Stephen Merchant. Later episodes find Andy gaining a modicum of success, but definitely not on his own terms and its a wonderful portrayal of the struggle between spiritual and monetary rewards, as well as the effects of celebrity on the unsuspecting. Creating and starring in a TV show that spins into something resembling lowest-common-denominator television, Andy hates what he’s become and yet needs the reassurance of a fanbase or recognition from strangers to satisfy that what he’s doing isn’t a complete waste. The show is stocked with celebrities that usually get knee deep in discomfort, mostly British actors (Patrick Stewart, Orlando Bloom) but some American stars (Ben Stiller, Sam Jackson) as well. From race, to sexuality to gender to stature to class, Extras never avoids taboo, but rather thrives on smartly addressing it.
Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! (Tuesdays at 10:35ish, Comedy) - The Adult Swim anti-cartoon is sketch comedy at its most oblique, just completely irreverent and often nonsensical. It’s easy to tell that the titular Tim and Eric create a show based on what makes them laugh and not any sense of what any audience might have expectations for. Enrolling a host of friends to assist (David Cross, Weird Al, John C. Reilly) the show is, bluntly put, a trippy, often disturbing festival of laughs and tears. Utilizing production effects that were last seen in the 1980’s, the show has an extremely low-budget feel which entirely works for it. There is no way to effectively describe the show, and either you’re going to be receptive to it or it’ll put you right off. It’s not that it’s (very) crass, like South Park (for instance) but it’s just so bizarre that it will likely hurt your brain. Every week after Extras, I ask my wife “Are you ready?” (she says no and lays her head down on my lap, curled in a semi-fetal position in preparation) as I force her to stay and watch it, which I think might be some kind of spousal abuse frankly.
The Jon Dore Show (Thursdays at 10:30 and various, Comedy) - Jon Dore, for many, is best known as that funny guy from Canadian Idol. Being any sort of actor or comedian in Canada is tough work, so you can’t blame the guy for taking the gig, no matter how soul sucking it may have been for him. I’ve seen Dore on stage at the Rivoli a number of times and he is an ingenious comedian with a great sense of timing and word play, and capable of executing conceptual jokes like few others can. His self-aware, juvenile, self-deprecating and wry sense of humour translates completely into The Jon Dore Show, quickly becoming one of the best Canadian comedy shows ever, certainly the smartest on TV today. Each episode follows Jon examining a particular neuroses, such as his fear of bats or his suspicion he might have an STD. Though he does a lot of bawdy and bodily humour, it’s rarely crass, more presented with a Zucker Brothers-style whimsy which blunts any edges it may have. Dore interviews real psychologists, doctors, weightlifters and other non-actors, often frustrating or shocking them, an aspects of the show that borrows from what the Daily Show has been doing for years, but Dore puts them together with produced bridges in such a fashion as to make a hilarious and unifying half hour. Not for the young or uptight.
“Reality TV” (various times, various channels) - Mythbusters, Survivorman, At The End Of Our Leash, ‘Til Debt Do Us Part, Maxed Out, Supernanny, America’s Next Top Model, Dirty Jobs, What Not To Wear and others cross our television screen from time to time, but none are religiously watched at any specific date or time on a weekly basis. Rarely intentionally anyway.